Tuesday April 19, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Whelen Modified Tour Series continues on a Spring Break before its next event which will be the annual Spring Sizzler at Stafford on Sunday, May 1. Ted Christopher's perch at the top of the series point standings was short lived. Two days after taking the win at Thompson, Christopher along with 5th place finisher Justin Bonsingnore were docked 50 points for Altered Carburetor Boosters. Teams owners were also fined points while crew chiefs Brad Lafontaine and Aaron Clifford were fined $500. New points leader is now Rowan Pennink while Christopher will drop to 8th, was fined $500 and suspended by NASCAR until the fines are paid. Christopher's team owner Ed Whelen and Bonsignore's team owner, Kenneth Massa were also docked 50 points in the owners standings. Christopher will keep his victory in the event. Tony Corrente, owner of Tony's Competition Engines, built both power plants.

Rowan Pennink, who finished second to Christopher at Thompson is the new series point leader as the series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway on May 1 for the annual Spring Sizzler. Lining up behind Pennink are Mike Stefanik and Ryan Preece who are tied for the second spot. Rounding out the top five are Doug Coby and Eric Beers. Christopher's loss of points places him in seventh spot behind Ron Yuhas Jr. Matt Hirschman, Rookie Patrick Emerling and Eddie Flemke Jr make up the top ten. Bonsignore dropped to 19th in the standings.

The set-back at Thompson plus injured hands didn't slow down Ted Christopher as he traveled south to Virginia early Sunday morning and picked up a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory in the South Boston 150 in the afternoon at South Boston Speedway. Driving the Joe Brady No.00 Christopher out dueled George Brunnhoelzl III, who won the first two Whelen Southern Modified Tour events in 2011, to earn yet another win in his storied career. Zach Brewer finished third followed by Tim Brown and John Smith.

The South Boston 150 was originally scheduled for Saturday night but because of heavy rains and Tornados forced officials to reschedule for Sunday. Christopher started 17th, broke into the top three by lap 40 and took the lead on a restart on lap 99 of the 150 lap event.

There were 19 cars on hand. Nine cars were on the lead lap at the finish. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will be in action on Saturday, April 23 at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C.

The Waterford Speedbowl pulled the plug on last Saturday's races due to a forecast of cold weather and heavy rain along the Connecticut shoreline.

Fans and competitors of the season ending North-South Shootout will have to travel a little further south this year as the event is moving from the Concord NC Speedway to the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. Race promoter Charles Kepley stated high insurance costs prompted the move. This years event will be the ninth annual and will be held on Nov 4-5.

MADHOUSE Star and driver of the #1 Bowman Gray & Whelen Modified Series Car, Burt Myers violently wrecked a Supermodified in practice at the Ace Speedway in North Carolina on Friday afternoon. Preliminary reports from the speedway indicated a stuck throttle. He was reported to be awake and talking, and has been taken to the hospital for further evaluation. After an extensive examination it was determined that He has three broken ribs and a punctured lung. As of last Sunday night had a chest tube and his hospital stay has been extended for a couple more days.

During the driver's meeting for the Whelen Modified Tour Series at the Thompson Speedway Whelen's Phil Kurze stated that the Speed Channel will televise WMT events at Bristol and the September event at New Hampshire. He has high hopes of working with NASCAR in the coming weeks to put together a TV package that would include more events. Ratings from last year's telecasts by Versus were quite high. Race announcers Jackie Arute and Jimmy Spencer did an outstanding job calling the events. NASCAR has announced that 24 events for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR’s top developmental series, will be televised by the Speed Channel.

Mario Fiore, who, for many years had one of the top running and winning Modifieds in the Northeast made an interesting observation. "During the 1997 season there were eight televised NASCAR Modified events", he said. "Those eight events generated a Total Television Dollar Value of $162, 425 in advertising for Gulf Oil", he added. TV coverage is extremely important to the well being of the Whelen Modifieds.

Congratulations to FOX anchor Mike Joy has been named the 2011 winner of the Henry T. McLemore Motorsports Journalism award. The McLemore is the most tenured motorsports journalism award, beginning in 1969 with inaugural winner Bloys Britt, who wrote for The Associated Press for 17 years. It is voted by peers, and today’s voters are past McLemore winners. It was presented at the International Motorsports Hall of Fame dinner and awards ceremony in Talladega, Ala.

Joy has spent his entire adult life as a motorsports journalist. Raised in Windsor, Conn., Joy’s career started in 1970, working as the public address announcer at Riverside Park, the Stafford Motor Speedway and at the Thompson Speedway. He rose through the ranks of MRN Radio and chronicled the growth of NASCAR by announcing races on CBS, TNN, ESPN, TBS and now FOX, along with ancillary programming on SPEED.

His television career began on pit road, where he defined the position. He moved from pit road to the CBS anchor booth in 1998, where he called Dale Earnhardt’s historic Daytona 500 victory..

The Charlotte (NC) Observer reported that NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France filed a lawsuit against his ex-wife, claiming she has taped phone conversations without his consent in attempt to extort money from him. Brian France, 48, claims that Megan France, to whom he has twice married and divorced, has not only been taping their phone conversations but has threatened to distribute their contents.

He has asked the US District court in Charlotte, N.C., to issue an injunction preventing further recordings and their distribution.

The pair, whose last divorce was finalized in April 2008, have two young children and continue to communicate regarding financial issues and custodial arrangements.

The lawsuit claims that Megan France told her ex-husband she would not distribute the recordings if he paid her "substantial sums of money." According to previous court documents, Megan France was awarded $9 million following her divorce, along with $32,500 a month in alimony for 10 years and $10,000 a month in child support.

In TV land NASCAR Now on espn2 can be seen at 6:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and on Friday. NASCAR Now will air on Thursday at 5:00pm. NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday This weeks race viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with a replay of last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 that was run at the Talladega Superspeedway. On Thursday at noon Speed will replay last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312 that was run at Talladega. At 3:00pm Speed heads to Virginia to replay the 2005 NASCAR Nextel Cup Chevy American Revolution 400 that was run at Richmond. At 5:30 the viewing shifts to Versus for the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. At 6:00pm the Speed Channel will show the Feb 24 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West 3 Amigos Organic Blanco 100 that was run at the Phoenix Intl. Raceway. Friday's viewing begins at 5:00pm when various classes of racecars attempt to set a speed record at the Bristol Motor Speedway. At 5:30pm Speed shifts to the Nashville Superspeedway for NASCAR Truck Series qualifying. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at Nashville begins at 6:30 on espn2. At 7:30 Speed has the pre-race show that will lead to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bully Hill Vineyards 200 at the Nashville Superspeedway. At 10:30pm Speed will present a NASCAR Hall of Fame Biography on Bud Moore. Saturday's action starts at noon with NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying at Nashville. At 2:00pm ESPN has the pre-race show that will lead to the 3:00pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Nashville 300 at the Nashville Superspeedway. This event will be repeated at 3:00am on espn2 on Sunday morning. Sunday, Easter Sunday will be quiet. At 6:00pm on Sunday the action switches to Versus for "Dirt Knights". At 7:00pm the Speed Channel presents Speed Center. At 9:00pm the Speed Channel has Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks showed negative results for the week. Taking the biggest dip was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 0.70 to 30.66. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.24 to 14.95 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.02 to 2.01. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.08 to 4.81 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.66 to 42.90. Tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.15 to 15.15. All three car builders had negative endings for the week. General Motors dropped 1.28 to 30.24 while Ford dropped 0.62 to 14.71 and Toyota dropped 0.24 to 77.64. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.71 to 38.17 and Lowes went up 0.23 to 27.05. The major team sponsors were all over the lot. Dupont dropped 0.51 to 54.89 while Coca-Cola dropped 3.50 to 72.20. Target Department Stores went up 0.71 to 50.24 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.26 to 26.00 and Fedex went up 1.42 to 92.58.

The International Speedway has announced a partnership with STP Brands at seven of its major motorsport facilities including event entitlement positions at Kansas Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway. Financial terms were not disclosed. Under the terms of the agreement, STP will serve as the title sponsor for the June 5, 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway and the June 4, 2011 Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. In addition, STP will have track sponsorships at Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, Michigan International Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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