Tuesday April 5, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Waterford Speedbowl opened for its 61st consecutive season with the Budweiser Blast-Off event. The Speedbowl is the second-longest continuously running Modified track in the country. Despite financial problems, including a continuing bankruptcy case the Speedbowl opened on schedule. Because of precipitation and cold, a scheduled practice slated for Friday was cancelled. The precip pretty much ended on Saturday with the exception of a stray shower in mid afternoon. A surprising low number of SK Modifieds, 18, were on hand. All were Speedbowl regulars. No outsiders from Stafford or Thompson were on hand. The field of Bob Valenti Modified Racing Series cars was strong with 27 on hand and the field of Late Models was up from last year with 17 ready to compete.

On Sunday six features were run before an almost capacity crowd. The highlight of the day was the win by Chris Pasteryak in the 100 lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event. Pasteryak of Lisbon Ct executed a late race pass for the lead to score the popular home track win. Russ Stoehr of Lakeville, Massachusetts claimed the NEMA Midget victory. Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Ct continued where he left off at the end of 2010 in the SK Modifieds®, as he led every lap of the 61 lap SK feature. Vin Esposito of Seymour, Ct won his first extra distance event in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Josh Galvin of Franklin, Ct won the Street Stock race and Bill Leonard of Wood River Junction, Rhode Island was the victor in the Mini Stocks.

Pasteryak started the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event by jumping to the early lead over Doug Coby after the pair started on the front row. The pair, each with five career Speedbowl wins to their credit, battled early and often. Coby peeked outside Pasteryak several times, finally pulling ahead on lap-35. Coby stayed there through an extended run of green flag racing that ended on lap-63. He picked up his lead over Pasteryak again and held the advantage until lap-85. Coby got loose entering turn one and Pasteryak seized his opportunity. He dove inside Coby and executed a clean pass as the two reached turns three and four. From there, Pasteryak didn’t look back as he went on to take the win. Coby finished second and was followed by Todd Annarummo, Rowan Pennink and Les Hinkley. Sixth through tenth were Norm Wrenn, Tom Barrett, Jacob Dore, Eric Goodale and Matt Hirschman.

In the 61 lap SK Modified event Rocco took the lead from pole sitter Rob Janovic at the spot and went on to lead almost the entire event. It was not a runaway by any means. Ron Yuhas Jr. moved around the outside of Janovic for second place on lap-15 and the top three cars pulled away from Diego Monahan who was in fourth. Tyler Chadwick ran alone in fifth position, while Justin Gaydosh and Jeff Pearl battled for sixth. Caution again waved on lap-26 for a single car spin when Joe Perry looped his machine off turn four.

Yuhas had a great restart in the outside lane. He edged ahead of Rocco for the lead into turn one, but Rocco battled back strong to his inside. The pair made contact exiting turn two resulting in Yuhas catching a wheel into the backstretch wall. Contact between the leaders continued in turn three as Rocco got shuffled out of the racing groove by Yuhas. As Rocco and Yuhas slid up the track, Janovic and Monahan darted by to the inside to become the new leaders. Yuhas’ day ended in the turn four wall just one lap later when he lost the right front tire on his car, ending his strong early run and bringing out the yellow flag.

Monahan had a great restart to the outside of Janovic once the track was cleared. They spent two laps side-by-side battling for the lead before Monahan faded in the outside lane. Rocco ducked past Monahan then set his sights back on Janovic out front. He made his move to the inside of Janovic exiting turn four on lap-32, reclaiming the top spot. The action was slowed again on lap-36 when Diego Monahan spun from third position in turn two with everyone able to avoid his spinning car. Chadwick was penalized for overaggressive driving, placing him to the tail of the field.

Rocco and Janovic moved out to a straightaway advantage ahead of Tom Abele when the field returned to green. Nichole Morgillo held onto fourth position with Perry back up to fifth. The race stayed green over the final 25 laps and although Janovic was able to keep Rocco in his sight, he could do nothing to challenge the defending track and national champion. Rocco went on to the win over Janovic, Abele, Morgillo and Chadwick, who rallied furiously in the outside lane over the final green flag run to claim fifth position. Six cautions slowed the pace of the race.
The Speedbowl now shifts to their regular Saturday night schedule.

In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action at the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina, George Brunnhoelzl III saved his best for last to win the Hickory 150 on Saturday. After starting third on the Lap 151 restart in a green-white-checkered finish, Brunnhoelzl passed James Civali to collect his second win of the season. It was the eighth career win for the 2009 Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion.
Zach Brewer also worked past Civali to finish second while Civali settled for third. John Smith and Thomas Stinson finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Although Brunnhoelzl celebrated in Victory Lane it appeared Brewer was on his way to his first win as he was passing Civali late in the race when Frank Fleming spun in Turn 1 to bring out the sixth and final caution flag of the race. On the restart, Civali chose the outside lane with Brewer on the inside. Brewer and Civali made contact on the restart allowing Brunnhoelzl to make his move and lead the final two laps of the race. Andy Seuss came home sixth, Jason Myers seventh and Burt Myers eighth. Renee Dupuis rebounded from a spin earlier in the race to finish ninth in her first start on the southern tour and Josh Nichols completed the top 10.

The Thompson Speedway will open this coming weekend on April 9 and 10. This year’s Icebreaker will feature eight racing divisions topped by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Thompson’s own “Super 6” NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions along with the visiting Sunoco Lite Modifieds will fill the two-day event at southern New England’s largest and fastest oval race track.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour tops the bill on Icebreaker weekend. Defending Champion, Bobby Santos III will lead a star studded field of NASCAR Modified drivers when they line up for their 150-lap season opener at Thompson.

Joining the 2010 champion will be such standouts as Mike Stefanik, Ronnie Silk, Woody Pitkat, Matt Hirschman, Chuck Hossfeld, Rowan Pennink and many, many more. In all, some thirty one of the very best Modified drivers will line up Sunday afternoon for the first race of their new season. To be part of that lineup, drivers will need to qualify through time trials that will begin at 3:30 PM on Saturday.

Saturday’s activities begin with practice for all seven divisions that will be in competition for Icebreaker 2011. Once the WMT time trials have been completed, qualifying races will be held for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. The qualifying races will determine starting positions for main events for each of those divisions. Once all qualifying has been completed, the Sunoco Modifieds will compete in the first of two feature event races slated for Icebreaker weekend. The Sunoco Lite Modifieds will also race their main event on Saturday.

Sunday’s race schedule has the first of seven exciting feature races slated to take the green flag at 12 Noon. The action packed Sunday lineup has Sunoco Modifieds, Super Late Models, Thompson Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks leading the way to the 150-lap WMT race.

Its hard to believe how fast time flies but had he lived, the great Richie Evans would have turned 70 this coming July. In his honor the 61st annual Race of Champions will be held on July 21-22. Evans passed away in 1985 at the Martinsville Speedway.

Big news for Sunoco Modified competitor John Catania who has secured sponsorship from V One Vodka for 2011! Catania, son of car owner Joe Catania races at Thompson and is responsible for graphics seen on a multitude of cars.

In TV land NASCAR Now on espn2 can be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and at 6:00pm on Friday. NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Race viewing for the week begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with a NASCAR Sprint Cup replay of last Sunday's Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 that was run at Martinsville. Thursday is the beginning of a marathon weekend of coverage on the Speed Channel of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction in Palm Beach, FL. The first segment airs from noon to 5:00pm. At 5:00pm Speed goes live at the Texas Motor Speedway for Sprint Cup practice. At 6:00pm the Versus Channel has the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. At 8:00pm its back to Palm Beach for six more hours of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction. On Friday Speed goes with 6-1/2 hours of auction action starting at noon. At 5:00pm espn2 goes live in Texas with Nationwide Series qualifying. At 6:30pm Speed goes with Sprint Cup qualifying from Texas. If you are not into time trials ESPN Classic will replay the 1982 Richmond 400. At 8:00pm espn2 has the Nationwide Series countdown that will lead to the 8:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX. Saturday's programming on Speed begins at 7:00am with Mobil 1 The Grid. At 11:00am Speed begins a six hour session of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction in Palm Beach, FL. At 5:00pm Speed goes to Texas for a two hour session of RaceDay. At 7:00pm the action moves to FOX for the pre-race program that will lead to the 7:30pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Samsung Mobile 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, TX. At 6:00pm on Sunday the action switches to Versus for "Dirt Knights". At 7:00pm the Speed Channel presents Speed Center. At 8:00 it’s the NASCAR Victory Lane. At 9:00pm the Speed Channel has Wind Tunnel with Dave

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 0.98 to 30.37. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.19 to 16.02 and Dover Motorsports went up 0 05 to 1.97. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.12 to 4.56 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.12 to 46.11. Tire supplier Goodyear was also down as they dropped 0.23 to 15.22. Two of the three major car makers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.85 to 15.16 and Toyota dropped 0.25 to 80.51 while General Motors went up 0.94 to 32.41. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.14 to 37.56 while Lowes dropped 0.45 to 26.74. The major team sponsors had a positive week. Dupont went up 1.09 to 55.19 while Coca-Cola went up 1.27 to 66.79, Target Department Stores went up 0.41 to 50.36, Aarons Rentals went up 1.35 to 25.60 and Fedex went up 4.72 to 95.00.

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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