Tuesday April 24, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway this coming weekend, April 27-29 for the annual Spring Sizzler. Originally conceived in 1972 by Dick Berggren, Bruce Cohen and Lew Boyd as an 80 lap Open Competition event the Sizzler has emerged as on of the Premier events on the Whelen Modified Tour Series.

The 2012-41st Annual CARQUEST TECH-NET Spring Sizzler gets underway Friday, April 27 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions. The practice session will be open to the public at no charge. Action continues on Saturday, April 28 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions. Saturday will wrap up with feature events for the SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions. The Sizzler continues on Sunday, April 29 with the CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party followed by Stafford’s SK Modifieds® and Late Models joining the Whelen Modified Tour in feature action.

Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $42.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled up-country to the high-banked Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH last Saturday night. Jon McKennedy, driving the Art Barry No.2, made it two wins in a row as he won the Bond Auto Parts Spring Dash 100, at Granite State oval. McKennedy started 18th in the 24-car starting field. McKennedy slowly worked his way through traffic, used good tire management, a McKennedy trademark, passed race leader Les Hinckley on lap 78 to go on to victory. The win was McKennedy’s 14th career VMRS victory.

Norm Wrenn topped his career best third place finish with a solid second. Early race leader Hinckley fought power steering issues and finished third, Dwight Jarvis was fourth, and Jim Boniface rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink, Joey Jarvis, Max Zachem, and Louie Mechalides.

Six caution flags for minor incidents slowed the race which was completed in 48 minutes. There were 29 Modifieds on hand.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour made another stop at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina last week. George Brunnhoelzl III withstood three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish and hung on to win the Parking Lot Maintenance Headquarters 150.

Brunnhoelzl, the two-time Tour champion out of West Babylon, N.Y., dominated the day. He posted the fastest time in practice and set a new track record in qualifying before going out and leading a race-high 140 laps en route to his second victory of the season. It was his seventh career win at Caraway, but more importantly it was his 13th career Tour win which places him in a tie atop the all-time list with L.W. Miller.

In that final restart, Brunnhoelzl held off Miller and a hard-charging Jason Myers at the line. Rookies Kyle Ebersole and Michael Speeney crossed the line in fourth and fifth, respectively. Daniel Hemric, Thomas Stinson, Bryan Dauzat, Frank Fleming and Burt Myers rounded out the top-10 finishers on the evening.

Burt Myers was running third heading into the last restart, but was penalized for aggressive driving and was scored as the last car on the lead lap. The race was slowed due to caution 11 times for 45 laps and the race lead changed hands just two times between two drivers.

In the point standings, Brunnhoelzl opened up a six-point lead on Miller with rookie Danny Bohn sitting in third, 26 points in back of the leader.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour goes into an extended Spring Break and will be back in action next on July 6 for the Firecracker 150 at Caraway Speedway. In the mean time the Modifieds will be racing at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.

A huge rain storm was bearing down on New England this past Saturday but the Waterford Speedbowl was able to dodge the bullet and get their entire racing program in the books. The outside groove was the hot setup as more than one race leader went that route to record their respective wins.

Tyler Chadwick went up top to take a popular victory in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified®feature. Other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature winners included Bruce Thomas Jr. taking the win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, Ray Downing Jr., who was impressive in taking the Street Stock race and Ian Brew who bested a highly competitive Mini Stock field for his first win of the year. In INEX racing, Matt Pappa won the 20-lap Legends Cars race and Joey Ternullo took over halfway through the 20-lap Bandolero feature to come out on top.
Diego Monahan took second easily, while Jeff Pearl worked over Kyle James over the final laps but could not muster a challenge for third. Pearl finished fourth, holding back a final charge by Morgillo to his outside. Abele got by Morgillo’s inside on the final lap to finish fifth.

An honest mistake was made during the Ice Breaker weekend at Thompson. The NASCAR press release stated that Ryan Preece had broken the track record, previously set by Bobby Santos in the Mystic Missile. Preece’s qualifying time was 18.387, but Bobby Santos’ lap in last year’s Icebreaker was 18.237.

In some sad news, Donna M. Harman, 68, of Niantic and Port Orange, Fla., passed away peacefully on Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., after a courageous battle with cancer. Her husband of 28 years, NEAR Hall of Fame member Billy Harman, was by her side throughout every stage of her illness.

A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at St. Agnes Church in Niantic. Entombment followed in St. Mary Mausoleum in New London. Calling hours were from 4 to 8 p.m. Monday, at the Thomas L. Neilan & Sons East Lyme Funeral Home., Niantic.

In Billy's own words, "In addition to being my wife she was my best friend". Donna wrote most of the bios and stats that got Billy inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame.

In TV land, viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday, at 6:00pm with NASCAR Race Hub. Race Hub will also be shown on Wednesday and Thursday at the same time. NASCAR Now will be on espn2 at 3:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and on Friday at 3:30pm.

Race viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with a replay of last weekend's Sprint Cup event that was run in Kansas City.

On Thursday at 7:30pm Speed has the NASCAR Kids and Nephews (K&N) Series event that was run in Richmond. The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at Richmond follows at 8:30pm.

Friday's action on Speed starts at 11:30 with NASCAR Live at Richmond. Sprint Cup practice follows at noon. Another segment of NASCAR Live goes at noon with Sprint Cup practice following at 2:30pm. The action shifts to ESPN2 at 4:00pm for Nationwide Series Pole Qualifying. At 5:30 the action returns to the Speed Channel for Sprint Cup Pole Qualifying. At 7:00pm it's back to ESPN2 for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead to the 7:30pm start of the Richmond 250 on ESPN2. At 11:00pm Trackside on Speed closes out the day.

Saturday's viewing starts at 11:00am with Trackside on Speed. ESPN2 has NASCAR Now at noon. At 3:30pm Speed has NASCAR Performance followed by Speed Center at 4:00pm and RaceDay at Richmond at 4:30pm. FOX goes live at 7:00pm with their Pre-race show that will lead to the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 at Richmond. NASCAR Victory Lane on Speed wraps it up at 11:00pm.

The only Sunday racing on the tube will be the NASCAR Kids and Nephews (K&N) Pro Series event that was recently held in Greeneville, SC. The program, on Speed, starts at noon.

On Sunday night, the Speed Channel will have Speed Center at 7:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 8:00pm. NASCAR Victory Lane at Richmond follows at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.01 to 16.84 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.13 to 26.59 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.01 to 1.49. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.31 to 2.37 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.52 to 38.42 and tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.65 to 11.24. The car makers were all negative. Ford dropped 0.51 to 11.41, General Motors dropped 0.20 to 23.60 and Toyota dropped 0.88 to 80.54. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.50 to 51.46 and Lowes dropped 0.04 to 31.65. With the exception of Target Department Stores which dropped 0.15 to 57.28, the major car sponsors had a pretty good week. Dupont went up 0.60 to 52.62 while Coca-Cola went up 0.11 to 62.42, Aarons Rentals went up 0.65 to 25.56 and Fedex went up 1.64 to 89.67.

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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