Tuesday April 23, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway this weekend for the annual Spring Sizzler. Originally conceived by Speedway Illustrated founder Dick Berggren along with friends Lew Boyd and Bruce Cohen the Sizzler has become a tradition since its inaugural event in 1972. Originally an 80 lap open competition event, the Sizzler has taken on a NASCAR sanction and has been stretched to 200 laps.

Mike Stefanik, fresh off his outstanding victory in the Thompson Speedway IceBreaker is the odds on favorite for this weeks event. Rowan Pennink and Ryan Preece were right on Stefanik's tail at Thompson and are also legitimate contenders as is defending race winner Doug Coby. Among those who did not file an entry for the Sizzler was Long Islander Timmy Solomito. Solomito did a great job at Thompson against some pretty strong heavy hitters as he finished 10th. It must be noted that Solomito has committed himself to driving the Wayne Anderson No. 15 at Riverhead this year. Chuck Hossfeldt has filed an entry for Stafford and is a sure bet to record a top finish. Hossfeld came from dead last at Thompson to finish ninth One can not count out Ted Christopher who would like nothing better than to put Ole Blu in victory lane. Christopher is Stafford's winningest driver with over 100 victories to his credit at the track.

Bobby Santos III finished a distant 18th at Thompson because of mechanical problems. His quest for a second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship received a much needed shot in the arm, as a big sponsorship deal was announced. Starting this week at Stafford, the Tinio Motorsports No. 44 will bear the logo of Curb Records - a country-music label that has sponsored cars in all levels of motorsports since the late 1970s. Santos enters some elite company that has had Curb Records sponsorship over the years - including the late Dale Earnhardt. The label currently adorns the side of the No. 98 Sprint Cup car driven by Michael McDowell for Phil Parsons Racing.

The 2013 CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler gets underway Friday, April 26 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions and the NE Mini Stock Tour with the general admission grandstands open to the public at no charge. Stefanik and the rest of the NWMT field will get their first taste of on track action on Saturday, April 27 with a practice session in the morning and then the race for the Coors Light Pole Position begins at 2:30pm. Also in action on Saturday will be heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions as well as the Northeast Mini Stock Tour. Saturday will wrap up with feature events for the SK Light, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, and NE Mini Stock divisions. The Sizzler continues on Sunday, April 28 with the CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party from 11am-12noon 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 is priced at $42.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH this past Saturday night. The series second event of the year felt more like a winter-fest as 40-degree temperatures and blustery winds chilled a good crowd on hand. Monadnock is a high banked-1/4 mile asphalt oval. Rowan Pennink took the 100 lap win over Tom Barrett and Louie Mechalides. Todd Patnode and Max Zachem rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Richard Savory, Tim Jordan, Mike Holdredge, Jim Boniface and Norm Wrenn. Pennink, who started 13th, took the lead on lap 94.

Outside front row starter Mike Holdridge led the first 50 laps when pole-sitter Max Zachem moved by. Todd Patnode wrestled the lead from Zachem on lap 72 and led until giving way to Pennink.

The next event for the VMRS will be Sunday, May 19, at Thompson, CT, Speedway.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, the temperature took a dive when the sun went down but the wind chill factor didn't seem to bother Keith Rocco who scored his second SK Modified victory of the year at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Rocco, who took the lead from Frank Mucciacciaro on lap 27 of the 35 lap feature, survived a final restart on lap-33 to beat out Ted Christopher. Mucciacciaro held on for third. Diego Monahan and Kyle James rounded out the top five. Other winners at the speedbowl were Jeff Smith in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Randy Churchill won his second SK Light Modified race of the year in as many tries and Allen Coates returned to the winner's circle in the Street Stock division.

Garrett Denton won his second Mini Stock feature race of 2013 and Brad Voglesong rounded out the night's winners in the X-Car division.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was in action at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. Third generation driver George Brunnhoelzl started from the pole position after winning his 20th career pole award earlier in the day, but lost the lead to Tim Brown on the race’s first lap. Brunnhoelzl behind the wheel of his No. 28 Epox-Z/Oval Speed Chevrolet spent the rest of the race looking at the rear bumper of Brown. An opportunity presented itself, though, on Lap 146 when the caution flag flew for a multi-car incident in Turn 1 of the .455-mile oval which set up a green-white-checkered finish. After Brown took the white flag Brunnhoelzl tapped the leader’s rear bumper in Turns 3 and 4 opening a window for Brunnhoelzl to slip through to victory. Brown hung on to finish second. Kyle Ebersole finished third for the third straight race. Last year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year Danny Bohn scored a season-best finish of fourth followed by Brian Loftin in fifth. Rookie Luke Fleming, Burt Myers, Andy Seuss, Jason Myers and Gary Putnam rounded out the top-10 finishers on the night.

Seventeen cars took the green. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour goes on Spring Break break until Friday, July 5 when they return to Caraway Speedway. Modified action in the south moves to the Mad House, Bowman Grey Stadium starting this week.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation took the biggest dip as they dropped 0.91 to 32.46. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.72 to 17.54 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.03 to 2.08. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint took a big jump last week as they went up 0.95 to 7.17. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.37 to 12.14 and Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.05 to 48.20. The Stafford Motor Speedway management announced late last week that John Holland, co-owner of New England Racing Fuel which sells Sunoco Racing Fuel, will serve as Grand Marshal of the 42nd Spring Sizzler. Holland co-owns New England Racing Fuel with Fox Sports and Speed TV NASCAR anchor Mike Joy. Two of the three car makers were down for the week. Ford went up 0.40 to 12.93 while General Motors dropped 0.47 to 29.15 and Toyota dropped 0.90 to 112.26. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.38 to 74.00 while Lowes dropped 0.80 to 38.12. With the exception of Coca-Cola which went up 0.39 to 60.94, the big team sponsors were down for the week. Dupont dropped 0.63 to 49.19, Target dropped 0.45 to 69.04, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.22 to 28.53 and Fedex dropped 3.94 to 92.39.

In TV land this week:

4/24    Wed    12:00 PM    3:00 PM    NSCS Replay    Kansas    SPEED        Tape
4/24    Wed    6:00 PM    7:00 PM    NASCAR Race Hub        SPEED        Tape
4/25    Thurs    8:00 AM    9:00 AM    Unique Whips: Blazing a Trail to NASCAR        SPEED        Tape
4/25    Thurs    6:00 PM    7:00 PM    NASCAR Race Hub        SPEED        Tape
4/26    Fri    11:30 AM    12:00 PM    NASCAR Live    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/26    Fri    12:00 PM    2:00 PM    NSCS Practice    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/26    Fri    2:00 PM    2:30 PM    NASCAR Live    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/26    Fri    2:30 PM    3:30 PM    NSCS Final Practice    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/26    Fri    3:30 PM    4:00 PM    Trackside    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/26    Fri    4:00 PM    5:00 PM    NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Richmond    ESPN2        Live
4/26    Fri    5:30 PM    7:00 PM    NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/26    Fri    7:00 PM    7:30 PM    NNS Countdown    Richmond    ESPNEWS        Live
4/26    Fri    7:30 PM    10:00 PM    NNS: ToyotaCare 250    Richmond    ESPNEWS    7:45 PM    Live
4/26    Fri    10:00 PM    10:30 PM    NASCAR Live    Richmond    SPEED        Tape
4/26    Fri    10:30 PM    11:30 PM    NSCS Final Practice    Richmond    SPEED        Tape
4/26    Fri    11:30 PM    1:00 AM    NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Richmond    SPEED        Tape
4/27    Sat    11:00 AM    12:00 PM    A Racer's Life: Richard Petty        SPEED        Tape
4/27    Sat    2:00 PM    3:00 PM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2        Live
4/27    Sat    4:00 PM    4:30 PM    SPEED Center NASCAR Edition        SPEED        Live
4/27    Sat    4:30 PM    6:30 PM    NASCAR RaceDay    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/27    Sat    7:00 PM    7:30 PM    NSCS Pre-Race Show    Richmond    FOX        Live
4/27    Sat    7:30 PM    11:00 PM    NSCS: Toyota Owners 400    Richmond    FOX    7:44 PM    Live
4/28    Sun    12:30 AM    1:00 AM    NASCAR Victory Lane    Richmond    SPEED        Live
4/28    Sun    8:30 PM    9:00 PM    NASCAR Victory Lane    Richmond    SPEED        Tape
4/28    Sun    9:00 PM    10:00 PM    NASCAR Hall of Fame Biography: Class of 2013        SPEED        Tape

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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