Tuesday April 30, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Stafford Motor Speedway this past weekend for the annual Spring Sizzler. Originally an 80 lap open competition race that drew close to 100 cars, now the Sizzler is NASCAR sanctioned, extended to 200 laps and drew 26 cars. The starting field was advertised by NASCAR to be 33 cars.

In Saturday qualifying Bobby Santos III was the pole sitter as he toured the half mile oval in18.082 seconds which calculated out to be 99.547mph. Todd Szegedy was second fastest with Rowan Pennink, third. Chuck Hossfeldt and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.

Bobby Santos III left little doubt in anyone's mind as he literally cleaned house at Stafford as he led all 200 laps in spite of making a pit stop for tires during a caution period on lap 104. Santos, thanks to a quick pit stop, lined up along side Patrick Emerling who chose not to pit. When the green flag was displayed on lap 107 Santos blew him away two laps later as he re-took the lead. Santos withstood six cautions and restarts to score the dominating win. Justin Bonsignore, who was having fuel starvation problems on the final lap, managed to finish second. Ted Christopher, Stafford's top feature winner, didn't pit when the leaders pitted on lap 104. Instead, he waited until lap 136 before taking on fresh tires. Despite a charge from the rear Christopher fell short and had to settle for third spot in the finish. Ryan Preece and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Jimmy Blewett and Mike Stefanik.

Thirteen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap. Ten cautions slowed the field. Caution no.1 came on lap 2 when Woody Pitkat lost an engine in the Hillbilly No.79. The second caution flew on lap 46 for Chuck Hossfeldt who had a malfunction in his car's suspension causing him to spin. Ronnie Silk was having handling problems as he spun between turns one and two, bringing out the third caution. Wade Cole spun in turn four on lap 102, bringing out the fourth caution. Patrick Emerling brought out caution no.5 when he spun in turn four on lap 134. Caution no.6 was for Ken Heagy who spun in turn four on lap 142. Caution no.7 on lap 149 ended up in a red flag situation. Ronnie Silk, who was fighting a loose car, over corrected after getting loose on the backstretch. Silk hit the wall and collected the cars of Bryon Chew. Gary McDonald and Richie Pallai. Caution no.8 was for Ed Flemke Jr who spun in turn two and caution no.9 was a result of a wreck triggered when Ted Christopher got loose on lap 184 and collected Todd Szegedy and Richie Pallai. Christopher was able to continue. The tenth and final caution was for Flemke and Pallai who wrecked in turn two.

In other Spring Sizzler action, Ryan Preece was the SK Modified winner. Todd Owen was second with Doug Coby, third. Dan Avery and Glenn Reen rounded out the top five with Ted Christopher, sixth. Mike Stefanik relieved injured Keith Rocco and finished seventh. JJ Hill went pole to pole to win the Late Model event.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series goes on Spring Break until Saturday, May 11, when the action resumes at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. The Stafford Motor Speedway begins it's regular Friday night series starting this week.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Joe Gada made history Saturday night when he became the first third generation driver to win an SK Modified feature at the Connecticut shoreline oval.

Gada took the lead on lap 6 and cruised to an easy victory in the 35-lap feature. Joe's father, Dennis Gada, is the only driver in track history to win seven championships and his grandfather, Bob Gada, was also a winner in the Modified division. The Gada family has won 11 track championships and more than 120 races at the Speedbowl. Ted Christopher was a distant second and Diego Monahan was third. Keith Rocco and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.

In other Speedbowl action, defending division champion Dillon Moltz won the 30-lap Late Model race, Josh Galvin won the 25-lap Street Stock feature, Ian Brew captured the 25-lap Mini Stock race and Corey Coates won the visiting New England Truck Series feature.

The Seekonk Speedway set to kick off 68th season of action this coming Sunday, May 5th, with a six division spectacular. Headlining the day will be the A.R.C. Pro Stocks in a 40 lap main event. The Pro Stocks have been headlining the action at Seekonk for over 30 years, and this season is shaping up to be another exciting chase.

During the opening ceremonies we will announce the first ever inductees of the Seekonk Speedway/630 WPRO Wall of Fame. Almost 1,000 people voted, and everyone is excited about this opportunity to honor those that have shaped the history and the future of the historic speedway.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is on an extended Spring Break until July 5 when they return to the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina.

Modified action in the south moved to the Mad House, Bowman Gray Stadium. Tim Brown led every lap of the Hayes Jewelers 200. The victory was the 67th of Brownís Bowman Gray career, and it follows a 2012 season in which he won eight races and a record ninth stadium title.

Brown, who last won the season-opening main event in 2010, took the lead from pole-winner Jason Myers on the opening lap and never looked back. Brown withstood 12 double-file restarts, holding off Myers and Danny Bohn, as well as a final single-file restart after a caution that extended the race to 204 laps. Myers finished second and Bohn, the runner-up in last seasonís opener, finished third. John Smith was fourth, and Burt Myers, who had won the last two season-openers, finished fifth.

On a sad note, Waterford Speedbowl Championship car owner Al Gaudreau passed away on Saturday night. Gaudreau's cars, with Dick Dunn driving, scored countless wins and won four consecutive track championships from1972-1975. Proor to retirement Gaudreau owned Quality Auto Electric in New London.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks showed a modest gain. Dover Entertainment remained flat at 2.08 while Speedway Motorsports went up 0.11 to 17.65 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.04 to 32.50. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.05 to 7.12 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.71 to 48.91 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.37 to 12.51. The car builders had a banner week. Leading the pack was Toyota which jumped 3.22 to 115.48. General Motors went up 1.35 to 30.50 and Ford went up 0.74 to 13.67. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.65 to 73.35 and Lowes dropped 0.42 to 37.70. The big race team sponsors were all over the lot. Target went up 1.48 to 70.52, Dupont went up 2.71 to 52.90, Coca-Cola went up 0.50 to 60.94 and Fedex went up 1.59 to 94.18 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.29 to 28.24.

DuPont announced that its board of directors has approved a 4.7% increase in its quarterly cash dividend from $0.43 per share to $0.45 per share. The payout represents the 435th consecutive quarterly dividend since DuPont first began paying a dividend in the fourth quarter of 1904. The new, higher payment will be made on June 12 to stockholders of record as of May 15.

In TV land this week:

5/2    Thurs    1:30 AM    2:00 AM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2   
5/3    Fri    1:00 AM    1:30 AM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2   
5/3    Fri    12:00 PM    2:00 PM    NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Talladega    ESPN2   
5/3    Fri    2:00 PM    3:00 PM    NSCS Practice    Talladega    SPEED   
5/3    Fri    3:30 PM    4:30 PM    NSCS Final Practice    Talladega    SPEED   
5/4    Sat    12:00 PM    2:30 PM    NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Talladega    SPEED   
5/4    Sat    2:30 PM    3:00 PM    NNS Countdown    Talladega    ESPN    
5/4    Sat    3:00 PM    6:00 PM    NNS: Aaron's 312    Talladega    ESPN    3:36 PM
5/5    Sun    9:00 AM    10:00 AM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2   
5/5    Sun    12:00 PM    1:00 PM    NSCS Pre-Race Show    Talladega    FOX   
5/5    Sun    1:00 PM    4:30 PM    NSCS: Aaron's 499    Talladega    FOX   

Thatís 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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