Tuesday April 9, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The 2013 northeast racing season got its official start this past weekend as the Waterford Speedbowl hosted Budweiser Blastoff. Budweiser Blastoff Weekend marked the beginning of the 63rd consecutive season of racing at the shoreline oval.

After drawing 128 cars for practice on the week previous the Speedbowl drew 197 cars, including 30 Valenti Modified Racing Series cars and 26 SK Modifieds. It was cold and blustery but dry none the less.

Sunday’s winners included Steve Masse of Bellingham, MA in the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event, the popular northeastern tour’s 10th anniversary season opener. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action Keith Rocco of Meriden scored wins in both the SK Modified® and Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division races, the second consecutive season he has opened the year with wins in each division. Corey Hutchings of Salem was the Street Stock winner and Garrett Denton of Hope Valley, RI won the Mini Stock feature. Todd Bertrand of Suffield took down a popular win in the Northeastern Midget Association race.

Keith Rocco scored a convincing win in the SK Modified portion of Blastoff 2013. Rocco started third in the 26 car starting field. By lap seven he was in the lead. One of the few that didn't pit for fresh rubber, Rocco held off Ron Yuhas Jr who finished second. Rob Janovic finished third with Craig Lutz and Ted Christopher rounding out the top five. Eleven of the 26 original starters completed the 63 lap distance. The win was Rocco’s fourth consecutive Budweiser Blastoff weekend win and 45th career victory in the division.

Ten cars were collected in a massive wreck with less than ten laps to go. During a restart with nine laps remaining Nicole Morgillo took over second spot after roughing up Rob Janovic in a dive under-elbow job which moved him up and out of the racing groove. Janovic maintained motion as Ted Christopher went by and subsequently made contact after trying to pass the young lady on the low side. The two made contact and Boom!, Morgillo hit the wall. Morgillo was credited with 12th finishing position.

In Valenti Modified Racing Series action Steve Masse took the lead with four laps to go and went on to take the series opening 100 lap win. Todd Annarummo finished second with Anthony Nocella, third. Rowan Pennink and Mike Holdredge rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Louis Mechalides, Mike Willis, Jr., Norm Wrenn, Dana Smith and Keith Rocco. Of note was the fact that Tom Barrett Jr was displaced out of a top ten finish after he was put to the rear for spinning Chris Pasteryak on the 98th lap.

There was a total of 33 cars on hand. The Valenti Modified Racing Series next visits New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway on Saturday evening, April 20th.

Saturday’s main events at the Speedbowl saw Randy Churchill of Oakdale winning the evening’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified race, Keith Rocco of Meriden scoring the honors in the NEMA Lite touring series race, and Chris Turbush of Riverhead, NY won in the visiting New England Truck Series. In INEX racing, Dana Dimatteo of Farmington claimed the win in the opening day Legend Cars feature and New Jersey driver Alex McCollum won the Bandolero feature.

Other winners included Jon Porter of Canterbury in Super X-Cars and Wayne Shifflett of Preston in the X-Cars. Rocco's NEMA Lite win was later dis-allowed as it was determined that the car in which he drove was under weight and had illegal fuel. Mike and Ted Christopher must have felt a little bit older after the running of the legends feature. Mike Christopher Jr, son of Mike and nephew of Ted finished 15th in his debut race.

Waterford native Tom "Sid" DiMaggio, a long-time track enthusiast, will receive one of the John Wentworth Good Sport Awards from the Connecticut Sports Writers' Alliance during its annual Gold Key Dinner on April 28. DiMaggio has devoted countless hours compiling statistical data at the Speedbowl, which culminated in the launch of a website - - as well as a documentary film project that will be released in 2014.

The Speedbowl returns to action for its first regular show of the 2013 season this coming Saturday night. A 6-division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event is scheduled to begin with qualifying at 5:00pm and main events at 7:00pm.

The Thompson Speedway opens for the season this coming weekend with IceBreaker 2013. The Ice Breaker will officially begin the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. The paddock area will open at 8 am on Saturday, April 13th with practice for all divisions getting underway two hours later. Practice will continue until qualifying begins at 3 pm. General admission grandstands will open at 11 am. Sunday’s schedule has the paddock opening at 9 am with pre race ceremonies slated for 11:45 am. The first race of the 7-race lineup will start shortly after 12 Noon.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is back in action at South Boston (Va.) Speedway this coming Saturday, April 13.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on the positive side. Speedway Motorsports led the way as they went up 0.45 to 18.49. Dover Entertainment went up 0.14 to 2.14 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.16 to 32.84. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.02 to 6.23 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 2.12 to 48.57 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.45 to 12.16. The domestic car builders had a negative week as Ford dropped 0.71 to 12.44 and General Motors dropped 0.30 to 27.52. In the foreign sector Toyota went up 3.86 to 106.50. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.28 to 70.06 and Lowes went up 0.47 to 38.39. In big team sponsorship Coca-Cola went up 1.16 to 61.48 and Target Department Stores went up 0.40 to 68.85 while Dupont dropped 0.47 to 48.69, Aarons Rentals dropped 1.02 to 27.66 and Fedex dropped 2.70 to 95.50.

There is lots of racing action on TV this week:

4    10    Wed    12:00 PM    3:00 PM    NSCS Replay    Martinsville    SPEED        Tape
4    11    Thurs    3:00 PM    4:00 PM    NASCAR K&N Pro Series    Greenville    SPEED        Tape
4    12    Fri    12:00 PM    12:30 PM    NASCAR Live    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    12    Fri    12:30 PM    2:00 PM    NSCS Practice    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    12    Fri    2:00 PM    3:00 PM    Trackside    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    12    Fri    3:00 PM    4:30 PM    NSCS Final Practice    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    12    Fri    5:00 PM    6:00 PM    NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Texas    ESPN2        Live
4    12    Fri    6:30 PM    8:00 PM    NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    12    Fri    8:00 PM    8:30 PM    NNS Countdown    Texas    ESPN2        Live
4    12    Fri    8:30 PM    11:00 PM    NNS: O'Reilly Auto Parts 300    Texas    ESPN2    8:47 PM    Live
4    13    Sat    4:00 AM    6:00 AM    NNS: O'Reilly Auto Parts 300        ESPN2        Tape
4    13    Sat    2:00 PM    3:00 PM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2        Live
4    13    Sat    2:00 PM    4:00 PM    Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge    Birmingham    SPEED        Tape
4    13    Sat    4:30 PM    5:00 PM    SPEED Center NASCAR Edition        SPEED        Live
4    13    Sat    5:00 PM    7:00 PM    NASCAR RaceDay    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    13    Sat    7:00 PM    7:30 PM    NSCS Pre-Race Show    Texas    FOX        Live
4    13    Sat    7:00 PM    11:00 PM    NSCS: Texas 500    Texas    FOX    7:46 PM    Live
4    13    Sat    11:00 PM    11:30 PM    NASCAR Victory Lane    Texas    SPEED        Live
4    14    Sun    1:30 PM    2:00 PM    NCWTS SetUp    Rockingham    SPEED        Live
4    14    Sun    2:00 PM    4:30 PM    NCWTS: NCWTS 200    Rockingham    SPEED    2:18 PM    Live
4    14    Sun    8:30 PM    9:00 PM    NASCAR Victory Lane    Texas    SPEED        Tape
4    14    Sun    9:00 PM    10:00 PM    Beyond 200: The Hendrick Motorsports Story        SPEED        Tape
4    15    Mon    12:30 AM    1:00 AM    NASCAR Victory Lane    Texas    SPEED        Tape
4    15    Mon    12:00 PM    12:30 PM    NCWTS SetUp    Rockingham    SPEED        Tape
4    15    Mon    12:30 PM    3:00 PM    NCWTS: NCWTS 200    Rockingham    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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