Tuesday August 1, 2006   

By Phil Smith

Last week was a busy one for competitors and fans in the southern New England region. The weekend started off on Wednesday when the True Value Modified Racing Series paid a visit to the Seekonk Speedway. The event, Modified Madness, carried a purse of $31,000 and was sponsored by Viveiros Insurance. Forty-two competitors from nine states attempted to qualify for the 26-car event at the 1/3-mile Bay State oval, which drew the largest crowd of the season at the track, which has been in continuous operation since 1946.

Defending True Value Modified Racing Series champion Kirk Alexander started on the pole after winning his qualifying heat and led the first 30 laps while former NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series national champion Ted Christopher gradually worked his way to second from his sixth place starting spot. Christopher pulled alongside Alexander and the pair raced wheel to wheel for several laps before the second of six cautions waved for a minor incident involving Jack Bateman on lap 34. Christopher, driving the Joe Brady No.00 took the lead on the restart and proceeded to pace the next 49 circuits with Alexander never less than a car length away. Andy Seuss passed Louie Mechalides for third three laps before the halfway mark, with Ed Brunnhoelzl III in fifth, ahead of Bobby Grigas, Rob Summers, Les Hinckley, and local favorites Vinnie Annarummo and Dick Houlihan. On lap 51, Hinckley got loose in turn three, resulting in a multi-car pileup that saw John Blewett III hitting the outside concrete nose-first. After a Brunnhoelzl spin triggered a lap 77 restart, Alexander hounded Christopher, looking for a way back around the leader. As the duo entered turn three on lap 83, Alexander put the bumper to the leader which resulted in Christopher spinning into the infield grass to bring out the final caution. The True Value Modified Racing Series officials chose not to penalize Alexander for the contact. Mechalides and Seuss ran a spirited battle for second during the final sprint to the checkers, but no one would catch Alexander, who claimed the $10,000 win. “I know,” the victor acknowledged, as many of the spectators voiced their displeasure at the outcome. “We were racing very hard out there. I got into him. I didn’t mean to, and I backed off and tried to let him save it, but he went around. I don’t like to win a race that way.” Mechalides earned $3,500 for his stellar runner-up effort while Seuss was equally pleased with his third place finish, worth $2,500. Chuck Hossfeld came from 26th to finish fourth, ahead of former Seekonk competitor Bobby Grigas, Cement Palace regular Vinnie Annarummo, and John McKennedy. Chris Pasteryak, Ryan Preece, and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top ten. Christopher ended up 13th. Defending race winner Donnie Lia was involved in a heat race crash and ended up among the 16 non-qualifiers.

At the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night, Joe Lemay scored his career first victory as the Sunoco Modifieds went pole to pole. Lemay ran to the victory nearly a half straightaway ahead of second place finisher Tom Cravenho Bert Marvin turned his early season bad luck around as he finished third. Woody Pitkat and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Pitkat took over the point lead with his finish. In the Pro Stocks Jeff Zuidema dodged a bullet in the Pro Stock main event to take down his third win of the season. After destroying his car the week before, Zuidema’s crew pulled out a potent back-up car, enabling Zuidema to score the victory. Rick Gentes made it two straight in the Late Models. Leo Oliviera of Raynham, MA became the third different winner in three weeks in the TIS Modified division and Shelly Perry scored her third Mini Stock victory of the season.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Holland Int. Speedway last Saturday night. There were 30 cars on hand which wasn’t bad considering the distance competitors had to travel. Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Tony Hirschman ended a long dry spell as he scored his first victory of the season in the Paul Graff Trucking 100. Hirschman, driving the Kamco Supply Chevrolet, passed Todd Szegedy on lap 34 and led the rest of the race holding off challenges from Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik Hirschman started the race in the sixth position. He was in the Top-3 by lap 15, and was second by lap 24. He raced wheel to wheel with Szegedy for a couple laps before pulling ahead for good. It was the 35th career win for Hirschman and his second at Holland. He now trails Stefanik by 21 points in the race fore the series championship. Christopher held off a late race challenge by Mike Stefanik and finished second. Stefanik, who led the first 10 laps before giving way to Szegedy, was third in the Diversified Metals Chevrolet. Eddie Flemke, winner of the series last race at Holland, finished fourth in the Red Line Oil/Ron Bouchard Chevrolet. Jerry Marquis rounded out the Top-5 in the Reynolds Auto Wrecking Dodge. The race distance was increased to 117 laps as 27 laps of caution were run but only 10 counted toward the scheduled race distance of 100 laps. Second generation driver Matt Hirschman set fast time in qualifying to record his first Bud Pole Award. Jimmy Blewett was the Featherlite Most Improved Driver. Marquis collected the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award. Danny Sammons was the Rookie of the Race.

There were four cautions for 27 laps. Sixth through tenth were Szegedy, Sammons, Dick Houlihan, Jimmy Blewett and James Civali. The next race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at Riverhead, N.Y.this coming Saturday on August 5.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the weather as violent thunderstorms hammered most of Connecticut on Friday night.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl led from start to finish and survived a number of restarts as he romped to victory in the 35-lap SK-Modified feature Saturday. It was his second victory of the season and the 21st career win for Pearl. Chris Pasteryak finished second with point leader Dennis Gada edging Rob Janovic for fourth. Point leader Tim Jordan won his fourth Late Model feature of the season. Other winners included Ronnie Oldham Jr. in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Ken Cassidy in the 20-lap Mini Stock event. Mark Bakaj won the INEX 50-lap Legends National Qualifier.

In TV land, this weeks viewing will begin on Wednesday, August 2 at noon when the Speed Channel comes alive with the World of Outlaws Late Model Series 'Rumble On The River 50', that was run at the Virginia Motor Speedway in Jamaica, VA, on Apr 15. At 4:00pm it’s the Outlaws from Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, MN. At 4:00pm it’s the USAR Hooters Pro Cup from Salem, IN. The action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the World of Outlaws, Kings Royal from the Eldora Speedway in Ohio. Rounding out the day at midnight will be the NASCAR, Busch Silver Celebration 250, Gateway Intl. Raceway. St. Louis, MO. Speed goes live at 3:30pm on Thursday with Nextel Cup practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Live action switches to the Indianapolis Raceway Park at 5:30 for qualifying for the Sears Craftsman Truck Power Stroke Diesel 400. The actual race gets the green at 8:30pm. The action switches to TNT on Saturday at 10:00am for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying. The NASCAR Busch Series Kroger 200, O’Reilly Raceway Park, Clermont, IN, gets the green at 9:00pm on TNT. Sunday’s viewing begins at noon with a two hour presentation of RaceDay which will preview the racing from the brickyard. The action switches to NBC at 2:00pm for the NASCAR Nextel Cup, Allstate 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Race Day at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm wrap up the days activity. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain finishes up the day at 9:00pm

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene, all three-speedway stocks were up for the week. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 2.12 to 46.22. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.99 to 36.75 and Dover Downs went up 0.47 to 5.97. Nextel went up 1.38 to 20.52 while the Sun Oil Company went up 5.48 to 68.32. Featherlite Trailers went up 1.76 to 6.33 while DIRT Motorsports showed a no change for the week at 3.00. In the drug sector Pfizer went up 2.28 to 26.11 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 1.04 to 24.47. The home improvement sector had a positive week as Home Depot went up 0.74 to 34.59 and Lowes went up 0.59 to 28.70. The parcel carriers took a pounding for the week. UPS dropped 8.72 to 70.01 and Fedex dropped 3.20 to 105.29.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail  

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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