Tuesday August 15, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                           Click on any photo for Full Size Version

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Somewhere up in the heavens the late Jack Arute had an ear to ear smile. His track was packed with fans, the pits were jammed with Modifieds and the New England Dodge Dealers 150 was one of the best Modified races in many moons. James Civali, who has nothing but the highest respect for the elder Arute, took the win after battling side by side and nose to tail with Reggie Ruggiero. Despite a night that had a hint of fall in the air the action was hot and heavy. A last lap desperation move by Ruggerio took him out of the runner-up spot and placed him ninth in the final rundown. Ruggerio felt that Civali was using too much track and put the bumper to the rear of the Don King owned mount. Ruggerio then spun to the infield and opened up the second spot to Kenny Barry who went on to record his best ever finish. Ditto for Chris Pasteryak and Matt Hirschman who finished third and fourth. Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.

There were 41 NASCAR Whelen Modifieds on hand for the third of four events scheduled for the Stafford Speedway in 2006. Tony Hirschman, who was the Busch Pole sitter, led the first 72 laps of the event when he appeared to take himself out of the event after “playing games” on a restart with Civali. Hirschman ended up 21st. Sixth through tenth in the final rundown were Todd Szegedy, Ed Flemke, Zach Sylvester, Ruggiero and Tom Bolles. Based on the fact that Ted Christopher finished in 22nd spot, Mike Stefanik was able to stretch his point lead to 101.

Ken Horton won the SK Modified event over Chris Jones and Ted Christopher. Jim Peterson picked up his second Late Model feature win of 2006, Brit Andersen was a winner for the third consecutive week in the SK Light feature, Rob Dow took his first career Limited Late Model feature win, and Raymond Grassetti took his first DARE Stock feature win of the 2006 season.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads for the Thompson Speedway this Thursday night. This event has become somewhat of a home coming and reunion of sorts as many of the big Modified driving names from years ago appear at this event. Among those expected are former NASCAR National Modified Champion Carl “Bugs” Stevens along with Leo Cleary, Billy Harman, George Summers, Ronnie Bouchard and Ron Narducci.

The Thompson Speedway fell victim to rain this past Saturday night. Before the rains came Jeff Malave and Jimmy Blewett took down heat race wins. During the rain delay both heat races winners were joined in the press box by fellow Sunoco Modified competitor Woody Pitkat. All three drivers answered questions from announcer Matt Buckler on their careers and the 2006 season. Other qualifying heat races winners included Kurt Vigeant in the TIS Modifieds and Mike Romano in the Mini Stocks. Ed Puleo and Kevin Bowe shared qualifying victories in the Limited Sportsman division. Malave and Pitkat, who are currently one-two in the track’s point standings, are also in contention for the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Division IV championship. Malave, with one feature win, holds a slim four point lead over Pitkat, who has two wins. Tom Cravenho, with one win and currently 12 points behind Pitkat, is third. Todd Ceravolo, with two wins is fourth with Bert Marvin rounding out the top five. Corey Hutchings, with three wins, leads the Late Models. Jeff Zuidema, also with three wins, leads the Pro Stocks and Larry Barnett, with two wins leads the Limited Sportsman. Shelly Perry, with four wins leads the Mini-Stock points.

It was a big night of racing at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday. Rob Janovic Jr. became the first three-time SK-Modified winner in the first SK-Modified feature, a make-up from a previous rainout. Janovic started on the outside pole and led every lap of the non-stop event. Point leader Dennis Gada took second with 11 laps to go and finished less than a car length behind. Diego Monahan was third. Shawn Monahan and Tommy Fox rounded out the top five.

Diego Monahan won for the second time in second 35-lap SK-Modified feature. Monahan held off Janovic and Gada for 17 laps in what was clearly the most exciting battle of the season. Monahan, who led the entire race, won a guaranteed spot in the heralded North South Shootout race in North Carolina in November. Chris Pasteryak and Shawn Monahan rounded out the top five. Last weeks SK Modified winner Jeff Paul recorded a 10th and a sixth.

Tim Jordan passed six cars on the outside including Glenn Colvin for the lead with eight left en route to his fifth Late Model victory. Mark St. Hilaire nipped Colvin for third with Dave Zemke and Larry Goss following.

Dwayne Dorr took over on lap 12, survived a restart with four laps remaining and went on to grab his ninth Sportsman feature of the season. Dorr and eventual runner-up Billy Gertsch Jr. ran side-by-side for several laps on either side of a mid-race restart. Point leader Richard Staskowski was third.

Chris Willliams won the Mini Stock race which was red checkered at the midpoint. Officials stopped the race after the 10th caution. The red/checkered ended a Williams/Bill Leonard battle.
Mark Bakaj beat back brother Chris on two restarts over the final five laps and went on to win the Legends feature. Jason Palmer, Michael Gervais Jr. and Aaron Drake completed the top five.

In TV land, this weeks viewing will begin on Wednesday, August 16 on the Speed Channel with the August 12 USAR Hooters Pro Cup event from the Peach State Speedway in Jefferson, GA. At 8:00pm the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the World of Outlaws, Summer Nationals that were held at the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsville, PA, on July 22. Thursday’s action will begin at noon on the Speed Channel with last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Zippo 200 from Watkins Glen, NY. A re-play of last Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup, Nextel Cup at the Glen, follows at 2:30. Speed goes live on Friday from the Michigan Int. Speedway at 3:00pm with Nextel Cup qualifying for the GFS Marketplace 400. Live coverage continues at 5:00 with the ARCA RE/MAX Series “200", from MIS. Saturday’s viewing begins at 11:30 with NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for the Carfax 250, from MIS. The Carfax 250 gets the green at 2:45 PM on TNT. At 4:00p.m., on NESN, its NASCAR New England, weekly racing from Jack Arute’s Stafford Motor Speedway. NASCAR New England also airs at 5:00p.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup, GFS Marketplace 400, gets the green at 2:45 on TNT. NASCAR Victory Lane from Michigan airs at 7:00pm. The Speed Report follows at 8:00pm. And Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain and Robin Miller follows at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation took the big hit as they dropped 1.10 to 45.46. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.90 to 35.56 and Dover Downs dropped 0.25 to 5.57. Nextel dropped 0.92 to 16.62 while Sun Oil went up 4.27 to 78.41. Featherlite Trailers was again a no change as they remained dormant at 6.33. DIRT Motorsports went up 0.06 to 2.55. In the drug sector, Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 2.51 to 20.24 and Pfizer dropped 0.16 to 25.82. The home improvement sector was also down. Lowes dropped 0.68 to 28.10 while Home Depot dropped 0.44 to 33.27. The parcel carriers were also negative for the week. Fedex dropped 6.17 to 98.34 and UPS dropped 1.23 to 66.51.

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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