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Tuesday August 29, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                           Click on any photo for Full Size Version
 

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads for the sunny south this weekend. The Martinsville Speedway will turn on the lights for this Saturday nights event. The month of September will be a busy one for NASCAR’s oldest racing division. Following the Martinsville event the Modifieds head for the Thompson Speedway on Sept 10 where they will be a vital part of “Modified Mania” with a 150 lap feature. Five days later, on Friday, September 15, the Modifieds will run a 100 mile event at the New Hampshire Int Speedway. Rounding out the month will be a Sunday, Sept 24th visit to the Waterford Speedbowl.

Current point leader Mike Stefanik leads the charge into September. In ten starts, Stefanik has recorded nine top tens including one win. Sitting in second spot is series money leader Ted Christopher. With three wins in ten starts Christopher trails Stefanik by 71 points. Defending series champion Tony Hirschman is 113 points behind the leader. In ten starts Hirschman has seven top tens including one win. Rounding out the top five are Ed Flemke JR and James Civali.

The SK Modified, the cheaper alternative to the full-blown Tour type Modified is the lead division at Stafford, Waterford and Thompson. Originally conceived as a low cost alternative to the Tour type Modifieds, the SKs have escalated in price to the point where cars are being parked because of the costs to be competitive. Engines are now in the $20-25,000 range and its and its monkey see, monkey do world because if one wants to beat his competition one has to equal his competition’s equipment. The Waterford Speedbowl Management announced that the Speedbowl SK Modified Spec Engine is ready for release. Extensive testing on the track and on a dynamometer has resulted in an engine package that develops power in parity with the SK “Open” motor.
 
The objective of the program was to create a lower cost alternative to the current SK Modified engine. This new motor is not intended to totally replace the use of open motors. The use of the SK Spec engine is not going to be mandatory. The package is based on the GM Performance Circle Track Fast Burn crate engine (88958604). Added to that is a spec carburetor, complete ignition system and numerous other accessories. A GM “Hot Cam Kit” is installed to bring the power up to the level needed for SK competition.

The engine is dyno tested before delivery to ensure that it produces the proper horsepower and to check for any initial running flaws. The engine comes from the factory with GM’s state-of-the-art seal bolts in place. Additional seals may be installed before delivery. The sealing of the engines is intended to reduce technical inspection costs for the racer.
 
Based on the current actual trading price of the base motor, the total price of the Speedbowl SK Modified Spec Engine package will be $7,975.00. Additional savings compared to the open motor will come from a much lower annual maintenance cost of $2500.00 and the use of spec headers. Several other exceptions to the SK Modified rules will be allowed for the Spec engine.

Interested racers should contact the Speedbowl office at 860-442-1585 or racemail@speedbowl.com.  A detailed report on the program is available and can be found at www.speedbowl.com.

Woody Pitkat scored his third win of the year at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night as he took the top spot in the Sunoco Modified feature. Pitkat held off Todd Ceravolo, Tom Cravenho and Jeff Malave. Numerous wrecks and spins slowed the progress of the event. In the end only 10 of the original 27 starters were still running. Pitkats win put him in a tie for the track championship and NASCAR Regional standings with Malave. Paul Charette rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco was clearly the fastest in the early going. Although he ended up ninth the second generation driver pretty much had his night turn sour after he lost it on a restart and was ping-ponged by much of the field. Jimmy Blewett, the previous weeks winner, was also collected in the Rocco crash.
 
Norm Wrenn who has had more than his share of bad luck of late won the Pro Stock feature. Corey Hutchings rebounded from a bad week to score the Late Model triumph. Danny Cates scored his third win of the season in the Limited Sportsman division, Tim Sullivan of scored his second in the TIS Modifieds, and Ron Rixham claimed win number one on the season in the Mini Stocks.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway came very close to declaring another rainout on Friday as close to two inches of rain dumped on central Connecticut around noon. The Arute family remained patient and the skies cleared for another night of racing. Willie Hardie took his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season, Ryan Posocco took his second feature win of the season in the Late Model feature, and Andrew Durand was a winner for the third time this season in the Limited Late Model feature. There were two first time winners as Matt Gallo took the SK Light feature and Barry Fluckiger was the DARE Stock feature winner.
 
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Willie Hardie picked up his first feature win of the 2006 season with a strong drive. Hardie took the lead from polesitter Lloyd Agor on a lap-3 restart, and he then had to hold off multiple strong challenges from Frank Ruocco on several restarts to take the win. Ruocco finished second, with Agor, Todd Owen, and Chris Jones rounding out the top-5. In the chase for the SK Modified championship, Ruocco took over the points lead from Jeff Malave, who blew a transmission on the opening lap. Malave finished dead last in the 24 car starting field. Ruocco has a 12 point lead over Todd Owen, 474-462. Woody Pitkat remains third, 30 points behind, Malave fell to fourth, 38 points behind, and Eric Berndt is fifth, 44 points behind. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Ryan Posocco, gave his hard luck season a turn towards the better with his second feature win of the 2006 season. Wayne Coury, Jr. started the race from the pole and led the first 7 laps of the race. Posocco moved past Coury on lap-8 to take over the lead and he then held off Woody Pitkat on a late race restart to take the win. Pitkat finished second, with Todd Owen, Jim Peterson, and Mark Lewis rounding out the top-5. In the chase for the Late Model track championship, Pitkat maintained the points lead with his second place finish. Pitkat now has 578 points, which puts him 16 points ahead of Jim Peterson, who is second. Todd Owen remains third, 24 points behind, Scott Foster, Jr. remains fourth, 114 points behind, and Posocco moved up to fifth, 152 points behind.
 
Because of early season rainouts the Stafford Speedway will be running every Friday night through the month of September.

Chris Pasteryak redeemed himself of a previous miscue at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night as he won the 35 lap SK Modified feature. Pasteryak, a second-generation driver, was in contention to win at the shoreline oval the previous week when he missed a shift on a restart. He more than made up for it on Saturday night. Pasteryak held off Rob Summers over the final 16 laps to take the victory. In doing so, he moved himself into second in the point race. Summers worked him over but to no avail as he tried high and low before settling for second. Point leader Dennis Gada finished second with Jeffrey Paul and Rob Janovic rounding out the top five.
 
Mark Bakaj set a track record with his sixth straight Legends victory. Bakaj rode the Legends feature win into the record book, equaling the six straight Saturday night victories of Ed Bunnell, the latter doing it in 1966 in the Bomber division. Other winners were Tim Jordan in the regularly scheduled Late Model 30 lapper; Glenn Colvin in the continuation of the Aug. 19th Late Model feature; Joe Bertholet in the Sportsman 20 lapper and Dave Sylvia in the Mini Stock 20 lapper.

In TV land this week viewing begins on Wednesday at 4:00pm with the Aug 23 USAR Hooters Pro Cup ‘250' that was run in Bristol, TN. At 8:00pm the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the August 4th World of Outlaws event at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg (New Weston), OH. Thursday’s action begins at noon when the Speed Channel reruns last Friday night’s NASCAR Busch Series Food City 250 that was run in Bristol, TN. A replay of last Saturday night’s Nextel Cup race at Bristol follows at 2:30. Friday’s viewing begins at 4:00pm with the Aug 19 NASCAR Grand National Busch East Series 150 that was run at the Waterford Speedbowl in Waterford, CT. Speed goes live at 5:30 from the California Speedway. NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying from California follows at 6:30. Live coverage continues at 9:00pm with the ARCA RE/MAX Series Hantz Group 200 from Toledo, OH. Highlights from the Aug 12 Super Clean Knoxville Nationals start the Saturday viewing at noon. At 4:00, NESN presents NASCAR New England which showcases the weekly racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway. At 5:00pm the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the Aug 19 USAC Thunder: Silver Crown Sprints at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, IL. Speed goes live at 6:30 with NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying for the Ameriquest 300 at the California Speedway in Fontana CA. TNT picks up the live coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series, Ameriquest 300 at 10:00pm. With the exception of a one hour version of Raceday from the California at 11:00 on Speed, the viewing will be scarce until 7:00pm when NBC presents live coverage of the Nextel Cup Sony HD 500 from the California Speedway in Fontana, CA. While the Fontana race is on the Speed Channel will host the Speed Report at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. NASCAR Victory Lane at 11:00 on Speed wraps up the California event.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene, two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Dover Downs had the only positive ending as they went up 0.12 to 5.62. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.80 to 35.77 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.78 to 47.34. Nextel/Sprint dropped another 0.12 to 16.29 while Sun Oil went up 0.28 to 77.31. Featherlite Trailers went up 0.01 to 6.35 while DIRT dropped 0.20 to 2.90. The drug sector had a positive but modest week. Pfizer went up 0.18 to 27.23 and Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.04 to 21.68. While drugs were up the home improvement sector took a pounding as Lowes dropped 2.77 to 26.25 and Home Depot dropped 1.29 to 33.48. The parcel carriers were also down for the week. Fedex dropped 4.73 to 99.15 and UPS dropped 0.51 to 70.57.


That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com  


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