Tuesday August 8, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                           Click on any photo for Full Size Version

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island last Saturday night. Forty-one Modifieds including 11 Riverhead regulars were on hand to try and grab one of the 28 starting spots that were available for the 200-lap contest. Ted Christopher was the top qualifier as he toured the ľ mile oval in 12.027 seconds. Second fastest was Riverhead regular Ken Heagy. Tom Rogers, another local runner, qualified fifth and won the re-draw, which gave him the pole starting position. Rogers took the lead at the opening green and held it until lap 52 when Chuck Steuer, another Riverhead regular took the point. Meanwhile Christopher was methodically working his way to the front. Starting in eighth spot, the former Weekly Racing Champion broke into the top five on lap 20 and was in the top three by lap 53. Twelve laps later he was in the lead and never looked back. Chuck Hossfeld broke out of a season long slump as he finished second after starting seventh. Jerry Marquis started deep in the field in 18th spot and went on a determined march to the front, which rewarded him with a fourth place finish. Rounding out the top five was Mike Stefanik who came from provisional land, 24th starting spot. Sixth thru tenth were Mike Andrews, Chuck Steuer, Howie Brode, Todd Szegedy and Ed Flemke. Twelve caution periods for 85 laps kept the average speed at 41.929 MPH. Most of the cautions were for minor spins, which come with the territory of a short track. Fifteen of the original 28 starters were in the lead lap at the finish. The next stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series is this Friday night at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Thompson Speedway fought off temperatures nearing 100 degrees and threats of rain on Thursday night. The sultry night produced four first time winners. Tommy Cravenho thrilled the crowd with a last lap pass to score his first of Ď06 in the Sunoco Modifieds. Marc Palmisano dominated in the Late Model division to win his first of the year. Former Pro Stock champion Jeff Connors also made his first visit to Pro Stock victory lane on Thursday night. It was a career first for TIS Mod man Chad Hancock. Repeat winners included Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT in the Limited Sportsman division while Shelly Perry made it two in a row in Mini Stock competition. In the Sunoco Modifieds Cravenho made a last lap pass to the inside of Jeff Malave to ice the victory. The excitement got started even before the drop of the green flag and did not stop until the checkered flag flew. A flat tire at the start for Keith Rocco sent the pack scattering and the caution flying. Back under green the duo on the move were Marvin and Malave. Marvin moved around polesitter Buddy Charette to take the lead on lap two while Malave motored into the second spot. Ricky Shawn held the third spot but quickly had the company of Todd Ceravolo and Tommy Cravenho. A bid for the lead by Malave was halted when a spin by Geoff Gernhard brought out the eventís second caution on lap five. On the restart, Malave jumped into the lead while second-place runner Marvin was sent spinning after contact with Todd Ceravolo. Malave looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the ensuing single file restart. Cravenho took over the second position when Ceravolo got a touch out of shape in turn two. Cravenho quickly reeled in the leader Malave. Cravenho dove underneath Malave in a challenge for the lead on lap nine. Unable to make the pass stick he settled back in line. The lead duo began to get away form third place Ceravolo and a heated battle for the fourth spot between Woody Pitkat and Jimmy Blewett. The action cooled down when the caution flew for a spin by Earl Paulus. Malave was able to resume his place at the head of the pack with racing back under green. It only took a few laps for Cravenho to begin his chase for the lead. The battling inside the top-five between Ceravolo, Blewett, Piktat and Rocco was equally as exciting as that for the lead. A scary incident on lap 22 that involved Ricky Shawn, Gernhard and other slowed the action again. Back under green it was much of the same with Cravenho dogging Malave for the lead. Blewett had freed himself from Ceravolo, who now had his hands full with Piktat. Up front, Cravenho tried countless moves on leader Malave to no avail.until the final lap. Cravenho put his Falmouth Ready Mix #31 to the bottom-side of the track entering turn four, motored down the front stretch with the lead and under the checkers with the win. Malave had to settle for the second position. Blewett, Ceravolo and Piktat rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway returned to action on Friday night, with a NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series program consisting of its five weekly divisions. Stafford competitors followed the trend set at Thompson the previous night as there were three first time winners as John Blewett, III won the SK Modified feature, Ed Ricard won the Late Model feature, and Dan Flannery was the DARE Stock feature winner, while Chris Matthews and George Nocera were both repeat winners in the SK Light and Limited Late Model feature events.

In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, John Blewett, III, driving the Eddie Partridge No. 12, picked up his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season. Kenny Horton took the lead from the pole and he led the first 23-laps of the race. But contact between Horton and Frank Ruocco while battling for the race lead sent both cars spinning and brought out the caution flag. This put Jeff Baral out front, but he was overtaken by Blewett on lap-29. Once into the lead, Blewett was never headed as he held off a hard charging Ted Christopher over the final laps to capture his first SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season. Christopher finished second, with Baral, Curt Brainard, and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top-5

Jeffrey Paul was all but born in the grandstand of the Waterford Speedbowl. His dad, Gary and his grandfather, Arthur have been sponsors there for years. Gary Paul worked on cars driven by Todd Ceravolo and at one point owned one of his championship cars. Jeff spent many a Saturday night watching his dadís cars before moving up to a legend car after many successful years in a quarter midget. Last Saturday night Jeffrey Paul made a dream come true for himself along with his father and grandfather as he won his first SK Modified feature. Paul grabbed the lead at the start and then held off Tom Fox for 30 laps en route to his first-ever 35-lap SK-Modified feature Saturday night at theWaterford Speedbowl. Only a restart with four laps to go in interrupted the 18-year olds ride. Fox moved into second on the green and stayed right there until the checkered flag. Tim Jordan won for the fifth time in the Late Models. Other winners included Joe Curioso III (Sportsman), Richard Brooks (Mini Stocks) and Mike Keeler (Midgets).

In TV land, this weeks viewing will begin on Wednesday at 4:00pm on the Speed Channel with the August 5th USAR Hooters Pro Cup that was run in South Boston, Va. At 8:00pm the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for the World of Outlaws Sprinters. The Speed Channel will replay last Saturday nightís NASCAR Busch Series Kroger 200, from the OíReilly Raceway Park in Clermont, IN. starting at noon on Thursday with the Nextel Cup Replay: Allstate 400, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, IN, following at 2:30. Fridayís action begins at 2:00 with NASCAR Live from Watkins Glen. Live coverage on Speed continues at 3:00pm with NASCAR Nextel Cup Qualifying for the Nextel Cup at the Glen at Watkins Glen, NY. At 4:30 its Racing Across America, the NASCAR Grand National Busch East Series The Edge Hotel 150, which was run at the Adirondack Intl. Speedway in Beaver Falls, NY, on July 29. Speed goes live at 6:00pm from Watkins Glen for two hours at 6:00pm. Saturdayís action starts at 10:00 with NASCAR Nextel Cup Final Practice for the Nextel Cup at the Glen. NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying for the Zippo 200, follows at 11:00am. The action switches to NBC at 2:00pm for live coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen. At 4:00p.m. on NESN its NASCAR New England, weekly racing from Jack Aruteís Stafford Motor Speedway. NASCAR New England also airs at 5:00p.m. on Sunday. At 5:00 its back to the Speed Channel for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Toyota Tundra 200 from Nashville, TN. Also at 5:00 on the Outdoor Channel itís the USAC Thunder-Silver Crown cars from Milwaukee, WI. Later in the evening, at 10:00pm, the Speed Channel will present special live coverage of the Super Clean Knoxville Nationals, World of Outlaws-style sprint cars from Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, IA. Sundayís coverage begins at 11:00am on Speed with RaceDay preview of the days Nextel Cup race from Watkins Glen International. NBC goes with live coverage of the Nextel Cup at the Glen at 1:00. Race Day at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 wrap up the days racing. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Speed finishes up the day at 9:00p.m.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene, two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.34 to 46.56 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.29 to 36.46 and Dover Downs dropped 0.15 to 5.82. Based on a poor earnings forecast Nextel dropped 2.98 to 17.54. As fuel prices continue to go out of sight Sun Oil went up 5.82 to 74.14. Featherlite Trailers showed a no change for the week as closed where they started, at 6.33. DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.51 to 2.49. In the drug sector, Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 1.72 to 22.75 and Pfizer dropped 0.18 to 25.98. The home improvement sector had a positive week. Home Depot went up 0.12 to 34.71 and Lowes went up 0.08 to 28.78. For the third week in a row the parcel carriers were down. UPS dropped 2.27 to 67.74 and Fedex dropped 0.78 to 104.51.

Thatís 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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