Tuesday August 14, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                  Click on Photos For Full Size              

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour started the weekend of on a wet note as rain washed out the scheduled event at Stafford on Friday. The entire event was rescheduled for Saturday night. Ted Christopher ended an almost year long dry spell as he won the event over Todd Szegedy and Mike Stefanik.

It was Christopher’s seventh win at the track where he is the all-time winning-est driver and the points leader in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series’ SK Modified Division. But it was his first trip to Victory Lane on the Whelen Modified Tour since Aug. 17, 2006 at Thompson (Conn.).

Christopher led 58 laps before pitting on lap 76. He quickly worked his way back up front and retook the lead on lap 114. Doug Coby, making his first start of the season for the No. 77 Race Against Cancer Foxwoods/Subway Pontiac, finished fourth. Donny Lia (No. 4 Dodge), who won the first two Whelen Modified Tour stops of the season at Stafford, was fifth. Matt Hirschman, Jerry Marquis, Eric Beers, Jimmy Blewett and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top 10.

Thirty two cars, light by Tour standards, were on hand. All started the event. Numerous wrecks and spins were the cause of 13 caution periods as almost half (73laps) of the 150-lap distance was run under the yellow.
After only three days off the Whelen Modifieds head for the Thompson Speedway this Thursday (Aug 16) for another 150-lap event. Donnie Lia continues to lead the point standings with a 92-point lead over Matt Hirschman, Todd Szegedy, Ron Silk and James Civali.

In True Value Modified Series action Jon McKennedy took the checkers at the Canaan Speedway in New Hampshire.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Keith Rocco picked up his third Sunoco Modified (Sk) win of the year. Jay Macedonio wired the field for his first-career Pro Stock win. Rick Gentes continued his dominance of the Late Model division with his sixth win of the season. Larry Barnett turned his recent bad luck around with a win in the Limited Sportman division while Kurt Vigeant made it two in a row in TIS Modified competition. Brad Caddick scored his second Mini Stock feature win of the season.

Rocco of Wallingford, CT, scored his win with an impressive performance in the Sunoco Modified division. The headline division was stacked up three-wide before they entered turn one on lap one. Things got worse when a struggling pole-sitter, Danny LaJeunesse, spun in turn two. Bad luck continues to plague Todd Ceravolo, who, once again, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Danny Cates and Steve Masse occupied the front row when the racing went back to green on lap one. Masse lost ground on the restart handing the lead temporarily to Danny Cates. Before the completion of the lap, Tommy Cravenho was the new leader. A grinding wreck in turn one that included Russ Blanco, Brian Tagg, LaJeunesse and Dave Lacroix brought the action to a halt with the red flag on lap three. Under caution, Jimmy. Blewett headed to pit road. When racing resumed, Cravenho continued to show the way with Rocco moving into the second position. The caution flew on lap six when the #5 of John Blewett came to rest with a ball of flame in turn four. The restart pitted Rocco against Cravenho for the lead. The two went wheel to wheel, even bouncing off each other, as they headed toward the start/finish line. Rocco was able to grab the top spot from Cravenho on lap eight. Masse and Cates were hanging tough inside the top five. Kerry Malone, Woody Pitkat and Bert Marvin were getting racey for the fifth position. The duo of Rocco and Cravenho were putting some distance back to third. They watched their lead fade when the caution flew on lap 14 for further troubles for the T.S. Haulers Team. Jimmy Blewett came to rest in the infield off of turn two. The green flew again one lap shy of halfway with Rocco and Cravenho still showing the way. Rocco got away a bit from Cravenho while they went two-by-two inside the top five. The fourth spot was a busy place with Masse holding off Cates, and Marvin, who had made quick work of Pitkat and Malone after the restart. Again, it was a two-car breakaway with Rocco leading Cravenho. Masse ran third while Cates was being hounded by Marvin. Pitkat, Buddy Charrette and Kerry Malone took chase. Marvin was able to take the third spot from Cates with less than ten laps remaining. Marvin caught Masse with five laps to go. Pitkat and Malone ganged up on Cates as they were able to advance their positions on the rookie. With Rocco checked out on Cravenho, Marvin continued to dog Cates. Malone turned up the heat on Pitkat for the fifth position. At the finish, it was all Rocco. Cravenho settled for the second position. Steve Masse had a career day in the Modified finishing third. Marvin ran a smart race to quietly finish fourth over Pitkat. The victory will help Rocco, who sits second in the Whelen All-American Series National point standings behind Pitkat.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Woody Pitkat and Ryan Posocco continued their streaks with Pitkat taking his fourth consecutive SK Modified® feature victory, while Posocco scored his third consecutive Late Model feature win. Glen Reen took down the SK Light feature win for his fifth win of the 2007 season, Rick Lanagan scored his fifth Limited Late Model feature win of 2007, and Megan Bienkowski scored her first career victory in the 15-lap feature event.

The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green with Todd Owen leading the field, but he was surpassed for the lead by Jeff Malave on lap-4. The first 27 laps of the race ran under green flag conditions, with Malave building up a full straightaway lead over Owen before the caution erased that margin. Woody Pitkat moved from third to second on the restart on lap-31 and then took the lead from Malave on lap-34. Pitkat held serve on two final restarts in the last four laps to score the feature win. Brad Hietala charged through the pack in the closing laps to come home second, with Malave, Ted Christopher, and Frank Ruocco rounding out the top-5.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Tommy Fox went pole to pole as he ended a shutout season at the shoreline oval. Fox held off Shawn Monahan during the final two restarts.
Tom Fox won his first feature of what has been a tough season for the veteran driver, leading from wire to wire and holding off Shawn Monahan on two restarts, the last with 14 laps to go. Dennis Charette was third and Donnie Fowler fourth, with Jeff Pearl, fifth.

Bruce Thomas Jr won his ninth Late Model feature of the year and has all but wrapped up the division title. Phil Evans won his fourth Mini Stock feature of the season. Mark Lajoie passed Jim Procaccini, who led from the start, on the outside with just two laps to go, to win his first career Sportsman feature and Michael Gervais spun out Jason Palmer on the final turn of the last lap, so track officials awarded Glen Billings, who was running third, the victory for a win in the Legends INEX Nationals qualifier in a caution-filled 50-lap feature.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:00pm time slot. This weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday, August14 with a re-showing of the Aug 11 Knoxville Nationals where top drivers from the National Sprint Tour and World of Outlaws went head to head in Knoxville, IA. Wednesday’s action starts at noon with the NASCAR Grand National Busch East Music City 150 that was run at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville, TN on July 22. At 2:00pm its the Aug 11 ARCA RE/MAX Series 200 that was run at the Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, TN. The Aug 4 USAR Hooters Pro Cup that was run in Hickory, NC follows at 4:00pm. Thursday’s action starts at noon with last Saturdays NASCAR Busch Series Zippo 200 that was run at Watkins Glen, NY. The NASCAR Nextel Cup replay of last Sundays Centurion Boats at the Glen follows at 3:00pm. Friday’s action begins at 11:00am with NASCAR Live from Michigan Intl. Speedway. NASCAR Nextel practice for 90 minutes follows at 11:30. A 90-minute practice session for the Busch Series cars follows at 1:00pm. NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the 3M Performance 400 at the Michigan Intl. Speedway in Brooklyn, MI begins at 3:00pm. The Busch cars have their final hour of practice at 4:30. At 5:30 it’s NASCAR Live from the Michigan Intl. Speedway. Another one hour segment of NASCAR Live goes at 7:00pm. From 8 to 11:00pm there will be same day taped delayed coverage of final practice for both Busch Series and Nextel Cup cars. Saturday’s viewing starts at 11:00am with Busch Series qualifying. From 12:30 to 1:30 its NASCAR Live from Michigan Intl. Speedway followed by a 90 minute practice session for the Nextel Cup cars. At 3:00 the action switches to ESPN2 for the NASCAR Busch Series Countdown. The NASCAR Busch Series Carfax 250 at the Michigan Intl. Speedway gets the green on ESPN2 at 3:30pm. At 4:00 it’s NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England presents features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway. Sunday’s preliminaries from Michigan begin at 10:00am on ESPN2 and 10:30 am on Speed. At 1:00pm its NASCAR Nextel Cup COUNTDOWN on ESPN. The NASCAR Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400 from the Michigan Intl. Speedway gets the green on ESPN at 2:00pm. Wrapping up the weekend on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had negative results. Speedway Motorsports went up1.36 to 38.05 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.30 to 46.99 and Dover Downs dropped 0.12 to 5.73. Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.92 to 18.85 while Sun Oil jumped up 4.31 to 67.45. Goodyear also had a positive week as they went up 0.82 to 27.25. DIRT Motorsports took a dive as they lost almost half their value as they dropped 0.50 to 0.59. The drug sector had a positive ending. Pfizer went up 0.48 to 23.99 and Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.82 to 28.82. The home improvement sector was a mixed bag. Home Depot dropped 0.27 to 35.92 while Lowes went up 0.31 to 27.76. The parcel carriers rebounded from the previous weeks loses. Fedex went up 0.48 to 109.04 and UPS went up 1.58 to 76.75.

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

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

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