Tuesday August 19, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour invaded the Thompson Speedway last week. Rain cancelled qualifying which led to a start based on current point standings. All 33 cars on hand started the event.

Point leader Chuck Hossfeld led the opening laps before giving way to Todd Szegedy. An incident on lap 4 involved Eddie Flemke, Ryan Preece, Glenn Tyler, Kevin Goodale, Ricky Fuller, and Woody Pitkat. Preece and Tyler got the worst of it as they both suffered suspension damage. The pack ran single-file as the laps began to mount. Szegedy continued to lead with Hossfeld and Ted Christopher. The racing was finally slowed when the second caution flew on lap 42 for a spin by Jimmy

Ronnie Silk takes the checkered flag at Thompson for
the second time in 2008. (Photo Credit: Howie Hodge/NASCAR)

Blewett. Blewett’s mount suffered from a broken panhard bracket mount. During the early stages of the event several front runners had encountered problems. After losing the top spot to Christopher, Szegedy encountered mechanical troubles under an early race caution necessitating a push to pit road and behind the wall. Szegedy was able to continue several laps down.

Ronnie Silk, who had worked his way to the second spot, found himself at the spinning end of a confrontation with Eddie Flemke. The field was able to miss Silk. Flemke received a penalty to the tail end of the longest line for his actions. During a caution period at lap 55 a host of cars headed to pit road for service. When things sorted out, Silk was leading with Bobby Grigas, who short-pitted, in second. Grigas capitalized on the restart; moving past Silk and into the lead. Hirschman followed through. Contact between business partners Flemke and Reggie Ruggiero necessitated another caution.

Back under green, Grigas continued to lead Hirschman. Lap-after-lap, Hirschman dogged Grigas. Early leader, Christopher, faltered while Stefanik was coming on strong. The veteran started to show his prowess after the century mark; joining Grigas and Hirschman. Silk meanwhile was fully recovered from his earlier incident to apply pressure to Stefanik. A bid for the third spot was slowed when Christopher, his tires worn, spun to bring out the caution. On the lap 112 restart, Hirschman took over the lead from Grigas with Silk following through in second. Bobby Santos was also able to motor by and into third. Silk’s march to the front was completed when he took the lead on lap 116. At lap 120, Christopher was back to eighth.

Contact between Hossfeld and Stefanik sent the Mystic Missile sliding. Both drivers were able to continue, barely missing a beat. The eleventh caution of the event flew; however, for a spin by Wade Cole on the other end of the speedway.

A handful of green flag laps led to a ruckus that began after bumper tag near the front of the pack. Hirschman was the aggressor on the lap 139 restart taking over the lead from Silk. Santos continued to run in third followed by a hard-charging Christopher. Silk was not done as he raced his way back by Hirschman and into the lead. The front five ran nose to tail as they took the white and checkered flags. With two laps remaining, Pitkat ended up against the turn four wall.

The race went into overtime, with a green, white, checker, single-file restart at lap 152. An uneventful final two laps gave Silk his third career win. Hirschman settled for second over Santos and Christopher and Stefanik.

Many tongues are still wagging over the last lap incident between Ryan Preece and Todd Szegedy. Szegedy roughed up Preece to get the lead as they both apparently over-drove a bit going into the first turn. When the pair made contact NASCAR Director Chad Little felt that Preece had deliberately hit Szegedy. After watching a video produced on the Stafford website it appears that Szegedy was just as much at fault in the incident. Little, who is getting to be known as the “Invisible Man” made himself scarce after the call and was unavailable for comment. Preece and Boehler Racing took a lot of abuse after the event, which was uncalled for.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour moves on to the Mansfield ( Ohio ) Motorsports Park this week for the Whelen 150 on Saturday, Aug. 23.

No stranger to Thompson's victory lane, Billy Harman took in the Modified Tour  action.

The Thompson Whelen Modified Tour Series event also served as a reunion of sorts of racers who made the sport of Modified racing what it is today. Those on hand included Leo Cleary, Billy Harman, Ronnie Bouchard, George Summers and George Savory.

Thursday night Thunder Racing at Thompson came very close to being washed out as torrential rain pelted the speedway in mid-afternoon. Keith Rocco cleaned house in the Sunoco Modifieds. In other Whelen All-American Series racing, Lady Luck was finally on the side of George Bessette scored his first Pro Stock feature win of the 2008 season.

It was the fifth win for Late Model ace Jeff Zuidema and Ernie Larose scored a popular win in Limited Sportsman division. Brian Sullivan took over the ride for his brother Tim in the family-owned TIS Modified to score the victory in only his second start. Scott Michalski led his racing family with a Mini Stock feature win.

Rocco looked like he was shot out of a cannon rocketing out from his fifth starting position to take the lead before the completion of the lap one restart. The second generation had the entire field covered as he survived numerous restarts throughout the 30 lap feature. On lap 25, Tom Cravenho moved to the inside groove to take the lead from Rocco. On lap 27, Rocco slid to the inside groove to retake his lead. Rocco never looked back as he ran to the finish in the No. 1 spot. Cravenho settled for second. Todd Ceravolo was able to take the third position from Danny Cates. Bob Grigas edged out Kevin Goodale to finish fifth.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain on Friday night. Ted Christopher currently leads Keith Rocco by 6 points. Curt Brainard sits in third spot, 78 points behind the leader. Kenny Horton and Woody Pitkat round out the top five. Rocco suffered a setback on August 8 when he was a victim of overaggressive driving by New Jersey racer Steven Reed. Reed is currently serving a one race suspension.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, the shoreline oval enjoyed one of its biggest crowds in a long time with their Racing Against Cancer Night, which brought in the International Super Modified Association along with the True Value Modified Series and the Northeastern Midget Association to compliment the tracks SK Modifieds. Lou Cicconi scored the 50-lap International Super Modified Association feature while Chris Pasteryak scored his first ever-open wheeled Modified win as he won the 100 lap True Value Modified Series event. Other feature winners were Randy Cabral (Northeastern Midget Association), and Ron Yuhas Jr. (SK Modifieds).

Opening with a bang, the 50-lap International Super Modified Association endured a pair of serious crashes before the first lap

“Liquid” Lou Cicconi dropped in for a run in Rick Wentworth’s 10 ISMA super and promptly took home his second winged super win at that Waterford Speedbowl. He also holds a NEMA feature win at that CT oval. It was Cicconi’s first ISMA appearance of the season and first ever in this car. (Jim Feeney Photo)

was completed. After getting underway, it was Dave Shullick Jr, executing a daring outside maneuver to snare the lead passing several cars. Out-front until the nineteenth circuit, Shullick was then overtaken by Mike Ordway Jr. Cicconi was the leader when the second red-flag occurred on lap forty-eight, setting the stage for a 2-lap dash for the checkers. Cicconi got the bite on the restart, prevailing by a comfortable margin over Mike Lichty, Chris Perley, Mike Ordway Jr., and Bobby Santos III.

Kirk Alexander led until just beyond halfway of the True Value 100 when Chris Pasteryak bolted into the top-spot after a restart. The two engaged in a see-saw battle for the lead following the numerous cautions that plagued the second-half of the event, Pasteryak getting the advantage each time. Shelly Perry pounded the first-turn wall on lap-96, evaporating the huge lead that Pasteryak had amassed. The final restart saw the popular second-generation racer again forge-ahead, finishing several lengths ahead of Alexander and Jeff Malave in scoring his first-ever victory in True Value Modified Series competition. Completing the top-5 was Dwight Jarvis and Ted Christopher.

Randy Cabral notched a popular victory in the 25-lap NEMA Midget feature, his third of 2008 at the Speedbowl. Passing Mike Keeler for the lead with fourteen remaining, Cabral simply checked-out from the competition during an extremely fast-moving event that incurred only one caution period. Following Cabral was Keeler, Joey Payne, Greg Stoehr, and William Wall.

In the evening’s 35-lap SK Modified feature, pole-sitter Shawn Monahan immediately took the lead before yielding to an outside-move by Ron Yuhas Jr. with twenty-three circuits remaining. Shortly after, Monahan was eliminated for the night after the lapped-car of Kevin Orlando jacked-up the leaders resulting in the first caution. At the green it was again Yuhas, followed by Dennis Gada and defending champion Ron Janovic Jr. Within a few laps the caution again waved when Matt Gallo slammed the third-turn barrier with bone-jarring force. Next to fall victim to the wreckers was past-champion Todd Ceravolo, punted by Rob Summers after getting out-of-shape and spinning. Yuhas dominated the closing laps, finishing a comfortable margin ahead of Janovic, Gada, Doug Coby, and Keith Rocco

In TV land this week televised action begins on Wednesday night with live coverage on the Speed Channel of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series O’Reilly 200 at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN. On Thursday at noon Speed replays last weekend’s 3M Performance 400 that was run at the Michigan Intl. Speedway in Brooklyn, MI. Friday’s viewing begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Live from Bristol. Live coverage from Bristol continues at 10:30 with Nationwide Series practice followed by Sprint Cup practice at noon. After a one-hour break that begins at 2:30 Speed returns to Bristol at 2:30 with Trackside at Bristol. Sprint Cup qualifying at 3:30 and Nationwide Series qualifying at 5:00pm will consume the remainder of the afternoon. The Sprint Cup series has their final practice at 6:00 followed by the pre-race show for the Nationwide Series Food City 250 at Bristol, which is scheduled to go green at 8:15pm. Saturday’s viewing begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. At 1:00 Speed presents the June 28th World of Outlaws late model Firecracker 100 that was run at the Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, PA. NASCAR New England, which shows the weekly events run at the Stafford Motor Speedway airs on NESN at 5:00pm. Also at 5:00 is NASCAR RaceDay on Speed from Bristol. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Sharpie 500 at Bristol gets the green on ESPN at 8:00pm. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend on Sunday night with The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway stocks had positive results for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 1.01 to 22.27 while the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.45 to 39.65. Dover Downs was also up as they closed at 5.38, up 0.63 for the week. NASCAR Cup series sponsor Sprint/Nextel went up 0.61 to 9.33. Nationwide, which sponsors NASCAR’s second division, went up 0.45 to 51.60 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.78 to 44.58. Tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.08 to 21.41. For the most part NASCAR team sponsors had a very good week. Leaing the way was Coca-Cola, which went up 8.60 to 42.17. Target Department Stores went up 2.66 to 51.40 while Dupont went up 0.39 to 45.70. Aaron’s Rentals went up 0.47 to 28.50. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 1.16 to 27.53 and Lowes went up 0.72 to 24.50. The parcel carriers had a mixed bag. UPS went up 0.44 to 66.14 while Fedex dropped 0.31 to 87.85. The World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) remained unchanged at 0.10.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

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

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