Tuesday August 26, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park for the Whelen 150. A strong field of 31 cars were on hand. Ted Christopher, who qualified sixth fastest but drew the No. 1 starting spot in the re-draw to sit on the front row, never trailed in the 157 lap race that went to a green-white-checker finish following a late caution. The win was his second of 2008 and the 29th of his career, which moved him out of a tie with Mike Ewanitsko on the all-time list.

In the process Christopher became the first driver to lead a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race wire-to-wire since Todd Szegedy did it in the 2006 Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

Ted Christopher takes the checkered flag in the Whelen 150. (Photo Credit: Howie Hodge/NASCAR)

Jimmy Blewett (No. 19 United Crane/Ling Trucking Chevrolet) finished as the runner-up in the race and was followed closely to the line by Ryan Preece (No. 3 Mizzy Const./Reynold's Auto Wrecking Chevrolet), Coors Light Pole Award winner Eric Beers (No. 46 Reynold's Auto Wrecking/Sunoco Chevrolet) and Ronnie Silk (No. 79 Hill Enterprises/Coors Light/Sunoco Pontiac). Matt Hirschman, Erick Rudolph, Mike Stefanik, Kevin Goodale and Glen Reen rounded out the top 10.

It was a costly night for Chuck Hossfeld who led the point standings going into the event. After starting 13th Hossfeld went only 57 laps before being sidelined with a broken axle. Christopher now leads the point standings by 64 points over Hossfeld. Matt Hirschman sits in third spot with Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top five.

Also on the racing card at Mansfield was the NASCAR Camping World Series (formerly Busch North Series). Brian Ickler took the win with Matt Kobyluck, second.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will have the Labor Day weekend off before moving on to Thompson International Speedway for the Sunoco Modified Mania 150 on Sunday, Sept 7.

Keith Rocco made it two in a row in Thursday night Thunder Sunoco Modified Racing at Thompson. Norm Wrenn in the Pro Stocks and Rick Gentes in the Late Models each earned their first wins of the 2008 season. Larry Barnett took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division while Glenn Boss celebrated his birthday with a TIS Modified feature win. Mike Romano padded his point lead with a Mini Stock triumph.

Rocco proved to be the class of the Sunoco Modified field once again. Taking the lead early in the 30-lap main event, the Wallingford, CT, driver never looked back en route to his third win of the season and second in a row. The action was wild right from the drop of the green flag. Contact between front row starters Dave Nordman and Tim Sullivan, opened the door for Bobby Grigas, who made it three wide as they headed down for the initial start. The caution flew immediately; however, when contact deeper in the field sent cars scattering. On the ensuing restart, slipping and sliding at the head of the field allowed Jimmy Blewett to cleanly take the lead with Bobby Grigas moving into second and Todd Ceravolo in third. A spin by Rick DíAbate brought out the caution once again. Blewett was up to the challenge and continued to lead a battle for second between Rocco and Grigas. A pass by Rocco was negated by a spin by Josh Sylvester. Kerry Malone was the man on the move on the restart moving from the fifth position to third. Up front, Blewett was having all he could do to keep Rocco in check. Grigas was able to take back the third spot from Malone. Ceravolo, Woody Pitkat, and Tommy Cravenho made up the lead pack. Grigas caught the duo of Blewett and Rocco, making it a three-car battle for the top spot. At halfway, Rocco used a slide move to take over the lead from Blewett. Once out front, Rocco checked out. Blewett dropped off the pace a lap later. Grigas inherited the second spot with Ceravolo running in third. Malone and Pitkat made up the top five. Early leader Blewett spun exiting turn two to bring out the caution. Back under green, it was all Rocco. Grigas took chase a distant second and Ceravolo in third. Malone, Cravenho, and Pitkat were looking racy for fourth. Rocco cruised unchallenged to the checkers. Grigas had a season-high finish of second followed by Ceravolo. Malone and Cravenho completed the top five.

The Sunoco Modifieds are scheduled to have a 50 lap feature this week.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of a classic Ruocco/Rocco battle last Friday night. Ruocco, Frank that is, prevailed as he won his second SK Modified feature of the year. Rocco, Keith that is, settled for second. Ted Christopher recovered from an early tangle with Woody Pitkat to finish third. Todd Owen and Jeff Malave rounded out the top five. The highlight of the evening was the running of the 14th Annual New England Dodge Dealers Late Model 100. Like he had done in a previous 100 lapper, seventeen year old Dillon Moltz was the dominator. During the late going Moltz fought off challenges from Michael Bennett and Ryan Posocco over several late restarts. Mark Bakaj outlasted Joe Allegro, Jr. and Chris Matthews for his third win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Carla Botticello scored her first career victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Scott Roy picked up victory number two of the 2008 season in the 15-lap DARE
Stock feature event.

Shawn Monahan won the SK Mod race at the Speedbowl
(Keith Cyr Photo)

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Shawn Monahan went pole to pole to win the 35-lap SK Modified feature on Saturday evening at the Waterford Speedbowl. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Brandon Plemons (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends), and Scott Gregory (AllStar Race Trucks).

n an ultra-fast 35-lap SK Modified feature, it was hometown driver Shawn Monahan grabbing his first feature of the season. Taking the lead immediately from the pole position, he was tested only once during the events singular restart occurring when multi-feature winner Keith Rocco spun with 9-laps remaining. Handily resisting the challenges of Jeff Paul and defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. in the closing laps, Monahan cruised-home by a car-length over Paul, Janovic, Dennis Gada, and Matt Gallo.

It looks like Terry Eames (1080 Hartford Road LLC) and Jerry Robinson who leases the Waterford Speedbowl are at it again. Eames claims that Robinson has failed to meet his obligations in making rent payments and paying property taxes. Eames has filed a suit in New London Ct Civil Court, which could lead to the eviction of Robinson from the shoreline oval.

The True Value Modified Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH last Saturday night. Twenty-Two Modifieds were on hand. Kirk Alexander started sixth, took the lead on lap 10 and and never looked back. With the exception of some heat applied by Dwight Jarvis in the closing laps Alexender had an easy time of it at his home track. Jarvis settled for second and was followed by Rob Goodenough, Mike Holdredge, Jack Bateman and Chris Pasteryak.

HOCOC , an HO scale slot car group is starting it's 29th season. The group races HO scale stock cars from Sept. - April. Races are held in New England and NJ. For more information there is also a HOCOC yahoo group.

In TV land this week televised action begins on Thursday at noon with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Replay of last Saturday nightís Sharpie 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway on the Speed Channel. Speed goes live at 2:30pm on Friday with NASCAR Live from Auto Club Speedway of Southern California. A 90 minute Sprint Cup practice session follows at 3:00. After another 30 minute session of NASCAR Live, Speed will televise a 90 minute practice session for the Nationwide cars, beginning at 5:00pm. Sprint Cup Series qualifying follows at 6:30. At 8:30 the Nationwide Series has a one hour practice session. Trackside at the speedway follows at 9:30. Saturdayís TV coverage begins with NASCAR New England, which shows the weekly events run at the Stafford Motor Speedway and airs on NESN at 5:00pm. At 5:30pm coverage of Nationwide Series qualifying on the Speed Channel begins. Following qualifying the Nationwide Series will practice until 9:30. At 9:45 the action moves to espn2 for live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Fontana, CA. Sundayís coverage begins at noon when the Speed Channel presents the July 26th World of Outlaws late model event that was run at the Sharon Speedway in Hartford, OH. At 5:00pm the Speed Channel has a two hour preview of the Sprin Cup event at Fontana. ESPN takes over at 7:00 for another hour of previews of the event, which is scheduled to get the green at 8:15pm. Despite the fact that the Sprint Cup event may last until midnight 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 two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Speedway Motorsports, which went up 0.33, was the only positive finisher. Dover Downs dropped 0.31 to 5.07 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.80 to 37.85. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.09 to 9.24. Second division sponsor Nationwide followed suit as they too, dropped 0.09 as they finished the week at 51.51. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil took a dive as they dropped 5.99 to 39.79. Goodyear didnít much better as they dropped 1.05 to 20.36. NASCAR team sponsors didnít set the world on fire. Coca-Cola dropped 0.58 to 41.59 while Dupont dropped 0.91 to 44.79. Target Department Stores went up 1.26 to 52.66 while Aaronís Rentals dropped 0.35 to 28.15. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.42 to 27.11while Lowes went up 0.36 to 24.86. The parcel carriers were downers. Fedex dropped 5.17 to 82.68 while UPS dropped 2.62 to 63.52. On the bottom of the heap is the World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) which remained unchanged at 0.10 for the week.

Thatís 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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