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Tuesday August 11, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The legend of car owner, the late Len Boehler and his famous ‘Ole Blu No.3 continued to live on as Ryan Preece scored his second Whelen Modified Tour Series in six days. Preece, who is the grandson of another legend, Bobby Judkins won the Town Fair Tire 150 at Stafford last Friday night.

Preece took the lead on lap 104 from Ted Christopher and held off the defending champion to record his third overall win. Preece, who started fourth, moved into second spot by lap seven. The top two never pitted and it was a matter of Preece wearing the defending champion down.

According to reports a near capacity house witnessed the event. There were 32 cars on hand for the available 31 starting spots. In a generous move the Stafford management agreed to allow all cars to start the event.

Chris Pasteryak, who continues to make a name for himself, finished third, which tied his best career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour effort, previously also set at Stafford . Eric Beers and Rowan Pennink. Erick Rudolph, Donny Lia, Jimmy Blewett, Woody Pitkat and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top 10 finishers. The Coors Light Pole Award winner, Eric Berndt, finished 16th. It was a relatively clean and fast race, which produced only five short caution periods for 25 laps.

Christopher regained the season points lead with his runner-up effort. He now leads Szegedy by 14 points after seven events.
In tour related news it has been announced that James Civali has been hired by Hillbilly Racing to drive a team car to Ronnie Silk. Civali will be in competition at Bristol, Loudon, Martinsville, and the North South Shootout.

In regular Friday night action at Stafford, Frank Ruocco took down his second consecutive SK Modified feature win, Jim Peterson took his second Late Model feature win of the 2009 season, David Webb was a first time career winner in the SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery came up a first time career winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Victoria Bergenty was also a first time career winner in the DARE Stock feature.

In Thursday night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo each scored victories in the twin 50-lap Sunoco (Sk-type) Modified features. George Bessette broke into victory lane for his first of the season in the Super Late Models.Tommy O’Sullivan was the Late Model winner while Scott Sundeen earned his second of the season in the Limited Sportsman division. Brian Sullivan took down his fourth TIS Modified win of the season and Tim Taylor took the Mini Stock win, his sixth of the season.

Ted Christopher, who was feeling the effects of the flu, won the first 50 lapper for the Modifieds. Todd Ceravolo finished 16th in the opener as he dropped out with an overheating engine. A blown head gasket was suspected. After some discussion the decision was made to install a new radiator plus pour some “stop-leak” into the engine block. It was a gamble but it worked as Ceravolo was able to out-distance Christopher to take the win in the second 50 lapper
In the first Modified 50 lapper, Rowan Pennink grabbed the lead on the opening lap but immediately felt the pressure from Jimmy Blewett. Point leader Woody Pitkat stalled on a restart on lap 6, after a caution for Andy Gaspar, to bring out the events second caution. Pitkat was able to rejoin the tail end of the field. Blewett was the new leader to complete lap six. The second spot was being hotly contested by Pennink, Danny Cates, Ted Christopher, and Keith Rocco. The top ten ran nose to tail. Rocco had made his way into the second spot by lap 10. The best battle was for the third spot between Pennink, Malone, Christopher and Cates. Tim Sullivan had joined the mix as well. On lap 13, Rocco began to look low on Blewett. Things settled down with Pennink in third followed by Malone, Christopher, and Cates. On lap 16 the caution flew when the #47 of Carl Oberg came to rest against the outside wall in turn three. The restart shuffled the running order slightly but not for Blewett and Rocco. A melee on the backstretch that involved Andrew Charron, Wayne Arute, Andrew Dzenkowski, Frank Hirt III, and Andy Gaspar slowed the action.

Pennink found some running room in the outside lane motoring back into the second spot on the restart. Malone followed through into third ahead of Rocco. A spin by Harry Rheaume slowed the action once again. Blewett was shuffled back after the restart. Pennink held the top spot momentarily before giving way to Malone. The top three positions were now occupied by Malone, Christopher, and Pennink. Cates was back on the charge; moving into the third spot at halfway. Back up front, Christopher got up along side Malone. Christopher put his #00 in the top spot just after halfway. Pitkat entered the mix joining the battle for the fourth position with the likes of Pennink and Rocco. Rocco passed Pennink and into fourth. During a long green flag run, Christopher and Malone were able to edge away from Cates in third.

The caution flew on lap 35 when Eric Goodale lost a motor spinning in his own fluid. Under the caution Pitkat and Pennink both hit pit road for service. Christopher resumed his place at the head of the pack once back under green. Cates slipped back on the restart allowing the top three of Christopher, Malone and Rocco to break away. Rocco was looking racy in second. With ten laps remaining Pitkat had worked his way into the fifth spot. Blewett ran in sixth. In the closing stages the top three ran nose to tail with a half straightaway advantage over Cates, who enjoyed a comfortable advantage over Pitkat. On the final two laps the top three began to jockey for position. Malone peaked low on Christopher, who had to settle for second. Rocco pushed Malone underneath the white flag. Christopher was able to take down the win narrowly over Malone, Rocco, Cates, and Pitkat.

Through the generosity of Independent Truck Service of Shrewsbury, MA, who put up an extra $2,000 up on Thursday night, five drivers, who were randomly selected by a drawing of finishing positions before the start of the race, received a $200 bonus after their performance in the opening event. Danny Cates, Glenn Griswold, Jodi Johnson, Todd Ceravolo and Andrew Dzenkowski were each beneficiaries of the bonus.

In the second 50 lapper for the Modifieds Pennink once again brought the field to the green flag. Right away he had his hands full with Malone and Ceravolo. Christopher was making his way toward the front from deeper in the pack as Rocco was motoring into the lead. Rocco edged out to a three-car length advantage over a heated battle for second between Pennink and Ceravolo. Christopher had passed Malone for fourth and immediately reeled in the battle for second. It quickly became a three car battle for the position. Ceravolo got underneath Pennink on lap 16 to move into second. Christopher followed suit putting Pennink back to fourth. Rocco continued to lead but Ceravolo looked to be catching him as they entered lapped traffic. With the crossed flags in the air at the flag stand, Ceravolo made a slingshot move entering turn three to take the lead away. At halfway, Ceravolo led Rocco, Christopher, Pennink, in a distant fourth, Malone, Danny Cates, Pitkat, Tim Sullivan, Jimmy Blewett, and Harry Rheaume inside the top ten.

Ceravolo began to build an advantage over an emerging battle between Rocco and Christopher. Christopher dove low on Rocco in turn two on lap 32 to gain the second position. Once free of Rocco, Christopher, little by little chopped into Ceravolo’s lead. The remainder of the top ten was strung out throughout the Speedway.

The final run to the checkers was smooth sailing for Ceravolo, who earned his first win of the season since Icebreaker Sunday back in April. Christopher capped off a great night with a runner-up finish. Rocco settled for a pair of third place finishes on the night. Pennink and Sullivan completed the top five. Ceravolo once again received one of the Independent Truck Services bonuses for his efforts in the second feature. Woody Pitkat, Harry Rheaume, Carl Oberg, and Eric Goodale each also received a $200 bonus.

The action continues at the Thompson Speedway this coming Thursday night with the running of the Whelen Modified Tour plus regular divisions.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Vermont native Brian Hoar scored his second consecutive ACT Late Model Tour win Saturday in the Nutmeg State 100, while it was Keith Rocco winning his fifth SK Modified event of the Speedbowl season. Walt Hovey Jr. won his third Street Stock race of the year, and Bill Leonard captured his second Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock event. Jason Palmer was the winner in the Legends Car race.

Championships and event wins were abundant on the front row for the start of the SK Modified’s 35-lap race. Keith Rocco and Dennis Gada brought the field to green, with Rocco, moving out front. Jeffrey Paul and Corey Hutchings ran tight behind, finding their way by Gada who finally was able to settle in the fourth spot on lap five. Behind them Rob Janovic Jr. Ron Yuhas Jr. and Jeff Pearl raced hard together to battle for the fifth spot. Gada, jumped outside Hutchings for third and Yuhas moved outside Janovic for fifth. Both made the move stick to put Gada third, Hutchings fourth, and Yuhas fifth as the field completed lap 10. After clear of Janovic, Yuhas immediately began to close in on Hutchings for fourth. Pearl was still trying to navigate around Janovic for sixth.

The race stayed green through halfway with Rocco setting a blistering pace at the front, holding a comfortable advantage over Paul. Gada was several cars back of Paul in third. Pearl finally moved inside Janovic to complete the pass for sixth on lap 19. Just ahead, Yuhas was trying to find a way around the outside of Hutchings. The event’s first caution waved when Frank Mucciacciaro spun in turn one, ending a run of 27 green flag laps of hard racing. Rocco got a good start when the green flag was shown for the restart. Paul tucked into second, and Pearl jumped to the outside lane trying to enter into the top three outside Gada. Caution came out again for a spin by Mucciacciaro with three laps remaining.

Rocco got the jump on the field for the restart with Paul trying to move back to his bumper to throw anything at the points leader in the shootout to the checkered flag. Pearl moved to third using an outside move on Gada with two laps to go. That was the way they would finish at the checker, with Yuhas rounding out the top five.

The Speedbowl returns to action this coming Saturday, August 15 with the 2nd annual Wings ‘n Wheels, featuring the best in open wheel racing and blistering speeds. The ISMA SuperModifieds will race 50-laps, True Value Modified Racing Series 100-laps, NEMA Midgets 25-laps, and the Speedbowl’s own SK Modifieds 35-laps. On Wednesday, August 12 all Waterford residents will be receive free grandstands admission to the ‘Bowl’s Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday program with proof of residency.

The True Value Modified Series went “up country” to Maine last weekend. Jon McKennedy outlasted a very competitive field Saturday night, Aug 8 as he capturing the 100 lap True Value Modified Racing Series event at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, ME. The race, in front of a big crowd, featured five different leaders.
The win was McKennedy’s fourth in his last six races with New England’s premier modified racing series. A field of 26 competitors entered the event with Todd Annarummo jumping into the lead from his outside pole starting position. The second generation driver held the top spot until passed on the 12th circuit by Andy Seuss. Seuss, who also competes with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, held the lead until lap 27. Masse, who started sixth, emerged as the leader for the next 35 laps.

Sanford, ME; rookie Jacob Dore meanwhile impressed the locals with a strong run working his way as high as third from his tenth starting spot. Dore mixed it up with veteran racers David Pinkham, Les Hinckley, Dwight Jarvis, and defending champion, Chris Pasteryak.

Dore’s race near the front ended when he made wheel to wheel contact with Masse drawing a caution flag that relegated both to the rear of the field. Dore went right back to work attempting a strong finish. The same for Masse.Pinkham, winner of the 2005 race at “The Ridge,” excited the hometown crowd when he brought the field to green to start lap 63. The race became a four car battle for the top spot with Hinckley, Jarvis, McKennedy and Chris Pasteryak chasing the leader. On lap 88, McKennedy took the lead passing Pinkham. McKennedy then opened up a comfortable margin over Pinkham and cruised to the victory. Jarvis was third followed by Carl Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT; and Jack Bateman, Canaan, NH; rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Hinckley, Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, PA; Dore and Masse, coming back from their earlier incident, to finishing eighth and ninth, with Chris Pasteryak, tenth.

In TV land this week, NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen Tuesday through Thursday this week at 5:00pm and at 9:00pm on Friday. This weeks viewing begins on Tuesday at 2;00pm with the July19 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series West event that was run at the Portland Intl. Raceway in Portland, OR. On Wednesday at noon the Speed Channel will replay last Sunday’s Sprint Cup event that was run at Watkins Glen. Speed will replay the 2007 Sprint Cup event that was run at the Michigan International Speedway on Thursday at noon. The August 1 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series East event that was held at the Adirondack Speedway follows at 3:00pm. Speed goes live at noon on Friday with 90 minutes of Sprint Cup practice followed by two hours of Nationwide series practice at Michigan. Live action at Michigan continues at 3:30 with Sprint Cup qualifying followed by another Nationwide series practice session at 5:00pm. At 7:00pm, Trackside (NASCAR) at Michigan sums up the days activities at Michigan. Rounding out the day is NASCAR Now on espn2 at 9:00pm. Saturday’s viewing gets an early start as the Speed Channel goes live at 10:30am with Nationwide Series qualifying. Sprint Cup practice goes at 12:30 and will be the order of the day until 3:00pm when the action moves to espn2 for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead to the 4:15 start of the CARFAX 250 at the Michigan International Speedway. NASCAR New England, which highlights the weekly racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway is on the New England Sports Network (NESN) at 5:00pm. Later in the evening, at 10:00pm, the Speed Channel goes live from Knoxville, Iowa with the National Sprint Tour and World of Outlaws Knoxville Nationals. Sunday’s action begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. The Speed Channel goes live at 11:00am with a two hour RaceDay race preview of the Michigan 400. At 1:00pm the viewing switches to ESPN for another hour of pre-race programming which will lead into a 2:15pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Michigan 400. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report from 7:00pm to 8:00, 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 ended the week on a negative note. On the positive side was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 2.47 to 28.04. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.33 to 15.63 and Dover Downs dropped 0.06 to 1.40. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.21 to 3.79 while fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 1.39 to 26.08 and tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.09 to 18.11. The car makers had a positive week. Toyota went up 1.14 to 85.32 while General Motors went up 0.27 to 0.76 and Ford went up 0.01 to 8.01. The team sponsors had a mixed bag showing. Dupont went up 1.90 to 32.83 and Aarons Rentals went up 1.57 to 29.04 while Coca-Cola dropped 1.88 to 54.64 and Target Department Stores dropped 0.69 to 42.93. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 1.32 to 27.26 and Lowes went up 1.39 to 23.85.

In racing financial news, Jayski.com, an internet web site that covers NASCAR racing reported last week that Lowe’s has decided not to renew its naming-rights deal at Lowe’s Motor Speedway after this year, ending an 11-year relationship that began as the first racetrack naming-rights sponsorship. After more than a year of renewal talks, the home improvement retailer informed Speedway Motorsports Inc., the track’s parent company, of its decision. The initial 10-year, $35 million deal ran through 2008.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


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

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