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Tuesday August 17, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night for the running of the Budweiser 150. Ted Christopher literally cleaned house as he totally dominated the 150 after winning the track's regular Modified feature. The big story of the night should have been Christopher's outstanding drive but that was overshadowed by the story in the Hartford Current that stated that speedway owner Don Hoenig would have to move his August Thursday night date to another week because the Whelen Modified Tour Series was going to be included in the 2011 schedule at the New Hampshire Speedway in Loudon. The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to Loudon after a 13-year absence on August 14 of 2011. It doesn't sound like a big deal but it really is because of the fact that the Thompson Speedway has supported the NASCAR Modified Tour series since its inception in 1985. NASCAR, who's only loyalty is to the dollar, could care less about Hoenig's loyalty. Those who are employed by "The Company", as NASCAR is called by its employees, will tell you off the record that the organization is run like a mafia. Its there way or else! It would be interesting to see what would NASCAR's reaction be if Hoenig dropped the entire tour from his schedule in 2011.

A somewhat slim field of 29 Modifieds were on hand for the event that carried a purse of $83,764. Christopher was the Busch Pole sitter as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.624seconds. Second fastest was Rowan Pennink. The redraw saw Justin Bonsignore on the pole for the start with Christopher, outside. At the drop of the green, in a hail of fireworks, Christopher had the lead by the time the field exited turn two. Setting a blistering pace, Christopher led the field from the start and only relinquished the lead twice during the Budweiser King of Beers 150 as he went on to record his 37th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory. Bobby Santos took the lead after Christopher pitted for three tires under caution on Lap 95, however, it only took Christopher 10 laps to get back in front after the restart on Lap 101. Santos finished the race in third place.

Christopher was clearly the class of the field building leads by as much as four seconds before losing his advantage after the fourth and final caution flag of the race flew on Lap 149 after Erick Rudolph’s problems set up the final sprint to the finish. Ronnie Silk, who moved into the second spot in the closing moments, ended up in second spot with Santos, third. Following Santos across the line was Rowan Pennink and Mike Stefanik who rounded out the top five. Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Coby, Eric Goodale and Glen Reen rounded out the top 10.

It was Christopher’s 10th Whelen Modified Tour win at Thompson, and his fourth in the Tour’s last six races at the .625-mile oval. The Plainville, Conn., driver led 141 of the 156 laps. With the win, Christopher took the championship points lead from Santos, who had led through the first nine races. Christopher’s three wins and six top-fives have forged a 14-point lead over Santos with Mike Stefanik in third, 85 points back.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action when it joins the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour in the only combination event of the season this coming Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 6 p.m., for the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway. This event will be shown live by the Speed Channel. The Budweiser Kings of Beers 150 from Thompson International Speedway will air on VERSUS on Wednesday, Aug. 25 at 7 p.m.

The Thompson International Speedway also ran its regular six divisions. In addition to his Whelen Modified Tour Series victory Christopher scored a thrilling victory in the Sunoco Modified feature. Fellow Whelen Modified Tour double-duty driver Mike Stefanik turned in a dominating performance to earn the Super Late Model victory. In other NASCAR Whelen All-America Series action, Mark Oliveira was victorious in an eventful Late Model feature. Scott Sundeen took down his first Limited Sportsman win of the 2010 season. R.J. Marcotte continued to roll in the TIS Modifieds. Dwayne Dorr posted his second Mini Stock win.

Christopher and Woody Pitkat slugged it out until the final lap when Christopher was able to forge ahead for the lead and ultimate victory, his 77th at the Northeastern Connecticut oval.

Double SK Modified features at the Stafford Motor Speedway helped Keith Rocco get a little closer to his dream of becoming the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion. The championship is based on a driver's best 18 finishes. Rocco's win was the 17th that counted toward the title. Frank Ruocco and Keith Rocco were the winners of the twin 40-lap SK Modified® feature events, Corey Hutchings won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Andrew Hayes was the winner of the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Ruocco led the field around to the white flag and he held off both Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece to take the victory, his fourth win of the 2010 season. Rocco finished 7th in the first race. In the second 40 lapper, Rocco rode behind Ted Christopher until the final lap of the race when he made a move to the inside of Christopher in turn 1. The two cars ran wheel to wheel down the backstretch and when they hit turn 3, Rocco surged ahead of Christopher and came off turn 4 with the race lead and his 8th victory of the 2010 season. Christopher finished second, with Preece, Todd Owen, and Zach Sylvester rounding out the top-5.

In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco lived out his dream as he became the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion as a result of his convincing win. Rocco started from the No. 12 position and had moved into the fourth position by lap 11. He took over the second spot by lap 26, then tracked down race leader Tom Abele, where he finally passed him down low on the backstretch of lap 29 to take the lead.

The second generation racer survived one final restart to win the race as Kyle James snuck past Abele to finish second. Abele wound up third, Rob Janovic fourth and Tyler Chadwick fifth.

In other Speedbowl action, Chris Deritis of Philadelphia, PA won the 25-lap NEMA Midget race and Rowley, MA native Chris Perley took the checkered flag in a 50-lap race for the visiting IMSA Supermodifieds. In the 100-lap Modified Racing Series event, Stephen Masse of Bellingham, MA dominated to take his third career win and first in the Series at Waterford. Ted Christopher finished second and was followed by Doug Coby,. Rowan Pennink and Jon McKennedy, Christopher told the Hartford Courant on Sunday that he had been disqualified.

The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina ran twin 25's for their Modifieds. Recording wins were Tim Brown and Brad Robbins. Burt Myers recorded a 7th and a 6th.

John Beatty Jr recorded his first ever Modified win at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

In TV land this weeks viewing begins with NASCAR Now on espn2 which will be aired on Tuesday at 5:00pm, Wednesday at 6:00pm plus Thursday and Friday at 5:00pm. On Tuesday evening at 7:00pm the Versus Network will rebroadcast the August 6 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Town Fair Tire 150 that was run at the Stafford Motor Speedway. At 10:00pm the action moves to the Speed Channel for Race in 60 which will highlight last weeks NASCAR Sprint Cup event, the CARFAX 400, that was run at the Michigan Intl. Speedway. That program will be repeated at 10:00am on Wednesday. At noon on Wednesday the Speed Channel will show a complete replay of the Michigan Sprint Cup event. Speed goes live at 4:30 with Truck Series qualifying from Bristol, TN. Live coverage from Bristol continues at 6:00pm with the second annual NASCAR Whelen Modified Series event from the Bristol Motor Speedway. The Bristol Modified event is expected to take 90 minutes to complete. At 7:00pm the Versus Network will show the August 7 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Strutmasters.com 199 that was run at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. This event on Versus can also be viewed on Sunday, Aug 22 at 11:00pm and on Tuesday, August 24 at 7:00pm. At 7:30 on the Speed Channel on Wednesday, Aug 18 the truck series at Bristol has their pre-race show that will lead to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series O’Reilly 200. This event will be re-shown at 10:30pm. Thursday's viewing begins at noon on the Speed Channel with a re-run of last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series CARFAX 250 that was run at the Michigan Intl. Speedway. At 3:00pm, Speed will show the 2005 Sharpie 500 that was run at Bristol. On Thursday night at 6:00pm the Speed Channel will show the June 26 NASCAR Whelen Modified Series New England 100 that was run at Loudon, NH. Speed goes live at Bristol on Friday morning at 10:00am. Nationwide Series practice follows at 10:30am. At noon a two hour practice session for the Sprint Cup division starts. NASCAR Live breaks it up at 2:00 before the final hour of Sprint Cup practice goes at 2:30pm. Nationwide Series qualifying begins at 4:00pm. At 5:30 the action switches to ESPN for Sprint Cup qualifying. Action on ESPN continues at 7:00pm with the Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead in to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Food City 250 at Bristol. Saturday's viewing begins at 5:00pm on the Speed Channel with a two hour RaceDay. At 7:00 the action moves to ABC for a 30 minute countdown which will lead to a 7:30pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol. On Sunday the Versus Network will provide live coverage starting at 5:00pm of the IZOD Indycar Series PEAK Antifreeze Indy Grand Prix at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. Rounding out the day on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. At 11:00pm the Versus Cable network will re-show the Aug 7 Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series event that was run at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Dover Motorsports went up 0.30 to 1.89 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.08 to 13.38 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.86 to 25.26. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.03 to 4.48 while fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 2.18 to 35.70 and tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.17 to 9.98. With the exception of General Motors which went up 0.03 to 0.44, the car makers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.89 to 12.15 while Toyota dropped 0.65 to 69.87. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 1.87 to 27.31 and Lowes dropped 0.69 to 19.59. Team sponsors were also down for the week. Dupont dropped 1.81 to 40.32 while Coca-Cola dropped 1.60 to 49.30 and Target Department Stores dropped 1.51 to 50.81. Aarons Rentals dropped 0.73 to 17.25 and Fedex dropped 4.52 to 80.80.

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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