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Tuesday August 3, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Seekonk Speedway's 6th Annual Open Wheel Wednesday finally made it into the history books with Todd Annarummo taking the win and the $10,000 first place money that went with it. Annarummo started third in the 25-car starting field and took the lead from Steve Masse on lap 86. Good weather and an excellent crowd descended on the Seekonk Mass oval that is known as the Cement Palace. Masse ended up second with early leader Jon McKennedy, third. Jimmy Kuhn and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Ryan Preece, Rowan Pennink, Max Zachem and Louie Mechalides.

In other Wednesday night racing action, Rick Ceravolo was the winner of the X-Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made their annual trek to the 1/4 mile Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Considered a "Flash type race" the event carried a purse of $53,631. In addition, $11,500 was donated to be used as bonus money to the event. There were 32 cars on hand. George Brunnhoelzl III was the pole sitter as he toured the quarter mile oval in 11.81 sec. Second fastest was Justin Bonsignore with an 11.86. Ryan Preece, Howie Brode and Kevin Goodale rounded out the top five. James Civali won the 25 lap qualifying race. He was followed across the line by Tony Ferrante Jr., Frank Vigliarolo Jr., Jamie Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, Dave Brigati and Glenn Tyler. Those seven rounded out the 28 car starting positions.

It was a long time coming as Rowan Pennink held off Ryan Preece in a late-race duel to claim the checkered flag in the Riverhead 200 and his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory Saturday night.

The 24-year-old Huntingdon Valley, Pa., driver was making his 51st career start. He took the lead from Riverhead resident Kevin Goodale with 40 laps to go and weathered restarts on two ensuing cautions to bring home the win.
Preece, who suffered a mid-race spin, came back through the field to finish second. He was followed in the top five by Ron Silk, Mike Stefanik and George Brunnhoelzl III. Eric Beers, Eric Goodale, Jamie Tomaino, points leader Bobby Santos and Erick Rudolph rounded out the top 10. Brunnhoelzl led a race-high 57 laps. Kevin Goodale led 51 circuits, his first laps led since June 2008, but suffered a late-race spin and finished one lap down in 15th.

With another top-10 finish, Santos was able to grow his lead in the season standings to 67 points on Ted Christopher, who finished the race 12th.

There were 14 of the original 28 starters on the lead lap at the finish. Nine caution periods slowed the event which took 58 minutes to run.

The Riverhead event will be televised on Wednesday, August 4, on the VERSUS cable network. The event will be rebroadcast on Sunday, August 8, at 11:00pm.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway this coming Friday, August 6. This event will be televised on Wednesday, August 11 on the VERSUS cable network.

It has not been confirmed but word from the Southland indicates that the Whelen Modified Tour Series will not return to the Martinsville Speedway in Virginia in 2011. This years event drew less than 1000 spectators. The lack of advertising didn't help.

The Thompson International Speedway continued to provide intense competition. Ted Christopher continued to be the King Fish as he made it seven out of 11 in the Sunoco (SK type) racing. Keith Rocco, who has been shutout since his last win on May 27, did not compete as he has a difference of opinion with track officials over tire rules.

A special night for the Mini Stocks found Chris McKinstry victorious in the Mini Stock Northern Challenge. McKinstry also scored the top honors in the Northeastern Mini Stock Touring season portion of the Challenge. Thomsponís own Jeff Moffat also shared the limelight. A mid-season drought ended for Derek Ramstrom with a Super Late Model victory on Thursday night. Tommy OíSullivan returned to his winning ways in the Late Models scoring his third win of the 2010 season. It is a handful of wins for Shawn Monahan who posted his fifth in the Limited Sportsman division win at Thompson. In open-wheel action, R.J. Marcotte streaked to his second straight TIS Modified victory.

Earlier in the year, Ted Christopher had utilized last lap passes to score his victories. He has been applying his prowess a bit earlier in the events as of late en route to his mounting win tally. Dave Salzarulo set the pace in the opening laps of the Sunoco Modified main event. Before the completion of the first lap, Salzarulo gave up the lead to Rowan Pennink. When the field completed lap two it was Danny Cates as the new leader. Ronnie Silk was making his presence known relegating Pennink back to third ahead of his Falmouth Ready Mix teammate Ryan Preece. Woody Pitkat joined the freight train in fifth. Cates set sail at the head of the pack; motoring out to a sizeable advantage. Christopher had finally worked his way through traffic and into the thick of the battle. Preece had taken the position from Pennink taking Pitkat along for the ride. The duo continued to make progress as they both were able to get by Silk. A spin by Wayne Arute brought out the caution. Silk and Pennink headed down pit road under the caution. On the ensuing restart on lap nine, Cates had to contend briefly with Pitkat, who rocketed into second. Cates settled back into his groove as the leader getting a bit of breathing room from Pitkat. The battle for third got a little too close for comfort as Preece and Christopher made slight contact exiting turn two. An incident involving Nichole Morgillo necessitated the caution. Cates chose the bottom groove on the lap 13 restart. That move did not work out as well on this restart as Pitkat was able to grab the lead away on lap 14. Christopher got by Cates and into second. He immediately got alongside Pitkat. Christopher was the new leader on lap 15. Cates was trying everything to get back into the fight for the lead. Preece, who faltered on the restart, regained his momentum taking third from Cates. Not to be outdone, Cates worked over Preece for third once again.

Out front, Christopher enjoyed a two-car length lead over Pitkat. Cates continued to lead Preece while Silk had worked his way back to the fifth position. A caution for an incident on lap 24 that involved Arute, Dave Flammia, Dave Roys, and Richie Mann, erased Christopherís advantage. Christopher got a great jump on the restart to reclaim the lead. Preece and Cates swapped the third spot several times on lap 25. This allowed Silk to join the battle for third. Pitkat remained in striking distance over the final two laps but he could not muster up a challenge. Christopher took down his seventh win of the season over Pitkat. Preece bested Cates to finish third. Silk finished in the fifth position.

For the record, of the 220 victories that Christopher has recorded in Connecticut, 76 of them have been recorded at the Thompson Speedway.

The Stafford Motor Speedway played host to the 7th Annual CARQUEST SK 150. Frank Ruocco had two early spins, but came storming back through the field to take his second consecutive victory in the extra distance classic. Woody Pitkat took his fifth victory of the 2010 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. picked up his third consecutive and fifth win of the 2010 season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Rob Dow scored his second consecutive victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, and Jeff Jolly and Josh Wood were the winners of the 15-lap DARE Stock feature events.

The SK Modified 150 wasn't settled until the final moments. With 10 laps to go it was Ruocco out front with Ryan Preece giving Ruocco all he could handle in a duel for the lead. Ruocco and Preece's duel allowed Keith Rocco and Jeff Bararl to close in and make it a four-car fight to the finish. Preece lined up one final charge to the outside of Ruocco on the final lap, but he couldn't muster enough momentum to get by and Ruocco scored his second consecutive CARQUEST SK 150 feature victory. Rounding out the top-5 behind Ruocco and Preece was Rocco, Baral, and Pitkat. Early contenders Eric Berndt and Ted Christopher finished 15th and 16th respectively.

Among the missing was Dillon Moltz who made his debut in the ARCA cars at the Pocono Raceway. Moltz, a resident of Waterford and a front runner in the Stafford Late Model division, earned his chance to compete in the event after winning the inaugural Richard Petty's Driver Search in April.

Moltz started 16th and finished 20th in the event, which was won by Robb Brent of Shelby Township, Mich.

In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco ended a long dry spell as he outdueled Todd Ceravolo in a thrilling SK Modifiedģ finish while Jeff Paul captured his first career Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model checkered flag. Walt Hovey was a winner in the Street Stocks, with Louis Bellisle taking the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race. James Logan was the winner of the visiting Allison Legacy Series event.

Ceravolo slipped in turn one of the final lap to the outside of Rocco, enabling Rocco to go on to the checkered flag. Doug Coby steered through all the action over the final laps to score second, with Ron Yuhas coming back for third. Ceravolo ended up fourth with Tyler Chadwick fifth.

The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem North Carolina was quiet as rain put a damper on the scheduled night of racing at the track known as the MadHouse. Burt Myers who is seeking his fourth stadium championship, registered his fifth victory of the season two weeks ago, will carry a substantial 61-point lead in season standings into next Saturday night's two 25-lap races for the featured Modified.

Tommy Ellis, a two-time NASCAR Nationwide Series champion (1981 and 1988) was sentenced to 18 months in prison for tax evasion and money laundering. The 63-year-old Richmond, Va., native pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson of Richmond. The judge also sentenced Ellisís wife, Brenda, to 12 months for her role.

According to reports and court documents, the Ellises kept two sets of books for their car-wash business. They paid taxes on part of their income and were caught when they brought out a second set of books while trying to sell the business to an undercover Internal Revenue Service agent.

The government charged them with understating their income by $386,397 between 2003 and 2007 and with underpaying their taxes by $133,163 over those years. In addition to prison time, the couple was ordered to repay $133,000 in back taxes and interest.

In TV land this weeks viewing begins with NASCAR Race Hub on the Speed Channel which airs at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and on Thursday. NASCAR Now on espn2 airs at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday plus at 5:30pm on Friday. Race viewing on Speed begins at 10:00pm on Tuesday with Speed's Race in 60 which highlights last Sunday's NSC Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 that was run at the Pocono Raceway. This program will be repeated at 10:00am on Wednesday. Speed will show a complete replay of the Pocono Sprint Cup event on Wednesday at noon. On Wednesday evening at 7:00pm the Versus Cable network premiers its NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series with coverage of the July 31 event that was run at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. This program will be repeated on Sunday, August 8, at 11:00pm. Thursday's viewing begins at noon with a complete replay of last Saturday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series US Cellular 250 that was run at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. Speed goes live on Friday at noon with Sprint Cup practice from Watkins Glen, NY. At 2:00pm the action moves to espn2 for Nationwide Series practice from Watkins Glen. Action continues at 4:00 with Sprint Cup final practice at Watkins Glen. At 6:00 Speed has Race in 60 which highlights the June 13 NASCAR Sprint Cup, Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 at Michigan International Speedway. At 7:00 ESPN has some vintage racing in the form of the 1990 ACDelco 500 that was run at Rockingham. Also at 7:00 is Trackside (NASCAR) at Watkins Glen on the Speed Channel. Saturday's viewing starts at 9:00am with Nationwide Series qualifying from Watkins Glen. Sprint Cup qualifying follows at 11:00am. At 1:30 the action shifts to ESPN for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead in to the start of the Zippo 200 at the Glen which will get the green shortly after 2:00pm. Speed has the WORLD OF OUTLAWS Sprints from the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. Action on Speed continues at 8:30pm with the pre-race show for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Nashville 200 which will get the green shortly after 9:00pm. Sunday's viewing starts at 10:00am with a two hour session of RaceDay from Watkins Glen. At noon the action switches to ESPN for teir pre-race show that will lead in to the 1:15pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. 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 July 31 Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was run at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.31 to 25.90 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.20 to 13.72 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.11 to 1.61. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.12 to 4.57 while fuel supplier Sun Oil jumped 3.03 to 35.67. Tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.55 to 10.67. The car makers had a mixed bag for the week. Ford went up 0.05 to 12.77 and General Motors went up 0.01 to 0.41 while Toyota dropped 1.08 to 70.23. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.26 to 28.51 and Lowes dropped 0.37 to 20.74. The team sponsors were both hot and cold. Dupont went up 2.33 to 40.67 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.58 to 51.60. Target Department Stores dropped 0.57 to 51.32 while Aarons Rentals went up 0.23 to 18.16 and Fedex jumped 3.59 to 82.55.

Thatís 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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