Tuesday August 16, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour joined the Indy Cars at Loudon, NH last weekend. Bobby Santos crossed another track off his list when he earned the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pole in time trials for the Granite State Classic. Santos toured the one mile oval in 29.858 seconds (127.564 mph) for his sixth career Coors Light Pole Award and second of the 2011 season. There were 31 cars on hand. Second fastest was Eric Beers with Eric Beers, third. Justin Bonsignore and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five.

Mike Stefanik ended a long dry spell in the No. 16 Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Pontiac when he earned his first win of the season and the 71st of his Tour career by edging Woody Pitkat at the line. It was Stefanik’s seventh win at the track and first since Aug. 2, 1998. Additionally, it was his first overall victory since winning at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 27, 2009. The runner-up marked the best career finish for Pitkat. Todd Szegedy finished in in the third position followed by Justin Bonsignore and Eric Beers in fourth and fifth, respectively. Bobby Santos, Ryan Perice, Glenn Tyler, Erick Rudolph and Doug Coby rounded out the top 10.

There were 10 lead changes among 5 drivers. Santos led the opening 29 laps before giving way to Erick Rudolph who led lap 30. Santos retook the lead one lap later and remained on the point until lap 44 when Bonsignore took his turn on the point for one lap before giving way to a determined Santos who would lead to lap 53. Monsignor and Santos slugged it out until lap 60 when Woody Pitkat came alive. From there on Pitkat and Mike Stefanik went toe to toe. Stefanik took the lead for the final time on lap 73 before sprinting home for the win. Seventeen of the original 31 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were James Civale, Andy Seuss and Ron Yuhas who wrecked on lap 92, Matt Hirschman, Kevin Goodale, Eric Goodale and Don Lia who wrecked on lap 66, Jake Marosz retired on lap 62 with handling problems, Eric Berndt wrecked on lap 58 and Ted Christopher who dropped out with rear end problems after completing 50 laps. Jimmy Blewett, Wade Cole and Ken Heagy dropped out with engine problems with engine problems.

The crowd on hand was extremely sparse. The Indy Cars that raced on Sunday also played to a sparse crowd.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is in action next on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at the legendary Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for a combination event with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. The event is set to be telecast on SPEED at 6 p.m. ET.

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Sunny skies and 82 degree weather welcomed race teams and fans. The Late Model division took the center stage with their 40-lap extra distance race and Tommy O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, was the star. Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, returned to top-form and to victory lane in the Sunoco Modifieds. Andy Lindeman of Poestenkill, NY, was tops in the touring New England Truck Series. Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA scored his fourth win of the season in the Super Late Models. Dwayne Dorr of Ledyard, CT, motored his way to the victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Jay Sundeen of Douglas, MA, bested the field to win in the TIS Modifieds. He had been knocking on the door and on Thursday night Eric Bourgeois of Moodus, CT, scored his first Mini Stocks feature event win of the season. There were 14 cars on hand for the event.

The Stafford Motor Speedway did not run into any weather problems as Ryan Preece scored his third win of the 2011 season in the SK Modified® feature, Ryan Posocco scored his second win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko nailed down his fourth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders picked up his first win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the SK Modifieds, Keith Rocco came home in second, with early leader Dan Avery, Glen Reen, and Eric Berndt Berndt rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher finished a distant 21st after being collected in an early race wreck.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, the shoreline oval hosted the fourth annual Wings and Wheels event Saturday night, staging another round of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing for the SK Modifieds®, the track’s weekly headline division plus the visiting ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets and Valenti Modified Racing Series.

Claiming victories were Keith Rocco, continuing his domination of the SK Modified® division by picking up his tenth win on the season. Chris Perley scored his third career win at the Speedbowl by

picking up the victory on the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified race. A first-time winner reached the winner’s circle in the 25-lap NEMA Midget feature as Todd Bertrand etched his name into the record books. In the

100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature, veteran racer Jerry Marquis of Broad Brook came out of racing retirement to score an upset victory.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series returned to the Stafford Speedway to complete a previously started event. Keith Rocco continued his winning ways as he picked up his first career Modified Racing Series victory in the Lincoln Tech 80. The race was started on June 24th, but rain halted the race with 32 laps complete. Rocco was the race leader when the rain came and he had to fight off strong challenges from Matt Hirschman and then Todd Owen to take the victory as he led the final 47 laps of the race.

With 10 laps to go, it was a four-car train for the top spot with Rocco leading Owen, Doug Coby, and Hirschman. With 5 laps to go the running order remained the same, but Rocco was able to pull away from Owen by several car lengths. Rocco led the field around to take the checkered flag. Owen finished second, with Coby, Hirschman, and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top-5.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Eddie Brunnhoelzl was the NASCAR Modified winner.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC fell under rain which washed out both 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division. Next Saturday's season finale will feature the Carolina Farm Credit 150 for the Modified Division. Burt Myers holds a 73-point lead in the standings. He can wrap up a second straight Bowman Gray Stadium championship, and his fifth title overall, by finishing 19th or better in next Saturday's 150-lap race.

Get well wishes go out to Dick Caso, a long time Modified veteran who was critically injured following a accident on his moped. Dick was a multi-time winner at many New England tracks for about 3 decades and earned the nickname "Daring" Dick Caso for his driving style. In addition to his own cars Caso drove the Ted Marsh No. 55 and the Billy Simons No.9 in numerous NASCAR Modified events in the 1970's. Get well wishes also go out to former Speedway Scene publisher and editor Val LeSieur who has entered Tufts Medical Center in Boston with a knee infection.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen on Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:00pm. Race viewing for the week begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. On Thursday at noon Speed replays last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Zippo 200 at the Glen. At 3:00pm Speed replays last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup CARFAX 400 that was run at the Michigan Intl. Speedway. At 6:00pm Versus has the Lucas Motorsports Hour. Also at 6:00pm, Speed will show the July 24 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Bi-Mart Salute to the Troops 125 that was run at the Portland Intl. Raceway in Portland, OR. Speed goes live on Friday morning at 11:00am with Truck Series practice from Michigan. Sprint Cup practice at Michigan follows at noon. Live action continues at 1:30 with Truck Series final practice. NASCAR Live at Michigan serves as a break at 3:00pm. Sprint Cup qualifying from Michigan runs from 3:30 to 5:30pm on Speed. Speed Center wraps it up at 5:30pm. Saturday's coverage by the Speed Channel begins at 9:00am with Truck Series qualifying from Michigan. A final two hour practice for the Sprint Cup cars follows at 10:00am. Live coverage from Michigan continues at noon with the truck series pre-race show that will lead to the 12:30pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series VFW 200 at the Michigan Speedway. The Nationwide Series is in Canada this weekend. The pre-race for their event is at 2:00pm which will lead to the 2:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series NAPA Pièces d'Auto 200 at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal. Action continues in Canada at 7:00pm on Speed with the Grand-Am Rolex Series, Montreal 200. Sunday's viewing gets an early start with NASCAR Now on espn2 at 9:00am. NASCAR RaceDay at 10:00am on the Speed Channel serves as a tow hour preview to the Michigan Sprint Cup event. At noon the action switches to ESPN for a one hour pre-race show that will lead to the start of the1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pure Michigan 400 at the Michigan Intl. Speedway.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Pure Michigan 400, Michigan Intl. Speedway On Sunday evening, Speed Center at 7:00pm and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm sum up the day's racing. At 9:00pm Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain closes out the weekend.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week Wall Street rebounded a bit but not enough. Two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.43 to 24.17 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.61 to 12.48 while Dover Entertainment went up 0.10 to 1.75. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.52 to 3.20 and tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.07 to 13.48 while fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.31 to 34.32. Two of the three car makers were down for the week. Ford went up 0.22 to 11.06 while General Motors dropped 0.76 to 25.75 and Toyota dropped 3.03 to 74.40. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.16 to 30.58 and Lowes dropped 0.64 to 19.51. The major team sponsors also had their ups and downs. Dupont went up 0.09 to 47.36 and Aarons Rentals went up 2.14 to 25.85 while Coca-Cola went down 3.73 to 60.82, Target Department Stores dropped 0.17 to 38.48 and Fedex dropped 1.88 to 80.48.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, 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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