Tuesday August 2, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Long Island for the Lighthouse Mission 200 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Saturday, July 30. Justin Bonsignore converted his home-track advantage into his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory. The 23-year-old from Holtsville, N.Y., drove away with the Lighthouse Mission 200 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway.

Bonsignore, who started on the outside pole of the 175 lap event, took the lead from pole sitter Howie Brode on lap 18 of the slam-bang event that produced 11 caution periods for 100 laps. Todd Szegedy finished second, followed by Ron Silk, Ryan Preece and Doug Coby. Rowan Pennink rebounded from an early wreck to finish sixth. Jamie Tomaino, Patrick Emerling, Bobby Santos and Richie Pallai rounded out the top 10. The finish allowed Silk to take the points lead by five over Pennink with nine races remaining.

Fourteen of the original 28 starters finished on the lead lap. Among the notables who were down laps were Ted Christopher who started fourth and ended up seventeenth after an accident, Mike Stefanik completed only 85 laps, finishing 22nd and was listed as having a radio problem? Pole sitter Brode was eliminated on lap 69 after an accident as was Eric Rudolph. Other accident victims were Bryon Chew, Donny Lia and George Brunnhoelzl III.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour now heads to Connecticut, Aug. 5 for the Town Fair Tire 150 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

With all that has been written about the recent disqualification of Ryan Newman at Loudon its plain to see that no one will admit that they actually cheated. In reality they did, as a matter of fact Newman and his team attempted to steal money that many teams of the Whelen Modified Tour Series desperately need. The main thing is, they got caught and paid the price, period!

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway the Mini Stocks took top billing with the running of the annual Mini Stock Northern Challenge. Danny Field continued his winning ways in the regular weekly division portion of the Challenge. Mark Panaroni scored the victory in the Mini Stock Northern Tour (MSNT) leg of the challenge. Chad Baxter scored one for the ‘home team’ as the overall winner of the Mini Stock Northern Tour Challenge.
In regular NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Danny Cates held back some stiff competition to score his first Sunoco Modified victory of the season. Larry Gelinas won a barnburner in the Super Late Models. Rick Gentes was back to form in the Late Models; scoring the feature win. A dominating performance in the Limited Sportsman found Scott Sundeen in victory lane. What a difference a week made for TIS Modified winner Glenn Boss of Danielson, CT.

With five laps remaining, Keith Rocco had caught the back bumper of Cates while Woody Pitkat ran tight to Rocco’s bumper. Exiting turn four Pitkat could get a run on Rocco but could not get the run up onto the straightaway. Cates entered heavy lapped traffic with two laps to go. The lead trio was nose-to-tail. Coming to the checkers, none of the cars would step out of line. Cates crossed the stripe for his first win of the season. Rocco finished second over Pitkat. In the closing laps, Rick Fuller was able to get by Ryan Preece for fourth. Preece had to settle for fifth.

The Stafford Motor Speedway management cancelled Friday night's races because of impending rain.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco made it five in a row, nine for the season, in SK Modified action at the shoreline oval. Jeff Smith claimed his second win of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, Al Stone III scored his fourth win of the year in the Street Stocks and Chris Williams found victory lane following a late race incident in the Mini Stocks. Keith Botehlo of North Attleboro, MA was the NEMA Midget winner in a special Shane Hammond Memorial event, while Andy Barrows of New Ipswich, NH took the counterpart NEMA Lite feature win.

In the 35 lap SK Modified feature Glenn Pressel took the early lead from his pole starting position. The action was hot from the drop of the green flag and by lap-3 contact was made in turn three among several cars, resulting in Joe Perry getting crossed up into the infield and Nichole Morgillo to become disabled on the backchute of lap-4 with suspension damage to her machine, drawing the first caution flag.

Tyler Chadwick raced around the outside of Pressel on the restart, bringing Rocco ahead in the outside lane up to second position. Caution was back out on lap-5 after Randy Churchill and Perry both got together on the frontstretch ending with Perry disabled in turn one. Tight racing between Chadwick, Rocco and third place Rob Janovic ensued on the next stretch of green flag racing through lap-11. During that time, Rocco dogged Chadwick who defended against each attempt. Rocco made a stellar move entering turn three on lap-11 to challenge the inside of Chadwick and powered ahead off turn four to lead the lap. Matt Gallo spun off the backstretch as the field raced lap-12 to return the race under caution with Rocco scored as the new leader.

Janovic’s top run ended on lap-13 when a flat right rear tire sent him spinning in turn two, creating another yellow situation. Rocco restarted well to get out front for an extended run of green flag racing. He distanced himself ahead of a battle for second between Chadwick, Tom Abele Jr. and Kyle James. Chadwick ultimately claimed the spot in the final ten laps, and had enough to keep with but not challenge Rocco. They went that way to the finish with Rocco taking his fifth consecutive win by a car length over Chadwick. Abele held off Mark Bakaj over the closing laps to take third, while Bakaj had to make a great save exiting the final corner to claim fourth. James was fifth.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was scheduled to complete a recently started event at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Impending rain forced Stafford to pull the plug on the event. In some sad news VMRS Director John Hoyt passed away on Friday.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC was the scene of twin 50 lap NASCAR Modified action. In the first Modified race, Jonathan Brown took the lead from Burt Myers with a bump on Lap 43 and led the final seven laps for his first win of the year. Randy Butner won the second 50-lap Modified Division race Saturday night for his first win at Bowman Gray since 2007. Butner won the second race after starting second in the Madhouse Scramble draw. Kevin Wilson started on the pole and finished ninth. Butner had to hold off Danny Bohn, who finished second, and points leader Burt Myers, who finished third in the second race and second in the first. Burt Myers came all the way from 16th to finish third in the second race. Myers had to avoid a crash between Jason Myers and Joseph Brown on Lap 35 of 50. Joseph Brown got out of his car, walked down the front straightaway and held a fist toward Jason Myers' car. Myers swerved toward Brown, but nothing more came of it. Also, Burt Myers had to avoid a crash between Austin Pack and Tim Brown on Lap 36. Through it all, Burt Myers moved into third place.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR Now on espn2 airs at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and on Thursday. Race viewing for the week begins on Tuesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the ARCA Racing Series Ansell Protective Gloves 200 at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont (Indianapolis) IN. On Wednesday at noon the Speed Channel replays last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Brickyard 400 that was run at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. On Thursday at noon Speed replays last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series Kroger 200 that was run at the Lucas Oil Raceway in Clermont (Indianapolis) IN. At 3:00pm Speed will replay last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 that was run at the Pocono Raceway. At 6:00pm Speed shows the July 15 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East New England 125 that was run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Speed goes live at noon on Friday with Sprint Cup practice from the Pocono Raceway. NASCAR Live breaks it up for a half hour before the Truck series has their practice at 2:00pm. NASCAR Live kicks in for another half hour at 3:30pm before the final 90 minute practice for the Sprint Cup cars hit the track in the Pocono's at 4:00pm. At 5:30pm Speed presents The Legend of Darrell Waltrip. Trackside (NASCAR) at Pocono closes out the day at 7:00pm followed by Speed Center at 8:00pm. Saturday's action starts at 9:30am with Truck Series qualifying from Pocono. At 10:30 the action shifts to espn2 for Sprint Cup qualifying. NASCAR Live on Speed follows at noon. At 12:30 Speed has the truck series pre-race show that will lead to the 1:00pm start of the Pocono Mountains 125, Pocono Raceway. The ARCA Racing Series Pennsylvania ARCA 125 follows at 3:00pm. At 7:00pm espn2 goes to Iowa for the Nationwide Series pre-race for the U.S. Cellular 250 which gets the green at 7:30pm. Sunday morning viewing starts at 10:00am with a two hour edition of RaceDay. At noon the action shifts to ESPN for the pre-race show that will lead to the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pennsylvania 500 at the Pocono Raceway. At 6:00pm Speed showcases the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at the Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, IL. 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 two of the three speedway stocks had a negative ending for the week. Dover Entertainment had a positive ending as they went up 0.02 to 1.85 while Speedwy Motorsports dropped 0.20 to 13.60 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.64 to 27.97. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.93 to 4.23 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.61 to 40.65 and tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.72 to 16.17. The major car makers were also down for the week. Ford dropped 1.10 to 12.21 while General Motors dropped 2.42 to 27.68 and Toyota dropped 3.09 to 81.92. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 1.59 to 34.93 while Lowes dropped 1.04 to 21.58. The major team sponsors were also down for the week. Dupont dropped 3.43 to 51.42 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.30 to 64.52. Target Department Stores dropped 0.32 to 51.49 while Aaron's Rentals dropped 1.00 to 25.21. Fedex dropped a ton as they went down 5.91 to 86.88.

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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