Tuesday August 14, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night. Donny Lia took over the lead with 21 laps to go and pulled away to win the Budweiser King of Beers 150 at Thompson International Speedway on Thursday night. Lia, who started ninth on the grid in the No. 4 Mystic Missile Racing Dodge, initially challenged pole-sitter Mike Stefanik for the lead on Lap 59. Stefanik battled back, however, to regain the lead and stay out front to the midway point of the race. Lia, meanwhile, lost a lap to the leaders due to a problem with a lug nut during a pit stop. He gained the lap back as the beneficiary during a caution on Lap 83. Lia steadily worked his way forward from there. He was up to sixth by Lap 95 and moved by Todd Szegedy for second on Lap 108. Lia moved by Ron Silk for the lead on Lap 129 and never looked back. Other lap leaders were Stefanik, lap 1 through 74, Szegedy, lap 75 to 94 and Silk, lap 95 to 128.

Silk held off Doug Coby for second. Ted Christopher, who was penalized for aggressive driving and sent to the back of the pack on Lap 84, rebounded to finish fourth. Stefanik was fifth. Rounding out the top 10 were Rowan Pennink, Jimmy Blewett, Bobby Santos, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Szegedy.

With this win, he secured a locked-in starting position for the inaugural UNOH Battle at the Beach during 2013 Speedweeks on a temporary short track at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

There were 25 Modifieds on hand as the car counts continue to drop. Fourteen of the original 25 starters finished on the lead lap. There were eight cautions for 34 laps. The first yellow flew on lap 16 when Justin Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling wrecked in turn two. Bonsignore's damage was terminal while Emerling was able to have repairs and despite losing laps was able to work his way back as a "Lucky Dog" and ended the day on the lead lap in 12th spot at the finish. The second caution came on lap 24 when Rob Fuller and Eric Berndt were involved in an accident in turn two. Both would continue but would finish laps down at the finish. The third caution flew on lap 45 for Jon McKennedy who spun on the front stretch. McKennedy recovered to finish 14th on the lead lap. Jimmy Blewett spun out in turn four on lap 63, bringing out the fourth caution. Blewett stormed back to finish seventh. Six laps later on lap 69 Rowan Pennink spun in turn two for the fifth caution. The yellow was displayed for the sixth time when Bobby Santos was spun out by Ted Christopher. NASCAR felt that Christopher, who was driving the famous ole Blu of the Boehler family, was overly aggressive and put him to the rear. The sixth caution came on lap 83 when Woody Pitkat and Ed Flemke wrecked on the backstretch. A red flag resulted while track crews removed Flemke's car from atop Pitkats. The eighth and final caution came on lap 116 when Ryan Preece spun in turn two.

Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw Ryan Preece in the Sunoco Modified division, Danny Gamache, Jr. visited Thompson International Speedway victory lane for the first time in his career when he checkered the Thompson Modified division in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. Other winners included Tommy OíSullivan in the Late Models, Jesse Gleason in the Limited Sportsman division, Eric Bourgeois in the Monster Mini Stocks, and Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds.

Preece took the lead in the Sunoco Modified feature event at lap two and never looked back en route to his third consecutive win and eighth victory of the season. Kerry Malone drove right out front at the drop of the green flag with Dennis Perry and Todd Ceravolo rounding out the top three. On lap two, Ryan Preece shot to the outside groove and drove by Ceravolo before taking over the second spot from Perry on the inside groove. Caution flew at lap six for a spun car in turn two putting Preece side-by-side with Malone. Malone drove to the front, but Preece was persistent in his challenges. On lap eight, Preece dropped to the bottom and drove by Malone for the lead. Ceravolo and Ted Christopher rounded out the top-four. On lap 13, Ceravolo went underneath Malone in a battle for second. Christopher got into the mix and used the same line to try and take over third, but Malone fought back and shut the door on his challenges. On lap 19, Christopher was able to get the momentum to drive by Malone and take over third. Meanwhile, Preece had pulled away to a half-a-straightaway lead over the rest of the field. Preece, who has three wins in a row has now won 8 of the 14 events run at Thompson.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night heavy showers forced the Arute family to pull the plug on the night's racing.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl continuing rain kept the shoreline oval quiet.

In NASCAR Southern Modified action at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC the rain prevailed there too!

Shawn Solomito led from pole to pole as he won the NASCAR Modified feature at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Ryan Preece, who started fifth, finished second with Ted Christopher, third.

In action on the tube this week last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup event that was run at Watkins Glen will be re-shown by the Speed Channel at noon on Wednesday. The Watkins Glen Nationwide Series event will be shown on Thursday at noon on Speed.

On Friday the action moves to Michigan for Sprint Cup practice on Speed at 12:30pm. Truck Series practice follows at 2:00pm. At 4:00pm Speed covers Sprint Cup qualifying at Michigan.

Saturday's coverage from Michigan begins at noon with the Truck Series pre-race show that leads to the 12:30pm start of the NASCAR Truck Series VFW 200 at Michigan. At 2:00pm ESPN goes to Montreal for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that leads to the 2:30pm start of the NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Montreal.

Sunday's coverage begins at 10:00am at Michigan with a two hour RaceDay on Speed. ESPN takes over at noon with a one hour pre-race show that will lead into the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.51 to 25.16 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.15 to 1.26 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.04 to 15.44. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.65 to 4.92 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.28 to 47.87 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.58 to 11.74. The car makers were also positive at weeks end. Ford went up 0.26 to 9.35, General Motors went up 0.50 to 20.54 and Toyota went up 0.43 to 81.49. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went up 1.28 to 26.77 and Home Depot went up 0.77 to 53.06. The big team sponsors had various success. Dupont went up 1.61 to 51.08 and Target Department Stores went up 0.48 to 62.84 while Coca-Cola dropped 1.27 to 66.28, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.59 to 29.11 and Fedex dropped 2.02 to 87.80.

Thatís 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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