Tuesday August 7, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night. Doug Coby, was not detered by the 90 degree heat as he made it three-for-three in Whelen Modified Tour events at the historic half mile so far this year as he turned in another dominant performance for his fourth overall triumph of the 2012 season.

Coby inherited the lead when leader Eric Beers came to pit road along with the majority of the front-runners on Lap 48. He more than held his own down the stretch, however, as the lead was never relinquished, or really in question. It was his fourth career victory at Stafford. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Todd Szegedy third. Beers and Ted Christopher rounded out the top five. Pole winner Ryan Preece, Jon McKennedy, Woody Pitkat, Eric Goodale and Justin Bonsignore completed the top 10. There were 27 cars on hand.

With the victory, Coby extended his lead in the season standings on Preece to 309-268. There were 12 cars on the lead lap at the finish. Six cautions slowed the field for 30 laps. The most serious involved Steve Masse who was pinch hitting for Keith Rocco in the Boehler No. 3 and Frank Pallai who clobbered the wall in turn 3 on lap 44. Officials were forced to throw the red in order to repair the fence.

NASCAR announced that leading NWMT Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Keith Rocco, who has 42 career NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins at Stafford, was recently injured in a practice accident at the Thompson Speedway and would not compete in the Stafford 150. Rocco underwent surgery this past Friday in Farmington for left wrist injuries and expects to be on the sidelines at least two weeks. Rocco is also slated to be married to Cassie Ceravolo on Labor Day weekend.

In what had to be considered one of the most exciting and competitive Modified events of the year Matt Hirschman picked up the win in the Seekonk Speedway Wednesday night Modified Madness event and the $10,000 first prize payoff. Starting sixth, Hirschman ran in the front pack until lap 40 when he tangled with Chris Pasteryak when they were slugging it out for the lead. Hirschman rallied from the rear. With three laps to go Ryan Preece was leading but got snookered when Hirschman made a cross-over move to steal the lead and go on for the eventual win. Preece held on for second, with Steve Masse third, Todd Annarummo and Pasteryak rounded out the top five. David Berghman, Eric Berndt, Wentz, Doug Coby and Louie Mechalidas rounded out the top ten.

Hirschman's record for 2012 is noting short of fantastic. In addition to the $10,000 won at Seekonk Hirschman won $15,000 at Oswego, NY and $9,000 at the Star Speedway in Epping, NH, all in different cars.

Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw Ryan Preece romp to his sixth win of the season after driving out to almost a half a lap lead over the rest of the field. Dennis Perry took the top spot at the start with Kerry Malone attached to his bumper and Ryan Preece in third. On lap four, Todd Ceravolo challenged Preece by diving to the bottom. Preece retaliated by going high and drove around Malone for the second spot. Preece’s charge wasn’t finished, however, and on lap five, he drove by Perry for the lead. Perry held on to second while Ceravolo took over third. On lap seven, Ceravolo went by Perry for second, but caution flew just moments later slowing their pace. On the restart, Preece drove right back out front followed by Ceravolo and Malone. Coming up through the field, however, was Bobby Santos running in the sixth place. Preece stretched out his lead over Ceravolo as Santos charged by Malone on lap 16 to take over the third spot. Preece was on fire and, despite lapped traffic, continued to hold a dominating advantage over the rest of the field and went on to the checkers unchallenged. Ceravolo finished second with Bobby Santos, third. . Richie Gallup and Dennis Perry rounded out the top five.

Other winners included Duane Noll who dominated the 20-lap New England Truck Series race, Cam McDermott in the Lite Modifieds, John Falconi in the Late Model division, Steve Kenneway in the Limited Sportsman division, and Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stocks. Paul LaPlante won the Antique Racers feature event.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action, Woody Pitkat was the big winner of the evening by doubling up and taking the checkered flag in both the SK Modified® and Late Model feature events. The SK Modified® victory was Pitkat’s second of the season and the Late Model win was his third of the season. Also scoring feature wins were Frank Cardile in the 20-lap SK Light feature, David Arute in the 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature, and Cliff Saunders in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Cardile’s win was his first of the season, Arute’s win was the first win of his career, and Saunders’ win was his second of the season. Arute is the grandson of Jack Arute Sr.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl it was a case of now you see it, now you don't. Keith Rocco who severely injured his wrist got some help from Doug Coby to win the SK Modified feature at the shoreline oval. After an opening caution after the drop of the green Rocco, who started the race, pitted and was replaced by Coby. Coby did a masterful job as he came from the rear to score the apparent win. The win was later dis-allowed when track officials stated that Rocco and Coby did not follow the rule book. The Waterford Speedbowl rulebook states: “Driver changes are permitted after the completion of the initial green flag lap only. Points and money will be awarded to the driver that completes the initial green flag lap.” After reviewing a video it was determined that Rocco did not complete the opening lap and went directly to the pit area for the driver change. The win was awarded to Coby. It is what it is! The responsibility lies with Rocco, Coby and the car owner as they failed to read and understand the rules of making a driver change. It would have made for a great story which perhaps would have put Rocco back in the lead of the NASCAR national standings.

In NASCAR Southern Modified action at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour made their annual stop at the historic oval. George Brunnhoelzl III led most of the way, hung on through a bumpy ending that altered the finish order of several cars trailing him and won the 199. Brunnhoelzl, a two-time and defending tour champion, won for the fourth time in six races this season. It was his third straight victory, matching Brian Loftin's record string for consecutive wins.

Burt Myers, a five-time Bowman Gray champion, was the top qualifier for a tour-leading 24th time. He held the lead until Brunnhoelzl, who started from the outside pole, took charge in the 24th lap with a pass on the outside. Brunnhoelzl lost the lead temporarily with 17 laps left when Ryan nudged ahead. But Brunnhoelzl regained the lead for good after a tap that loosened Preece.

Myers, who was driving with a severely sprained right wrist suffered in a wreck Friday night, battled Preece for the second spot until Preece sent Myers spinning. Myers finished ninth. Preece finished 11th, after getting collected in collision with Andy Seuss on the final lap. Tim Brown finished second. Canadian Cole Powell, who started at the rear of the 25-car field, finished third. Jason Myers was fourth and Andy Seuss fifth. L.W. Miller, who had won the previous two tour races at Bowman Gray, struggled in qualifying, started 17th and finished 13th in a race that had a tour-record 13 cautions.

Tom Rogers Jr was the NASCAR Modified feature winner at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Ted Christopher finished second.

Penske Racing announced that A.J. Allmendinger has been released as driver of the No. 22 Dodge Charger in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Allmendinger was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for a positive drug test.

In action on the tube this week last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup event that was run at the Pocono Raceway will re-air on the Speed Channel on Wednesday at noon. The Nationwide Series event that was run at the Iowa Speedway will re-air on Speed on Thursday at noon.

Speed goes live at Watkins Glen at noon on Friday with Sprint Cup practice. Coverage will continue all afternoon.

Saturday's action begins at 9:30am with Nationwide Series qualifying at Watkins Glen at 9:30am. Sprint Cup qualifying follows at 11:30am. The action switches to ABC at 2:00pm for the Nationwide Series pre-race show lat leads to the 2:15pm start of the Zippo 200 at The Glen.

On Sunday the coverage shifts to ESPN for the Sprint Cup pre-race show at noon followed by the 1:00pm start of un-sponsored NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at The Glen.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the speedway stocks had negative results for the week. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.01 to 15.48 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.36 to 25.67 while Dover Motorsports went up 0.01 to 1.41. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.04 to 4.27 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.41 to 47.59 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.59 to 11.16. It was a good week for the car makers. Ford went up 0.09 to 9.09 while General Motors went up 0.37 to 20.04 and Toyota jumped 4.97 to 81.06. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 1.42 to 52.29 and Lowes dropped 1.58 to 25.49. With the exception of Target Department Stores which went up 0.84 to 62.36 and Coca-Cola which went up 0.51 to 67.55 the big team sponsors were down for the week. Dupont dropped 0.24 to 49.47 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.66 to 29.70 and Fedex dropped 1.07 to 89.82.

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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