Tuesday December 12, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                                                           

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule for 2007 continues to come together. Mike Stefanik will be the guest of honor this coming Saturday night, Dec. 16, at the 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series banquet at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville Ct. In 16 events Stefanik scored an incredible 15 top tens which included 1 win and ten top fives. Stefanik’s season winning totals amounted to $53,800. A total of 73 different drivers entered into competition. Although winless, Eddie Flemke Jr was consistent as he recorded 12 top tens which included six top fives. Flemke’s season total was $43,675. Ted Christopher, the guy that everybody loves to hate, finished third. In 16 starts Christopher recorded 11 top tens which included three wins. Christopher’s season total was $55,425. Defending series champion Tony Hirschman wasn’t as consistent as he wanted to be as he recorded ten top tens which included one win. Rounding out the top five is Todd Szegedy who recorded nine top tens which included two wins. Sixth through tenth in the final standings were Jerry Marquis, James Civali, Don Lia, Zach Sylvester and Eric Beers. Civali, Lia and Beers were event winners. Other event winners were John Blewett III with three and one each for Doug Coby, Jimmy Blewett and Reggie Ruggiero.

It is expected and sincerely hoped that NASCAR and Whelen will elaborate on TV coverage for the tour in 2007.
The NASCAR Busch East Series awards banquet is scheduled for Friday night, Dec. 15 and will also be held at the Mohegan Sun Casino. Mike Olsen, of North Haverhill , N.H. , will receive the Busch East Series championship for the second time in his career.

As of this Friday, December 15 only 55 days remain before the engines start in New Smyrna, Fla. For the 41st annual World Series of Asphalt Racing. The New Smyrna Speedway, a half mile high banked speedway will host nine nights of racing beginning on February 9. NASCAR Tour type Modifieds, SK type Modifieds along with Florida-IMSA Modifieds and numerous late model divisions will be in competition.

NASCAR’s national short-track program, recently bolstered by the announcement of a new title sponsor, Whelen Engineering, will also feature a renewed and revitalized championship structure and points system heading into the 2007 season. Under the new revamped format the NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series – entering its 26th season – will crown state champions in addition to a national champion.

Here is the rundown of how the series’ champions will be determined: The track champions will be determined by local track points. A competitor does not have to be a track champion in order to win a state or national championship. State champions will be those competitors who accumulate the most NASCAR points at any NASCAR-sanctioned track within a state or province. Points will not transfer between states, but a competitor may compete for more than one state championship. The national champion will be the competitor who accumulates the highest total of NASCAR points: drivers will be able to compete at any NASCAR-sanctioned facility in North America. Each champion will have the opportunity to be recognized at the NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series Banquet held at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Spa in Las Vegas, Nev. The national champion will then be honored at the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Awards Ceremony in New York City, recognized as one of the sanctioning body’s eight series champions. The new simplified point structure will feature an “inverted” point’s format, with car counts affecting the amount of points a competitor receives. Points will be awarded in ascending order with the last place car receiving two points, next-to-last receiving four and will then move up through the field in two point increments. (For example, the feature winner in a 10-car field will receive 20 NASCAR points, while the feature winner in a 25-car field would receive 50.) Competitors will count their 18 highest point finishes with a season-ending date of September 30, 2007. A new national ranking system will also go into place in 2007. Throughout the season the top 500 feature division drivers will be ranked nationally according to their NASCAR points. At the end of the season, each top 500 driver will receive a certificate of recognition from NASCAR displaying their 2007 ranking.

The 2007 battle for the Connecticut State Championship will involve three tracks. The Thompson and Stafford Speedways along with the Waterford Speedbowl.

Congratulations are in order for third generation racer Bobby Santos III who has signed a contract to compete in 15 races for Bill Davis Racing in 2007. He will compete in 10 ARCA and 5 Busch. Series Events. Santos, 21, made his Bill Davis Racing debut in the ARCA RE/MAX event at Iowa Speedway in October. After posting an impressive 10th-place qualifying run, he went on to finish sixth on the 7/8-mile tri-oval, one of only seven drivers remaining on the lead lap when the checkered flag waved. The third-generation driver began his racing career driving Quarter Midgets at the age of four before moving to Supermodifieds when he was a teenager. Specializing in open wheel competition, he spent the past several years running among the United States Auto Club (USAC) ranks. 2006 was a breakout year for the Franklin, Mass., native, who won 11 features in USAC competition, five of which were USAC National races. At Stafford (Stafford Springs, Conn.) Speedway, Santos won both the Midget race and then went on to win the PRA Big Car feature after starting last, securing himself a $50,000 bonus. Santos also won The Night Before the 500 event at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August.

In TV land this week, the viewing is very lean. Little activity will transpire until the motors restart in Daytona for mid-January testing. On Saturday at 5:00pm it will be Championship Off Road Racing on the Speed Channel. At 7:30 it’s the June 3 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Sunday at noon it’s the June 27 Summer Shootout that was held at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte , NC . At 3:00pm its the Sun Trust Moto-ST Endurance Racing, Highlights of the inaugural 8 Hours At Daytona, which ran on Oct 2. At 7:00pm The Speed Report wraps up the weeks racing.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway stocks rebounded from last week as they finished in the green. The top finisher was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 0.33 to 52.28. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.23 to 38.27 and Dover Downs went up 0.08 to 5.33. Nextel dropped 0.16 to 19.23 and Sun Oil (Sunoco) dropped 2.02 to 66.93. Goodyear made up a little lost ground as they went up 0.95 to 17.75. DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.10 to 2.30. In the drug sector Pfizer dropped 2.68 to 25.17. Shares of Pfizer Inc sank on news that the company had halted development of a key new cholesterol treatment. The stock fell $3.96, or 14 per cent, to $23.90 in pre-market trading. The company said Saturday that an independent board monitoring a study for cholesterol treatment torcetrapib recommended that the work end because of an unexpected number of deaths. On the other hand Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.52 to 25.36. In the home improvement sector it was all red. Home Depot dropped 0.16 to 38.81 and Lowes dropped 0.07 to 30.81. The parcel carriers had another good week. UPS went up 0.78 to 78.09 and Fedex went up 0.43 to 115.30.

The Associated Press reported on December 4 that the International Speedway Corp. scrapped plans to build a track on Staten Island in New York City , stalling NASCAR's dream to bring a race to the New York area.

"While we are disappointed that we could not complete the speedway development on Staten Island , our enthusiasm for the metropolitan New York market is in no way dampened," ISC president Lesa France Kennedy said. "We continue to view the region as a prime location for a major motorsports facility." France Kennedy heads ISC, the publicly traded sister company of NASCAR -- which was founded by her grandfather and currently chaired by her brother, Brian France.

Both companies badly want to expand NASCAR into the New York metropolitan area, and moved toward that goal in 2004 when a subsidiary of ISC paid about $100 million for a 440-acre former oil tank farm on Staten Island . The company later bought another 236 acres to gain the necessary land for a race track. The goal was to build a .8-mile state-of-the-art track that would have accommodated 80,000 fans and had the New York City skyline as its backdrop. But the proposal has been met by severe resistance, including a a hotly contested April public meeting in which tempers reached dangerous levels -- forcing police to end the meeting over safety concerns. ISC cited an "inability to secure the critical local political support that is necessary to secure the required land-use change approvals" in ending the Staten Island project. In all, the company said spent about $150 million on the project including $123 million for land and related improvements, $11 million for costs related to the development of the speedway and $16 million for capitalized interest and property taxes.

NASCAR and ISC have long targeted both the New York and Pacific Northwest as areas it would like to expand into. Initial plans to build a track north of Seattle were thwarted, and ISC has since chosen a 950-acre site across the Puget Sound in Kitsap County , Wash. ISC hopes that funding legislation on the Washington project will be submitted sometime in January.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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