Tuesday December 5, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                                                           

The 2007 Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule for 2007 continues to come together. Word comes from Riverhead Raceway PR Director Bob Finan that Barbara and Jim Cromarty, track owners, have announced that the Whelen Modified Tour will return to Riverhead Raceway in 2007. The date will be August 4th, which is the traditional weekend that Riverhead has hosted the Tour.

Itís great to hear of the addition of Riverhead to the schedule. NASCAR needs to take into consideration that most drivers, car owners and crew members are gainfully employed and are limited to their time off away from their regular jobs.

The season ending Whelen Modified Tour awards banquet is coming up on December 16th and hopefully the entire schedule will be announced at that time.

As of this Friday, December 8 only 62 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.

NASCARís elite were in New York City last weekend where Jimmie Johnson was crowned the 2006 Nextel Cup Champion. He became the 28th driver to win the championship on NASCARís premier series, winning the championship by 56 points over Matt Kenseth. He collected a point fund award of $6,785,982, bringing his 2006 season total winnings to $15,770,125 Ė a new single season winnings record.

NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter was honored with the Buddy Shuman Award, presented at the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers luncheon on Thursday. The award is presented annually by NASCAR in recognition of an individual who has made a significant contribution to the growth of Cup Series racing. Louis Grier "Buddy" Shuman was a pioneer NASCAR Grand National driver and tough competitor who was well respected by his peers. He died in a hotel fire in 1955. NASCAR established the Buddy Shuman Award in 1957 to recognize outstanding contributions to NASCAR racing. Also honored was Benny Parsons, NASCAR's 1973 Cup champion and a veteran broadcaster who was named the 2006 recipient of the National Motorsports Press Association's Myers Brothers Award. The award, named in honor of former NASCAR competitors Billy and Bobby Myers, was presented today during the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Luncheon in New York. Parsons is the 47th recipient of the award. Parsons, who had 21 wins in 526 starts between 1964 and 1988, has more recently been a member of NBC/TNT's race broadcast team for the NASCAR Nextel Cup. Parsons, 65, underwent treatment for lung cancer earlier this year.

In TV land this week, viewing will begin on Thursday at 3:30pm when ESPN 2 presents the Nov 25-26 O'Reilly Auto Parts National Indoor Kart Championships, Tunica, MS. On Friday the Speed Channel will present Championship Off Road Racing from 3:00am to 5:00am. At 7:00pm ESPN Classic will show the Champ Car Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix that was run at Nazareth, PA, on Apr 27, 1997. On Saturday the action switches to the Outdoor Channel at 3:00pm for the Best in the Desert Racing. At 7:30 the Speed Channel shows Part 2 of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series that was run in Florida last February. All thatís left is the Speed Report on Sunday night at 7:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three-speedway stocks were in the red. Taking the big hit was the International Speedway Corporation, which dropped 1.07 to 51.95. Nextel Ė Sprint dropped 0.54 to 19.39 while Sun Oil (Sunoco) jumped up 5.07 to 68.95. Goodyear, still on strike, dropped 1.09 to 16.80. Dirt Motorsports, which will be based in Concord, NC shortly, dropped 0.05 to 2.40. In the drug sector, Pfizer announced more layoffs. Their stock jumped 0.96 to 27.85. Bristol Meyers-Squib was also up as they gained 0.37 to close at 24.84. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 1.25 to 38.97 and Lowes went up 0.88 to 30.88. The parcel giants had an off week as Fedex dropped 2.79 to 114.87 and UPS dropped 1.53 to 77.31.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America struck a deal to become the official bank of NASCAR in 2007.
Under the terms of the five-year deal, the bank will have an exclusive partnership with NASCAR for banking and financing services, the company said. It will also use NASCARís name and logo as part of its marketing efforts. The deal increases the bankís presence in NASCAR. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a report by the Associated Press estimated it would run between $15 million and $20 million.

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

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

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