Tuesday December 11, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour news the much talked about “Spec Engine” for the Whelen Modifieds continues to be a hot topic. When ever there is change or the possibility of change competitors become unhappy as they sometimes are forced to obsolete equipment that they paid dearly for or got for nothing. When tire rules were in their formative years some of the division’s top competitors including the late Richie Evans were against a tire rule, especially one that mandated the use of Hoosiers. Simple economics were Evans’ reasoning because he was getting Goodyears for free! Once the Hoosier Tire rule was put in place there was no need to give a certain few top runners free tires as with the rule in place Hoosier would win every race, no matter who was driving. Putting in a tire rule did in fact help the division as NASCAR could dictate which compound would be used to get the best life from the tire. It is NASCAR’s intent to give engines more life at a lesser cost.

The pieces of the puzzle for the 2008 season are slowly but surely falling into place. The Stafford Speedway has already announced their 2008 schedule. NASCAR is expected to announce their Whelen Modified Tour Series and Busch East Series schedules this coming Friday and Saturday at Series banquets at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville , CT. My spies up in northern Connecticut tell me that the Thompson Speedway will open on April 5 and 6 with the Annual IceBreaker and will close out their season on October 18 and 19 with the World Series. Overheard behind the office trailer at the Waterford Speedbowl was word that the shoreline oval will open for 2008 on April 13 with the Nationals. Following the Nationals the Speedbowl will begin their Saturday night schedule tentatively on April 19. Waterford will close out their season on October 4 and 5 with the Finale. The Seekonk Speedway, located on Route 6, the Gateway to Cape Cod, will open on May 3 and 4 and will run through October 11 and 12 when they close out their season with the D. Anthony Venditti Memorial.

The competitors, their families and fans of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series will gather this Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Casino for their annual awards banquet. Taking center stage will be driving champion Donny Lia and car owner champion Bob Garbarino. Lia, in 16 events beat Todd Szegedy by 180 points for the title. Lia scored six victories along the way and when not in victory lane found himself in the top ten on 13 occasions. Szegedy also ran the entire schedule, recording two wins included in 11 top ten finishes. In the final point standings Matt Hirschman ended up third with Ronnie Silk and Ted Christopher rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali, Mike Stefanik, Jimmy Blewett, Jamie Tomaino and Ed Flemke Jr. There were 68 different competitors who raced in at least one tour event.

It had been rumored that Don Lia was moving on to the NASCAR Truck Series but evidently that possibility is presently on hold.

In TV land this week, the racing is scarce to say the least. From now to mid-January when testing resumes in Daytona the TV coverage is just not there. Viewing will begins this Tuesday, Dec 11 at 5:30 on ESPN2 with NASCAR: Chasing Glory, a behind-the-scenes look at the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. ESPN2 continues their coverage at 7:00pm with a re-cap of the December 7 NASCAR Busch Series Awards Show that was held in Orlando, FL. Viewing will resume on Thursday at noon when the Speed Channel presents a re-cap of the 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season. The November 19 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Banquet that was held at the Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood , FL follows at 1:00pm . Friday’s viewing kicks off at noon on Speed with the June 12th Summer Shootout for Legends Cars, Bandolero and Thunder Roadster racing, Round #1 from the Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord , NC. Saturday night at 6:00 will see the June 2 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series which ran at Florence Speedway in Union , KY. Sunday’s viewing will be limited to Round #2 of the Summer Shootout from the Lowes Motor Speedway. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had a negative ending as the International Speedway Corporation was the lone gainer as they went up 0.59 to 43.20. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.26 to 33.49 and Dover Downs dropped 0.07 to 6.73. Sprint/Nextel went up 0.12 to 16.64 while Sun Oil dropped 1.90 to 65.20. Goodyear dropped 0.31 to 28.44 while DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.04 to 0.45. In the drug sector Pfizer went up 0.64 to 24.40 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.40 to 29.23. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.93 to 29.49 and Lowes went up 0.67 to 25.08. The parcel carriers had another good week as Fedex went up 1.75 to 100.22 and UPS went up 0.49 to 74.17.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. 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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