Tuesday February. 21, 2006

By Phil Smith
World Series Modified Racing action at the New Smyrna Speedway continued on Monday, February 13. Once the sun went down it was like being at home in New England as the temperatures dipped below freezing in central Florida. Donny Lia and Chuck Hossfeld started on the front row and ran nose to tail the entire distance of the event. A few minor incidents slowed the event. Kevin Goodale and Robbie Summers spun on lap 7 between turn 3 and 4 in the early going. During lap 10 Chris Pasteryak spun bringing out a caution and on lap 11 Ryan Preese and Buck Catalano bringing out the caution after a tangle in turn three. Following Lia and Hossfeld at the finish were Eric Beers, John Blewett III, Andy Suess, Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher and Mike Andrews Jr. who had taken over the driving duties for injured Mike Ewanitsko. Earl Paules was the SK Modified winner. Mike Holdredge finished second. Jimmy Blewett dropped out with mechanical problems on lap 10.
            The cold weather coupled with the full moon on Tuesday made for an exciting night of spins, wrecks and strange happenings. Donny Lia made it two in a row and was the only driver to escape unscratched. There were two incidents before one lap was completed. The first incident saw Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher, Kevin Goodale, Danny Sammons and a host of others spun in turn one. The race all got underway again and the cars restarted. As the cars went into turn 1 during the start of lap two, Jimmy Blewett, Jeff Preece, Zach Sylvester, Dave Koroleski, John Blewett III, Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale were involved in another incident in turn one. Beers, the Blewetts and Koroleski were towed off the track. As the cars restarted on lap two Hossfeld and Christopher headed for pit road, never to return. Just when it looked like the race would go non-stop Eric Beers came to a stop in turn 1 on lap 10 with smoke coming from the right front of his car. A tow truck pushed him in, out for the night. Lia continued to lead when, with two laps to go, three cars spun on the front stretch as they were contending for the 6th spot: Dave Sapienza, Earl Paules & Jon McKennedy came to a grinding halt. All cars were damaged and were done for the night. After a green-white-checkered finish Lia took the win and was followed by Chris Pasteryak, Mike Andrews Jr., Andy Suess, Tim Arre, Jay Wesley Swartout and Dan Sammons. John Jensen won the SK Modified feature over Jimmy Blewett and Billy Anderson.
            Full Moon Modified Racing continued at New Smyrna on Wednesday night. The central Florida temperatures moderated somewhat making life easier on fans and competitors alike. The Modifieds ran their first of two extra distance events. Eric Beers was the top time trialer and started on the pole. John Blewett III started on the outside pole with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Beers led the charge to the green with Blewett III in hot pursuit. The first caution flew on lap two when Rob McMullen, driving the Joe Brady back-up car, spun on the backstretch. The field no sooner took the green when, on lap 3, Kevin Goodale spun between turns one and two. Green again and then crash! The Blewett brothers tangled between turns three and four. Collected in the melee was Zach Sylvester who ultimately ended up in the front stretch wall. The Blewetts maintained their spots as the caution was thrown for Sylvester, who was done for the night. Beers and Donny Lia led the restart. The field no sooner got up to speed when Jimmy Blewett & Andy Suess tangled and came close to hitting the front stretch wall. Both cars drove away unscathed and were able to restart the race. Another restart, another tangle. This time it was Dan Sammons, Tim Arre, Chris Pasteryak, Jon McKennedy, Ted Christopher and Don Lia. Lia got the worst of it and had to be double hooked off the track. Beers continued to lead as the green was dropped once again. Rob Summers & Earl Paules tangled in turn 4, bringing out the fifth caution on Lap 6. Mike Andrews Jr., doing a great pinch hitting job for Mike Ewanitsko, moved into the runner-up spot. The field took the green again and actually ran four laps at speed when Ryan Preese spun on backstretch on lap 9. Green again with Beers still leading followed by Andrews, Blewett III, Hossfeld and Rob Summers. Just when it looked like things would smooth out the seventh caution flew on Lap 19 when Jim Storace was engulfed in smoke in turn 2. The final and eighth caution flew on lap 31 when Chris Flemming stopped in turn four. The final 19 laps were run without incident with Beers taking the win over Andrews, John Blewett III and Chuck Hossfeld. Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Tom Farrel won the SK Modified feature. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Kevin Goodale and Mike Holdredge, following.
            A new face entered victory lane on Thursday night at New Smyrna. Mike Andrews Jr., who took over for the injured Mike Ewanitsko, started on the pole of the 25 lap feature and went on to lead every lap to record his first win in the Sunshine State. The first caution of the night came during the opening moments when Jo Wesley Swartout, Tim Arre, Luke Flemming and Tony Hanbury tangled in turn one. Arre and Flemming had to be towed from the scene. Donny Lia pitted to have officials check for a possible fluid leak.
The field restarted with Andrews still on the point. The second caution of the night came on lap 8 when Zach Sylvester slowed on the front stretch. The ensuing restart saw a major pile-up on the front stretch that collected seven cars and blocked the track. The event was red flagged. Among those involved were Chuck Hossfeld, Lia, Arre and Chris Pasteryak. Lia was not able to restart. It proved to be a major setback as he was leading the point standings going into the event. The race restarted single file. By lap 15 Andrews continued to lead with Rob Summers moving into second spot and John Blewett III, third. Jimmy Blewett was running fourth but spun two laps later when he looped it in turn two. Once the field restarted they ran non-stop from there. At the finish it was Andrews taking the win followed by Summers, Blewett III, Andy Suess and Tony Hanbury. Lia ended up in 19th spot. Eric Beers, who blew the left rear tire in the fourth turn during first lap of time trials, finished 8th and was tied for the point lead going into the Richie Evans 100 last Friday night. His car sustained damage on the right front and he was forced to start the feature in last spot. In another development Ted Christopher, who had been driving the Bear Motorsports No.14 with little or no success, parted ways with car owner Bill Callicio and signed on to drive the Joe Brady back-up Modified for the final two events at New Smyrna. Mike Holdredge held off Jimmy Blewett to win the SK Modified feature.
            The Richie Evans 100, which was run last Friday night, ended up being a true test of stamina and nerves. In the end it was Jimmy Blewett in victory lane with the Eddie Partridge TS Haulers entry. Ted Christopher, in the Joe Brady back-up mount finished second after making a late race pit stop for fresh tires. Christopher made a determined charge to the front but got only as far as second. Rob Summers ended up being a victim of Christopherís aggressiveness as he was knocked out of second spot in the closing laps. Summers expressed his displeasure with a post race slam to the rear of Christopherís car.
            It was rumored that the Bear Motorsports No.14 was headed home but as the field was called to post the former Christopher mount appeared with Billy Anderson behind the wheel and starting scratch. Christopher, who won the Super Late Model feature earlier in the evening, started on the pole with Mike Andrews on the outside. Christopher took the green and led the first three laps. Jimmy Blewett, who started fourth, wasted little time as he passed Kevin Goodale and Andrews for the second spot on lap 3. One lap later, Blewett put the Partridge owned; Brad LaFountaine wrenched No.12 in the lead. The first caution of the night came on lap 8 when Zach Sylvester in the Hills Enterprises No. 79 came to a halt after spinning on the backstretch. Eric Beers, who had high hopes for a good finish was forced to drop out with an ailing engine. On the restart, someone booted the 36 of Andrews and triggered a wreck that collected 13 cars in turn one. Among those collected were Donny Lia and Chuck Hossfeld who both sustained race ending chassis damage. After a long red flag period the field restarted single file with Jimmy Blewett leading followed by Christopher, John Blewett III, Jim Storace and Billy Anderson. John Blewett IIIís night came to an end on lap 47 when he stopped in turn 3, bringing out the caution and ultimately went behind the wall due to rear end problems. At the half way mark it was Jimmy Blewett in the lead followed by Christopher, Summers and Jim Storace. With 20 laps to go Christopherís tires began to fade as he gave way to Summers. A caution on lap 88 for debris gave Christopher the opportunity to pit for fresh rubber and set the stage for an exciting finish. Jimmy Blewett withstood the intense pressure put out by Christopher as he continually gave him the bumper but to no avail as Blewett never wavered as he streaked under the checkered flag for the win. In a last minute move Kevin Goodale moved into third spot while Summers was trying to collect himself after his incident with Christopher. Andy Suess rounded out the top five. Billy Anderson, Ryan Preese, Jon McKennedy, Mike Andrews Jr. and Jim Storace rounded out the top ten. To cap off the night Jimmy Blewett won the SK Modified feature.
            The final night of racing, Saturday, saw a slim field of Modifieds as many felt they had had enough plus they were not in contention for the point title. Jimmy Blewett started on the pole and led the charge to the green. John Blewett III and Ted Christopher followed. Blewett III and Christopher, in team cars, were eliminated on lap 5 when a slow car triggered the crash. Both cars had to be towed from the scene and were out for the night. Jimmy Blewett led until the final moments when he was passed by Kevin Goodale who took the closing night win. Blewett finished second and was followed by Eric Beers, Chuck Hossfeld and Andy Suess who captured the Modified division series championship. The SK Modified feature was won by Mike Holdredge. Jimmy Blewett finished ninth and wrapped up the division title.
            In TV land, this weekís viewing will consist of mostly Speed Channel programming. This weeks viewing begins on WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 22 at 3:00PM with Speedís yearlong competition for racing's top driver. At 5:00Pm itís NASCAR Five Years Later, what has changed since the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr. At 6:00PM its USAR Hooters Pro Cup: Season Review/Preview. On Thursday at noon Speed reruns the NASCAR Busch Series Hersheyís Kissables 300, run at Daytona on Feb 18. At 4:00PM SPEED
Reruns the NASCAR Nextel Cup Daytona 500. On FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, at noon, SPEED goes live.
 With NASCAR Live! from the California Speedway in Fontana, CA. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series QUALIFYING from California Speedway follows at 1:00PM. At 3:30 PM NASCAR Live! from California Speedway follows. NASCAR Nextel Cup QUALIFYING for the Auto Club 500 at the California Speedway follows live at 6:30pm. At 8:30pm Trackside from the California Speedway wraps up the days qualifying activities. At 9:00pm Speed presents live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ď200", from Fontana. On SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25 live coverage begins at noon with NASCAR Live! from the California Speedway. At 4:00 PM Speed provides same day coverage of NASCAR Busch Series QUALIFYING, for the Statler Brothers 300. Speed News Saturday starts off the Saturday evening viewing. At 8:30PM the live action switches to FX for the NASCAR Busch Series PRE-RACE SHOW Stater Brothers 300. The NASCAR Busch Series Stater Brothers 300 gets the green at 9:00pm. On SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26 action begins at 2:00PM with NASCAR RaceDay, preview of the Auto Club 500 from the California Speedway. Live action switches to FOX at 3:00 for the NASCAR Nextel Cup PRE-RACE SHOW, Auto Club 500. The NASCAR Nextel Cup, Auto Club 500 gets the green at 4:00PM. At approximately 7:00PM Speed News Sunday on Speed wraps up the days race. At 9:00PM itís Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain and at 11:00PM NASCAR Victory Lane closes out the weekend.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail  

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