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Tuesday February 4, 2014
 

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Before we know it the 2014 racing season will begin. As of this coming Friday, Feb 7, one week remains before the engines roar at New Smyrna on Feb 14 and at Daytona on the 15th. Daytona has not posted any entries as yet.

At New Smyrna there have been only twelve entries posted for the Modified division. A new twist to the February World Series is the NASCAR K&N Series. As usual the Modifieds get left with what the cow left after he jumped over the fence. The good folks at NASCAR and at New Smyrna have put a purse of $90,599 in place for the event. The Modifieds have been running the Richie Evans 100 since 1986 and have never seen a posted a purse like that.

The latest addition to the Modified lineup is 16 year old Spencer Davis will be competing in the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 Tour-Type Modified. Davis will also chase the World Series championships in the Super and Pro Late Model divisions in addition to piloting the Modified that won the 2013 Speedweeks title at New Smyrna.

Could there be trouble in paradise? Internet racing news site Speed51 announced that due to circumstances out of their control and with great disappointment, Pro All Stars Series (PASS) officials announced Saturday the cancellation of next weekendís Winter Meltdown at New Smyrna Speedway.

Miscommunication which resulted in the speedway website not being updated with information about the event, the speedway marquee not being changed to promote the event and a test session scheduled by the speedway that would have extremely limited PASS teams practice time on Friday led to the cancellation.

At the Daytona International Speedway the good folks there have cut the field from 34 to 26 starters for this yearís Battle at the Beach. They have also cut the purse from $113,100 to $91,100 for this yearís event. Couple that with bad officiating last year and they wonder why car owners and drivers donít want to spend their hard earned money to compete. Ted Christopher and Matt Hirschman have both stated that they will not participate in the Daytona event. Itís also safe to say that Mike Stefanik wont be there.

NASCAR is notorious for not listening or caring about their Modified competitors. Maybe they will get the message this time when many of the divisionís top stars elect to stay home.

The Thompson Speedway has announced that Keith Rocco will be back to defend his Sunoco (SK type) Modified title. Not only did the champ pick up his fourth Modified championship at Thompson, but also finished third overall in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship point standings. Rocco now has a seven year streak of finishing at least 4th or better in the national standings, dating back to 2007. Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champ Ryan Preece will be returning to compete at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in 2014 as well. The Berlin, CT driver was named one of the top 13 drivers to watch in the NASCAR Next program in June, along with drivers Chase Elliott and Dylan Kwasniewski. Preece will be driving the #31 Falmouth Ready Mix entry for Al and Cathy Moniz. The team is looking to return to the form they were in in 2012, when they were the divisionís titlists. In addition to his competition in the local and regional Modified ranks, Preece also slated to compete part-time in the Nationwide Series for Tommy Baldwin Racing.

Two drivers from TSMPís Lite Modified division will be stepping up to the Sunoco Modified division in 2014. Defending Lite Modified Champion, Cam McDermott, will be making the jump to the Sunoco Modifieds, as will Troy Talman. Both drivers began their career at the Little T, which is TSMPís 1/10-mile Quarter Midget facility.

Woody Pitkat, Danny Cates, and former Waterford Speedbowl Champion Tyler Chadwick will join the list of seasoned veterans and talented newcomers. With this field of drivers, the Sunoco Modified division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park promises to be one of the most competitive divisions in New England.

In some sad news, Lou Modestino sends word that Reino Kalervo Tulonen, 89, of Fitchburg, Mass. died Jan. 26 at Health Alliance Leominster Hospital after an illness. Reino was born and raised in Lunenburg, Ma. "The Flying Finn", as he came to be known, began his racing career in 1946, the year his first child was born, and continued for thirty years. He raced many types of cars including; big cars, midgets, stock cars and late models. His most successful car was a cut down that he designed and built himself. Most of his car racing was done in New England, but he also drove in Canada, Darlington, NC, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 2.31 to 33.57 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.65 to 19.16 while Dover Entertainment went up 0.02 to 2.33. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 1.47 to 55.51 while NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.13 to 8.27 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.62 to 23.66. The car builders were all negative for the week. General Motors dropped 0.75 to 36.08 while Ford dropped 0.87 to 14.96 and Toyota dropped 3.12 to 114.76. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 2.31 to 76.85 and Lowes dropped 1.54 to 46.29. In the area of big team sponsorship, Dupont went up 1.04 to 61.01 while Coca-Cola dropped 1.03 to 68.28, Target dropped 1.08 to 56.64, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.26 to 26.89and Fedex dropped 1.26 to 133.32.

The International Speedway Corporation announced that it had sold all of its 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series event entitlements and was within one percent of gross marketing partnership revenue target for the year. Corporate support for ISC remains strong, despite the sluggish economy, which has influenced corporate budgets, sales and contract duration. The number of Fortune 500 companies invested in NASCAR remains higher than any other sport.

The Company expects revenue related to admissions, corporate sales and food, beverage and merchandise to be stable year-over-year, while television rights for NASCAR's top three racing series are expected to increase 3.9 percent to approximately $302.8 million. The low-end of the range primarily contemplates a similar decrease in consumer-related revenues that the Company experienced in fiscal 2013.

The Company currently expects a $0.02 per share increase in its annual dividend to $0.24 per share, contingent upon approval from ISC's Board of Directors. The Company's share repurchase program will continue to maintain opportunistic parameters based on levels of ISC's stock price. On a quarterly basis, the Company will review and adjust, if necessary, the parameters of its Stock Purchase Plan.

On the tube this week:
2/5 Wed 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FS1
2/ 6 Thu 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FS1
2/ 7 Fri 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM NASCAR Race Hub FS1

Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com.


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

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