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Tuesday July 11, 2006   

By Phil Smith
 

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour finally got to run the rained out Memorial Day Weekend, Connecticut Classic 150. John Blewett III has chosen not to chase tour points as he had indicated that he would like to annex the Wall Township Track Championship to his racing career. Blewett had no race conflictions on the Fourth of July as he traveled to Stafford Springs with his family owned Modified and earned his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series win of 2006. His win came at the expense of his brother Jimmy whom he passed for the lead with 15 laps to go in the 150-lap event. Donnie Lia finished third with Zach Sylvester and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top five. John Blewett stopped for tires while the field was under caution on lap 65, Jimmy did not stop. He restarted the race in 10th and worked his way back to the front. Jimmy Blewett's second place finish in the Eddie Partridge/T.S Haulers entry gave the series a 1-2 by brothers for the first time since 2004. Calling the shots in the Partridge camp was Brad Lafountain.

Jimmy Blewett led the first 69 laps and swapped the lead with James Civali four times before John, who started 12th. made the pass for the win. Civali dropped out with ignition problems while running second on lap 101. Jimmy Blewett and Civali were among a handful of drivers who elected not to pit for fresh tires during the race.

There were 42 Modifieds on hand. Mike Stefanik was the Busch Pole sitter. Stefanik re-drew 6th spot while Ronnie Silk drew the pole. Jimmy Blewett drew the outside pole. Rookie Ron Yuhas got a scare on lap 23 when his car crashed into backstretch wall and caught fire. Yuhas emerged unhurt.
 
Eric Berndt won the SK Modified 40 lapper, Tom Butler, the Late Model feature, Joseph Ferrigno, the Limited Late Models, Sean Foster the Limited Late Models, Chris Matthews, the SK Lights and Jeff Jolly, the DARE Stocks. Kenny Horton was disqualified from his runner-up finish in Tuesday night's SK Modified race at Stafford for failing to make weight. Also, Joey Ferrigno was stripped of his Limited Late Model victory after failing to meet wheel-base specs.

Mike Stefanik continues to lead the point standings as the Whelen Modified Tour Series heads next to Loudon, NH this coming Saturday, July 15. Stefanik holds an 11 point lead over defending series champion Tony Hirschman. Although winless so far, Hirschman has been the most consistant as he is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in five events. Donny Lia sits quietly in third spot, some 40 points out of the lead. Ted Christopher with one win sits fourth with Eric Beers, fifth.

The clock is ticking as NASCAR announced several changes to its organization in relation to its Weekly and Regional racing programs. Greg Silbermann was named the Managing Director of Racing Operations, with a focus on the weekly and regional racing levels; Richard Buck was named Director of Touring Series; and Bob Duvall was named Director of Weekly Racing. The job security in these positions have not been very good lately. Tick-Tick-Tick!

Mansfield Center Connecticut Whelen Modified Series car owner Curt Chase will be extra busy this weekend in Loudon as he will be taking two cars to place in competition. Doug Coby will drive the familiar No. 77 and Nextel Cup star Tony Stewart will drive a team car numbered 94.

The Thompson Speedway and the North East Midget Association paid tribute to Marvin Rifchin last Thursday night. The tire manufacturer has been a mainstay in auto racing for decades. Rifchin’s contributions to the sport of auto racing were felt in both oval track and drag racing. His notoriety comes from both his innovations with race tires and his generosity to the racing community.

After being down on power and suffering through handling problems Todd Ceravolo had things go his way as he took the win in the Sunoco Modifieds. It was tough going right from the start. Jimmy Blewett was an early casualty as he parked the Eddie Partridge No.12 before one lap was completed. After a complete restart Ceravolo jumped out to an early lead. Jeff Malave and Bert Marvin brought out the caution shortly after the ten lap mark. Ceravolo continued to lead with Joe Lemay, second. Malave, who had restarted in the rear made a tremendous charge as he moved into the third spot on the final lap. Keith Rocco finished fourth with Tom Cravenho, fifth. Other winners were Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets, George Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Dennis Perry in the Late Models, Danny Cates in the Limited Sportsman, Rick Blanchard in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds.

Thompson will switch to Wednesday for this week only as the Speedway presents its annual Nextel Cup Drivers Night.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of Woody Pitkat throwing a one-two punch last Friday night as he won the SK Modified 40 lapper and the Late Model 30 lapper. Pitkat and Bo Gunning staged a late race battle. The end result was Gunning spinning to the infield with two laps to go. Pitkat then had to hold off Chris Jones before recording the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Pitkat and Jones was Jeff Baral, Todd Owen, and Chris Osella. Pitkats Late Model win was his fourth of the year. Kyler Cafro and Kevin Gambacorta were both first time feature winners in the SK Light and Limited Late Model feature events respectively, and Stacey Botticello became the first repeat DARE Stock feature winner of the 2006 season.

In addition to its regular weekly bill of fare the Stafford Speedway presents the Annual Super Tuesday this week.

At the Waterford Speedbowl the main topic of conversation is the impending foreclosure on the property by the Washington Mutual Bank, holders of the mortgage. The mortgage holder, T.H.E Enterprises (Terry Eames) has been trying to drum up revenue to keep the track afloat but has been unsuccessful. There have been individuals who have indicated that they would be interested in taking over the property and keep it as a race track. The big stumbling block is that Eames wants to be part of any management team that takes over. The Speedbowl is in it’s current fix because of Eames’ management and it would not be good business to keep him around if and when the property is sold or foreclosed upon. Had it not been for the efforts of Bill Roth and Pete Zanardi there would have been no 2006 season at the shoreline oval.

Rob Janovic Jr. became the season’s first two-time SK-Modified winner, besting point leader Dennis Gada by a car length in Saturday night’s 35-lap feature at Waterford Speedbowl. The first double winner came in the ninth race of the season.The other winners – Glenn Colvin (Late Models), Richard Staskowski (Sportsman) and Jeff Miller (Mini Stocks) won for the first time this season.
A lap 29 restart, the second of the race, was the final challenge for Janovic. Getting the edge on the green, he got a great run out of two and was never challenged. Taking the lead four laps in, Janovic’s only other challenge came on a lap 12 restart against Chris Pasteryak.

Colvin wound up the winner in a feature red-checkered by a horrendous crash involving five cars 12 laps short of the scheduled 30 laps. Contact between Bruce Thomas Jr. and Jay Stuart, running one-two, coming out of turn four started the crash. Jay Lozyniak went over Allen Coates and barrel-rolled several times before coming to a stop on his roof on the front stretch. Larry Goss was also involved. Colvin, the early leader, was running third in a tight bunch with Thomas and Stuart when the mayhem started. The Speedbowl management is seriously considering giving the Late Models at least a week of as an “Attitude Adjustment”

In TV land, this weeks viewing will begin on Wednesday, July 12 at noon on the Speed Channel with the ARCA RE/MAX Series WLWT Channel 5-150 that was run at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY. Hooters Cup racing continues at 4:00 with the July 8th USAR Hooters Pro Cup that was run at Hickory, NC. Thursday’s viewing begins at noon with last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300 that was run at the NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300, Chicagoland Speedway, NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300, Chicagoland Speedway. The NASCAR Nextel Cup USG Sheetrock 400, from Chicagoland, follows at 2:30. Friday’s viewing will begin at 2:00p.m.when Speed goes live from the New Hampshire Int. Speedway. NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying follows at 3:00p.m. Saturday’s action starts at 9:30am with NASCAR Live from the New Hampshire Intl. Speedway. Final Nextel Cup practice follows at 10:00am. At 11:00am Speed will show live coverage of NASCAR Busch Series Qualifying for the New England 200. At 3:00p.m. The action switches to TNT for live flag to flag coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series New England 200. At 4:00p.m. on NESN its NASCAR New England, weekly racing from Jack Arute’s Stafford Motor Speedway. NASCAR New England also airs at 5:00p.m. on Sunday.At 5:00, the Outdoor Channel presents the USAC Thunder: National Sprints from Richmond, VA. Speed News Saturday wraps up the days racing at 7:30 on Speed. The Craftsman Trucks go at it live at 9:00p.m. in Memphis, TN. Sunday’s action begins at 11:30 with NASCAR RaceDay which previews the New England 300 from New Hampshire Intl. Speedway. Live coverage from New Hampshire moves to TNT at 1:30 for the New England 300. Speed News Sunday at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 wrap up the days racing. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Speed finishes up the day at 9:00p.m.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene, all three-speedway stocks were down for the week. Taking the big hit was the International Speedway Corporation, which dropped 1.27 to 45.10. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.72 to 37.02 and Dover Downs dropped 0.07 to 5.80. Nextel dropped 0.39 to 19.60 and Sun Oil dropped 0.78 to 68.51. Featherlite Trailers went up 0.10 to 4.59 while DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.28 to 3.50. In the drug sector, Pfizer went up 0.18 to 23.65 and Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.53 to 25.33. In the home improvement sector Lowes split two for one on July 3. Despite being more affordable they dropped 1.36 to 28.97. Home Depot was also down as they dropped 0.42 to 35.37. The parcel carriers also took a big hit. UPS dropped 1.20 to 81.13 and Fedex dropped 2.49 to 114.37.


That’s 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 smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com  


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