Tuesday July 4, 2006   

By Phil Smith

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson Speedway last Thursday where they shared top billing with NASCAR’s Busch East Series (formerly Busch North Series). Forty four Modifieds were on hand on a humid and sultry night. Jimmy Blewett was the Busch Pole sitter. The re-draw for starting positions saw James Civali pick the pole with Eric Beers picking the outside pole.

Eric Beers, in the Boehler Racing Ole Blu, took the lead on the start with Ed Flemke moving into second spot. Beers led the first 42 laps until Ronnie Silk spun out in Turn 2 to bring out the first caution. After the restart on lap 45, Eddie Flemke went to the front by passing Beers two laps later on the front-stretch. A multi-car crash in the backstretch brought out the second caution on lap 48 and didn’t restart until lap 56. Among those eliminated was Jerry Marquis who expressed his displeasure of Jamie Tomaino’s patience. Also eliminated were Matt Hirschman and Tony Ferrante Jr. Flemke remained out front until Todd Szegedy passed him while working lap 65. Szegedy’s lead didn’t last long before another crash occurred in the backstretch to bring out the third caution that lasted from lap 66 to lap 74. Reggie Ruggiero lost control and triggered the crash. Eliminated in that crash were Ted Christopher and Chris Pasteryak. Chuck Hossfeld also lost many laps while his crew made repairs to damage sustained. Szegedy led the final restart and was untouchable from there. Flemke finished a strong second and was followed by Civali, Beers and Tony Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ruggiero, Steve Whitt, Ron Yuhas Jr and Ken Barry. Twenty-one of the original 35 starters finished on the lead lap.
Matt Kobyluck won his first NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race of the season, and took over the series point lead. He took the lead when Sean Caisse suffered drivetrain failure after leading the first 13 laps. Caisse, the former point leader, was scored 28th and last in the field.
Brian Hoar chased Kobyluck to the checkered flag, less than half a second behind, with Charles Lewandoski recording a career-best third place finish. Mike Johnson was fourth, Bryon Chew fifth, and Mike Olsen sixth. Dave Dion, Jamie Aube, Ruben Pardo, and John Salemi completed the top ten.

The Thompson Speedway ran their Double Trouble program last Thursday night despite the threat of showers. Jeff Malave muscled his way to a convincing win in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malave took the lead as he entered turn one on lap six and held off repeated challenges from Tom Cravenho who ended up settling for second. Woody Pitkat was extremely strong as he traded spots with Cravenho on numerous occasions but in the end settled for third. Jimmy Blewett and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five.
Jeff Zuidema won the 30-lap Pro Stock feature. Dave Trudeau held off Salem's Corey Hutchings to win the 25-lap Late Model feature. Eddie Puleo of Branford, CT made it two-for-two taking down his second straight Limited Sportsman feature victory. The win; however, was not an easy one as Keith DeSanctis gave it all he had in the closing laps. DeSanctis got alongside Puleo briefly but had to settle for second. Rick Blanchard took down his second straight Mini Stock victory. Ron Rixham had enjoyed an early lead but in the late stages of the 15-lap Mini Stock feature the former divisional champ began to feel the pressure. After a short battle, Rixham relinquished his lead to Scott Michalksi. The lead quickly changed hands again with Blanchard taking over control of the event. Michalski took his place in second while Shelly Perry, true to form, came on strong in the waning laps to claim third. Rixham had faded to fourth at the checkers ahead of Andy Publicover. Roger Larson, Jr.

The North East Midget Association will be added to the regular Thursday night program this week, July 6. NEMA will honor Marvin Rifchin, of M & H Tires, for his many years of dedication to auto racing and helping others in the sport.

The Stafford Motor Speedway took advantage of the dry weather as they ran the 12th annual American Sleeve Bearing Late Model 100 last Friday night. Ryan Posocco was the big winner of the 100-lapper, recovering from an early race spin to drive back through the field under a prolonged green flag run. Todd Owen was the winner of the SK Modified® feature, while there were two first-time winners in the SK Lights and DARE Stocks. Richie Pallai, Jr. captured his first career win in the SK Light feature, while Lori-Jo Rzeszutek scored her first career victory in the DARE Stock feature. The Limited Late Model feature was tentatively rescheduled to next Tuesday, July 4th due to time constraints.

In the 100-lap Late Model feature, Ryan Posocco ran down the leaders under a long green flag run, and then inherited the lead when race leader Scott Foster, Jr. broke a transmission on lap-88. Ed Ricard led the first 40-laps of the race with Tom Fearn taking the lead from Ricard. Fearn held the lead until lap-59 when Foster moved to the front. Posocco had spun on lap-16 after contact with Brad Boissonneault, and he had moved back into the top-5 at this stage of the race under green flag conditions. Foster held the lead until his transmission gave out on lap-88, which handed the lead to Posocco. Posocco pulled away from second place on two subsequent restarts to take his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season. Jim Peterson took second, with Mark Lewis third, Tom Butler fourth, and Todd Owen fifth.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Todd Owen charged past Curt Brainard on the outside groove on lap-9 and then he held off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco over the final 10-laps to take his first SK Modified® feature win of the 2006 season. Willie Hardie finished third, with Jeff Baral and Kenny Horton rounding out the top-5.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Tom Fox all but cleaned house as he won the Pepsi-300 100 lap SK Modified event. Fox wore out Rob Summers and then held off Dennis Gada as he recorded his first win of the year. Summers faded to third spot in the closing laps. The 100-lap Late Model segment went to Allen Coates, making his season debut. Joe Godbout III won the 50-lap Mini Stock feature while Dwayne Dorr ruled the 50-lap Sportsman haul.

NASCAR announced last week that they have lowered the age to 16 to those who intend to compete in the Whelen Modified Tour Series and Busch East. The Modifieds were part of a rain shortened practice session at the New Hampshire International Speedway last week. Thirteen Whelen Modified Tour teams showed up for the NHIS Open Test session. Among those were seven rookies including Danny Sammons, Glenn Tyler, Anthony Sesely, James Civali, Kenny Horton, Matt Hirschman and Jon McKennedy. Veterans that appeared for the test session were Rob Summers, Todd Szegedy, Zach Sylvester, Donny Lia, Nevin George and Todd Bodine. Because of the fact that rain cut short the session the Bahres refunded each teams $500 payment plus provided free food for the competitors. It looks like the Whelen Modifieds get the short end of the stick again as the New Hampshire Int. Speedway has announced the Busch East Series New England 150 event will carry a purse of $215,241 and the Whelen Modified New England 100 will have a purses of $160,193.

Interest continues to build for the upcoming True Value Modified Series event at the Seekonk Speedway. Chuck Hossfeld has submitted his entry for Seekonk Speedway's 2nd annual Vivieros Insurance Modified Madness. This years event will be held on Wednesday, July 26th. Other entrants are Dick Houlihan, Dave Berghman, reigning True Value Modified Series champion Kirk Alexander, reigning Seekonk Pro Stock champ Vinny Annarummo, Bobby Grigas III, Jim Kuhn, Dennis Charette, James Storace, Ryan Preece, Jeramee Lilly, Jack Bateman, and Buck Ackley. Ted Christopher has this event on his upcoming schedule, although the entry has not been filed as of this date. Once again, it is $10,000 to win. Word comes from New Jersey that John Blewett III will be there along with Jamie Tomaino. Eddie Partridge also indicated that he will field a car for Jimmy Blewett.

In TV land, this weeks viewing will begin on Wednesday, July 5 at 4:00pm when the Speed Channel presents the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series that raced at the Lake Erie Speedway in North East, PA, on June 30. Later in the day at 8:00pm on the Outdoor Channel it’s the World of Outlaws Series event that was run at the Red River Valley Speedway in Fargo, ND, on June 18. Thursday’s viewing begins at noon on the Speed Channel with last Friday night’s NASCAR Busch Series Winn-Dixie 250 that was run at the Daytona International Speedway. Saturday night’s Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 follows at 2:30pm. Speed goes live at 2:00pm on Friday for an hour from the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. At 4:30 live coverage on Speed kicks in again with NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying from Chicagoland. Live coverge continues from 6:00pm to 8:00pm on Speed from Chicagoland. At 9:00pm Speeds live coverage switches to the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY for the ARCA RE/MAX Series WLWT Channel 5-150. Saturday’s viewing begins at 11:00 on the Speed Channel with NASCAR Live from Chicagoland Speedway. Nextel Cup Happy Hour practice runs from 11:30 to 12:30. Live coverage continues at 12:30 with NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for the USG Durock 300 from the Chicagoland Speedway, At 4:00pm the action switches to TNT for live coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300 from the Chicagoland Speedway. While this event is in progress the Outdoor Channel presents the USAC Thunder: Silver Crown Series from the Kentucky Speedway at 5:00pm. Also 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 7:30 HDNet provides live coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Busch East Series from the Lake Erie Speedway in North East, PA. Also at 7:30 is Speed News Saturday on the Speed Channel. The Speed Channel will provide live coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Built Ford Tough 225 from the Kentucky Speedway at 8:00pm. Sunday’s coverage begins at 1:00pm with a two hour preview of the USG Sheetrock 400 from Chicagoland Speedway. TNT picks up the live action of the race coverage at 3:00pm. 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 ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports, which went up 1.21 to 37.74. The Intenational Speedway Corporation went up 0.31 to 46.37. Nextel went up 0.37 to 19.99 while Sun Oil took a big jump as they went up 7.02 to 69.29. Featherlite Trailers went up 0.04 to 4.49 and DIRT Motorsports went up 0.03 to 3.78.In the drug sector, Pfizer went up 0.83 to 23.47 and Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.35 to 25.86. The home improvement sector had a negative week. Home Depot dropped 0.62 to 35.79 and Lowes dropped 0.19 to 60.67. The parcel carriers had another big week. Fedex went up 1.82 to 116.86 and UPS went up 1.93 to 82.33.

Health care products maker Johnson & Johnson announced on Monday, June 26, that they are buying drug maker Pfizer Inc.'s consumer health care unit for $16.6 billion in cash. Pfizer said it would buy back stock worth roughly the same amount. The deal would give New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson brand names including Listerine, Nicorette, Visine, Sudafed and Neosporin as part of a unit whose reported sales totaled $3.9 billion in 2005. Pfizer had been reviewing its strategic options for the division since February so it could focus on its prescription drug business.

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  

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