Tuesday July 10, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, N.H last Sunday for the second of three “Flash Format Events” scheduled in 2007. Posted Awards were $56,762 which was considerably less than regular Tour events. As of July 5, only 29 teams had filed entries. Among the missing were Ron Yuhas Jr, Woody Pitkat, Tony Hirschman and Bobby Santos III. Car owners are attempting to make a statement that the race purses for the “Flash Events” are sub-par. A few years ago when NASCAR was trying to establish the Truck Series they put their marketing department in high gear to make sure the series didn’t fail. It almost looks like NASCAR is trying to dump their oldest division.

Twenty-six Modifieds, a light field in comparison to previous Whelen Modified Tour series events, were on hand for the Sunday evening event. The top six, Ronnie Silk, Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman, Don Lia, Mike Stefanik and James Civali, qualified through time trials. Heat winners were Ted Christopher and Jon McKennedy. Hirschman was fresh off a Saturday night 75 lap Race of Champions Series win at the Lancaster Speedway in Western New York State.

James Civali avoided the raindrops and held off Matt Hirschman as he won the Twin State event. Civali took the lead from Ron Silk going into turn 1 on lap 27 of the 100-lap contest. Ronnie Silk finished third and was followed by Donnie Lia, Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik who recovered from an early spin.

The True Value Modified Racing Series returned to Monadnock Speedway for a 100-lap feature on Saturday evening. Kirk Alexander passed Rob Goodenough with seven laps remaining to record the win at the Winchester, NH ¼ mile high banked oval. Goodenough finished second with Dwight Jarvis, third. Ted Christopher was an early contender until he was eliminated in a wreck on lap 65.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Keith Rocco scored a hard fought win as he scored his second win of the season at the northeast Connecticut oval. A late race confrontation with Bert Marvin added to the excitement. Harry Rheaume took the lead at the start followed by Danny Cates, Bert Marvin and Jimmy Blewett. The racing was slowed on lap three by a caution for a single car spin by Eric Goodale. On the ensuing restart Marvin moved ahead of Cates and set his sites on Rheaume. Marvin was able to drive around Rheaume for the lead on lap five. Jimmy Blewett moved into third ahead of Cates on the next circuit. John Blewett ran in fifth but was looking for more as he too battled with Cates. Keith Rocco joined the fray catching John Blewett in fifth. The second caution flew on lap 10 when Kerry Malone and Buddy Charette tangled exiting turn two.On the restart, Marvin jumped out to the lead followed by Jimmy Blewett Blewett made a run on Marvin but the action was halted for an incident that involved Shelly Perry, Eric Goodale, Brian Tagg and others. Marvin was again the man to beat on the restart getting the edge on Blewett. Rheaume held strong in third. Just as Blewett was making his run on the leader Marvin, the lead the race was slowed again when the Josh Steeves came to rest in turn three. The ensuing restart set off a chain reaction that claimed a number of cars including Steeves, Brett LeBlanc, and Ricky Shawn.The restart gave. Blewett the opening that he needed. Marvin and Blewett went side-by-side for nearly a lap before Blewett assumed his place at the head of the pack on lap 13. Another quick caution and a subsequent attempt at the restart was called back. Under the caution John Blewett headed down pit road for service. Once back under green, Jimmy Blewett took control of the race once again. Tommy Cravenho and Keith Rocco were locked in a battle for the third spot while Woody Pitkat sat in fifth.

Marvin pressured Blewett by running the outside groove in search of the lead once again. Jimmy Blewett appeared to bobble entering turn three opening the door for Marvin and Rocco. Contact between the three leaders ended with the leader Marvin with contact with outside wall on the front stretch. Marvin felt that Rocco had done him in and his resulting actions found him getting ejected from the event.

When racing finally resumed, Rocco was the new leader. Pitkat gave Rocco a run on the restart but could not make the pass. Todd Ceravolo was able to take over the second spot from Pitkat. Pitkat, however, after regaining his composure successfully went back after Ceravolo. Pitkat ran in second again on lap 24. Meanwhile Rocco began to check out on the field. Things settled down over the closing laps with Rocco handily taking his second win of the season over Pitkat and Ceravalo. Cravenho and Cates rounded out the top five.

Other Thursday night Thunder winners at Thompson were Ben Seitz of Pocasset, MA, who carried the checkers in the traditional holiday visit of the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) to Thompson. In regular weekly series action, Kurt Vigeant earned a hard-fought victory in the annual extra-distance race for the TIS Modifieds. Also earning his second feature win of the season was Mike O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, in the Pro Stocks.
The Thompson Speedway will be quiet this Thursday, July 12, in preparation for the July 14th, NASCAR Busch East Series and Pro All Star Series double-header.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway the Late Models took center stage for the 13th Annual DiGiorgi Roofing & Siding Late Model 100. Mike O'Sullivan scored the win, with Ted Christopher winning the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Brit Andersen taking the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis taking the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn winning the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 13th Annual DiGiorgi Late Model 100-lap feature saw Mike O'Sullivan outlast Jim Peterson to take the victory. Ted Christopher, Stafford’s winningest driver, ended a long dry spell as he won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, his first feature victory since the 2006 Spring Sizzler. Kerry Malone held the early lead, but retired on lap-7 after contact with Bo Gunning. Malone's misfortune put Keith Rocco out front and Rocco held the lead until lap-31 when Christopher dove under Rocco in turn 3 to take over the lead. One lap later, Rocco and Brad Hietala made contact and spun in turn 3 to bring out the caution. On the restart, Christopher powered to the lead and ran unchallenged to the checkered flag to take the victory. Woody Pitkat, who spun twice during the race, came back up through the field to finish second with Bo Gunning, Zach Sylvester, and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.

The fastest open wheel cars in the Northeast return to Stafford Motor Speedway this Tuesday, July 10th as the IMSA Supermodifieds will make their fourth annual appearance at the Connecticut half-mile. Joining the ISMA Supers will be the NEMA Midgets and the Pro-4 Modifieds, making for an exciting evening of open wheel competition.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl eased by Diego Monahan for the lead in turn three on lap 29 of the 100 lap SK Modified feature. He survived three restarts, the last with 19 laps remaining and finished a car length in front of Dennis Gada. Gada, involved in a first-lap crash that required considerable pit work, took second from Rob Janovic Jr. on the final restart.

In other action at the shoreline oval Dennis Botticello assumed command on lap 24 and went on to win the 100-lap Late Model feature. Botticello handled a number of restarts including three over the final 10 laps. In his first-ever Speedbowl ride, Tom O'Sullivan set a track record in qualifying (a 17.370 second lap) and then romped to victory in the 50-lap Sportsman feature. Point leader Ken Cassidy Jr. won the 50-lap Mini Stock feature after battling Danny Field side-by-side over the final six laps in the closest race of the night.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:30pm time slot. This weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins at 4:00pm on Wednesday with the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Late Models from the Salem Speedway, Salem, IN. Thursday’s action begins at noon with last Friday nights NASCAR Busch Series Winn Dixie 250 from Daytona Beach, FL. Last Saturday nights NASCAR Nextel Cup Pepsi 400 from Daytona follows at 3:00pm. Friday’s action begins at noon with NASCAR Live from Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. The cup cars practice session follows at 12:30. Another segment of NASCAR Live airs at 3:30 followed by Nextel Cup qualifying for the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland at 4:00pm. At 5:30 the action switches to ESPN2 for NASCAR Now followed by NASCAR Busch Series Final Practice for the USG Durock 300 at Chicagoland. At 8:00pm the action switches to Speed for live coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series WLWT Channel 5-150 at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, KY. Saturday’s coverage begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice from Chicagoland followed by Busch Series qualifying at 11:00am. At 1:00 it’s Nextel Cup final practice from Chicagoland. At 2:30 the action switches to ABC for the NASCAR Busch Series Countdown followed by live flag to flag coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300 at the Chicagoland Speedway. Also, at 4:00 it’s NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England will present features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motorspeedway. Shifting back to Speed at 7:30 it’s the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 at the Kentucky Speedway. Sunday’s action begins at noon on ESPN2 with the World of Outlaws sprint cars, The Kings Royal from the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. Speed hosts a two hour preview of the USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland. The Nextel Cup USG Sheetrock 400 goes green at 4:00pm. Wrapping up the weekend on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the pack was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.16 to 53.87. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.88 to 40.86 and Dover Downs went up 0.07 to 6.13. Nextel/Sprint had a good week as did Sun Oil and Goodyear. Nextel/Sprint went up 1.16 to 21.87, Sun Oil went up 2.40 to 82.08 and Goodyear went up 1.81 to 36.57. DIRT Motorports continued it’s downward spiral as they dropped 0.05 to 1.20. In the drug sector Pfizer went up 0.35 to 25.92 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.01 to 31.55. The home improvement sector finished on a positive note as Home Depot went up 0.95 to 40.30 and Lowes went up 0.42 to 31.11. Parcel carrier Fedex had an off week as they dropped 0.13 to 110.84. UPS went up 0.70 to 73.70.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail

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

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