Tuesday July 17, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors are now on their mid-summer break. Their next event will be a “Flash Format” contest at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night, August 4. Donny Lia, who has won four of the seven events run so far this season, leads the series’ point standings with a 53 point edge over Matt Hirschman. Lia is also the top money winner with $43,300 in the bank. Todd Szegedy, who had been in second spot, slipped to third. James Civali, with two wins, sits in fourth spot with Ron Silk rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik, Ed Flemke Jr and Jamie Tomaino. Fifty-seven different drivers have entered into competition so far.

The qualifying format for the first ever NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour “Flash” event at Riverhead Raceway was announced by WMT director Ed Cox in conjunction with Barbara and Jim Cromarty of Riverhead Raceway. As they have since 1985, Miller Lite will serve as title sponsor for this unique race that is sure to be a hit with the fans in attendance, they hope. The Riverhead stop is the third and final “Flash” event of the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Qualifying will find 20% of the cars entered to qualify through time trials, for example if 40 cars enter then 8 would transfer through time. The cars that make the show through time would then later redraw for their staring positions in the main event. Two 25-lap qualifying races will then be run, with odd number cars from time trials in one qualifying race, while the those who qualify in an even number going to the second qualifying race. How many cars make the feature from the heats will be announced when the prior to the qualifying races. The remainder of the 28-car field would be filled out by provisional starting positions as noted on the WMT entry blank. After all the qualifying has been completed it will then be time for the Miller Lite 140-lap feature event.

In True Value Modified Series racing Les Hinckley captured his third win of the season Friday night July 13, in the 100 lap Mid-Summer Modified Shootout at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH. The True Value Modified Racing Series event served as a guaranteed starter race for Mod Mania 400 weekend at Thompson, CT; in September 8, 9. The series will compete in a 75 lap race at the historic 5/8 mile facility.

The Thompson Speedway was quiet on Thursday night as they hosted a special event on Saturday night. Sean Caisse of Pelham, NH, led all but two lap to score the victory in the NASCAR Busch East Series Pepsi 100. Ben Rowe of Turner, ME turned in a dominating performance to take top honors in the Pro All Star Series 75-lapper during Thompson’s Full-Fendered Frenzy. In weekly series action, Mark Jenison of Danielson continues to show his prowess in the late Model division with this third win in four weeks while Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA, kept the streak alive for his racing family with his victory in the Limited Sportsman division. After being shut out of victory lane thus far in the 2007 season, Rick Blanchard of Pascoag, RI, swept the twin bill for the Mini Stocks.
The Busch East Series event started under a shower of fireworks in honor of the Freedom Team Salute that honors the fine men and women of our military. Brigadier General Steven Scorzato, Assistant Adjunct General of the CT National Guard, gave the command to start engines. The fireworks continued well into the night as Sean Caisse survived a number of late race restarts in the caution-marred event to post victory.

Rookie Marc Davis led lap one but it was all Caisse from that point on. Despite a single slip on lap 92 when Matt Kobyluck snuck in to lead a lap, Caisse showed the way throughout nine caution periods. In the late stages of the event, as Caisse worked to hold off Kobyluck, Olsen and Joey Logano were locked in a battle of their own. The sparks flew late in the race with a pair of cautions for incidents further back in the pack. After two failed attempts to end the race under green, the yellow checker flew for Caisse on lap 108. In the end it was like old home night for the Busch East Series at Thompson with a New England sweep of the podium. Sean Caisse of Pelham, NH held off all the challenges from Matt Kobyluck of Uncasville, CT and Mike Olsen of North Haverhill, NH. Joey Logano and Brad Leighton rounded out the top five.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Keith Rocco drove to victory lane in the 40-lap SK Modified feature for his second win of the season, Glen Reen took the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for his third win of the season, Andrew Durand scored his 4th win of the season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Carla Botticello scored her second feature win of the 2007 season by winning the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. The 30-lap Late Model feature was halted by rain with two laps complete. The race will be resumed from lap-3 at a date to be determined. The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw Keith Rocco take down his second SK Modified® feature win of the 2007 season. The lead was swapped fast and furiously at the start of the race with Kerry Malone leading lap-1, Brad Hietala leading lap-2, and then Frank Ruocco leading lap-3. Ruocco led the race until lap-31 when Rocco moved past Ruocco to take over the lead. A caution with 32 laps complete slowed the field and set up a series of restarts that saw Woody Pitkat and then Ruocco put back a row for jumping the restarts. This put Ted Christopher alongside Rocco for the restart, but Ruocco got under Christopher on the restart for second while Rocco continued to set the pace out front. Christopher got back around Ruocco for second place on lap-38, but couldn't make a pass on Rocco for the victory. Christopher finished second, with Pitkat, Ruocco, and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top-5.

Christopher hopped a plane on Saturday morning which took him to Virginia where he won a 150 lap Modified event at the Franklin County Speedway which is a few miles north of Martinsville.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Dennis Gada passed early leader Tyler Chadwick with 16-laps to go and went on to win the 35-lap SK Modified feature at the shoreline oval. It was the third of the season and 53rd career victory for the defending track champion. Gada, who started ninth, chased 18-year-old Chadwick, the only other leader, for several laps before the final yellow showed. He took the lead after a lap of side-by-side combat and went on to a seven car-length win over Chadwick. Shawn Monahan, Rob Janovic Jr. and Diego Monahan finished nose-to-tail behind Chadwick. Other winners included Ed Reed Jr. in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jack Aquilina in the Sportsman 20-lapper, Joe Godbout in the Mini Stock 20 lapper and Chris Bakaj in the Mini Stock 20 lapper.

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 week’s viewing begins at noon on Wednesday when the Speed Channel presents Racing Across America: the recent NASCAR Grand National Busch East event that was run at Loudon, NH on June 30. On Thursday at noon Speed presents last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series USG Durock 300 that was run at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup USG Sheetrock 400 at Chicagoland follows at 3:00pm. On Friday at 7:00pm the action switches to ESPN2 for NASCAR Busch Series practice for the NBS 250 at the Gateway Intl. Raceway in Madison, IL. ESPN2 will provide live coverage beginning on Saturday at 4:30pm of NASCAR Busch Series qualifying from Gateway Int. Also, at 4:00 it’s NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England will present features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motorspeedway.The NASCAR Busch Series NBS 250 from Gateway goes green at 8:30pm. On ESPN2. The Nextel Cup competitors have the weekend off which leaves Sunday relatively quiet. At 12:30pm ESPN2 presents the World of Outlaws sprint cars from Lernerville, Speedway in Sarver, PA. At 1:30 the action switches to ABC for live coverage of the IRL IndyCar Series, The Honda 200 from the Mid-Ohio course in Lexington, OH. Wrapping up the weekend on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks finished the week on the negative side. Dover Downs, which went up 0.16 to 6.28, was the only positive finisher. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.21 to 39.65 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 3.32 to 50.55. Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.17 to 21.70 while Sun Oil went up 1.97 to 84.05. Goodyear dropped 0.54 to 36.03 and DIRT Motorsports continued their drop as they went down 0.01 to 1.19. In the drug sector Pfizer dropped 0.01 to 25.91 while Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.51 to 32.06. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.57 to 40.87 and Lowes dropped 0.35 to 30.76. The parcel carriers had a big week. UPS went up 1.45 to 75.15 and Fedex leaped 6.41 to 117.25.

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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