Tuesday July 3, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made it’s first of two visits to the New Hampshire International Speedway last weekend. Speedway owner and promoter Bob Bahre posted $164, 095 for the 100 lap-105.8 mile event. There were 40 Modifieds on hand for qualifying which took place on Thursday.

With the exception of John Blewett III having mechanical problems and having to take a provisional starting spot, qualifying went smooth. Ted Christopher took the Busch Pole with a speed of 126.812mph. Second fastest was Donnie Lia with a speed of 126.795 mph. Jimmy Blewett, Matt Hirschman and Eddie Flemke Jr rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tony Hirschman, Charlie Pasteryak, Bob Grigas III, Ronnie Silk and Glen Tyler.

Donnie Lia, who signed on with longtime NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owner Bob Garbarino just prior to the start of the season, picked up his fourth win in six races with a victory in the New England 100 at New Hampshire International Speedway last Saturday. For Garbarino, who has been a Modified car owner since the mid 1960s, its been a dream season. Never in over 40 years has he had a year like this. Lia and Co. made the strategic choice not to pit for tires or fuel, while other of the top contenders like Ted Christopher did at various stages and had to work their way back to the front.

“If we pitted today, I don’t know if we could have got through like Teddy did,” said Lia, who had five career wins in 79 career starts entering 2007. “We made our decision and stuck with it. And it was apparently the right one.” The race was abbreviated to 85 laps due to time constraints. It was slowed eight times for 38 laps, with the last caution setting up a six-lap dash for the finish between Lia, Christopher and Eddie Flemke. Lia briefly lost the lead to Flemke but used a push from Christopher to get back by and then held on as Christopher and Flemke battled for second. Christopher, who has four Modified Tour wins at NHIS, held on for the runner-up finish. Matt Hirschman and Todd Szegedy were fourth and fifth respectively. Ronnie Silk, Bobby Santos III, Ron Yuhas Jr., Charlie Pasteryak and John Blewett IIII rounded out the top 10.

Eight cautions for 38 laps kept Lia’s average speed at 67.140mph. Among those who failed to finish were Joe Hartmann who lost an engine on lap 2, Bob Grigas, Kenny Bouchard, Rick Fuller and Glen Tyler were eliminated in a lap 34 accident. James Civali lost a driveshaft on lap 35. Eric Beers and Mike Christopher lost engines while Jake Marosz and Rob Summers dropped out with suspension problems. Alex Hoag and Jimmy Blewett wrecked on lap 73.
Lia holds the points lead over Szegedy by 61 and Hirschman by 63. Jimmy Blewett and Jame Civali round out the top five as the Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Twin State Speedway this coming Sunday, July 8.
On a sad note, Whelen Modified Tour Series crew chief Greg Narducci sustained serious head injuries when he fell off a moving golf cart on Thursday night. He suffered several injuries to his facial area including possible fractures to the temple, cheek bone and area behind the eye socket. Swelling of the brain occured with possible clots behind the front area of the skull. He was Med Flighted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in NH. Greg was touch and go for a while, but is now on his way to recovery.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway,heavy rains caused the management to cancel its Thursday Night Thompson Thunder race program. The entire northeast was hit by heavy downpours and storms forcing management’s hand after nearly two hours of work to dry the track.

The entire schedule, including the 30-lap Thompson Modified feature event, will be run on Thursday, July 5th. The Northeast Midget Association will also be on hand as part of their regularly scheduled appearance on the day after the 4th. That will make the July 5th race night a seven division race program. In addition to NEMA and the Thompson Modifieds extra distance race, fans will enjoy the Sunoco Modifieds, Pro Stocks, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks.Anyone holding a ticket to the June 28th event is encouraged to hold onto that ticket since it is their rain check for admission next week.

Two very special race events have fans of the old and the new excited about the track’s offerings. The highlight of July Schedule is the “Full Fender Frenzy” scheduled for Saturday, July 14th. NASCAR’s all-new Busch East Series will make its first appearance ever at the historic Speedway.

The Busch East Series is NASCAR’s newest driver development division and features race teams owned and operated by some of NASCAR’s biggest names. Just some of the Busch East team owners include Dale Earnhardt, Inc., Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Wood Brothers/JTG Racing and Rusty Wallace. Drivers for these teams include Jeffrey Earnhardt, the grandson of the Late Dale Earnhardt, Connecticut’s amazing 17-year-old Joey Lagano, Sean Caisse, Jamie Hayes and Chase Austin.

Speaking of the Busch East Series their event at Loudon last Friday was absolutely brutal. Connecticut’s Joey Logano won for the 3rd time in 6 series starts in the 125-mile event that was slowed by 10 caution periods and 2 red flags. It took two hours to finish the event. Logano held off 8-time New Hampshire International Speedway winner Brad Leighton and Tim Schendel over several late-race restarts. Twenty-four of the 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Cautions: 10 for 64 of the 126 laps completed.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Zach Sylvester ended a seven year dry spell at the nutmeg oval. In addition to Sylvester who won the the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagna,the Limited Late Model feature and Dean Casagrande, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature, run under a full moon, saw several attempts at getting it started with both front row starters being put back a row, which put Sylvester up front for the start, and he took the early lead. Sylvester held the lead through multiple caution periods, but would lose the lead to Willie Hardie on a lap-21 restart. Sylvester got back around Hardie on lap-23 and would hold the lead through several more restart situations until the final caution came out with 3 laps to go. Sylvester powered his way to the lead, but had Woody Pitkat and Ted Christopher all over his back bumper. Sylvester held strong and took the checkered flag ahead of Pitkat. Keith Rocco made a last lap charge into third place, with Christopher and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic Jr. notched his third win of the season on Saturday night as he won the 35-lap SK Modified feature on “Military Appreciation Night At The Speedbowl”. Janovic passed early leader Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. with 13 laps to go and was able to hold off Dennis Gada in the closing laps. Mucciacciaro set the early pace, grabbing the top spot from pole-sitter Jeff Paul with a daring move shortly after the initial green. Paired off with the eventual winner on several restarts, he maintained the lead until Janovic moved to the outside groove. An early wreck on the backstretch triggered by Don Fowler claimed several cars, including point-leader Shawn Monahan. The victory moved Janovic within six points of current leader Shawn Monahan in the battle for the championship. Mucciacciaro, Brandon Hansen and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five.
Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Jim Procaccini (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), and, Chris Bakaj (Legends).

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 on Thursday at noon with the NASCAR Nextel Cup Replay of last Sunday’s Lenox Industrial Tools 300 from the New Hampshire Intl. Speedway. Following at 3:00pm is the June 23rd USAR Hooters Pro Cup Greased Lightning 200 that was run at Myrtle Beach, SC. Speed goes live at 4:30 for NASCAR Nextel Cup practice for the Pepsi 400 at the Daytona Int. Speedway. At 5:30 the action switches to ESPN2 for NASCAR Busch Series final practice for for the Winn Dixie 250 at Daytona. At 6:30 it’s back to the Speed Channel for the final practice session for the Pepsi 400. Friday’s action starts at noon with NASCAR Live at Daytona International Speedway on the Speed Channel. At 1:00 the action moves to ESPN2 for NASCAR Busch Series qualifying for the Winn Dixie 250 at Daytona. NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying on the Speed Channel for the Pepsi 400 follows at 4:00pm. Also at 4:00 it’s NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England will present features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motorspeedway. At 6:30 its Trackside at Daytona. The action switches to ESPN 2 at 7:30for the Busch Series pre-race show followed by the Winn Dixie 250 at 8;00PM. Saturday’s action starts at 10:00am with a special edition of NASCAR Now on ESPN2. At 5:00pm a two hour edition of NASCAR Raceday previews the Pepsi 400 on the Speed Channel. TNT begins their race coverage at 6:30 with NASCAR on TNT. Flag to flag coverage of the Pepsi 400 follows at 8:00pm. All there is on Sunday is the World of Outlaws sprint cars at 11:30 on ESPN2. 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 in the green. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.33 to 39.98. Speedway Motorsports also announced that the North Carolina Motor Speedway in Rockingham, NC will be put on the auction block in the near future. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.30 to 52.71 and Dover Downs went up 0.06 to 6.06. Nextel/Sprint had a rough week as they dropped 1.31 to 20.71. Sun Oil also took a big hit as they dropped 4.07 to 79.68. Goodyear had a fairly good ending as they went up 0.09 to 34.76. DIRT Motorsports continued their downward spiral as they fell 0.10 to 1.25. In the drug sector Pfizer went up 0.19 to 25.59. Bristol Meyers-Squib was also up as they gained 0.16 to close at 31.56. The home improvement sector was just the opposite. Lowes dropped 0.35 to 30.69 and Home Depot dropped 0.01 to 39.35. The parcel carriers showed a slight upswing. Fedex went up 1.01 to 110.97 while UPS went up 0.15 to 73.00.

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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