Tuesday July 6, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the 1.53-mile, 12-turn road course at Lime Rock Park in Northwestern Connecticut last Friday and Saturday for a 66 lap-101 mile event that carried a race purse of $85,810. With a somewhat short field of 25 cars on hand Todd Szegedy ran a lap of 53.099 seconds on the 1.5-mile road course for an average speed of 101.697 mph. Szegedy was among the final group of cars to go out under NASCAR's road-course qualifying rules, and the time on his second lap knocked Ted Christopher off the pole. Christopher had posted a lap of 53.220 (101.466) in the second-to-last group and wound up second overall in qualifying for Saturday's Lime Rock 100. Erick Rudolph qualified third, followed by Mike Stefanik and Rowan Pennink. Points leader Bobby Santos qualified 10th.

Dale Quarterley got past the weekend’s dominant car of Todd Szegedy with three laps remaining and captured the checkered flag in the inaugural Lime Rock 100 at Lime Rock Park. Szegedy led from the start of the race, and at times drove away from the field. Following a caution on Lap 56, Quarterley restarted fourth when the race went back green on Lap 59. Quarterley worked past Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik and was able to make the winning move on Szegedy in Turn 1 on Lap 63. Quarterley made his first Whelen Modified Tour appearance since 2008 as he drove the No. 52 Furnace & Duct Supply Chevrolet this weekend for car owner Wayne Darling. An accomplished road racer, Quarterley had two previous wins at Lime Rock in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races. On Saturday, while in third with 20 laps to go, he pitted for tires. It proved to be the difference as he was able to knife through the field in the last third of the race. Szegedy wound up second, followed by Ron Silk, Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher in the top five.

Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld, Ed Flemke Jr., Jamie Tomaino and Wade Cole brought home the top 10 in the Whelen Modified Tour’s first road course race since 2000, and just the seventh in the 26-year history of the division. Points leader and winner of three of the first five races of the year, Bobby Santos finished 17th after he suffered a blown engine on Lap 62, while fifth-place qualifier Rowan Pennink's day ended with a broken axle on Lap 2, though he did return to run a handful of laps late. Santos retains a 74-point lead after six races with Szegedy now up to second in the standings.

Thirteen of the 25 starters finished on the lead lap. In addition to Santos also losing engines were Justin Bonsignore, Richie Pallai, Jr., Kevin Goodale and Eric Beers.

There were 5 cautions for 21 laps. Quarterly received $6,900 for his efforts.

The Lime Rock 100 will be shown on a taped delayed basis on Thursday, July 22, at 6:00pm. It appears that NASCAR has failed to secure sponsorship to televise the Whelen Modified Tour Series events that were run at Martinsville and at Loudon.

The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder series continues to be a big draw for fans looking to get their racing fix without disrupting their weekend. Despite somewhat short fields of cars the competition is far from short. Ted Christopher made it three in a row in Sunoco Modified (SK type) competition. He was not as fortunate in the special Tour type Modified event as he found himself sliding into the wall after a confrontation with Tom Bolles. Christopher did recover to finish sixth as Mike Stefanik and Ron Silk finished one-two.

In the Sunoco Modified event Christopher and Rowan Pennink swapped the lead on the closing laps but when it counted Christopher made the charge and made it stick. Keith Rocco, who has been Christopher's main competition, found himself in the first turn wall on lap 13, driver's side first. The NASCAR point leader emerged unhurt but his car had to be double hooked to the pit area.

Other Thompson winners included Randy Cabral of Plymouth, MAwho won the Marvin Rifchin Memorial event for the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA), Rick Gentes who won his third Late Model victory of the season, Shawn Monahan in the Limited Sportsman main event who also scored his third victory of the season. Brian Tagg earned to his first TIS Modified win of the 2010 season and Leo Defevers, made it two in a row in Mini Stock action.
The tale of the tape showed 18 Sunoco Modifieds, 13 Tour type Mods, 21 Limited Sportsman, 9 Thompson Modifieds, 11 Late Models and 13 NEMA Midgets. In all fairness the speedway management announced that 14 positions not paid the previous week in the Tour type Mods would be paid as bonus money. Some have been critical of the low count of Tour type Modifieds at Thompson. It must be considered that the Whelen Modified Tour Series was running at Lime Rock and the Modified Racing Series (formerly True Value) was running at Monadnock only two days later. The majority of race teams involved in these series simply can not afford tires or a mechanical problem which would keep them out of competition in their respective series.

Among the special guests at Thompson Speedway last Thursday were NEAR Hall of Fame inductees Leo Cleary and Billy Harman. Harman has a new titanium shoulder and Cleary is fit as a fiddle.

The Modified Racing Series headed to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday, July 3. Kirk Alexander, the three-time Modified Racing Series champion, captured his sixth “Firecracker 100” win. The win was his 19th at Monadnock and his 32nd career win with the touring series for modified race cars. Alexander passed early race leader Sean Bodreau, on lap 15, and went on to score the victory. Jon McKennedy finished second after a late race charge followed by Jim Boniface who finished third. Chris Pasteryak and Dwight Jarvis rounded out the top five. The event drew 33 race teams. The Modified Racing Series, sponsored by next competes at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH, Friday night July 9.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway Keith Rocco recovered from his Thursday night disappointment at the Thompson Speedway as he made it four in a row in SK Modified competition. Rocco, who now has seven victories overall at Stafford, took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 33 of the 40 lap feature. With Rocco out fron Christopher had his hands full as Jeff Malave tried his utmost to take over the runner-up spot. With Rocco long gone, Christopher was able to prevail over Malave. Jeff Baral, and Bo Gunning rounded out the top-5.

Other Friday night winners at Stafford were Ryan Posocco who picked up his second win of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Dylan Liseo who scored his first career victory by a nose in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault who won his first race of the season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Stephen Daddio who was a first time career winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The Waterford Speedbowl hosted the mid-season 300 on Saturday, an extra-distance extravaganza for its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. In total, fans were treated to six divisions and 300 laps of feature racing. Keith Rocco continues to dominate the SK Modified action at the shoreline oval as he recorded his seventh track win of the year. Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to the winner’s circle in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, while it was Ed Puleo and Sean Caron each scoring their third win of the year in the Street Stock and Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock races. Allen Coates continued his mastery of the A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck division and Anthony Flannery topped the Legends Cars field once again.

Rocco’s fast lap in qualifying landed him the pole starting position for the 100-lap SK Modified race. He spent lap one battling with Ron Yuhas Jr. before taking control. Yuhas tucked into second with Rob Janovic Jr. and Tyler Chadwick battling for third, with Jeff Paul racing in fifth position to set the early running order. After three laps Chadwick tucked in behind Janovic content to ride out the early laps. Further back, Todd Ceravolo and Tom Abele Jr. battled for sixth. The first caution waved on lap 12 when Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. spun off the front chute.

Rocco led again when six more laps were clicked off before Tucker Reynolds Jr. spun in turn one. Moments earlier Ceravolo’s night came to an end when he pulled his car off the pace, mechanical failure again the culprit in a season filled with misfortune for the former track champion. Two more restarts slowed the pace over the first third of the event.
The running order was jostled following a lap 40 restart. Chadwick advanced by both Yuhas and Janovic to race his way into second position behind Rocco. Paul was third, with Yuhas back to fourth and Abele rounding out the new top five. They raced nose to tail as the race reached halfway at lap 50. Caution on lap 53 for a turn four incident between Jeff Gallup and Reynolds halted any change in running order of the new lead pack.
Rocco again got the restart advantage by turn one. Chadwick spent two laps outside Paul who challenged for second spot to his inside, but Chadwick hung on to the position. Paul continued in third with Abele taking fourth from Yuhas. Gallup spun exiting turn four on lap 66 to put the field back under yellow one final time. Paul again challenged the inside of Chadwick when racing went back to green, enabling Rocco to get away out front. The two drivers raced hard for second with Paul finally taking the spot on lap 73. Chadwick pulled in behind, with Yuhas and Janovic in fourth and fifth position behind. Rocco’s lead on lap 80 was five car lengths over Paul. Rocco ran a smooth pace over the final 20 circuits to win by eight car lengths, his seventh Speedbowl checkered flag of the season. Paul finished second holding off the advances of Chadwick. Yuhas finished in fourth with Janovic fifth.

For the record, Rocco now has 17 wins for the season. His NASCAR total is sixteen.

In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina John Smith worked his way past L.W. Miller on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Firecracker 150. Smith, who started alongside leader Miller on the final restart, was able to get the lead and held on for his first win in his 44th career start on the tour. Smith also became the fourth different winner in as many races this season on the NWSMT. The second-place Miller dominated much of the night, leading by as many as 10 car lengths at one point, but Bryan Dauzat made contact with the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 on Lap 144 to set up the thrilling finish by Smith. Miller, who wrestled the lead away from Zach Brewer on the race’s first lap and looked to be on the way to his 11th career victory. He led all but five laps on the .455-mile oval. Smith was able to get the jump on Miller at the final restart and made it last until he saw the checkered flag wave on lap 154. James Civali followed Smith and Miller across the line for a finish of third. Jason Myers and Burt Myers logged fourth and fifth-place finishes, respectively.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island the Modifieds had a 50-lap, double-point feature, where Chuck Steuer led green to checker for the win.

In TV land this weeks viewing begins on NASCAR Race Hub on the Speed Channel airs at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and on Thursday. Race programming on Speed starts on Tuesday at 6:00pm with Race in 60 which highlights the Feb 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 that was run at Fontana, CA. At 10:00pm Race in 60 highlights the July 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 that was run at the Daytona International Speedway. Wednesday's viewing begins at noon with a complete replay of the July 3 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400. At 6:00pm Race in 60 highlights the Feb 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Shelby American that was run at the Las Vegas Speedway. On Thursday at noon Speed replays last Friday nights Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 that was run at the Daytona International Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed replays the 2008 400 that was run at the Chicagoland Speedway. At 6:00 Speed will show the July 3 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event that was run at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, CA. On Friday at 11:00am Speed goes live at the Chicagoland Speedway for Nationwide Series practice. Sprint Cup practice follows at 12:30pm. NASCAR Live breaks it up at 2:30 before the final hour of Sprint Cup practice at 3:00pm. Nationwide Series qualifying goes at 4:00pm. Sprint Cup qualifying follows at 6:00pm. At 7:30 the action switches to ESPN for the Nationwide Series pre-race that will lead in to the 8:00pm start of the Dollar General 300, Chicagoland Speedway. Rounding out the day is Trackside on Speed at 11:00pm. Saturday's viewing begins at 4:30 on Speed with NASCAR Race Day for two hours. At 6:30 the action shifts to TNT for the Sprint Cup pre-race show that will lead in to the 7:30pm start of the 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway. While the Cup race is in progress Speed will provide live coverage of the ARCA Racing Series Prairie Meadows 200 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. Sunday's action will begin at 1:30 with the pre-race program that will lead to the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa 200 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA at 2:00pm. Rounding out the day on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:30pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:30pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:30pm

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week it was another downer. All three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. Taking the biggest dip was Speedway Motorsports which dropped 1.34 to 12.93. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.93 to 25.51 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.14 to 1.88. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.04 to 4.16 while fuel supplier Sun Oil all but tanked as they dropped 3.19 to 32.55. Tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.39 to 10.01. The car makers were also down. Toyota dropped 1.74 to 68.26 while Ford dropped 0.47 to 10.28. General Motors remained at 0.41. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 2.44 to 27.76 while Lowes dropped 1.06 to 20.27. Team sponsors were also down. Dupont dropped 2.60 to 34.06 while Coca-Cola dropped 2.31 to 46.24, Target dropped 0.97 to 49.53, Aarons Rentals dropped 2.72 to 16.44 and Fedex dropped 4.55 to 71.41.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

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

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