Tuesday July 12, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Whelen Modified Tour heads to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Saturday, July 16 for the F.W. Webb 100. Rowan Pennink continues to lead the point standings with a 30 point edge over Ron Silk. Three points behind Silk is Ted Christopher. Eric Beers and Matt Hirschman round out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Bobby Santos, Todd Szegedy, Mike Stefanik, Erick Rudolph and Doug Coby. NASCAR, The Speed Channel, Versus and ESPN has deemed this event is not worthy of being telecast even though it is considered the best and most competitive of the weekend in Loudon. For live updates as the event unfolds go to

In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Keith Rocco made it two in a row in Sunoco Modified competition while the incredible Danny Field made it seven for seven in Mini Stock competition. Jeff Connors stretched his point lead with his first victory of the season in the Super Late Models. Mike Scorzelli was victorious in the Late Models. Shawn Monahan earned his third victory of the season in the Limited Sportsman division and Glenn Boss made it two in a row in TIS Modified competition. Added to the program was the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) for the annual Marvin Rifchin Memorial event. Mike Horn of Ashland, MA, made a bold move on the opening lap that proved to be the winning one.

Much drama surrounded the fourth Thompson win of the season for Keith Rocco of Wallingford, CT. Outside pole sitter Todd Ceravolo lost power on the original start bringing out the caution. When the race officially got underway, Ryan Preece rocketed past pole sitter Danny Cates to take over the lead. The battle for second was heating up between Cates, Woody Pitkat and Rocco. George Wilkinson came to rest on the front stretch to bring out the second caution on lap three. Preece led the field to the stripe. The battle for second erupted once again. Cates held the second spot but was getting a double barrel assault from Pitkat low and Rocco on the high side.

Shelly Perry made hard contact with the outside wall in turn three bringing out the third caution. The restart featured much of the same inside the top-five; however, Cates emerged as the new leader. Rocco moved into the second spot. Pitkat and Preece were locked in their own battle for the third spot as Rocco dogged Cates. At the halfway marker, the lead duo of Cates and Rocco gained a five-car length advantage over Preece and Pitkat. Pitkat got the edge over Preece and began to run down the lead duo, who had edged out to nearly a straightaway advantage.

On the backstretch on lap 20, Rocco got the run to take the lead from Cates. A report of fluid coming from Rocco’s #57 necessitated the caution. After a check of Rocco’s mount, his car was cleared and he was given his spot back at the head of the field. It was strongly implied that the complaint made of Rocco's car was false. Under the caution, Preece headed to pit road for service to his car.

Rocco picked up where he left off back under green flag racing. Cates ran on Rocco’s back bumper in second. Preece, Pitkat and Carl Oberg completed the top five. On lap 26, Preece took advantage and sailed past Cates for second. With three laps remaining, Rocco had marched out to a five car-length advantage. Pitkat continued to chase Cates. At the checkers, Rocco scored his second straight victory and fourth overall. For the second straight week Preece ran in the runner-up spot. Early leader Cates had to settle for third. Pitkat and Oberg rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were George Wilkinson, John Catania, David Morgenstein, Perry and Ceravolo.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain, ruining Keith Rocco's chances of a repeat there. Stafford did announce a TV package is now in place for 2011. The Stafford Motor Speedway management stated that they will broadcast their SK Modified® division on the Connecticut Sports Network (CTSN) with Wide Open Wednesday. CTSN can be found on Cox cable systems channel 144 and Comcast cable systems channels 185, 187, or 744 in Connecticut. Those who live outside of Connecticut are out of luck.

Stafford's Wide Open Wednesday program will make its debut broadcast on Wednesday, July 13th on CTSN. The debut episode will then re-air on Saturday, July 16th at 10pm and again on Sunday, July 17th at 11am on CTSN. Each subsequent Wednesday night will feature a brand new episode at 8pm with re-air dates and times of Saturday at 10pm and Sunday at 11am. Episodes of Wide Open Wednesday will be 30 minutes in length with special 90-minute shows for the track's Coors Light SK Modified® 100 and CARQUEST SK 150 events.

Waterford was also quiet as they gave way to a fireworks display that was held in New London on Saturday night.

It looks like ticket prices at Connecticut Speedways are going up as Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice advises that a new tax law, which specifically mentions the racetracks of Thompson, Waterford, Stafford and Lime Rock Park will now be asking for a “sales use tax” from these tracks. For each ticket sold, the state will charge a tax of 6.35 percent. In addition, the hotel-motel tax rate will increase in the state from 12 to 15 percent. The web site states that the admissions tax exemptions for these race facilities have been eliminated. The changes are among 77 separate tax increases over 24 categories as part of changes recently made by the state General Assembly, according to the site.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series defied the weather at the Lee USA Speedway in southern New Hampshire on Friday night. Chris Pasteryak took the lead after passing race leader Joe Doucette on lap 52 to go on and win the Laticrete “Port City 100” Friday night.

The win was Pasteryak’s first at Lee, his second of the season, and his fifth career victory with the VMRS. Pole-sitter Louie Mechalides was the early leader until Doucette took the top spot on lap three. Doucette led for the next 49 laps as he fought off Mechalides and then several side-by-side attempts by Pasteryak for five circuits before the 2008 series champion was able to move by.

Veteran Dwight Jarvis finished in the runner-up position after starting eighth in the 19-car field. Defending series champion Jon McKennedy made a late race charge to finish third, Les Hinckley III, was fourth, and Ken Barry, with abrand new car, finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were, Rowan Pennink, Jimmy Kuhn, Norman Wrenn, Doucette, and Rob Goodenough.

Pasteryak’s victory moved him into a tie for the point lead with Pennink. Hinckley is four points back from the leaders.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC was silent over the July 4th weekend and resumed their weekly racing with a 100 la Modified event on Saturday night. Tim Brown, who celebrated his 40th birthday on Wednesday, kicked off the second half of the season in impressive fashion, and trimmed some of Burt Myers' lead in the season standings on a double-points night. But Myers, who broke a part in his car's rear end in pre-race practice and got his car repaired just in time, came out in relatively good shape with a fourth-place finish. Brown managed to cut Myers' lead from 40 to 28 points.

Brown was the fastest in qualifying for the fourth time this season, with a lap of 13.331 seconds (67.5 mph) on the quarter-mile track. He drew the No. 2 starting position. Brown took the lead on the start and led the entire distance. Junior Miller started third and was able to challenge Brown from the outside on the final four double-file restarts, but couldn't catch him in the late stages. Chris Fleming, who made it through a heated exchange with Jonathan Brown in the closing laps, finished third. Myers drew the seventh starting spot and managed to work his way to fourth.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers JR took the NASCAR Modified win. The July 30th Whelen Modified tour race will pay $6000 to win and $300 to every driver who shows up.

Jim Schaefer, aka Long Island Mod Maniac, announced that he has put together from various sources bonus money that will find the winner of the event taking home a handsome $6,000, while each starter among the 28 drivers will earn $300 in tow money. There will also be an additional $500 split among the first three positions, courtesy of Lighthouse Mission.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR Now on espn2 airs at 5:00pm on Tuesday and on Wednesday. Also on Thursday at 6:00pm. On Tuesday at 6:00pm the Versus Network will show the July11 IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto event. On Wednesday at noon the Speed Channel will replay last week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400that was run at the Kentucky Speedway. On Thursday at noon Speed replays last weeks NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed The Children 300 event that was run at the Kentucky Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed replays last years NASCAR Sprint Cup Lenox Industrial Tools 301 that was run at Loudon, NH. At 6:00pm Speed replays the June 25th NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 that was run at the Infineon Raceway. Friday's action starts at 11:30am with live coverage of Sprint Cup practice from Loudon. NASCAR Live follows at 1:00pm. At 1:30pm, Speed picks up a 90 minute practice session for the Nationwide Series at Loudon. Sprint Cup qualifying from Loudon follows at 3:00pm. Saturday's TV action starts at 9:30am with a one hour practice session for the Sprint Cup cars. Nationwide Series qualifying follows at 10:30am. At 11:30am final practice for the Sprint Cup cars begins. Speed and ESPN have chosen not to televise the Loudon Modified event scheduled for Saturday afternoon. At 2:30pm ESPN begins their pre-race show that will lead in to the 3:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series New England 200 at Loudon. At 5:00pm Speed goes live for the ARCA Racing Series Prairie Meadows 200 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, IA. At 7:00pm the Speed Channel has a Special NASCAR Edition SPEED Center. At 7:30 action continues at Iowa with the Truck Series pre-race show that will lead to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa 200. NASCAR Performance from the NASCAR Hall of Fame wraps up the day on Speed at 10:30pm. Sunday's viewing on Speed begins at 9:30am with SPEED Center – NASCAR Edition. A two hour RaceDay preview of the Loudon Sprint Cup event follows. The action switches to TNT at noon for the Sprint Cup countdown that will lead to the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. On Sunday evening, Speed Center at 7:00pm and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm sum up the day's racing. At 9:00pm Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain closes out the weekend.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. The International Speedway Corporation was the only one to finish out in the green as they went up 0.25 to 30.49. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.09 to 14.43 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.01 to 1.83. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.06 to 5.49 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun oil went up 0.63 to 42.86 and tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.06 to 17.23. Two of the three publicly traded car makers had positive results for the week. General Motors went up 1.00 to 31.58 and Toyota went up 0.95 to 84.40 while Ford dropped 0.14 to 13.88. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.11 to 36.62 while Lowes dropped 0.21 to 23.61. The major team sponsors had good results for the week. Dupont went up 0.95 to 55.42 while Coca-Cola went up 1.15 to 68.48 and Target Department Stores leaped 3.21 to 51.14. Aarons Rentals jumped 0.35 to 29.16 and Fedex went up 0.94 to 97.56.

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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