Tuesday July 3, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continues on a three week break before heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Town Fair Tire 100 on July 14. Doug Coby, with his recent victory at Waterford, has stretched his point lead to 20 points over defending series champion Ron Silk. Silk holds a slim three point edge over Ryan Preece. Justin Bonsignore and Jimmy Blewett round out the top five. Keith Rocco and Donnie Lia, tied for sixth, are only five points away from being in the top five. Rounding out the top ten are Ted Christopher, Ron Yuhas Jr and Todd Szegedy.

Its amazing that some self proclaimed experts continue to believe that all is well with the Whelen Modified Tour Series. If it were not for wealthy car owners or wealthy drivers who buy their rides the division would be hurting. Lack of television and lack of daily media coverage does little to help attract sponsorship money. For the most part the supporting tracks are paying as much as they can.

Thompson Speedway owner Don Hoenig feels that the more rules that NASCAR mandates, the more it costs the car owner. Instead of talking to those who currently compete on the tour NASCAR needs to talk to those who were formerly on the tour and ask what are their reasons for dropping out. Hoenig has his own problems on Thursday nights. Dwindling fields of cars for various reasons have taken their toll on the popularity of the Thursday night programs. The economy is to blame for some of it, inconsistent rules enforcement for some of it and inconsistent general officiating for some of it. The facility is great, the purses are fair and the contingency money is great.

In Valenti Modified Racing Series action at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire Les Hinckley III, visited the winner’s circle for the first time this season after surviving the final 10-laps of Friday night’s Valenti Modified Racing Series event. The 100-lap race was marred by several crashes including a 10-car pileup at lap 90 that eliminated race leader Jon McKennedy from the event. In the final 10-laps race leaders Rowan Pennink, and Jeff Malave were also knocked from the lead. Series officials blamed aggressive driving for the incidents. Todd Owen finished second for his best finish to date. Louie Mechalides finished third. Chris Pasteryak and Max Zachem rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were, Jimmy Dolan, Joe Doucette, Norm Wrenn, Rowan Pennink and Mark Bakaj.

Polesitter McKennedy led the first five circuits. Defending series champion Chris Pasteryak led the field through lap 17 when Pennink took command until lap 82. A hard charging McKennedy then regained the lead. Tommy Barrett who started 24th in the field, battling for the lead on lap 90, made contact with McKennedy, triggering a massive pileup. After Pennink and then Malave were eliminated from the lead, Hinckley led the final two laps to secure the win. Hinckley’s win was his 16th VMRS victory, his third at Lee tying Kirk Alexander for total wins (Lee). Seventeen of the 24 cars that started the race finished on the lead lap. Five yellow flags and one red flag on lap 90 slowed the event completed in 1 hour
15 minutes.

Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw repeat winners dominate victory lane in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. Cam McDermott, John Lowinski-Loh, and Tommy O’Sullivan all added to their win totals while Mike Veins became the first repeat winner in the Mini Stock division. Woody Pitkat earned his first win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. The North East Mini Stock Tour entertained with a victory by Emerson Cayer in their stand-alone event and a Showdown victory for Thompson favorite Danny Field.

In the Sunoco Modified event Woody Pitkat earned his first Sunoco Modified victory of the season after Keith Rocco was disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Repeat winners dominated victory lane in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action on Thompson’s Thursday Night Thunder program. Cam McDermott, John Lowinski-Loh, and Tommy O’Sullivan all added to their win totals while Mike Veins became the first repeat winner in the Mini Stock division. Woody Pitkat earned his first win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. The North East Mini Stock Tour entertained with a victory by Emerson Cayer in their stand-alone event and a Showdown victory for Thompson favorite Danny Field.

Pitkat's win came after Keith Rocco was disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Inspectors found that Rocco's engine had heat shields that were on the bottom of the intake manifold.

John Catania drove out front on lap one of the Sunoco Modified feature, but heading into turn four, went high, and collected Shawn Thibeault as the two came flying across the front stretch and hit the inside pit road retaining wall. Catania’s No. 52 machine hit the wall hard and his night was over. Keith Rocco took the lead when the race resumed with Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top four. Preece was glued to Rocco’s bumper, occasionally moving out of line to look for a way around. Rocco never game him the chance to make a formal challenge for the lead, but Pitkat, was able to muscle his way around Christopher for the third spot at lap seven. Preece tried again to get by Rocco on lap 10 using the bottom, but Rocco closed the door. Rocco got some breathing room on lap 13 when Preece got loose coming off of turn four. Pitkat used the opportunity to his advantage and challenged Preece on lap 14, but Preece fought back and held on to the spot. On the following circuit, Pitkat darted to the outside and easily drove by Preece for the second position. Rocco drove straight to the checkered flag, but was later disqualified in tech handing the win to Pitkat.

Keith Rocco got redemption from his Thursday night disqualification at Thompson at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night as he won the annual running of the Coors Light SK Modified® 100. Rocco took the checkered flag in the extra distance classic for his first Stafford win of the 2012 season, Corey Hutchings was a first time 2012 winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. was a career first time winner in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Josh Wood picked up his 5th win of the 2012 season in the extra distance Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande took home his fourth win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the Coors Litght 100 Frank Ruocco finished second, with Berndt, Foster, and Christopher rounding out the top-5.
On Saturday night was the 9th annual CARQUEST Super Saturday program at Stafford. Mike Lichtyp won the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified feature, Mike Horn won the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature event, and Dan Meservey, Jr. won the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event. In the CARQUEST Champions For Charities event, Ron Midford, Jr. took the checkered flag but the real winner was charity as the 13 champion drivers raised over $51,000 for their selected charities.

In regular weekly racing at the Waterford Speedbowl the mid-season 300 was run which put six divisions in action for a total of 300 laps of racing. The special event provided the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions with extra-distance races including the annual 100-lap SK Modified® thriller. Tyler Chadwick was the night’s big winner, picking up the victory in the SK 100 for his fourth win of the year. Jason Palmer recorded his first win of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models while Walt Hovey Jr. took down his second Street Stock race of the season. Bill Leonard scored his first Mini Stock division win and Matt Pappa won his eighth Legends Cars race of the year at the shoreline oval.

In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina twin 50 lap Modified events were run. Jonathan Brown won the opener over Danny Bohn, Tim Brown and Burt Myers. Randy Butner won the night cap over Jason Myers, Lee Jeffreys, Bohn and Burt Myers.

In NASCAR Modified action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Tom Rogers made it two in a row after starting from outside pole.

In action on the tube this week the Speed Channel will replay last weekends NASCAR Sprint Cup event that was run at the Kentucky Speedway at noon on Wednesday and the NASCAR Nationwide Series event that was also run at Kentucky on Thursday at noon.

On Friday night ESPN will provide live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeño 250 Powered by Coca-Cola from the Daytona International Speedway. Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at Daytona will be televised live by TNT starting at 7:30pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were on the positive for the week. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.12 to 26.18 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.05 to 1.31 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.59 to 16.91. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.03 to 3.26 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.27 to 47.50 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.35 to 11.81. With the exception of Toyota which went up 3.68 to 80.48 the car builders were down for the week as Ford dropped 0.60 to 9.59 and General Motors dropped 0.88 to 19.72. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.97 to 52.99 and Lowes went up 1.13 to 28.44. The big team sponsors were all positive for the week. Dupont went up 0.61 to 50.57 while Coca-Cola went up 0.89 to 64.28, Target Department Stores went up 0.63 to 58.19, Aarons Rentals went up 1.00 to 28.31 and Fedex went up 1.07 to 91.61.

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.

Web Design Copyright © 2012 & - All Rights Reserved
Opinions expressed in Phil Smith's "Champ Trail" do not necessarily reflect the opinions of and the contents are the sole responsibility and opinions of the author.
For permission to reproduce any part of"Champ Trail" contact Phil Smith @
The "Champ Trail" is Copyright © 2006-2012 Phil Smith