Tuesday June 26, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour got back into action last Thursday night at the Thompson Speedway with the Charter Cable, Internet, Telephone 150. This wasl be the second of five Whelen Modified tour events. There were 38 Modifieds on hand to qualify for the 35 starting spots. Second generation driver Richard Savory, driving the Art Barry No. 21 was the Busch Pole sitter. Second fastest was Don Lia in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile. The re-draw for starting spots saw Ryan Preece picking the pole position with James Civali picking the outside pole. Lia ended up winning the rain shortened event after taking the lead on lap 34. Rain began to fall as the field completed lap 80 of the 150 lap distance. The field circled the 5/8 mile oval under caution for 20 more laps when the event was finally called. Among those who were hoping to restart the event was Ted Christopher who felt that he had something for the leader. Christopher, who was scheduled to start ninth, started scratch after suffering a flat tire just prior to the event. Christopher drove a determined race and was in the process of putting himself into position to challenge the leader when the skies opened up. Christopher was forced to settle for the runner-up spot in the final rundown. Bobby Santos III, driving the Boehler family entry finished third in his best effort to date. Former champions Tony Hirschman and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Pole sitter Civali and Eddie Flemke led the early going as they swapped the lead numerous times in a brilliant exhibition of high speed driving. Civali ended up 7th and Flemke, 19th.

Lia’s win gives him a 19 point edge in the series point standings over Civali. Jimmy Blewett, who finished 8th, sits in third spot, one point behind Civali. Szegedy and Matt Hirschman round out the top five.

Woody Pitkat’s debut in the series started with a bang as he hit the wall in final practice. The Roger Hill crew was able to make repairs and Pitkat was afforded a starting spot because of an owner’s provisional. In spite of all his pre-race trouble Pitkat drove to a solid 10th place finish.

Among those on hand to take in the event and mingle with old friends were NEAR Hall of Fame driving legends Leo Cleary, Billy Harman, Ronnie Bouchard and George Summers.

The next stop for the Whelen Modified Tour Series will be at the one-mile New Hampshire International Speedway this coming Saturday, June 30. This event will be shown on the Speed Channel on Thursday, July 26 at 2:30pm .

The True Value Modified Series continues to attract competitors from the Whelen Modified Tour Series including former series champion Mike Stefanik. The True Value Series ran a 100 lap event at the ¼ mile Seekonk Speedway last Saturday night. Taking the win was local favorite Vinnie Annarummo. Louie Mechalides started 24th on the field and finished second. Stefanik got as high as seventh until spinning out shortly after the half way mark. Also in the field but finishing out of the top ten was Ted Christopher. In addition to tracks, competitors are looking to the True Value Series as a more affordable alternative.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Jimmy “Showtime” Blewett jumped out at the start of the 30 lap Sunoco Modified 30 lapper and proceeded to go pole to pole to win the event. Tom Cravenho finished second with Keith Rocco, third. Kerry Malone and John Blewett rounded out the top five. In other Whelen All-American Series competition George Bessette was victorious in the Pro Stock division while Larry Barnett took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division. It was a night for repeats as three of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions featured back-to-back winners. Marc Jenison won the the Late Models, Mike Romano, the Mini Stocks and Tim Sullivan, TIS Modifieds.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway, rain prevailed. Stafford resumes this Friday, July 29th with a Fireworks program that will see Stafford ’s SK Modifieds, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models, and DARE Stocks all in action. Tickets for Friday night, June 29th are priced at $14.00 for adult general admission, $5.00 for children ages 6-14 are, and children ages 5 & under are admitted free. Reserved seat tickets are available for $17.00 for all ages.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl defending SK Modified champion Dennis Gada used the outside groove to pass early leader Jay Miller with four laps remaining in capturing his second feature race of the season. The event marked the 52nd SK Modified victory of the 6-time champions career. Zach Sylvester, driving a car owned by Dick Ceravolo and Miller completed the top-three.

Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stock), Randy Cabral (Northeastern Midget Association).

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:30pm time slot seven days a week. This week’s viewing begins at noon on Thursday when the Speed Channel reruns last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series AT&T 250 from the Milwaukee Mile in Wisconsin . At 3:00pm Speed replays last Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350 that was run at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma , CA . The action moves to Loudon , NH on Friday with NASCAR Live at 11:00am . A 90 minute practice for Nextel Cup cars at Loudon follows at noon . At 1:30 it will be a 90 minute session for the Busch cars at Loudon. NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 begins at 3:00pm . NASCAR Live at 4:30 and Trackside at NHIS at 7:00pm round out the day’s coverage. Saturday’s coverage on the Speed Channel begins at 9:30am with NASCAR Live from New Hampshire Intl. Speedway. Live coverage continues with Busch Series qualifying at 10:00am , Nextel Cup final practice at 11:30 and NASCAR Live at 1:00pm . The action switches to ABC at 2:30pm for the pre-race show for the NASCAR Busch Series Camping World 200 at Loudon which is scheduled to go green on ABC at 3:00pm . At 4:00pm it’s NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England will present features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motorspeedway. At 6:00pm the action switches back to Speed for qualifying for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Memphis , TN. The trucks go green at 9:00pm . Sunday’s coverage begins at noon with a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay. TNT goes live at 1:00pm with a 90 minute lead in to the green flag for the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 at Loudon which is scheduled to go green at 2:30pm . 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 two of the three speedway stocks had a negative ending. Dover Downs, which went up 0.01 to 6.00, was the only gainer. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.80 to 52.41 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.27 to 39.65. Nextel dropped 0.05 to 22.02 and Sun Oil also dropped as they went down 0.17 to 83.75. Goodyear dropped 0.65 to 34.67 while DIRT Motorsports fell 0.15 to 1.35. In the drug sector Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.64 to 31.40 while Pfizer dropped 1.09 to 25.38. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 1.41 to 39.36. Lowes dropped 0.51 to 31.04. It was also an off week for the parcel carriers as Fedex dropped 1.41 to 109.96 and UPS dropped 1.20 to 72.85.

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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