Tuesday June 24, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night with a new format that consisted of a 75 green flag lap event. Ronnie Silk ended a long dry spell for himself and car owner Roger Hill as he beat out Ted Christopher for the win. Silk, who previously won at Thompson on September 23, 2007, took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 53 and never looked back while en route to his first win of the season. Bobby Grigas III and Kevin Goodale ran wheel to wheel for the first 21 laps when they tangled in turn four. Goodale spun to the infield and was able to restart at the rear. Grigas ran with Ed Flemke Jr on his bumper until lap 27 when Flemke tapped and spun him in turn four. NASCAR felt the hit was intentional and put Flemke to the rear. Flemke agreed and went willingly. Ted Christopher inherited the lead with Silk in second spot when the field restarted. Christopher survived numerous restarts as the night wore on and the night got cooler. Christopher’s luck ran out following the 12th caution. The yellow flag period dragged for too long resulting in Christopher’s tires cooling off and losing traction. The resulting restart saw Silk rocket from his outside row starting spot and taking the lead upon entering turn one. Christopher managed to hang onto second spot and was followed at the finish by Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Tony Ferrante Jr. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Matt Hirschman, Bobby Santos, Kevin Goodale and Ryan Preece.

Earlier in the evening Grigas nabbed his first career Coors Light Pole Award. The second-year driver turned in a time of 18.751 seconds (119.994). He ended up 21st, one lap down. There were 38 Modifieds on hand. A year ago the Modifieds were 10 stronger. The competition was top shelf but competitors were not happy with the format. Despite the fact that the purse for the event was reduced admission prices remained unchanged. Pit area population was down as was the grandstand.

Among those spotted at Thompson were driving legends Carl Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary, George Savory and Billy Harman. Despite being crippled up by racing related back injuries the Bugman still has his sense of humor and quick wit. Cleary, the eldest of the group is in the best of health and shape as is Harman who is now an accomplished golfer. Savory is the youngest of the bunch and enjoying his retirement by bankrolling his son’s racing efforts.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make its next stop at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New England 100 this coming Saturday, June 28.

Like their big brothers at Thompson the True Value Modified Series at Waterford turned into a wreck fest. The 100-lap event took a little more than 2 hours to complete. A long delay resulted when extensive repairs had to be made to the tracks Armco barrier. Twelve of the 25 cars that started the event were running at the finish. Les Hinkley was the winner. Former Speedbowl regulars Chris Pasteryak and Mike Holdridge, Kirk Alexander, and Vin Annarummo rounded out the top-5. Holdridge was the early leader before being passed by Les Hinckley, Ted Christopher, and Pasteryak. Christopher was later issued the black flag for a smoking motor and retired from the event. Coming out on-top in several restarts, Hinckley repeatedly resisted the charges of Dwight Jarvis, the latter retiring after contacting the wall on lap-70, the victim of a flat right-front. With Pasteryak and Holdridge in-tow, Hinckley lengthened his lead in the final stages of the event, winning by a comfortable margin.

The True Value Modifieds go up country to Maine for an event this Saturday at the Wiscasset Raceway.

The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program ran under the features only format. Todd Ceravolo of Gales Ferry, CT, took top honors in a tremendous Sunoco Modified war. Sixteen-year-old Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA, scored his second straight win in the Pro Stock division. Tim Sullivan of S. Windsor followed suit with consecutive wins in the TIS Modifieds. Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA, continued his domination of the Late Model division with his third win of the short season. Mike Romano of Glendale, RI, in Mini Stocks and Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA, in the Limited Sportsman division also scored victories during Charter Communications’ presentation of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

Ceravolo became the fourth different winner in four weeks of Whelen All-American Series racing at the Speedway in 2008. Ceravolo took command of the 30-lap main event from the drop of the green flag. Over the final five laps, Ceravolo had his hands full with Keith Rocco. Woody Pitkat had reeled in Kerry Malone making a race for third as well. In the end, Ceravolo held on for the victory over Rocco, who slid through turn four coming to the checkered flag making a valiant effort. Malone turned back the advances of Pitkat. Cates rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway ushered in the summer season with fireworks in the air and on the track with the 8th annual Summer Blast-Off Presented by Town Fair Tire NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. The big winners of the evening were Keith Rocco in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Dillon Moltz in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Bill Davis in the Limited Late Model feature, and Scott Roy in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw Keith Rocco out duel Ted Christopher to pick up his first feature win of the 2008 season. Doug Coby took the lead at the green and held the lead until he spun on lap-7, which gave the lead to Woody Pitkat. Pitkat held the race lead until lap-19 when Rocco outpowered Pitkat on a restart. Rocco stayed out front until lap-25 when Ted Christopher moved to the front. Christopher held the lead until contact from Jeff Malave sent him spinning on lap-28. Malave was black flagged, which put Rocco back out front. Christopher charged his way back through the pack, but couldn't find a way around Rocco. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Christopher was Jimmy Blewett, Tom Bolles, and Curt Brainard.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. 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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