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Tuesday June 3, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

After a one week delay because of rain the Thompson Speedway began their series of Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) racing programs. Under warm, sunny skies, 132 cars including 25 Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds were on hand. As they are noted for, the Thompson management ran true to form as the entire program was run in an efficient manner with fans in their cars and on the way home by 9:30pm . Despite soaring fuel prices the Thursday night crowd was fairly good. The new Musco Lighting System was very impressive making for a daylight type atmosphere.
In the Sunoco Modifieds, Woody Pitkat wasted little time as he jumped from his third starting position in the 30-lap feature and took the lead shortly after completing the opening lap. Pitkat had a lot of heat on his rear bumper from Keith Rocco but held fast as he took the opening night win. Rocco settled for second and was followed by Kerry Malone, Bert Marvin and Bob Grigas III. Tommy Cravenho. Josh Sylvester, Todd Ceravolo, Harry Rheaume and Josh Steeves, rounded out the top ten. Among the missing was Jimmy Blewett who is on the sidelines with a broken wrist.

For the second year in a row, Larry Barnett took the win in the Limited Sportsman divisionís marquee 50-lapper. Veteran Fred Astle, Jr cleaned house in the Pro Stocks while Jeff Zuidema made it two in a row in Late Model action. Rick Blanchard was the Mini Stock winner with R.J. Marcotte taking the victory in the TIS Modifieds.

Racing continues this Thursday with an action-packed night of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of an epic battle for SK Modified supremacy between Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning. Christopher, who was hoping to annex his 100th career win was forced to settle for second as Gunning won his 47th feature at the Connecticut oval.

Richie Pallai, Jr. led the first lap before giving way to Eric Berndt, who held the lead until lap-7 when Todd Owen took over the top spot. Owen held the lead until lap-16 when he and Berndt made contact on a restart that saw both cars spin, which handed the race lead over to Gunning. Once the race went back to green after several lap-16 restart situations, Gunning and Kenny Horton began to pull away from the field. Christopher, who had earlier been black flagged for rough riding, was back into the top-5 and was running the top-2 cars down lap by lap. Christopher took second from Horton on lap-30 and set his sights on Gunning for the final 10-laps. Several times Christopher nearly had a pass made, but couldn't complete a pass. The two cars made contact in turn 2 on lap-37, but heady driving by both competitors kept the action going. Christopher reeled Gunning in for one last try at victory, but Gunning was too strong to be overtaken. Horton finished third behind Gunning and Christopher, with Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5.

Ryan Posocco extended his record for career Late Model victories with his 29th career feature win in the Late Model feature event, Mark Bakaj took down his first career victory in the SK Light Modified feature, Rob Dow was the winner of the first of two Limited Late Model feature events, while Andrew Durand took the victory in the regularly scheduled Limited Late Model feature event, and Dan Flannery took down the DARE Stock feature event victory.

The Waterford Speedbowl ended up a victim of thunderstorms that hammered southeastern Connecticut late Saturday evening. Defending champion Bruce Thomas Jr. won the rain-shortened Late Model main event. Other feature winners were Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Kevin Iannarelli (Pro-4 Modifieds). Starting from the pole, Thomas drove into the lead immediately and was never seriously challenged. Behind him, the trio of Ed Reed Jr., Tim Jordan, and Ron Yuhas Jr. battled, with Reed claiming the runner-up spot. The event was red-checkered at lap-19 due to severe weather conditions entering the area. Completing the top-5 was Jordan, Yuhas, and Joe Curioso III.. Thomasí win put him in the point lead by a mere four points.
 
In the Mini Stock 20-lap feature, pole sitter Chris Williams led until passed by Phil Evans with twelve laps remaining. Ken Cassidy Jr. slipped by Evans on a restart at the halfway point, going on to win by several lengths. Randy Churchill, Williams, and Mark Panaroni completed the top-5. The first win of 2008 for the defending champion, the event was a qualifier for the Four Cylinder Nationals to be held at Maine ís Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on June 27.
 
Taking the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature was Kevin Iannarelli of Maynard , Mass. Starting mid-pack he quickly worked his way to the front, winning by a wide margin. Following was 2008 Bud Nationals winner Norm Wrenn, Bob Richard Jr., Brian Vincent, and George Sherman. Sixth through tenth were Cory Cleary, Phil Laujier,. Tyler Andersen,. Dan Merservey and Robin Berghman, Berghman is the wife of chassis builder and Modified driver David Berghman as well as the daughter-in-law of three time NASCAR National Modified Champion and Mrs Carl Bugsy Stevens. Cory Cleary is the grandson of Modified great Leo Cleary.

Daniel Bisignano notched the Legends Young Lions Event.

The True Value Modified Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series are enjoying their second ďSpring Break of the season. The True Value Series resumes a week from this coming Saturday, June 14th at the Seekonk Speedway in Seekonk , MA . The Whelen Modifieds resume their season on Thursday night, June 19th at the Thompson Speedway.

David Pinkham is the current point leader in the TVMS. Second is Kirk Alexander with Chris Pasteryak, third. Rounding out the top five is Mike Holdredge and Dwight Jarvis. Chuck Hossfeld is currently atop the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Ted Christopher sits in second spot and is followed by Todd Szegedy, James Civali and Rowan Pennick.

In TV land this week on the Speed Channel viewing action begins on Thursday at noon with a replay of last Sundayís NASCAR Sprint Cup Best Buy 400 that was run at the Dover Downs Intl. Speedway. Speed goes live on Friday at noon with NASCAR Sprint Cup practice from the Pocono Raceway. NASCAR Live from Pocono follows at 1:30 . Sprint Cup qualifying at Pocono on Speed begins at 3:30pm . At 6:00pm the action moves to ESPN2 for NASCAR Nationwide Series practice from Nashville , TN. At 8:00pm the action moves to the Texas Motor Speedway for the pre-race show for the Craftsman Truck Series Samís Town 400 that is scheduled to go green at 9:00pm . Speed wraps up the day at 11:30pm with a 60 minute segment of Trackside at Pocono Raceway. Saturdayís viewing gets underway at 10:00am with NASCAR Sprint Cup practice from Pocono Raceway. At 3:00pm ESPN2 goes live with NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying from Nashville . Sprint Cup final practice from Pocono follows on Speed at 5:30pm . At 7:00pm will be the pre-race program for the Federated Auto Parts 300 at the Nashville Superspeedway that is scheduled to go green at 7:30pm . Following the Nationwide event Speed will provide coverage of the IRL IndyCar Series Bombardier Learjet 550k at the Texas Motor Speedway. Sundayís viewing begins at 10:30am with a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay which will preview the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway. At 12:30 the action switches to TNT for a 90 minute tune-up for the Pocono 500 which gets the green at 2:00pm . Also on Sunday afternoon at 2:00pm on Speed will be the World of Outlaws May 16th event at the Williams Grove Speedway in PA. The Speed Report on Speed at 7:00pm followed by NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 will round out the weekendís racing. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway stocks had a positive ending. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.96 to 44.38, Speedway Motorsports went up 0.50 to 25.49 and Dover Downs went up 0.20 to 6.22. NASCAR Cup series sponsor Sprint drove up 0.68 to 9.36. Second tier sponsor Nationwide also had a positive week as they went up 0.03 to 51.03. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.18 to 44.47 while NASCAR Tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.12 to 25.41. Coca-Cola dropped 1.94 to 51.72 while Dupont went up 0.29 to 47.81. Target Stores went up 1.32 to 53.36 while Aaron;s Rentals dropped 0.23 to 22.39. Home Improvement sponsors also had a positive ending. Home Depot went up 0.59 to 27.36 and Lowes went up 0.70 to 24.00. The parcel carriers had a good recovery from a devastating week. Fedex went up 4.88 to 91.71 and UPS went up 4.00 to 71.02. For the fourth week in a row the World Racing Group (DIRT) dropped, this time down 0.03 to 0.14.

Thatís it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


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

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