Tuesday June 2, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first three, of 14 events, has gone back on “Spring Break” until June 27 when the ground pounders travel to Loudon, NH.

Ted Christopher, with wins at Thompson’s Ice Breaker and Stafford’s Spring Sizzler leads Todd Szegedy by 40 points. Jimmy Blewett, who won the recent TSI Harley 100 at Stafford, trails Szegedy my a mere two points. Mike Stefanik and Ryan Preece round out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Donny Lia, Woody Pitkat, Ron Silk, Ed Flemke Jr and Eric Beers.

The Thompson Speedway fell victim to the elements. A persistent drizzle and the forecast of heavier showers caused the management of the Thompson International Speedway to cancel the Thursday Night Thompson Thunder race program for Thursday, May 28th. Track management chose to make the call early so that race teams and fans could make changes in their plans for the day. The track was to play host to residents of Thompson as a way of saying thank you to its friends and neighbors. The opportunity for Thompson residents to be guests of the track will now be held next week, June 4th. Keith Rocco leads the Sunoco Modified point standings by 26 points over Rowan Pennick. In three events, Rocco has won two and Todd Ceravolo, one. Pennick holds a slim two point lead over Ceravolo and Woody Pitkat who are tied for the third spot. Rounding out the top five is Bert Marvin. Sixth through tenth are Jimmy Blewett, Tim Sullivan, Josh Sylvester, Tom Cravenho and Eric Goodale. Norm Wrenn is two for two in Super Late Model competition. He holds an eight-point lead over Derek Ramstrom. Les Rose Jr, George Bessette and Mike O’Sullivan round out the top five. Other point leaders are Jeff Zuidema in the Late Models, Eric Bourgeous in the Mini Stocks, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman and Brian Sullivan in the Thompson Modifieds.

Guaranteed Builders, Inc. (GBI) has joined with Thompson International Speedway to provide additional money to the track’s Mini Stock division. The Douglas, MA based builder will present an additional $100.00 to the Mini Stock division winner on ten selected race dates during the 2009 racing season. Guaranteed Builders, Inc. has been constructing modular homes, garages, additions and more for 35 years. Their services include every aspect of construction from engineering and building permit allowances, complete excavation to the completed project. With GBI, a homeowner will have the luxury of being able to deal with just one company to complete their entire home improvement project. A model building is set up on the midway at Thompson so that people can see, first hand, the quality construction and the fit and finish of a GBI building. No project is too big or too small for GBI.

The company offers a great look at all of their products and services on the GBI web site. Located in central Massachusetts, GBI is the perfect choice for that addition, garage, in-law apartment, breezeway and more. GBI is proud to have the largest display of modular homes in New England. The may be seen at the company’s location at 138 Main Street (Route 16) in Douglas, MA where they are open seven days a week.

The Stafford Motor Speedway also fell victim to rain. Last Friday’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program at Stafford Speedway was cancelled due to rain. Stafford returns to racing this coming Friday night, June 5th with the 36th Annual Coors Light SK Modified® 100. The CARQUEST Dealer Night event has been rescheduled to Friday night, June 19th.

Heading into the Coors Light SK Modified 100, variety has been the theme of the 2009 SK Modified season at SMS with 4 different winners in the first 4 events of the 2009 season. Richie Pallai, Jr., Jeff Malave, Keith Rocco, and Ted Christopher have all driven to CARQUEST Victory Lane this season.

The point standings are extremely close, with the top-10 drivers separated by 46 points. Ted Christopher currently leads the standings by 14 points over Jeff Malave. Two rookies, Matt Gallo and Mark Bakaj along with Woody Pitkat round out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Curt Brainard, Frank Ruocco, Wade Mattesen, Brad Hietala and Keith Rocco. Ryan Posocco currently leads the Late Model Standings, Albert Saunders, the Dare Stocks, Ted Cain, the SK Lights and Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Models.

The Waterford Speedbowl took advantage of good weather and the fact that Thompson and Stafford rained out as the shoreline oval enjoyed a large crowd that was on hand for the Waterford Nationals. Ron Yuhas Jr took the win in a caution filled SK-150, but mastered every restart thrown his way to win the $5,000 top prize for the first time in his Speedbowl career.

The Budweiser Modified Nationals SK-150 took the green with Frank Ruocco and Jeff Paul leading the star-studded 26-car field to green. The pair spent the first five laps side-by-side with Paul inching his way to the lead when caution waved for debris on lap five. Yuhas made his presence felt early, moving to second on the restart. The outside lane was working for Doug Coby who had advanced to the top three by lap 26 from his eighth starting spot. Yuhas would take the lead from Paul in the outside lane on lap 32 following a restart. Cautions in the early portions of the event prevented the field from settling in and took their toll on the second half of the pack. The running order as the race approached halfway for a lap 73 restart was Yuhas, Paul, Keith Rocco, Coby, Tyler Chadwick, Ted Christopher - who started the event deep in the field, Rob Janovic Jr., Diego Monahan, Mark Bakaj, and Dennis Gada - who was recovering from an early race incident and pit stop.

Ron Yuhas, Jr. walked away $5000 richer after winning the Budweiser Modified Nationals at the Waterford Speedbowl. (Keith Cyr Photo)

Cautions continued to mount, preventing the field from getting into any established rhythm. Yuhas, a seasoned Speedbowl Modified competitor, would prove up to the challenge of every restart. The top-five positions swapped over the restarts, with Christopher moving to fourth on lap 90 with his eyes set on pressuring the top three of Yuhas, Rocco, and Coby. Christopher found trouble on lap 100 however, when overheating forced him to retire from the event, finishing in 19th spot.

The race would finally settle in to an extended run with Dennis Gada, the seven-time Speedbowl champion and defending 150 race winner, advancing to fourth looking poised to become a factor in the final third of the event. Coby worked his way outside Rocco and into second on lap 114, while Gada duplicated the move and completed the pass on Rocco for third on lap 118. In the meantime, Yuhas had opened up a commanding straightaway lead during green flag conditions leaving Coby and Gada to try and run him down.

The event’s final caution waved with just nine laps remaining when Wendell Dailey could not save his car after getting loose off turn four, spinning into the fronstretch and erasing Yuhas’ advantage. The restart would pit Coby, a self-proclaimed “big fan” of the Speedbowl’s capable outside groove against Yuhas, hungry for his first triumph in the 150 after several starts in the race. Yuhas again powered out to a car length lead by turn one on the restart, eliminating any chance for Coby to utilize the outside and challenge. Yuhas went on to the win by a car length. Rocco rebounded on the final restart to finish third. Gada recovered from an early race incident that damaged his front end, pitted for adjustments, and finished solidly in fourth. Tyler Chadwick ran with the leaders all night and ended up fifth.

With the win, Yuhas becomes the first SK Modified® driver in Speedbowl history to win each of the ‘Bowl’s Triple Crown events in their career – the Budweiser Modified Nationals, Pepsi 300, and Finale extra distance events. He had previously won two Pepsi 300’s and three Finale 100-lappers. Yuhas is now one win away from moving into the top five in career wins in the division, and has reached 20 wins.

The True Value Modified Series returns to action this Friday night June 5, when New England’s premier modified touring division visits Twin State Speedway, Claremont, NH., for the running of the “Granite State Harley- Davidson 100.” The feature race will be a 100 lap green flag shootout for the popular ground pounding Modifieds.

The event, sponsored by the Lebanon, NH., motorcycle dealership, is the first of two TVMRS events at Twin State this year and the fourth race on the series 15 race schedule for 2009.

In TV land this week, NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen at 6:30pm on Tuesday and Wednesday, 5:oopm on Thursday and 7:30pm on Friday. This weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday at 4:30pm with highlights of the Feb 9 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series from the East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL. Wednesday’s viewing begins at noon with a replay of last week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400 that was held in Dover, DE. The April 6 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event at the Golden Isles Speedway in Brunswick, GA follows at 4:30. Thursday’s action on Speed starts at noon with the 2006 Pocono 500 that was held at the Pocono Raceway. The May 30 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series East event that ran in South Boston, VA follows at 3:00pm. At 4:30 the April 12th it’s the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series from the KC Raceway in Chillicothe, OH. Speed goes live at noon on Friday with Sprint Cup practice from the Pocono Raceway. At 3:00 NASCAR Live previews Sprint Cup qualifying which begins at 3:30pm. At 6:00pm the action switches to espn2 for NASCAR Nationwide Series practice at the Nashville Superspeedway in Tennessee. The Speed channel has the 25th NASCAR All Star Reunion at 6:30pm. Trackside (NASCAR) at the Pocono Raceway follows at 7:30pm. At 8:30 Speed goes live in Fort Worth, Texas for the pre-race show that will lead to a 9:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series WinStar World Casino 400. The Speed Channel will replay this event at 2:00am on Saturday morning. Speed travels to the Pocono Raceway at 10:00am on Saturday for 2-1/2 hours of Sprint Cup practice. Trackside (NASCAR) at the Pocono Raceway follows at 12:30pm. Espn2 presents Nationwide Series qualifying at 3:00pm from the Nashville Suprspeedway. At 4:00pm Speed goes live at Pocono for the ARCA RE/MAX Series Pocono 200. At 7:00pm the action switches back to espn2 at Nashville for the pre-race show that will lead to a 7:45 start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300. This event will be repeated at 1:30 am on Sunday morning. Sundays actual viewing begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. At 10:30 on Speed NASCAR Now begins a two hour preview of the upcoming Pocono 500. At 12:30pm the action moves to TNT for NASCAR on TNT Live!, Action on TNT continues at 1:30 with the pre-race show that leads in to a 2:15 start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pocono 500 at the Pocono Raceway, The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene two of the three speedway stocks had positive endings for the wek. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 2.34 to 24.79. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.54 to 15.30 while Dover Downs dropped 0.03 to 1.57. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.01 to 5.15 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 3.05 to 30.43. Tire supplier Goodyear finished the week where they started, at 11.45. Car dealers Ford and Toyota had fairly good weeks while General Motors appears to be headed for bankruptcy as they lost 33% of their value as they dropped below a dollar to 0.68. Ford went up 0.49 to 5.75 while Toyota jumped 2.83 to 80.15. With the exception of Target Department Stores which dropped 1.44 to 39.30 the NASCAR team sponsors had a fairly good week. Dupont went up 0.70 to 28.47 and Coca-Cola jumped up 1.21 to 48.78. After three negative weeks Aarons Rentals jumped 3.34 to close out the week at 32.57.

In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.30 to 23.16 while Lowes dropped 0.36 to 19.01.

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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