Tuesday June 1, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ended its "Spring Break" last Friday when they returned to action at the Stafford Motor Speedway for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. The event carried a purse of $76,476. There were 33 Modifieds on hand for the 31 starting spots.

Bobby Santos edged Jimmy Blewett in a dramatic two-lap dash to the finish to win the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. Santos and Blewett battled back-and-forth throughout the late stages of the event, which was extended with two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish due to late-race cautions.

After Santos jumped the final restart on lap 135, he was ordered to let Blewett pull even at the line. Blewett nipped Santos as they took the white flag, but Santos was able to battle back to capture his second win of the season and the third of his career. Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece and Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Completing the top 10 were Eric Berndt, Mike Stefanik, Erick Rudolph, George Brunnhoelzl III and Andy Seuss.

Santos won his third pole in three attempts during qualifying earlier in the day and following the redraw started the race on the outside of the front row. Eric Berndt was successful in battling Santos for the early lead and paced the field for the majority of the race. Berndt had extended his lead to 2.5 seconds by lap 90, but he lost the top spot when he faltered on a lap 108 restart, giving the lead to Chuck Hossfeld. When Hossfeld was spun by Blewett a few laps later, however, Santos took advantage to gain the lead. Santos then had to contend with Blewett through the final stages of the race.

There were seven cautions for 35 laps. Seventeen of the 31 starters finished on the lead lap. For his efforts Santos received $6600. Blewett earned $2900 while Szegedy received $2500.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will next head to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway for the Made In America Whelen 200 this coming Sunday, June 6. This event is scheduled to be shown by the Speed Channel on a taped delayed basis. Day and time are up in the air at this time.

The Modified Racing Series ran a double header last week as they held events at the Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, NY and Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT.
In a wild last lap finish, Les Hinckley unofficially won the 100 lap Modified Racing Series feature at the Airborne Speedway on Saturday night. Hinckley, from his pole starting position led the first 74 laps, setting a torrid pace holding off the constant threats of Todd Annarummo, and defending series champion, Jon McKennedy. Unofficially the win by Hinckley is his 12th MRS victory. Rowan Pennink, who started 15th in the 25-car field, passed Hinckley on lap 75 and held the top spot, resulting in Hinckley chasing the new leader. Hinckley and Dwight Jarvis pursued Pennink until lap 99, when Hinckley and Pennink made contact racing to the checkered flag resulting in a violent crash at the start-finish line. Both cars came to a halt against the first turn safety barrier, neither driver was injured. Jarvis settled for third followed by Carl Pasteryak and Kenny Barry. The race in front of a near capacity crowd saw the top 11 drivers finish on the lead lap.

The second Modified Series event of the weekend saw 20 year old Stephen Masse captured his second consecutive Memorial Day Classic 100 at the famed Thunder Road International Speedbowl Sunday, May 30th Starting fifth in a 24-car field, Masse moved to second by lap nine and then took over the lead from early race leader Todd Annarummo, on lap 19. Despite 11-caution periods that slowed the race, Masse opened up sizable leads, several times by large margins, but was never headed. Rob Goodenough, who started the race in seventh position, finished in the runner up spot followed by Ken Barry, Kirk Alexander, and 17 year old Norwich (CT) Free Academy student, Max Zachem. At one point in the race Zachem was joined in the top five by fellow high schooler Joey Jarvis. Both drivers will graduate from high school in June. Sixth through tenth was Les Hinckley, Joey Jarvis, Charlie Pasteryak, Dwight Jarvis and Eddie Spiers. Hinckley was also the recipient of a $400 bonus posted by motorsports columnist, Kevin Rice of Area Auto Racing News for the best average between finish the two races.

The Modified Racing Series will next appear at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday June, 12.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway Keith Rocco continued his winning ways by taking his second consecutive and third overall victory of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Woody Pitkat picked up his second win of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Ted Cain picked up his second win of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Michael Wray was a first time career winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande became the first DARE Stock feature repeat winner of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature with a last lap pass for the win.

The Waterford Speedbowl took on a new face last week as several truck loads of ground up asphalt was dumped and leveled on the parking area and access road to the shoreline oval. Once the summer heat beats on it a bit the stuff will harden up and will keep some of the dust down.

Keith Rocco, who won at Thompson and at Stafford was looking to score a grand-slam last weekend, ended up settling for a sixth as Justin Gaydosh pick up his first victory of the year in the 35-lap SK Modified event. Vin Esposito won the 30-lap Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, securing his first win of the year. Al Stone III took his second win of the season in the 25-lap Street Stock feature, while Sean Caron also became a two-time winner after taking the 25-lap Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock checkered flag.
The SK Modified® feature began with Gaydosh setting the early pace of the race with Joe Perry behind in second place. Diego Monahan was third, while a battle for fourth broke out between Mark Bakaj, Shawn Solomito and Rob Janovic Jr. Bakaj won that battle, bringing Janovic with him to make up the top five in the early going. Further back Ron Yuhas Jr., Keith Rocco and Tyler Chadwick were battling in an effort to enter the top ten. After Rocco had just edged ahead to the inside of Yuhas he tangled with Tom Abele Jr. on the front stretch on lap nine, spinning into turn one. Rocco resumed from the rear after pitting for repairs.

Gaydosh resumed his lead on the restart. Janovic went from fifth to third, taking that spot away from Monahan on lap 13. That opened the door for Kyle James and Tyler Chadwick to enter the top five and race their way past Monahan. Yuhas was hot on their tails when the second caution waved later that lap for Jeff Gallup who had spun in turn four.

Gaydosh got the jump when the green flag returned, bringing Janovic to second past Perry as the race reached halfway. The racing throughout the top ten cars was tremendous over the next several laps. Chadwick, last week’s winner Jeff Paul, Yuhas and Jeff Pearl all found their way by James who was slipping back in the outside lane by lap 18. Paul wasn’t content and jumped out of line looking to the outside lane to advance his position further. He would get caught in the high groove, enabling Yuhas and Pearl to get by his inside on lap 19.

Just ahead of that action, Chadwick challenged and got by Perry for third that same lap. Yuhas and Pearl followed and got by Perry as well. They made up the new top five behind Gaydosh, Janovic and Chadwick as the race reached lap 20. Pearl wasn’t done and jumped to the outside of Yuhas, taking over fourth place on lap 22. The jockeying for position among that pack was halted when Bakaj spun on the backstretch working lap 25, setting up the final restart.
Gaydosh trumped the restart again with Janovic tucking in behind. Janovic tried several moves on the leader, looking high and low but unable to find the one needed to pull alongside. Further back, Yuhas was inside Pearl trying to reclaim fourth with five laps remaining. Rocco was on their bumpers after charging back through the field.

Janovic finally got a wheel outside Gaydosh with three laps to go, racing to pull even down the backstretch. Gaydosh held off the challenge momentarily but slipped off turn four headed to the white flag, allowing Janovic one last opportunity. Janovic could not make an outside move into turn one stick and Gaydosh went on to a highly entertaining victory. Chadwick was third at the finish, while Pearl nipped Yuhas for fourth. Rocco finished in sixth but maintained his points lead.

Mike Lichty held off Chris Perley to win the wreck-marred 50-lap ISMA SuperModified feature.

The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series saw Keith Rocco return to victory lane in the Sunoco Modifieds. Rocco, who has his sights set on the NASCAR National Title, ran a determined race after a last lap defeat on opening night at the hands of Ted Christopher. Shawn Monahan took a convincing win in the annual 50-lap extra distance event for the Limited Sportsman division. Jim Banfield broke Derik Randstroms stranglehold on victory lane as he wired the field to score a hard-fought victory in the Super Late Models. Rick Gentes took top honors in a wild Late Model event while Cam “Keith” McDermott was victorious in the TIS Modifieds. Randy Churchill, Jr was awarded the victory in the Mini Stocks following post-race technical inspection.

In the Sunoco Modified feature Danny Cates took over the top spot from pole sitter Tim Sullivan to set the pace in the early going of the main event. The action got hot-and-heavy immediately. Rocco dove low on Christopher and Ronnie Silk to make it three-wide in the opening laps. Silk backed out and Rocco was able to advance two positions in turn one. Rocco easily drove past Sullivan and into the second spot. Rocco immediately ran down Cates. Rocco looked low on Cates on successive laps; to no avail. Cates and Rocco ran nose to tail while Sullivan had his hand full with Christopher. All battles slowed when the first caution flew when the #5 of Ronnie Silk came to rest on the backstretch. On the restart, Cates was able to maintain his lead. Rocco continued his assault of the leader. Christopher lined up third followed by Pennink.

Rocco dove low in turn three but he could not make the pass stick sliding up the track; allowing Cates to go low to retain his lead. A repeat of the activities a lap later had a much different outcome for Cates. Rocco again dove low in turn three. Cates appeared to be anticipating a slide job by Rocco and checked up in an attempt to do the double crossover move once again. Christopher, however, was in hot pursuit and collected Cates; sending his #24 head-on into the outside wall in turn four. On the restart, Rocco was able to gain the advantage. Rowan Pennink took chase in second followed by Christopher, Woody Pitkat and Sullivan. At halfway, Rocco continued to lead but Pennink was looking strong in second. The lead duo was beginning to stretch their advantage over Christopher. The remainder of the field had gotten strung out over the distance of the 5/8-th mile. With ten to go Rocco distanced himself by a few car lengths over Pennink while Christopher had once again joined the trio. With five laps to go, Pennink turned up the wick once again to reel in Rocco. With only a handful of laps remaining Rocco, Pennink and Christopher ran nose-to-tail. Feeling the pressure, Rocco again opened up a two car-length advantage of Pennink, who had fallen into the clutches of Christopher. Rocco streaked under the checkers for his second win of the season at Thompson followed by Pennink, and Christopher. Pitkat and Sullivan rounded out the top-five.

This coming Thursday night will see the first of four Tour-Type modified races to be held this season at Thompson. The short distance, flat-out racing event, is reminiscent of the “golden era” of New England Modified competition during the 1960s and ‘70s. Competitors from all over the northeast are expected to be part of these special events and fans have been talking about these races ever since they were announced last winter. Rules for the event make it possible for just about every Tour-Type Modified race car to compete.

More than two thousand dollars have been added to the June 3rd Tour-Type Modified race at Thompson. Each competitor will all have an equal chance to pick up some of the additional money due to the unique way this program will work.

Brad LaFontaine, of Northeast Race Cars and Parts, organized the effort to raise the additional money and has asked that it be distributed to competitors through random drawings of all competing car numbers. Each lap will be worth at least $50.00 in cash or gift cards with lap four offering a $100.00 fuel gift card. In addition, a special $50.00 gift card will be given to a competitor who will be selected by officials at the conclusion of the event.

Qualifying races and, if necessary, a consolation race will determine those who make the starting lineup. It will bring back memories of the “good old days” to many and offer a fresh concept in Modified racing to newer fans. The Tour-Type Modifieds will be joined by Thompson’s own Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Thompson Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks.

Grandstands will open at 4 P M and qualifying races are slated for a 6 P M start. The event is family priced at only $20.00 for adults and juniors are priced at just $5.00. More information and the complete race day schedule is available on the Thompson web site

The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC ran a 100 lapper last Saturday night in front of an absolutely huge crowd. NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series driver James Civali was a surprise entry in the Roger Hill No. 79. Civali got to see first hand why they call the North Carolina oval "The MadHouse". Civali survived to finish fourth while Burt Myers took his 43rd career win. Myers, who drew the pole position, endured nine restarts before taking the win. Defending Champion Tim Brown was the fastest in qualifying for the third time this season. He recorded a lap of 13.432 seconds (67 mph) on the flat quarter-mile track. But he drew the 14th starting spot. Brown finished 13th. Lee Jeffreys finished second and Jonathan Brown was third. Civali's intention was to get a "Heads-Up" on racing at the track as the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series will be racing there on Aug. 7.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Tom Rogers Jr. won his second consecutive NASCAR Modified feature event in a 35-lap event Saturday night after coming from a 14th starting position to do so. Rogers earned $1,450 for his 11th career NASCAR Whelen All-American Series triumph.

In TV land this weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday at 6:00pm with Race in 60: Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 that was run at Martinsville. At 7:30pm NASCAR Race Hub follows. At 10:00pm, another segment of Race in 60, the recent Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Wednesday's viewing begins at noon with a complete replay of last Sundays Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. At 6:00pm, another segment ofRace in 60, this time the recent NASCAR Sprint Cup Subway Fresh Fit 600 that was run at the Phoenix International Raceway. At 7:30 is the daily dose of NASCAR Race Hub. Thursday's viewing gets the green at noon with the NASCAR Nationwide Series Tech-Net Auto Service 300 that was run last Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed replays the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 that was run at the Pocono Raceway. At 5:00pm the action shifts to the Versus network for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt #01 that was run on Feb 4 at East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa, FL. At 6:00pm its back to Speed for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at the South Boston, VA Speedway. NASCAR Race Hub rounds out the day at 7:30pm. Friday's viewing begins at noon with Sprint Cup practice at Pocono. NASCAR Live at Pocono goes at 3:00pm. Sprint Cup qualifying follows at 3:30pm. At 6:30 Speed repeats their NASCAR Hall of Fame Biography of Dale Earnhardt, Trackside (NASCAR) at Pocono Raceway follows at 7:30pm. At 8:30pm Speed has the pre-race show for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series which will lead in to the 9:00pm start of the Winstar World Casino 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Saturdays viewing begins at 10:00am with a 2-1/2 hour Sprint Cup practice at the Pocono Raceway. At 4:00pm Speed will provide fla to flag coverage of the ARCA Racing Series Messina Wildlife Management Animal Stopper 200 at the Pocono Raceway. Among thoe who will be in competition is Dillon Moltz who won the Richard Petty Challenge. Moltz, from Waterford, Ct, is a standout Late Model competitor at the Stafford Motor Speedway. At 5:30 espn2 will carry Nationwide Series qualifying from Nashville, Tn. At 7:00pm espn2 has the pre-race show that will lead in to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Federated Auto Parts 300 at the Nashville Superspeedway in Nashville, TN. Also at 8:00 on the Versus Network is the IZOD Indycar Series Bombardier Learjet 550 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday’s viewing gets an early start with NASCAR in a Hurry on Speed at 9:00am. At 9:30 a 2 hour NASCAR RaceDay previews the Sprint Cup Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 at the Pocono Raceway. At noon the action shifts to TNT for the pre-race show that will lead to the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 at Pocono. Rounding out the day on the Speed Channel is 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 last week most stocks ended the week on a positive note. While Dover Downs entertainment closed the week with a no-change at 1.95 the other two speedway stocks had positive endings. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.41 to 27.89 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.34 to 14.58. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.72 to 5.13 while fuel supplier Sun Oil jumped 1.51 to 29.87 and Goodyear went up 0.57 to 11.90. The car makers were another story. Ford went up 0.47 while Toyota dropped 3.25 to 72.34 and General Motors dropped 0.04 to 0.52. The home improvement sector ended the week on a positive note. Home Depot went up 0.84 to 33.86 and Lowes went up 0.55 to 24.75. The major team sponsors had a good week with the exception of Coca-Cola, which dropped 1.84 to 49.76. Dupont went up 0.07 to 36.17 while Target Department Stores went up 0.18 to 54.53, Aarons Rentals went up 0.03 to 19.98 and Fedex went up 0.43 to 83.49.

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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