Tuesday June 22, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder Series resumed on a somewhat cool but exciting night. Ted Christopher won his third feature victory of the 2010 season at Thompson in exciting fashion. Mike O’Sullivan won a thriller in the Super Late Models. Brother Tommy O’Sullivan, took a commanding victory in the Late Models. Larry Barnett scored his first win of the season in Limited Sportsman action. Brian Sullivan returned to the TIS Modified division and returned to his winning ways while Steve Michalski wired the field to score the victory in the Mini Stocks.

Christopher scored an exciting win against his rival, Keith Rocco on Thursday Night in a thrilling Sunoco Modified main event. Kerry Malone was back in action in his family-owned #79 to lead the opening laps of the 30-lapper. Danny Cates, Ronnie Silk, Rocco and Christopher ran in the top-five. Sparks flew early between Christopher and Rocco with contact between the two on the opening lap.

Cates made a bid for the lead but had to settle back behind Malone. Cates would begin to backslide as he relinquished several spots early. Christopher was able to work his way past Cates and Silk. He made quick work of Malone to take over the lead on lap six. Rocco followed through to run in second. Silk and Pitkat were also able to get by Malone.

Up front, Christopher and Rocco ran nose to tail a distance ahead of Silk in third. Silk had his hands full with a charging Pitkat. Rocco tried the crossover move in turn four on lap 20 but he slid back up the track allowing Christopher to retain his lead. A single lap later Rocco used the outside groove to drive around Christopher for the top spot. In the lead, Rocco could not get away from Christopher. The two played cat-and-mouse as the laps were winding down.

An incident that involved John Catania, Wayne Arute and Dave Salzarulo cooled off the heated battle for the top spot. On the single-file restart, Rocco, Christopher, Pitkat, Silk, and Pennink lined-up inside the top-five.

Rocco looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the restart; gaining several car lengths on Christopher immediately. The #36 of Tim Sullivan ended up in the outside wall in turn two to bring out the caution; setting up another restart.

Rocco repeated the feat on the ensuing restart. On the backstretch TC got along side Rocco. They entered the corner side-by-side. Rocco drove Christopher nearly to the grass on the front stretch in defense of his lead. Ever-composed Christopher got along side Rocco again on the backstretch on the final lap. He edged ahead of Rocco entering turn three as Pitkat joined the fray. Christopher exited turn four with the lead running to his third win of the season. Pitkat was also able to get alongside Rocco. Pitkat won the drag race to the checkers to finish second. Rocco had to settle for the third spot over Silk and Pennink.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to Loudon, NH this coming weekend for the New England 100. This event is scheduled to be televised by the Speed Channel on a taped delayed basis. There is still no word as to when the recent Whelen Modified Tour Series at Martinsville will be televised.

The Modified Racing Series was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for the Town Fair Tire 75. A strong field of Modifieds led by Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Les Hinkley were on hand. Hinkley took the eventual win after Stefanik and Pennink tangled. Contact between then-leader Stefanik and Pennink on lap 56 sent the leader Stefanik spinning. Pennink was given the consolation flag for his involvement. Hinckley, who was running third, inherited the lead for the ensuing restart. Over the final 19 laps, Hinckley was able to get some distance over a heated battle between Christopher and Jon McKennedy. It was Hinkley’s third win of the season. Steve Masse finished fourth with Eric Goodale rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Dwight Jarvis, Richard Savory, Stefanik and Geoff Gernhard. Pennink, the last car on the lead lap, finished 17th.

The Modified Racing Series takes two weeks off before heading to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday, July 3.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway Keith Rocco picked up his second consecutive and fifth overall win of the 2010 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett got his first win of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Barrett, Jr. scored his second victory of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dave Yardley, III scored his first career victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood took his second win of 2010 in 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Rocco started 15th. Rounding out the top-5 following Rocco, Eric Berndt, and Chris Jones was Todd Owen and Jeff Baral.

The Waterford Speedbowl continues to be dominated by Keith Rocco. Rocco took the lead early in the race then ruled in several restarts to claim his sixth SK Modified® win of the year. Walt Hovey Jr. dominated the Street Stock race to collect his first win of the season, extending his lead in the championship points. Danny Field won his first Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race of the year in dominating fashion, while Allen Coates won the A.B. CDL Driver Training Center Truck race and etched his name further into the Speedbowl record books. Nicholas Sowa won the Bandolero race. Over $10,000 was raised for the Lupus Foundation of America when the event had concluded.

Rocco now has 14 wins as his season total. In addition to his six wins at Waterford and his five wins at Stafford the current NASCAR National Points contender has two wins at Thompson and one win at New Smyrna. The New Smyrna win does not count toward the NASCAR title.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC was the scene of a 100 lapper for the NASCAR Modifieds last Saturday night. Jason Myers, who is considered an underdog, took the lead from Lee Jeffreys on lap 15 and survived five restarts before recording the win. Tim Brown, with extreme overheating problems, finished second and Chris Fleming was third. John Smith and Jeffreys rounded out the top five. Point leader Burt Myers started 24th and finished sixth

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island a 50 lapper for the Modifieds provided some post race fireworks. Tom Rogers JR took the win. Shortly after taking the checker Rogers parked his car between turns three and four. He removed his driving suit and shoes and threw them over the fence where track officials were located. It had been rumored that he carried a traction control device in his suit or in his shoes.
Justin Bonsignore, who has been making a name for himself on the Whelen Modified Tour Series finished second with Chuck Steuer, third. Wayne Anderson, who is still recovering from a recent heart attack imported Jimmy Blewett for the night. Blewett finished fourth.

On Saturday, June 26TH at 2 P.M. The Rome(NY) Sports Hall of Fame and Museum will host an open house/ribbon cutting ceremony for the updated racing wing which features Richie Evans and Jerry Cook. Among the items that will be displayed is one of Evans' Pinto Modifieds, his pictures and a firesuit. There will also be memorabilia from Jerry Cook and his family

O Bruton Smith, owner of New Hampshire Motor Speedway told WMUR TV in New Hampshire on Thursday he will consider moving next year's summer race if Loudon's police chief doesn't cut the cost for providing safety details. The NHMS owner said that if he can't reach a compromise with the town on security costs, he may move next June's race from New Hampshire [like to maybe...Kentucky Speedway?]. "The dates are scheduled year to year with contracts with NASCAR," said Jerry Gappens, NHMS vice president. "There is the option of doing that. Let's hope it doesn't come to that option." Gappens said Loudon charges too much to organize security, and Loudon's police chief makes too much doing it. He said Chief Robert Fiske makes $50 per hour, amounting to almost $59,000 for covering the races over five years. NHMS is asking Loudon to reduce its price tag for June's upcoming race from $170,000 to $65,000. "No, we're not prepared to do that," said Loudon Selectman Roger Maxfield. "The answer is no, we won't." Maxfield said he thinks $170,000 to cover an influx of 100,000 people is reasonable, as is Fiske's hourly rate. "He's also in control of 80 full-time officers, so that's a large detail," Maxfield said. NHMS has suggested cutting 38 police officers from its camp grounds and replacing them with private security guards supported by a few officers. Fiske said that plan isn't in the best interest of public safety. "The crime is consistent with a city of that size," he said. Maxfield insinuated that those who go to Loudon for the races are a violent lot. "We have alleged rapes and assaults, let alone the DWIs." He said in a statement to the TV station.

In TV land this weeks viewing begins on NASCAR Race Hub on the Speed Channel airs at 7:00pm on Tuesday and at 7:30pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Race programming on Speed starts on Tuesday at 1:00pm with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Special DART Show Me 100 that was run at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, MO on May 28. At 6:00pm Speed has Race in 60 featuring the recent Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. At 10:00pm Race in 60 highlights last Sundays Sprint Cup Toyota/Save Mart 350, Infineon Raceway. Wednesday’s viewing on Speed starts at noon with a complete replay of last Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Replay: Toyota/Save Mart 350 that was run at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. At 6:00pm Race in 60 highlights the June 6 Sprint Cup Gillette Fusion ProGlide 500 that was run at the Pocono Raceway. On Thursday at noon, Speed replays last Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series The Bucyrus 200 that was run at Road America
in Elkhart Lake, WI. At 3:00pm Speed replays the 2007 Lenox Industrial Tools 300 that was run at Loudon. At 6:00pm the June 19 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event that was run at the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA will be shown.
Friday's action gets going at 10:30pm with a one hour practice session for the Nationwide Series at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. A 90 minute practice session for the Sprint Cup cars follows at 11:30pm. At 1:00pm NASCAR Live breaks the action for a half hour before a 90 minute practice session for the Nationwide Series. NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying follows at 3:00pm. At 5:00pm Speed begins a six hour session of coverage of a Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction at Costa Mesa, CA. Its simply amazing they have time for this but they don't have the time to show the recent Whelen Modified Tour event that was run in Martinsville, VA. Trackside at New Hampshire Intl. Raceway rounds out the day at 11:00pm. Saturday's action on the tube begins at 12:01am with taped delayed coverage of Sprint Cup qualifying from New Hampshire. Nationwide Series qualifying goes at 10:30am followed by Sprint Cup final practice at 11:30am. At 2:30pm the action moves to ESPN for a one hour pre-race show that will lead to the start of the Nationwide Series New England 200 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. While the races are on, Speed will embark on an eight hour marathon session of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction in California. The Nationwide Series New England 200 will be rerun at 1:00am on Sunday morning. At 10:00am Speed hosts a two hour RaceDay before turning over the reins to TNT at noon for their one hour pre-race show that will lead into the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at Loudon. 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 two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on the positive side. Dover Motorsports went up 0.05 to 1.95 while Speedway Motorsports went up 0.21 to 14.08. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.17 to 27.24. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.28 to 4.59 while fuel supplier Sun Oil jumped 4.30 to 35.01. Tire supplier Goodyear also had a good week as they went up 0.40 to 11.99. Two of the three car makers had positive endings. Ford went up 0.06 to 11.46 and Toyota went up 0.64 to 71.45. on the negative side was General Motors which dropped 0.03 to 0.46. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.28 to 31.94 while Lowes dropped 0.84 to 22.64. The team sponsors were again a mixed bag. Dupont went up 0.75 to 38.36 and Coca-Cola went up 0.05 to 50.37. Target Department Stores dropped 0.04 to 53.67 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.67 to 19.77 and Fedex dropped 0.93 to 78.70.

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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