Tuesday June 29, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed to Loudon, NH this past weekend for the New Hampshire 100. With a race purse of $166,513 it would be a shame to lose this event because local officials would not negotiate with track owner O. Bruton Smith over security costs. 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. In a somewhat related mater the Hartford Courant reported that the INDY cars will return to Loudon in 2011 on July 30-31. It had been mentioned that they would be joined by the Whelen Modified Tour Series.

With 38 Modifieds running against the time clock Ryan Newman earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the New Hampshire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with a lap of 29.663 mph (128.402) around the 1.058-mile oval. Bobby Santos will start on the outside of the front row after he posted a qualifying lap of 29.778 (127.907). Santos entered the weekend as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points leader after he became the first driver in Tour history to win three of the first four races. He finished second in the other race, and has three Coors Light Pole Awards.

Todd Szegedy qualified third at 29.867 (127.525). Erick Rudolph and Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Doug Coby was sixth, followed by Ron Silk, Ted Christopher, Rob Fuller and Jimmy Blewett.

Newman passed Ted Christopher in Turn 3 of the final lap and held off New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s winningest driver to earn his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory. Newman, a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular, made his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start for car owner and 2010 Daytona 500 winning crew chief Kevin Manion. Newman and Christopher put on a memorable show in the closing laps of the New England 100. They came to the white flag side by side, and after Christopher nosed into the lead on the backstretch, Newman used the outside to make the winning pass.

Newman's margin of victory was .125 seconds. Newman led three times for 28 laps. Christopher, who led six times for a race-high 40 laps. Ryan Preece followed across the line in third to tie his previous career-best finish in Loudon, while points leader Bobby Santos came home fourth. Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Ed Flemke Jr. was sixth, followed by James Civali, Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat and Eric Beers.

There were 21 cars on the lead lap at the finish. There were seven caution periods for 26 laps. Among those who has less than good results was Mike Sefanik who suffered heavy front end damage as a result of a wreck on lap three. There were 15 official lead changes between six drivers.

Despite a season-low finish, Santos distanced himself in the season standings. He now has 900 points through five races while Christopher moved into second with 771. Todd Szegedy is third with 758, while Mike Stefanik fell from second to fourth with 728.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the track Saturday, July 3 with its inaugural event at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn.

The Thompson International Speedway Thursday night Thunder series dodged a few thunder showers as they got to complete their race program. Features included the continuation of an event that was postponed back on June 3 after rains halted the program. In addition to the Tour-Type Modifieds, all six of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions were in competition.

In weekly racing action, Ted Christopher scored his fourth Sunoco Modified victory of the season. Derek Ramstrom, who just graduated from High School continued his winning ways in the Super Late Models; also scoring his fourth feature victory of ‘10. John Falconi turned his luck around this season with a commanding victory in the Late Model division. Falconi kept a family tradition alive at Thompson with his Late Model victory on Thursday night. Speedway announcer Russ Dowd pointed out that a member of the Falconi Family has posted at least one race win a season at Thompson for the last seven decades. After what has been a dismal start to the 2010 season, Falconi turned in a dominating performance to score the win for the family. Paul Coutu scored a convincing victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Keith McDermott was the winner in a controversial TIS Modified dash. Leo Defevers was tops in the Mini Stocks. The Super Late Models, Late Models and the Limited Sportsman division all treated the fans to caution-free main events.

Ronnie Silk was in the right place at the right time to earn the victory in the Town Fair Tire Tour-Type Modified Shootout. The crowd was on their feet for the double-file restart with five laps remaining. Woody Pitkat held the top spot with Mike Stefanik to his outside. On the backstretch, contact between Pitkat and Stefanik sent Pitkat into the outside wall. Pitkat’s crippled #98 was collected by Butch Perry as it sat in turn three. Stefanik was put to the rear of the field for his involvement.Silk found himself as the new leader with five laps to go. Christopher, Mechalides, Reed and Keith Rocco made up the top-five for the last dash to the finish. Silk got a great restart to lead his first competitive laps of the event. After falling back to third on the initial start, Christopher was able to get back by and into second. Reed ran a slight distance back in fourth. Over the final laps, Silk was able to extend his advantage over Christopher to take
down the win. Christopher came home second followed by Mechalides, Reed and Rocco.

The Sunoco Modified event turned into another barn burner. With ten lapsto go, Christopher was pressuring Keith Rocco for the lead. Christopher got a great run on lap 21 getting alongside Rocco in turn one and again in turn four. Each time, Christopher had to settle back in line on the straight-aways. On lap 23, Christopher was up for the challenge making the pass stick in turn one to lead lap 24. Once out front, Christopher was able to gain a car-length advantage over Rocco. Pitkat ran a distance back in third. Sullivan was an equal distance back in fourth. Over the final laps, Christopher was able to stretch the advantage over Rocco. It was the fourth victory of the season for Christopher. Rocco settled for second over Pitkat. Sullivan posted his best finish of the season in fourth. Quietly Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five.

The Modified Racing Series heads 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 made it three in a row as he raised his feature win total to 15. As it was at Thompson, one night previous, it was again the Keith and Teddy show but unlike it was at Thompson where Christopher won, Rocco prevailed. Woody Pitkat got win number four of 2010 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Gallo scored his second victory of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery won his fourth race of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Andrew Hayes picked up his first win of 2010 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event with six laps remaining in the SK Modified feature Frank Ruocco was in the lead with Christopher and Rocco on his bumper. Christopher, with Rocco in tow, shot by Ruocco on lap 37. Two laps later Christopher slipped enough for Rocco to pass on the inside and that's all she wrote! At the finish Ruocco had faded to fourth as Zach Sylvester moved into the third spot. Rounding out the top five was Woody Pitkat.

Rocco now has 15 wins as his season total. In addition to his six wins at Waterford and his six 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.

Among the upcoming events at Stafford is the very popular Extreme Tuesday scheduled for July 6. As in past years the ISMA SuperModifieds will be the headliner. Joining them will be the NEMA Midgets and the Pro-Four Modifieds. Tickets may be ordered online at Paddock passes are $45; adult general admission $30; reserved seating $32; kids 6-14 $5 and Kids under 5 (general admission) are admitted free.

The Waterford Speedbowl saw Jeff Pearl return to victory lane, his first win of the year in the 35-lap SK Modified® feature. Jeff Smith won his first career feature taking the 30-lap Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race. Defending Street Stock champion Brandon Plemons found the checkered flag for the first time of the year while Louis Bellisle was the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock winner. Anthony Flannery continued to tear up Legends Cars competition, taking his record 11th straight win in the division, a new Speedbowl record. Pearl claimed his first win of the season and 32nd of his career over Rob Janovic and Ron Yuhas in the podium finishing positions. Jeff Paul ended up fourth with Tom Abele fifth.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium, in Winston-Salem, NC was the scene of a Myers Brothers sweep. In twin 25 lap Modified action at the flat quarter mile oval known as the MadHouse Jason Myers won the opener while brother Burt won the night cap.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Dave Brigati started from the pole, and with his Whelen Southern Modified Tour Modified and led green to checker in the Modified feature

In TV land this weeks viewing begins on NASCAR Race Hub on the Speed Channel airs at 7:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday plus on Thursday at 8:00pm. Race programming on Speed starts on Tuesday at 6:00pm with Race in 60: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sprint Cup event that was run at the Infineon Raceway on June 20. Later in the evening, at 10:00pm Race in 60 highlights last weeks NASCAR Sprint Cup Lenox Industrial Tools 301 that was run at NHIS in Loudon. This program will repeat at 10:00am on Wednesday. At noon on Wednesday Speed will replay the complete Loudon Sprint Cup event. At 6:00pm Race in 60 will highlight the February 21 NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 that was run at Fontana, CA. Thursday's race viewing begins at noon with the June 26 NASCAR Nationwide Series event that was run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. At 3:00pm Speed will show the June 25th NASCAR K&N Pro Series East New England 125 that was run at Loudon. NASCAR Sprint Cup practice for the Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway follows at 4:00pm. At 5:30 the action shifts to espn2 for Nationwide Series final practice at Daytona. At 6:30 its the final practice for the Sprint Cup cars at Daytona. Friday's viewing starts at 1:00pm with Nationwide Series qualifying at Daytona. Following at 4:00pm on the Speed Channel is Sprint Cup qualifying from Daytona. Trackside (NASCAR) at Daytona takes over at 7:00pm. At 7:30pm the action moves to ESPN for a 30 minute pre-race show that will lead to the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona. The Nationwide event will be rerun at 2:00am on Saturday morning. Later in the morning, at 11:00am Speed moves to the road course at Daytona for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series Daytona 250. A two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay starting at 4:30pm and a one hour prerace show on TNT sets the stage for the 7:30pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona International Speedway, also on TNT. On Sunday ABC will provide live coverage, starting at 3:30pm of the IZOD Indycar Series Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen in Watkins Glen, NY. 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 had positive results. While the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.80 to 26.44, Speedway Motorsports went up 0.19 to 14.27 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.07 to 2.02. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.39 to 4.20 while fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 1.23 to 36.24 and tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.59 to 11.40. The car makers had a down week. Ford dropped 0.71 to 10.75, General Motors dropped 0.05 to 0.41 and Toyota dropped 1.45 to 70.00. The home improvement sector also produced negative results. Home Depot dropped 1.79 to 30.20 and Lowes dropped 1.31 to 21.33. The team sponsors were also part of the down turn. Dupont dropped 1.70 to 36.66, Coca-Cola dropped 1.82 to 48.55, Target Department Stores dropped 3.17 to 50.50, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.61 to 19.16 and Fedex dropped 2.74 to 75.96.

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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