Tuesday June 5, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Following the recent Stafford event the Whelen Modified Tour Series went on Spring Break for four weeks before heading to the Waterford Speedbowl on June 23. 1. Doug Coby currently leads Ron Silk by a mere five points. Ryan Preece sits in third with Jimmy Blewett and Justin Bonsignore rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Keith Rocco, Ted Christopher, Don Lia, Mike Stefanik and Todd Szegedy.

Thursday night Thunder began at the Thompson Speedway. The Speedway will run each and every Thursday night through August 30. Ted Christopher-Sunoco Modifieds, Tommy O’Sullivan-Late Models, and Jay Sundeen-Thompson Modifieds, dominated their divisions in Thompson International Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder by leading every lap of their features to claim the first TNTT victory of the season. Ed Puleo-Limited Sportsman and Jim Helger-Mini Stocks were also feature winners.

Ted Christopher held off a hard-charging Keith Rocco in the 30-lap SK Modified feature. John Catania and Shawn Thibeault brought the field back to green after an accident that collected Woody Pitkat and Andrew Charron stopped the action before the first lap was complete. Thibeault claimed the lead on the outside on the restart after running-side-by-side almost the entire first circuit, but it was Ted Christopher who officially led the lap after a turn four bid. Ryan Preece was coming up quick and moved into the second spot coming off turn two of lap three and used the inside lane to get alongside Christopher on lap four. Keith Rocco and Todd Ceravolo got in line behind Christopher and relegated Preece to the fourth spot. The four cars ran bumper to bumper until lap 10 when Preece took the outside groove to challenge Ceravolo for third. Preece fell back into line by lap 11 as Rocco looked for a way around Christopher. The action remained tight at the halfway mark with Christopher, Rocco, Ceravolo, and Preece still hooked at the bumpers. Rocco looked high and low for a way around Christopher, but the 13 machine held steady. The four cars began to lap the field by the 25th circuit as they set a torrid pace that could not be matched. At lap 28 Rocco slammed Christopher in turn one and almost lost control of his mount, Ceravolo shook things up by going low under Rocco for a battle that allowed Christopher to get some breathing room and take the checkered flag unchallenged. Ryan Preece did a sneaky on Ceravolo and stole the third spot at the finish. Ceravolo, and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. John Catania finished sixth with Dennis Perry, seventh. Perry drove one of the fleet of cars owned by Butch Perry and did a masterful job of running with the top dogs.

Christopher drove a car that hadn't run at Thompson in eight years. It was probably one of the cars built by Barry Kuhnel for Christopher when he raced for Jim Galante. Despite the fact that Christopher would end up second at Riverhead on Saturday night he said his racing at the Long Island Speedway has not been enjoyable. Too much slam-bang, bump and run plus too many delays in the racing program in general. As far as his victory at Thompson was concerned, Christopher commented "You got to know who you are racing with". Obviously alluding to the fact of the hard slam by Rocco in the closing moments.

The tale of the tape showed 17 Sunoco Modifieds including three SK Lites, 26 Limited Sportsman, 24 Mini Stocks, 7 Thompson Modifieds and 7 Late Models. The SK Lites ran with the Sunoco Modifieds and were paid $300-$200 and $100 respectively plus their finishing position. Ben Dodge stated that the format was similar to the "340" bonus program that ran in conjunction with the Modifieds at Riverside Park years ago. Back in action after a year off is Kerry Malone, one of the original SK Modified competitors when the division was started. Also it was good to see Ryan Morgan back in action after a devastating wreck earlier in the year in a Late Model at the Waterford Speedbowl. The Ledyard High School senior finished fourth in the Thompson Modifieds and has not lost his touch or desire to compete. The wrecked Late Model has been completely rebuilt and is expected to return to Waterford in the not so distant future.

The final checkered flag at Thompson on Thursday was dropped at 8:45pm.

Regular Friday night racing at Stafford saw Ryan Preece score his first SK Modified® feature victory of the season, Keith Rocco picked up his second Late Model feature win, Dylan Kopec picked up his second consecutive and fourth SK Light feature win, D.J. Burnham picked up his second consecutive Limited Late Model feature victory, and Kyle Casagrande won his second consecutive and third DARE Stock feature event of the 2012 season.

At the Waterford Speedbowl rain prevailed for the second week in a row.

In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina, the Modifieds were scheduled to run on Friday night but fell victim to rain. The NASCAR Kids and Nephews (K&N) Development series played to a full house of fans on Saturday night. Third-generation racer Corey LaJoie captured his much-anticipated first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victory in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 at historic track.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Shawn Solomito took the win with Ted Christopher, second.

Word comes from Dave Moody of Area Auto Racing News that last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway marked the end of an era for Dr. Dick Berggren, who celebrated his 70th birthday on May 27. After 12 years patrolling pit road for NASCAR on FOX, Berggren filed his final report at Dover, the same track where he made his NASCAR broadcasting debut in 1981 alongside his current NASCAR on FOX colleague, Mike Joy.

Berggren took a hobby and turned it into a career, something we should all be proud of. The most important thing, despite being a national sports reporter Berggren never forgot where he came from.

In TV land, viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday, at 6:00pm with NASCAR Race Hub. Race Hub will also be shown on Wednesday and Thursday at the same time. NASCAR Now will be on espn2 at 3:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

Race viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with a replay of last weekend's Sprint Cup race that was held in Dover, Del.

On Thursday at noon last Saturday's Nationwide Series event that was run at Dover will be re-shown. At 3:00pm the recent (Kids and Nephews) K&N Series event that was held at the Bowman-Gray Stadium will be shown.

Speed goes live at the Pocono Raceway at noon on Friday. Sprint Cup practice follows at 12:30 with another Sprint Cup practice at 3:30pm. At 8:30pm Speed goes to the Texas Speedway for the Truck Series pre-race show that will lead to the 9:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Winstar World Casino 400 at Texas.

Saturday's TV coverage starts at 11:00am on Speed with Sprint Cup qualifying from Pocono. At 2:30pm Speed covers the ARCA Racing Series Late Model event at Pocono. Later in the day, at 4:30pm Speed goes to Ohio for the Rolex Sports Car Series at the Mid-Ohio Raceway.

Action on Sunday begins at 9:00am with NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Speed Center on Speed goes at 9:30am. At 10:00am Speed begins a two hour RaceDay preview of the Pocono Sprint Cup event. At noon the action shifts to TNT for the Countdown to Green at Pocono. At 1:00pm TNT will provide live flag to flag coverage of the Pocono 400.

Speed wraps it up on Sunday night with Speed Center 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 a positive note. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.24 to 23.69 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.03 to 1.33. Interesting to note that there were a lot of empty seats at this past Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup event at the Delaware oval. On the negative side, Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.59 to 15.84. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.11 to 2.51 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.32 to 45.97. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear was also down as they dropped 0.72 to 9.87. The car makers were also down for the week. Ford dropped 0.48 to 10.12, General Motors dropped 0.43 to 22.01 and Toyota dropped 1.99 to 74.81. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.48 to 47.96 and Lowes dropped 0.88 to 26.36. The team sponsors did not escape the general down turn. Dupont dropped 1.19 to 47.21 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.26 to 60.49, Target Department Stores dropped 0.42 to 57.20, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.46 to 26.41 and Fedex dropped 4.03 to 85.25.

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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