Tuesday June 18, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Its been in the making since Memorial Day weekend as the Stafford Motor Speedway finally got to run their TSI Harley-Davidson 125 presented by G-Oil NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series event. There were 27 cars on hand. Bobby Santos scored his 10th career pole award and started in the front row along side Ryan Preece.

On the initial start, Preece had the misfortune of getting a flat tire which caused him to spin. Preece and Santos made contact shortly afer taking the green with a cut tire resulting. Preece restarted in the rear and after a determined march to the front took the lead from Ron Silk who led the first 106 laps.

Preece, second fasted in qualifying, began the race in the rear after cutting a tire prior to the official start of the race. He watched Ron Silk dominate the field for the first 106 laps before moving past the leader and holding on through the final 18 laps. Silk finished in the runner-up spot - followed by Rowan Pennink, Donny Lia and pole winner Bobby Santos. Doug Coby, Justin Bonsignore, Mike Stefanik, Jimmy Blewett and Woody Pitkat completed the top 10.

It was Preece’s second come-from-behind win of the evening. In a Whelen All-American Series SK Modified event earlier in the evening, Preece found himself behind the rest of the field after spinning out in lap two. In similar fashion, he worked his way back up to the front, capturing the lead in the final laps.

Todd Szegedy was a pre race favorite but ended up 13th as his bad luck continues. Szegedy got up into second spot when the right rear went flat. He then spun out and got hit in the left front. That ended his chance for a good finish. Ted Christopher, another pre race favorite, had worked his way to sixth when he was sent to the rear for over agressive driving. In the end he was 14th.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series visits Stafford this coming Friday night.

The Thompson Speedway didn't carry their luck over from June 6 when they just barely beat the rain as the Sunoco Modified feature ended. With a heavy downpour forecast by meteorologists throughout New England, Thompson Speedway pulled the plug just before noon on Wednesday for the Thursday Night Thompson Thunder race program. By canceling the June 13th events, changes in the schedule for the next two weeks became necessary.

The originally scheduled twin Sunoco Modified 30-lap features will be run this coming Thursday, June 20th. That program will also include Vintage Outlaw Modifieds and double feature events for the Lite Modifieds brought on by a rain-interrupted race on June 6th. The night will be action packed as the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models, Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman and Monster Mini Stocks will also be part of this full, 8-feature event, night of exciting racing action.

With three events in the books Keith Rocco leads the Sunoco Modified (SK type) standings with a two point edge over Woody Pitkat. Two points behind Pitkat is Ryan Preece. Rocco has two wins and Preece, one. Kerry Malone and Dennis Perry round out the top five. Other division leaders include Rick Gentes, Late Model, Keith McDermott, Lite Modifieds, Larry Barnett, Limited Sportsman and Louis Belisle, Mini Stock.

The highly touted open competition SBM 125 at the Star Speedway was run under cool and clear skies last Saturday night. With an excess of $45,000 on purse money the event drew 32 modifieds. Matt Hirschman was the quickest in time trials as he toured the 1/4 mile speedway in 12.347 seconds. Qualifying heat winners were Hirschman, Jon McKennedy, Les Hinkley and Ron Silk. Josh Cantara was the consolation winner. Non-qualifiers were Ken Barry, Lou Mechalides, Chris Ross, George Sherman, Jim Boniface, Chris Bolton and Russ Wood. The top 8 redrew for the feature start. Max Zachem drew the pole and Hirschman drew the outside pole.

Hirschman jumped out from his starting spot and led the entire 125 lap distnce and collected $9,595.64 in winnings. It was no cake-walk as Hirschman survived numerous cautions and a lot of pressure from numerous second place runners to take the win. Les Hinkley ended up second with Ryan Preece, third. Steve Masse and Richard Savory rounded out the top five. Among those who were in contention was Tommy Barrett who had worked his way into the second spot by lap 96 only to experience radiator problems which caused him not to finish. Mike Stefanik and Ted Christopher also had their problems and finished out of the top ten.

Sixth through tenth were Todd Patnode, Andy Seuss, Jacob Dore, Zane Zeiner and Austin Kochenash.

The event was deemed a rousing success as the grandstand was full and the draw of cars was ample.

Defending champion Tyler Chadwick won the slam-bang 35-lap SK Modified feature on Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jeff Smith won the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race. Each notched their second wins of the year. New faces visiting Victory Lane included Corey Barry and Al Stone, winning the SKLight Modified and Street Stock races respectively to each pick up their first wins of 2013. Ken Cassidy Jr. continued his hot streak and took his third win in the past four Mini Stock events, while Corey Hutchings was a surprise winner in the visiting New England Truck Series race.

In the SK Modified feature, Chadwick took the lead from Nichole Morgillo following a lap 15 restart, passing her on the outside of turns one and two. But he had to survive five more caution flags, including three on lap 29. After the final yellow flag, Chadwick held off Todd Ceravolo over the final six laps. It was Ceravolo's fourth straight second-place finish while Morgillo wound up third.

Next Saturday night the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour invades the Speedbowl for the Mr. Rooter. A full NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program featuring the SK Modifieds®, Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks is also part of the night’s festivities.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series is off until this coming Friday, June 21, when the 10th Anniversary season continues at Stafford (CT) Motor Speedway for an 80-lap event. Rowan Pennink and Lou Mechalides are currently tied for the series point lead. Tommy Barrett Jr sits in third spot. Richard Savory and Mike Holdredge round out the top five.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers took the win.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC five-time Modified champion Burt Myers, already enjoying a healthy lead in the season standings, racked up a division-leading fourth victory in a 100-lap main event. He battled past up-and-comer Tony Black for the lead and held it against younger brother Jason Myers for his 54th career victory.

NASCAR, thru its Connecticut based satellite outlet, announced that four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series events will be televised, three of them will be live. First up will be the Town Fair Tire 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 21 by the Speed Channel. The second event will be the WMT event at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, August 21. That event will be televised live by Fox Sports 2, currently known as Fuel TV. The third event will be the FW Webb 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 21. This event will be live on Fox Sports 2 and the fourth will be taped delayed coverage of the season ending World Series. Run on Oct 20, that event will be shown on Fox Sports 1, currently the Speed Channel, on Nov 3.

Tommy Baldwin Racing announced last week that NASCAR Next driver Ryan Preece will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series stock car debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (F.W. Webb 200) in July.

Preece, the grandson of NEAR Hall of Fame Car Owner Bobby Judkins, was selected as one of the 2013 NASCAR Next drivers. The NASCAR Next program began in 2011, and is a way to help spotlight up-and-coming drivers from around the world. This year's elite drivers range from ages 15-24 and represent three different countries. Preece was chosen, by a voting panel for the great achievements in his young racing career thus far.

It appears that someone is trying to put the screws to the Lee, New Hampshire Speedway and its owner Red MacDonald. Town officials and the owners of the Lee USA Speedway are working diligently to resolve issues that caused the town administrator to revoke the operations license for the business.

“There were some issues of concern at the Lee USA Speedway that the town felt were important to address,” Julie Glover, town administrator, said. During a May 28 selectmen's meeting, Fire Chief Peter Hoyt, had said there were no violations at the Speedway. Despite that, the state fire marshal and electrical inspector had been called and the speedway has been shut down since. MacDonald and his staff are optimistic that the dispute with the town will be resolved.

The New York State based 63rd annual Race of Champions scheduled for July 20 at the Oswego Speedway received a shot in the arm as promoter Andrew Harpell has announced that the 200 lap event will pay a minimum of $15,000 to win. With lap money added the winner could walk away with $20,000. The only asphalt modified events with a greater purse are those at Loudon.

In some sad news, Jason Leffler was driving a sprint car at the Bridgeport Speedway dirt track in New Jersey last Wednesday night when it flipped on the track's front stretch and hit a wall, according to USA Today. He was extracted from the wreck by rescue personnel and airlifted from the track in a helicopter.

Leffler, 37, drove in NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series events.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks finished the week in the green. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.36 to 18.51 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.02 to 2.16 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.99 to 33.95. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.07 to 7.31 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.09 to 15.31 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.48 to 49.39. Two of the three car makers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.36 to 15.36 and General Motors dropped 0.74 to 34.29 while Toyota went up 0.34 to 117.40. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 2.15 to 76.58 and Lowes dropped 0.44 to 41.16. The race team sponsor stocks had an off week. Aarons Rentals went up 0.41 to 28.24 while Dupont dropped 2.73 to 52.67, Target dropped 1.31 to 69.02 and Fedex dropped 0.66 to 99.13.

In TV Land this week:

6 19 Wed 12:00 PM 3:00 PM NSCS Replay: Michigan SPEED
6 21 Fri 4:00 PM 6:00 PM NSCS Practice Sonoma SPEED
6 21 Fri 6:30 PM 8:00 PM NSCS Final Practice Sonoma SPEED
6 22 Sat 2:00 PM 4:00 PM NSCS Pole Qualifying Sonoma SPEED
6 22 Sat 12:00 PM 1:30 PM NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying Road America ESPN2
6 22 Sat 5:00 PM 8:30 PM NNS: NNS 200 Road America ESPN 5:23 PM
6 23 Sun 12:00 PM 2:00 PM NASCAR Raceday SPEED
6 23 Sun 2:00 PM 3:00 PM NSCS Countdown to Green Sonoma TNT
6 23 Sun 3:00 PM 6:30 PM NSCS: Toyota/Save Mart 350 Sonoma TNT 3:19 PM
6 23 Sun 7:00 PM 8:00 PM Speed Center SPEED
6 23 Sun 8:00 PM 8:30 PM Wind Tunnel With Dave Despain SPEED
6 23 Sun 8:30 PM 9:00 PM NASCAR Victory Lane SPEED

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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