Tuesday June 4, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The hills of northeastern Connecticut came alive last Thursday night as the Thompson Speedway began their Thursday Night Thunder weekly racing series. Ryan Preece in the Sunoco SK Modifieds, John Studleyin the SK Lites, Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks earned NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victories under warm and humid skies.

In the Sunoco Modified feature Preece started fifth and after a spirited battle with Todd Ceravolo, took the lead on a lap 8 restart. Ceravolo made numerous attempts to retake the lead but in the end, finished third after giving way to Woody Pitkat who moved into the second spot on the last lap. Keith Rocco and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. A tip of the hat to Dennis Perry who scored a solid sixth place finish and to Paul Newcomb who led the early going and recovered from a spin to finish seventh. Third generation driver Joe Gada made his debut at Thompson a successful one as he crossed the finish line in 8th spot. There were 15 SK type Modifieds on hand .

The Limited Sportsman division is 31 cars strong and is highly competitive. Scott Sundeen was the eventual winner but the real battle was watching Larry Barnett march to the front. In the end Barnett ran out of time and was forced to settle for second. Jessie Gleason finished a strong third.

Thursday Night Thunder continues this week at Thompson.

The Stafford Motor Speedway saw a new face in victory lane following the SK Modified feature. Danny Cates scored his first ever win in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature while Woody Pitkat took the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chase Dowling won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Austin Bessette won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker won the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Zach Aszklar took the lead at the green. Danny Cates and Michael Gervais, Jr. dueled side by side for second before Cates took the spot. Cates then moved by Aszklar on lap-4 to take over the race lead which he never relented. Ryan Preece, fresh off his win at Thompson on Thursday night, closed in on Cates’ bumper for the white flag lap with Woody Pitkat hot on his tail in third. Cates was able to keep the lead to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® victory at Stafford. Preece, Pitkat, Frank Ruocco, and Ted Christopher rounded out the top-5. Twenty one SK Modifieds took the green.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series takes center stage at Stafford this Friday night.

Jeff and Keith Rocco scored a one-two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. The Rocco brothers, each paid a visit to victory lane at the shoreline oval.

Jeff Rocco led from start-to-finish in capturing the 35-lap SK Modified feature while Keith out dueled Waterford's Dillon Moltz to win the 30-lap Late Model feature.

In other feature races run during the Speedbowl's annual Four Cylinder Fury event, Ken Cassidy Jr. won his second straight Mini Stock event, this one going 50 laps, Brad Voglesong won the 20-lap X-Car race and Andy Major checkered the visiting 25-lap Pro Four Modified race.

Jeff Rocco took the lead at the initial green flag of the SK Modified race and was in charge until the first caution came out on lap 27. Over the final 8 laps he overcame one jumped restart and late challenges by Nichole Morgillo and Diego Monahan. Todd Ceravolo of Gales Ferry eventually took second and Monahan wound up third. Jeffrey Gallup and Kyle James rounded out the top five in the 24 car starting field.

A major milestone was met at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC on Saturday night. Sixty four years ago, Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins introduced stock-car racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. Saturday night, France’s great-grandson Ben Kennedy became a winner there. Kennedy charged to the lead with 26 laps left and stayed there for a memorable victory in front of a nearly packed house in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 for the touring K&N Pro Series East.
Burt Myers also was a winner, in a 100-lap race for Bowman Gray’s featured Modified Division. He added to the total of victories for the stadium’s most successful family, taking it to 140. Myers won for the third time this season and 53rd time in his career. He took the lead from pole-sitter Lee Jeffreys on the 15th lap after a side-by-side battle for two laps and hung on through five double-file restarts. Jeffreys wound up second, John Smith was third, and Tim Brown, the fastest qualifier who had charged from the 16th starting spot, finished fourth.

Timmy Solomito was the overall Modified winner at Riverhead on Long Island and at Seekonk's Sunday SK Open show Matt Hirschman took top honors over Keith Rocco and Kyle James.

All roads lead to the Star Speedway this coming Saturday, June 15. The estimated SBM 125 purse is $44,888.

On the speedway stock market scene last week, all three speedway stocks posted moderate gains. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.15 to 18.17, the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.10 to 34.66 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.02 to 2.11. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.03 to 7.30 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 2.85 to 48.61. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.59 to 15.14. With the exception of Toyota which dropped 2.98 to 117.55 the auto makers had a fairly good week as Ford went up 0.89 to 15.68 and General Motors went up 1.02 to 32.89. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.33 to 78.66 and Lowes dropped 0.53 to 42.11. The team sponsors were a mixed bag. Dupont went up 0.44 to 55.79 and Aaron's Rentals went up 0.01 to 28.09. Coca-Cola dropped 1.25 to 59.79, Target dropped 0.22 to 69.50 and Fedex dropped 1.48 to 96.34.

In TV action this week:

6    5    Wed    12:00 noon    3:00 PM    NSCS: Dover 400    Dover    Speed   
6    6    Thur    12:00 noon    2:30 PM    Dover Nationwide Series    Dover    SPEED                          
6    7    Fri    1:30 PM    3:00 PM    NSCS Practice    Pocono    SPEED   
6    7    Fri    3:00 PM    3:30 PM    NASCAR Live        SPEED   
6    7    Fri    3:30 PM    5:00 PM    NSCS Qualifying    Pocono    SPEED   
6    7    Fri    8:30 PM    9:00 PM    NCWTS SetUp    Texas    SPEED   
6    7    Fri    9:00 PM    11:30 PM    NCWTS: Winstar World Casino 400    Texas    SPEED    9:19 PM
6    8    Sat    10:00 AM    11:00 AM    NSCS Practice    Pocono    SPEED   
6    8    Sat    11:30 AM    12:30 PM    NSCS Final Practice    Pocono    SPEED   
6    8    Sat    7:30 PM    8:00 PM    NNS Countdown    Iowa    ESPN    
6    8    Sat    8:00 PM    10:30 PM    NNS: DuPont Pioneer 250    Iowa    ESPN    8:16 PM
6    9    Sun    10:00 AM    12:00 PM    NASCAR Raceday        SPEED   
6    9    Sun    12:00 PM    1:00 PM    NSCS Countdown to Green    Pocono    TNT   
6    9    Sun    1:00 PM    4:30 PM    NSCS: Pocono 400    Pocono    TNT    1:18 PM

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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