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Tuesday March 25, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

As of this Friday, March 28, nine days remain until the Whelen Modified Tour Series opening Thompson Speedway IceBreaker gets the green flag on Sunday, April 6. Waterford opens one week later on April 13. The True Value Modified Series begins on Saturday night, April 12 at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester , NH . Two weeks after that the Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the Annual Spring Sizzler on April 26-27.

Tickets for the Thompson IceBreaker will be $40 for adults, $10 for kids and a three day pit pass is $50. In addition to the Whelen Modified Tour 150 the IceBreaker will consist of six features including double features for the Sunoco Modifieds and Late Models. (Rain Date April 12-13).

NASCAR has announced that the Whelen Modified Tour in 2008 will implement an electronic scoring system for all 16 races. Also new to the tour for the coming season is the option for race teams to utilize a spec engine. The AMB Timing and Scoring System, which has been used in previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, will now be utilized at every track on the schedule. Among the many benefits of this system will be that each race team can get live wireless scoring updates on their own computers. First introduced in the NASCAR Camping World Series (formerly Busch North) in 2006, the spec engine is a package developed by Wegner Motorsports that utilizes precisely specified components in order to reduce engine costs and provide durability. The engine available for Modified race teams consists of the same recipe as the one utilized in the Camping World Series. NASCAR says the 2008 season will be a special one for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as they plan to honor the history of its oldest division throughout the season as it celebrates 60 years of Modified champions.

Ted Christopher is looking to reach a major milestone in his racing career at Stafford this year. With the 2008 Tech-Net Spring Sizzler less than a month away at Stafford Motor Speedway, another season of SK Modified racing at the Connecticut half-mile is fast approaching. Christopher enters the 2008 season fresh off his record sixth track championship and only three feature wins away from 100 career wins at Stafford . Christopher has won 83 SK Modified races, 7 Whelen Modified Tour events, 6 ProStock races, and 1 Camping World Series East event for a grand total of 97 wins.

Tickets for 37th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST are on sale now and can be obtained by calling the speedway office at 860-684-2783 or by stopping by the office in person. Tickets for "The Greatest Race In the History of Spring" are priced at $35.00 for Adult General Admission, $38.00 for Reserved Seating, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted FREE when accompanied by an adult. Parking is available on the speedway grounds FREE of charge, with overnight parking for campers and RVs available.
In the mean time, the Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series began their 2008 season this past Saturday, March 22, at the high banked Caraway Speedway in Ashboro , NC . And the Thompson Speedway hosted the first of two open practice sessions, also on Saturday from 12 Noon until 6 PM . The second such session is slated for March 29th at the same times.

At Thompson, despite chilling conditions, a good sample of things to come in 2008 were seen. Competitors and fans got to see the new lighting that was installed at the speedway which will provide daylight type conditions once the speedway begins its Thursday night Thunder series. Mike Stefanik braved the cold and the wind to give his mount a shakedown along with numerous other competitors.

In North Carolina , LW Miller scored the victory in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour 150 with a thrilling dash to the checked flag over second-place finisher Ted Christopher. Southerners Brian Loftin and Tim Brown finished third and fourth. Bob Grigas III who races on the True Value Modified Series and the Whelen Northern Modified Tour rounded out the top five. Ronnie Silk, who hails from Norwalk , CT and who now drives the Westfield , NC based Hill Enterprises No.79 finished sixth.

For the first time transponders were used to score and time the race. In the past only races at Loudon and Martinsville used this technology. Restarts were determined by the last completed green flag lap and double file “Cup Style”restarts with the lead lap cars on the outside were used.

Whelen Southern Modified Tour action continues this coming Saturday night at the Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, N.C.

In TV land this week NASCAR Now continues on Monday through Friday on ESPN2 at 6:00pm . This weeks viewing doesn’t begin until Friday when Speed goes live at Martinsville , VA at 11:00am for a 60 minute NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice session. At noon Speed heads to Palm Beach , FL where they will present three hours of live coverage of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction. At 3:00pm its back to Martinsville for NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying followed at 5:00pm with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series final practice. At 7:00pm viewers have two choices. Speed will host “Trackside at Martinsville ” and ESPN Classic will replay the 2005 Daytona 500. ESPN2 hosts NASCAR Now at 8:00pm while Speed resumes their Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction which lasts until midnight . Saturday’s action begins on Speed at 10:00am with Truck Series qualifying from Martinsville . Live coverage from Martinsville continues at 11:30 with a 30 minute segment of NASCAR Live. At noon Speed begins a six hour marathon at the Automobile Auction in Palm Beach , FL. FOX goes live at 3:00pm with coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Kroger 250 from Martinsville . At 9:00pm Speed will provide same day, taped delayed coverage of Sprint Cup final practice held earlier in the day at Martinsville . NASCAR Now on ESPN2 starts the day on Sunday at 10:00am . At 11:00am will be a new program titled “NASCAR in a Hurry”. A two hour edition of RaceDay will serve as a pre-race show for the Martinsville Sprint Cup event. At 1:30 the action moves to FOX for live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody’s Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville . On Sunday night the Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 . Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two out of the three speedway stocks had a positive ending in a short trading week. The stock market was closed last Friday in observance of Good Friday. Speedway Motorsports went up 1.26 to 25.54 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.97 to 39.92. On the negative side was Dover Downs which dropped 0.89 to 5.75. NASCAR racing division sponsors Sprint and Nationwide also had a positive week ending. Sprint went up 0.35 to 6.37 and Nationwide went up 0.15 to 47.30. Sun Oil jumped 3.41 to 55.68 and Goodyear went up 0.65 to 26.26. Coca-Cola took a huge jump as they went up 5.32 to 62.00 while Dupont dropped 1.53 to 45.45. Target Department Stores had a good week as they rose 3.42 to 53.25. Aarons Rentals followed suit as they went up 1.99 to 21.95. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 2.28 to 28.06 and Lowes went up 2.11 to 23.23. The parcel carriers also had a positive ending. Fedex went up 2.22 to 87.02 and UPS went up 2.05 to 71.66. Last but not least, the World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) went up 0.01 to 0.29.

Six North Carolina residents were recognized on March 17 for their contributions to N.C. tourism at the N.C. Governor's Conference on Tourism Winner's Circle luncheon at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem . Among those honored was Bruton Smith, chief executive of Concord-based Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Charlotte-based Sonic Automotive Inc. Smith anchored North Carolina 's $5 billion per year motorsports industry when he built the Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord nearly 50 years ago.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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