Tuesday March 23, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Waterford Speedbowl is scheduled to open for the season this coming weekend, March 28-29 with the SK Modified Nationals. In some good news and some stability for the shoreline oval track owner Terry Eames announced on Thursday, March 19 that its affiliation with NASCAR will continue in 2009. The Speedbowl’s SK Modified®, Late Model, Street Stock, and Mini Stock divisions will all participate in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and be eligible to earn NASCAR points. Competitors in these four NASCAR divisions are required to purchase a 2009 NASCAR license to compete in 2009 and must be 16 years of age or older. Race teams are reminded that active crew members on their teams are also required to purchase a NASCAR license.

Jason Christley who works in the public relations department at NASCAR recently told the Hartford Courant that NASCAR did guarantee the NASCAR point fund to the Waterford Speedbowl. That guarantee stands regardless of things that might occur like the track closing or the promoter failing to meet obligations. In reality, that money came from Whelen Engineering which sponsors the Weekly Racing Series. Evidently NASCAR has changed its way of thinking as far as protecting drivers from unscrupulous promoters and track operators. In other words, even though a racer has a NASCAR license and races at a NASCAR sanctioned track there is no guarantee that he will be paid unless NASCAR has a sponsor who will supply the money. Bill France Sr founded NASCAR to protect drivers from shady promoters and track operators who ran off with purse money without paying drivers. He must be rolling over in his grave!

Ted Christopher made the trip down south to the Concord Speedway last Saturday night worth his while. Christopher, driving for Joe Brady, passed Burt Myers on the opening lap and led wire-to-wire to win the Capital Bank 150 in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour season opener. It was his third career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race and the first Tour event held at the half-mile, tri-oval. Rowan Pennink followed in second. George Brunnhoelzl III came through the field to finish third after starting last because of engine problems. Myers, who won his series record 18th Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, finished fourth and Erick Rudolph completed the top five.

The Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker, which will start the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series gets the green on April 4-5. The Speedway will host its second practice session this coming Saturday on March 28th. The Stafford Motor Speedway will open the season with the Spring Sizzler on April 24-25-26. A pre-season practice at Stafford is scheduled for Saturday, April 18.

Among the Whelen Modified Tour cars and competitors on hand for shakedown runs were Eric Beers, Mike Stefanik, Chris Pasteryak, Rob Summers, Carl Pasteryak, Richard Savory, a new Ole Blu with Ryan Preece, Jimmy Blewett and Glen Reen. There were quite a few SKtypes too. Participants included Tom Cravenho, Bert Marvin, Tim Sullivan, Keith Rocco, Todd Ceravolo, Ricky Shawn, Woody Pitkat, Kerry Malone and Josh Sylvester. Sylvester hit the wall a ton and did a lot of damage to his mount.

The track will be open for practice this coming Saturday between the hours of 11 AM and 6 PM. Any safe race car is welcome. NASCAR has granted permission for Whelen Modified Tour cars to participate on the 28th as well. The grandstands will not be open, but any interested race fan at least sixteen years of age may sign in through the pit area and view the on-track activity from the pit grandstands.

Thompson’s ICEBREAKER is set for the weekend of April 4th & 5th. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will open its 25th season with qualifying on Saturday April 4th and will compete in a 150-lap main event on Sunday, April 5th. Tour drivers will gather on Sunday at 12 Noon for a huge autograph session. Fans are urged to bring their cameras and items they would like to have autographed by their favorite NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver.

In addition to the Modified Tour, ICEBREAKER weekend will feature Thompson’s “Super 6” NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions. In fact, the Sunoco Modifieds and Late Models will be doing double duty. They will race both Saturday night after qualifying and again on Sunday. They will be joined by the Thompson Super Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Thompson Modifieds and Mini Stocks

Congratulations to Keith Rocco who has been busy getting ready to make another run at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. Rocco’s achievements in 2008 were recognized by Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell at the state capitol in Hartford. In winning the Connecticut State Championship Rocco had 11 wins, 32 top fives and 38 top 10s racing at three Connecticut short tracks: Stafford Motor Speedway, Thompson International Speedway and the Waterford Speedbowl.

In TV land this week, this weeks viewing begins Tuesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the Daytona SportBike and SuperSport Motorcycle events that were run recently at the Daytona International Speedway. On Tuesday through Friday NASCAR Now on ESPN2 airs at 5:00pm. On Wednesday at noon Speed replays last Sunday’s Food City 500 that was run in Bristol, TN. On Thursday at noon Speed looks back a bit as they present the 2003 Virginia 500 from Martinsville. Speed goes live at 11:00am on Friday with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice. Ninety minutes of Sprint Cup practice follow at noon followed by Truck Series final practice at 1:30pm. Sprint Cup qualifying at Martinsville begins at 3:30pm. Speed wraps up the day with Trackside at Martinsville Speedway at 7:00pm. Saturday’s action begins at 9:00am with Truck Series qualifying from Martinsville. NASCAR Live at Martinsville takes over at 19:00am followed by Sprint Cup practice at 10:30. At 2:00pm the action switches to FOX for live coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250 at Martinsville. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 starts the Sunday viewing at 10:00am. At 11:30 Speed has Raceday which will preview the Cup race from Martinsville. FOX goes live at 1:30 with an expected start at 2:15 of the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville. The Speed Channel has the Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm on Sunday night.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week the market rebound continues slowly upward for the most part. Two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports went up 1.00 to 11.03 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.78 to 20.96. On the negative side was Dover Downs which dropped 0.09 to 1.55. NASCAR cup sponsor, Sprint dropped 0.69 to 3.45 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.01 to 26.87. Tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.60 to 5.84. NASCAR team sponsors had a pretty good week. Dupont went up 1.17 to 20.66 while Coca-Cola jumped 7.00 to 51.64. Target Department stores went up 0.38 to 30.35 while Aarons Rentals dropped 1.08 to 23.80. The automakers continue their rebound. Ford went up 0.56 to 2.75 while General Motors went up 0.46 to 3.18. Toyota was also positive as they went up 0.21 to 60.60. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 1.45 to 22.16 and Lowes went up 1.14 to 17.03.

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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