Tuesday March 31, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Waterford Speedbowl opened for the season this past weekend, March 28-29 with the SK Modified Nationals. The track opened for practice on Friday with quite a few race teams on hand to shake down their cars in preparation for the coming season. A beautiful Spring day greeted competitors on Saturday for qualifying at the shoreline oval. A somewhat meager field of SK Modifieds was on hand, 21, for time trials for the 150 lap-$5,000 to win feature. Conspicuous by there absences were the “Outsiders”, non-Waterford regulars. The only outsiders on hand were Jimmy Blewett from New Jersey and Eric Goodale from Long Island. Defending Connecticut State Champion Keith Rocco was the top time trailer as he toured the 1/3 mile oval in 14.138 seconds. Frank Ruocco was second fastest with Diego Monahan, third. Jeff Paul and Ron Yuhas Jr rounded out the top five. Defending track champion Dennis Gada was tenth fastest. The top ten redrew for starting positions.

Ruocco drew the pole and Paul, the outside pole. Yuhas drew third with Monahan and Gada filling out the top five. Rocco drew the seventh starting spot. In Late Model qualifying Bruce Thomas Jr put a new track record in place for the division as he toured the shoreline oval in 15.240 seconds. Tim Jordon was second with Jeff Smith, third. There was no redraw as the Late Models would start straight up from time. There were only 15 Late Models on hand.

Jason Palmer was the last Legends Car competitor in Speedbowl Victory Lane in the 2008 season, and picked up where he left off on Saturday capturing the 20-lap Legends Car race during the Budweiser Modified Nationals opening weekend. Saturday marked the 59th consecutive season of operation for the ‘Bowl. Palmer, the 2007 and 2008 Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday Legends points champion, topped a full field of talented Legends competitors. He out dueled Shaun Buffington and Flyin Ryan Morgan in an entertaining 20-lap event. An extended red flag situation was necessitated after a scary incident in turn 4 involving Tom Gray. Gray’s car became airborne and slammed the wall. He was transported to L & M Hospital for observation, but did get out of the car under his own power and acknowledged the crowd.

Other winners from Saturday’s action include Allen Coates (Speedbowl Truck Series), Paul Tuthill (Allison Legacy North Racing Series), Curt D’addario Sr. (X Car) and Jon Porter (Super X Car).
Coates picked up his 65th career Speedbowl victory leading the 25-lap Truck Series event from start to finish. A late race caution regrouped the field and Coates was able to hold back the challenges of Keith Chapman. The four-time Speedbowl track champion (Late Models, Street Stocks) has won two consecutive starts in a Truck, also winning last July’s 100-lap ARTS event at the shoreline oval.

Qualifying action on Saturday was completed for the SK Modifieds, Late Models, Mini Stocks and Street Stocks. Winning Bud Pole honors for the SK-150 was Keith Rocco who posted a 14.138 second lap around the three-eighths mile Speedbowl. After time trials, Rocco drew the top ten for a redraw, and will line up seventh when the green flag falls. Frank Ruocco drew the pole after setting second fastest time. Bruce Thomas Jr. won the Bud Pole for the Late Models setting a track record for the Late Models in the process. Thomas posted a 15.240 second lap besting his own previous record of 15.268 seconds, set during last summer’s Pepsi 300 event. He was slated to start from the pole in the 50-lap Late Model event.

Opening day at the Waterford Speedbowl was not meant to be as heavy rain pounded the Connecticut shoreline during the early morning hours on Sunday. Shortly before 8:00am the Speedbowl Management announced the postponement of the 13th Annual Budweiser Modified Nationals due to the weather. Information regarding the make-up date is expected to be finalized in about a week The 30-lap features for the Street Stocks and Mini Stocks, 50-lap Late Model event, and 150-lap SK Modified® main event will all be made up at a later date to be announced. Those holding grandstands tickets to the event are urged to hold their tickets for the rain date. The Waterford Speedbowl now switches to its regular Saturday night schedule. Hopefully the track management and board of directors will get off their butts and get out and advertise the event in order to hopefully entice the non racing fan to take in a night at the races at the shoreline oval.

The Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker, which will start the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series gets the green this coming Saturday and Sunday, April 4-5. 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.

Jamie Tomaino will officially become the first driver in any of NASCAR’s current regional touring series to reach the 500-start milestone. In fact, no driver has compiled that many starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series either.

In TV land this week, this week’s viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with last weekends Sprint Cup Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 that was run at Martinsville. At 5:00pm its NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Thursday’s viewing begins at noon on the Speed Channel with a replay of the 2004 Nextel Cup Samsung/Radio Shack 500 that was run at the Texas Motor Speedway. At 3:00 Speed replays last Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Touring Series, Allstate Texas Thunder 150 that was run at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, TX. Speed goes live on Friday at 1:00pm with Sprint Cup practice from the Texas Motor Speedway. At 2:30 NASCAR Live takes over for an hour. At 3:30 Speed presents Great moments in the history of the Daytona 500. At 4:30 Speed goes live again, this time with Sprint Cup qualifying from Texas. At 7:00 Speed goes Trackside to round out the day in Texas. Saturday’s action on Speed begins at noon with a 2-1/2 hour practice session for the Sprint Cup cars. At 2:30 the action switches to ESPN2 for the pre-race show that will lead up to a 3:15 start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday’s viewing begins at 10:00am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Now. At 11:30 NASCAR Now begins a two hour preview of the Samsung 500 at Texas. At 1:30 FOX goes live with another half hour of pre-race which will lead into a 2:00pm start of the Sprint Cup Samsung 500 at Texas. 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 all three speedway stocks finished the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 0.80 to 21.76. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.42 to 11.45 and Dover Downs went up 0.36 to 1.91. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.51 to 3.96 with NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil following suit as they went up 0.37 to 27.24. Tire supplier Goodyear also had a good week as they went up 1.01 to 6.85. The auto makers had a positive week. Leading the way was Toyota which went up 4.99 to 65.59. General Motors went up 0.44 to 3.62 and Ford went up 0.09 to 2.84. The NASCAR team sponsors were also positive for the week. Dupont jumped up 2.04 to 22.70 while Target Department Stores went up 3.82 to 34.17. Coca-Cola went up 0.04 to 51.68 while Aarons Rentals went up 1.58 to 25.38. In the home improvement sector Lowes led the charge as they went up 1.78 to 18.81. Home Depot was also up as they gained 1.47 to close at 23.63.

The Philadelphia Business Journal reported last week that Sun Oil Chairman and CEO Lynn Elsenhans said last week that the federal government should increase the gasoline tax to provide money for infrastructure repairs. Elsenhans suggested the idea in a speech to the annual meeting of the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association in San Antonio, Texas. “We should support a sizable increase in the federal gasoline tax for the expressed purpose of funding much-needed infrastructure investment,” she was slated to say in the speech, according to Thomas Golembeski, a Sunoco spokesman. With all the problems with the economy going on, this woman needs to have her head examined! Granted, fuel prices have come down and stabilized. The big oil companies need to dig into their own pockets to repair their own equipment. The consumer should not be responsible for this.

The Associated Press reported that Brazilian race car driver and "Dancing With The Stars" winner Helio Castroneves owes more than $2.3 million in U.S. taxes because of unreported income and improper deductions over a five-year period, an Internal Revenue Service agent testified Friday at his tax evasion trial in Miami. The testimony, by the final prosecution witness, capped the fourth week of the trial. Castroneves, 33, his 35-year-old sister and business manager Katiucia, and Michigan lawyer Alan Miller, 71, each face more than six years in prison if convicted of conspiracy and tax evasion involving about $5.5 million in income.

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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