Tuesday March 22, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The count down continues. As of this coming Sunday, March 27, one week remains before the New England Modified Racing season begins at the Waterford Speedbowl on April 3. The Thompson Speedway will open one week later on April 10.

With the first of two open practice session slated for this coming Saturday, March 26th, and the second set for April 2nd, track officials and optimistic and are working very hard to get the facility ready for race action. There is much work to do since the fierce winter left the track buried under three to four feet of hard packed ice and snow. Yet the recent warm days and work by track personnel seems to be paying off very nicely. Everyone has high hopes that the opening events will be able to go off as scheduled. Open practice times for both days are scheduled from 11 AM until 6 PM.

The Thompson Speedway has posted their tentative schedule for IceBreaker weekend. Saturdayís race track action will be devoted to practice for each division. Practice will start and the Grandstands will open at 10 AM. The first qualifying races of the new year will begin at 2:30 PM and time trials for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour are scheduled for 3:30 PM. Once qualifying has been completed, the Sunoco Modifieds will run the first of two races scheduled for the weekend and that event will be followed by the 20-lap Sunoco Lite Modified feature. Grandstands will open at 10 AM on Sunday. The first NASCAR Whelen All-American series feature event of the day is scheduled for a 12 Noon start. The 150-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, lead by defending Champion Bobby Santos, III, will open its season when their green flag drops at 3:15 PM.

Track PR Manager Russ Dowd advises as of mid March that 39 Sunoco (SK) Modifieds have registered for competition for 2011. Also registered are 24 Super Late Models, 35 Late Models, 59 Limit Sportsman and 11 Thompson Modifieds.

The Stafford Motor Speedway will open its doors for business in 2011 with its traditional Spring Motorcycle and Ty-Rods Automotive Swap Meets. The Spring Motorcycle Swap Meet is the first event on the 2009 SMS Calendar of events, and is scheduled for Sunday, April 3rd. The 25th Annual Ty-Rods Automotive Swap Meet will be the following Sunday, April 10th. Racing at Stafford begins on May 1 with the 40th annual Spring Sizzler.

In TV land NASCAR Now on espn2 can be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:00pm. . NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This weeks race programming begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with a replay of last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Jeff Byrd 500 that was run at Bristol, TN. At 8:00pm Speed presents The 10: NASCAR Millennium Moments followed at 8:30 by The 10: NASCAR Wildest Throw-Downs. Thursday's programming on Speed begins at noon with a replay of last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Scottís Turf Builder 300 that was run in Bristol. At 3:00pm Speed replays the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Auto Club 500 that was run at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. At 6:00pm the action shifts to the Versus Network for the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. Friday's viewing begins at 2:30pm when Speed heads west for NASCAR Live at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. Four hours of Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series practice follow at 3:00pm. Sprint Cup qualifying runs from 7-9:00pm. Trackside (NASCAR) at Auto Club Speedway and Speed Center round out the day starting at 9:00pm. Saturday's viewing starts at noon with Trackside (NASCAR) at Auto Club Speedway on the Speed Channel. NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying follows at 1:00pm. At 2:30pm the Sprint Cup cars have a practice session followed by NASCAR Live at 3:30 and then another Sprint Cup practice at 4:00pm. At 5:00pm the action moves to ESPN for the pre-race show for the Nationwide Series that will lead in to a 5:30pm start of the NNS 300. The NNS 300 will be replayed at 4:30am on Sunday morning. NASCAR Now on espn2 starts off the Sunday programming at 11:00am. The viewing moves to the Speed Channel at noon for Speed Center followed by two hours of NASCAR RaceDay preview programming. At 2:30 the action moves to FOX for another half hour of pre-race that will lead to the 3:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Auto Club 400 from the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. At 6:00pm on Sunday the action switches to Versus for "Dirt Knights". At 7:00pm the Speed Channel presents Speed Center. At 8:00 itís the NASCAR Victory Lane. At 9:00pm the Speed Channel has Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were up for the week as Speedway Motorsports went up 0.22 to 15.16 and the International Speedway Corporation rose 0.88 to 29.03. Dover Motorsports dropped 0.06 to 1.99. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.05 to 5.05 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.13 to 43.46. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.16 to 14.82. Two of the three car makers were down for the week with only Ford showing positive results as they went up 0.13 to 14.49. General Motors dropped 0.08 to 31.85 and Toyota dropped 4.04 to 81.56. The recent destruction in Japan has had devastating results on the country's auto industry. Even though Toyotas are built in this country many of the parts that make up the car are manufactured in Japan. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 1.14 to 36.00 and Lowes dropped 0.74 to 26.20. In the area of team sponsorship Dupont went up 0.09 to 52.99 while Coca-Cola went up 1.99 to 61.04 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.83 to 23.84. Target Department Stores dropped 1.54 to 49.99 and Fedex dropped 0.43 to 89.28.

Thatís 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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