Tuesday March 29, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The count down is down to the single numbers. In less than a week the New England Modified Racing season begins at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and April 3 to be exact. The Thompson Speedway will open next weekend on April 9 and 10.

Kevin Rice reported that four VMRS teams were at Thompson this past Saturday for the first of two Saturday practice sessions which will lead up to the Ice Breaker. Les Hinckley, Chris Pasteryak, Steve Masse and Tim Jordan were shaking down their mounts in preparation for this weeks season opener at the Waterford Speedbowl.

Rice also noted that Whelen Modified Tour Series drivers including Matt Hirschman in the legendary Ole Blu of the Boehler family were on hand to get in a few shakedown runs. In addition to Hirschman, other tour drivers included Todd Szegedy, Bobby Santos III, Ronnie Silk, Glen Tyler, Tom Rogers, Kevin Goodale, Ryan Preece, Mike Stefanik, Woody Pitkat, Wade Cole, Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby, Eric Goodale, Ron Yuhas, Rob Fuller and Bryon Chew.

Richie Pallai, Jr. was on hand with his new advisor and mentor Bob Potter. Potter is a multi-time winner at Stafford, Waterford and Thompson who has a wealth of driving experience and set-ups. Rick Gentes has thrown his hat in the ring for Rookie of the Year honors as he joins the Tour in 2011. Modified Tour competitors will not be allowed to practice at Thompson this week.

In the Sunoco Modified (SK type) ranks Ryan Preece started out the year on the wrong foot as he apparently had a throttle stick and ultimately did a lot of damage when he crashed into the turn one concrete wall

Due to persistent rain overnight and a weather forecast calling for a cold rain throughout the weekend, NASCAR and Caraway Speedway postponed the Caraway 150 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race originally scheduled last Saturday night A make-up date for the event will be announced at a later date. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will next travel to Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina for the Hickory 150 to be held this coming Saturday night on April 2.

Matt Kobyluck, winner of 16 career races NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the 2008 series champion, will not be competing in the 2011 racing season. Kobyluck’s longtime sponsor, Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino, announced the 2010 season would be their last on Kobyluck’s #40 cars. Kobyluck owns and operates a sand and gravel operation in southeastern Connecticut.

National Speed Sport News has published its last issue. After more than 76 years, the publication, which was first published as National Auto Racing News on Aug. 16, 1934, has printed its last issue, dated March 23, 2011.

Through the years National Speed Sport News was the industry leader in covering motorsports, much of it thanks to Chris Economaki, 90, who sold the first issue of NSSN at Ho-Ho-Kus Speedway in New Jersey, and began writing for the publication soon after that and became editor in 1950.

Economaki saw the publication through its glory days, launching a career on television and taking his newspaper into thousands of homes across America. In a time when there was no Internet and very little racing was on television or radio, National Speed Sport News thrived.

In TV land NASCAR Now on espn2 can be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday and 6:00pm on Wednesday. NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Race viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with a NASCAR Sprint Cup replay of last weeks Auto Club 400 that was run at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. At 8:00pm Speed has The 10: NASCAR Most Bizarre Moments followed at 8:30 by The 10: NASCAR Millennium Moments. Thursday's viewing on Speed starts at noon with a replay of last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series NNS 300 that was run at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. At 3:00pm the cameras head south for a replay of the 2007 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 that was run at Martinsville, VA. At 6:00pm the action moves to Versus for the Lucas Motorsports Hour. Speed goes live on Friday at noon with NASCAR Live at Martinsville. Sprint Cup practice at 12:30 and Truck Series practice at 2:00pm follow. At 3:30 the Sprint Cup cars practice for another ninety minutes. NASCAR Live at Martinsville wraps it up at 5:00pm. At 7:00pm ESPN Classic re-runs the 1999 Goody's 500 that was run at Bristol, TN. Saturday's action begins at10:30am with Truck Series qualifying from Martinsville. NASCAR Live follows at11:30am. Action at Martinsville on Speed continues at noon with Sprint Cup qualifying. At 1:30pm the Truck Series has their pre-race show that will lead to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 250. Following the truck race at 4:30pm Speed will show the results of the recent assault on the Speed record at Bristol. At 6:00pm the action switches to the Versus Network for the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. Sunday's viewing begins with a two hour segment of RaceDay at 10:30am. Fox goes live at 12:30pm with live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500, at Martinsville, VA. 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 it’s 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. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.37 to 15.53 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.36 to 29.39. On the down side was Dover Motorsports which dropped 0.07 to 1.92. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.37 to 4.68 while Sun Oil jumped 2.77 to 46.23 and tire supplier Goodyear jumped 0.63 to 15.45. Two of the big three car builders were down for the week. General Motors dropped 0,38 and Toyota dropped 0.80 while Ford went up 0.52 to 15.01. In the home improvement sector Home Depot jumped 1.42 to 37.42 and Lowes went up 0.99 to 27.19. With the exception of Target Department Stores which dropped 0.04 to 49.95, the major team sponsors had a good week. Dupont went up 1.11 to 54.10 while Coca-Cola jumped 4.48 to 65.52, Fedex went up 1.00 to 90.28 and Aaron's Rentals went up 0.41 to 24.25.

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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