Tuesday May 15, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series is in the middle of their “Spring Break”. The Whelen Modified Tour heads back to the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night, May 25. Jimmy Blewett, who drives for Long Island car owner Eddie Partridge sits atop the point standings with a 31 point lead over second generation driver Matt Hirschman. In three starts Blewett has three top tens including one win. Hirschman, the son of multi-time Whelen Modified Champion Tony Hirschman also has three top tens but is winless so far. James Civali, who won the Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker, sits in third spot, 49 points behind the leader. Todd Szegedy and Chuck Hossfeld round out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Donny Lia, Jerry Marquis, Ronnie Silk, Mike Stefanik and Billy Pauch Jr. In three events, fifty one different competitors have entered into competition.

Much has been said, both pro and con concerning the recent “Flash Event” at the Wall Township Speedway. It was NASCAR’s intent to make the Whelen Modified Tour Series more affordable to their weekly tracks and make the events more exciting to the paying fan. In both cases NASCAR needs to take a second look and maybe ask those involved to give their constructive criticism. From this corner it appears that to keep competitors happy NASCAR needs to pressure promoters to get out and sell their events in order to offset costs which come with special events. To create excitement NASCAR should try to handicap the top 20 based on their last three performances and invert the field. To fill out a 30-35 car starting field NASCAR needs to run a consolation event which will afford some track time to those who need it. For what it’s worth, give it a try!

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night second generation driver Keith Rocco captured the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Rocco is the son of retired driving great Ronnie Rocco. Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. The 40-lap SK Modified feature event saw several drivers all take a shot at Keith Rocco, but Rocco was able to fend off all challengers to pick up his first feature win of the 2007 season. Rocco moved to the lead on lap-5, passing early race leader Woody Pitkat. Pitkat would spend the next 30 laps trying to get around Rocco, with several caution periods slowing the action and giving Pitkat multiple opportunities to take the lead back. Pitkat held tough on the outside groove, but was unable to get around Ruocco. The final caution came out with 4 laps to go, setting up a dash to the finish. Rocco again got the drop on the field, with Willie Hardie moving past Pitkat for second. Rocco was able to pull away from Rocco in the closing laps to take the win. Hardie finished second with Pitkat, Kerry Malone, and Jeff Malave rounding out the top-5.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic used a bottom-shot coming out of turn-four to pass leader Doug Coby with eight circuits remaining to capture his second consecutive 35-lap SK Modified feature at the Speedbowl on Saturday evening. Other winners were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman), Joe Godbout III (Mini Stock), and Norm Wrenn (Pro-4 Modified).
Coby faded in the late going and was overtaken by Shawn Monahan who ended up in second spot. Coby, Diego Monahan and Dennis Gada rounded out the top five Sixth through tenth were Jeff Pearl, Kenny Horton, Frank Mucciacciaro, Jeff Paul and Tyler Chadwick.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:30pm time slot seven days a week. This weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday at 9:30am with Back in the Day which features Cale Yarborough and the 1968 Atlanta 500. At 7:00pm a series titled All Star Spotlight presents “One Hot Night” . Little did Humpy Wheeler know at the time of conceiving a promotional tagline for the 1992 Nextel Cup event – “One Hot Night” – that it would deliver more than anyone could imagine on its billing. Before the cars even turned a wheel, this event already had a special place in not only all-star annals but motor sports history overall as Lowe’s Motor Speedway became the first superspeedway to run at night under the lights. “We shocked the world by lighting a superspeedway,” Wheeler said. Another segment titled : “Tire Wars” airs at 7:30 . As a tire war flared between Goodyear and Hoosier, Geoffrey Bodine held off Sterling Marlin to win an accident-strewn event. Bodine, riding on Hoosier tires and in his first year as an owner/driver, was involved in an early accident in the first segment, but rebounded to win the race, which saw Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace among those involved in accidents. At 8:00pm Speed shows Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rising from the shadows with a late charge from mid-pack to win the All Star race in his rookie season aboard the No. 8 owned by his father. At 8:30 the Speed Report takes a look ahead to the Nextel All-Star Challenge. On Wednesday at noon , Racing Across America highlights the recent NASCAR Busch East Grand National Greased Lightning 150, that was held at Greenville , SC. At 3:00pm Speed shifts gears to cover the April 14 World of Outlaws Sprint Car event at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg , OH . The May 3rd USAR Hooters Pro Cup from Shenandoah , VA follows at 4:00pm . A special edition of Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain airs at 7:00with The SPEED noon Speed reruns last week’s NASCAR Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200 that was run at Darlington , SC. At 3:00pm its last Sundays NASCAR Nextel Cup Replay of the Dodge Avenger 500 from Darlington . At 7:00pm Speed takes a new twist with LARRY MAC'S ALL-STAR BARBECUE: SPEED's Larry McReynolds invites viewers to his home for an informal get-together offering racing fans a unique glimpse of their favorite NASCAR stars. Speed goes live on Friday morning with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series PRACTICE for the Quaker Steak and Lube 200 at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte , NC . Three hours of practice for the Nextel Cup cards follows at 1:00pm . NASCAR Live from Lowe’s Motor Speedway goes at 4:00 followed by NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying at 4:30 . The trucks go green at Charlotte at 9:00pm on Speed. Saturday’s programming begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on ESPN2. At 11:00 am Speed begins their all day coverage at Charlotte . The Nextel All Star Challenge goes green shortly after 7:30pm . On Sunday at noon Speed goes to Toledo , OH for live coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series 200. At 1:00pm ABC covers IRL IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, Bump Day at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway . Speed picks up the World of Outlaws late model series from the Virginia Motor Speedway, at 2:00pm . ESPN2 picks up the Indy Bump Day qualifying at 5:00pm . On Sunday evening 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 .

NASCAR New England will return to the airwaves on NESN during the 2007 season in the same Saturday afternoon time slot it occupied during the 2006 season. The show will make its 2007 debut broadcast on Saturday, June 2nd at 4pm and will run for 15 consecutive Saturdays.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports led the field as they went up 1.26 to 40.74. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.08 to 50.84 while Dover Downs dropped 0.37 to 5.63. Nextel went up 0.01 to 20.71 while Sun Oil dropped 1.67 to 74.45. Goodyear dropped 0.72 to 32.96 while DIRT Motorsports went up 0.04 to 1.74. In the drug sector Pfizer dropped 0.04 to 27.04 while Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.22 to 30.24. In the home improvement sector Lowes went up 0.42 to 30.87 while Home Depot dropped 0.04 to 38.86. Parcel carrier Fedex dropped 1.24 to 108.26 while UPS went up 0.18 to 71.27.

International Speedway Corp., the company that owns and manages NASCAR race tracks, will partner with the Cordish Co. to build Daytona Live, a mixed-use entertainment destination, across from Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Live will be built on 71 acres that currently are home to Speedplex Office Park. The park houses ISC's and NASCAR's headquarters. The project is expected to cost $250 million

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail

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

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