Tuesday May 29, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night, May 25 for the 17th annual Connecticut Classic 150. Donnie Lia, in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile made it two in a row at the Arute family owned facility. There were 42 Modifieds on hand for the 150 lap contest. Lia started sixth and took the lead on lap 113 from Eric Beers. James Civali, who started on the pole finished second. Eddie Flemke Jr finished third with Zach Sylvester and Todd Szegedy rounding out the top five. Ted Christopher started third and was the top lap leader as he led 84 circuits. His night came to an end after he wrecked with Frank Ruocco in the third turn on lap 91. Christopher blamed Mike Stefanik for the incident. Reggie Ruggerio and John Blewett III were eliminated in a big wreck on lap 104. Defending champion and Busch Pole Sitter Tony Hirschman continues to have bad luck as he was eliminated on lap 114. Likewise for Chuck Hossfeld who lost a wheel on lap 31.

Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Jamie Tomaino, Dick Houlihan, Richard Savory and Eric Beers. Civali led the opening laps before he was passed by Ted Christopher on lap2. Christopher appeared to have the field covered up until the time he pitted on lap 86. Jimmy Blewett led laps 87 through 90 before giving way to Eric Beers who led laps 91 to 109. Lia led lap 110 before giving it back to Beers for three laps. Lia took the lead for the final time on lap 113. Six caution periods for 36 laps kept Lia’s speed at 58.568 mph.

The Modifieds now take close to a month off before heading to the Thompson Speedway on Thursday, June 21.

Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway began this past week. Its amazing that Thompson was able to draw a fairly big crowd on a working night, especially with a big holiday weekend at hand. The speedway also enjoys a large field of cars, 129, including 28 Sunoco (SKtype) Modifieds. Bert Marvin started on the outside pole of the Sunoco Modified feature and went on to lead every lap to record the feature win. Tom Cravenho finished a distant second with Buddy Charette, third. Kerry Malone and Woody Pitkat followed. Sixth through tenth were John Blewett, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco, Todd Ceravolo and Josh Steeves. The only drama for the Modifieds came after the second qualifying heat when Jimmy Blewett was disqualified from his heat win when his car failed to make weight. Blewett started the feature in last spot.

Other opening night winners were Tom O’Sullivan, who won his first-ever Late Model feature, Jeff Zuidema who won the Pro Stock feature. The Limited Sportsman winner was Jess Gleason, Mini Stock winner, Mike Romano and TIS Mod winner was Tim Sullivan.

While the fields of Modifieds, Late Models and Limited Sportsman are extremely healthy the Pro Stocks are dying a slow death as only 16 were on hand.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Bo Gunning ended a long dry spell as he annexed the 40 lap SK Modified victory. Jim Peterson won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews the 20-lap SK Light feature, Michael Nadeau the Limited Late Model feature, and Steve Berardi the 15-lap DARE Stock feature. Gunning started the event from the outside pole, but he had to work hard for the victory. Curt Brainard, searching for his first win since the 2000 season, hounded Gunning lap after lap, and nearly made several moves to the inside of Gunning for the lead. A late caution slowed the field and set up a four lap dash to the finish. Ted Christopher moved past Brainard into second on the restart, but Gunning was too strong for Christopher to overtake. Brainard came home third, with Todd Owen and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Kenny Horton scored his first career win at the shoreline oval. Dennis Gada, who is in the process of trying to annex a record setting seventh track championship finished second. Dennis Charette, who survived a trademark “Waterford Big One” finished third. A grinding crash on lap two damaged the cars of Shelly Perry, Wendell Dailey and Shawn Monahan. Monahan returned to finish sixth. Rounding out the top five following Charette were Don Fowler and Tyler Chadwick. Officials felt that Rob Janovic triggered the crash as they sent him to the rear. Janovic ended up eighth in the final tally. Tim Jordan made it three in a row in Late Model competition as he won a classic battle with Allen Coates. This division, once considered the best second division in New England is down to eleven cars and could use a shot in the arm. The ISMA Supermodifieds made a special appearance with Chris Perley taking the win over Nokie Fornoro and Rob Summers. Other Saturday night winners were Bill Gertsch in the Sportsman division and Phil Evans in the Mini-Stocks.

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 featuring the 1973 Twin 125s at Daytona. Wednesday’s action beginds at noon with Racing Across America featuring the: NASCAR Grand National Series East-West combination race, the Minnesota 150 that was held at the Elko Speedway in Minnesota on May 18. At 2:00pm the World of Outlaws Late Models go at it from the Lernerville Speedway in Sarver , PA. Last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Carquest Auto Parts 300 run at the Lowe’s Motor Speedway gets rerun at noon on Thursday. The Nextel Cup Coca-Cola 600 follows at 3:00pm . Following at 5:00pm is the Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour featuring the Lucas Oil USAC CRA Sprint Car Series. Speed goes live on Friday at 11:00am with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice from Dover Downs in Delaware . NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying from Dover follows at 12:30 . The action moves to ESPN2 at 2:00 for NASCAR Busch Series practice at Dover . At 3:00 its back to the Speed Channel for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying. At 8:30 pm the Speed Channel will provide taped delayed coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series AAA Insurance 200 from Dover . Saturday’s action begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice from Dover . ESPN2 goes live at 11:00am on Saturday with NASCAR Busch Series qualifying from Dover . At 12:30 the action switches back to Speed for NASCAR Live followed by Nextel Cup final practice. ESPN2 will provide live flag to flag coverage of the Busch Series Dover 200 beginning at 3:00pm . At 4:00pm its NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England will present features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motorspeedway every week. On Saturday evening at 9:00pm Speed provides live coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series Prairie Meadows 250 from the Iowa Speedway in Newton , IA. Sunday’s programming will begin at 11:00am with a two hour RaceDay preview of the day’s Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway. FOX goes live at 1:00 for coverage of the Nextel Cup Dover 400 from Dover . Also at 1:00 are the World of Outlaws sprint cars from the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg , PA. At 3:30 ABC provides coverage of the IRL IndyCar Series ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Indy 225 from Milwaukee , WI . Wrapping up the weekend on the Speed Channel is The SPEED Report at 9:30 , NASCAR Victory Lane at 10:30 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 11:30

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. While Dover Downs showed a no-change at 5.76 Speedway Motorsports went up 0.57 to 39.90 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.69 to 51.50. Nextel/Sprint and Sun Oil both had big weeks. Nextel/Sprint went up 1.31 to 22.10 and Sun Oil jumped 2.27 to 78.29. Goodyear slipped a bit as they dropped 0.56 to 34.44. DIRT Motorsports showed a slight gain as they went up 0.05 to 1.70. In the drug sector, Pfizer went up 0.09 to 27.53 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.39 to 30.05. The home improvement had a complete negative ending. Home Depot dropped 0.50 to 38.88 and Lowes dropped 0.59 to 32.13. The parcel carriers had a mixed bag as UPS went up 1.06 to 71.08 and Fedex dropped 0.59 to 105.96.

It was announced last week that the Motor Racing Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of the International Speedway Corp., will move to Cabarrus County , NC and will be creating 50 jobs and investing $2.15 million over the next three years. The company, which provides NASCAR radio coverage and programming, is moving from Daytona Beach , Fla. The average weekly wage of the jobs will be $1,045 plus benefits, which is higher than the Cabarrus County average weekly wage of $594, not including benefits. The company will lease space on Akins Drive in Concord .

"Motor Racing Network's relocation from Florida to North Carolina will be a strong addition to our $6 billion-a-year motorsports economy," says N.C. Gov. Mike Easley. "More than 14,000 people are directly employed in the motorsports field, making North Carolina the No. 1 state in the nation for this industry.” MRN will receive a $50,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. Governor Easley uses money from the One North Carolina Fund to promote economic development and job creation throughout the state.

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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