Tuesday May 8, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                                 Click on Photos For Full Size

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Wall Township Speedway at the New Jersey shore last weekend for the inaugural “Flash Event” format race. Dubbed “The Thunder at the Shore” by NASCAR, the event was the first of three flash events for 2007. The races with the new format have met with mixed feelings from competitors. Usually time trials determine starting fields, the “Flash Format” eliminates time trials and puts qualifying heats in its place. Twin 50 lap races determined the 50 lap main event.

Thirty seven Modifieds attempted to qualify for the event that was run in cool, early spring type weather. Among the missing was Tony Hirschman and Bob Santos III who was at the Richmond race.. Hirschman had said earlier in the year that he would not run a full schedule if he was not in the lead group in the point standings. The first 50 lap qualifier was won by Reggie Ruggiero. Seven caution periods slowed the event. Jimmy Blewett finished second with Todd Szegedy, third. Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounded out the top five. John Blewett III won the second 50 lapper. John Blewett III started on the pole of the second 50 lapper. He went on to lead every lap. Six cautions broke up the action. Ted Christopher finished second with Chuck Hossfeld, third. Bob Grigas and Bill Pauch Jr rounded out the top five. Stafford Sizzler winner Donny Lia finished fourteenth. The Blewett Brothers made Modified history as they scored a one-two punch to cop the top two spots in the first ever “Whelen Modified Tour Flash Race”. Jimmy Blewett gave Reggie Ruggerio a gentle nudge of the bumper during a lap one restart as he took the lead and never looked back. John Blewett III finished a close second. Ruggerio, Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Ruggerio was credited with leading one lap, Jimmy Blewett led the rest, ho-hum. NASCAR had good intentions but it looked like the “Flash” ended up being a “Fizzle” NASCAR needs to re-think their way of staging competitive racing rather than putting the top dogs in front. Its ok to do that for long races where pit stops shake up the field but to continue to stage races like this will all but guarantee the demise of the division. If NASCAR wants to run short races they should at least handicap the field by inverting the point standings to create a little excitement.

Sixth through tenth were Matt Hirschman, Ronnie Silk, Todd Szegedy, Jerry Marquis and Billy Pauch Jr.
The Whelen Modified Tour heads back to the Stafford Motor Speedway in two weeks, on Friday night, May 25.

It appears that the northern based True Value Modified Series has NASCAR looking over their shoulder lately. Although they won’t speak publicly, Whelen Modified Tour competitors have “been spoken to” about their participation in these events. Because of “Right to Work” laws NASCAR has to tread softly on this issue but they can still make offending competitors life miserable when they compete in NASCAR events. During the late 60’s and early 70’s NASCAR branded the late Richie Evans as an “Outlaw” because of his participation in non-NASCAR events. They pulled his competitors license and prohibited him from racing in NASCAR sanctioned events. Evans, who raced for a living took his case to court and won the right to compete where ever he wanted to. As we all know, Evans went on to become NASCAR’s greatest Modified competitor and champion. The TVMS ran a rescheduled 100 lap event this past Saturday night at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester , NH . Les Hinkley took the win over Dwight Jarvis and Kirk Alexander. Ted Christopher finished seventh.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night Frank Ruocco, the defending SK Modified track champion started on the pole of the 40 lap main event and led every lap to take the win. Ruocco suffered a blown engine that relegated him to an 18th place finish during the Spring Sizzler weekend. The feature’s starting order was determined by his previous finish. Ruocco's win was not an easy win by any means. Kerry Malone worked his way through traffic to come up to second, and he hounded Ruocco for the final 10 laps, but came just up short at the checkered flag. Todd Owen finished third, with Keith Rocco fourth and Jeff Baral rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher, who apparently has a regular ride for Stafford this year, finished sixth. Eric Berndt, Curt Brainard, Brad Hietella and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten. Sizzler weekend winner Lloyd Agor finished a distant 23rd.

In other Stafford action Scott Foster, Jr. won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand, the Limited Late Model feature, and Robert Thompson the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic took the SK Modified feature win after a heated battle with Dennis Charette. Charette started on the outside pole and was able to withstand the constant pressure applied by Don Fowler. In the closing stages Fowler lost his handling as he spun and collected Jeff Paul. Janovic avoided the tangle and with a green- white- checker situation got the best of Charette. Shawn Monahan finished third and was followed by Diego Monahan and Tyler Chadwick. Other winners included Tim Jordan (Late Model) Bill Gertsch Jr. (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock) and Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends).

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 kicks off on Tuesday at 8:00am on the Speed Channel with Inside Nextel Cup, the Crown Royal “Jim Stewart” 400 at Richmond Intl. Raceway. At 9:30 it’s Back in the Day: NASCAR's first restrictor plate race, the 1971 World 600. Wednesday’s viewing begins at 4:00pm with the Hooters Pro Cup Naturally Fresh 250 from Concord , NC . The next bit of racing comes on Thursday at noon when the Speed Channel re-shows last Friday nights NASCAR Busch Series Circuit City 250 that was run in Richmond , VA. The Nextel Cup: Crown Royal “Jim Stewart” 400, Richmond ,. Speed goes live at 10:30am on Friday with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice for the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington , SC. NASCAR Live, from Darlington returns at 2:30 . At 3:00 its NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying. Busch Series qualifying follows at 5:00pm . At 6:30 its 90 minutes of Nextel Cup final practice. The action switches to ESPN2 at 8:00 for the pre-race followed by the Busch Series Diamond Hill Plywood 200, Darlington . Speed wraps up the night’s racing at 11:30 with Trackside at Darlington Raceway. Saturday’s coverage begins at 10:00am on ESPN2 with a 60 minute segment of NASCAR Now, a pre-race of the Dodge Avenger 500 at Darlington . At 3:00pm ABC goes live for three hours with IRL IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, Pole Day, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. At 5:00pm Speed begins a two hour preview of the Nextel Cup Dodge Avenger 500 from Darlington . At 6:00pm ESPN2 picks up the final hour of Indy 500 pole qualifying. FOX goes live at 7:00 with the NASCAR Nextel Cup pre-race show followed by flag to flag coverage. NASCAR Victory Lane sums it all up at 11:00 . Sunday is Mother’s Day. At 1:00pm the Speed Channel presents the April 26 INTERNATIONAL MOTORSPORTS HALL OF FAME INDUCTION: This year’s inductees are Junie Donlavey, Ray Hendrick, Jack Ingram, Warren Johnson, Wayne Rainey and Bruton Smith. At 2:30 it’s the World of Outlaws sprint cars from the Eldora Speedway in Ohio . At 5:00pm in ESPN2 its more IRL IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Time Trials from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 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 .

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Dover Downs went up 0.47 to 6.00, Speedway Motorsports went up 0.14 to 39.48 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.46 to 50.76. Nextel jumped 0.49 to 20.70while Sun Oil dropped 0.67 to 76.12. Goodyear was also down as they dropped 0.73 to 33.68. DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.10 to 1.70. In the drug sector Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.85 to 30.02 and Pfizer went up 0.47 to 27.08. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.43 to 38.90 while Lowes dropped 0.40 to 30.45. Parcel carrier Fedex took a big jump as they went up 2.28 to 109.50 while UPS dropped 0.41 to 71.09.

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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