Tuesday May 5, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

With two events in the record book the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series takes a couple of weeks off before resuming the 2008 championship battle on May 23 at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Chuck Hossfeld, the only driver with two top fives, leads the point standings. Hossfeld, who is driving for defending Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion car owner Bob Garbarino, finished second in the season opening Ice Breaker at Thompson and third at the Stafford Sizzler. Hossfeld holds a 21 point lead over Sizzler winner Ted Christopher. Christopher finished 10th at Thompson. James Civali sits in third some nine points behind Christopher. Civali finished sixth at Thompson and fifth at Stafford . Rowan Pennick, a relative new-comer, sits fourth in points. Pennick finished ninth at Thompson and backed it up with a strong sixth place finish at Stafford . Rounding out the top five is Todd Szegedy. One of the more faster cars on the tour, Szegedy’s luck in the rain at Thompson which caused him to finish seventh plus a ninth at Stafford kept his point total low. Szegedy is currently only four points behind Pennick but is 51 points behind Hossfeld. Tom Abele Jr, another new name on the tour, coupled a fifth at Thompson with a 17th at Stafford and now finds himself in sixth spot, 17 points out of the top five. Abele is also the leading Rookie. Thompson Ice Breaker winner Eddie Flemke Jr had his problems at Stafford as he finished 27th after completing only 62 laps in the Sizzler and currently sits in seventh spot in the standings. In eighth spot is Long Islander Glenn Tyler. A graduate of the Riverhead Raceway, Tyler finished 14th at Thompson and Tenth at Stafford . Eric Beers, who took over the ride vacated by Dick Houlihan, is ninth with Anthony Seseley rounding out the top ten.

With the season still young the standings no doubt will change. Mike Stefanik who finished a dismal 32nd at Thompson finished fourth at Stafford . Bob Grigas, who finished a strong third at Thompson, had the misfortune of having his engine lose oil pressure at Stafford which resulted in a 30th place finish. Jimmy Blewett who finished 12th at Thompson was looking for a top finish at Stafford before a grinding crash after a confrontation with Matt Hirschman ended his day which resulted in a 23rd place finish. Hirschman finished 16th at Thompson and was 14th at Stafford . Joe Hartmann, another one of the Long Island Gang finished fifth at Thompson and was hoping for a top five at Stafford had his day go sour on lap 59 when he got caught up in an accident that finished his day in 31st spot. A big disappointment at Stafford had to be the 29th place finish of Ryan Preece. Preece, the pole sitter at Stafford , was leading the Sizzler and pulling away when his engine expired on lap 91. Preece finished 19th, on the lead lap at Thompson.

Jerry Marquis, one of the best in the business has officially announced that he has retired as a driver. In a racing career that started in a Figure 8 car in 1973 at the now closed Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam , Mass, Marquis has chalked up 22 Track titles plus a NASCAR Modified Tour Series title and two NASCAR Regional Championships. Marquis’ final ride was at the Thompson Speedway in the 2007 World Series.

The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the elements as their scheduled Friday night opener was cancelled due to rain.Racing will resume this coming Friday, May 9 featuring the 14th Annual New England Dodge Dealers 100 along with the regular bill of fare which includes the SK Modifieds and DARE Stocks.

The Waterford Speedbowl managed to avoid impending rain as they got their entire racing program in the books before the rains fell. Keith Rocco used an extremely wide car to hold off Dennis Gada for his first ever SK Modified win at the shoreline oval as an extremely sparse crowd looked on. Rather than take a chance on being “stuffed” Gada held off and settled for second. Ron Yuhas Jr finished third. Ron Silk and Rob Janovic Jr. rounded out the top five the top-5. Other feature winners were Ed Reed Jr. (Late Model), Chris “Moose” Douton (Sportsman), and, Jeff “Soup” Civardi (Mini Stock).

Racing continues at the Speedbowl this coming Saturday night.
The True Value Modified Series made its first visit of the season to the shoreline oval. Among the missing was defending series champion Kirk Alexander who got skunked by a bad weather forecast and stayed home. David Pinkham, who had been running second in points to Alexander, took advantage of Alexander’s absence as he won the 100 lap contest which also put him in the point lead. Among the surprise entries was Jimmy Blewett. Blewett probably wished that he had stayed in New Jersey as he was the victim of a nasty wreck on lap 35. For the second week in a row the Jersey racer got airborne. Blewett rode over a wheel, flipped on his roof and hit the turn four wall. Quick action by the track’s crew removed him to safety and luckily with no injuries. Just before the half way mark, lap 42, Ed Dachenhausen and Les Hinkley tangled while fighting for the lead. Both were sent to the rear. Dwight Jarvis inherited the lead at that point. A restart on lap 78 proved his undoing as Pinkham powered into the lead and remained in the front spot for the remainder of the event. Jarvis hung on for second and was followed by Les Hinkley, Chris Pasteryak and Vinny Annarummo Jr. Ted Christopher was in the field but was never a factor as his mount suffered from fuel starvation problems. Shortly after the event was completed the rain began to fall.

The True Value Modified Series now takes a couple of weeks off before heading to The Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre , VT on May 24-25.

In TV land this week Speed Channel viewing will begin on Wednesday at noon with the April 19 NASCAR Camping World Series West Allstate Texas Thunder 150 that was run at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, TX. The NASCAR Camping World Series East An American Revolution 150 run at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville , SC on Apr 19 follows at 1:30pm . On Thursday at noon Speed replays last Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal Presents the Dan Lowry 400 that was run at the Richmond Intl. Raceway in Richmond , VA. Speed goes live on Friday at noon with NASCAR Live at Darlington Raceway. Live coverage of Sprint Cup practice from Darlington follows at 12:30pm . Go or Go Home time trials for those not in the top 35 in points follows at 2:00 with time trials for the top 35 following at 2:30. At 4:00 time trials for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Darlington takes center stage. Final practice, 90 minutes worth, for the Sprint Cup division follows at 5:30 . TV action moves to ESPN2 at 7:00 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Countdown to the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington that gets the green flag at 7:30pm . Trackside at Darlington on Speed at 10:00pm finishes out the day. On Saturday afternoon at 5:00pm Speed presents a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay which previews the Darlington Sprint Cup event. FOX goes live at 7:00 with their pre-race program for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Dodge Challenger 500 that is scheduled to get the green at 7:20pm . Sunday is Mothers’ Day with most racing venues shut down. On Sunday night the Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 and NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 . Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.87 to 26.13 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.02 to 42.10. On the negative side was Dover Downs which dropped 0.36 to 6.14. NASCAR Cup Series sponsor Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.02 to 7.89 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 4.58 to 46.29. NASCAR second division sponsor Nationwide went up 1.64 to 50.53 while Goodyear dropped 1.73 to 27.18. Coca-Cola dropped 1.96 to 57.33 as Dupont followed the downward trend as they dropped 0.02 to 49.86. Target Department Stores dropped 0.07 53.91 as Aarons Rentals dropped 0.93 to 24.55. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.34 to 30.12. Lowes went up 0.11 to 26.13. The parcel carriers had a positive week with Fedex leading the pack as they went up 2.40 to 96.86. UPS went up 0.56 to 73.28. Last but not least was the World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) which went up 0.11 to 0.41.

Dover Motorsports Inc., the company that operates the Dover Downs International Speedway has announced a quarterly dividend of 1.5 cents. The motorsports promoter said it will pay the dividend June 10 to shareholders of record as of May 10.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Photo Credit: Keith Cyr, RaceDogPhotography

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

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