Tuesday May 12, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first two, of 14 events, continues on “Spring Break”. Evidently my comments last week caused quite a stir. I have been told that the change in venue for the Whelen Modified Tour Series awards banquet was not announced at Thompson’s Ice Breaker because the press release had not been written yet. I was also told that Series director Chad Little does not decide what to say and when, that comes from Daytona as NASCAR wanted to make the announcement to all of the five series involved at the same time, thus a notification by press release, not driver's meetings.

As far as the upcoming TSI Harley Davidson Whelen Modified Tour distance and purse is concerned, Stafford General Manager Mark Arute stated that the purse and distance were never posted. He is correct. Many of us, including yours truly assumed that the race distance would continue to be 150 laps as it has been for years. Arute also stated that they (Stafford) were seriously considering dropping the event from their schedule. He also stated that what many of us thought was a near sell out at the Sizzler was not as many in the grandstand were there because of complimentary tickets from Carquest, the race sponsor, plus there were a lot of kids and media.

Admission prices the May 22 have been set. Pit admission is $45, Adult General Admission is $30, Reserved Seating is $32 and Kids from 6-14 get in for $5. Kids 5 and under are FREE. Parking is also FREE.

In a somewhat related matter, Arute stated that NASCAR New England will be back on the New England Sports Network (NESN) in 2009. NASCAR New England showcases the weekly racing at Stafford and gives competitors exposure on television. The TV series is schedule is slated to start shortly.

The Friday night racing season opener at the Stafford Motor Speedway avoided the elements until the very end. The speedway opened up its regular Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule with the Late Model division taking center stage for the 15th Annual Late Model 100. Dillon Moltz outlasted veterans Jim Peterson and Ryan Posocco over the final 15 laps of the race to take home his third consecutive extra distance feature victory at Stafford. Jeff Malave drove a strong race to score his first SK Modified® feature win in over 4 years in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tony Santangelo was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, and Andrew Durand made it two-for-two in 2009 with his second consecutive victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature. The 15-lap DARE Stock feature was halted by rain with two laps complete.

Tony Santangelo came out on top of a healthy field of 21 SK Lights at Stafford. (Driscoll Motorsports Photography)

Dennis Gada, who has had less than a spectacular start to the season took advantage of a mis-cue by Cory Hutchings and found himself in victory lane at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. After numerous restarts Gada was unable to overtake Hutchings. All of a sudden with less than ten laps remaining, Hutchings lost control near turn two and spun out. Gada took advantage of Hutchings predicament as he inherited the lead and went on to record his first win of the 2009 season. Jeffrey Paul finished second and was followed by Rob Janovic Jr, and Shawn Solomito. Keith Rocco, who had won the previous two features, finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were Ron Yuhas Jr., Justin Gaydosh, Todd Ceravolo, Jeff Pearl and Wendell Dailey. Hutchings finished 14th. Twenty three Modifieds started the event.

Other winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model feature), Mark Panaroni (Mini Stocks) and Mark Cooper (Street Stocks). There were only nine cars in the Late Model field.

Doug Coby beat out Mike Stefanik for his first ever TVMRS victory.
(Keith Cyr Photo)

The True Value Modified Series made its first of two visits to the shoreline oval. In his first-ever start on the True Value Modified tour, Doug Coby took the win in the 100-lap feature. Coby, who is a former competitor on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series, took the lead from polesitter Chris Pasteryak late in the race and kept it on two restarts, including one with three laps left. Mike Stefanik finished second and Pasteryak was third. Coby, who started 11th, was in the top five just past the 1/3 mark.

At the end of the 100 lap grind that was slowed by eight caution periods, former Waterford winner Les Hinckley finished fourth after overcoming earlier handling problems, second year driver Steven Masse was fifth, his best finish with the series. Ted Christopher, driving the Joe Brady owned #00, cut a tire while running ninth on lap 13 and made contact with the turn three armco barrier, ending his night early in 25th spot.

The True Value Series continues to be a viable alternative for those who have become dis-satisfied with NASCAR and the way they run the Whelen Modified Tour Series. In addition to Chris Pasteryak, Coby and Stefanik tour drivers in the TVMS field were Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennik and Charlie Pasteryak.

The True Value series returns to the Speedbowl on Aug. 15. The next event for the series is on Sunday May 25, at the Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre VT.

The Thompson Speedway is gearing up for the start of their Thursday Night Thunder Series which begins a week from this coming Thursday, May 21. Thompson’s Thursday night racing action is held every week through the end of September. Many special events are included in the Thursday night line up with the first such special event slated for Thursday, June 18th. That’s the night when the True Value Modifieds roll into town for their Town Fair Tire 75-lap main event. The True Value race cars will be joined by the Super 6 making for an exceptional night of competition and family fun.

The fifth annual gathering of the faithful for the Norwood Arena Reunion, set for Sunday, June 7, continues to take shape. As in the past, the reunion will be held at Bezema Buick-Pontiac-GMC on Route 1 in Norwood, MA. Commitments for various drivers who raced at the venerable, but shuttered oval, have been made to be there. They include Dave Dion of Hudson, NH, Bill Slater of E. Hartford, CT, Leo Cleary of Hanover, Bill Harman of CT, Stoughton's Jerry Capazzoli and car owner Joe Brady of Brockton along with Fred Luchesi of Pawtucket, RI, among several others. Once considered the fastest ¼ mile speedway in the world, the Norwood Arena opened on June 14, 1948 and ran its last race on September 2, 1972.

In TV land this week, NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Most of the weeks TV viewing will originate in the Charlotte, NC area. The Speed Channel starts it off on Tuesday at 10:00am with the 25TH NASCAR ALL STAR REUNION. At 8:00pm Speed has Countdown to All-Star #1which will preview this week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star race. At 9:00 Speed will have a two hour special featuring former winners of the All Star event. Wednesday’s viewing begins at noon when Speed replays last weeks NASCAR Sprint Cup Southern 500 that was run in Darlington, SC. At 8:00 Speed has a special two hour preview of Saturday nights All Star event. On Thursday at noon, Speed will replay last years All Star event which was run in Charlotte. At 3:00pm Speed will show the April 11 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series East event, Greenville Pickens 150, that was run in Greenville, SC. At 4:00 Speed has a one hour special pertaining to how one Makes the Race. The 25TH NASCAR ALL STAR REUNION follows at 5:00pm. At 6:00pm, Behind the scenes, Countdown to All-Star #2 follows. At 8:00pm Dave Despain has his own All Star Special on Speed. Dave presents his own unique insight on the events of the week and the countdown to the All Star race. At 9:00pm Speed goes to the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte for the Sprint Pit Crew Challenge. Forty Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams will compete to determine who will reign as the fastest pit crew and win a $100,000 prize. Friday’s viewing on Speed gets an early start at 6:00am. Three hours of All Star highlights from past years for the early birds. Speed goes live at 9:00am for three hours of Truck Series practice at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Three hours of Sprint Cup practice follow at noon. NASCAR Live serves as a break at 3:00pm. At 3:30 the Truck Series has their qualifying session followed by Sprint Cup qualifying at 5:00 for the All Star Race. At 7:30 the Trucks have their pre-race show which will lead to a 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at the Lowes Motor Speedway. Rounding out the day is Trackside at Lowes Motor Speedway at 10:30. Saturday’s viewing begins at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. At 4:00pm the Speed Channel begins a three hour session of NASCAR RaceDay which will preview today’s Sprint All-Star Race which will get the green on Speed at 7:00pm. At 11:00, NASCAR Victory Lane at the Sprint All-Star Race will round out the day’s activities at Charlotte. The All-Star Race will be replayed on Speed at midnight. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend on Sunday night with 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 had positive results. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports which went up 3.25 to 18.16. O. Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports and the owner of Kentucky Motor Speedway says the track’s original owners have a moral obligation to drop the lawsuit that's holding up adding the track to the 2010 Sprint Cup Series schedule. Smith paid $78.3 million in 2008 for the Sparta track. He is willing to move an event from one of his other facilities to get Kentucky on next year's schedule.NASCAR will not consider the track for a coveted Cup race unless the original owners of the speedway drop an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR and International Speedway Corp., its sister company. The 2005 suit was dismissed in early 2008, but the case is currently on appeal. The International Speedway Corporation went up 1.78 to 24.78 while Dover Downs posted a modest gain of 0.15 as they closed out the week at 1.73. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.70 to 5.24 while fuel supplier Sun Oil jumped up 3.21 to 31.46. Tire supplier Goodyear which has more than doubled in price since the first of the year went up 2.00 to 13.30. The car makers continue down an uncertain path. Ford went up 0.60 to 6.24 while General Motors dropped 0.18 to 1.61. Toyota went up 0.26 to 79.17. For the most part NASCAR team sponsors had an off week with the exception of Dupont which went up 0.73 to 28.38. Coca-Cola dropped 4.74 to 46.87, Target Department Stores dropped 3.82 to 43.79 and Aarons Rentals dropped 1.08 to 32.48. In the home improvement sector, Lowes dropped 0.89 to 19.80 and Home Depot dropped 0.06 to 25.50.

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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