Tuesday May 19, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first two, of 14 events, has been on “Spring Break” since the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 26. This coming Friday its back to Stafford for the TSI HARLEY-DAVIDSON CONNECTICUT CLASSIC 100.

Admission prices for 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.
Following the Stafford event the Whelen Modifieds go on “Spring Break” again until Saturday, June 27 when they travel to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The Stafford Motor Speedway returned to racing action with Whelen Event Night on Friday, May 15. Taking down feature victories were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature and Ryan Posocco in the Late Model feature. Tony Santangelo scored his second consecutive SK Light Modified feature win, while Shawn Thibeault took his first career Limited Late Model feature victory. With two DARE Stock feature events on the card, Robert Thompson and Todd LaPorta drove to CARQUEST Victory Lane.

The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with the action at the front of the pack fast and furious. Keith Rocco moved to the lead on lap-2 after riding side by side with Curt Brainard for the first lap.

Shawn Thibeault left Stafford Speedway the Limited Late Model winner. Stafford reported Monday Thibeault was moved to a 5th place finish for a rules violation. (Driscoll Motorsports Photography)

Frank Ruocco made a bid for the lead on lap-3, taking the lead from Rocco in turn 3 only to have Rocco pull the crossover move and retake the lead coming out of the fourth turn. Rocco held the lead until lap-12 when Ted Christopher made a move to the inside of Rocco in turn 4. Christopher and Rocco ran nose to tail until lap-23 when Rocco made a bottom shot move on Christohper in turn 1 to retake the lead. Rocco began to stretch his lead out over Christopher, but his lead was erased when the caution came out with 37 laps complete for a spin by Nichole Morgillo.

On the restart, Christopher was judged to have jumped the restart and was penalized one lap. That put Woody Pitkat alongside Rocco for the restart. After several more caution periods, it was down to a green white checkered finish. Pitkat hung tough on the outside of Rocco, but he came up a half car length short at the checkered flag. Rounding out the top-5 behind Rocco and Pitkat was Ruocco, Jeff Malave, and Curt Brainard. Christopher, who parked his car after being penalized, ended up 15th. The defending Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion felt that the call by race director Frank Sgambato was unfair. Christopher told the Hartford Current that he will not be back at Stafford except for Whelen Modified Tour Series events.

The Waterford Speedbowl was forced to cancel May 16’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program and Little League Night festivities due to inclement weather. A persistent fog, mist, and drizzle intensified as the practice rounds were underway and continued into the evening.

The Waterford Speedbowl will host the ultra fast Super Modifieds this coming Saturday, May 23. The event is the season kickoff for the ISMA SuperModifieds and the first of two visits to the Speedbowl. The other is Aug. 15. The Supers will run a 50-lap feature that will augment the weekly Whelen All-American Series venue. Defending NASCAR Truck Series Champion Johnny Benson is among those expected to compete.

The True Value Modified Series has also been on a “Spring Break”. The next event for the series is on Sunday May 25, at the Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre VT. The ACT Late Models will also compete in a 100 lap event. Gates open for fans at 10:00. Post time is 1:30. Admission will be $20 Adult; $5 for children (6-12); and $40 for a family of four.

In last years inaugural race, the first for modified race cars at Thunder Road in over 40 years, Dwight Jarvis finished second with Peter Jarvis third, behind winner Kirk Alexander. Alexander will return to T-Road to defend his race title. Additional expected entries include 2008 series champion, Chris Pasteryak, Monadnock Speedway winner Rob Goodenough, Ed Dachenhausen, Mike Douglas JR, Rowan Pennink, current point leader Jon McKennedy; Mike Holdridge and Sean Bodreau. Surprise late entries could include Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik.

The Thompson Speedway comes alive this Thursday, May 21, with the beginning of Thursday Night Thunder. The speedway management prides itself in running a quick show which allows fans to return home a decent hour.

Howard Hodge who, along with his wife Mary have done so much to promote the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series with their cameras, report while at Loudon for the recent Vintage Celebration they got a chance to see some of the construction going on at the Whelen Modifieds arrive for their June event they will see that the infield between the tunnel and the garages will be totally changed. The brook will be in a culvert and the access road will be changed. (One road near the backstretch fence). They are moving the entrance gate to the south garage. The plan is to make more room for the series (WMT, CWSE and ACT) that have to use the infield for a pit area. The idea is to have no one pitted on the access road. The Hodges also reported that the front stretch fencing was also gone as work to install a new stronger fence had started.

Congratulations to nationally recognized public relations, motorsports marketing and promotions specialist Ernie Saxton who has been named recipient of the 2009 Leonard J. Sammons Jr. Memorial Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to auto racing. Saxton will be honored when the 18th annual Northeast Modified Hall of Fame driver inductions and special award ceremonies take place Sunday, May 24 on the Cayuga County Fairgrounds in New York State.

In TV land this week, NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday’s viewing on the Speed Channel will begin at noon with a replay of last Saturday nights Sprint All-Star Race that was run at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. Speed goes live on Thursday at noon with NASCAR Live from Lowe's Motor Speedway. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice from Charlotte follows at 1:00pm. At 2:30, NASCAR Live for 30 minutes serves as a break in the action before Sprint Cup practice at Charlotte at 3:00pm. NASCAR Live goes again at 5:00 followed by Nationwide Series final practice at 6:00pm. Rounding out the evening on Speed is Sprint Cup qualifying at 7:00pm. Friday’s viewing on Speed begins at 7:00pm on Speed with Trackside at Lowes Motor Speedway. At 8:00pm Speed provides taped delayed, same day coverage of the World of Outlaws, Sprint cars, on the dirt track at Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Trackside at Lowes Motor Speedway rounds out the day at 11:00pm. Saturday’s action gets the green at 11:00am with Trackside at Lowes. At 2:00pm NASCAR Live previews Sprint Cup practice at Lowes which begins at 2:30pm. At 3:30 its Nationwide Series qualifying at Charlotte. Final practice for the Sprint Cup cars is at 6:00pm. At 7:00 the action moves to espn2 for the pre-race show that will lead up to a 7:30 start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Carquest Auto Parts 300 at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. A full replay will be shown by espn2 at 3:00am on Sunday morning and at noon on ESPN Classic. Sunday will be a full day of race viewing. Starting at noon on ABC will be the pre-race shaow that leads to a 1:00pm start of the Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. If you are not into Indy Cars, Speed goes live at 3:00pm with a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay. At 5:00pm FOX goes live with another 45 minutes of pre-race before a tentative start at 5:45 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowes Motor Speedway. While the 600 is in progress the Speed Channel goes with the Speed Report at 7:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. At 11:00pm NASCAR Victory Lane wraps up the weekend’s racing at the Lowes Motor Speedway.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene it was another down week for the most part. All three speedway stocks had negative endings for the week. Taking the biggest dip was Speedway Motorsports which dropped 2.65 to 15.51. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 2.06 to 22.72 and Dover Downs dropped 0.17 to 1.56. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.19 to 5.05 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 3.29 to 28.17. Tire supplier Goodyear didn’t escape as they dropped 2.06 to 11.24. The car makers had one of their worst weeks. General Motors and Chrysler announced that they were eliminating close to 2,000 dealerships. Ford, which remains somewhat stable, dropped 0.75 to 5.49. General Motors dropped 0.52 to 1.09 and Toyota dropped 4.77 to 74.40. With the exception of Coca-Cola which went up 2.05 to 48.92, the major sponsors were also down for the week. Dupont dropped 1.45 to 26.93, Target Department Stores dropped 3.42 to 40.37 and Aarons Rentals dropped 2.33 to 30.15. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.10 to 24.40 and Lowes dropped 1.35 to 18.45.

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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