Tuesday May 5, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first two, of 14 events, is now on “Spring Break” Ted Christopher, who is two for two after winning the Ice Breaker at the Thompson Speedway and the Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway leads Todd Szegedy and Ryan Preece by 35 points. Szegedy finished fifth at Thompson and second at Stafford. Preece was fourth at Thompson and third at Stafford. Donny Lia is 10 points behind Szegedy and Preece. Rounding out the top five is Jimmy Blewett, seven points behind Lia. Sixth through tenth are Mike Stefanik, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, Bobby Grigas, III and Jamie Tomaino. Next on the schedule is the TSI Harley-Davidson Classic at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday, May 22.

Despite the fact that the first two events were successful at drawing very good crowds at both tracks and good car counts the competitors and those who follow the Modified Tour Series are upset with the goings on, especially from NASCAR. First off, in a completely gutless move, the sanctioning body announced through the media and the mail that the season ending awards banquet would be moving to the Charlotte, NC area and competitors would be required to attend if they wanted to receive their point money. NASCAR had made this decision before the Thompson event. Why didn’t they announce it then? A very sneaky move to say the least! The main object was to avoid confrontations between the competitors and the NASCAR officials at the race. NASCAR fails to realize that most Whelen Modified Tour Series drivers, owners and pit crews are not full time racers like those in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series. Most of them have full time jobs. NASCAR says they care about their competitors, in reality that’s a lot of crap!

The latest sneaky tactic by NASCAR is the announcement by mail after the running of the Stafford event that the May 22 TSI Harley-Davidson Classic at Stafford had a reduced distance of 100 laps instead of the previously posted 150 laps. They also announced that the purse had been reduced by 20%! NASCAR and the management of the Stafford Speedway knew this before the running of the Sizzler but used the mail again in order to avoid confrontations. Another gutless move!

It was estimated that the recent Spring Sizzler at Stafford drew 8,000 fans. General admission was $35. Run the numbers, that’s $280,000 taken in at the front gate. A conservative guess would have at least another $20,000 coming through the back gate. In the current economy it’s good to see that Stafford had a good day. Instead of crying poverty they should give some back to those who put on the show.

NASCAR continues to discourage competitors from running rival series including the New England based True Value Series and the New York based Race of Champions Modified Series. Slowly but surely NASCAR is pushing the Modified competitors away to alternate series’ and they can’t understand why.

Competitors do have another alternative, they can just stay home!

The Friday night racing season opener at the Stafford Motor Speedway was cancelled last week. It could have been because of the economy or quite possibly a threat of Swine Flu. Needless to say, it rained on and off most of the day.

After three straight rainouts the Waterford Speedbowl looks to be on the upswing. Car counts have been a little light but the spectator count has been on the rise. Much of the credit has to go to the competitors and loyal fans who have beat the bushes and got the word out that there is in fact racing, good racing at the shoreline oval this year. Track management has not advertised but it seems that word of mouth has done the job.

Front gate attendance at the shoreline oval took a step backwards last Saturday. The SK Modifieds, the big draw, had the night off. Bruce Thomas Jr. returned to Victory Lane as he won the Late Model feature in strong fashion. Other winners from the night included Allen Coates in the NEATV Truck Series, Al Stone III in the Street Stocks, Phil Evans in the Mini Stocks, and Jason Palmer repeating in the Legends Cars feature.

Bruce Thomas, Jr. won again in the Late Models at Waterford.

The stands were almost empty without the SK's. Despite the fact that the SKs were off, the admission was still $14 for the grandstand. There were only 12 Late Models, 24 Legend's, (light for that division), not a bad field of stockers and 4 cylinders and only 7 trucks.

Sorry to hear that young driving sensation Ryan Morgan got parked in the fence during the running of the Legends Cars feature. Morgan had just moved into 3rd. with 7 laps remaining when Adam Gada took him to the wall again for the second week.  Keith Rocco, two-for-two in 35-lap SK Modified races this season, found a ride in a Legends Car for the event and would settle into third in his first outing in the division.

The Speedbowl returns to action with the start of Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesdays on May 6, while on Saturday May 9 the True Value Modified Series comes to town with an action-packed 100-lap feature event and their popular heat races.   They will be joined by a full card of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action headlined by the SK Modifieds, Late Models, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks.

The True Value Modified Racing Series travels to the Waterford Speedbowl for a 100 lapper this Saturday night. Some competitors will be returning to the place their racing careers began, while other drivers very much in tune with the ‘Bowl’s two groove racing surface will be looking to turn a few heads.  Among the Waterford regulars that will be in competition are Jeff Pearl and Rob Janovic Jr. Leading the list of True Value Modified Series stalwarts returning ‘home’ to Waterford is non-other than last year’s Series champion, Chris Pasteryak.   Pasteryak began his racing career at the ‘Bowl, cutting his teeth in the Legends Cars earning track championships before moving on to the SK Modifieds.  In four seasons, he won four times and finished second in 2006 points.   He visited Victory Lane the last time the Series visited Waterford.
Others on the True Value tour that have frequented Speedbowl victory lane prior to moving on in their careers include Ed Dachenhausen; Mike Holdridge, who has won in a Street Stock, Late Model, and SK; and Jim Dolan.  Holdridge finished amongst the leaders in points on the Series a year ago, but would like nothing more than to pick up his first career TVMS victory at the place his racing career began and where his dad Dale found much success.

The Thompson Speedway had announced that Town Fair Tire has joined Speedway in a sponsorship program that includes both the True Value Modified special event and the Thompson Limited Sportsman division. The agreement between Town Fair Tire and Thompson Speedway includes Title Sponsorship of the June 18th special event and makes Town Fair Tire a key player in Thompson’s new contingency program that provides cash incentives for the track’s competitors. The Town Fair Tire True Value Modified special event on June 18th will feature a 75-lap main event for the True Value cars and will also include Thompson’s Super 6 NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions.

The Thompson Speedway contingency program is designed to assist competitors with a $100.00 cash bonus. Town Fair Tire has joined this program and will offer the extra cash to the winners of ten selected Limited Sportsman races.

Former modified stand-out Billy Schulz passed away April 20th.

Like any contingency program, the winner must display the Town Fair Tire decal on his or her race car. The ten selected Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) events will begin on Thursday, June 4th and conclude on Thursday, August 20th. Town Fair Tire will also make discount coupons available to New England race fans.  The coupons offer a three dollar admission discount for any of the ten selected Town Fair Tire events at Thompson Speedway. The coupons are free and are available at participating Town Fair Tire locations.

In some sad news it was learned that former Modified driver Billy Schulz had passed away at the age of 73. Schulz, along with his brother Fred were competitors at the Norwood Arena for many years.

In TV land this week, NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday at noon the Speed Channel presents a replay of last Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal presents the Russell Friedman 400 at the Richmond VA Raceway. On Thursday at 3:00 Speed has the April 25th NASCAR Camping World Touring Series East event that was run at the Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, NC. Friday’s action starts at 11:00am with NASCAR Live at Darlington followed by Sprint Cup practice at Darlington from 11:30am to 1:00pm. Another NASCAR Live session fills the gap at 1:00 before the final Sprint Cup practice session begins at 1:30. At 3:00pm the Nationwide Series has their qualifying session at Darlington. NASCAR Live follows at 4:30. The Sprint Cup cars at Darlington qualify at 5:00. At 7:00pm the action switches to espn2 for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead to a 7:30pm start of the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at Darlington. While the Nationwide Series is in progress the Speed Channel will have the April 18 World of Outlaws from the Virginia Motor Speedway in Saluda, VA. Rounding out the evening will be Trackside at Darlington on Speed at 11:00. The Darlington Nationwide Series event will be re-shown on espn2 at 3:30am on Saturday. ESPN2 has NASCAR Now on Saturday morning at 10:00am. At 5:00pm a two hour NASCAR RaceDay will preview the evening’s Darlington Sprint Cup event. At 7:00 the action moves to FOX for their pre-race show which will be followed by a 7:30pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Southern 500 at Darlington. Sunday will be the celebration of Mother’s Day. 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 Sunday night.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had negative results. The International Speedway Corporation which went up 0.21 to 23.00 was the only one with a positive ending. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.24 to 14.91 and Dover Downs dropped 0.10 to 1.55. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.36 to 4.54. NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil followed suit as they went up 0.34 to 28.25. Tire supplier Goodyear was also on the rise as they went up 0.43 to 11.30. Domestic car builders Ford and General Motors had a positive week. Ford went up 0.64 to 5.64 and GM went up 0.10 to 1.79. Toyota dropped back 2.01 to 78.91. Some of the NASCAR team sponsors were off for the week. Dupont dropped 1.13 to 27.65, Coca-Cola dropped 2.04 to 51.41 and Target Department Stores dropped 0.11 to 39.99. On the positive side was Aarons Rentals which went up 4.90 to 33.56. The home improvement sector was also negative for the week. Home Depot dropped 0.75 to 25.56 and Lowes dropped 0.40 to 20.69.

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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