Tuesday May11, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continues on "Spring Break" After two events Bobby Santos sits firmly atop the point standings with a 15 point lead over Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik sits in third spot, some 25 points behind the leader. Tied for fourth spot are Rowan Pennick and Todd Szegedy. Sixth through tenth are Eric Berndt, Ryan Preece, Chris Pasteryak, Eric Goodale and Erick Rudolph. After two events a total of 39 different drivers have entered into competition.

Whelen Modified Tour Series racing resumes on Friday night, May 28 at the Stafford Motor Speedway with the TSI Harley-Davidson 125

Hoosier Tire, which supplies race tires for the Whelen Modified Tour Series will be conducting tire tests at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut and at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. The Lime Rock test, slated this Tuesday will include Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Bobby Santos and Todd Szegedy in preparation for the Whelen Modified Tour’s inaugural visit to Lime Rock Park on July 3. The test is open to the public. Bristol's tire test is scheduled for this coming Thursday. Invited for the day of testing are the teams of Mike Stefanik, James Civali and Burt Myers.

The Modified Racing Series returns to action next Friday night, May 21 as the boys of summer return to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY for a make-up event. After two events Jacob Dore leads the point standings over Jon McKennedy, Rowan Pennink, Steve Masse, Dwight Jarvis, Doug Coby, Todd Annarummo, Les Hinckley, Eddy Spiers and Matt Hirshman. A total of 38 different drivers have entered into competition

The Late Model division took center stage on Friday, May 7th at Stafford Motor Speedway with the 16th Annual Lincoln Technical Institute Late Model 100. Woody Pitkat scored a dominating win, leading the race from lap-17 all the way to lap-100 to pick up his first win of the 2010 season and the first win ever for his car owner Billy Snow, Sr. Frank Ruocco scored a dominating feature victory in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, David Webb won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr. won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly wired the field in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Ted Christopher took the lead from Frank Ruocco in the outside groove to lead the field, but Ruocco was glued to Christopher's back bumper. After several cautions slowed the action in the first several laps of the race, Christopher held the lead until lap-6 when Ruocco went to the front of the field. Keith Rocco was third behind Christopher with Mark Bakaj in fourth and Zach Sylvester in fifth.
Ruocco continued to hold the lead while Christopher and Rocco were having a great duel for second place. Rocco worked Christopher over and he finally was able to get by Christopher for second on lap-20. A spin by Brad Hietala brought the yellow out with 20 laps complete. Ruocco continued to lead on the restart, with Rocco and Christopher side by side for second. Christopher took the spot, but he spun on lap-23 after contact with Rocco, which brought the caution back out. Rocco was sent to the rear of the field for over aggressive driving, moving Sylvester into second, Jeff Malave into third, and Jeff Baral into fourth for the restart.

Ruocco again held the lead with Sylvester, Malave, Baral, and Dan Avery behind him in the top-5. The top-5 ran in line until the caution came back out with 29 laps complete for a spin by Brad Hietala. Ruocco again got a good restart and kept the lead with Malave moving into second and Baral into third. Keith Rocco was now back in the mix after his penalty and moved into fourth with Ryan Preece moving into fifth place. Rocco got by Baral on the last lap, but it was all Ruocco as he led the race from lap-6 to the checkered flag to take his first SK Modified® feature victory of the 2010 season. Malave finished second, with Rocco, Baral, and Preece rounding out the top-5.

Racing at the Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to rain. The sun was out at 3:00pm and it ended up being a pleasant day and evening. There was lots of standing water in the infield which meant that the water table at the shoreline oval was quite high. Keith Rocco holds a commanding 19 point lead over Ron Yuhas jr in the SK Modified division. Sitting in third, 64 points in arears is Diego Monahan. Tyler Chadwick and Rob Janovic are tied for fifth.

Russ Dowd advises that Town Fair Tire and Thompson International Speedway have renewed an agreement that will, once again, make Town Fair Tire a major player at the famed speedway during the 2010 racing season.
With seventy-eight stores throughout New England, Town Fair Tire Centers, Inc. will sponsor a major race event and will continue their very popular contingency program with Thompson’s Limited Sportsman division. The announcement was made by Thompson Owner and Promoter, Don Hoenig and Jim Uliano, Vice President of Town Fair Tire Centers, Inc.

Town Fair Tire will be the presenting sponsor of the first and much anticipated Tour-Type Modified race scheduled for Thursday, June 3rd. This race will be the first of four open competition events for Tour-Type Modified race cars. Interest among fans and competitors is very high due to the nature of the race and the fact that it will be a “dash for the cash” 40-lap feature event. Qualifying heat races and, if necessary, consolation races will be used to determine the starting field for these unique race programs. These open competition races are expected to draw a wide variety of Modified racers from all over the northeast.

Town Fair Tire’s contingency program will once again offer a $100.00 bonus to the winner of the Limited Sportsman division races on ten selected race nights between June and August. This program was a huge hit with the competitors last year and is expected, once again, to make the drivers in this ultra competitive division work just that much harder to gain a win.

Race fans will also benefit from this arrangement between the speedway and Town Fair Tire Centers, Inc. Thousands of discount coupons have been printed and distributed to all seventy-eight Town Fair location throughout New England. The free coupons offer a $3.00 general admission discount for regular Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) events during the 2010 racing season. The TNTT schedule begins on Thursday May 20th and runs through Thursday, September 16th.

The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night in front of another packed house. MadHouse TV star Burt Myers scored his first victory of the year at the historic track. Myers started 16th on the field. Brian Loftin finished second with Brentt Elliott, third and Brad Robbins, fourth. Defending track champ Tim Brown rounded out the top five. Jason Myers, another MadHouse star finished ninth after drawing the scratch starting spot. Junior Miller ended up 15th.

Internet web site Speed 51 reported that defending Bowman Gray Stadium (NC) Modified champion and Madhouse television personality Tim Brown told Speed 51 Radio that SPEED TV has been negotiating with the History Channel to buy the rights to the reality television show. Brown said that even though he wasn't happy with how he was portrayed in the first season of the show he would consider being a part of a second season. He told 51 Radio that although a film crew has been taping at Bowman Gray this year, it might be too late into the season for a deal to be made and a possible SPEED version of Madhouse might not appear until the 2011 season.

National Speed-Sport scribe Ron Hedger made a good point recently when he stated "NASCAR racing is by far the most popular form of motorsports in the nation. And while many associate NASCAR history with the southeast, New York has an amazingly rich history with the sanctioning body."

In addition Hedger stated, "At the same time that NASCAR is opening its new Hall of Fame and Museum in Charlotte, NC, the Saratoga Automobile Museum’s Racing in New York gallery has added a comprehensive NASCAR IN NEW YORK exhibit that uses numerous text and photo panels and four vintage race cars to bring this history to life."

Ten NASCAR National Champions, Bill Rexford, Bill Wimble, Dick Nephew, Jim Reed, Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Mike McLaughlin, Wayne Anderson, Steve Park and Donny Lia were residents of the Empire State while New Englanders Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton, Ernie Gahan, Bugsy Stevens and Freddy DeSarro and Pennsylvania drivers Tony Hirschman and Jimmy Spencer used New York speedways as the foundation of their championship runs. These drivers and more are highlighted in the new exhibit at the Saratoga Museum.

Short track racers on display include the Bridge midget, used by Capital District owner Joe Sukup in his NASCAR Midget Division championship season, and three stock cars. The 1937 Ford Sportsman driven by Don Rounds, on loan from Mel Ogden, is a prime example of the 1960’s, while Bruce Dostal’s Chevy coupe illustrates the technical advances seen on the big block Modifieds of the 1970’s. The third stock car is Ray Hedger’s Volkswagon bodied asphalt modified, driven by Dick Clark, that shows the progression in the 1980’s.

The exhibit also features a variety of memorabilia associated with NASCAR’s history in New York, much of it obtained from the collection of Rene Charland. A rare trophy awarded to Gahan’s ace mechanic, Jack Blackwood, is also included along with the racing gallery’s popular “jacket wall.”

The Saratoga Automobile Museum, located on the Avenue of the Pines in the Saratoga Spa State Park, is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm

In TV land this weeks viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday at 9:00am with live coverage of the grand opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC. This program is repeated at 4:00pm and at 9:00pm. NASCAR Now on espn2 is shown at 5:00pm. NASCAR Now is also shown Wednesday and Thursday at 5:00pm. NASCAR Race Hub on the Speed Channel is shown at 7:30pm. NASCAR Race Hub is also shown at the same time on Wednesday and Thursday. Also on Tuesday on the Speed Channel is Race in 60 featuring the highlights of last Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup, Showtime Southern 500 that was run at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina. This program will repeat on Wednesday morning at 8:00am. A special biography on Richard Petty will air at 9:00am on Wednesday. At noon, Speed replays last Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Showtime Southern 500 that was run at Darlington Raceway. At 6:00pm Race in 60 highlights the recent Sprint Cup event in Fontana, CA. On Thursday at noon Speed presents a NASCAR Nationwide Series Replay of the Darlington 200 that was run at the Darlington Raceway. At 6:00pm May 13 the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Series, South Boston 150 takes center stage. Fridays viewing begins at 9:30am with NASCAR Live at the Dover International Speedway. Live coverage continues at 10:00am with NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying at Dover. A 90 minute Sprint Cup practice session follows at 11:30am. At 2:00pm the Nationwide Series takes to the Dover track for a two hour practice session. Sprint Cup qualifying begins at 4:00pm followed by Truck Series qualifying at 4:30pm. Speed has a 60 minute special on Richard Petty at 6:00pm. Trackside at Dover follows at 7:00pm. At 8:00pm Speed hosts a pre-race program that will lead into an 8:30pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dover 200. At 11:00pm Dale Earnhardt will be the subject of a NASCAR Hall of Fame biography. Saturday's viewing begins at 10:00am on espn2 with Nationwide Series qualifying from Dover. At 11:30 the action moves to the Speed Channel for 2-1/2 hour practice for the Sprint Cup cars. At 2:00pm the action shifts to ABC for the Nationwide Series pre-race program that will lead into the start of the Heluva Good! 200 at Dover at 2:30pm. Sunday's viewing starts at 9:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. The viewing switches to Speed at 10:00am for two hours of RaceDay. FOX goes live at noon with their 60 minute pre-race program that will lead into the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400 at Dover. Rounding out the weekend on Sunday night is The SPEED Report at 7:00, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week the blood bath on Wall Street had a profound effect on the racing related stocks. The speedway stocks took a digger with the International Speedway Corporation taking the biggest wack as they went down 2.56 to 28.00. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.42 to 14.83 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.19 to 2.01. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.41 to 3.84 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 3.67 to 29.11 and tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.32 to 12.11. The auto makers did not escape the wrath. Toyota dropped 2.20 to 74.89 while Ford dropped 1.51 to 11.51 and General Motors dropped 0.08 to 0.57. In the home improvement sector Lowes dropped 1.81 to 25.31 and Home Depot dropped 1.80 to 33.43. The team sponsors also took a hit. Dupont dropped 2.61 to 36.23 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.55 to 54.53 while Target Department Stores dropped 2.57 to 54.30 and Aarons Rentals dropped 2.01 to 20.56.

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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