Tuesday May 10, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Economy wise, things have never been so bad. Millions of workers are unemployed and fuel prices are soaring through the roof. Auto racing in general has taken a hit. Competitors are staying home as are fans. Simply put, they can't afford it. In the Northeast, Waterford drew a good crowd for its opening day program as did Thompson and Stafford. Hopefully this trend will carry through the season but don't bet on it. One track, in North Carolina hit on the answer. They reduced the admission price to $10.00 per event and so far have packed the place for the first two events. Most short track operations are nothing more than open air restaurants. Most profits that promoters make come from the sale of food and beverages. That's where the real money is! The car racing is the draw that gets the people in the place and as long as the promoter has enough to pay the purse from admissions the rest is gravy. Give a working family a decent deal and they will come.

Get greedy and charge too much and they will stay home. You can't sell beer, soda and hot dogs to empty seats!

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour goes back on Spring Break before returning on Friday, May 27 at Stafford for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125. Rowan Pennink remains atop the point standings with a 20 point edge on Mike Stefanik. Eric Beers holds down the third spot with Ted Christopher and Matt Hirschman rounding out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway kicked off its Friday Night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule with 5 divisions of racing on Friday night, May 6th. Keith Rocco picked up where he left off at the end of last year as he scored his first Stafford win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event. Rocco, who won two at Waterford in early season action, has a total of three wins for the year. Adam Gray took down his first career victory in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko was declared the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature after race winner Zach Aszklar's car did not meet the minimum ride height requirement, Norm Sears returned to victory lane after a year away from Stafford Speedway in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood drove to victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Jeff Pearl broke the ice for 2011 as he won his 35th career victory. Bruce Thomas Jr. captured his 45th win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, taking the evening’s 30-lap event. Ed Puleo overcame an intense battle in a special 50-lap Street Stock race, his second victory of the season while Chris Williams was the winner of the 25-lap Mini Stock feature. Ryan Bigelow was the winner in the visiting NEMA Lite Series 25-lap race.

In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC eight-time champion Tim Brown got his 55th career victory in the first of two 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division and it was Danny Bohn who was a surprise winner in the second race, in just his third career start. Originally from New Jersey, Bohn works for Ray Evernham and also races dirt cars. He started on the pole and led every lap. Brown also went pole to pole. Jonathan Brown finished second to Bohn while Burt and Jason Myers followed Brown.

The Thompson Speedway will begin it's regular Thursday night race programming this coming Thursday, May 12. The Sunoco Modified division will see a big increase in their race pay off this Thursday thanks to LaFramboise Well Drilling and Water Service of Thompson. The winner of this week’s 30-lap main event will receive $2,000.00 for their efforts and just about everyone else will see additional money thanks to the local well drilling and water service company.

In TV land NASCAR Now on espn2 can be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and at 5:30pm on Thursday. NASCAR Now will air on Saturday at 10:00am. NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday This weeks race viewing begins on Tuesday at 4:00 with IndyCar Open Wheel Weekly on Versus. Wednesday's viewing begins at noon on the Speed Channel with a replay of last Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Showtime Southern 500 that was run at Darlington. On Thursday at noon, Speed will replay last weeks Nationwide Series event that was run at Darlington. At 3:00pm Speed replays last year's Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400 that was run at Dover. At 6:00pm the action continues on Speed with the April 17 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, South Boston 150 that was held in South Boston, VA. Speed goes live on Friday morning at 10:00am with Truck Series qualifying from Dover. Starting at 11:00am the rest of the morning and most of the afternoon until 4:30 will be consumed by Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series practice. The truck series will qualify at 6:00pm followed by TrackSide at 7:00pm. At 8:00pm Speed hosts a pre-race show that will lead to the 8:30pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 200 at Dover. SPEED Center on Speed closes out the day at 11:00pm. Saturday's viewing starts at 10:00 on espn2 with NASCAR Now followed by Nationwide Series qualifying at 10:30. At 11:30 the action switches to Speed for NASCAR Live followed by Sprint Cup qualifying from Dover. ESPN hosts the pre-race show for the Nationwide Series which will lead to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-hour Energy 200 at Dover. At 6:00pm Versus has the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. At 8:00pm Speed Center on Speed sums up the days racing. NASCAR Hall of Fame Biography featuring Bobby Allison, follows at 8:30. Sunday's TV viewing begins at 10:00am with Speed Center on Speed followed by two hours of RaceDay starting at 10:30. FOX goes live at 12:30pm with their pre-race that will lead to the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, FedEx 400 at Dover. Rounding out the day will be Speed Center at 7:00, Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. Dover Entertainment had a positive ending as they went up 0.07 to 2.02 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.04 to 15.54 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.92 to 29.68. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.02 to 5.20 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.57 to 41.09 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.59 to 17.56. The car builders were also a victim of the off week. Ford dropped 0.36 to 15.11 while General Motors dropped 0.18 to 31.91 and Toyota dropped 0.58 to 79.10. Ditto for the home improvement sector as Home Depot dropped 0.16 to 36.99 and Lowes dropped 0.61 to 25.64. The big team sponsors were all over the lot. Dupont dropped 2.16 to 54.63 while Coca-Cola dropped 4.12 to 66.33. Target Department Stores went up 1.41 to 50.51 while Aaron's Rentals dropped 1.36 to 27.43 and Fedex dropped 0.02 to 95.65.

Sunoco, Inc.'s Board of Directors declared a cash dividend for the second quarter of 2011 of $0.15 per share on all full shares of common stock outstanding, payable June 10, 2011 to shareholders of record at the close of business on May 19, 2011.

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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