Tuesday May 3, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The 40th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler got underway Friday, April 29 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions. Action continued on Saturday, April 30 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions.

In Whelen Modified Tour Series qualifying Doug Coby captured the Coors Lite Pole position as he toured the 1/2 mile oval in 17.985sec. Coby was one of four drivers limited to one qualifying lap because their spotters were late to report prior to time trials. Second fastest and taking the outside pole was Todd Szegedy. Defending Tour Series Champion Bobby Santos III was third fastest followed by Eric Beers and Rowan Pennink. There were 31 Modifieds on hand for qualifying.

Bobby Santos rebounded from a blown engine in the season opening Ice Breaker at Thompson with a win in Stafford Speedway's Tech-Net Spring Sizzler.

Santos, the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, held off points leader Rowan Pennink over the closing laps to claim the victory. Santos opened the season with the Coors Light Pole Award at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway but lasted just 16 laps before engine issues ended his day. It was Santos' third career win at Stafford and first in the track's annual season kickoff, which was running its 40 edition.

Ron Silk edged Eric Beers for third, while Mike Stefanik finished fifth. Erick Rudolph was sixth. Ted Christopher, three-time defending race winner, finished seventh. Matt Hirschman, Tom Rogers Jr. and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top 10. Pole sitter Doug Coby, finished 29th.

Starting third, Santos shot into the lead on lap one dragging Eric Beers with him. The first caution flew on Lap 83 when Doug Coby hit the back stretch wall. Ted Christopher led the field when they restarted on lap 90. The second caution waved on Lap 111 when Richie Pallai and Gary McDonald spun in turn two. The field went back to green on Lap 117. Christopher continued to lead with Santos hot on his bumper. Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. The yellow was displayed again on Lap 132 for debris on track. Knowing he couldn't make 200 laps on a tank of fuel, Christopher pitted and handed the lead to Santos.

The green flag was displayed on lap 138 with Santos in the lead and Pennink, second. Caution again, this time for Wade Cole who spun in turn one and deposited a ton of dirt on the track which caused NASCAR Race Control to stop the cars between turns three and four. The field returned to green on lap 145 with Santos leading followed by Rowan Pennink, James Civali, Matt Hirschman and Erick Rudolph.. They no sooner got going and the yellow flew again, more debris as cars are falling apart. Santos continued to lead. Ryan Preece was closing in on the top five when he slipped a bit.Preece and Jimmy Blewett got together on lap 160 which resulted in Kevin Goodale going over Preeces nerf bar thus bringing out another yellow. With 31 laps to go the green was displayed with Santos on the point over Civali and Pennink. Civali had a problem on lap 174 as he collected Todd Szegedy and Ed Flemke Jr as he hit the backstretch wall.

Santos continued to lead the field as they took the green on lap 179. Ron Silk moved into the second spot. The caution waved again on lap 183 when Jimmy Blewett went up and over Eric Berndt after Berndt had come down on the New Jersey driver. With the laps winding down the field went back to green on lap on lap 186. Pennink displaced Silk from the second spot. The final laps saw Pennink turn up the heat on Santos but the third generation racer was not to be denied as he streaked home the winner of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler. Following Santos at the finish was Rowan Pennink, Ron Silk, Eric Beers and Mike Stefanik. Erick Rudolph, Ted Christopher, Matt Hirschman, Tom Rogers and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten. Twenty of the original 31 starters finished on the lead lap.

In other Stafford action, Ryan Preece was the SK Modified winner and Woody Pitkat took the Late Models

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour goes back on Spring Break before returning on Friday, May 27 at Stafford for the TSI Harley-Davidson 125.

In action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Tyler Chadwick an opening lap wreck to win the SK Modified feature, his seventh career victory at the shoreline oval. On the beginning laps pole sitter Rookie Jeff Gallup triggered a wreck that created a pig pile in turn two which collected cars driven Tucker Reynolds Jr., Rob Janovic Jr., Glen Pressel, along with cars further back in the field including Ron Yuhas Jr. and Keith Rocco. Rocco, Reynolds, Janovic and Pressel were sidelined for the night.. On the restart Frank Mucciacciaro went head to head with Chadwick. Chadwick spent three laps outside Mucciacciaro before he took the lead and slowly pulled away. Shawn Monahan, Tom Abele, Kyle James and Ron Yuhas Jr. completed the top five.

In other events, Jeff Smith won his first Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race of the season. Special Street Stock and Mini Stock memorial events were won by Norm Root and Ken Cassidy Jr. respectively. Howard Payne won the visiting New England Truck Series feature, Melissa Fifield was a first-time winner in the Allison Legacy Series race. Paul Kusheba won his first career Speedbowl feature in the Legends Cars feature, while Glen Thomas Jr. and Frank Alessio wound up victorious in the X-Car and Super X-Car Saturday Showdown Series races.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH on Saturday night. Les Hinkley took a well earned win. Constant side-by-side racing often with five to seven car battles took place throughout the race with a couple of three-wide showdowns thrown in for good measure.
Defending Champion Jon McKennedy and Steve Masse led the 24- car field to green with McKennedy leading the first 11 circuits. Three-time Champion Kirk Alexander, moved into the lead on lap 12 with heavy pursuit from McKennedy, Jim Boniface and Louie Mechalides.
Hinckley, ailing from a stomach bug prior to race time, was running in a solid third on laps 86 through 96. The Connecticut veteran pulled up alongside McKennedy and powered by on lap 97 to second, and then by Mechalides on lap 98. to go on and win the highly competitive race. Mechalides, McKennedy, Alexander, and Goodenough followed the winner across the line. Sixth through tenth were Jarvis, Rowan Pennink, Tim Jordan, Chris Pasteryak and Norm Wrenn. Alexander was disqualified following a post race inspection.

In Modified action south of the Mason-Dixon line at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC being one of the walking wounded didn't impede the progress of Bert Myers. Burt Myers' ribs were feeling much better at the fall of the checkered flag in the season opening GMAC Insurance 200 at Bowman Gray Stadium.

Myers, Bowman Gray's defending Modified champion punctured a lung and broke three ribs in a racing crash little more than two weeks ago, took the lead with 18 laps left and went on to a relatively pain-free victory in front of a full house at the 17,000-seat stadium. It was Myers' 45th win overall in Bowman Gray's featured Modified Division. Myers indicated that fresh tires were key. Myers pitted for fresh right-side tires during a caution with 55 laps left and it paid off in the end result. Brian Loftin, who lost his wife in an auto accident assumed the lead when Myers pitted. In the end he finished third as Jonathan Brown edged him out for second..

The Thompson Speedway will begin it's regular Thursday night race programming a week from this coming Thursday on May 12. The Thursday night format allows both fans and competitors to get their weekly "fix" of racing without interfering with weekend family activities. The programs are run with efficiency which allows both fans and competitors to be on the way home, if they please, by 9:00pm. The popular Thursday night racing includes six exciting NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions along with many special event races throughout the season.

Since the running of the Ice Breaker the entire infield pit area has been dug up and soon will be repaved.

Sunoco Modifieds, Super Late Models, Thompson Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Monster Mini Stocks make up the weekly competition. Special events on the 2011 Thompson racing schedule include the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, The Valenti Modified Racing Series, Tour-Type Modifieds and the Pro All Star Series. In addition, extra distance events for Thompson’s “Super6” racers round out a program of exciting family entertainment all season long.

Fourth generation Thompson Speedway management member Jonathan Hoenig has announced that the speedway has teamed with ten different companies to offer additional cash bonuses for competitors in each of the track’s weekly racing divisions. The all new and exciting program will start on opening night of Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) events on May 12th.
A total of nearly ten thousand dollars will be distributed to competitors in various ways depending on the wishes of the companies that have enthusiastically joined Thompson’s efforts to put some extra cash into the pockets of loyal competitors. The firms participating in this all-new program have selected a racing division that they would like to assist and be associated with.

LKQ, the nation’s largest auto parts recycler will offer a $100.00 bonus to the winner of the Sunoco Modified race each week for ten race events this season. Mario’s Showplace of Webster, MA has also joined the Sunoco Modifieds and will offer an additional $50.00 to competitors through random drawings during the same ten week period.

Rescom Exteriors will offer, through random drawings, $50.00 in additional money to the competitors in the Super Late Model division during their ten week program. Late Model racers will benefit from a similar program thanks to J.D. Cooper’s Restaurant in Putnam, CT. J.D Cooper’s will award $75.00 for the same ten week period. Interstate Batteries has selected the Thompson Modified division and will pay an additional $50.00 to be awarded by a random drawing for each of the selected ten race events.

Thompson’s Limited Sportsman division will find season-long support from XTRA/MART stores including title sponsorship. XTRA/MART limited Sportsman race winners will receive a bonus of $100.00 from XTRA/MART. In addition, another $50.00 from XTRA/MART will be awarded with the recipient determined by a random drawing. Town Fair Tire has selected a schedule of ten races and will offer the Limited Sportsman winner an additional $100.00 bonus on their selected dates.

Monster Energy Drink has become the title sponsor for the Thompson Mini Stocks and, in so doing, will offer $50.00 plus apparel to the winner of each event and product for the first three finishers during the entire season. In addition, OBASTID Apparel will post $50.00 and apparel each week during the regular weekly series for Monster Mini Stock teams with the recipients determined by random drawing.

In TV land NASCAR Now on espn2 can be seen at 5:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR Now will air on Friday at 4:30pm and on Saturday at noon. 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. On Wednesday at noon the Speed Channel replays last Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal Presents The Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 that was run at the Richmond Raceway. On Thursday at noon Speed will replay last Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series Bubba Burger 250 that was also run in Richmond. At 3:00pm Speed will replay last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Showtime Southern 500 that was run at the Darlington Raceway. At 6:00pm the action moves to Versus for the Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour. Speed goes live on Friday morning with Sprint Cup practice from Darlington at 11:30am. NASCAR Live follows at 1:30pm. Live coverage from Darlington continues on Speed at 2:00pm with Sprint Cup practice. Another segment of NASCAR Live follows at 3:00pm. At 3:30pm the action moves to espn2 for Nationwide Series qualifying from Darlington. At 4:30pm its back to Speed for NASCAR Live followed by Sprint Cup qualifying at 5:00pm. The action again moves to espn2 at 7:00pm for NASCAR Countdown that will lead to the 7:30 start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Royal Purple 200 at Darlington. Trackside at Darlington follows at 10:00pm on Speed. Rounding out the day will be a NASCAR Hall of Fame Biography of David Pearson. Saturday's viewing starts at 3:30pm with NASCAR Performance from the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Speed. At 5:00pm NASCAR Raceday will have a two hour preview of the evening's Sprint Cup event at Darlington. FOX goes live at 7:00pm with their pre-race show that will lead to the 7:30pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington. Sunday is Mothers Day. The only viewing will be at 7:00pm when the Speed Channel presents Speed Center and at 8:00pm Speed has Victory Lane. At 9:00pm the Speed Channel has Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had positive results. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.14 to 15.58 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.03 to 30.60 while Dover Motorsports went down 0.04 to 1.95. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.37 to 5.18 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.49 to 42.66 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear jumped 2.19 to 18.15. The car builders were all positive for the week. Toyota went up 1.88 to 79.68 while General Motors went up 1.14 to 32.09 and Ford went up 0.04 to 15.47. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.65 to 37.15 and Lowes dropped 0.42 to 26.25. The major car sponsors were as usual, a mixed bag. Dupont went up 0.88 to 56.79 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.28 to 70.45. Target Department Stores dropped 0.80 to 49.10 while Aaron's Rentals went up 2.78 to 28.79 and Fedex went up 1.73 to 95.67.

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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