Tuesday May 15, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series went "Up Country" to the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Thanks to the efforts of Ted Hebert and Teddy Bear Pools & Spa $5000 in extra money was added to the WMT purse. This money was paid out to the drivers from positions 12 to 26. Last place paid out $810.

Ryan Preece led from pole to pole to win the 175 lap event at the New Hampshire oval. Preece withstood 10 restarts to take the win where his grandfather, Bobby Judkins had fielded winning mounts at the track in years past. It took an extreme amount of concentration on the part of Preece as he was repeatedly pressured and dogged by runner-up Doug Coby and Ted Christopher. Coby, who started second was kind of the meat in the sandwich as he had third place starter Todd Szegedy on his bumper for a good part of the distance. Ted Christopher had moved into the second spot on lap 13 but was later spun to the infield after contact from Coby. Justin Bonsignore put on the drive of the night as he came from a 14th starting spot to finish fourth. Likewise for Donnie Lia who started 17th, lost a lap at one point and rallied to make up his lap and finish sixth behind point leader Ron Silk. Rounding out the top ten were Mike Stefanik, Eric Beers and Keith Rocco. Rocco also put on a tremendous drive, rebounding from a late race pit stop to finish 10th. Rounding out those who finished on the lead lap were Jamie Tomaino, Christopher, Andy Seuss and Jimmy Blewett. Blewett actually finished sixth but was placed at the tail of the lead lap after he dumped Seuss on the final lap.

The race marked the return of Jerry Marquis after a six year retirement. Marquis who retired from driving in 2007 drove the Ralph Solhem No. 0. Marquis completed 134 laps before being forced to park it with suspension problems. Among the missing was Rowan Pennink who was attending his sisters wedding. Woody Pitkat was also absent. Jon McKennedy took over the controls of the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 after Daniel Hemric felt that it would be in his best interests if he contained his racing to the southland. McKennedy qualified fourth and was headed for a decent finish before a brush with the wall ended his night, pacing him in 24th finishing spot.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series takes a week off before heading to the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night, May 25

The Stafford Motor Speedway finally began their Friday night racing series after a one week delay because of rain. J.J. Hill was the winner of the extra distance 40-lap Late Model feature, Eric Berndt got around Ted Christopher on a green white checkered restart to pick up his first win of the 2012 in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Dylan Kopec was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature for the second consecutive week, Josh Wood also won for the second consecutive week in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders drove to victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature with a late race pass on Austin Bessette.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Berndt took the lead from Ted Christopher in the closing moments of the race and went on to score the victory. Rounding out the top-5 behind Berndt and Christopher was Dave Gervais, Ryan Preece, and Todd Owen.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Keith Rocco did not continue his winning streak as he was over 100 miles away competing in a Whelen Modified Tour event at the Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire.

Tyler Chadwick took the checkered flag in the SK Modified® feature, his second on the year, while defending Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model champion Jeff Smith returned to the winner’s circle for the first time in 2012. Chris Meyer became the first repeat winner of the season in the Street Stocks and Ken Cassidy Jr. won again in the Mini Stocks, giving him six on the year.

A special 60th anniversary event for the Northeastern Midget Association was also run. The Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) is one of the nation’s oldest racing series, with roots at Waterford going back to its beginning. Greg Stoehr of Bridgewater, MA took home the prestigious win in the night’s NEMA Midget feature while Brandon Igo of Bondsville, MA won the companion NEMA Lite race.

In the SK Modified feature Chadwick took the lead from Joe Perry on lap 20 and never looked back. Perry faded in the closing moments. Nicole Morgillo eventually grabbed second from Perry on lap-29 to score her best career finish. Kyle James rallied from an early race spin to drive back up to an impressive third place at the checkered flag. Perry faded to fourth, while Joe Gada ran with the leaders all night and took fifth.

In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina, Jonathan Brown said that he practiced at Bowman Gray Stadium all day on Saturday. Brown held off John Smith for his first win since leaving the Melvin "Puddin'" Swisher team. Michael Clifton was third, Danny Bohn was fourth and Jason Myers fifth. Burt Myers, who started the race in the points lead, finished sixth.

Brown passed Smith when the race restarted on Lap 86 and led the rest of the way.

Tom Rogers was the winner of twin 30 Modified features at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.

In Valenti Modified Racing news it has been learned that series founder Jack Bateman has retired from driving and has selected Todd Owen as his replacement. The decision ends a 46 year driving career. Bateman will focus on his race team and the VMRS he started 9 years ago. The VMS will be the headline division at Thompson this coming Sunday.
The newest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division at Thompson International Speedway, the LKQ/Keystone Lite Modifieds, will make its debut on Sunday. Also scheduled to compete are Thompson’s Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Xtra/Mart Limited Sportsman and Monster Mini Stocks.

LKQ/Keystone was very pleased to have the opportunity to provide weekly sponsorship in the form of bonus money to the new and exciting racing division. LKQ specializes in the replacement auto parts with Massachusetts outlets in Webster, Leominster and Southwick. Their Rhode Island facility is located in Cumberland. The Leominster location offers a “pick and pull” area where customers can actually select and remove the parts they need and save money in the process.

Keystone, which specializes in after market replacement parts, has locations in Taunton, Webster, Wilmington and Springfield, all in Massachusetts. The Connecticut locations are in Manchester and in Milford.

LKQ/Keystone joins Monster Energy Drink, Xtra/Mart Convenience Stores, Obastid Apparel, Town Fair Tire, Interstate Batteries, Cady’s Tavern Patriot Disposal and Draco Springs as supporters of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. By year’s end, these companies will have given Thompson Speedway competitors more than $13,000.00 in bonus money.

In TV land, viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday, at 6:00pm with NASCAR Race Hub. Race Hub will also be shown on Wednesday and Thursday at the same time. NASCAR Now will be on espn2 at 3:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and on Friday plus at noon on Saturday.

Race viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with a replay of last weekend's Sprint Cup event that was run at Darlington. The Nationwide Series event run at Darlington will be shown at noon on Thursday.

A Special Speed Center NASCAR All Star edition from Charlotte hits the screen on Speed at 7:00pm. The Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge follows at 8:00pm. Rounding out the day is Inside the Headsets at 10:30pm.

Speed goes live at 10:30am from Charlotte with Truck Series Final practice. Sprint Cup practice for the All Star Showdown follows at noon. Action on Speed continues at 3:00pm with TrackSide at Charlotte followed by Truck Series qualifying at 4:00pm and Sprint Cup qualifying for the All Star event at 5:00pm. Speed has the Truck Series pre-race show at 7:30pm followed at 8:00pm by the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Saturday's viewing starts with NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and Trackside on Speed going head to head at 11:00am. Speed has the Pit Crew Challenge at noon. At 2:30 Speed has Inside the Headsets followed by NASCAR Performance at 3:00pm and Speed Center at 3:00pm. NASCAR Race Day at 4:00pm serves as a three hour pre-race and preview of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Showdown / NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race which takes the green at 7:00pm. NASCAR Victory Lane at 11:30pm wraps up the day.

Sunday's viewing begins at 1:30pm on ESPN with the pre-race show for the Nationwide Series Pioneer Hi-Bred 250 at the Iowa Speedway which will take the green at 2:00pm. At 5:00pm the Speed Channel will have the ARCA Racing Series from Toledo, Ohio.

On Sunday night, the Speed Channel will have Speed Center at 7:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 8:00pm. NASCAR Victory Lane follows at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks showed slight gains. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.05 to 16.28 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.01 to 1.40. On the down side, the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.55 to 25.12. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.23 to 2.49 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.16 to 49.07 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.29 to 10.55. The domestic car makers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.09 to 10.58 and General Motors dropped 0.36 to 22.00. On the other hand, foreign car maker Toyota went up 2.08 to 80.71. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.62 to 50 34 and Lowes dropped 1.47 to 29.62. The major sponsors saw mostly negative movement except for Aarons Rentals which went up 0.35 to 26.99. Dupont dropped 1.32 to 51.57 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.23 to 62.25, Target Department Stores dropped 0.22 to 55.43 and Fedex dropped 1.50 to 87.80.

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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