Tuesday May 21, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Valenti Modified Racing Series paid a visit to the Thompson on Sunday. Twenty eight Modifieds were on hand. Unfortunately rain prevailed. The event will not be rescheduled to a later date. Grandstand tickets and pit passes will be honored at the next VMRS event.

The Stafford Motor Speedway Friday night series saw Rowan Pennink score his first ever win at the Connecticut oval. Pennink, who also races at Thompson on a weekly basis plus the Valenti Modified Series and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, travels from Huntingon Valley, PA each and every week in order to race. Shortly after the drop of the green in the 40 lap feature Pennink went to the lead past Michael Gervais and never looked back. Sean Foster, who moved into the runner-up spot at the mid point of the event, tried everything he could to get by Pennink, but Pennink held him off at the checkered for his first career SK Modified® feature victory. Glen Reen finished third, with Ted Christopher and Doug Coby rounding out the top-5.

In other racing action at Stafford, Jeremy Lavoie was the big winner of the night, driving to his second consecutive victory in the DARE Stock feature. Tom Fearn was the winner of the extra distance 35-lap Late Model feature, Tony Membrino was the winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, and David Arute was the winner in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature.

Stafford will host the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series 23rd ANNUAL TSI HARLEY-DAVIDSON 125 PRESENTED BY G-OIL this coming Friday night, May 24. After two events Rowan Pennink and Ryan Preece are tied for the point lead. One point behind is Mike Stefanik. Rounding out the top five are Ted Christopher and Justin Bonsignore.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, it was a little chilly to say the least as summer has yet to kick in. Scoring victories were Kyle James of Ashaway, RI in the SK Modifieds® and Bruce Thomas Jr. of Groton in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models. A pair of defending champions earned their first 2013 wins, Ken Cassidy Jr. of Lisbon and Paul French of Andover in the Mini Stocks and SK Light Modifieds, respectively. Ryan Waterman of Danielson was a first-ever winner in the Street Stock feature. All five were first time winners in 2013.

James picked up his win surviving a wild 35-lap race in the SK Modified® division. James, who started in last position, dodged incidents which resulted in eight caution flags that plagued the race. He started the race in 23rd position after problems plagued him in practice and qualifying. The race began with rookie Tyler Jackson and Ed Puleo battling for the lead from their front row starting positions. Jackson bobbled exiting turn two on lap-2 creating a traffic jam behind him which resulted in a caution when Diego Monahan spun into turn-3. Puleo took the lead on the restart as Jeff Rocco and Tom Abele climbed to second and third on the track.

Nichole Morgillo and Justin Gaydosh spun in tandem out of turn two battling in a tight pack of cars just outside the top-five for the second caution flag on lap-10. The restart was not kind to Jeff Rocco as he made heavy contact with the retaining wall exiting turn two while running. Ted Christopher was collected and pitted for repairs, returning at the tail end of the field while Rocco’s night was over. Only one lap was completed before caution was back out on lap-11 as more mayhem broke out behind Puleo. Another bobble by Jackson out of turn two resulted in several cars making contact and Monahan again the victim, stopped on the track with a flat tire. Keith Rocco took the opportunity to head to the pits for adjustments during the yellow.

Craig Lutz took over at the front with a daring three-wide maneuver after racing went back to green. He looked inside of Puleo down the back chute coming to lap-14 as Puleo fended off a challenge to his outside by Abele. Lutz cleared both exiting turn four to streak into the lead, holding the top spot through lap-22 when Puleo fought back and found room to his inside. Behind Puleo Todd Ceravolo eventually came away with second position in a battle that saw three cars tangle on lap-24. Abele and Lutz both tried racing under Brett Gonyaw in turn two, coming together to bring out the next caution flag and sending each to the pit area for repair. The melee bumped James up to third position and into contention. James was able to get ahead of Ceravolo on the restart, trailing Puleo when Jeffrey Gallup and Christopher wrecked in turn four battling for fourth on lap-25. Once in second, James used the next restart to stay outside of Puleo and take command on lap-27 when Puleo got loose to his inside fighting to hang on to his lead. James survived a final restart on lap-33, besting Ceravolo to race to the checkered flag. Ceravolo wound up second while Puleo ran up front all night, leading much of the race, to place third. Keith Rocco and Lutz both rebounded from their hurdles to round out the top-five.

In NASCAR Modified Racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Howie Brode of East Islip snapped a nearly three year winless spell when he swept the Twin 30 NASCAR Modified feature events at the east end oval under threatening skies which forced the features to be moved up in the track's running order with unexpected rain showers all around the facility. For Brode it was his 12th career win at Riverhead and his first since he won on July 17th, 2010 when he was triumphant in the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 Memorial. Ryan Preece finished second, while defending champion Shawn Solomito was third place tally. Ron Silk and Tom Rogers Jr. rounded out the top five.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC Burt Myers scored his 52nd career win at the 1/4 mile flat oval that encircles a football field. Myers survived nine restarts and managed to hold the lead until the end of the 104 lap contest. Myers, who has won two of four Modified races this season, moved up from the second row to the outside of the front row after Robert Jeffreys, who drew the second position, wasn’t able to start.

Brad Robbins started from the pole, but Myers snatched the lead with a pass to the outside on the opening lap. Contact out of turn two on a restart after the first caution left Robbins’ car loose in his bid for second place, and he wound up running into Junior Miller, pinning Miller’s car against the guardrail as several cars piled up behind and sent Robbie Brewer’s car on its roof.

In some sad news, former short-track ace Dick Trickle died Thursday at age 71 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff's Department. Trickle was active in NASCAR racing for more than 30 years. He was winless in 303 Sprint Cup Series starts but collected two victories in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the first coming on Easter weekend in 1997 at Hickory Motor Speedway, where the Wisconsin native took the lead from Randy LaJoie with 22 laps left and held on for the win. Trickle, who won well over 1,000 short-track features in his career, ran his last NASCAR race in 2002. Trickle's body was found near his pickup truck in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, N.C. The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call at around noon Wednesday, from a man, apparently Trickle, who said there would be a dead body, and it would be his.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had positive results for the week. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.33 to 34.52 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.01 to 2.09 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.43 to 18.00. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.04 to 7.32 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.56 to 50.36 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.89 to 14.74. The car builders were all positive for the week. Ford went up 97 00 to 15.08 while General Motors went up 2.00 to 33.42 and Toyota went up 6.14 to 127.32. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.85 to 76.86 and Lowes went up 0.60 to 42.67. For the most part the team sponsors had a good week. The exceptions were Aarons Rentals whic dropped 0.03 to 28.72 and Fedex which dropped 0.07 to 100.05. Dupont went up 0.43 to 55.89, Coca-Cola went up 0.33 to 61.38 and Target went up 1.32 to 71.06.

In television racing action this coming week:

5    22    Wed    12:00 PM    3:00 PM    NSCS Replay All-Star    SPEED   
5    22    Wed    6:00 PM    7:00 PM    NASCAR Race Hub        SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    1:30 AM    2:00 AM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2   
5    23    Thurs    7:00 AM    8:00 AM    NASCAR Race Hub        SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    12:00 PM    1:00 PM    A Racer's Life: Richard Petty        SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    1:00 PM    3:30 PM    NNS Practice    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    3:30 PM    5:00 PM    NSCS Practice    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    5:00 PM    6:30 PM    NNS Practice    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    6:30 PM    7:00 PM    NASCAR Race Hub Special Edition        SPEED   
5    23    Thurs    7:00 PM    8:30 PM    NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    24    Fri    7:00 AM    8:00 AM    A Racer's Life: Richard Petty        SPEED   
5    25    Sat    10:00 AM    11:00 AM    NSCS Practice    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    25    Sat    11:00 AM    12:00 PM    NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying    Charlotte    ESPN2   
5    25    Sat    1:00 PM    2:00 PM    NSCS Happy Hour Practice    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    25    Sat    2:30 PM    2:45 PM    NNS Countdown    Charlotte    ABC   
5    25    Sat    2:45 PM    5:30 PM    NNS: HISTORY 300    Charlotte    ABC    3:02 PM
5    25    Sat    6:00 PM    7:00 PM    Trackside    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    26    Sun    11:00AM    12:00n    Indy 500 Pre-Race    Indianapolis    ABC   
5    26    Sun    12:00n    3:30PM    Indy 500 97th Running    Indianapolis    ABC   
5    26    Sun    10:00 AM    11:00 AM    NASCAR Now        ESPN2   
5    26    Sun    3:30 PM    5:30 PM    NASCAR RaceDay    Charlotte    SPEED   
5    26    Sun    5:30 PM    6:00 PM    NSCS Pre-Race Show    Charlotte    FOX   
5    26    Sun    6:00 PM    10:30 PM    NSCS: Coca-Cola 600    Charlotte    FOX    6:16 PM
5    26    Sun    10:30 PM    11:00 PM    NASCAR Victory Lane    Charlotte    SPEED

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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