For Tuesday November 8, 2005

By Phil Smith                                                    

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series is finally completed. Congratulations to Tony Hirschman and his team for a job well done. The next order of business will be the annual awards banquet at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, CT on December 16. Don Hawk and his staff are currently working on the 2006 schedule, which they hope to announce at that time. It is also hoped that Hawk can solidify some television exposure for the division.

In other NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour news, the Hillbilly Racing #79 team announced on Monday they had released driver Mike Christopher after a disappointing season compared to previous years. Mike had replaced long time Hillybilly Racing Team driver Ed Flemke, Jr. in 2005.  No announcement on who might take over the #79 ride in 2006.

The Third Annual North – South Shootout in Concord, NC got top billing last weekend. In addition to the Modifieds the SK Modifieds have been added to the program this year. Competitors and fans arriving on Thursday were greeted with temperatures in the low 70’s. Among the early casualties was Bob Polverari who crashed hard and tore his car apart during practice. He hit the wall so hard he snapped the chassis up near the a-arm. His crew had to replace the whole right side.

Donnie Lia led a field of 41 Modifieds to take the pole position for the Third Annual North – South Shootout last Friday night. Zach Sylvester was second fastest with Matt Hirschman, third. Rounding out the top five who locked in their spots were Todd Szegedy and Jimmy Blewett. Four 20 – lap Modified qualifying heats were won by Chuck Hossfeld, Doug Coby, Eric Beers and Ted Christopher. A field of 41 SK type Modifieds was on hand. Chuck Docherty was the fastest in time trials. Jimmy Blewett was second fastest with Ronnie Silk, third. Tom Fox, Frank Ruocco and Tom Rogers were the SK type Modified heat winners.

John Blewett III didn’t qualify all that well but he more than made up for it in the 100 lap Shootout that he won. Blewett slugged it out with Doug Coby and Zach Sylvester in the late stages of the event. Sylvester ended up third while Coby faded to fifth at the finish. Southern Modified competitor Brian Loftin finished third while pole sitter and bad boy Donny Lia finished fourth. Lia led the early going but was never a factor after making a mandatory pitstop. Lia did pit when the pits were closed and did receive a penalty and had to restart the race at the end of the longest line. Sixth through tenth included Jimmy Blewett, Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Ted Christopher and Eric Beers.

Woody Pitkat took the win in the SK Type Modified event that was run in conjunction with the Shootout. Jimmy Blewett finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Rowan Pennink, Ronnie Silk, Todd Ceravolo, Richard Savary, Tom Fox, Rob Janovic and Earl Paulus.

It has taken many weeks to run because of foul weather and conflicting race dates but the Town Fair Tire Fall Finale at the Waterford Speedbowl is finally in the record books. Second generation driver Chris Pasteryak took the win in the SK Modified portion. Rob Summers finished second and wrapped up the division championship. Dennis Gada, Dennis Charette and Ron Yuhas Jr. rounded out the top five. Other winners were, Late Model – Charles Bailey, Mark St. Hilaire won the Championship. Mini Stocks – Ken Cassidy, Danny Field won the Championship and Sportsman – Joe Curioso . Mark Bakaj of Farmington inherited the lead and then held off brother Chris over the final five laps to win Saturday's 30-lap Legends feature in the first day of the Town Fair Tire Finale at Waterford Speedbowl. Jeffrey Paul, forced to pit while leading with eight laps left, clinched the 2005 championship with a fifth.

The Arute family that operates the Stafford Motorspeedway has been feeling the car count pinch and is looking at a low cost entry level division that will serve as a feeder to their headline SK Modifieds. When the SK Modifieds were originally conceived it was the intent that they replace the unlimited Modifieds that ran weekly. The original SK’s were mainly back yard built small block Modifieds that ran at places like Danbury, Plainville and Westboro that ended up being parked because their owners couldn’t afford the high dollar professionally built motors that had infiltrated the division. The Stafford management mandated restrictive motor rules plus track tires. During the early years of the division there would sometimes be 50-60 SK Modifieds attempting to qualify for a 26 car feature. Despite the fact that it was a rolling demolition derby the division survived and ended up replacing the Modifieds that were dropped after the 1986 season. For the first ten years the division maintained it self but slowly but surely the big money that put many of the back yard Modified owners out of business started to put many of the SK Modified owners out of business. Over time the track has allowed rule changes which now permit engines that actually cost more than those that were used in the Modifieds when they were dropped. Just about all the cars are constructed at professional chassis shops and have high dollar chassis components. The SK Modifieds at Stafford have become a playground for poor little rich kids with a wealthy daddy to pay the bills. Up until the last couple of years very little was done to penalize over aggressive drivers. Since then the management has been very aggressive but it might be too late.

The Stafford Motor Speedway will host an informational meeting on Tuesday, November 15th to discuss the possible launching of a new division in 2006. This new division will be called SK Lights. It will utilize existing SK Modified® chassis. Power for this entry-level division will be a crate engine. There will also be other cost reduction measures applied to the SK Lights to create an economical entry level feeder division to Stafford's premier SK Modified® division. "This kind of a ladder system has worked in midgets with the Ford Focus series and our hope is that it will do the same for our SK Modified® division," stated Mark Arute. The SK Lights informational meeting will be held Tuesday, November 15th at the Fairgrounds Banquet Hall located on the grounds of Stafford Motor Speedway. The meeting will allow Stafford officials and management to present a proposed rules package for the SK Lights and to listen to input from potential division participants. The meeting will start at 6:30pm with dinner being served from 5:30pm to 6:30pm.

For those that don’t know, the Waterford Speedbowl has been running a division they call X-Modifieds as part of their Wacky Wednesday program. The X-Modifieds are a used car division that use partially worn (used) tires to make them more affordable.

Speaking of affordable Modifieds, word comes that the True Value Modified Series is booked up for 2006. One Connecticut track waited too long and was refused a date.

Special Note: The Martinsville Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was run on Labor Day weekend will be shown next Friday, November 11 on the Speed Channel at 2:00p.m.

In TV land, this week’s viewing will consist of an extensive amount of Speed Channel programming. NASCAR Nation now airs on Monday 7:00pm. At 9:00pm its Monday Night NASCAR with Geoff Bodine on ESPNews. Also on a weekly basis is "Back Seat Drivers" which looks at hot topics circulating in the garage area. "Back Seat Drivers" airs on Wednesday at 7:00pm. This week's viewing begins on Tuesday at 4:00pm.with last Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck event that was run in Fort Worth, TX. Wednesday’s viewing begins at noon with a reshowing of last Saturday’s Busch Series event that was run in Fort Worth. At 5:00pm its NASCAR Fast Forward that recaps last weekend’s NEXTEL Cup, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck racing at Fort Worth. On Thursday at noon the Speed Channel revisits last years Checker Auto Parts 500 that was run in Phoenix, AZ. At 3:00p.m last Sunday’s Nextel Cup Dickies 500 gets a full replay. Friday’s action begins at 3:00p.m. with the October 1 Busch North Series event that was run at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. The Speed Channel goes live at 5:30 p.m. from Phoenix with interviews and the final hour of Nextel Cup practice. Live coverage by Speed continues at 8:00p.m. with the Craftsman Truck Silverado 150 from Phoenix. Speed goes live on the West Coast at 11:00p.m. with NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown qualifying from Irwindale, CA. Saturday’s action begins at 11:00am with live coverage of Busch Series qualifying from Phoenix. Live coverage continues at 1:00p.m. with Nextel Cup qualifying from Phoenix. The action switches to TNT at 3:30 for live coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series Phoenix 200. Later in the day, at 8:00p.m., Speed returns to the west coast for live coverage of the NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown in Irwindale, CA.

NASCAR Speed News and Speed News Sunday wrap up the weekend’s racing at 7:00pm. Subscriptions for Lou’s Motorsports TV Calendar are now by e-mail only and can be had for $12.00 per year. The all-new version features larger type, better accuracy and more detailed. Checks can be sent to LMTVC, 27 Bayberry Drive, #2, Sharon, Mass. 02067.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three-speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation, which went up 2.59 to 53.46. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.93 to 36.00 and Dover Downs gained 0.14 to finish out the week at 6.26. Nextel also had a good week as they went up 1.33 to 24.58. Sun Oil had a positive ending as they went up 0.78 to 72.85. Action Performance was also up as they gained 0.42 to close at 12.60. Featherlite Trailers was also positive for the week as they went up 0.02 to 3.98. On the down side, Boundless Motorsports dropped 1.25 to 4.75. In the drug sector, Pfizer went up 0.76 to 22.26 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.15 to 21.32. The home improvement sector was all positive. Lowes went up 1.13 to 60.95 and Home Depot went up 0.76 to 41.36. The parcel carriers had a big week. Fedex went up 2.91 to 93.54 and UPS went up 1.28 to 74.10.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail  

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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