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Tuesday November 27, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour news it appears that NASCAR is leaning toward using“Spec type” motors in the Whelen Modifieds. Spec motors are designed, built and sealed by a NASCAR approved engine builder. Their purpose is to lower the cost and increase the longevity of engines currently in use. A top running, professionally built Tour type engine ranges from $40-55,000. A top running team needs at least three of them. It is NASCAR’s intent to phase the new engines into the Modified series at some point and hopefully the sanctioning body will allow competitors time to use up or sell existing equipment. Gary Danko's Speedway Line Report recently reported that the No. 2 team of Todd Szegedy had a spec motor installed in one of their cars. Szegedy ran tests at the Concord Motorsports Park with the Spec motor car and a Ford powered car. Weather permitting, additional testing will take place at the Stafford Motor Speedway this coming Friday Nov 30 and Saturday, Dec 1. Mike Stefanik is slated to drive one of the cars at the Stafford test session.

The Wall Township Speedway located on the New Jersey shore officially closed out the 2007 racing season this past Saturday, November 24, with Turkey Derby XXXIV. Since 1974, the Thanksgiving classic has played out in just about every kind of weather including near blizzard conditions. This year those who jam packed the grandstands got to enjoy near 40 degree temperatures. Twenty six Modifieds were on hand. Southern invader Burt Myers was the top qualifier. A re-draw of the top qualifiers saw Reggie Ruggerio picking the pole starting position and Jimmy Blewett picking the outside pole. James Civali pulled third with Pete Brittain picking fourth. In what should have been an epic battle between the seasoned veteran and the young challenger never developed as Ruggerio and Blewett tangled before one lap was completed which handed the race to Civali. Ruggiero parked it for the day. Blewett was able to rejoin the fray and actually made it up to second spot when the checkered flag flew. Attrition was high as only ten cars were running at the finish. Tony Ferrante finished third with Rowan Pennick and Earl Paules rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tim Arre, Brian Cramner, Danny Sammons, Billy Pauch JR and Matt Hirschman. Ruggiero was credited with the 27th finishing position. Justin Gumley was the winner of the SKtype 100 lapper.

In other weekend racing action Bobby Santos, III, who drives the mighty No.3 Boehler Racing NASCAR Whelen Modified won the USAC Turkey Night USAC Sprint Car Grand Prix at the Irwindale Speedway in Calif. ! Santos defeated a strong group of west coast and Canadian midget drivers in this annual classic. A Toyota engine similar to the one in NASCAR’s Busch and Craftsman Truck Series powered Bobby’s car. Other reports reveal that Santos ' driver development deal with Bill Davis Racing has come to an end. However, the word is that another deep pocket team will sign the local driver to an even better contract in the near future.

The Stafford Motor Speedway announced their 2008 schedule last week. The Nutmeg oval, under the management of the Arute family will again showcase the track's SK Modified and Late Model divisions in two extra distance events as well as four Whelen Modified Tour events. Stafford will host a total of 23 racing events, with the 2008 NASCAR season kicking off with the 37th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST April 25-27, and concluding with the 36th annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend on September 26-28.

Stafford 's Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series programs will once again consist of five divisions, the SK Modifieds, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models, and DARE Stocks.

Stafford will once again play host to four Whelen Modified Tour events, the 37th annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler on April 27, the 18th Connecticut Classic 150 on May 23rd, the 18th New England Dodge Dealers 150 on August 8th, and the CARQUEST Fall Final 150 on September 28th. The ISMA Supermodifeds will return to Stafford for a 50-lap feature event on Tuesday, July 8th as part of the 5th annual CARQUEST Extreme Tuesday program along with the NEMA Midgets and the Pro-4 Modifieds.

It had been rumored that the True Value Modified Series was being considered. Stafford has been loyal to NASCAR since 1959 and the following statement pretty much sums up the feelings of the Arute family. "We looked at possibly bringing another touring modified division to Stafford, but in the end we decided that there was only one true touring modified division and that is the Whelen Modified Tour," said Stafford COO/GM Mark Arute. "With that in mind, we decided to revive a tradition we began in the 2000 season with the return of the SK Modified 150, a premier event that will greatly benefit the competitors who race here on a weekly basis."

As an added bonus to the two tires a night rule that will go into effect in 2008 the speedway announced that both the SK Modified and SK Light divisions will switch from American Racer tires to Hoosier tires. The size and compound Hoosier tires will be 26.0/13.0-15 M45 on the left side and 27.0/13-15 M46 on the right side and the tires will be supplied by Hoosier Tire East in Manchester, CT. To keep the playing field level the Stafford management will insure that each Hoosier tire will carry a special bar coded serial number. Each tire will be scanned and entered into a database designating it as a tire for use at Stafford Motor Speedway. Each scanned serial number will be placed on an inventory card that will be assigned to the driver that the tires have been purchased for. SK Modified teams will be allowed to keep up to 10 tires in their tire inventory while SK Light teams will be allowed to keep up to 8 tires in their tire inventory. A determination of extra tires allowed for any extra distance event will be made by the race director for that event.

In TV land this week, Speed Channel viewing will begin on Tuesday with Drag Racing featuring the 2004 MAC Tools NHRA Gatornationals that were staged in Gainesville , FL. At 5:30pm ESPN2 takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. On Thursday the Speed Channel will highlight the August 11 Knoxville Nationals that featured top drivers from the National Sprint Tour and World of Outlaws. Friday’s viewing begins at1:00pm with highlights of the 2007 24 Hours of Le Mans . At 3:00pm the best enduro motorcycle riders in the world meet for six days of tough riding to prove who is the fastest and the best at Lake Taupo in New Zealand . At 4:00pm Speed moves to New York City for a behind the scenes look at the 2007 NASCAR Champions Week. At 9:00pm ESPN Classic presents a three hour presentation of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Awards Banquet that takes place in the grand ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Boat racing takes center stage on Saturday at 11:00am on Speed featuring Top fuel hydroplanes and super eliminators drag the 'liquid quarter-mile.' in Red Bluff, CA. At 7:30 Speed provides coverage of a Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at the East Bay Raceway Park in Tampa , FL. On Sunday the Speed Channel presents Summer Shootout from the Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord , NC . The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report at 7:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week another blood bath all but swamped the stock market as the general downturn continued. All three speedway stocks had a negative ending. Taking the biggest dip was Speedway Motorsports which dropped 0.78 to 35.34. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.52 to 43.00 and Dover Downs dropped 0.14 to 6.60. For the sixth week in a row Sprint/Nextel had a negative ending as they dropped 0.38 to finish the week at 15.08. Sun Oil took a big drop as they went down 3.76 to 67.73. Also on the downside was Goodyear which dropped 0.65 to 26.58. DIRT Motorsports pretty much weathered the storm as they dropped only 0.01 to end the week at 0.50. In the drug sector Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.29 to 28.08. Pfizer had the opposite as they dropped 0.31 to 22.98. The home improvement sector had an off week as Lowes dropped 2.74 to 22.27 and Home Depot dropped 0.12 to 28.95. The parcel carriers which are about have their busiest periods were way off as Fedex dropped 3.20 to 93.60 and UPS dropped 1.09 to 70.92.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891 . Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com


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

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