Tuesday November 9, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The eighth annual 109 U-Pull It John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout took center stage this past weekend in Concord, NC. Thursday's practice sessions were rained out which made for a hectic Friday schedule. The excitement began to build early Friday as the pit area was crammed with 31 Tour Type Modifieds, 18 SK type Modifieds, 27 Super Late Models along with 25 USA (Thompson type) Modifieds and some scattered Vintage Modifieds. As the day wore on a cold front descended on the speedway driving temperatures down to between 25 and 30 degrees.

Time trials were held for the SK and Tour types. In the SKs Ronnie Silk in the Eddie Partridge entry took the top spot over Ryan Preece and Ron Yuhas Jr. Chuck Hossfelt was the Tour type top qualifier over Justin Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman. SK type qualifying heats were won by Keith Rocco and Steve Reed. Shortly after the completion of the SK type heats rain decended upon the speedway forcing officials to cancel remaining qualifying. The decision was made to start all Tour type cars straight up from time when the action was scheduled to resume on Saturday.

Despite a shivering chill in the air the Shootout made it into the history books. Matt Hirschman and Keith Rocco survived a wreck filled day to win the modified and SK portions of the annual North-South Shootout. Hirschman picked up his third victory in the prestigious event, putting an end to the two-year domination of Burt Myers, who spun twice early in the 125-lap modified feature which took him out of contention. Hirschman started third and ran in the top five most of the event. He was running second behind leader James Civali on lap 89 when contact between he, Civali and third-place Ryan Preece sent all three spinning, giving fourth-place Ted Christopher the lead.

Christopher didnít hold the lead long as he was dumped two restarts later by Rowan Pennink entering turn one, causing a tangle that eventually included seven cars. Pennink was sent to the rear of the field for causing the crash. George Brunnhoelzl III inherited the lead, but Hirschman had recovered from his spin on lap 89 and was up to fourth for the restart. By lap 105 Hirschman was up to second and eight laps later he took the lead for good, passing Brunnhoelzl in lapped traffic. He survived one final restart with four laps left to earn the victory. Polesitter Chuck Hossfeld finished second, followed by Brunnhoelzl, Eric Beers and Ron Silk. The modified race featured 11 caution flags and two red flags. One of the red flag stops was to allow the track crew to repair water barrels on pit road.

Tommy Farrell finished sixth and was followed by Pennink, Les Hinkley, Jason Myers and Eric Goodale. Justin Bonsignore finished 14th after being one of the race leaders who had problems. His was a dead battery. Jimmy Blewett finished 15th and Burt Myers was 19th. James Civali finished 20th with Ryan Preece and Christopher following.

With eight laps remaining in the 50 lap SK type race Keith Rocco was sitting in seventh spot. A lot can change in the closing moments of any race and this 50 lapper was no different. Earl Paules led the restart and after just one lap Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat and Tom Farrell spun. Christopher suffered suspension damage and was towed off. Paules led the final restart which was single file. Almost immediately the field bunched up and went three wide. With three to go Ryan Preece went into the lead only to lose it to Rocco in the final moments. Preece ended up second with Silk, third. Paules and Matt Hirschman rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Tom Barrett, Tom Farrell and Woody Pitkat.

A real scary wreck took place on lap 41 when New Jersey racer Steven Reed got up on the backstretch wall, riding it for quite a way before crashing back on to the track. Reed hit a lightpole plus ripped down a portion of the catch fence. The car's chassis did its job as Reed emerged unhurt. In a track PA interview, Reed stated he lost a right-front tire going through the dogleg causing his car to hit the wall and get airborne.

In TV land this weeks viewing begins with NASCAR Hub on the Speed Channel on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:00pm. This weeks race programming begins at 10:00pm on Tuesday with Race in 60 which highlights last weekends NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA Texas 500 that was run at the Texas Motor Speedway. This program repeats at 10:00am on Wednesday. Also on Wednesday is the complete replay of the NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA Texas 500 at noon. Thursday at noon will see a replay of the NASCAR Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge that was run at the Texas Motor Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed will show the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2008 Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 that was run at the Phoenix International Raceway. At 6:00pm the Speed Channel will show the Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was run at the Martinsville Speedway. Speed goes live at noon for two hours on Friday with Nationwide Series practice from Phoenix, Arizona. At 3:30 another Nationwide Series practice follows. Race coverage from Phoenix continues on Speed at 4:30 with truck series qualifying. At 7:30 Speed has the truck series pre-race show that will lead to the 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150 at the Phoenix International Raceway. Trackside (NASCAR) at Phoenix rounds out the day at 10:30pm. Saturday's race coverage begins at noon with Nationwide Series qualifying at noon. Sprint Cup practice follows at 1:30pm. Viewing moves to espn2 at 4:00pm for the pre-race show that will lead to the 4:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series WYPALL* 200 at the Phoenix Intl. Raceway. At midnight on Saturday the Speed Channel will replay the Nov 7 World of Outlaws, Sprints and Late Models that raced on the Dirt track at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. At noon on Sunday Speed has a two hour RaceDay which previews the upcoming Sprint Cup event at Phoenix. At 2:00pm the action moves to ESPN for a one hour pre-race show that will lead in to the 3:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Kobalt Tools 500 at the Phoenix Intl. Raceway. Rounding out the day is The SPEED Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane on Speed at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain on Speed at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on the plus sideLeading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 2.55 to 23.52. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.38 to 15.74 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.16 to 1.85. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint had negative results for the week as they dropped 0.18 to 3.98. Fuel Supplier Sun Oil had a positive finish as they went up 0.81 to 38.21. Tire supplier Goodyear was also up as the closed at 10.46, up 0.26 for the week. Two of the three car makers had a good week. Ford went up 2.10 to 16.24 while Toyota went up 1.95 to 72.71. On the down side was General Motors which dropped 0.05 to 0.24. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.99 to 31.91 while Lowes went up 1.02 to 22.28. The major team sponsors also enjoyed a good week. Dupont went up 1.06 to 22.28, Coca-Cola went up 2.20 to 55.65, Target Department Stores went up 3.16 to 55.17, Aarons
Rentals went up 1.50 to 20.35 and Fedex went up 2.09 to 89.93.

Thatís 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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