Tuesday October 3, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                          

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Stafford Motor Speedway last weekend. Thirty-eight cars were on hand hoping to qualify for the 150 lap Fall Final. Todd Szegedy took the Busch Pole with a time of 18.091-second lap around the half mile oval. Donny Lia was second fastest with a time of 18.190 seconds. Rounding out the top five were Tony Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Chuck Hossfeld. In the redraw for starting positions Szegedy drew the pole with Hirschman drawing the outside pole. Heavy monsoon type rain forced NASCAR and the Arute family to postpone the Fall Final to Saturday, October 28.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series now heads for the.Waterford Speedbowl. The Modified Tour will run 150 laps on Sunday afternoon along with track’s SK Modifieds going 100 laps and Late Models going 50 laps. Sportsman and Mini Stocks are also on the Sunday program.

Dennis Gada leads the SK Modified point standings by 48 points over Chris Pasteryak. Tom Fox, Diego Monahan and Rob Janovic round out the top five. Tim Jordan has sewed up the Late Model Championship as has Danny Field in the Mini Stocks. Joe Curioso holds a slim 4 point lead over Dwayne Dorr for Sportsman honors.

The Thompson Speedway closed out their Thursday Night Thunder Series last week. Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT. turned his rookie Sunoco Modified season into a track championship and ultimately the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Region Four Championship. Along with the glory will come a check for $25,000. Mini Stocker Shelly Perry of Ashaway, RI wrote quite a story of her own on Thursday night. Perry became the first female champion in the 66-year history of the Thompson International Speedway. Both the Sunoco Modified and Late Model divisional championships were decided with a pair of 20-lappers. Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA swept Late Model twins to erase a thirty-two-point deficit in a single night to steal the championship. Joe Lemay of Millville, MA and Tommy Cravenho of Raynham, MA shared Sunoco Modified victories. Pro Stock checkers flew for Fred Astle, Jr. of N. Westport, MA. Jeff Zuidema had already secured the 2006 Pro Stock championship. In support division action, Ed Puleo of Branford was the Limited Sportsman feature winner, Brad Caddick ran to the Mini Stock checkers and Kurt Vigeant won back-to-back TIS Modified honors. Titles went to Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman division and Roger Larson, Jr. in the TIS Modifieds.

Joe Lemay of Millville, MA saved the best for last in the opening twin event for the Sunoco Modifieds. He ran strong throughout the 20-lap feature but poured it on in the closing lap. Lemay hounded early leader Jeff Malave and made the winning move on the final lap. The first SK Modified feature was led to green by Buddy Charette followed by Keith Rocco. Malave quickly moved into the third position on the start. Malave drove into the lead to complete lap two. Rocco followed Malave into the runner-up spot as Charette faded. Pitkat ran comfortably just outside the top-five. Lemay got around Rocco to take over the runner-up spot. Jimmy Blewett and Tommy Cravenho followed through as well. With Malave handily up front and Joe Lemay solidly in second the battling was for the third spot between Blewett, Cravenho, and Bert Marvin. Blewett was able to maintain his position as the trio ran under a blanket. Lemay, who had been slowing reeling in Malave, came on strong as the laps began to wind down. With only five laps remaining Lemay caught Malave. He made a bid on the lead briefly on lap 16 but settled back in line. There was a scary moment for point-leader Pitkat when third-running Blewett dropped off the pace nearly collecting Pitkat and Cravenho. Pitkat was able to maneuver his way through and into third place. Cravenho avoided any major contact as well. On lap 17, the first caution of event flew when Stephen Masse stalled in turn two-saving Blewett. On the restart, Malave was able to maintain his lead over Lemay. Pitkat sat in third followed closely by Cravenho while a fully recovered Blewett pressured Marvin for the fifth spot. On the final lap Lemay dove to the underneath entering turn three to steal the lead away from Malave and ultimately the win. It was the second win of the season for Lemay. Malave chopped a mere two points of Pitkat’s point lead as the two ran under the checkers second and third respectively. Cravenho and Marvin rounded out the top five. The Sunoco Modified divisional championship was decided with second 20 lap feature that went non-stop. The drivers went heads-up to start the nightcap. Malave led the opening lap from his second –place-starting position. Lemay dropped back on the initial start; leaving Malave to battle Cravenho and Blewett. Cravenho grabbed the top-spot from Malave on lap four. Blewett started to pressure Malave for second on lap five. Rocco ran third followed by Pitkat inside the top-five. The top three of Cravenho, Malave and Blewett ran nose to tail. Malave peeked out of line in turn two on lap eight looking for the lead but settled back into second. He made the same move on Cravenho in turn four and made the pass stick. At the halfway marker, Malave led Cravenho, Blewett, Rocco and Pitkat. Blewett got along-side Cravenho to complete lap 11 but could not make the pass stick. On the same lap Cravenho got a good run on Malave. With Malave out front it was a three-car battle for the top spot. Double-file lapped traffic changed the complexion of the race for Malave, who got caught on the outside, losing positions to both Cravenho and Blewett. Rocco dogged Malave for the third spot. At the end of 20-laps, Cravenho had run to his third feature win of the season in the green-to-checker finale. Blewett came home second followed by Malave and Keith Rocco. Pitkat cashed in on his fifth-place finish to become the champ.
The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway was supposed to close out their season last week with the Fall Final but Mother Nature ruled the roost, putting the season ender on hold until October 28. The sun shone bright on Saturday, which allowed a full day of preliminary action. The 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature took the green flag with Corky Hinze taking the lead ahead of Mike Sweeney, Ed Charette, Michael Chaves, and Joey Ferrigno. Back in the pack, the race for the championship was on between George Nocera, Jr. and Kevin Gambacorta. With 7 laps complete, Nocera's championship bid looked to take a disastrous turn as he spun in turn 2 to bring out a caution. On the restart, Nocera drove through the frontstretch grass, but was able to keep going.

Up front, Hinze continued to hold the lead, with Andrew Durand moving into second. A caution for a multi-car spin with 10-laps complete slowed the action. Durand powered around Hinze for the lead on the restart, with Bill Davis moving into third. A spin by Pete Cayer brought the caution out with 13 laps complete. Under the caution, Durand had a flat right front tire, which brought him to pit road and ended his race. Hinze was back out front as the race resumed, with Davis on his heels. Joey Ferrigno moved into third, but a near spin on lap-17 sent him back through the field as Nocera took over the third position after his early race troubles. With Nocera third, Kevin Gambacorta was 10th, one position short of where he needed to be for the championship. But on the last lap of the race, Gambacorta picked up the position that he needed, and he clinched the championship by 2 points as Hinze scored his first career feature win. Davis finished second, with Nocera, Charlie Newman, and Rob Dow rounding out the top-5. When the green flag flew on the final DARE Stock feature event of the 2006 season, Norm Sears, of Manchester, became the 2006 DARE Stock track champion. Duane Provost took the early race lead ahead of Jeff Hubbell, with Rob Lawrence, Vince Gambacorta, and Tom Stirk in tow.

The SK Modified 21 Means 21 feature took the green with Lloyd Agor taking the lead ahead of Kirk Zervas and Bo Gunning. Gunning quickly worked his way around Zervas for second, and set his sights on Agor and the lead of the race. Gunning made a pass for the lead on lap-8, but as he took the lead, the caution came out, putting Agor back out front. Gunning made the pass for the lead on lap-9 in the same fashion that he took the lead from Agor previously. Gunning had to hold off the field on two separate restart situations, but he went unchallenged to the checkered flag. Shawn Monahan finished second, with Rowan Pennink, Agor, and Tom Rogers, Jr. rounding out the top-5. The Late Model 16 feature took the green flag with Jay Stuart sertting the early pace ahead of Scott Foster, Jr., Chuck Docherty, and Mike O'Sullivan. The race ran green to checkered and Stuart went unchallenged as he pulled away from the field to cruise to victory. Foster finished second, with Docherty, O'Sullivan, and Patrick Townsend rounding out the top-5.

In TV land this week, viewing begins on Wednesday at 4:00p.m. on the Speed Channel with the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Championship Series Race No. 2 that was run at the Jennerstown, PA, Speedway on Sept.30. At 8:00p.m. the Outdoor Channel presents the Sept 16 World of Outlaws event that was run at the Jackson Speedway in Jackson , MN. Thursday’s viewing will begin at noon on Speed with last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series, Yellow Transportation 300 that was run at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS. At 2:30 the action moves to ESPN-2 for the Lucas Oil Dirt Track Series: Shootout Final from Woodstock, GA. Also at 2:30 is the NASCAR Nextel Cup Replay on the Speed Channel of the Banquet 400 that was run at the Kansas Speedway last Sunday. At 5:30 on Speed is the NASCAR Grand National Busch East Series Dover 150 that was run at Dover, DE on Sept 22. At 8:00p.m. Speed Closes out the day with the Talladega preview. Friday’s action begins at 3:00p.m. with NASCAR Live on Speed from the Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR Nextel Cup final practice for the UAW-Ford 500 follows at 4:00p.m. Speed goes live again at 7:00p.m. with Trackside at Talladega. Same day taped delayed coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series ARCA 200 from Talladega follows at 8:00p.m. Speed goes live at high noon on Saturday with NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Talladega 250 follows at 2:30. Saturday night viewing will include NASCAR Performance at 7:30 followed by Tradin Paint at 8:00. The Dirt Track Lucas Oil Knoxville Late Model Nationals run at the Knoxville Raceway on Sept 30 follow at 8:30. Sunday’s action gets underway at 11:30 am with NASCAR RaceDay which will preview the UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega. The action switches to NBC at 1:30 for the pre-race show, which will be followed by the NASCAR Nextel Cup, UAW-Ford 500 at 2:00p.m. At 6:00p.m. Speed presents the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, Heartland Nationals which was run at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, MN on July 29. NASCAR Victory Lane wraps up the Talladega event at 7:00p.m. The Speed Report of weekend racing follows at 8:00p.m. Wrapping up the weekend will be Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00p.m.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.64 to 49.84 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.18 to 36.41. On the negative side, Dover Downs dropped 0.14 to 5.42. Nextel/Sprint showed a slight gain as they went up 0.01 to 17.15. Sun Oil had a real good week as they went up 3.55 to 62.19. Featherlite Trailers was also up as they went up 0.01 to 6.44. DIRT Motorsports showed a no change as they remained at 3.00. In the drug sector Pfizer went up 0.20 to 28.36 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.14 to 24.92. The home improvement sector followed the same pattern as Home Depot went up 0.31 to 36.27 and Lowes dropped 0.27 to 28.06. Parcel Carriers Fedex and UPS had positive results. Fedex went up 2.65 to 108.68 and UPS went up 1.05 to 71.94.

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

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