Tuesday October 2, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified converged on the Stafford Motor Speedway last weekend for the annual Fall Final. There were 39 Modifieds on hand for qualifying. Eric Beers who has not been a tour regular this year was the Busch Pole sitter as he toured the half-mile oval in 18.267 second fastest. Second fastest was Doug Coby who was pinch-hitting for Dick Houlihan. Current point leader Donny Lia was third fastest. Rounding out the top five in time trials were Todd Szegedy and Ronnie Silk. The re-draw for starting positions for the 150 lap Fall Final saw Szegedy picking the pole with Lia picking the outside pole.

Don Lia knew he needed to finish ninth or better to wrap up the championship for himself and car owner Bob Garbarino. He did it with two positions to spare as he finished seventh. Lia led only one lap and was content to pace himself and stay out of trouble as Mike Stefanik went on to take the win. Stefanik passed Matt Hirschman on lap 91 to take the lead. Ted Christopher followed but was shuffled back to third spot on lap 115 after a bump and grind with Tony Hirschman. Hirschman held off Christopher to finish second. Matt Hirschman finished fourth with Ronnie Silk, fifth. Eight caution periods for 42 laps kept Stefanik’s average speed at 63.395 mph. Carl Pasteryak, Ryan Preece, Jerry Marquis and Billy Pauch JR were eliminated in wrecks. Jamie Tomaino lost an engine and Woody Pitkat retired with suspension problems.

There is joy in Mystic CT and joy on Long Island at Jericho . For Bob Garbarino, winning the Whelen Modified Tour Series Championship was a life long dream. Garbarino has built and owned NASCAR Modifieds since the early 1960s and has raced them from Maine to North Carolina . From humble beginnings at the Waterford Speedbowl Garbarino has become one of the most professional and well respected car owners in the Modified division. Before the days of the Troyer chassis and the Hutter engines Garbarino fabricated his own chassis and built his own engines in a single one car garage that is attached to his home. Many top named drivers have sat in the seat of Garbarino Modifieds known as the Mystic Missile Don Bachand, Dick Watson, Joe Kelly, Leo Cleary, Gene Bergin, SJ Evonsion, Eddie Flemke, Geoff Bodine, Brian Ross, Bugsy Stevens, Jerry Marquis and Tim Connelly are a few that come to mind. All of his many years of hard work came to bare last Sunday night as the impact of winning the championship settled in. Through it all and equally deserving is Joan Garbarino who has served as scorer, trip planner, lots of patience and moral support. For Lia it was also a first for him. Lia cut his racing teeth at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island and honed is skills on bigger tracks from Connecticut to Florida . Lia’s record for the season includes six wins and 11 top fives in 15 races.

The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out its 2007 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season with the 35th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend. Woody Pitkat capped a spectacular 2007 SK Modified® season by capturing his 8th feature victory of the year, but it was Ted Christopher who locked up the championship by 34 points over Pitkat with a second place finish. In the 40-lap Late Model feature, it was 16-year old Dillon Moltz driving to his second feature win of the season with Corey Hutchings taking the Late Model title in his rookie season at Stafford with a third place finish.

The 50-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with Wade Mattesen taking the lead from John Cleary on the opening lap of the race. Mattesen held the race lead until lap-3 when Woody Pitkat made a hard charge to move from third place to the lead. Once Pitkat was out front, he put on a dominating drive to score his eighth feature victory of the 2007 season. Pitkat had Ted Christopher chasing him for much of the race and several caution periods kept the two cars in close proximity. But the final 22 laps of the race ran green and Pitkat was never seriously challenged by Christopher as he slowly extended his lead lap by lap. Christopher finished second with Ken Barry, Brad Hietala, and Bo Gunning rounding out the top-5.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:00pm time slot on a daily basis. This week’s action on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at noon with the recent NASCAR Grand National Busch East Aubuchon Hardware 125 that was run at Loudon on Sept. 15. At 3:00 the Sept 21 the World of Outlaws sprint cars from the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg , OH take center stage. The USAR Hooters Cup follows at 5:00 . Thursday’s action heats up at noon with last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Yellow Transportation 300 that was run at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City , KS . The NASCAR Nextel Cup LifeLock 400 also run at the Kansas Speedway last weekend follows at 3:00pm . Speed goes live at noon on Friday with NASCAR Nextel Cup practice from Talledega, AL. Live coverage continues at 1:00 with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying from Talledega. At 2:30 NASCAR Live goes for an hour followed by Nextel Cup final practice at 3:30 . The ARCA RE/MAX Series Food World 250 at Talladega gets the green at 5:00 . Trackside at Talladega Superspeedway at 8:00 rounds out the day. Saturday’s action begins at 1:00pm with Nextel Cup qualifying from Talledega. At 4:00pm the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega gets the green. Sunday’s viewing will start at noon with a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay which will preview the UAW-Ford 400 from Talladega Superspeedway. At 2:00 the action moves to ABC for live coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup UAW-Ford 400 from Talladega . Rounding out the day, the Speed Channel has The Speed Report at 7:00pm , NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had a negative ending. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.97 to 45.86 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.98 to 37.00. For the second week in a row Dover Downs had a positive ending as they went up 0.24 to 6.47. Sprint/Nextel ended the week on a positive note as they went up 0.31 to 19.00. On the down side was Sun Oil which took a dive as they dropped 6.28 to 70.78. Goodyear took a good jump as they went up 1.26 to 30.41 while DIRT Motorsports went down 0.20 to 0.60. The drug sector showed negative results for the week as Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.18 to 28.82. Pfizer followed suit as they dropped 0.16 to 24.43. The home improvement giants were also down. Lowes dropped 2.60 to 28.02 while Home Depot dropped 2.03 to 32.44. Parcel carriers Fedex and UPS showed a mixed bag. Fedex went up 0.65 to 104.75 while UPS dropped o.65 to 75.10.

NOTE: I will be on vacation in Aruba until 10/18. If no internet is available Champ Trail will return on 10/23

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 and other publications for over 3 decades.

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