Tuesday October 14, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series returned to the Stafford Motor Speedway last weekend to make up the rained out Fall Final. Just prior to the weekend it was learned that Speedway announcer Deane Mercier had passed away.

Mike Stefanik led a banner field of Modifieds as he captured the Coors Lite Pole award as he turned in the fast time in qualifying for the CARQUEST Fall Final. Stefanik toured the Stafford oval in18.158 seconds (99.130mph). It was the first pole for Stefanik since 2006 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In the process he tied Tony Hirschman for the series’ all-time lead with 41 career poles, and extended his own record for poles at Stafford to 15.

Mike Stefanik takes the checkered flag for his 69th career victory. (Photo Credit: Howie Hodge/NASCAR)

Eric Beers was the second-fastest qualifier at 18.168 seconds (99.075 mph) and started in the third row following the redraw. Rob Summers was third fastest at 18.316 seconds (98.275 mph). Series points leader Ted Christopher who seventh in time trials when he was clocked at 18.355 seconds (98.066 mph). After the redraw Christopher started alongside Stefanik in the front row on Sunday. Californian Brian Ickler was the pole sitter for the companion NASCAR Camping World Series East event. Mike Olsen, Kevin Swindell, Ted Christopher and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five. Series champion Matt Kobyluck was sixth fastest.
Stefanik capped off a dominating weekend by reaching Victory Lane in the CARQUEST Fall Final for the eighth time in his illustrious career. Stefanik used the front row starting position to his advantage as he led 129 of the 150 laps in what was Stafford’s last race of the year. The win was Stefanik's eighth in the Fall Final, Stafford 's traditional season-ending race. It was also his 20th all-time win at track and the 69th in his career overall. All three totals are NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour records.

Matt Hirschman came home second to Stefanik. With the runner-up finish, Hirschman now trails series leader Ted Christopher by just 35 points with one race remaining on the schedule. Christopher finished sixth. Chuck Hossfeld was third, while Todd Szegedy and Eric Beers rounded out the top five finishers. The rest of the top 10 consisted of Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Anthony Sesely, Glenn Tyler and Kevin Goodale. It was the best finish of the season for Sesely and Tyler.

There were five caution flags for 27 laps. For the most part the race was wreck free with only a few minor spins. The Whelen Modified Tour Series concludes its season this weekend at the Thompson Speedway World Series. Ted Christopher holds a 35 point lead over Matt Hirschman going into the final event.Todd Szegedy sits in third, over 143 points out of the lead. Chuck Hossfeld sits fourth with Stefanik rounding out the top five.

NWMT Series Director Chad Little (left) and Whelen Vice President for Motorsports Phil Kurze (right) help Bobby Allison (center) celebrate his 1964 and 1965 NASCAR Modified championships. (Photo Credit: Howie Hodge/NASCAR) 

Prior to the race NASCAR legend Bobby Allison was honored for his 1964 and 1965 NASCAR Modified division titles as part of the celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions.

Woody Pitkat won the battle but it was Keith Rocco who won the war in the SK Modifieds. Rocco finished second to Pitkat and beat out Ted Christopher for his first Stafford Track Championship. Peyton Sellers won the slam-bang NASCAR Camping World Series East event. In lat Model action, Ryan Posocco took the lead from Scott Cook on lap 11 and led the rest of the way to win the 30-lap Late Model feature. It was the seventh victory in 17 starts this year for Posocco, the division's all-time winningest driver. Posocco had already sewed up the Stafford Late Model title.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Seekonk Speedway last weekend twenty six Modifieds were on hand for the annual D.Anthony Venditti Memorial event. Three qualifying heats were run with Chris Pasteryak, Kevin Iannarelli and Todd Annarummo taking the wins. Chris Pasteryak went pole to pole to win the 100 lap contest. Todd Annarummo finished second and was followed by Dwight Jarvis, Les Hinckley and Mike Holdridge. Prior to the start of the event Kirby Monteith, who died this past week was honored by his fellow drivers. They had a moment of silence and the front row at the start had an open spot for him.

Kirby Monteith, who died this past week,
was honored at Seekonk.

In TV land this week televised action on the Speed Channel begins on Thursday at noon with a replay of last weeks NASCAR Sprint Cup Bank of America 500 that was run at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC. Also on Thursday afternoon ESPN Classic presents the 1995 Goody’s 500 that was run at the Martinsville Speedway and was won by Dale Earnhardt SR. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 winds up the day at 5:00pm. Speed goes live on Friday at 11:00am at Martinsville with NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice. At noon the action switches to the all-new New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville. NJ for their inaugural event. Also at noon is live coverage on ESPN2 of Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville. Craftsman Truck Series final practice at Martinsville follows at 1:30. At 3:30pm the action switches to ESPN2 for Sprint Cup qualifying. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 follows at 5:30. Speed closes out the day with Trackside at Martinsville at 6:00pm. Saturday’s coverage begins at 10:00am with Craftsman Truck Series qualifying at Martinsville. Sprint Cup practice follows at 11:30. The truck series pre-race show goes at 2:30 followed by live flag to flag coverage at 3:00pm of the Kroger 200. At 7:00pm ESPN2 will provide same day-taped delayed coverage of Sprint Cup final practice. Sunday’s action starts at 10:00am with NASCAR Now on ESPN2. A two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay follows at 11:00. At 1:00pm the action moves to ABC for the pre-race show that will lead into a 1:30 start of the Sprint Cup TUMS QuickPak 500 at Martinsville.

The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend on Sunday night with The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. If you can stay awake ESPN2 has a one-hour NASCAR Now at 10:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week stocks continued to tumble at an alarming rate. Racing related stocks were not immune from the hugest downturn some said since 1929 when the stock market crashed. Of the three speedway stocks the International Speedway Corporation took the biggest hit as they dropped 8.59 to 27.60. Speedway Motorsports dropped 3.33 to 15.10 and Dover Downs dropped 0.78 to 4.42. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 2.13 to 3.57 while second tier sponsor Nationwide dropped 2.58 to 46.83. Fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 5.23 to 25.32 as tire supplier Goodyear almost got away unscathed as they dropped 0.38 to 12.20. The major NASCAR team sponsors also took some wicked hits. Dupont dropped 5.44 to 33.40, Coca-Cola dropped 5.56 to 37.96, Target Department Stores dropped 6.72 to 37.00 and Aaron’s Rentals dropped 4.66 to 21.17. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 4.06 to 19.75 and Lowes dropped 3.65 to 17.90. The parcel carriers also took it on the chin. Fedex dropped 8.58 to 68.36 and UPS dropped 9.12 to 51.70. In the absolute bottom of the barrel is the World Racing Group which dropped 0.02 to 0.02. Hopefully we can all hang in there and weather this current storm.

That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. 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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