Tuesday October 7, 2008

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ventured to the Chemung Speedway in western New York last weekend. The 3/8 mile track, originally built by the Bodine family drew a sparse field of only 25 cars. The Chemung event with a somewhat reduced purse consisted of time trials, two 25-lap heats and a 120 lap feature that ended up finishing under caution. Matt Hirschman, who was the fastest on the clock, won his qualifying heat and after starting on the pole led wire to wire to win his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. Hirschman entered the event 89 points behind Ted Christopher in the championship chase. With Christopher’s seventh place finish, Hirschman narrowed the gap to just 55 points with only the Stafford Fall Final and Thompson World Series weekends remaining.

Top three finishers in the Chemung 120 Mike Stefanik (left, third), Matt Hirschman (winner, middle) and Todd Szegedy (second, right). (Photo Credit: Mary Hodge/NASCAR) 

Todd Szegedy dogged Hirschman for most of the event but settled for a runner-up finish and held up his spot in third in the season standings. Mike Stefanik finished third. Chuck Hossfeld, Ronnie Silk, Erick Rudolph, Christopher, Bobby Grigas III, Rowan Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top 10 finishers.

At the Waterford Speedbowl it was good news and bad news. The good news was that competitors received their checks that had been held back. The bad news was that they were told not to cash them until Monday. According to the Hartford Courant blog one competitor thought he would pull a fast one and attempted to cash his check at the bank where the check was issued. He was told there were insufficient funds in the account to cover the check.

The shoreline oval ran their season ending Fall Finale, a two day event, last weekend On Saturday three SK Modified qualifying heats were run. Taking the wins were Shawn Monahan, Dennis Gada and Jeff Paul. In other Saturday action Jason Palmer won the 25-lap Legends Town Fair Tire Finale feature while it was Shaun Buffington scoring the 2008 Saturday Night Legends championship. Other feature winners were Norm Wrenn (Pro-4 Modifieds), Todd Bertrand (NEMA Lites), Glenn Boss (N.E Sport Modifieds), Corey Hutchings (Outlaw Stocks), David Flammia Jr. (X-Modified),Steve Barrett (Super-X Cars), Buddy Strede (X-Cars), Kathy Civardi (Women On Wheels Super-X), and Stephanie Bennett (Women On Wheels X-Car).

Dennis Gada (3) and Keith Rocco (57) duel it out at the Speedbowl (Keith Cyr Photo)

Sunday dawned in typical Waterford fashion. It was raining cats and dogs. Shortly before noon a strange thing happened, the rain stopped and the sun came out. It was too late; the cards of the fans had been dealt. Apparently many of them had made other plans as the vintage grandstand at the shoreline oval was all but empty when racing finally started. Because of the adverse weather the scheduled pit party was cancelled. The actual racing started about two hours late with Ken Cassidy coming from a dead last start to win the Mini Stock event. Randy Cabral won the NEMA Midget event and Brandon Plemmonds won the 50 lap Sportsman event.

Things were looking up, the SK Modifieds were on the track for a tire heating session when the red flag was displayed bringing everything to a screeching halt. Evidently a bad accident on nearby Route 85 deemed it necessary for the Speedbowl’s ambulance to leave. Per state law, once the ambulance leaves the property all racing stops. After a little over a half hour an ambulance appeared and racing resumed. The 100 lap Modified event was a typical Waterford slam-bang event with survival of the fittest the order of the day. Diego Monahan led a large portion of the race until he was dislodged by Keith Rocco and Rob Janovic. Both had a war of their own when on a late race restart Rocco didn’t go which resulted in Tyler Chadwick and Monahan hitting the front stretch wall. To make matters worse, at ten after nine, the fog started rolling in. At 9:20pm fans and competitors breathed a sigh of relief when the checkered flag was dropped on the event. Keith Rocco took the win and was followed by Rob Janovic, Ron Yuhas JR and Dennis Gada. For Gada it was monumental as he is now in a league of his own as he is the only seven time champion in Speedbowl history.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Lee USA Speedway Jon Mckennedy took the win over Jimmy Kuhn, Les Hinkley, Ed Dachenhausen and Mike Holdredge.

In TV land this week televised action on the Speed Channel begins on Thursday at noon with a replay of last weekends NASCAR Sprint Cup AMP Energy 500 that was run at the Talladega Speedway. At 6:00pm, ESPN2 goes live at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC for Nationwide Series final practice at 6:00pm. At 7:00 live action moves to ESPN Classic for Sprint Cup qualifying at Charlotte. Friday’s TV coverage begins at noon with the Sept 20 NASCAR Whelen Modified combination race that was run at Martinsville. NASCAR Confidential, a look at Race Control follows at 1:30. NASCAR Live at 2:30 leads into Nationwide Series qualifying at 3:00pm. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 follows at 5:00. After a dinner break ESPN2 continues their coverage a 6:30 with Sprint Cup final practice. At 7:30 it will be the pre-race show for the Nationwide Series at Charlotte. ESPN2 will provide live flag to flag coverage of the Dollar General 300 at the Lowes Motor Speedway starting at 8:00pm. The Speed Channel wraps up the day at 11:00pm with Trackside at Lowes Motor Speedway. Saturday’s action begins at 3:00am on Speed with a re-showing of the Martinsville Modified race. At 10:00am the action switches to ESPN2 for NASCAR Now. Back to the Speed Channel at 11:00am for a one hour Trackside. At 5:00pm Speed present a two hour NASCAR RaceDay preview. At 7:00 the action moves to ABC for a pre-race show that will lead in to a 7:25 start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Bank of America 500 at Lowes Motor Speedway. Sunday’s main event will be the ARCA RE/MAX Series Hantz Group 200 at the Toledo Speedway in Toledo, OH. 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 it was another bad week for just about everybody. The Washington bailout came at the end of the day on Friday but the damage for the week had already been done. All three speedway stocks were down for the week. Taking the biggest hit was the International Speedway Corporation which went down 2.56 to 36.19. Speedway Motorsports dropped 1.12 to 18.43 and Dover Downs dropped 0.46 to 5.20. NASCAR cup sponsor Nextel dropped 1.23 to 5.70 while Nationwide Insurance which sponsors NASCAR’s second tier dropped 1.95 to 49.41. Fuel supplier Sun Oil took a big hit as they dropped 9.63 to 30.55. Tire supplier Goodyear dropped 3.99 to 12.58. NASCAR team sponsor Coca-Cola went up 0.08 to 43.52 as Dupont dropped 3.15 to 38.84. Target Department Stores dropped 7.75 to 43.72 while Aarons Rentals dropped 1.12 to 25.83. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 2.65 to 23.81 and Lowes dropped 2.91 to 21.55. The parcel carriers were also down for the week. Fedex dropped 3.62 to 77.94 and UPS dropped 3.57 to 60.82. On the bottom of the totem pole is the World Racing Group (DIRT Motorsports) which dropped 0.03 to 0.07.

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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