Tuesday October 19, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed for the Thompson Speedway this past weekend for the World Series of Speedway Racing. Fifteen different divisions of race cars and race trucks were in competition in qualifying races and feature events. The weekend began on a wet note as speedway officials were forced to cancel Fridays practice and qualifying because of wet conditions.

Under dry but blustery skies Bobby Santos took a big step toward earning his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title as he captured the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying Saturday for the season finale Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing. Santos, driving the Garbarino Mystic Missile, turned a fast lap of 18.709 seconds (120.263 mph) in Saturday’s qualifying session to earn his fourth pole of the season. There were 37 Modifieds on hand for the season ending event that carried a posted purse of $85,567. Ted Christopher was second fastest with a lap of 18.846 (119.389). Eric Berndt was third at 18.885 (119.142). Mike Stefanik and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Santos won the redraw for the pole starting position. Berndt drew the outside pole with Christopher drawing third and Stefanik, fourth. Among the surprise entries was recently crowned NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Champion Burt Myers who qualified 14th.

Doug Coby almost stole the show but in the end Ted Christopher won the battle and Bobby Santos III won the war. Santos, who spent most of the day dealing with a mis-handling car, came home sixth to put the finishing touches on his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. while Ted Christopher continued his mastery of Thompson International Speedway. Christopher became the first driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to earn three straight victories in the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing, the traditional season-ending event For Santos, the Whelen Modified Tour title came in his first full-time season competing in the division. He gave car owner Bob Garbarino his third championship in four years. Garbarino, an owner in the division since 1961, did not win a championship until driver Donny Lia won it in 2007 and 2009.

Santos entered the event with a 37-point lead over Stefanik, and was able to keep the nine-time NASCAR champion in his sights throughout the race. Stefanik finished fourth behind Christopher, Ryan Preece and Doug Coby. Santos finished 27 points ahead of Stefanik in the final standings, and 78 ahead of Christopher. Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five in points. Silk was also fifth in Sunday’s race and led an event-high 45 laps. Eric Beers finished seventh in Sunday's race, followed by Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink and James Civali. Burt Myers, who wrapped up the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified championship Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, finished 14th.

Outside pole sitter Eric Berndt took the lead at the drop of the green as the Santos mount appeared to have a problem. Berndt, who had a real stout engine took on the role of the rabbit. The first of seven cautions flew on lap 8 when Wade Cole spun into the wall in turn three. The race was red flagged as officials attempted to determine if someone was leaking oil. On the restart, Santos faded to third while Ted Christopher moved in on Berndt's tail. The second caution flew onlap 31 when Renee Dupuis, Gary McDonald and Cole spun between turns three and four. The field restarted on lap34 with Christopher taking the lead in turn two. Christopher led laps 35-37 when Berndt took it back in turn3 on lap 37. Berndt held the lead for a lap before getting loose in turn two on lap 38 when he again gave way to Christopher. While Berndt was trying to regain control Mike Stefanik moved into the second spot. The third caution flew on lap 46 when Glen Tyler spun in turn three. During the caution period Stefanik, Ron Silk, Santos and Todd Szegedy pitted for tires and adjustments.

The green flew on lap 51 with Christopher leading Berndt and Rowan Pennink. Berndt retook the lead on lap 53. The fourth caution flew on lap 60 when Jimmy Blewett found himself planted in the wall between turns one and two. Christopher took the lead on the restart with Pennink, Eddie Flemke and Doug Coby in tow. By lap 71 Ron Silk had moved into second and was taking aim on Christopher's lead. At the half way mark Christopher continued to lead and was followed by Silk, Stefanik, Pennink, Coby and Ryan Preece. With fresher tires, Silk took the lead in turn three on lap 76. The fifth caution flew on lap 81 when James Civali spun on the front chute. During the caution Christopher along with Preece and Pennink pitted for tires. When the green was displayed on lap 86, Silk continued to lead and was followed by Stefanik and Coby. Coby, who came out of no where appeared to be shot out of a cannon as he took the lead on lap 121 from Silk. By lap 125 Coby had a three second lead but by then Christopher had fought his way to the front and was closing in for the kill. Coby led until lap 146 when Christopher passed him for the lead and eventual win in turn 4. Two late cautions for spins by Todd Szegedy and Gary McDonald did not effect the outcome of the race.

In other Sunday action at Thompson, Chris Perley of Rowley, MA, was super as he took home the victory in the International Supermodified Association (ISMA) feature event. Russ Wood of Pelham, NH, was crowned the 2010 ISMA champion. In Northeastern Midget Association action, Randy Cabral of Plymouth, MA won the war winning the feature event but it was Russ Stoehr of Bridgewater, MA winning the 2010 championship. In Thompson regular divisions it was Ronnie Silk of Norwalk, CT, taking down the victory in the Sunoco Modifieds, Rick Fuller of Auburn, MA, in the Super Late Models and Tommy O’Sullivan Late Models.

The sixth season of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour concluded with an inaugural visit to the Charlotte Motor Speedway and the running of the UNOH Southern Slam 150 on Thursday, Oct. 16. The race was contested on the quarter-mile track located along the front stretch of the 1.5-mile speedway located in Concord, N.C. Burt Myers led all but one lap in winning the UNOH Southern Slam 150 and, in the process, bypassed three title contenders to claim the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship. Myers entered the final race fourth in points and trailing first-place James Civali by 41.

Civali, however, was involved in several racing incidents and finished 16th. One of the wrecks also included second-place Andy Seuss, who wound up 18th. Earlier in the day, Seuss had won the Coors Light Pole Award. With less than 20 to go, third-place L.W. Miller got caught up in a fracas with Civali while running in third. He was able to make it back to finish sixth. That left the door wide open for Myers, who took home the championship by 31 points over Miller (1,609-1,578). Civali finished with 1,575, followed by Seuss with 1,566 and John Smith with 1,555. Earlier in the year, Myers also won his fourth track title in the Modified Division at Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina championship.

Myers qualified seventh but drew the pole when the 10 fastest qualifiers redrew for starting position. The only lap he didn't lead was 137 when Tim Brown nosed ahead on the restart, but Myers quickly moved back into the lead. Brown finished second in the race, while Zach Brewer posted his best finish of the season in third. John Smith was fourth and Daniel Hemric fifth.

The New England Auto Racer’s Hall of Fame has announced their “Class of 2011.” Drivers Punky Caron, Dan Meservey, Russ Nutting and Jerry Dolliver, car owners Rich & Ray Garuti, Stanley “Skip” Matczak, Vic Kangas, and Speedway Scene publisher Val Lesieur will be inducted at the 14th annual induction ceremony slated to take place on January 30th at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT. Still to be announced are the inductees from the Veterans Committee and the Jack Ratta Memorial (media) winner.

The Mohegan Sun Casino will not return as the primary sponsor of former NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion Matt Kobyluck for the 2011 racing season. Gambling revenues have been way off this past year. Mohegan Sun as well as Foxwoods have trimmed their work force in recent months.

It looks like the late Richie Evans and his many fans will have to wait another year as NASCAR announced the second class of inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. That class consists of: David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore. The NASCAR Hall of Fame Voting Panel, consisting of members of the Nominating Committee along with 31 others representing all facets of the NASCAR industry, met in a closed session in Charlotte, N.C., to vote on the induction class of 2011. The announcement was made in the Great Hall inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

In TV land this weeks viewing begins with NASCAR Hub on the Speed Channel will be seen on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:00pm and on Friday at 6:00pm. NASCAR Now on espn2 can be viewed at 5:00pm on Tuesday thru Thursday. This weeks race programming begins Tuesday evening at 10:00pm on the Speed Channel with Race in 60 highlighting last weekend's Sprint Cup race at Charlotte. This program repeats at 10:00am on Wednesday. At 11:00pm espn2 presents 30 For 30: Tim Richmond: To The Limit. Wednesday's viewing on Speed continues at noon with a replay of the entire Sprint Cup event that was run at Charlotte. At 6:00pm the action moves to the Versus Network for the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. Viewing on Versus continues at 7:00pm with Quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and at 7:30 with NASCAR: The Next Generation. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, World Series of Speedway Racing at the Thompson Int’l Speedway that was held on Sunday, Oct 17 is showcased on the Versus Network at 8:00pm. This will be the final event televised by Versus in 2010. Please patronize the sponsors who have made the telecasts possible. Thursday's viewing starts at noon on the Speed Channel with a rerun of last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 that was run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. At 3:00pm Speed re-airs the 2005 Advance Auto Parts 500 that was run at Martinsville, VA. At 6:00pm Speed goes west to the All American Speedway in California for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150. Speed goes live at Martinsville at 11:00am on Friday. A 90 minute Sprint Cup practice follows. At 1:00pm action at Martinsville continues with Truck Series practice. At 3:00pm the action shifts to espn2 for Sprint Cup qualifying. At 4:00pm on the Speed Channel Nationwide Series practice gets under way. At 6:00pm truck Series qualifying at Martinsville begins. At 7:00pm ESPN Classic takes a look back at the 1992 Hooter’s 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Saturdays action starts at 10:00am with Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville. Nationwide Series qualifying at the Gateway Speedway begins at 12:30 on espn2. Things get serious at 12:30 with the pre-race show for the trucks which will get the green at 1:15. The Nationwide Series has their pre-race show at 3:30pm on espn2 which will lead to the 3:30pm start of the Gateway 250. As a devirsion the Speed Channel will present the Knoxville Nationals Late Model Races at the Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville, IA. at 6:00pm and the World of Outlaws sprint cars at the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. Sunday's programming begins at 9:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. At 10:00am the action shifts to the Speed Channel for 60 minutes of NASCAR RaceDay. At noon the action moves to espn2 for the NASCAR Sprint Cup countdown which will lead to the 1:00pm start on ESPN of the NASCAR Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville Speedway. Rounding out the weekend on Sunday evening on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm. At 11:00pm the Versus Network will replay the season ending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, World Series of Speedway Racing event that was run at the Thompson Int’l Speedway on Oct 17.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side. Taking the big dip was the International Speedway Corporation which dropped 0.82 to 22.61. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.09 to 15.72 while Dover Motorsports dropped0.06 to 1.82. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.11 to 4.59 while fuel supplier Sun oil went up 0.60 to 39.83 and tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.40 to 11.97. The car makers showed a mixed bag of results. Ford went up 0.14 to 14.80 while Toyota went up 0.44 to 71.51. General Motors remained unchanged at 0.34. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.19 to 30.70 and Lowes dropped 1.14 to 21.56. The car sponsors faired a bit better. Dupont went up 0.01 to 46.67 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.16 to 53.70. Target Department Stores went up 0.13 to 54.33 as Aarons Rentals went up 0.55 to 17.77 and Fedex went up 0.93 to 89.62.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) announced it will race with E15 fuel in its three national touring series in 2011. Sunoco Green E15 is a 15 percent ethanol blend using American-made ethanol from corn grown by American farmers. NASCAR has tested the new blend excessively and claims race engines make more horsepower. The marine industry has seen the opposite effects of alcohol blended gas. When stored for any period of time alcohol blended gas dissolves deposits in older tanks and fuel lines plus the blended fuel attracts moisture when stored any length of time.

That’s 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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