Tuesday October 26, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour officially crowned its 2010 Champion Bobby Santos III following the season ending World Series 150 at the Thompson Speedway. In 14 events Santos, in the Bob Garbarino Mystic Missile, recorded 11 top tens which included four victories. Santos amassed 2180 points and in the end beat out Mike Stefanik by 27 points. Although winless, Stefanik recorded 12 top tens. Ted Christopher, with four wins, finished third. Christopher's consistency rate was a little off as he recorded nine top tens. Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale, Erick Rudolph, Eric Beers and Chuck Hossfeld. Fifty nine different drivers entered into competition. Eighteen drivers ran the entire series.

Bob Garbarino is the Championship car owner for 2010. Eric Sanderson was the runnerup with Eddie Whelan, third. Eddie Partridge and Mike Sermiglio rounded out the top five. As a result of yet another championship season, Garbarino joined the late Len Boehler as the only car owners to collect three Whelen Modified Tour titles. He also became the sixth team owner to earn back-to-back crowns, but just the second to do it with two different drivers. Boehlerís three-year run started with Wayne Anderson in 1994 and continued with Tony Hirschman in 1995-96. During the old format that was used to determine the NASCAR National Modified Champion prior to 1985 Boehler won three Modified Championships, 1967-1968-1969, with Bugsy Stevens as his driver.

Santos, Garbarino and the rest of the Mystic Missile Racing team will be recognized for their accomplishments as part of the festivities surrounding the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Dec. 11 at the Charlotte Convention Center's Crown Ballroom in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Competitors were told at Thompson that Sunoco would be the exclusive fuel for the Whelen Modified Tour Series in 2011.

Justin Bonsignore earned 2010 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Bonsignore, who hails from Holtsville on New Yorkís Long Island, registered four top 10s and was the Sunoco Rookie of the Race in eight of the seasonís 14 events. His rookie campaign was highlighted by a runner-up finish in the Made In America Whelen 200 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and laps led at his home track, Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, in the Riverhead 200. He finished 13th in the season standings.

Late last week Bonsignore's Toter and Trailer were broken into, as well as his 24 foot kart trailer. They completely cleaned out everything! Most importantly 2 complete race karts, in M3 Designs, along with all karting tools. In the race trailer they stole everything from 12 radios, to all pit equipment including jacks, guns, suits and helmets as well as geometry gauges, hardware, and spare parts off the crash carts.

The Modified Racing Series has continued to draw drivers who previously were exclusive to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Now in its seventh year the Modified Racing Series has become the home for race teams that cant afford to compete against the highly financed teams that run under the NASCAR banner. While car owners Bob Garbarino, Eric Sanderson, Eddie Whelen and Jan Boehler have remained loyal to NASCAR their drivers have crossed over to the northern based series. Most drivers feel that the more seat time they get the better and sharper they become. Mike Stefanik feels that a 14 race series is just not enough. Ted Christopher was one of the first to cross the line. Christopher considers himself a racer rather than a loyalist. Whelen Modified Tour Champion Bobby Santos III was also in the mix as was Ryan Preece, Ron Silk and Rowan Pennink. NASCAR has lost its strangle hold it once had on drivers as they have priced their brand and schedule of racing out of the reach of many. NASCAR got a real good TV package for the Modifieds this past year but then, again, 14 races is simply just not enough.

The Modified Racing Series closed out their 2010 season at the Lee USA Speedway. There were 30 cars on hand. Qualifying heat race winners were Kirk Alexander, Max Zachem and Steve Masse. Among the missing were Mike Stefanik and Ted Christopher. All tolled, there are 315 race cars at Lee USA Speedway. The cars are from 11 different divisions ran in 40 heat races, making for a long day. Jacob Dore was the winner of the consolation.

Race day started out nice but the weather went downhill fast as the forecast for the Lee area called for rain and possible snow. During hot laps for the Modifieds pole sitter Kirk Alexander was black flagged, forcing him to pit. Officials deemed that he had a problem and placed him in the scratch position for the start. Max Zachem and Steve Masse made up the front row for the start. After completing two laps running side by side Masse took the lead on lap 6. By lap 18 Andy Seuss had come alive as he moved into the second spot as Zachem faded to third. The first caution flew on lap 68 when Jimmy Kuhn spun on the backstretch. During the caution period rain began to fall. At around a quarter to three the race was red flagged. Support divisions were run in order to keep the track relatively dry. Shortly after 6:00pm the 100 lapper was restarted. Masse led the remaining laps and recorded the win. In the closing laps Ken Barry came on like gangbusters and finished second. Seuss faded to fifth as he was passed also by Zachem and Louie Mechalides. Jon McKennedy is the series Champion.

Don Hoenig stated in a recent article in the Norwich (CT) Bulletin that the Thompson Speedway's race night is still Thursday with Sunday a possible rain day for certain shows. Upwards of four tour type non-sanctioned shows and a few SK Light type events are also planned. It is also in the wind that the Modified Racing Series will make three stops at the northeastern Connecticut oval in 2011. Hoenig plans on bringing the Whelen Modified Tour back for three events. He is still unhappy over the fact that NASCAR told him he would have to move his traditionally scheduled August Thursday date because of fact that the Whelen Tour would be running with the Indy Cars at Loudon the following weekend.

A hot rumor in the wind is the possibility of Ben Dodge vacating his position as Special Assistant to Don Hoenig. Dodge and Russ Dowd have become a formable team in the organization and operation of the Thompson Speedway. Thanks to their efforts, Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway has provided great competition and an efficiently run program.

Lou Modestino reported that the Seekonk Speedway may be planning to host multiple Modified events every other week in 2011. He speculated that Dodge, who has close connections to the Modifieds, would be the logical choice to put it all together for the Venditti family, proprietors of the Route 6 oval. Dodge has refused to tell confidants where he might be going, other than saying he is leaving Thompson.

Len Sammons, editor and publisher of trade publication Area Auto Racing News recently announced that indoor Three Quarter Midget racing will be returning to the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI in 2011. The event is scheduled for Saturday, February 5 on the eve of Super Bowl Sunday. Among those expected to be in competition are former winners Mike Stefanik and Ted Christopher. The indoor event is scheduled one week prior to the start of Speedweek in Florida.

One of my spies in North Carolina says that filming for MadHouse II will begin in the spring. MadHouse was a reality show filmed by the History Channel that focused on the competitors and the racing at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. It has not been determined as yet which TV network will do the filming.

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. NASCAR Now on espn2 can be viewed at 5:00pm on Tuesday thru Thursday. This weeks race programming begins Tuesday at noon on Speed with the World of Outlaws sprint cars from the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. At 6:00pm the action moves to the Versus Network for the Whelen Modified Tour Series World Series 150 lapper that was run at the Thompson Speedway on October 17. At 10:00pm the action returns to the Speed Channel for Race in 60 which will highlight last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Tums Fast Relief 500 that was run at the Martinsville Speedway. That program will be repeated at 10:00am on Wednesday. Speed will repeat the entire Martinsville event beginning at noon. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Kroger 200 that was also running at Martinsville follows at3:00pm. At 6:00pm the action moves to the Versus channel for the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour. Quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup follows at 7:00pm and NASCAR: The Next Generation follows at 7:30. Thursday's viewing begins at noon with last weekend's NASCAR Nationwide Series Gateway 250 that was run at the Gateway Intl. Raceway in Madison, IL At 3:00pm Speed replays the 2008 UAW-Ford 500 that was run at Talladega. At 6:00pm Speed will show the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East New Hampshire 125 that was run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September17. Friday's viewing gets the green at 10:00am when Speed goes live at Talladega for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice. NASCAR Live at Talladega follows at noon. At 12:30 its Dave Despain on Assignment: Talladega followed by another segment of NASCAR Live at 1:30. Sprint Cup practice goes from 2:00pm to 4:30pm. Action continues on Speed at 4:30 with Truck Series qualifying. Trackside (NASCAR) at Talladega follows at 7:00pm. Saturday's race viewing starts at noon on Speed with the Oct 1-2 World of Outlaws sprint cars at the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. At 3:00pm Speed returns to Talledega for the Truck Series pre-race show which will lead to the 4:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Mountain Dew 250. Trackside (NASCAR) Halloween Special Edition follows at 6:30pm. At 8:00pm Speed travels to Syracuse NY for Super DIRTWeek XXXIX. Sunday's viewing starts at 10:00am with a two hour RaceDay. At noon the action moves to espn2 for a one hour segment of NASCAR Countdown that will lead in to the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup AMP Energy Juice 500 on ESPN at the Talladega Superspeedway. Later in the day on the Versus Network will be the Lucas Oil Motorsport Hour at 6:00pm. Rounding out the day is The SPEED Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane on Sprrd at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. On the positive side was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 0.56 to 23.17. Dover Motorsports dropped 0.05 to 1.77 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.42 to 15.30. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.26 to 4.85 while fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.63 to 39.20. Tire supplier Goodyear was also on the negative side as they dropped 0.23 to 11.74. With the exception of General Motors dropping 0.02 to 0.32 the other two car makers had a good week. Ford went up 0.15 to 13.95 and Toyota went up 0.19 to 71.70. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.78 to 31.48 and Lowes went up 0.44 to 22.00. With the exception of Dupont which went up 0.16 to 46.83 the major team sponsors were for the most part, down for the week. Coca-Cola dropped 0.24 to 53.46 whileTarget Department Stores dropped 0.46 to 53.87, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.07 to 17.70 and Fedex dropped 0.76 to 88.86.

Thatís 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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