Tuesday October,18 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series wrapped up their 2011 season last Sunday at the Thompson Speedway. Ron Silk came into the event with a 59 point lead over Todd Szegedy. Thirty four cars made up the car count. The seat in the Flamingo Motorsports No.16 was still warm after the exit of Mike Stefanik when Ryan Preece strapped in. Preece wasted little time as he adjusted to his new ride in short order as he garnered the pole position for the season ending World Series 150. Preece toured the 5/8 mile oval on 18.634 seconds. Second fastest was Doug Coby who had a time of 18.655 seconds. Stefanik drove the car he normally drives in Modified Racing Series events and qualified17th at 18.901 seconds. Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Bobby Santos rounded out the top five. Point leader Ron Silk qualified 8th fastest. The only casualty was Matt Hirschman who slammed the wall during qualifying. Hirschman was allowed to take a provisional spot.

The World Series drew a total of 273 cars including 34 Whelen Tour Modifieds, 16 Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds, 28 Supers, 22 Super Late Models and 25 Midgets.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series provided some intense drama during the running of the event which didn't see the championship finalized until the final moments of the event. The drama began on lap 52 when Silk and Tony Ferrante Jr spun and crashed into the first turn wall after hitting some oil that leaked out of the car of Timmy Solomito. While Ferrente suffered the most damage and had to be double hooked to the infield Silk was able to drive away with quite a bit of damage to his left front suspension. Once in his pit box the Eddie Partridge led crew went to work to repair the damage only to have to stop as the field went under a red flag while the oil was cleaned up that was spilled. After a short period the field went back under caution and work resumed on the Silk machine. When Silk finally re-entered the competition on lap 62 he was 10 laps down to the leader, Szegedy and it was thought that all was lost as far as the championship was concerned. Needless to say, Silk and the Partridge team kept digging and because of numerous cautions were awarded free passes under the rules which got them within three laps in arrears of Szegedy. Szegedy still had the title in hand until lap 148 when he got collected when Ken Heagy and Woody Pitkat tangled between turns three and four and collected Szegedy, shearing off his right front wheel which was the deciding factor. Silk finished 16th four laps down with 2,443 points with a 76 point cushion over Szegedy, who finished 25th. Both competitors were deserving of the title but it just wasn't in the cards for Szegedy, the 2003 champion, to win it. Congratulations to Silk along with his car owners, Eddie and Connie Partridge and their entire race team. Silk and the No. 6 T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet team will be honored as part of the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, N.C.

Glen Reen scored somewhat of an upset as he took the win in a wild event that saw a season-high 16 cautions and the maximum three green-white-checker events attempts for his first career victory. Reen took the lead on lap 142 from Justin Bonsignore and watched in his mirror as his competition was eliminated. Pole sitter Ryan Preece, who had recently taken over the seat of the Flamingo Motorsports entry that was formerly driven by Mike Stefanik, was on cruise control for the first 36 laps, was eliminated in a wreck on lap 145 when he broke a tie rod. Stefanik, who finished ninth in a new tour ride, was running fourth on lap 155 when he went for an opening on the backstretch and triggered a wreck that eliminated Justin Bonsignore and Ted Christopher who were running second and third. Stefanik said, "the 51 moved up and I filled up the hole between him and Christopher". "Once I got in there", he added, "they didn't give me any room". Doug Coby and Daniel Hemric who were running second and third behind Reen on a lap 160 restart got together shortly after taking the green. Hemric, from Kanapolis, NC, was driving the Roger Hill No.79 and found himself in the turn one wall and Coby spun. NASCAR Control felt that Coby was overaggressive and placed him one lap down. On the final restart for a green-white-checker finish Reen watched in amazement as Tom Rogers and Bobby Santos went at it as they almost wrecked. In a gut move, going into turn three on the final lap, Santos sunk the Mystic Missile in deep and took over the second spot behind Reen. Rogers, who had gotten roughed up a bit by Santos, finished fifth. Matt Hirschman brought Ole Blu home in third while Chuck Hossfeld finished fourth. Sixth through tenth were Keith Rocco, Reic Beers, Patrick Emerling, Stefanik and Eric Goodale.

In other World Series action at Thompson on Sunday, Chris Perley turned in a dominating performance in the International Super Modifed Association (ISMA) 50-lapper to score the victory. Russ Stoehr scored top honors in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) ranks. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Ryan Preece outlasted the field in a rough-and-tumble Sunoco Modified feature. Derek Ramstrom scored his sixth Super Late Model race to cap off the 2011 season at Thompson and Corey Hutchings survived numerous restarts in the Late Model main event to score the win.

Following a full day of practice and qualifying at Thompson on Saturday, ten (10) feature events were run. In Thompson regular weekly divisions it was Scott Sundeen scoring the victory in the Limited Sportsman division; Cam McDermott in the TIS Modifieds; and Chad Baxter in the Mini Stocks. Scoring Outlaw division victories were Rick Gentes (Late Models), Mike OíSullivan (Street Stocks) and Richard Fournier (Mini Stocks). Frank Cardile capitalized in the Sunoco Lite Main event to score the victory. Jason Lafayette opened up the World Series feature festivities with a victory in the N.E. Trucks Series. Andy Lindeman led green-to-checker to win the companion Truck Series Shootout. Dan Meservey, Jr. earned the victory in the Harry Kourafas Memorial event for the Pro-Four Modifieds.

Down in the south land, Tim Brown ended his year-long NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour winless streak with a victory he called one of his biggest of his career. The Cana, Va., veteran scored his seventh career win Thursday night in the UNOH Southern Slam 150 on the quarter-mile on the front stretch at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was Brown's first trip to Victory Lane since Sept. 4, 2010 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.

Brown took the lead from George Brunnhoelzl on a Lap 123 restart and led the rest of the way.

Brunnhoelzl, the points leader, finished second on a day in which he won the Coors Light Pole Award and led a race-high 124 laps. Brunnhoelzl will take a 150-point lead over Andy Seuss, who finished fourth, into the season finale on Oct. 22 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. Defending race winner Burt Myers finished third and his brother, Jason, was fifth. There were 18 cars that went to post in the 150 lap event.

After a short reincarnation as an asphalt track, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY will go back to being a dirt track as it will be run by Lebanon Valley promoter Howard Commander. He has a leasing deal with the Richards family while they continue to pursue the sale of the track. The track will return to a dirt surface in 2012. Bruce Richards says the Malta property is still for sale and he continues to be in conversations with purchasers. In the past, he has indicated that a sale of the property would likely lead to re-development of the property, not for use as a race track. Richards also said that even if a sale went through quickly, the procedures for development of the property would likely take a considerable amount of time. meaning as least a year of racing under Commander's leadership is probable.

The Albany-Saratoga Speedway was once a hotbed of NASCAR Modified racing. From 1966 to 1972 the best in the business from New England and New York would race there every Friday night.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 6:00pm on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 3:00pm. Race viewing for the week begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Bank of America 500 that was run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. On Thursday at noon, Speed will replay the NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 that was run at Charlotte. At 3:00pm Speed replays last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup AMP Energy Juice 500 that was run at the Talladega Superspeedway. Action on Speed continues at 7:00pm with the Oct 15 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West , Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 that was run at the All American Speedway in Roseville, CA. Speed goes live on Friday at 2:30pm with Sprint Cup practice from Talladega. NASCAR Live follows at 3:30 followed by Final Practice for the Sprint Cup cars at Talladega at 4:00pm. At 5:00pm the action shifts back to Charlotte for Truck Series qualifying. Trackside at Talladega on Speed follows at 7:00pm followed by Speed Center at 8:00pm. Saturday's viewing starts at noon on Speed with a three hour qualifying session for the Sprint Cup cars at Talladega. NASCAR Live follows at 3:00pm followed by the Truck Series pre-race show at 3:30pm that will lead to the 4:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Coca-Cola 250 at Talladega. NASCAR Performance from the NASCAR Hall of Fame at 6:30 and Speed Center at 7:00 round out the day. NASCAR Now on espn2 starts off the day on Sunday at 9:00am. At 10:30 Speed has Speed Center. At 11:00am NASCAR Raceday previews the Talladega 500. Viewin switches to ESPN at 1:00pm for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Countdown that will lead to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Talladega 500 at the Talladega Speedway. As an alternative the Speed Channel will present the Oct 1 World of Outlaws sprint car event that was run at the Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg, PA. NASCAR Victory Lane at 6:00pm and Speed Center at 7:00pm on Speed wrap up the day. Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain follows at 8:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks rebounded. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.13 to 23.02. Speedway Motorsports was also up as they gained 1.05 to close out the week at 12.57. On the negative side was Dover Motorsports which dropped 0.02 to 1.13. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.38 to 2.79 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil jumped up 2.89 to 35.33 and Tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.97 to 12.27. The car makers enjoyed a positive week. General Motors went up 2.15 to 24.16 while Toyota went up 1.33 to 67.46 and Ford went up 0.87 to 11.56. In the home improvement sector everything was positive there too. Home Depot went up 1.13 to 35.05 and Lowes went up 0.59 to 20.93. The major team sponsors were, for the most part, positive. Dupont went up 3.19 to 45.09 while Coca-Cola jumped 5.18 to 57.35, Target Department Stores jumped 1.39 to 52.95, Aarons Rentals jumped 1.90 to 27.46 and Fedex jumped 4.68 to 75.74. Overall, it was a pretty good week for a change.

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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