Tuesday October 4, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final. Rain and fog greeted fans and competitors on Saturday morning. By mid-morning the precipitation quit and the 30 cars on hand were permitted to practice.

The Long Island Gang dominated the qualifying session. Justin Bonsignore earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the second year in a row in the CARQUEST Fall Final when he posted the fastest time trial in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour qualifying. Bonsignore posted a fast lap of 18.427 seconds (97.683 mph) to earn his third career Coors Light Pole Award. Taking the outside pole position was fellow Long Islander Donny Lia. Ted Christopher, Eric Beers and Kevin Goodale rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Bobby Santos, Ron Silk, Ryan Preece, Eric Goodale and Mike Stefanik. All 30 cars on hand made the field including Chuck Hossfeld who did not take time because of a broken engine rocker arm.

Ben Dodge, Stafford Motor Speedway's host announcer, was the Grand Marshal of Stafford Motor Speedway's 39th annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend. With the 39th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, Dodge will wrap up his 41st season as part of the Stafford Motor Speedway announce team. Dodge, who is also the special assistant to Don Hoenig at the Thompson Speedway, gave the command to send the Whelen Modified Tour on its way with the most famous words in motorsports, "Gentlemen, Start Your Engines".

Bonsignore took the lead at the start with Christopher and Lia hot on his tail. Todd Szegedy, who started 15th was the first casualty as he appeared to have a tire deflating as he faded to the rear of the field by lap 7. Szegedy got a gift on lap 7 as Richie Pallai spun in turn two, bringing out the first caution. Szegedy was able to rejoin the field without losing a lap. Glen Griswold brought out the second caution on lap 18 when he spun in turn two. Evidently there was something about turn two as Szegedy brought out the third caution with a spin on lap 32. On lap 37 the green was displayed. Bonsignore jumped to the lead as Donny Lia passed Ted Christopher bringing Eric Beers along with him. Christopher fell to fourth spot.

Jamie Tomaino broke the spin cycle that had plagued turn two as he spun in turn four on lap 38, bringing out the fourth caution. Bonsignore continued to lead. The fifth caution flew on lap 46 as Rowan Pennink spun with Matt Hirschman and Bryon Chew in turn four. Matt Hirschman was also collected and suffered a flat right rear tire. The green came out on lap 51 with Bonsignore still on the point. On the race restart Eric Beers did not come up to speed as Ryan Preece made the pass and took over second spot. As the lead pair pulled away from the field the sixth caution came out on lap 56 for Tom Rogers who spun between turns one and two. The green was again displayed on lap 62 with Bonsignore and Preece still running one-two. Mike Stefanik, who was never in contention saw his day end on lap 66 when his engine developed issues. At the half way mark, 75 laps, Bonsignore continued to lead with Preece second and Christopher, third. Szegedy who had numerous problems early on was able to recover and was running ninth. The seventh caution flew for Richie Pallai who spun between turns one and two on lap 77. Under caution the front runners, including Bonsignore, Preece and Christopher pitted. When the green was displayed on lap 82 Erick Rudolph pulled ahead to take the lead and was followed by Glen Reen and Todd Szegedy who didn't pit during the latest caution. More yellow fever on lap 85, this time for Kevin Goodale who spun.

When the green flag dropped on lap 90, Szegedy went under Glen Reen for second spot as Rudolph continued to lead. The eighth caution was for a multi-car spin on lap 97 that collected Eric Berndt, Santos, Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Ron Silk. During this caution Chris Kopec and Chuck Hossfeldt retired with motor issues. Also pitting were Christopher, Silk and Bonsignore. Rudolph continued to lead as the field went back to green on lap 105. Szegedy was second with Don Lia, third.

The caution was displayed for the ninth time on lap 111 when Rowan Pennink got into the back of Matt Hirschman and the two cars spun going into turn four. During the caution Santos parked the Mystic Missile which was experiencing rear end problems. The field went back to green on lap 115 with Rudolph leading Szegedy and Lia. Rowan Pennink, who was running 18th, brought out the 12th caution on lap 119 when he spun in turn two. The field went green again on lap 124. The natives were getting restless! As Rudolph led the restart, Szegedy got sideways which opened the door for Ted Christopher to move into the fourth spot. Christopher turned up the wick as he put the pressure on Beers and on lap 139 got the third spot as Beers got a little sideways. The cautions continued. The 10th yellow flew on lap 142 for Eric Goodale who spun into the outside wall in turn 4. On the race restart Erick Rudolph had Ted Christopher right on his rear bumper as Ryan Preece shot for third. The 11th caution was displayed for Szegedy who saw his day come to an end when he lost a left front wheel. After a short red flag period the field went back to caution for what would be a three lap shootout.

On the final restart, Christopher took lead as Rudolph got shoved out of line. A NASCAR replay showed that Christopher was under Rudolph entering turn 1, Rudolph turned to block and Christopher held his ground. The two made contact, which slowed Rudolph enough that Christopher was able to clear him easily. A frustrated Rudolph came up behind Ted Christoper's #36 car and gave him a bump in the rear following the conclusion. In victory lane Christopher said that he had fresher tires and that Erick Rudolph did a turn left on him. Ryan Preece finished second and was followed by Lia, Beers and Rudolph. Sixth through tenth were Kevin Goodale, Silk, Hirschman, Doug Coby and Bonsignore.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series takes a weekend off before heading to the Thompson Speedway for the Series finale, The World Series.

In regular weekly racing at Stafford, Eric Berndt won the 40 lap SK Modified feature over Glen Reen and Ted Christopher. Tom Bolles and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece, who had previously wrapped up the SK Modified track championship, finished sixth. Woody Pitkat won the Late Model feature over Mark St Hillaire, Dillon Moltz, and Patrick Townsend. Moltz was later disqualified for failure to submit to tech inspection. Ryan Posocco, who was moved up to fourth in the final rundown, won his sixth Late Model Championship.

In Whelen Southern Modified Tour action south of the Mason-Dixon line Andy Seuss led flag-to-flag to win the Caraway 150 at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina on Saturday night. The victory on the .455-mile paved oval marked the third win this year and 11th career win for the Hampstead, N.H., driver. It was his sixth race win at Caraway. While Seuss gained ground in the championship standings with the win - his teammate, George Brunnhoelzl III, maintained a commanding lead in the points by finishing second. Brunnhoelzl's lead dropped from 150 points to 130 on the night.

Seuss jumped into the lead past pole-sitter Brunnhoelzl at the drop of the green and then maintained command through two early restarts. He paced the field from there to the finish, with his biggest challenge appearing to be working lapped traffic late in the race. Seuss won by a margin of 2.785 seconds over Brunnhoelzl. Tim Brown took third, with Brian Loftin fourth and Brandon Ward charging forward to take fifth. Thomas Stinson, Jason Myers, Burt Myers, Austin Pack and LW Miller completed the top 10.

There were only 13 cars on hand for the event. The blistering pace was such as there were only seven cars on the lead lap at the finish. NASCAR has got to realize the fact that the Whelen Southern Modified Tour is in trouble. Poor fields of cars can be blamed on the economy in general but paltry race purses make it almost impossible for race teams to break even. Evidently NASCAR is ashamed of their Modified Series race purses as they are no longer published or made available to the media

In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson, rain again prevailed. The Speedway will close out the 2011 season on October 16 with the Annual World Series of Speedway Racing. For the third week in a row the speedway management was forced to pull the plug and postpone the final weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event of the season to this coming Thursday, Oct 6.

Four of the six weekly divisions that race at Thompson have yet to have their championships decided. Keith Rocco currently leads Ryan Preece for the Sunoco SK type Modified championship by 26 points. Preece has previously sewed up the Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified Championship. Larry Gelinas, Mike O'Sullivan and Derek Ramstrom are currently in a three way battle for top honors in the Super Late Models and Tommy O'Sullivan currently has a 50 point lead over Rick Gentes and in the Thompson Modifieds, Keith McDermott holds a slim 6 point lead over Glen Boss. Chris Douton has sewed up the Limited Sportsman title and Danny Field has wrapped up the Mini Stock division championship.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco won his 12th SK Modified feature of the year and sewed up the division championship at the shoreline oval. The Speedbowl, which wrapped up it's Saturday night season, also saw Bruce Thomas Jr. claim his fifth win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models and Ray Christian win his first of the year in the Mini Stocks. Al Stone III made it two in a row in Street Stock action. Stone has seven over all victories for the year.

In other action, Dave Garbo Jr. won another Legends Cars feature and Dana Dimatteo added the Saturday series championship to his Wild Ďn Wacky Wednesday series crown to unofficially sweep the division titles. Ken Morin Jr. won the nightís Bandolero feature and Taylor Martin wrapped up the divisionís Saturday series championship.

In the Modified feature, Rocco spent three laps trailing Glen Pressel before wrestling the lead

away with an inside move in turn four on lap-22. Rocco surged into the lead while Jeff Pearl slipped under Pressel to take the second spot. Rob Janovic snatched third away from Pressel as the field raced in tight formation, which resulted with Frank Mucciacciaro spinning in turn three for the final caution on lap-24.

Rocco outpowered Pearl on the final restart to hold the lead. Pearl lost second to Janovic, then third to Tyler Chadwick who moved to Pearlís inside. Kyle James was fifth and the top-five singled out for the stretch run to the checkered flag. Janovic and Chadwick stayed in contention behind Rocco but were unable to find racing room for a bid to win.

The Speedbowl wraps up yheir season this coming weekend with the Fall Finale.

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 and Wednesday at 3:00pm. Race viewing for the week begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup AAA 400 that was run at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE. Thursday's viewing also begins at noon with last Saturday's Nationwide Series 5-hour Energy 200 that was run at the Dover International Speedway. Viewing on Speed continues at 3:00pm with last year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Price Chopper 400 that was run at the Kansas Speedway. At 7:00pm the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East division takes center stage with an event they ran at Dover last Friday. Saturday's viewing starts at 2:30am with the Oct 7 ARCA Racing Series ARCA 150 that was run at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS. At 11:00am Speed goes with Trackside (NASCAR) at Kansas Speedway followed by NASCAR Live at Kansas Speedway at noon. Speed goes live at 12:30pm with Sprint Cup practice. At 3:00pmthe action moves to espn2 for the Nationwide Series countdown that will lead to the 3:30pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS. Speed Center on Speed at 6:30pm wraps it up at 6:30pm. Sunday's viewing begins at 10:00am when Speed has Speed Center- NASCAR edition. A two hour session of RaceDay follows at 10:30am. At 1:00pm ESPN has their own version of RaceDay which will lead to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS. NASCAR Victory Lane at 5:30pm and Speed Center at 7:00pm wrap it up. Rounding out the day is Wind Tunnel with Dave Sespain on Speed at 8:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week stock prices, with few exceptions continued on their downward trend.Among the exceptions to the rule was Speedway Motorsports which went up 0.32 to 12.08 and Dover Motorsports which went up 0.04 to 1.25. On the negative side was the International Speedway Corporation which went down 0.06 to 22.84. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.14 to 3.04 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 1.73 to 30.98. NASCAR tire supplier had a positive ending as they went up 0.21 to 10.07. Two of the three car builders were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.19 to 19.67 and General Motors dropped 0.82 to 20.18 while Toyota went up 0.41 to 68.26. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.88 to 32.84 and Lowes dropped 0.40 to 19.34. The big team sponsors showed a lot of negatives despite the fact that Aarons Rentals went up 0.24 to 25.26 and Fedex went up 0.38 to 67.68. Dupont dropped 0.49 to 39.97 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.14 to 55.46 and Target Department Stores dropped 0.10 to 49.04.

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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