Tuesday October 23, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Valenti Modified Racing Series closed out their season last weekend at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire as part of their Octoberfest. The event drew 31 Modifieds.

Capping off a run from the rear twice, Tommy Barrett took no prisoners in the season ending 100 lapper. Barrett, who was supposed to start fourth, was forced to start in the rear as he pitted before the start. Barrett pitted again on lap 46 before his final charge to the front which paid off on lap 86 when he took the lead on lap 86 from Jon McKennedy. By the time Barrett streaked under the checkered flag McKennedy had faded to fourth but had garnered enough points to secure the 2012 Championship for himself and car owner Art Barry. Les Hinkley finished second with Rowan Pennink, third. Andy Seuss finished fifth. Chris Pasteryak led the early going until he pitted on lap 46. Louie Mechalides inherited the lead until giving way to McKennedy on lap 78. Sixth thru tenth were Norm Wrenn, Dwight Jarvis, Joe Doucette, Mechaledes and Max Zachem.

Congratulations to Keith Rocco who has been named the 2012 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award winner in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Rocco, from Wallingford, Conn., recorded five top-10 finishes in eight starts during the season. He posted an average finish of 13th with a best result of third place in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on April 29. Rocco missed six events, nearly half of the 14-race schedule, due to an injury suffered in practice for a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in July. He ranked ninth in the overall points standings after six races prior to the injury.

The 27-year-old was able to compete in the season’s final two Whelen Modified Tour races to secure Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. In his eight total starts he also captured Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors on five occasions. Seven of his eight appearances came in the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3 “Ole Blue” Chevrolet. In spite of the injury, Rocco was also able to finish as the national runner-up in Whelen All-American Series competition for the third time in the last four seasons. The one year Rocco wasn’t the runner-up, 2010, he captured the national title. Rocco will be recognized for his Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award at the NASCAR Night of Champions Awards on Saturday, Dec. 8 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Convention Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

It looks like the NASCAR Whelen drivers and owners will have to dig a little deeper next year in order to modify their seats to satisfy the new rules. The projected cost will run between $500 and $1500.

After competing in 575 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races over 27 seasons, Geoff Bodine is calling it a career. Bodine, who hasn’t run full-time since 1999, has run part-time since his injury in the then NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Daytona opener in 2000. Although he had a sponsor willing to back him this season if an opportunity arose to run with a team in any of NASCAR’s three series, no deal panned out for the veteran. Bodine, 63, ran select races in 2011 for Tommy Baldwin Racing. In his four starts last year, Bodine finished with a best of 30th at the season finale Homestead-Miami Speedway. At that time, Bodine didn’t feel that would be his last start in NASCAR, but he now is saying he will retire from the sport due to a number of factors.

“If you race long enough in racing, you will hit your head,” said Bodine, who has suffered from concussions in racing, “I’ve been in that position several times. I’ve seemed to bounce back from them with very little side effects. [People] might say ‘well, you’re okay,’ but the problem with that is I don’t know what might happen tomorrow when I wake up. I pray every night that I do wake up and I do know who I am. All of my concussions could have some effect on my life.”

Bodine’s accomplishments on the track include 18 career Cup wins with one Daytona 500 victory in 1986, 190 career top-10 finishes, an IROC championship in 1987, a career best 3rd in points in 1990, and being named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. He was also very proficient in his days behind a NASCAR Modified. His best year was 1978 when he drove the Richard Armstrong No.1 to 55 wins. His on-track performance and career stats speak for themselves and may be able to position him as a viable candidate as a future NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee.

Pro All Stars Series promoter Tom Mayberry has purchased Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway. Mayberry, a former racer, has found a great deal of success as Owner and President of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS). PASS was founded in 2001 and has since grown to be the nation’s premier sanctioning body for asphalt short track racing. PASS currently sanctions a variety of stock car divisions throughout North America.

In action on the tube this week last weekend's Sprint Cup race that was held at the Kansas Speedway will be re-shown on Speed at noon on Wednesday. The Kansas Nationwide Series event will be re-run by Speed on Thursday at noon.

Speed goes live on Friday at 11:00am at Martinsville with Truck Series practice. Sprint Cup practice at Martinsville follows at noon. NASCAR Live from Martinsville follows at 1:30pm. The truck series has their final practice at 2:00pm. Rounding out the day is Sprint Cup qualifying at 3:30pm.

Live coverage by Speed continues on Saturday morning at 9:30am with Sprint Cup practice. Truck series qualifying follows at 10:30am. The Sprint Cup series has their final practice at noon on Speed. Live action continues at 1:30pm with the Truck Series pre-race show on Speed that will lead into the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200.

Sunday's action begins at 11:00am with RaceDay at Martinsville. At 1:00pm the action shifts to ESPN for the Sprint Cup pre-race show that will lead to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 Martinsville.

Hot on the heels of the news that the Speed Channel is going out of existence is the news that with two full seasons left on their current television contract, NASCAR and FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG) announced an extensive new eight-year, multi-platform media rights agreement that ensures FSMG’s broadcast of NASCAR racing through 2022. Under terms of the new agreement, FSMG also significantly increases its digital rights to include “TV Everywhere” live race streaming of its portion of the season for the first time ever beginning in 2013.

As part of the new agreement, which takes effect in 2015, FSMG retains the television rights to 13 consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races beginning each year with the prestigious Daytona 500. In addition, FSMG retains the rights to the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, the Daytona Shootout, the Duel at Daytona, the entire NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season and practice and qualifying for both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races that FSMG broadcasts. There was no mention of NASCAR's Nationwide, Modified or K&N series racing telecasts.

FOX also remains the exclusive home of The Great American Race through 2022, a title it has proudly held for the last six years and nine of the last 12. On the digital front, FSMG gains “TV Everywhere” rights starting next season to live stream all FSMG races, along with pre- and post-race coverage, race highlights and in-progress race highlights to events it televises. This portion of the deal was made possible by NASCAR’s reacquisition of operational, business and editorial control of its digital platform, a move that takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013.

FSMG’s new and expanded television and digital media rights agreement with NASCAR includes, but is not limited to: An eight-year term from 2015 to 2022. The current FSMG/NASCAR rights agreement began in 2006 and runs through 2014, Thirteen (13) consecutive points races beginning with the Daytona 500 on FOX, The Daytona Shootout; Duel at Daytona; NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race; and Daytona 500 Qualifying, Full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, Right to televise all practice and qualifying sessions for FSMG races, Ability to re-telecast races on a FOX network and via video-on-demand (VOD) for 24 hours, Right to ancillary programming including, but not limited to, a nightly NASCAR news and information show as well as weekend at-track shows and right to NASCAR branded pre- and post-race shows.

Wells Fargo estimates International Speedway could receive an incremental $830M of gross revenue from the new eight year contract between FOX Sports Media Group and Nascar.

In an unrelated matter, Speedway Motorsports declared a quarterly cash dividend on October 18 of 15 cents per share of common stock. The quarterly dividend will be payable on December 10, 2012, to shareholders of record at the close of business on November 16, 2012.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks had a positive ending at the close of business on Friday. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.26 TO 26.17. Speedway Motorsports went up 1.08 to 17.71 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.07 to 1.47. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.08 to 5.65 and NASCAR fuel supplier Energy Transfer/Sun Oil dropped 0.36 to 42.25. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.11 to 12.39. The car builders were all positive for the week. Leading the way was Toyota which went up 3.16 to 77.83. General Motors went up 0.15 to 24.59 and Ford went up 0.06 to 10.18. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 2.33 to 61.89 and Lowes went up 1.46 to 32.64. With the exception of Coca-Cola which dropped 0.45 to 68.56 the major sponsors did well for themselves. Dupont went up 1.65 to 49.34, Target Department Stores went up 0.71 to 62.23, Aarons Rentals went up 0.48 to 27.50 and Fedex went up 1.71 to 92.11.

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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