Tuesday September 12, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                          

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was part of what was called Modified Mania last weekend at the Thompson Speedway. Modified Mania replaced what was the Thompson 300. The 150 lap Whelen Modified event carried a posted purse of $86,753. A somewhat slim field of 39 cars was on hand to qualify for the 36 starting spots up for grabs. Donny Lia, who has somewhat of a bland season, took the Busch Pole as he toured the 5/8-mile oval in 18.793 seconds. Tony Hirschman Jr. was second fastest with a run of 18.798 seconds. The re-draw for starting positions saw Ron Silk draw the pole with Matt Hirschman drawing the outside pole. Tony Ferrente Jr., Tony Hirschman and Eric Beers drew positions three through five. Rounding out the top ten starting spots were Ron Yuhas Jr., Mike Stefanik, Reggie Ruggiero, Lia and Jerry Marquis.

Eric Beers finally got the monkey off his back as he put the mighty No.3 of Michael and Janice Boehler in victory lane. Beers pitted just before the 1/3 mark of the 150 lap event for fresh tires and did a masterful job of working his way to the front and took the lead from Ed Flemke Jr. on lap 102. Flemke faded in the later stages as he ended up fourth in the final rundown. Reggie Ruggiero ended up second with John Blewett III in third spot. Rounding out the top five were Flemke and Tony Ferrente Jr. Sixth thru tenth were Jerry Marquis, Doug Coby, Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik and Rick Fuller. Of the 36 starters, 26 of them were running on the lead lap at the end. For the most part it was a clean race with only 8 cautions for 38 laps slowing the field. There were four lead changes among four drivers. Matt Hirschman led from his outside pole starting spot to lap 52. Mike Stefanik, who still leads the point standings, led from lap 53 to lap 73. Stefanik currently holds a 94 point edge over Ted Christopher who finished 28th, three laps down at the finish. Matt Hirschman led again from lap 74 to lap 87 and Flemke led from lap 88 to lap 101 before giving way to Beers who led the rest of the way.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series now heads for the New Hampshire International Speedway for a 100 mile event that is scheduled late Friday afternoon.

In addition to the Whelen Modifieds the True Value Modifieds, Race of Champions Modifieds, Sunoco SK type Modifieds and Pro Four Modifieds also raced at the Thompson Speedway last weekend. The support events provided numerous wrecks. Woody Pitkat won the Sunoco SK type Modified event over Jeff Malave, Tom Cravenho and Todd Ceravolo. The northern New England based True Value Modified Series finished under a yellow-checker after a massive wreck on a restart with two laps to go. Kirk Alexander took the eventual win over Les Hinkley, Jon McKennedy and Dwight Jarvis. Earl Paules won the Race of Champions Modified Tour event over Matt Hirschman and Eric Beers.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway hosted round two of its September Series last Friday night. Two more Friday night events remain before the season CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, scheduled for September 30th and October 1st. Willie Hardie drove to his second SK Modified feature win in the last three weeks, Tom Fearn won his first Late Model feature win of the 2006 season, Chris Matthews won his fourth SK Light Modified feature of the 2006 season, Paul Conte scored his firsts career Ltd. Late Model feature win, and Norm Sears picked up his first DARE Stock feature win of the 2006 season.
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Willie Hardie, of Stafford Springs, battled with Lloyd Agor for several laps before taking the lead on lap-25. Once Hardie was in the lead, he was never headed as he picked up his second win in the last three weeks to put himself in the thick of the SK Modified championship race. Curt Brainard led the first 11 laps before giving up the lead to Agor on lap-12. Agor then led until lap-25, when Hardie took over. Rounding out the top-5 behind Hardie was Agor, Jeff Baral, Chris Jones, and Eric Berndt. It was a bad night to be a points leader, as Woody Pitkat, Todd Owen, and Frank Ruocco all experienced difficulties during the race, relegating them to poor finishes and tightening the championship battle. Pitkat only completed 8 laps before retiring, Ruocco lost a radiator in an accident and lost 5 laps before getting back on track to finish 17th, and Owen finished 18th after his crew had to repair a broken driveshaft. In the chase for the SK Modified championship, Frank Ruocco holds a 14-point lead over Eric Berndt, 536-522. Willie Hardie is third, 16 points behind, Todd Owen is fourth, 22 points behind, and Jeff Malave is fifth, 28 points behind.

The Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to a mid-evening shower and was able to complete only part of their program before track management was forced to call a halt to the racing and pull the plug around 9pm after thundershowers moved in. The Sportsman completed their first scheduled event with Billy Gertsch winning followed by Dwayne Dorr and Ed Puleo. The Legends completed their feature with Michael Gervais winning. The Modified feature had 12 laps completed when the rains came. Tom Fox was leading over Shawn Monahan, Dennis Gada, and Jeff Pearl.
It was announced racing would resume next week with double features for the Late Models, Mini Stocks, the regular 35 lap SK Modified race plus the remaining 23 laps left over from this past week, in addition to a Sportsman race, X car race, and Faster Pastor race with an earlier start time estimated to be around 6:00p.m.

It looks like there will be racing at the Waterford Speedbowl at least until June of 2007 as Terry Eames has been given an extension to the foreclosure proceedings that were impending on the property in which the Speedbowl is located. Eames claims that Harvey Industries, a supplier of windows and doors, is looking to purchase eight of the Speedbowl’s 38.75 acres. Eames currently has $1.6 million in debt hanging over his head. In a somewhat related matter, driver Ken Voite’s Defective Premises suit against Eames is scheduled for pre-trial conference on January 18th of 2007. There is a movement underway to buy Eames out which is stalled at the present time.

If not for the efforts of Bill Roth and Pete Zanardi the shoreline oval might not have made it through 2006. Its amazing the shoreline oval still draws a decent crowd without spending a nickel on advertising. All competitors and fans can hope for now is that someone will be able to buy Eames out and keep the facility in its present state.
In a prepared statement Eames stated that Harvey Industries will submit their plan for town approval very soon. They have already had numerous favorable meetings with town staff, as Eames claims he had. He also alluded to the fact that the use they intend is legal in the zone the property is in which he indicated the process should be very fairly simple from here on in. Eames also stated that Harvey Industries has already spent considerable amounts to do testing and design work and he has a sales agreement with them secured with a large deposit. Eames feels that the town of Waterford is very thorough in their land use decisions and the time the judge allowed before foreclosure is long enough to get everything in place for the transaction to take place. In addition he stated that he has already started to line up new financing to replace Washington Mutual who currently owns the mortgage on the property and has had dozens of offers to help out with financial assistance since the foreclosure became public.

Just when you were thinking that admission to weekly racing events was getting out of hand the NFL announced that ticket prices will be increased an average of 5.6 percent for the upcoming season, according to Team Marketing Report, which surveys ticket costs each year. The highest average ticket cost is in New England for a Patriots game ($90.89) and the lowest is in Buffalo ($41.29). Plus, you have to pay to park.

In TV land this week viewing begins on Wednesday at 5:00pm on the Speed Channel with a one hour highlite program of Nextel Cup star Kyle Petty’s Charity Ride Across America that took place on July 22-30. At 8:00pm the action switches to the Outdoor Channel for a World of Outlaws event that was run at the Southern Oregon Speedway in Medford, OR on Aug 30. Thursday’s viewing begins at noon when the Speed Channel reruns last Friday nights NASCAR Busch Series Emerson Radio 250 that was run at Richmond, VA. Last Saturday nights NASCAR Nextel Cup, Chevy Rock & Roll 400 also run at Richmond, follows at 2:30. Speed goes live on Friday from Loudon, NH with Nextel Cup qualifying for the Nextel Cup Sylvania 300 following qualifying. Speed goes live again at 7:00pm with Trackside at New Hampshire Intl. Speedway. Speed continues their live coverage on Saturday at 11:00am with Nextel Cup final practice at New Hampshire Int. At noon HDNet will provide live coverage of the Grand National Busch East Series Sylvania 125 from Loudon. At 1:30 the live action switches back to Speed for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Sylvania 200 at Loudon. At 4:00, NESN presents NASCAR New England, which showcases the weekly racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway. At 5:00 the action moves to the Outdoor Channel for the USAC Thunder: Silver Crown Midgets from Terre Haute, IN. TNT goes live with the Loudon pre-race show. The Sylvania 300 gets the green shortly after 1:15. The Speed Channel will host the Speed Report at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene all three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side. Speedway Motorsports took the big hit as they dropped 0.61 to 36.32. Dover Downs dropped down 0.30 to 5.53 and the International Speedway corporation dropped 0.03 to 48.46. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint/Nextel dropped 0,58 to 16.51. Sunoco took a big hit as they dropped 7.10 to 65.50. Featherlite Trailers showed a no change at 6.36. DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.30. The drug sector was a mixed bag. Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.23 while Pfizer dropped 0.37 to 27.59. The home improvement sector had a negative ending. Home Depot dropped 0.36 and Lowes dropped 0.09 to 27.24. The parcel carriers were also negative at week’s end. FEDEX dropped 1.11 to 100.71 and UPS dropped 1.52 to 69.56.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail  

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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