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Tuesday September 26, 2006   

By Phil Smith                                                          
 

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Waterford Speedbowl last weekend. On and off rain on Saturday plus fog and rain on Sunday forced NASCAR and the Waterford Speedbowl management to announce the cancellation of the event. The Town Fair Tire Finale, including Sunday’s Whelan Modified Tour Volunteer Fire Department 150 has been rescheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8. The Tour event will run on Sunday, Oct.8. In addition to the Speedbowl’s regular five divisions– the SK-Modifieds, Late Models, Sportsman and Mini Stocks - and the Wild n’ Wacky Wednesday cast – the X-Modifieds, X-Cars, Super-X Cars – the AllStar Race Trucks and Allison Legacy Cars will be back. The Double Down Shoot Out has been rescheduled for Sunday, Oct.29 and will include, in addition to twin features for the SKs, Late Models, Sportsman and Mini Stocks and the Northeastern Midget Association.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series now heads for the Stafford Motor Speedway for the 150 lap Fall Final.

The Thompson Speedway was the scene of fever pitch competition despite the fact that temperatures took a dive once the sun went down. Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT was declared the winner in the Sunoco Modified division. Les Rose, Jr. of E. Wareham, MA won the Pro Stock battle but Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA won the war as he clinched the divisional championship. A pair of “Most Popular Drivers” scored victories with Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA taking Late Model honors and Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT claiming the Limited Sportsman feature win. Scott Michalski of S. Killingly, CT was tops in the Mini Stocks and Kurt Vigeant in the TIS Modifieds.

Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT crossed the line second at the conclusion of the Sunoco Modified feature event but came home with the victory. In post race technical inspection, apparent winner Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ was disqualified for an illegal transmission. Blewetts car, owned by Eddie Partridge was using a racing type transmission that is illegal at Thompson but is considered ok at other tracks. Marvin bested a strong field of 26-Modifieds that included two drivers vying for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series regional championship-Jeff Malave and Woody Pitkat. A mere six points separated Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave atop the Sunoco Modified point standings; however, a dismal night for Malave gave Pitkat some breathing room entering the final Thursday night that will feature double features for the division.
 
Marvin and Keith Rocco brought the field to green; however, the action was short-lived when on lap one the action was slowed for an incident that resulted in front-end damage on point leader Pitkat’s machine. Pitkat was slammed broadside by another competitor as he entered turn one. He made a remarkable save and was able to keep his car from hitting the wall. Suffering a flat left front tire, Pitkat was able to continue after service from his pit crew, rejoining the field in the 23rd position.

Marvin led Rocco and a charging Jimmy Blewett on the restart. Blewett drove by Rocco and into the second position. Malave passed Buddy Charette for fourth and a single lap later took third from Rocco. Ricky Shawn led the second group of cars that included Tommy Cravenho and Todd Ceravolo. By lap 10, Pitkat was solidly into the top-ten. Pitkat passed Charette on lap 11. Meanwhile, Shawn had fallen to the challenges of Cravenho and Ceravolo. Rocco had slipped by to the fifth position. The leader, Marvin, hit heavy lapped traffic by the halfway marker. Malave began to pressure Blewett for the second spot. Exiting turn four of lap 18, Malave was second. Blewett tried in vain to catch Malave but got out of shape, in the process falling into the clutches of Cravenho. Pitkat was pressuring Rocco for seventh when the caution flew on lap 21 for a spin by Charette. The restart pitted Marvin and Malave followed by Blewett and Cravenho in row two. Marvin got a great restart to retain his spot at the head of the pack. Blewett gave Malave a run but had to settle in for third. Contact between Cravenho and Ceravolo from third and fourth sent cars scattering. Pitkat managed to maneuver his way through the mess. Ceravolo and Dan LaJeunesse sustained heavy damage. Evidently LaJeunesse doesn’t see past his hood and his spotter wasn’t paying attention. LaJunesse was running wide open when he hit Ceravolo on the driver’s side. The impact broke the car’s rear end and sheared off the left front suspension assembly. The top-five for the restart were Marvin, Malave, Blewett, Pitkat and Rocco. Again it was Marvin getting the edge. Contact between Malave and Blewett sent Malave into the marbles and losing two spots, one to Blewett and rival Pitkat. Blewett drove by Marvin for the lead on lap 23. The caution flew on lap 25 for a spin by Pitkat. Malave was sent to the tail for his involvement in the incident. Blewett led the charge to the restart flag with Marvin in tow. Keith Rocco drilled Ricky Shawn who was in third spot and subsequently sent Shawn spinning. Both Malave and Pitkat were involved in the incident. Malave headed to pit road with heavy right front damage. Pitkat was able to continue. Malave was out for the night. Blewett sailed out to the lead on the restart with five laps remaining. Marvin had his hands full with Rocco while Charette had to contend with Pitkat. Over the final laps, Blewett stretch his lead apparently coming home with his third win of the season. Marvin was able to turn his dismal luck around with a runner-up finish turned feature victory. Rocco was credited with a second-place finish over Charette, Pitkat, and Brian Tagg inside the top-five. Pitkat was named Sunoco Modified “Most Popular Driver”.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night Dodge Racing Series with all division championships yet to be decided. Frank Ruocco maintained his SK Modified points lead with his first feature win of the 2006 season, Mark Lewis picked up his first career win in the Late Model feature, but it will be a two-man race for the championship as Woody Pitkat and Jim Peterson are tied for the points lead. Brit Andersen was the winner of the SK Light feature, which propelled him into a 4-way tie with Chris Matthews, Richie Pallai, Jr., and Shelly Perry for the points lead heading into the CARQUEST Fall Final. Andrew Durand was the winner of the Limited Late Model feature event, but Kevin Gambacorta will head into the CARQUEST Fall Final with a 10-point lead over George Nocera, Jr. Jeff Jolly collected his second DARE Stock feature win of the 2006 season, but Norm Sears' third place finish gives him a 50-point lead, meaning that he only has to start the DARE Stock feature during CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend to become the track champion.
 
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, SK Modified® points leader Frank Ruocco, of Cheshire, chose the best time to pick up his first feature victory of the 2006 season. Ruocco quickly worked his way into second place, and then bided his time behind Chris Jones before taking the lead for the first time on lap-22. Ruocco had to contend with a hard charging Willie Hardie in the closing laps, but Ruocco was able to hold Hardie off to the checkered flag. Hardie finished second, with Woody Pitkat, Jones, and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5. Ruocco holds an 18-point lead over Willie Hardie, 586-568. Both Eric Berndt and Todd Owen are 50 points behind. All other drivers have been eliminated from championship contention.

The Stafford Motor Speedway closes out their racing season this coming weekend with the Carquest Fall Final. The Whelen Modified Tour Series joins the regular Stafford racing divisions. General Admission is $35, kids 6-14 are $5 and pits are $48. Pit passes are good for three days.

In TV land this week, viewing begins on Wednesday at 6:00am when the Outdoor Channel presents the USAC Thunder Midgets at 6:00am. At 8:00p.m. the Outdoor Channel presents the World of Outlaws Sprints at the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico, CA. Thursday’s action begins at noon with a rerun on the Speed Channel of last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series, Dover 200 run at Dover Downs in Delaware. The Nextel Cup Dover 400 follows at 2:30p.m. At 5:30 Speed presents the NASCAR Grand National Busch East Series (formerly Busch North Series) Sylvania 125 that was run at the New Hampshire Int. Speedway on September 16. On Friday Speed goes live at 3:30 p.m. with NASCAR Live from Kansas Speedway. NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying for Sunday’s Banquet 400 follows at 4:30. At 6:00p.m. the Speed Channel will show highlights of Kyle Petty's Charity Ride Across America. Speed goes live again at 7:00p.m. with Trackside at Kansas Speedway. Saturday’s action gets the green at 1:00p.m. with NEXTEL Cup final practice. NASCAR Live from Kansas Speedway follows at 2:00p.m. At 3:00p.m. the action switches to TNT for the NASCAR Busch Series, Yellow Transportation 300 from the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, KS. At 5:00p.m. the Outdoor Channel picks up the action with the USAC Thunder: Silver Crown cars from the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, OH. At 10:00p.m. Speed presents Tradin’ Paint from the Kansas Speedway followed by NASCAR Performance from the Kansas Speedway. Sunday’s programming begins at 11:30 with a two hour edition of NASCAR RaceDay which will preview the Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway. The action switches to NBC at 1:30 for the Banquet 400 pre-race show followed by the Banquet 400 at 2:00p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane wraps up the Kansas event at 7:00p.m. The Speed Report of weekend racing follows at 8:00p.m. Wrapping up the weekend will be Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00p.m.
On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side. The International Speedway Corporation, which went up 0.61 to 49.20, finished on the positive side. Dover Downs went down 0.12 to 5.56 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.17 to 36.23. Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.22 to 17.14, while Sun Oil dropped 3.15 to 58.64. Featherlite Trailers went up 0.05 to 6.43. DIRT Motorsports ended the week with a no change at 3.00. The drug sector ended the week on a positive note as as Pfizer went up 0.12 to 28.16 and Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.14 to 25.06. The home improvement sector went the other way as Home Depot dropped 1.26 to 35.96 and Lowes dropped 1.02 to 28.33. The parcel carriers had a mixed bag as Fedex went up 0.13 to 106.03 while UPS dropped 1.62 to 70.89.


That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com  


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