Tuesday September 18, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for their second of two visits for 2007. Forty NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the 100 mile event that carried a $164,095 purse. Former series champion Todd Szegedy took the Busch pole as he toured the semi-banked oval in 29.725 seconds to the tune of 128.135 MPH. Second fastest and taking the outside pole position was Ron Yuhas JR. Yuhas’ speed was 128.018 MPH. Series point leader Don Lia was third with Tony Hirschman, fourth. Rounding out the top five was JJ Yeley who drove a car that was assembled at Dale Earnhardt Inc in North Carolina and painted up to resemble the Modified driven by the late Tom Baldwin.

As usual the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds got shuffled to the back of the bus as their event was rescheduled for late Saturday as well as being shortened 25 laps from the original 100. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy took the win in a somewhat clouded situation. NASCAR has some issues with Szegedy’s engine and has sent it to NASCAR’s R&D center in Concord , NC . In the meantime, the finish is pending. .Ronnie Silk finished second with series point leader Donny Lia, third. Bobby Santos III and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali, Tony Hirschman, Andy Seuss, Mike Stefanik and Bob Grigas III.

The event, which was originally scheduled to go off in the early afternoon didn’t get the green flag until 5:30pm . After a couple of early wrecks that thinned the field a bit the balance of the event was classic Loudon with numerous lead swapping and bump drafting the norm. During the final laps the top four were litterly under a blanket. It was announced that 31,000 fans were on hand to witness the event. Fifteen of the original 39 starters finished on the lead lap. The event, which took just under 45 minutes to run, produced four caution periods for 32 laps. Among those who failed to finish were Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke who had major power plant malfunctions. Outside pole sitter Ron Yuhas Jr along with Matt Hirschman, Richard Savory, Kenny Bouchard and Reggie Ruggiero were eliminated in a wreck after James Civali dumped Yuhas out of second spot. There were actually 8 lead changes among two drivers, Szegedy and Silk. Szegedy took the lead for the final time on lap 68.

Set your VCR/DVR!! The Speed Channel has announced the following times and dates for airing recent Whelen Modified Series Tour events: TV coverage of the WMT is scheduled for Wednesday Sept 19 12:00-1:30 pm Martinsville event and Thursday Sept 20 3:00-4:30 am Martinsville event.

In NASCAR Busch East action at Loudon on Friday Joey Logano took the win in the 125-lap feature and unofficially clinched the championship at New Hampshire . Mark McFarland saw his excellent run go up in smoke after contact with Sean Caisse which landed McFarland in the wall. Matt Kobyluck, who had made it up to 6th after an early spin, got collected in an accident that also involved Kelly Moore and Scott Lynch. Kobyluck alluded to the fact that Moore intentionally wrecked him. Following Logano and Caisse were Rogelio Lopez, Peyton Sellers, Jamie Hayes, Jerry Marquis, Brad Leighton, Ryan Moore, James Buescher, and Eddie McDonald.

In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won the Sunoco Modified main event. Mike O’Sullivan padded his point lead with a Pro Stock feature victory while Keith DeSanctis by virtue of his Limited Sportsman victory, moved into the point lead in the division. Tommy O’Sullivan added to the celebration by winning in the Late Model division. Unofficially O’Sullivan teammate Tim Sullivan bested the TIS Modified field helping his championship hopes. Scott Michalski earned his first win of the 2007 season in the Mini Stocks.

Malone saw it all en route to his third Sunoco Modified win of the season. He nearly spun, took the lead, and his car was suspected of leaking fluid. But in the end, Malone was dry all the way to the checkered flag. For the second week in a row the points were shaken up atop the Sunoco Modified point standings. With his runner-up finish, Keith Rocco took over the points lead by 14 points over a tie for second between Tommy Cravenho and Woody Pitkat. After a pair of attempts at a start, pole sitter Steve Masse showed the way through lap two before relinquishing the top spot to Woody Pitkat. The first caution flew almost immediately for a spin by Eric Goodale. Back under green, it was a three-car breakaway at the head of the pack with Pitkat holding the top spot over Malone and Rocco.

Rocco, who has been somewhat of a rough rider lately triggered a tense moment on lap eight when he made contact with Malone. In a great display of driving Malone was able to gather up his racecar losing only a position to Rocco. Further back in the pack, a spin brought out the event’s second yellow. Bert Marvin headed down pit road under the caution period.

Rocco then did a slide job moving Pitkat up the race track a bit in an effort to muscle away the lead. The shuffling at the head of the pack had a chain reaction near mid-pack with racecars scattering. The then-point leader Cravenho suffered some significant damage; however, he was able to continue. On the restart, Pitkat resumed his lead while Malone was able to take the second spot away from Rocco. Buddy Charette was running strong in the fourth position, holding off last week’s winner Todd Ceravolo. At halfway, the top three ran nose to tail while Danny Cates made it a three car battle for the fourth spot. On lap 16, Malone got up alongside leader Pitkat. He was able to make the pass in turn one of lap 17. A half a lap later, Pitkat spun on his own in turn four. Charette watched his good run end up against the turn four wall to bring out the caution on lap 23. When racing went back to green again, Malone was able to motor out to a 10-car length lead over Rocco, who enjoyed a similar lead on Ceravolo. Pitkat meanwhile was making tracks through the field. He passed Ricky Shawn to break into the top five. On lap 28, he passed Cates to move into fourth. In the end, it was a strong win for Malone. Rocco had another great run to finish in the second position. Last week’s winner Ceravolo came home third. Pitkat recovered from his early incident to finish fourth. Cates rounded out the top five. Ricky Shawn, who struggled this season, finally had some luck on his side to finish sixth. Cravenho’s luck had run out as he salvaged a 13th place finish but relinquished the point lead.

The Stafford Motor Speedway continued their Friday night Fall Series which leads up to the season ending Fall Final in two weeks. Chris Matthews secured the 2007 SK Light championship in grand style by winning the SK Light feature for his fifth feature win of the 2007 season. Frank Ruocco took the SK Modified feature win for his third feature win of the season, Michael Bennett was a first time winner in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno was a first-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood was a first-time winner in the DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Willie Hardie setting the early pace from the pole. Jeff Malave followed closely behind Hardie, but would give way to Frank Ruocco. Hardie would hold the race lead until lap-15 when Ruocco moved past to take over the top spot. Woody Pitkat, who earlier won 5 features in a row and is in the running for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship, dropped off the pace on lap-19. Pitkat would go a lap down as he had carburetor issues under the hood of his car. Several caution periods through the middle stages of the race slowed the action and eliminated cars from the race. Ruocco charged to the lead with Ted Christopher on his bumper. Christopher stayed glued to Ruocco's bumper, but Malave was also still in the mix and he made a strong move to the outside of Christopher with 5 laps to go. Christopher and Malave's side by side battle gave Ruocco all the margin he needed as he scored his third feature win of the 2007 season. Malave got by Christopher on the final lap for second place, with Christopher, Brad Hietala, and Lloyd Agor rounding out the top-5 at the finish.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night a 20 plus year friendship between Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada became strained to say the least. From the mid point of the SK Modified feature to the finish Gada and Janovic ran wheel to wheel when they were not nose to tail. Gada worked harder than he has ever had to do as Janovic’s driving pattern resembled that of a windshield wiper. Gada, who is gunning for a record seven SK Modified championships, never gave up as finally took the lead with four laps remaining. The Speedbowl wraps up their season this coming weekend with the Town Fair Tire finale. Janovic will go into the event with a 14-point lead over Gada. Todd Ceravolo, Mike Finkeldey and. Matt Gallo rounded out the top five.

Tim Jordan, the 2006 Late Model champion won his first race since May and fifth overall, holding off Bruce Thomas Jr., who clinched the division title last week. Jordan has not run a full schedule at Waterford this year, racing instead a few times in Seekonk and Oxford on the ACT tour. Phil Evans won his sixth Mini Stock feature of the year, making him the all-time winningest active driver in the division. Points leader Ken Cassidy Jr. was fifth and has a 12-point lead over two-time defending champion Danny Field heading into this weekend's season-ending race. Jack Aquilina won the Sportsman feature while Dwayne Dorr wrapped up his second straight title with his seventh-place finish.

The season-ending Town Fair Tire finale weekend will take place next weekend .On Sunday; there will be two 100-lap features in the SK-Modified and Late Model divisions, as well as two 50-lappers in the Mini Stocks and Sportsman divisions. The NEMA Midgets will also run a 25-lap feature.

In TV land this week and for the remainder of the season NASCAR Now on ESPN2 will be in the 6:00pm time slot. This weeks viewing begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the Sept 1 NASCAR Touring Whelen Modified Series that was run at Martinsville , Va. At 3:00pm the World of Outlaws sprint cars, Gold Cup Race of Champions from the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico , CA takes center stage. Thursday’s action begins at 3:00 with a re-showing of last Sunday’s NASCAR Nextel Cup Sylvania 300 from the New Hampshire Intl. Speedway. The Busch Series was off last weekend. Speed goes live at Dover Downs at 11:00am on Friday. At 1:30 live action from Dover continues with NASCAR Busch Series practice. At 3:00 the action shifts to ESPN2 for live coverage of NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying. At 4:30 HDNet provides coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Busch East Sunoco 150. While the Busch East is on, the Speed channel goes wit a 60-minute segment of NASCAR Live at Dover at 5:00pm . After a one hour break, Trackside at Dover goes at 7:00 . At 9:30pm Nextel Prelude to the Dream, which was run at the Eldora Speedway in Rossburg , OH , rounds out the days viewing. NASCAR Live from Dover starts Saturday’s viewing at 10:00 . At noon it’s NASCAR Busch Series qualifying from Dover . At 3:00 the action switches to ESPN2 for the NASCAR Busch Series Countdown followed by the 200 at 3:30 . At 6:00 Speed goes west to Las Vegas for NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying. Pre-race for the Trucks is at 8:30 with the Las Vegas 350 getting the green at 9:00pm . The Speed Channel goes back to Dover Downs on Sunday morning at 11:30 for a two hour segment of NASCAR RaceDay. The action switches to ABC at 1:30 for live coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Dover 400. Rounding out the day the Speed Channel has The Speed Report at 7:00pm , NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00 .

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks ended the week on the negative side. Taking the big hit was Speedway Motorsports which went down 0.94 to 37.06. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.23 to 47.13 and Dover Downs dropped 0.06 to 6.11. Sprint/Nextel dropped dropped 0.58 to 17.38 while Sun Oil went up 0.88 to 74.98. Goodyear dropped 0.40 to 25.52 while DIRT Motorsports dropped 0.17 to 0.75. In the drug sector, Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.57 to 28.38 and Pfizer went up 0.04 to 24.29. In the home improvement sector Home Depot jumped 1.47 to 35.68 and Lowes jumped 1.37 to 30.80. The parcel carriers also had a good week. Fedex jumped 0.97 to 109.18 and UPS went up 0.25 to 74.38.

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 and other publications for over 3 decades.

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