Tuesday September 25, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                            

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed back to Thompson last weekend to complete the Modified Mania weekend that was cut short by rain on September 9. As the weekend approached it appeared that NASCAR was dragging its feet as far as declaring officially who was the winner of the recent event at Loudon on September 15. Todd Szegedy had taken the apparent win when NASCAR decided to take a closer look at his intake manifold before making an official decision. It took five days to make a decision as it was announced late last Thursday that the part in question was declared legal and the win would stand.

Ronnie Silk earned his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour during the running of part two of Modified Mania II. Ronnie Silk scored a popular win in the Whelen Modified Tour 150 at Thompson in front of a crowded house. In the opening stages of the event current point leader Donnie Lia and Ron Yuhas, Jr. ran at the head of the field. After making tracks through the pack, Christopher dogged leader Lia. At lap 55, the bulk of the field came down to pit road for service. Christopher opted to stay out on the track to inherit the lead on the restart. Silk had moved into the third spot with Reggie Ruggiero taking chase. During a long green flag run, Silk’s car continued to get better. He was able to take the top spot from Christopher one lap shy of the century mark taking Ruggiero along for the ride. Szegedy had gotten by Lia and started to make his presence known.On a restart late in the race, Ruggiero was able to power by Silk to take command of the race. Silk, never far behind, continued to chase the new leader. On lap 137, Silk got underneath Ruggiero and with sparks flying Silk was the leader once again on lap 138. A caution on lap 139 shook up the running order inside the top five. Contact between Christopher and Flemke ended with Flemke in the outside wall and Christopher on pit road to serve a one-lap penalty. Silk easily held off the competition on the final single file restart to score the popular win. Ruggeiro settled for second ahead of Szegedy. Bobby Santos and James Civali rounded out the top five. Series point leader Don Lia finished eighth as the series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway this coming weekend.

In True Value Modified Racing at Thompson Louie Mechalides turned in a dominating performance to win the 75-lapper for the northern New England based series. The event, which had been stopped by rain two weeks previous resumed on lap four with Andy Seuss at the helm with Chris Pasteryak and Jimmy Kuhn taking chase. Seuss held the top spot through a number of early race cautions. An early incident directly behind the leader that started when Brian Schofield got out of shape, caused a chain reaction that collected a number of cars including championship contenders Kirk Alexander and Les Hinckley along with Rich Savary and others. Alexander was taken off the track by double hook.The young driver held off several advances from Mechalides before relinquishing the lead on lap 15. Seuss saw his great run come to an end on lap 27 when his racer made hard contact with the outside wall. Everything was going Mechalides way as Hinckley was making great strides heading back to the front of the pack. Thompson Speedway regular Tommy Cravenho made it interesting in the closing laps giving Mechalides all he could handle. In the end, Mechalides was up to the task taking down the victory over Cravenho. Jon McKennedy came home third ahead of Jimmy Kuhn and Hinckley .

In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway a season packed with racing excitement at Thompson International Speedway came down to the final Thursday night with champions crowned in all six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. At the night’s end, Woody Pitkat made his first appearance in Sunoco Modified victory lane. But, it was Keith Rocco who drove his Bannister Motorsports #6 to a fifth place finish to earn the team their second championship in three seasons. In Pro Stock action, Mike O’Sullivan, scored his second Thompson Pro Stock championship in winning-style taking down Thursday night’s feature win. In similar fashion, Kurt Vigeant capped off his first TIS Modified championship with a feature win in the regular season finale. John Materas earned his first career Late Model win in a wild main event that also found Rick Gentes in for the divisional championship. Larry Barnett scored his fourth Limited Sportsman feature win while a seventh place finish allowed a retiring Keith DeSanctis to go out as a champion. Scott Michalski made it two in a row in Mini Stock competition but it was Mike Romano who took the championship.

Pitkat saved the best for last; earning his lone feature win in the finale. After a 2007 season of consistent finishes, Pitkat was in the running for the track title on the final night. He took the lead just after halfway and withstood heavy pressure from Kerry Malone to score the victory; however it was not enough to catch the point leader Rocco. An opening lap melee that started with contact in the front row ended with Masse hard into the outside wall in the turn one. Also collected were championship contenders Rocco and Tommy Cravenho as well as Bert Marvin. With the race underway, Geoff Gernhard was the early leader with Josh Steeves coming along for the ride in second. Steeves made a move on Gernhard to take the lead on lap four with Malone and Pitkat battling hard for the third spot. A pair of laps later, Pitkat was able to race ahead of Gernhard to take over the second spot. Malone put the young driver back to fourth. Meanwhile, Cravenho and Rocco were making their way back to the front. On lap 10, Cravenho was sixth and Rocco eighth. Up front, Steeves continued to lead Pitkat. Malone ran in second a comfortable margin ahead of Gernhard. On lap 13, Cravenho joined the top five. Rocco mirrored his moves to run in the sixth position. The #0 of Danny LeJeunesse came to rest on the backstretch on lap 14 to bring out the second caution. The restart pitted Steeves against Pitkat for the top spot. Steeves was up for the challenge and held on to the lead on the race. On lap 16, Pitkat got a run Steeves to take over the top spot. Steeves bobbled after contact with Pitkat; opening the door for Malone. Steeves was shuffled back into third. Cravenho had cleared Gernhard to move into the fourth. Rocco made his first appearance in the top-five on lap 21. Malone tailed Pitkat lap after lap while Cravenho was getting racy for third. Despite the efforts of both Malone and Cravenho they had to settle back in line. At the checkers, it was Pitkat in for the win over Malone. Steeves edged out Cravenho by inches to finish third. The newly crowned champion Rocco rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their regular Friday night season. Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco, who had wrapped up the Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Championship the previous evening, won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joe Allegro, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagan in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Rob Lawrence in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Willie Hardie leading the first two laps of the race before Lloyd Agor moved out front. Agor held the lead until lap-6 when Jeff Malave moved out front. Malave's pass allowed Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher to both move by Agor, dropping him from the lead to fourth place. Agor would continue to backslide as Woody Pitkat and Brad Hietala moved into the fourth and fifth positions. The race ran green to lap-32 before the first caution came out and erased a sizeable lead for Malave. Malave would hold the race lead until lap-38 when he drifted up the track just enough in turn 4 to allow Rocco to dive to the bottom and take the lead. The caution came back out and set up a green white checkered finish. Rocco took the lead on the restart with Ted Christopher and Malave locked in a side by side duel for second. That side by side action gave Rocco all the cushion he needed as he took his fourth feature win of the 2007 season. Christopher finished second, with Pitkat, Malave, and Doug Coby rounding out the top-5.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval wrapped up its 2007 season with the Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. Dennis Gada won the battle but lost the war as Rob Janovic finished third and wrapped up the track championship. Don Fowler finished second with Diego Monahan and Jeff Pearl rounding out the top five.

According to reports the Speedbowl took it on the chin at the front gate as attendance was way off for this event. The Thompson Speedway opted to run their rained out Modified Mania on the same date so as to accommodate an event that was held at the Oswego Speedway in New York . Because of the fact that Waterford and Thompson are NASCAR sanctioned and Oswego is not makes it hard to believe why NASCAR would let this conflict occur between two of their tracks that are less than 60 miles apart and draw from the same fan base. Both tracks shell out considerable money to the Daytona based organization. Letting a situation like this occur leads one to believe that NASCAR doesn’t care two cents about its short tracks.

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 action on the Speed Channel begins on Wednesday at 2:00pm with the July 28 World of Outlaws sprint cars which ran at the Sharon Speedway in Hartford , OH . The World of Outlaws sprint cars, Gold Cup Race of Champions from the Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico , CA follows at 3:00 . Thursday’s action starts at noon with last Saturdays NASCAR Busch Series 200 that was run at Dover , DE . The Nextel Cup Dodge Dealers 400 run on Sunday at Dover follows at 3:00pm . Speed goes live for 90 minutes starting at 12:30pm on Friday from the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City , Kansas . Live coverage of Busch Series practice follows at 2:00pm . The action switches to ESPN2 at 4:00pm for NASCAR Nextel Cup qualifying from Kansas City . At 6:00pm it’s back to the Speed Channel for another hour of Busch Series practice. Trackside at Kansas Speedway at 7:00pm sums up the days activities. Saturday’s action begins at 10:00am on ESPN2 with live coverage of NASCAR Nextel Cup practice. NASCAR Busch Series qualifying on the Speed Channel follows at 11:00am . The NASCAR Busch Series Yellow Transportation 300 from the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City , KS gets the green on ESPN2 at 3:30 . Final practice for the Nextel Cup cars follows at approximately at 6:30 . Sunday’s coverage begins at noon on the Speed Channel with a two-hour NASCAR RaceDay: preview of the LifeLock 400. The NASCAR Nextel Cup LifeLock 400 from Kansas Speedway goes green on ABC at 2:00pm . 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 two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.92 to 37.98 and Dover Downs went up 0.12 to 6.23. On the negative side was the International Speedway Corporation which went down 0.30 to 46.83. Sprint/Nextel jumped 1.31 to 18.69 while Sun Oil jumped 1.98 to 76.96. Goodyear went up 3.63 to 29.15 as DIRT Motorsports rebounded as they went up 0.05 to 0.80. In the drug sector, Bristol Meyers-Squib went up 0.62 to 29.00 and Pfizer went up 0.30 to 24,59. The home improvement sector went the other way as Home Depot dropped 1.21 to 34.47 and Lowes dropped 0.18 to 30.62. In the parcel sector Fedex dropped 5.08 to 104.10 while UPS went up 1.37 to 75.75.

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.

Web Design Copyright © 2006 & - All Rights Reserved
Opinions expressed in Phil Smith's "Champ Trail" do not necessarily reflect the opinions of and the contents are the sole responsibility and opinions of the author.
For permission to reproduce any part of"Champ Trail" contact Phil Smith @
The "Champ Trail" is Copyright © 2006-2007 Phil Smith