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Tuesday September 4, 2007  

By Phil Smith                                                                                           

The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Martinsville, VA last weekend. Donny Lia got the victory of a lifetime in the Made In American Whelen 300 at Martinsville Speedway. Lia held off Ted Christopher for the win in the race, which is the annual combination event between the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Not only did the victory further solidify Lia’s Whelen Modified Tour points lead, it came two weeks after his friend and fellow driver John Blewett III passed away following a racing accident. John’s brother Jimmy won the Made In American Whelen 300 in 2006. After sitting out a week, Jimmy Blewett returned Saturday. He finished 43rd after engine problems. It was Lia’s sixth win of the Whelen Modified Tour season and he improved his points lead to 193 over Todd Szegedy with four races remaining.

L.W. Miller was the top finishing Southern Modified Tour driver in third. Fellow Southern Modified Tour drivers Tim Brown and Brian King were fifth and sixth respectively. James Civali was fourth. Lia, who won the Budweiser Pole Award, led twice for 234 laps. He pitted for tires on lap 157 on the first caution following the mid-race break. And he took over the lead when Christopher pitted for tires on lap 184. Christopher moved from 15th to second by lap 225 but was unable to get by Lia in the closing laps.

It took a little over three hours to complete the event. There were 15 caution periods for 88 laps.

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 12 12:00 1:30 pm Mansfield event, Thursday Sept 13 3:00-4:30 am Mansfield event, Wednesday Sept 19 12:00-1:30 pm Martinsville event and Thursday Sept 20 3:00-4:30 am Martinsville event.

The Labor Day weekend venue of racing got started on Wednesday night at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts with an event they called Modified Madness. The historic 1/3-mile Speedway oval hosted the third annual Open Wheel Wednesday program, featuring the Viveiros Insurance-sponsored 100 green flag lap Modified Madness event, an open competition race paying $10,000 to the winner.

Local favorite Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea, MA scored the biggest victory of his storied 35-year career at the 1/3-mile Seekonk Speedway oval on Wednesday night, August 29, winning the 3rd annual Viveiros Insurance Modified Madness 100, worth $10,000. Thirty-three competitors from seven different states attempted to qualify for the 100 green flag lap open competition event which carried a total purse in excess of $31,000. Three qualifying heats and a consolation round set the 24-car starting field, with heavy hitters Mike Stefanik, Andy Seuss, and Tony Ricci among those who failed to qualify. Jon McKennedy led the initial go-around of the main event before Chuck Hossfield took over, bringing Chris Pasteryak with him into second. Pasteryak worked the outside groove to get around Hossfeld on lap 13, five circuits before a Woody Pitkat spin brought out the first of four cautions. Ted Christopher took third from McKennedy on the restart and was soon joined inside the top five by Richard Savary and Annarummo, who started tenth. Further back, second generation ace Matt Hirschman was on the move, coming from the 23rd starting spot to 10th in the first 27 laps.

Annarummo took third from Christopher on lap 35 while Hirschman closed to eighth. Pasteryak navigated his way through heavy lapped traffic at the midway portion of the race while Annarummo, turning the fastest laps of the night, began to pressure Hossfeld for second. Christopher ran fourth, ahead of McKennedy, Savary, Hirschman, Dick Houlihan, Louie Mechalides, and Bobby Grigas III.Local entry Mike Brightman spun to bring out the second caution on lap 54. Two circuits later, Mechalides’ car came to a halt with a flat left front tire, necessitating the third stoppage. After a false start, Pasteryak and Hossfeld dueled side-by-side for the lead for several laps before Chris powered past. McKennedy roared back to life during this next green flag run, passing Annarummo and going to the outside of Hossfeld for second. After a torrid battle for position, Hossfeld and McKennedy made contact coming dsown the backstretch on lap 68, sending McKennedy into the concrete and Hossfeld into the pit area via the black flag.

Hirschman, who had just nipped Annarummo for second, got loose in the outside lane on the restart, allowing Annarummo to slide back around on lap 70. Bobby Santos III spun after apparently locking up the brakes, bringing out the final caution on lap 77. Pasteryak, whose car tightened up in the inside lane, was unable to hold off Annarummo when the green was unfurled again, and surrendered the top spot to the six-time Seekonk champion on lap 79.

In the final laps, Annarummo pulled away from Pasteryak and sailed under the checkers 0.682 seconds ahead to post his 44th career Seekonk win in the Francis Farm #12. “Ten thousand dollars- can you believe it?” the 58 year-old veteran asked from Victory Lane. “This is one hell of a division to drive in. All of the guys raced me clean. We struggled in warm ups this afternoon, but we took a spring rubber out and tonight the car was good.” “I got beaten by Vinnie Annarummo at Seekonk Speedway,” Pasteryak good-naturedly shrugged after posting a solid second place finish, worth $3,500. “We were tight on the bottom, too, and that hurt us at the end.” Matt Hirschman walked away with $2,500 for third, while Richard Savary pocketed $2,000 for finishing fourth. Ted Christopher finished fifth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Eric Beers, Dale Evonsion, who came on strong in the latter stages of the event, Louie Mechalides, and Dick Houlihan.

In True Value Modified Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Kirk Alexander took the win over Les Hinkley, Mike Holdredge and Todd Patnoad. Alexander came to the shoreline oval needing a win on the one-third mile speedway to complete a sweep with victories on every track that the series has competed on in its four-year existence.

In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Keith Rocco hit everything but the lottery on his way to victory in the Sunoco Modified 50 lapper. Rocco, who was the triggerman of a mid-race caution all but rode Todd Ceravolo into the turn two wall following a restart on lap 48. Ceravolo kept his wits about him and managed to recover and finished fifth. Woody Pitkat finished second with Bert Marvin, third and Tom Cravenho, fourth.

Steve Masse jumped out from his front row starting spot to lead the opening lap of the event but it did not take long for Todd Ceravolo to take over command. Woody Pitkat gave up the third spot to a charging Kerry Malone while Tommy Cravenho had his hands full with Rocco. Things settled down in the early stages of the event with Ceravolo leading a freight train that included Masse, Malone and Pitkat. Current point leader Pitkat was the first to step out of line, motoring to the inside of Malone. Rocco, too, was making his run to the front. Rocco passed Cravenho then Malone before lap 15. The battle for the third position between Pitkat and Rocco really started to heat up as Masse had tucked in on the back bumper of Ceravolo. The first caution of the event flew on lap 23 when David Lacroix made hard contact with the pit gate on the backstretch. Kerry Malone headed down pit road for service under the caution flag. Ceravolo headed to the green flag two laps shy of halfway. Early leader Masse crashed into the back of Ceravolo after being drilled by Rocco. Both Masse and Rocco dropped to the back of the pack. As the Sunoco Modifieds struggled to get to the halfway marker, Cates lost the handle on the restart collecting Josh Steeves to bring out the caution yet again. When the halfway marker finally waved under green flag conditions, Ceravolo was the leader. Pitkat ran in second followed by Cravenho, Bert Marvin and Rocco. The caution flag waved again when Harry Rheaume spun on lap 30. After a failed attempt at a restart, Ceravolo resumed his place at the head of the field. Cravenho faltered on the restart losing positions to Marvin and Rocco. Pitkat made a run at Ceravolo on lap 33 but lost his momentum in the low groove, ultimately falling back and losing positions to Marvin and Rocco. Rocco looked to continue his charge to the front as he hounded Marvin in second. Rocco went low in turn two and drifted up the racetrack toward Marvin. Marvin was forced to check up giving way to both Rocco and Pitkat. Over the final ten laps, Ceravolo continued to show the way. Rocco took chase in second followed by Pitkat. With five circuits remaining Rocco really started to show his hand. On successive laps, Rocco would dive low in the turns but could not retain enough speed to make the pass stick. A spin by Masse on lap 47 set up a final chase to the checkers; giving Rocco the opening he needed. Rocco made a bonsai to the inside of Ceravolo, again drifting up the track. Ceravolo slid out of the groove relinquishing several positions in the process. Rocco went on to take down the victory over Woody Pitkat and Bert Marvin. Cravenho and Ceravolo rounded out the top five.

By virtue of his victory, Rocco earned his car owner Bannister a guaranteed starting spot in the SK-Type Modified portion of the 5th Annual North-South Shootout scheduled for November 2&3, 2007 at Concord Motorsport Park in Concord, NC. Rocco received a custom-made clock courtesy of C&C Racing Promotions and a $200 gift certificate courtesy of the Joie of Seating to commemorate the victory.

Through the generosity of Bruce and Pat Webber of Independent Truck Services, five Sunoco Modified competitors, who finished in randomly selected positions, were awarded an additional $200 for their efforts. Pitkat, Steeves, Rich Mann, Malone and Kenny Bouchard each received checks.

In other Thursday night racing, Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA made a long-anticipated return to Pro Stock victory lane while Tommy O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, scored his second Late Model feature win of the season. Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA edged Larry Barnett for the Limited Sportsman victory. Roger Larson, Jr. won the TIS Modified feature in tech while Brad Caddick of New London won a barnburner in the Mini Stocks.

The speedway will be silent this coming Thursday as preparations are being made for the second annual Sunoco MODIFIED MANIA which is on track for this coming weekend, September 8th & 9th. With 400 laps of Modified feature event racing, fans of open wheel, super-fast racecars fans will get to see an entire weekend of nothing but their favorite kind of short track racing. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will lead the six-division MODIFIED MANIA race weekend. It will mark the fourth appearance of the Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson this year. Grandstands will open at 10 AM on both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday’s racing will begin shortly after 12 Noon.

It took Ted Christopher to end Woody Pitkat's five-race winning streak at the Stafford Motor Speedway as he won his second SK Modified feature of the 2007 season, Corey Hutchings won the Late Model feature, Josh Sylvester won his second consecutive SK Light feature, Sean Foster won the Limited Late Model feature, and Jim Brice won the DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with Willie Hardie charging from third to the lead on the opening lap. Ted Christopher quickly moved his way by both Lloyd Agor and Keith Rocco to move into second. A caution with 7 laps complete slowed the field and gave Christopher the opportunity to move by Hardie for the lead on the restart. The top-5 ran in line until lap-19 when Hardie fell back several spots from second as Rocco, Woody Pitakt, Jeff Malave, Kerry Malone, and Brad Hietala all moved by. Hietala was on the move in the middle stages of the race, working his way up to second behind Christopher. Several late caution periods set up a five-lap dash to the finish. Christopher was not to be headed as he led the final five laps to pick up the feature win. Hietala came home second, with Pitkat, Owen, and Hardie rounding out the top-5.

In some sad news, Ed Yerrington who led the Stafford Motor Speedway out of financial despair in the early 1970’s passed away after suffering from liver cancer. Yerrington, Sr., 78, of 31 Trading Cove Circle, passed away Thursday, August 30, 2007, at his home. He was born October 14, 1928 in Norwich, the son of the late Lucius Yerrington, Sr. and Adelaide (Tracey) Yerrington. He married Shirley O'Rourke March 16, 1951 at Central Baptist Church in Westerly, RI. She survives him. He served in the United States Navy for nine years and was a Veteran of World War II and Korea. He was the owner and operator of a service station on Route 12 in Preston. He was the President and General Manager for the Stafford Motor Speedway where he was the Co creator of the SK Modified Division. He also was an Operator and Promoter at the Waterford Speedbowl and was directly responsible for getting NASCAR and Don Hoenig together in order to secure a NASCAR Sanction at the Thompson Speedway. He was an avid racecar driver, racing along the East Coast for over 25 years, retiring in 1990. He was the 1970 Track Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway when he drove the Freddy’s TV No.23. He was also a Technical Inspector for NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway. He was an avid antique car collector and especially enjoyed showing his cars within CT and MA. It’s a shame and a disappointment that there was no mention of Yerrington’s passing on the web site of the Stafford Speedway.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl came from deep in the pack to win the first 25-lap SK segment of the “Double Down Shootout” at the shoreline oval. Following Janovic was Jay Miller, Don Fowler, and, Dennis Gada. In the nightcap SK event, it was Todd Ceravolo followed by Dennis Gada, Keith Rocco, Tyler Chadwick, and, Jeff Paul. For the second consecutive year, Gada was the overall “Double Down” winner.

Other feature winners were Ed Reed Jr. and Larry Goss (Late Model), Walt Hovey and Josh Galvin (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. and Phil Evans (Mini Stock).

In some sad news, Loren A. Card, 82, of Punta Gorda, Fla., the original starter at the Waterford Speedbowl, died Aug. 27, 2007. He was born March 29, 1925 in Groton and moved to Florida in 1991.Mr. Card was a veteran of World War II, serving in the U.S. Army and was a recipient of the Purple Heart. He worked as a semi-driver for the Federal Paper Board Co. in Versailles before retiring in 1990. He was an honorary retired member of the Int'l Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local Union 493. He was an avid gardener, enjoyed fishing and had a talent for woodworking. He was a colorfull starter from day one at the Speedbowl as he would start the races while standing on the inside of the track. He started races at the Speedbowl for over 20 years. A Memorial Service was held on Friday, Aug. 31, 2007 at the Kays-Ponger Funeral Home, 635 E Marion Ave., Punta Gorda.

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 TV viewing begins on Wednesday at noon on the Speed Channel with the August 27th NASCAR Grand National Busch East event that was run at the Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in Mansfield, OH. At 3:00pm the World of Outlaws take center stage. The recent USAR Hooters Pro Cup event that was run at the Bristol Motor Speedway follows at 4:00pm. At 9:00pm ABC has a special titled NASCAR in Primetime. Thursday’s action gets the green at noon with last Saturday’s NASCAR Busch Series Camping Word 300 that was run at the California Speedway in Fontana, CA. Last Sunday’s Nextel Cup Sharp AQUOS 500 also run at the California Speedway follows at 3:00pm. At 8:00pm the Speed Channel sizes up the competition in the final weeks leading up to the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Friday’s action begins at 10:00am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Busch Series final practice from Richmond, VA. Following at 11:00am is a two hour practice for the Nextel Cup cars at Richmond. At noon the action switches back to the Speed Channel for the August 22 USAR Hooters Pro Cup event that was run at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Speed goes live at 1:00 with NASCAR Live from Richmond International Speedway. At 1:30 Speed will show the highlights of the July 14-20 Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America, Bar Harbor, ME to Hollywood, FL Another segment of NASCAR Live follows at 3:00pm. The action moves back to ESPN2 at 4:00pm for live coverage of NASCAR Busch Series qualifying from Richmond. Nextel Cup qualifying follows at 6:00pm. Also, at 4:00 it’s NASCAR New England on NESN. NASCAR New England presents features and highlights from the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway.
 
The NASCAR Busch Series Emerson Radio 250 from Richmond, VA gets the green on ESPN2 at 8:00pm. Trackside at Richmond International Speedway on Speed at 11:00pm wraps it up. Saturday’s action begins at 2:00pm on Speed with live coverage of the ARCA RE/MAX Series 200 from the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL At 4:30 a three hour pre-race show from Richmond begins on the Speed Channel. At 7:30 the action switches to ABC for live coverage of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Chevy Rock & Roll 400 from Richmond, VA. NASCAR Victory Lane on Speed at 11:30 wraps it up. On Sunday 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 finished on a positive note. Speedway Motorsports went up 1.22 to 38.49 and Dover Downs went up 0.10 to 5.95. On the negative side was the International Speedway Corporation which went down 0.78 to 47.08. Sprint/Nextel dropped 0.03 to 18.92 while Sun Oil jumped 1.98 to 73.14. Goodyear dropped 1.18 to 27.66 while DIRT Motorsports continued to rebound as they went up 0.08 to 0.92. In the drug sector, Pfizer went up 0.10 to 24.84 while Bristol Meyers-Squib dropped 0.40 to 29.15. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 3.63 to 38.31 while Lowes went up 0.87 to 31.06. The parcel carriers had an off week as Fedex dropped 1.40 to 109.68 and UPS dropped 1.17 to 75.86.


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 and other publications for over 3 decades.

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