Tuesday September 1, 2009

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was scheduled to travel to the Chemung (N.Y.) Speedrome on Saturday, August 29. With a bad weather forecast at hand the event was called off. No make up date has been announced as yet. The Modified Tour Series now moves to the Thompson Speedway this coming Thursday, Sept. 3. The race was originally scheduled to run on Aug. 13, but rain on race day called off the action. The second of three races at Thompson in 2009 will now be the 9th race of the year for the Tour. Ted Christopher continues to lead the point standings as he leads Todd Szegedy by 29 points. Three points behind Szegedy is young sensation Ryan Preece. Donny Lia and Rowan Pennick round out the top five. Sixth through tenth are Woody Pitkat, Eric Beers, Jimmy Blewett, Ed Flemke Jr and Chris Pasteryak.

In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Woody Pitkat scored his second win of the season in the Sunoco Modifieds. Mike O’Sullivan also took down his second win of the season in the Super Late Models. John Materas swept the action in twin features for the Late Model division. Shawn Monahan scored his first Limited Sportsman feature event of the year in dominating fashion. Brian Tagg, was tops in the TIS Modifieds while Steve Michalski was the winner in the Mini Stocks.

Woody Pitkat took over the lead on lap five and withstood a number of late race cautions to score his second Sunoco Modified feature event of the 2009 season. The opening lap was marred by an incident involving Tim Sullivan and Shelly Perry. According to a fellow driver who was close at hand it appeared that something broke on Sullivan’s mount causing it to turn into the wall. The caution led the way to some intense racing. Jimmy Blewett was the early leader followed by Rowan Pennink and Pitkat. The top four cars ran side-by-side and nose-to-tail. As Rocco began to challenge Pennink for third, Blewett and Pitkat got away just slightly. They began a heated battle of their own to once again tighten up now the eight cars that made up the lead pack. Pitkat was able t o take the top spot from Blewett on lap five while Rocco moved into the third spot. Pennink began to take back the ground he lost earlier to regain the second position. Blewett had his hands full with Rocco who in turn had pressure from Kerry Malone. Bert Marvin was on the move taking the sixth position from Ted Christopher. Blewett began to fade, falling back to the eighth position as the handles of his car went away. Marvin took over positions from both Blewett and Malone and into the fourth spot. Pitkat continued to lead with Pennink and Rocco in close proximity.
At halfway, Pitkat led Pennink, Rocco, Marvin, Malone, Christopher, Blewett and Danny Cates. Harry Rheaume and Andy Gaspar ran a straight-away behind to round out the top ten. At lap 20, Rocco was getting agressive; peeking to the inside of Pennink. All action mellowed when the second caution of the event flew for an incident involving Rheaume. Coming out of turn four for the restart, Rocco ducked to the inside making it three-wide for the top spot. Pitkat came out of the mix with the lead once again. Rocco was able to steal second from Pennink. Marvin was fourth while Christopher was using the outside groove to make his way inside the top five. Contact between Christopher and Cates necessitated the caution. Under the caution, Blewett headed to pit road for service. Both Blewett and Cates were able to continue while Christopher retired from the event. On the single file restart, Pitkat had the advantage until turn one when Rocco got alongside. The two went wheel-to-wheel before Rocco had to settle back into second. Pennink got a run on the outside looking to take the second position away from Rocco. Contact between Rocco and Pennink found Pennink into the outside wall on the backstretch. Marvin and Malone were nearly collected. Rocco was put to the rear for his involvement.

With the green in the air once again, Pitkat led a hard-charging Marvin. Malone ran in the third position ahead of Ricky Shawn. After only two laps, Rocco was already up to the fifth spot. At the checkers, Pitkat was able to hold off Marvin to score his second win of the season. With his win, Pitkat secured his car owners Bob Hitchcock and Kelly Iverson a guaranteed starting spot in the 7th Annual John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout at Concord Speedway in Concord, NC, on November 7, 2009. Marvin came home second followed by Malone, Ricky Shawn, and Rocco.

For Ricky Shawn it was a night of redemption. During warm-ups his transmission malfunctioned which necessitated a change. In the feature he had a sparkplug foul which eventually cleared it self which ultimately lended itself to a top five finish.

There were 17 Sunoco Modifieds on hand. Among the missing was Todd Ceravolo who, it appears, will sit out a few races until his father shows signs of recovery from a recent accident. Cards of cheer can be sent to Dick Ceravolo, 1348 Baldwin Hill Rd, Gales Ferry, CT 06335. As of last Sunday night, Aug 30, the popular car owner and former Waterford Speedbowl Champion is, in his wife’s words, “holding his own”. Surgery to reset broken bones had been scheduled for late last week but was put on hold as a minor complication developed. Ceravolo, 70, suffered serious injuries on Aug 21while attempting to jumpstart a farm tractor.

The Stafford Motor Speedway suffered another rainout on Friday because of persistent rain showers. The Speedway also announced that they will add Friday, September 18th to its 2009 Event Schedule. The September 18th event will consist of Stafford's five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and will be priced at $15 for Adult General Admission, $5 for children ages 6 to 14 and free for children 5 & under. The rains carried over to Saturday forcing the Waterford Speedbowl to pull the plug on their racing program.

In True Value Modified Series racing at the Thompson Speedway the third time was certainly a charm for Andy Seuss who scored the victory in the third attempt to get the True Value Modified Series event in the books at the Thompson International Speedway. The event was postponed on two different occasions earlier in the season. Seuss scored his first True Value Modified Series (TVMRS) victory of the season in a drama-filled 75-lapper. Seuss took the lead late in the event and held back serious challenges from Steve Massey and Rowan Pennink to score the victory. Richard Savary had a strong run to finish second. Todd Owen joined the duo on the podium. Ted Christopher, who started scratch on the field, finished fourth. Chris Pasteryak completed the top five.

Rowan Pennink looked like he was headed to his second straight TVMRS victory on Thursday night. However, the early leader was penalized to the tail end of the lead lap for jumping the start after dominating the first half of the event. He battled back to vie for the win only to run out of fuel on lap 68. Young Steve Massey, who was the show for much of the event battling first with Pennink and then Seuss, had a spin while battling for the lead with less than 15 laps to go. Pennick’s night came to an end when he ran out of gas as his crew failed to fill his tank prior to the event. Pennick ended up 15th.
The True Value Modified Series has become a viable alternate to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. There were 32 True Value Modifieds on hand. Their next event will be on October 4 at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH.

In a surprising development, a first ever race has been agreed upon by True Value Modified Racing Series president and founder, Jack Bateman, and Bruce Richards, promoter of the famed Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, New York. The event will take place in 2010. Richards disclosed recently his intent to take up the clay track this fall and prepare the popular speedway for asphalt competition with several events including the 2010 ACT season opener. Located close to exit 12 on the Northway, the Malta speedway is 4/10 of a mile in length.

In TV land this week, viewing on the Speed Channel begins on Tuesday at noon with last Friday’s ARCA RE/MAX Series Chicagoland ARCA 200 that was run at the Chicagoland Speedway. Thursday at noon Speed will show the 2004 Sprint Cup Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 that was run at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The September 18, 2008 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series East Heluva Good! Fall 125 that was run at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway follows at 3:00pm. Friday’s viewing will be sparse as ESPN Classic shows the 1998 Brickyard 400 at 7:00pm. Speed goes live from Atlanta Motor Speedway at 11:00am with Sprint Cup practice for 90 minutes. NASCAR Live breaks it up at 12:30 followed by another 90 minutes of Sprint Cup practice at 1:00pm. At 2:30 pm the Nationwide Series has a two hour qualifying session at Atlanta followed by Sprint Cup qualifying at Atlanta at 4:30pm. At 4:00pm NESN will present NASCAR New England which shows the weekly races held at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

At 6:30 the action switches to espn2 for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that leads to a 7:00pm start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Degree V12 300 at Atlanta. At 10:00 the action moves to Speed for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa 200, Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Sunday’s action gets a 5:00pm start with NASCAR RaceDay at 5:00pm on Speed. At 7:00pm the action moves to ESPN for the pre race show that leads to the 7:30 start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Pep Boys Auto 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. On Sunday evening, the Speed Channel has Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm and NASCAR Victory Lane at 11:30pm. .

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a negative note. On the positive side was Speedway Motorsports, which went up 0.20 to 15.76. Dover Downs dropped 0.04 to 1.49 and the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.08 to 28.36. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.13 to 3.77 while fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 1.36 to 27.41. Goodyear, who supplies tires to NASCAR’s top tier dropped 1.77 to 16.20. The carmakers had little movement. Ford went down 0.01 to 7.73 and Toyota went down 0.08 to 86.26 while General Motors went up 0.03 to 0.83. With the exception of Target Department Stores which went up 1.63

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

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

Web Design Copyright © 2009 & - 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 © 2006-2009 Phil Smith