Tuesday September 14, 2010

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series returns to action on Saturday, September 18 in Loudon, NH. Bobby Santos III with 1734 points leads Ted Christopher by 32 points for the series title. Mike Stefanik is a distant third with 1673 points. Tod Szegedy and Ron Silk round out the top five. Sixth through tenth in the standings are Ryan Preece, Erik Rudolph, Eric Goodale, Eric Beers and rookie sensation Justin Bonsignore.

Fifty six different drivers have entered into competition so far.

The Sept 18 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Loudon is scheduled to be shown on the Speed Channel at 1:00pm on Saturday.

Thursday night Thunder Racing at the Thompson Speedway continued to be some of the best competition to be seen as Danny Cates went from the outhouse to the penthouse in the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds at the high banked, lightning fast oval. Cates, who has been extremely fast and smooth all year had only one victory on the season going into the night's racing program. Cates powered his second win of the season despite having to start last in the 18 car starting field. Ted Christopher who has dominated the division with ten wins was never a factor as his night ended on the tail end of a wrecker. Christopher was all done by the third lap when John Catania hit the wall going into the third turn, drifted down, and hit Christopher’s car, severely damaging the right-side suspension.

Wayne Arute brought the field to green but the action was short-lived as contact between the fourth-running Tim Sullivan and outside pole sitter Rowan Pennink on the opening lap got Pennink crossed up in front of the field before the start finish line. As cars scattered a number of cars were collected in the incident including Arute, Ted Christopher, Cates, Dave Salzarulo, Andrew Dzenkowski, and Mark Oberg. Pennink was able to maintain his momentum during the incident and with a complete restart, led the field to the second attempt at the green flag. Pennink was able to lead the opening lap but the car veered toward the wall in turn one. With Pennink off the pace, the new leader was Silk. Christopher’s bad night continued when his car suffered extensive damage being involved in the incident with Catania.

Silk lined up along side of Pitkat on the lap three restart. Silk held on to the lead back under green. Pitkat dove low entering turn one in a bid for the lead. He got alongside Silk and was able to take over the top spot. Tim Sullivan diced with Preece for third with Rocco in hot pursuit in fifth. On lap four, Silk made a move to the low side to retake the lead from Pitkat in turn two. Contact with Sullivan sent Preece into his teammate Pitkat; who spun to bring out the caution. Both Sullivan and Preece were sent to the tail end of the field. Silk was pitted against Rocco on the restart. Rocco looked like he was shot out of a cannon to take over the lead. Rocco lost the handle and the lead when his car bolted up toward the wall in turn two. Rocco lost several positions as Silk inherited the lead.

Cates wasted little time as he went wheel-to-wheel with the new leader Silk. On lap six, Cates was able to steal the top spot from Silk. Pitkat had fully recovered to move into the third position. He caught Silk and immediately began to apply pressure for second. Rocco was marching back to the front as well. On lap 12, Rocco began to work over Preece for fourth. On the point, Cates was getting away from the field while Pitkat and Silk swapped grooves back and forth as they swapped the second spot. Preece and Rocco were locked in a similar battle for the fourth spot. At halfway, Cates continued to stretch his advantage as Silk and Pitkat continued to slug it out for second. Rocco had taken over the fourth spot, but still had his hands full with Preece. On lap 18, Pitkat was finally able to get by Silk for second. The running order with ten to go, found Cates leading Pitkat, Silk, Rocco and Preece inside the top five. Cates hit lapped traffic allowing Pitkat to cut into the lead. Sullivan had gotten by Pennink and set his sites on Gaspar. Sullivan was able to take over the sixth sot on lap 26.

With only two laps remaining, Pitkat continued to reel in Cates. On the white flag lap, Pitkat had chopped the lead down two car lengths. Pitkat ran out of time as Cates ran to his second victory of the 2010 season. Following Cates and Pitkat at the finish was Silk, Rocco and Preece. Christopher who currently leads Pitkat by 56 points finished 15th.
In other action at Thompson, Larry Gelinas dominated in Super Late Models to score his fourth victory of the 2010 season. Spirits were riding high as Mike Scorzelli and Chad Baxter of scored career firsts in the Late Models and Mini Stocks respectively. Joe Coates was tops in the Limited Sportsman division while Brian Tagg wired the field for the TIS Modified victory.

After a week off, the Stafford Speedway was back in action on Friday, September 10th with the Inaugural Shark Cycle 100. It was a banner night for Stafford's own Woody Pitkat, who bagged a double by winning both the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, and the 30-lap Late Model feature. The SK Modified® victory was the third of 2010 for Pitkat and the Late Model win was his second consecutive and seventh overall win of 2010. Other feature winners were Tommy Barrett, Jr., who scored his ninth win of 2010 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr., who won his second feature of 2010 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Andrew Hayes scored his third win of the 2010 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the SK Modified feature Ryan Preece finished second. Rounding out the top five was JeffMalave, Dan Avery and Josh Sylvester. Keith Rocco's 9th place finish was enough to clinch the 2010 Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified® track championship.
Stafford winds up its Friday night racing season this week. The Fall Final on October 3 will close out the 2010 racing season.

In action on the Connecticut shoreline at the Waterford Speedbowl Todd Ceravolo made it two in a row in SK Modified competition. Keith Rocco was second with Rob Janovic finishing third. Ron Yuhas and Doug Coby ran side-by-side to the checkered flag for fourth, with Yuhas taking that spot by a bumper.

In other action at the Speedbowl, Vin Esposito won his second Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature on the year. Ed Puleo went pole to pole to win his fifth Street Stock race of 2010, while Mark Panaroni checkered the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race, his first of the season. Russ Stoehr won a 35-lap NEMA Midget memorial race and Jesse State of New Hyde Park, NY was the victor in the NEMA Lite event.

The Modified Racing Series made its inaugural visit to the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night. Ted Christopher put the Joe Brady #00 in victory lane. Starting third, Christopher took the lead from Ron Silk on lap two and never looked back. It was Christopher's 110th win at Stafford. Silk finished second and was followed by Rowan Pennink, Jeff Malave and Chris Pasteryak. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Bryon Chew, Eric Goodale, Richard Savory and Bobby Santos III.

Eighteen of the 28 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. There were 38 cars on hand for the inaugural event which appeared to be well received by fans and track management alike

In TV land this weeks viewing begins with NASCAR Hub on the Speed Channel will be seen on Tuesday and at 7:00pm. NASCAR Now on espn2 can be viewed at 5:00pm on Tuesday thru Friday. Race viewing begins tonight, Sept. 14 at 7:00pm on the Versus Network with the Sept 4 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour that was run at the Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. At 10:00pm on the Speed Channel Race in 60 highlights the Sept 11 NASCAR Sprint Cup Air Guard 400 that was run at the Richmond Intl. Raceway. This program repeats at 10:00am on Wednesday. Speed replays the entire Richmond Sprint Cup event at noon on Wednesday. Thursdays viewing on Speed starts at noon with the Sept 10 NASCAR Nationwide Series Virginia 529 College Savings 250 that was run at the Richmond Intl. Raceway. The 2008 fall Sprint Cup event that was run at Loudon follows at 3:00pm. Fridays action starts at 11:30am on espn2 with Sprint Cup practice at Loudon. The 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Preview follows at 1:00pm. Speed has Truck Series practice from Loudon at 1:00pm. NASCAR Live from Loudon follows at 2:30pm. The action moves back to espn2 at 3:00pm for Sprint Cup qualifying from Loudon. Trackside from Loudon wraps it up at 7:00pm. Saturday's viewing starts at 9:00am with Sprint Cup practice from Loudon on Speed. Truck Series qualifying follows at 10:00am. At 11:30 action continues on Speed with Sprint Cup final practice. NASCAR Live follows at 12:30. At 1:00 the NASCAR Whelan Modified Series takes center stage on the Speed Channel. Following the Modifieds will be the Truck Series pre-race show at 2:30 that will lead to the 3:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 175 at Loudon. At 7:00pm Speed presents the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series from Lawrenceburg, IN. At 11:00pm Versus provides live coverage of the IZOD Indycar Series Japan 300, Twin Ring Motegi, Japan. Sunday's viewing begins at 9:00am with Nascar Now on espn2. NASCAR RaceDay on Speed follows at 10:00am. The action shifts back to espn2 at noon for the NASCAR Sprint Cup preview which will lead to the 1:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH. Rounding out the day on the Speed Channel is The Speed Report at 7:00pm, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain at 9:00pm.

On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. On the positive side was Speedway Motorsports which went up 0.58 to 14.97. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.55 to 23.55 and Dover Motorsports dropped 0.14 to 1.63. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.11 to 4.45 while fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.09 to 36.04 and tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.05 to 10.35. With the exception of Toyota which went up 0.89 to 70.60 the car makers were down. Ford dropped 0.78 to 11.29 and General Motors dropped 0.04 to 0.34. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.17 to 29.68 and Lowes dropped 0.44 to 21.52. The team sponsors were all over the lot. Dupont dropped 0.22 to 42.29 while Coca-Cola went up 0.38 to 51.28 and Target Department Stores went up 0.23 to 53.06. Aarons Rentals dropped 0.46 to 16.60 while Fedex went up 1.41 to 84.16.

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.

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