Tuesday September 20, 2011

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made its annual stop on the road course at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut last weekend. It was no surprise that a slim field of 21 Modifieds were on hand for qualifying. Todd Szegedy was the top qualifier as he toured the facility at 100.182 mph. Ron Silk was second fastest. Erick Rudolph, Justin Bonsignore and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.

Todd Szegedy battled back after losing the lead during on a pit stop and then making an off-track excursion to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified 66/99 presented by Town Fair Tire at Lime Rock Park on Saturday. Szegedy, who had experience at LRP in other racing series prior to his NASCAR career, dominated the early action. He started from the pole in his No. 2 Wisk Detergent/A&J Romano Construction Ford and opened up a lead of more than two seconds early. However, he fell to fourth following a pit stop during a caution on Lap 44. He later went off course, but quickly recovered and set out after the leaders. After moving up to second on Lap 60, Szegedy took the lead from Mike Stefanik a lap later and then pulled away from the field to win by a margin of 1.796 seconds.

Stefanik finished second followed by Justin Bonsignore, Richie Pallai, and Ted Christopher. Rowan Pennink, Erick Rudolph, Eric Beers, Kevin Goodale and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top 10.

Previous race winner Doug Coby looked poised to go back-to-back but wrecked while in the lead on Lap 55 and finished 18th.

The race featured seven lead changes among five drivers. Szegedy led a race-high 49 circuits. Fourteen of the original starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Szegedy's win propelled him into the points lead as the series now moves to Loudon for the first of three events left on the 2011 schedule. Previous point leader Ron Silk finished 15th, one lap down. Szegedy now holds a 12 point lead over Silk. Pennink is a distant third, 93 point out of the lead. Eric Beers and Doug Coby round out the top five.

The next event on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the New Hampshire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 24. Area Auto Racing News Kevin Rice advises that Loudon has reduced ticket prices for Saturday's Mod-ACT-Truck event. Rice has asked the media and fans to spread the word and show their support. The 2012 races are not yet signed. Good attendance at this event is crucial, not only for the future but to show that lowering prices does add attendance at all race events. The reduced tickets are $25, for the Concord grandstand only.

In a somewhat related matter it was announced that Ted Christopher has a ride for the 40th annual Super Dirt Modified event which will be held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, NY on October 6-9.

In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson on Thursday night the weatherman prevailed as the speedway cancelled due to impending rain. It was announced that Thompson has extended its season to include this upcoming Thursday night.

The track’s final weekly race program was the sixth rain out of the season and track owner, Don Hoenig, decided that it was only fair to add an additional event to the schedule. “We have four of our six divisions that have very close championship races and we feel that these race teams should all have the opportunity to race for the titles,” Hoenig said.

In Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division, there is a two way race for the championship between Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece. Only 26 points separate these two drivers going into next week’s race. The Super Late Model division has four contenders for the crown with a 26 points spread between the first and fourth place. Six points make up the difference between “Cam” McDermott and Glenn Boss in the Thompson Modified division and Tommy O’Sullivan finds himself an even 50 points ahead of Rick Gentes in the track’s Late Models.

The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night season. Woody Pitkat picked up his second win of the 2011 season in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event and Ryan Preece clinched the 2011 SK Modified® track champion with a 4th place finish, Woody Pitakt picked up his second consecutive and fifth overall win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Kyle Spencer picked up his second win of the 2011 season with a green white checkered pass for the lead in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, George Nocera, Jr. picked up his fifth win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Cliff Saunders picked up his second win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

Keith Rocco, who had been in contention for the NASCAR National Championship saw his hopes vanish on lap 23 of the 40 lap event when he spun after he was tapped by Todd Owen. Owen was sent to the rear but it was all over for Rocco despite the fact that he rallied to finish third behind Pitkat and Glen Reen. Preece and Eric Berndt rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway will close out its 2011 NASCAR season with the 39th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, scheduled for Sept. 30th through Oct. 2nd.

At the Waterford Speedbowl emotions ran high as the night rolled on, especially in the SK Modified division. Tom Abele reaped the benefit of the win as front running contenders Keith Rocco and Todd Ceravolo tangled while fighting for the lead. Ceravolo, on Rocco's bumper went low into turn one on lap 22. The instant video replay indicated that Rocco was in the second lane and Ceravolo was in the bottom lane when contact incurred. It did not appear to be deliberate as both had their respective lines when they drifted into each other. In other words it was just good hard racing. Rocco spun into the first turn wall and suffered severe race ending damage. Ceravolo, who later apologized for being over-aggressive, was sent to the rear.

Abele and Nicole Morgillo were back on the front row for the restart, with Mark Bakaj and Long Islander Shawn Solomito in row 2. Abele would pull out front into turn one with Bakaj moving to second inside Morgillo. The final 13 laps were run through the checkered flag with Abele and Bakaj finishing one-two. Morgillo finished third and Solomito and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five. Ceravolo rallied to finish eleventh while Rocco was credited with 14th in the final rundown.

Others earning victories on the night included Jeff Smith who leapfrogged into the championship points lead by virtue of a win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature, Chris Meyer visited the winner’s circle in the Street Stocks while Phil Evans took the win in the Mini Stocks. Completing the feature winners on the night were Dave Garbo Jr. in the Legends Cars and Curt D’addario in the X-Cars.

On a sad note, former Waterford Speedbowl driver Richard (Dick) Beauregard, 85, of Hesperia, Calif. passed away on September 7, 2011. He was born on January 2, 1926. in Norwich Ct. He was a plastering contractor in Norwich, CT and later an insulator at the Long Beach Navel Shipyard in Calif. He was a popular race car driver at the Waterford Speedbowl . He was a two time champion in 1952,& 1962.

In TV land NASCAR Race Hub will air on the Speed Channel at 6:00pm on Wednesday. NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen on Wednesday and Thursday at 3:00pm and 2:30pm on Friday. Race viewing for the week begins on Wednesday at noon when Speed replays last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Geico 400 that was run at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL. Last Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 that was run at the Chicagoland Speedway will be re-shown by Speed at noon on Thursday. At 4:00pm Speed will begin a four hour session of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction Day #1 from the Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. Espn2 goes live on Friday morning at 11:30am with a 90 minute Sprint Cup practice session from the New Hampshire Mototor Speedway in Loudon, NH. At 3:00pm espn2 will have live coverage of Sprint Cup qualifying from Loudon. At 4:00pm Speed goes live for seven hours straight for the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction Day #2 from the Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Saturday's coverage begins at 11:30am when Speed covers the final hour of Sprint Cup practice at Loudon. NASCAR Live follows at 12:30. The hills of New Hampshire come alive with the sounds of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series on the Speed Channel at1:00pm with the running of the New Hampshire 100. Following the Modifieds at 2:30 will be the pre-race show on Speed for the Truck Series that will lead to the 3:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series F.W. Webb 175 at Loudon. At 5:30 Speed returns to Las Vegas for 5-1/2 hours more of the Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction. Sunday's viewing begins at 9:00am with NASCAR Now on espn2. At 10:30am Speed kicks in with Speed Center followed by a two hour session of NASCAR RaceDay at Loudon. At 1:00pm the action moves to ESPN for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Countdown that will lead in to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 at Loudon. NASCAR Victory Lane on Speed follows at 5:30pm. Speed Center at 7:00pm and Wind Tunnel at 9:00pm with Dave Despain close out the weekend.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Positive results came from the International Speedway Corporation which went up 2.18 to 24.27 while Speedway Motorsports went down 0.11 to 12.75 and Dover Entertainment went down 0.12 to 1.33. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went down 0.09 to 3.36 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil dropped 0.06 to 37.06 while tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.31 to 11.09. The car makers had a positive week. Toyota led the pack as they went up 3.01 to 70.81 while Ford went up 0.57 to 10.62 and General Motors went up 0.85 to 22.61. The home improvement sector also had a positive week. Home Depot went up 2.74 to 34.61 and Lowes went up 1.42 to 20.38. The major team sponsors also had a positive week. Dupont went up 1.85 to 47.12 while Coca-Cola went up 0.13 to 55.48, Target Department Stores went up 2.54 to 52.66, Aarons Rentals went up 1.69 to 27.55 and Fedex went up 3.00 to 76.40.

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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