Tuesday September 11, 2012


By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Thompson Speedway this past Saturday and Sunday for the UNOH Showdown which brought together NASCAR's Whelen Northern and Southern Modified Tours which each had 75 lap features plus were combined for a 50 lap All green flag showdown.

The Fuller legacy continued at Thompson International Speedway when Rob Fuller captured his first career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour pole Saturday afternoon with a lap of 18.947 seconds. Ryan Preece set fast time in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and earned his 11th career pole and fourth at Thompson Speedway. Both divisions will compete in 75-lap races before the top-10 finishers in each event advance to a 50-lap exhibition race on Sunday afternoon. In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Cam McDermott earned his 13th season victory in the Lite Modified division and Chad LaBastie checkered the Thompson Modifieds.

In UNOH Showdown qualifying at Ryan Preece captured the pole for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Rob Fuller won the pole for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Preece of Berlin, Conn., lapped the .625-mile oval in 18.828 seconds at an average speed of 119.503 mph, to earn his fourth pole at Thompson, his fifth pole of the year and the 11th of his career. With just one previous start in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour and 11 starts in the Whelen Modified Tour, Fuller of Boylston, Mass., had a lap of 18.947 seconds (118.752 mph) in taking his first career pole. Justin Bonsignore had the second quickest lap among NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers and was followed by Bobby Santos, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink. Rounding out the top 10 were Todd Szegedy, Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik, Ron Silk and Eric Beers. In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour qualifying, meanwhile, Tim Brown was second quickest at 19.090 seconds (117.863 mph). Andy Seuss was third fastest, with Steve Masse fourth and Burt Myers fifth. They were followed by Danny Bohn, George Brunnhoelzl III, Matt Hirschman, John Smith and Jason Myers. There were 25 Whelen Modifieds and 21 Whelen Southern Modifieds on hand. Of the 21 southern cars only 14 actually race in the south, the rest were from the north.

The heavy overnight rains cleared which allowed both fans and competitors at Thompson to enjoy a full day of racing. Ted Christopher, pinch hitting for injured Keith Rocco, put the Boehler No.3 in for one of the biggest paydays that they have seen in quite some time as he took the top spot in the 2nd Annual UNOH Showdown 50 lap shootout. Christopher took the lead on lap six when he dove under Bobby Santos Santos to take over the lead coming out of turn two. Ryan Preece, Santos, Justin Bonsignore, and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top-five at lap seven. Donny Lia joined the front-runners in sixth as all of the top cars pulled away from the rest of the field. The race went under a red flag on lap 24 when Stefanik lost his power steering and dropped some oil on the track. Christopher drove to the front on the restart with Preece attached to his rear bumper. Preece tried to get by on the high line, but Christopher shut the door. Preece continued to pressure Christopher while Jimmy Blewett became a part of the mix in third. Blewett got by Preece for second on lap 37 while Christopher put a car length of breathing room over Blewett.

The top-five cars fanned out over the next several laps with Christopher keeping his distance from Blewett through lapped traffic. Christopher cruised to the checkers to score his first victory of the day and score a $15,000 paycheck. Preece finished third followed by Lia and Doug Coby. Sixth through ninth were Ron Silk, Matt Hirschman, Santos and Andy Seuss. Burt Myers rounded out the top ten.

Justin Bonsignore won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire Northern 75 under a yellow checkered after Ron Silk crashed in the turn two wall on the white flag lap. Bonsignore took the lead away from Ryan Preece at lap 68 and survived a late-race restart after caution set up a green-white-checkered finish at lap 81. Preece took the early lead and dominated most of the race before Bonsignore used the outside groove to take the lead in turn three seven laps before the scheduled conclusion of the race. A caution flew at lap 72 for a wreck in turn three that involved Rowan Pennink and Patrick Emerling and set the stage for Bonsignore to take the win. It was the Holtsville, NY-native’s second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory and his first at Thompson Speedway.

Bobby Santos ended up second and was followed by Ryan Preece, Todd Szegedy and Ted Christopher. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Donny Lia, Eric Beers, Eric Berndt and Richie Pallai.

Andy Seuss earned his 12th career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory after taking the lead on lap 24 of the 75-lap Green Pointe Energy Southern 75 portion of the UNOH Showdown weekend schedule. Seuss used the high groove to hold off a hard-charging Matt Hirschman through lapped traffic to take the checkered flag. The race was only slowed by one caution period. Seuss, who started from the third position, took the lead from Burt Myers coming out of turn four on lap 24. Hirschman took over the second position on lap 43 and pressured Seuss until the end. Pole sitter Rob Fuller, who was forced to start in the rear when his crew chief missed the drivers meeting, finished third. Burt Myers and Tim Brown rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Steve Masse, Danny Bohn, George Brunnhoelzl, III, John Smith and Cole Powell.

In Sunoco (SK type) Modified competition Ryan Preece took the checkers for the 10th time this season. Preece had built up a large enough lead to hold on for the win after something broke in his power steering with ten laps to go in the event. Woody Pitkat finished second over Keith Rocco. Kerry Malone, Jimmy Zacharies and Dennis Perry followed.
Other Sunday winners at Thompson included Damon Tinio in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks.

Thursday Night Thunder switches to Sunday this week. Thompson will be running a Twi-Nite Special with their 7 NASCAR Divisions.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action, taking wins were Michael Gervais, Jr. in the SK Modified® feature, Jim Peterson in the Late Model feature, Dylan Kopec in the SK Light feature, Cory Casagrande and D.J. Burnham in the twin Ltd. Late Model features, and Jeremy Lavoie was a first time winner in the DARE Stock feature.

Ryan Preece had closed the gap to Gervais as the leaders took the white flag. Preece got a good run to the inside of Gervais in turn 1, but he got sideways in turn 2 and Gervais pulled away slightly. Preece got a good run back through turns 3+4, but he came up just short at the checkered flag as Gervais picked up his second feature victory of the 2012 season. Woody Pitkat came home third, with Todd Owen and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl the Rocco Brothers scored a one-two punch as they beat the rain, finishing one-two in the SK Modified feature. Kyle James finished third with Jeff Pearl, fourth. Rob Janovic rounded out the top five. For some strange reason a bad storm front moving from west to east along the shore of Long Island Sound opened up as it reached the I-95-395 split in East Lyme and left the speedbowl in a weather window which allowed the shoreline oval to complete most of its racing program. Dillon Moltz drove to his sixth victory of the year in the Late Models race, while Bill Leonard took his second win in the Mini Stock division and Tommy Barrett Jr. won the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature. The scheduled Street Stock feature was rained out.

Barrett, who is being coached by Hall of Fame car owner Mario Fiore, started the race last out of the 22 drivers after running into problems during his qualifying race. Barrett started to challenge race leader Chris Pasteryak at the midway point. Once in the lead, Barrett held on through multiple restarts to win. Pasteryak ended up second while series points leaders Rowan Pennink was third. Jon McKennedy and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top five.

Tom Rogers took the NASCAR 50 lap Modified win at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Howie Brode finished second. Among the missing were regulars Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece who were in competition at Thompson. Shawn Solomito, with his third place finish, wrapped up the Modified Track Championship. Riverhead winds up its season with the return of the Whelen Modified Tour series this weekend.

In action on the tube this week the Speed channel will replay last weekend's Richmond Sprint Cup event at noon on Wednesday. The Richmond Nationwide Series event will be replayed on Thursday at noon.

The action shifts to ESPN2 on Friday for Sprint Cup practice at the Chicagoland Speedway at 1:00pm and Nationwide Series practice at Chicagoland at 2:30pm. Action on ESPN2 continues at 4:00pm with Sprint Cup final practice at 4:00pm and Nationwide Series final practice at at 5:30pm.

Saturday's viewing begins at 11:30 with NASCAR Live from Chicagoland on Speed. Coverage by the Speed Channel continues at noon with Nationwide Series qualifying at Chicagoland followed by Sprint Cup qualifying at 1:30pm. At 3:00pm the action shifts to ESPN2 for the Nationwide Series pre-race show that will lead to the 3:30pm start of the Dollar General 300 powered by Coca-Cola at Chicagoland. At 6:30pm the viewing moves to Speed for Truck Series qualifying at the Iowa Speedway. Action on Speed continues at 8:00pm with the Truck Series pre-race show that will lead to the 8:30pm start of the NASCAR Truck Series American Ethanol 200 at the Iowa Speedway.

Sunday's viewing starts at 11:00am with NASCAR RaceDay on Speed. At 1:00pm the action shifts to ESPN for the Sprint Cup pre-race that will lead to the 2:00pm start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup GEICO 400 at the Chicagoland Speedway.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks finished out the week in the green. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.70 to 28.31. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.34 to 15.67 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.05 to 1.51. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.18 to 5.03 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil went up 0.60 to 47.79 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.96 to 13.16. The car builders had a positive ending following Labor Day. Toyota went up 2.05 to 81.67 while General Motors went up 2.02 to 23.37 and Ford went up 0.80 to 10.14. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.51 to 57.26 while Lowes dropped 0.16 to 28.32. Big team sponsor Dupont went up 0.91 to 50.66 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.79 to 30.66 while Coca-Cola dropped 0.10 to 68.54, Target Department Stores dropped 0.09 to 64.00 and Fedex dropped 0.25 to 87.38.

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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