ARCHIVES

Tuesday September 3, 2013
 

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series takes a couple of weeks off to regroup before getting back into action on Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway for the 175 lap Green Earth Technologies 200 on Saturday night, September 14. Ryan Preece continues to lead the point standings with a 28 point cushion over defending champion Doug Coby. With four events remaining Coby is far from out of it in his quest to repeat his title. Mike Stefanik is still in the hunt as he sits in third spot as is Rowan Pennink who is currently fourth. Rounding out the top five is Ron Silk. Sixth through tenth are Woody Pitkat, Ted Christopher, Donny Lia, Justin Bonsignore and Todd Szegedy.

NASCAR announced the No. 16 team that competes in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with driver Ryan Preece was been penalized as a result of rules violations committed Aug. 21 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The No. 16 car was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-I (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20D-10.5A (Only a one-piece magnetic steel drive shaft with a minimum outside diameter of two (2) inches and a minimum thickness of 0.090 inch will be permitted: Drive shaft did not meet the minimum thickness.) of the 2013 NASCAR rule book. The violation was discovered during post-race inspection.

Stanley “Sly” Szaban, crew chief of the No. 16 car, was been fined $500, suspended from NASCAR until the fine is paid and placed on NASCAR probation until Oct. 30. Owner Eric Sanderson was penalized with the loss of six NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship car owner points, while Preece penalized with the loss of six championship driver points.

Mike Stefanik has hinted that this may be his last year. Stefanik told Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice that he is thinking of retiring at seasons's end. Stefanik has had a long and successful career as a race car driver and has recorded championships in NASCAR's Modified division and NASCAR's Busch North Series which is now the K & N Series. Stefanik has represented racing quite well during his tenure and has nothing to prove or be ashamed of.

It looks kike the 2014 Thompson Speedway IceBreaker may be back on the schedule. Speedway owner Don Hoenig says he expects to have all paving complete for the new Sports Car course ahead of schedule. Hoenig also hinted that weekly racing will continue at the northeastern Connecticut oval.

A lot of digging and earth moving is going on at Thompson plus the erection of new pit structures is on going.

New England lost one of its great Short Tracks. Dick Berggren reported on Aug 26 that the Sale of Cannan Fair Speedway (NH) was final and there will be no racing in 2014 and beyond. The covered grandstands will be torn down as well. Canaan is a wonderful place consisting of two tracks (one dirt, one asphalt). So, this is a double loss. This will have a huge impact on the New England racing community as it is a region that has been depleted enough already.

Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway went off as scheduled despite threatening weather, Keith Rocco, Rick Gentes, Cam McDermott, Steve Kenneway, and Eric Bourgeois earned division titles. NASCAR Whelen All American Series winners included Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modified division, Tom Carey, Jr. in the Late Models, Glenn Griswold in the Lite Modifieds, Scott Sundeen in the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman division, and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks. Toby Wells took down the victory in the North East Mini Stock 20-lap feature.
 
The Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds put on a brilliant display of driving, especially Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco, in their 30 lap feature. Woody Pitkat, who eventually would dominate, took the lead at lap 12 and held off a determined Keith Rocco to take down the victory in the final Sunoco Modified division point race. Rocco’s second place finish earned him the 2013 division title.

Paul Newcomb and Ryan Preece were in a tight side-by-side battle for the lead when caution came out on the first lap for a spun car off of turn four. Newcomb assumed the top spot for the restart with Preece challenging on the bottom and Nick Boivin challenging up top. Newcomb maintained the lead, but Preece was able to get a run on the bottom groove to take over the lead on lap two. Preece pulled away as Rocco looked for a way around Newcomb. Sparks began to fly from Newcomb’s machine on lap five and officials reacted with a black flag for the 71 machine. Rocco patiently waited for him to pull in before setting his sights on Preece, who now held a full second lead over the rest of the field.

The race took a dramatic turn on lap nine when Preece spun in turn three and hit the outside retaining wall. Rocco inherited the lead with Woody Pitkat on the outside for the restart. Rocco drove to the front with Pitkat on his bumper. On lap 11, Pitkat went down to the inside into turn one and came out of turn two the new leader. Pitkat held on to the lead despite the pressure from Rocco on his bumper, but would have to hold off the point leader through another restart.

Rocco had a nose length advantage on the outside heading into turn one, but Pitkat came on strong in the corner and came out of turn two in the lead. Caution put a quick halt to the battle as the field lined up for yet another restart. Pitkat shot to the front at the drop of the green with Rocco and Malone close behind. The top-five, Pitkat, Rocco, Malone, Matt Gallo and Dennis Perry, ran nose-to-tail over the next several laps, but ultimately, Pitkat, Rocco and Malone were able to pull away in a class all their own. Rocco stuck like glue to the back of Pitkat’s machine, and made a last-lap look on the bottom groove, but Pitkat was too strong and took the win. Rocco settled for second with Malone, third. Gallo and Dennis Perry rounded out the top five.

Among those spectating were George and Peg Summers. George Summers drove Modifieds for years and was recently added to the Wall of Fame at the Seekonk Speedway.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Woody Pitkat carried over his winning ways from Thompson as he picked up his first win of the season with a thrilling last lap pass in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray picked up his sixth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Ronnie Williams scored his third win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Austin Bessette took down his third win of the season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. scored his first career victory in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper with five laps to go a slugfest developed between Pitkat, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink who was leading at the time. Coby nearly made a three wide move to the inside of Pennink and Pitkat but he fell back into linen in third behind Pennink and Pitkat. Ryan Preece was fourth and Todd Owen was fifth. Pitkat was still all over the back bumper of Pennink but he couldn’t get close enough to make a pass. Pennink held the lead as they took the white flag. Pennink still had the lead going into turn 3 but Pitkat made a power move to the inside of Pennink to take over the lead and he led Pennink back to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the season and the first win for his car owner Steve Greer. Coby finished third behind Pitkat and Pennink with Preece and Owen rounding out the top-5.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the nutmeg oval and provided lots of fireworks for those on hand. Steve Masse took the win while Ted Christopher and Keith Rocco provided the fireworks. Rocco and Christopher started side by side and battled for the lead until lap 52 when the pot boiled over.

Christopher and Rocco resumed their side by side fight for the lead on a restart. Christopher touched wheels with Rocco and Rocco spun to bring the caution out. Christopher was immediately black flagged to the rear of the field for the contact with Rocco. This put Ryan Preece and Masse on the front row with Norm Wrenn and Zane Zeiner on the second row.

In a wise decision, Masse decided to restart from the outside of the front row and he took the lead back under green. Preece was second with Wrenn, Zeiner, and Eric Goodale lined up behind him. Once Masse was out in front he began to pull away from Preece in second. Preece had his hands full with Wrenn, who was applying pressure to Preece’s bumper for second. Preece was able to hold off Wrenn’s challenges while Masse was still inching his way away from Preece. The car of David Bitondo came to a stop on the backstretch to bring the caution out with 72 laps complete.

Masse took the lead back under green with Preece, Wrenn, and Barry lined up behind them. Dave Etheridge made a move around Zeiner to move into fifth place but Masse was already beginning to stretch his lead out over Preece just as he had done on the previous green flag run. Masse pulled away from Preece and took the checkered flag ahead of Preece, Wrenn, Kenny Barry, and Etheridge. Sixth through 10th were
Zane Zeiner, Richard Savary, Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher.

There were 36 cars on hand. In some good news for the series it has been said that the Valenti Modified Racing Series has a very good chance of having their events on the world wide web in 2014. If this comes to be it will be a big shot in the arrm for series sponsor, the Valenti Auto Group in Mystic Ct and the individual sponsors of race teams.

Action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco, who played second fiddle to Woody Pitkat at Thompson on Thursday night got his just do on Saturday night as he won the Budweiser Nationals 150 and a reward of $5,000 at the shoreline oval. A quick paced and action packed racing program was the order of the night as the track played host to its ‘Thunder on the Sound’ event.

In total, seven drivers notched victories on the evening. Joining Rocco in the winner’s circle included a first-time winner as Jay, ME competitor David Farrington Jr. picked up an impressive victory in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division. Corey Hutchings won another Street Stock race while Ray Christian III and Glenn Griswold each picked up their second wins of the season in the Mini Stock and SK Light Modified divisions, respectively. In INEX racing Paul Kusheba won an exciting Legend Cars event and Andrew Morin won his first ever race in the Bandoleros.

Rocco took the lead on lap-83 bringing Pitkat with him around the outside of the track into second. Tyler Chadwick was on the attack, clawing into third around Tom Abele on lap-85 with his sights set on the top two. Chadwick tried to work over Pitkat for several laps to no avail, riding third until a caution on lap-99.

As Rocco got away from Pitkat on the restart, Rob Janovic survived a wild ride from fifth place off the apron into turn one, gathering his car up to keep the race green. Chadwick found an opening under Pitkat to snatch second and pick up pursuit of Rocco. The two pulled ahead with Chadwick stalking Rocco over a stretch that brought the race to lap-120. Several times Chadwick tried to get a wheel outside of Rocco but could never quite muster the momentum to pull alongside. After Chadwick finally settled in line behind, Rocco turned it up a notch with the laps closing down, pulling away from Chadwick as the race moved to its final stretch.

With Rocco streaking towards closing out an impressive win with a near straightaway advantage, Pitkat was back on Chadwick trying to pick up second in the closing laps. When it appeared the race may continue to the checkered flag, Matt Galko saw a solid effort run sour as he went up in smoke on lap-147, stopping at the top of the track in turn two to bring out a caution. That triggered two more late incidents that forced Rocco into restarting smoothly to seal the win.

With smooth and concise driving, Rocco nailed each one, the first versus Chadwick and the final against Pitkat, who was able to reclaim second on lap-148 from a fading Chadwick. Pitkat had nothing left for Rocco and finished in second. Chadwick took third and Abele ran up front all night to take a hard earned fourth. Janovic recovered to take home fifth. With the win, Rocco becomes the third driver to take back-to-back wins in the prestigious event.

Sixth through tenth were Todd Ceravolo, Craig Lutz, Joe Gada, Ron Yuhas Jr., and Ted Christopher.

Down in the south land the Whelen Southern Modified Tour visited the Langley Speedway in Virginia. Kyle Ebersole came from behind to capture his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour win. Ebersole of Hummelstown, Pa., took the lead late and then held off a hard charge from three-time tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III to win the Newport News Shipbuilding/Bayport Credit Union 150. The win came in just his 19th career tour start for the driver of the No. 5 Ebersole Excavating Ford, who had started seventh on the grid.

Andy Seuss, who shattered the previous track record in winning the pole during qualifying earlier in the day, led the first half of the race - with Brunnhoelzl running in his wake. Brunnhoelzl gained the top spot just before the midway break, but later lost the lead to Tim Brown. Ebersole got by Brown coming out of Turn 4 with a strong move to the outside on Lap 137. Ebersole, who finished sixth last year in his only previous start at Langley, faced a fierce challenge from Brunnhoelzl in the closing laps, but held on for the win.

John Smith and Danny Bohn followed Tim Brown past the finish line to round out the top five. Completing the top 10 were Patrick Emerling, Burt Myers, Jason Myers, Thomas Stinson and Gary Putnam.

The Newport News Shipbuilding/Bayport Credit Union 150 was the eighth event on a 12-race tour schedule. The Southern Modified Tour will next be in action on Sept. 8, when it returns to Caraway (N.C.) Speedway for the Caraway 150.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Timmy Solomito and Howie Brode shared victory lane in twin 35 lap NASCAR Modified events.

On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had negative results for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 1.16 to 30.99 and Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.76 to 17.68 while Dover Entertainment remained stagnant at 2.44. Nascar Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.25 to 6.71 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 1.06 to 51.27 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.29 to 20.12. The auto makers were all down for the week. Ford dropped 0.26 to 16.19 and General Motors dropped 0.98 to 34.08 while Toyota dropped6.22 to 120.79. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 0.60 to 74.49 while Lowes dropped 1.16 to 45.82. The big team sponsors were all on the negative side of the ledger. Dupont dropped 1.28 to 56.62, Coca-Cola dropped 1.28 to 62.84, Target Department Stores dropped 0.94 to 63.31, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.83 to 27.07 and Fedex dropped 3.30 to 107.36.
 

In TV Land this coming week:
 
9
6
Fri
9:00 AM
NNS Practice
Richmond
FS1
 
9
6
Fri
11:30 AM
NASCAR Live
Richmond
FS1
 
9
6
Fri
12:00 PM
NSCS Practice
Richmond
ESPN2
 
9
6
Fri
2:30 PM
NSCS Final Practice
Richmond
ESPN2
 
9
6
Fri
4:00 PM
NNS Coors Light Pole Qualifying
Richmond
ESPN2
 
9
6
Fri
5:30 PM
NSCS Coors Light Pole Qualifying
Richmond
ESPN2
 
9
6
Fri
7:00 PM
NNS Countdown
Richmond
ESPN2
 
9
6
Fri
7:30 PM
NNS: NNS 250
Richmond
ESPN2
7:45 PM
9
7
Sat
12:00 PM
NCWTS Practice
Iowa
FS2
 
9
7
Sat
4:30 PM
NASCAR RaceDay
Richmond
FS1
 
9
7
Sat
7:00 PM
NSCS Countdown
Richmond
ABC
 
9
7
Sat
7:30 PM
NSCS: Federated Auto Parts 400
Richmond
ABC
7:44 PM
9
8
Sun
9:00 AM
NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Evergreen
FS1
 
9
8
Sun
12:30 PM
NCWTS Keystone Light Pole Qualifying
Iowa
FS1
 
9
8
Sun
1:30 PM
NCWTS SetUp
Iowa
FS1
 
9
8
Sun
2:00 PM
NCWTS: NCWTS 200
Iowa
FS1
 


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