RPW Column: The Champ Trail: NASCAR Mods Hit The Beech, Open Mods At Stafford & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour took an up-country trip to the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine on Saturday night.

Former Whelen Modified Tour champion Ron Silk chased down Modified ace Matt Hirschman and passed him for the top spot inside the final 10 laps to score his 16th career win and first in his debut at the oval. In front of a strong crowd at the flat, tricky, Maine track, Silk celebrated with his Stuart Motorsports team. The win helped them put a bit of a rough start to the year for their standards behind them in fine fashion.

Silk started seventh and wasn’t a factor for the lead for nearly the entire distance. Hirschman started from the Mayhew Tools Dominator pole, and led the most laps. A mix of differing strategies affected the outcome, as teams were allowed to change four Hoosier tires, but most elected to take them at different times.

Hirschman pitted during a caution on lap 62 as Anthony Nocella assumed the lead. By the mid point Woody Pitkat found himself on the point but it was Hirschman who closed on the ¾ mark. Hirschman made what appeared to be the winning pass until Silk took command in the final moments.

Patrick Emerling was third, rebounding for a mid-race pit road mistake to close the gap to Whelen Modified Tour championship points leader Justin Bonsignore with four races left in the season. Matt Swanson was fourth, with Doug Coby completing the top-five. Anthony Nocella finished sixth, followed by Kyle Bonsignore, Justin Bonsignore, Kyle Ebersole and J.B. Fortin.

A field of 19 cars were pre-entered for the event. Among the missing was Craig Lutz who’s race team wants to regroup, Ken Heagy withdrew from the event as did Timmy Solomito and JR Bertuccio.

Up next for the Whelen Modified Tour is a trip to Owesgo Speedway on Sept. 4

The 2nd Annual Lincoln Technical Institute Open Modified 80 was on tap at Stafford on Friday night. There were 23 tour type modifieds on hand including Ryan Preece and Bobby Santos III along with Woody Pitkat and Eric Goodale.

Ryan Preece charged his way through the field over the final 31 laps after coming out of the pits during a caution period outside the top-10 to win the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80. Preece led the opening laps but chose to conserve his tires and throttled back allowing Chris Pasteryak to take the lead on lap 3.

Following a caution on lap 59 Pasteryak gave way to Mike Christopher Jr as Preece was coming alive as he sliced thru the field. Following another caution on lap 77 Preece shot by Christopher and went on to take the win. Christopher finished second. Marcello Rufrano started 20th and did an outstanding job to finish third. Bobby Santos III and Todd Owen rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Chase Dowling who came from scratch, Chris Pasteryak, Stephen Kopcik, Andrew Molleur and Eric Goodale.

In regular weekly racing action, Andrew Molleur picked up his first win of the season in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett took down his fourth win of 2021 in the Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. scored his second win of the season in the SK Light feature, Devon Jencik notched his third win of 2021 in the Limited Late Model feature, and Travis Hydar scored his third win of the year in the Street Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Teddy Hodgdon led the first lap but David Arute took over the lead on lap-2. Arute was having his best run of the season. Noah Korner took second from Hodgdon on lap-3 and Hodgdon would continue to slide backwards as Tyler Hines took third, Andrew Molleur fourth and Michael Christopher, Jr., fifth. Hodgdon was finally able to get back in line in seventh place behind Bryan Narducci.

Korner made a move to the inside of Arute on lap-9 and he took the lead by a nose at the line. Molleur took second and Hines third as Arute was now side by side with Christopher for fourth on lap-10. Dylan Kopec spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out with 10 laps complete.

Molleur took the lead on the restart with Korner, Hines, Arute, and Christopher lined up behind him. Korner made a strong move to the inside of Molleur on lap-14 but wasn’t able to complete the pass. Hines was still third in line with Arute, Christopher, and Narducci right behind him.

At the halfway point, Molleur was on cruise control in the lead with Korner, Hines, Arute, Christopher, Narducci, Todd Owen, Michael Gervais, Jr., Jon Puleo, and Stephen Kopcik making up the top-10 behind him. Hines and Korner touched on lap-30 with Hines suffering apparent motor problems, slowly pulling his car behind the wall on pit road and Korner continuing on in second place. Christopher was now up to third with Owen fourth and Narducci in fifth as Arute fell back to sixth.

Molleur led Korner and the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2021 season. Christopher finished third with Owen and Narducci rounding out the top-5.

Up next on the Tri Track circuit is a return to Seekonk Speedway on Wednesday, August 25, for the conclusion of the $10,000 to win Open Wheel Wednesday Speed51.TV Modified Madness. The show will begin at 7 p.m., with just feature events left to run. It was originally slated for June 30, but a power outage in the area that night forced it to be postponed. The series will also be back at Seekonk on Saturday, October 23, to crown the 2021 champion in the annual Haunted Hundred.

At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Bill Anderson led almost every lap to grab his first feature win since July, 2002. Anderson had only driven a handful of races since his last win in 2002. He was sharp Saturday, however, holding off Todd Owen over the final five laps.

In other Speedbowl action, Jason Palmer remained hot, storming to his third Late Model victory in a row. Not only did Doug Curry win his second straight Street Stock Feature, he moved into the point lead. Tom Silva struck gold in the Mini Stock feature for the fifth time this season, while Wayne Burroughs, back in his own car, won in the SK Lite Modifieds.

After missing his heat race because of truck trouble, Jim Boyle stampeded from the rear of the field to win the 25-lap event and John O’Sullivan held off a late charge from Brody Monahan for his sixth Legend win of 2021.

This week will showcase the Ronnie and Kenny Bouchard Memorial presented by the Racing Guys.

In 1971, Gene Bergin, in the all-new Bobby Judkins Pinto bodied No. 2x that had just been declared legal by NASCAR, was the spoiler as he had the car to beat at Stafford on Saturday night. DeSarro had to settle for second with Hop Harrington, Bugsy Stevens and Bobby Santos rounding out the top five.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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