RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Third Week Of September

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946, Eddie Casterline made it four in a row at Seekonk as he won another set of twin 50s.

Seventy years ago in 1951 there was no racing except for Claiming Cars on Wednesday night at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jim Tourjee was the winner. Dave Humphrey won a 100 lap Sportsman event at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1956 Dick Beuregard, the guy everyone loved to hate, won the final Saturday night Modified feature of the year at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, a 50 lapper. Lou Tetreault was the non-Ford winner. The Speedbowl would shift to Sunday afternoons for the remainder of the season. Pete Frazee was the winner at Old Bridge.

Sixty years ago in 1961 Bob Hall made it two in a row in dirt action at Stafford. Sam Mazzella was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber winner. Dick Dixon was the winner of the United sanctioned Grand American 200 lapper at the 1/2 mile speedway located on the grounds of the Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, Ma. Jerry Humiston finished second and was followed by Bob Devine, Bobby Bard and Buddy Krebs. In a companion 50 lap Modified event Billy Greco and Danny Galullo crossed the finish line in a dead heat. Humiston finished third with Johnny Lobo, fourth. Bobby Sprague was the Class A winner and Joe Rosenfield, the Novice winner, at Seekonk. George Tet took the top spot at Islip over Jim Hendrickson and Gene Gamache. Norwood ran a 50 lapper with Red Foote taking the win over Joe McNulty and Ernie Gahan. Joe Kelly was the victor at Old Bridge on Sunday.

Fifty five years ago in 1966, Pete Corey continued to be the master on dirt at Stafford as he took the Friday night win. Fred DeSarro driving his home built 327 Chevy Sportsman mount won the Bay State 200 at Norwood Arena. The following day DeSarro with a host of others headed to the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine for a 300 lap NACAR Modified Championship event. Running third in the late stages DeSarro tangled with Billy Greco and Ray Hendrick and crashed violently out of the event. Don MacTavish took the lead with 30 to go and held off Hop Harrington to take the win. Rene Charland finished third with Hendrick, fourth and Bugsy Stevens, fifth. Pete Corey closed out the season at the Fonda Speedway with a win over Jeep Herbert and Lou Lazzaro. Pete Salvatore was the Class A winner at Seekonk. The Utica-Rome Speedway also ran their season finale with Kenny Shoemaker taking the win. Lazzaro finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Sonny Seamon and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five.

Fifty years ago in 1971, the Modifieds headed south to Martinsville for the Fall 100 on Saturday. Fred DeSarro finally got one of the wins that he had always wanted as he took a convincing win over Max Berrier and Jerry Cook. Jim Hendrickson recorded his 18th win of the season at Islip on Saturday night. Mousie Kempster finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Jerry Cook. DeSarro made an all night ride pay off as he made it to Stafford for a Sunday afternoon double point event, which he won. Ray Miller finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Jerry Cook. The Fulton Raceway wrapped up their season with a 200 lapper, which was won by Geoff Bodine. Richie Evans finished second with Sonny Seamon, third. Paul Richardson was the Supermodified winner at Thompson. Howie Brown finished second. Donnie Bunnell made it two in a row as he out dueled Seabury Tripler at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude finished third with Joe Trudeau and Ed Yerrington rounding out the top five. Eddie Hoyle made it three in a row in Class A action at Seekonk.

Forty five years ago in 1976, the Modifieds were at Martinsville for a 150 lapper. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Paul Radford and John Bryant. Bob Polverari won a 100 lap Open Competition event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Gada was the Grand Americal-Late Model winner at the shoreline oval. Deke Astle was the Modified winner at Seekonk. At Thompson on Sunday, Ronnie Bouchard got the best of Bodine as he won the 30-lap contest. Maynard Troyer finished third and was followed by Eddie Flemke, Ray Miller and Fred DeSarro.

Forty years ago in 1981, Stafford ran a special event on Saturday night for the recently displaced SNYRA Modifieds from Danbury. Sixty cars were on hand and it was Rit Patchen taking the win over Art Davis and Lou Funk. Shangri-La ran their season ender with Richie Evans taking the win over Doug Hewitt and Dick Clark. Oxford Plains ran a modified special on Sunday and it was Bugsy Stevens taking the win over Reggie Ruggiero and Billy Clarke. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Darrell Waltrip took the win. Saturdays Busch Grandnational event was won by Geoff Bodine

Thirty five years ago in 1986, the Winston Modified Tour was at Shangri-La for a 150 lapper. Jim Spencer took the win over Jan Leaty, Geoff Bodine, Mike Mclaughlin, George Kent and Corky Cookman. Waterford ran on Sunday with Richie Gallup taking the win over Rick Donnelly. Rusty Wallace took the Winston Cup win at Martinsville. Pole sitter Geoff Bodine, finished second.

Thirty years ago in 1991, the Monadnock Speedway ran on Friday night with Ed Kennedy taking the win over John Zavisa. Saturday night was the original Legends Night at Waterford. Veteran Jerry Pearl took the Modified feature but the night belonged to Ed Moody who won the Legends race over Charlie Webster. Shangri La ran a 150 on Saturday night which saw Jamie Tomaino take the win over John Preston. Also on Saturday night was the Tony Jankowiac Memorial which was won by Doug Hevron. Lancaster ran the US Open on Sunday with Reggie Ruggiero taking the win over Jeff Fuller, George Kent and Jan Leaty. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Harry Gant made it four in a row.

Twenty five years ago in 1996,despite being bounced out of the feature by the Connecticut DMV for rough riding, Jim Broderick sewed up the Waterford Modified Track Championship with a 15th place finish. During the event, Broderick and Ted Christopher crashed each other with each blaming each other. Christopher was also bounced. David Gada was the eventual winner with Jeff Pearl coming in second and Bob Potter, third. Thompson ran a 300 lapper for the Busch North Series on Sunday. Jeff Fuller took the lead on lap 183 and held it until the rains came and ended the event on lap 213. Mike Stefanik ended up second with Brad Leighton, third. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Jeff Gordon took the win with Terry Labonte, second. The following Tuesday, Sept.24, it was announced that the following weeks event at Riverside Park had been cancelled as promoter Ben Dodge had been released from his position after an alleged dispute with the track owner.

Twenty years ago in 2001 Thursday night racing at Thompson was cancelled due to rain. Ted Christopher was declared the NASCAR New England Regional Champion by six points. Christopher, who won 15 of the 18 events run at Thompson was also declared the National Champion and would receive $160,000 from the point fund. Christopher moved on to Stafford on Friday night where he recorded his 59th win at the ½ mile oval. Eric Berndt finished second with Chuck Docherty, Jeff Malave and Darren Menditto rounding out the top five. At Waterford on Saturday night, Dennis Gada took the win with Eric Berndt again the bridesmaid. Ron Yuhas finished third with Ed Reed Jr. fourth. With the World Trade Center in New York destroyed by the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Stafford Speedway announced that no coolers or backpacks would be allowed inside the admission gate.

Fifteen years ago in 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Waterford Speedbowl. On and off rain on Saturday plus fog and rain on Sunday forced NASCAR and the Waterford Speedbowl management to announce the cancellation of the event. The Town Fair Tire Finale, including Sunday’s Whelan Modified Tour Volunteer Fire Department 150 was rescheduled for Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 7-8.

The Thompson Speedway was the scene of fever pitch competition despite the fact that temperatures took a dive once the sun went down. Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT was declared the winner in the Sunoco Modified division. Les Rose, Jr. of E. Wareham, MA won the Pro Stock battle but Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA won the war as he clinched the divisional championship. A pair of “Most Popular Drivers” scored victories with Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA taking Late Model honors and Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT claiming the Limited Sportsman feature win. Scott Michalski of S. Killingly, CT was tops in the Mini Stocks and Kurt Vigeant in the TIS Modifieds.

Bert Marvin crossed the line second at the conclusion of the Sunoco Modified feature event but came home with the victory. In post race technical inspection, apparent winner Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ was disqualified for an illegal transmission. Blewett’s car, owned by Eddie Partridge, was using a racing type transmission that is illegal at Thompson but is considered ok at other tracks. Marvin bested a strong field of 26-Modifieds that included two drivers vying for the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series regional championship-Jeff Malave and Woody Pitkat. A mere six points separated Woody Pitkat and Jeff Malave atop the Sunoco Modified point standings; however, a dismal night for Malave gave Pitkat some breathing room entering the final Thursday night that would feature double features for the division.

Marvin and Keith Rocco brought the field to green; however, the action was short-lived when on lap one the action was slowed for an incident that resulted in front-end damage on point leader Pitkat’s machine. Pitkat was slammed broadside by another competitor as he entered turn one. He made a remarkable save and was able to keep his car from hitting the wall. Suffering a flat left front tire, Pitkat was able to continue after service from his pit crew, rejoining the field in the 23rd position.

Marvin led Rocco and a charging Jimmy Blewett on the restart. Blewett drove by Rocco and into the second position. Malave passed Buddy Charette for fourth and a single lap later took third from Rocco. Ricky Shawn led the second group of cars that included Tommy Cravenho and Todd Ceravolo. By lap 10, Pitkat was solidly into the top-ten. Pitkat passed Charette on lap 11. Meanwhile, Shawn had fallen to the challenges of Cravenho and Ceravolo. Rocco had slipped by to the fifth position. The leader, Marvin, hit heavy lapped traffic by the halfway marker. Malave began to pressure Blewett for the second spot. Exiting turn four of lap 18, Malave was second. Blewett tried in vain to catch Malave but got out of shape, in the process falling into the clutches of Cravenho. Pitkat was pressuring Rocco for seventh when the caution flew on lap 21 for a spin by Charette. The restart pitted Marvin and Malave followed by Blewett and Cravenho in row two. Marvin got a great restart to retain his spot at the head of the pack. Blewett gave Malave a run but had to settle in for third. Contact between Cravenho and Ceravolo from third and fourth sent cars scattering. Pitkat managed to maneuver his way through the mess. Ceravolo and Dan LaJeunesse sustained heavy damage. Evidently LaJeunesse doesn’t see past his hood and his spotter wasn’t paying attention. LaJunesse was running wide open when he hit Ceravolo on the driver’s side. The impact broke the car’s rear end and sheared off the left front suspension assembly. The top-five for the restart were Marvin, Malave, Blewett, Pitkat and Rocco. Again it was Marvin getting the edge. Contact between Malave and Blewett sent Malave into the marbles and losing two spots, one to Blewett and rival Pitkat. Blewett drove by Marvin for the lead on lap 23. The caution flew on lap 25 for a spin by Pitkat. Malave was sent to the tail for his involvement in the incident. Blewett led the charge to the restart flag with Marvin in tow. Keith Rocco drilled Ricky Shawn who was in third spot and subsequently sent Shawn spinning. Both Malave and Pitkat were involved in the incident. Malave headed to pit road with heavy right front damage. Pitkat was able to continue. Malave was out for the night. Blewett sailed out to the lead on the restart with five laps remaining. Marvin had his hands full with Rocco while Charette had to contend with Pitkat. Over the final laps, Blewett stretch his lead apparently coming home with his third win of the season. Marvin was able to turn his dismal luck around with a runner-up finish turned feature victory. Rocco was credited with a second-place finish over Charette, Pitkat, and Brian Tagg inside the top-five. Pitkat was named Sunoco Modified “Most Popular Driver”.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night Dodge Racing Series with all division championships not decided. Frank Ruocco maintained his SK Modified points lead with his first feature win of the 2006 season, Mark Lewis picked up his first career win in the Late Model feature, but it will be a two-man race for the championship as Woody Pitkat and Jim Peterson are tied for the points lead. Brit Andersen was the winner of the SK Light feature, which propelled him into a 4-way tie with Chris Matthews, Richie Pallai, Jr., and Shelly Perry for the points lead heading into the CARQUEST Fall Final. Andrew Durand was the winner of the Limited Late Model feature event, but Kevin Gambacorta will head into the CARQUEST Fall Final with a 10-point lead over George Nocera, Jr. Jeff Jolly collected his second DARE Stock feature win of the 2006 season, but Norm Sears’ third place finish gives him a 50-point lead, meaning that he only has to start the DARE Stock feature during CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend to become the track champion.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, SK Modified® points leader Frank Ruocco, of Cheshire, chose the best time to pick up his first feature victory of the 2006 season. Ruocco quickly worked his way into second place, and then bided his time behind Chris Jones before taking the lead for the first time on lap-22. Ruocco had to contend with a hard charging Willie Hardie in the closing laps, but Ruocco was able to hold Hardie off to the checkered flag. Hardie finished second, with Woody Pitkat, Jones, and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5. Ruocco held an 18-point lead over Willie Hardie, 586-568. Both Eric Berndt and Todd Owen were 50 points behind. All other drivers were eliminated from championship contention.

In other weekend racing John Blewett III sewed up the track title at the Wall Township Speedway and David Darling sewed up the Pro Stock title at Seekonk.

Clint Boyer won the Busch Series event at Dover Downs while Jeff Burton won the Nextel Cup event.

Ten years ago in 2011, 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.

In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson on Thursday night the weatherman prevailed as the speedway cancelled due to impending rain.

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.

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.

Five years ago in 2016, 2016 Keith Rocco went into the weekend needing to score wins at Stafford on Friday night and at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night in order to hopefully come out on top of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings. The final day for points to count toward NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships was Sunday, Sept. 18. No matter what happened, Rocco was guaranteed to finish in the top five in the national standings for the ninth straight season. Rocco recorded a fifth at Stafford and a win at Waterford. Matt Bowling, who races at the South Boston Speedway in Virginia, has led the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings the entire year. Bowling did not win last weekend but had enough of a cushion to sew up the national title.

In regular Friday night NASCAR racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway the final Friday night event before the season ending NAPA Fall Final next weekend on October 1-2 was staged. It was a banner night for Glen Reen as he scored his first career victories in both the SK Modified® and Late Model feature events. Rowan Pennink finished the SK Modified® feature in 8th place which was good enough to make him the SK Modified® champion for the second consecutive season. Other feature winners were Daniel Wesson in the SK Light feature, Justin Bren in the Limited Late Model feature, Brandon Michael in the DARE Stock feature, and Noah Korner in the Legend Cars feature.

A restart following a lap 21 caution saw the inside line get bogged down with allowed Glen Reen to move into the lead with Jeff Baral in second and Woody Pitkat in third. Ron Williams, who had been leading, faded to fourth with Eric Berndt in fifth behind him. Keith Rocco and Rowan Pennink were side by side for sixth place.

With 10 laps to go, Reen was in command with Baral in second. Pitkat and Williams were side by side for third with Berndt, Rocco, Ted Christopher, and Pennink lined up behind them. Reen was starting to pull away from the train being led by Baral that consisted of Baral, Pitkat, Berndt, Rocco, Williams, Christopher, and Pennink with 5 laps to go. Reen, who started 22nd, led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® win of the 2016 season and his second win of the night to go along with his Late Model feature win. Baral finished second with Pitkat, Berndt, and Rocco rounding out the top-5.

The New London-Waterford Speedbowl wrapped up its Saturday night series weekly racing. Keith Rocco recorded his seventh SK Modified victory of the season. On the final Saturday night weekly show of the 2016 season it was the track’s all-time winningest driver, Keith Rocco, shining over the field to win the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. bringing his track win total to 134 wins, 80 of those in an SK Modified. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 233 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 43 at Stafford Speedway.

In other events Saturday, Jason Palmer won the Late Model feature, Corey Barry won the SK Light Modified feature, Monte Gibbs was victorious in the Limited Sportsman feature, Pete Zaikarite won the Mini Stock feature, Dillon Spain scored victory in the Legends feature and Ted Christopher won the Pro Four Modified feature.

Following a restart with 31 laps left to run, Rocco got under Todd Owen for the lead off of turn four. Two laps later Diego Monahan moved to second place. With 21 laps left the caution flew again when Bo Gunning, deep in the field, sent Adam Gada into the turn two wall. After a long green flag run the race was slowed again when Monahan spun from second place and collected Ted Christopher in turn two.

Under caution Owen gave up second place to go to the pits, moving Matt Galko behind Rocco and Ronnie Williams to third. Williams got by Galko for second on a restart with five laps remaining, but the caution flew again with two laps left when Gunning sent Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. spinning deep in the field in turn four. Gunning was parked from the field at that point for over aggressive driving.

On the final restart Rocco was able to check out easily and it was Galko getting by Williams for second. Joey Gada and Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine for twin 50’s that were run as part of the Beech Ridge Fall Final. For the second time this season, at speedways in the State of Maine, Anthony Nocella, of Woburn, Massachusetts, and Jon McKennedy, of E. Chelmsford, Massachusetts, each captured VMRS 50-lap feature races.

In the first 50-lap go, Nocella started 12th in a 19 car field, and smoothly worked his way to the front besting early race leader Richard Savary and Todd Annarummo at the checkered flag. Woody Pitkat and Jon McKennedy, rounded out the top five. The win was Nocella’s fourth of the season and his sixth VMRS win.

In the second 50-lap race, McKennedy rolled off in the seventh starting spot quickly making his way to the point with Nocella in hot pursuit from his 11th starting position. Annarummo moved into third where he would finish. McKennedy would nail down his seventh win of the year and 22nd career series victory. Les Hinckley and Donnie Lashua finished fourth and fifth.

Both races were caution flag free and run off in 13-minutes. The next event for the VMRS will be at the Lee USA Speedway on October 8 & 9.

In a somewhat related matter it has been announced that series sponsor, The Valenti Auto Group of Mystic, CT has purchased McGill Chevrolet located in Pawcatuck (Stonington) CT.

In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action at the South Boston Speedway in Virginia, James Civali passed Danny Bohn on Lap 107 and remained out front the rest of the way to score his first tour win since 2010 and second at South Boston Speedway in the South Boston 150. Civali held off Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Bonsignore over the final 20 laps of the race to win the first caution-free southern tour race since 2006. Bonsignore scored his best finish to date coming home second with George Brunnhoelzl third, Bohn fourth and points leader Burt Myers completing the top five.

In action at the Riverhead Raceway Shawn Solomito and Kyle Soper were the winners of the twin 30 lap Modified features run at the east end Long Island oval. Track owners Eddie and Connie Partridge announced that Solomito and his car owner Wayne Anderson were the NASCAR Modified Track Champions for 2016.

With all the poor reviews that NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series events were getting local New England standout Late Model driver Jeff Rocco stated a good point that maybe NASCAR should consider. “Put them back on bias ply tire at tracks a mile and down, mandatory 4 inch ride height and mandatory front spring rate of 900IB or more”. Let the guys get back up on the wheel. When NASCAR went to radial tires the top divisions events became boring. Maybe that’s one of the reasons that less than half the seats are filled at many events.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Martin Truex Jr. came back from a cut right rear tire on lap 69 to win the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon, the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Erik Jones secured the top seed in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase for the Championship by picking up his fourth win of the season at Chicagoland

Last year, 2020, The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80, the fourth and final Open Modified event of the 2020 season. The previous 3 Open 80 winners this season were Marcello Rufrano in the July 18 Bud Light 80, Keith Rocco in the August 7 NAPA 100, and Ronnie Williams in the August 21 Lincoln Tech 80. The nights program also included Stafford’s regular divisions.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing action on somewhat cool night the action was fast and furious as Keith Rocco scored his 5th win of 2020 in the SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray scored his 5th win of 2020 in the Late Model feature, Alexander Pearl notched his 3rd win of 2020 in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand scored his 6th win of 2020 in the Limited Late Model feature, and Meghan Fuller took down her second win of 2020 in the Street Stock feature. Woody Pitkat survived numerous late restarts to hold off all challengers and win the Twisted Tea Open Modified 80.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper Todd Owen was looking to make it three in a row until a lap 35 restart when third place runner Mike Christopher Jr drilled him to the point to where he lost control and had to lift before hitting the wall. While all this was happening Rocco scooted into the lead and ran without incident the rest of the way. Stephen Kopcik finished second with Chase Dowling, Teddy Hodgdon, and Ron Williams rounding out the top-5.

In the Twisted Tea Open 80. Woody Pitkat took the lead from Todd Owen following a lap 63 restart. but Swanson got into the turn 4 wall to bring the caution back out before a lap could be completed, which put Owen back in the lead for the next restart. Pitkat again took the lead from Owen on the restart with Ronnie Williams also getting by Owen to take second. Owen faded into third with Joey Cipriano in fourth and Matt Galko in fifth. A spin by Keith Rocco in turn 2 brought the caution back out with 65 laps complete.

Williams powered his way by Pitkat on the restart to take over the race lead. Owen and Cipriano were side by side for third with Cam McDermott in fifth. Owen cleared Cipriano on lap-68 for third while Williams was starting to stretch out his advantage over Pitkat at the front of the pack. Pitkat came back and charged his way back into the lead on lap-72 with Owen third, Cipriano fourth, and Craig Lutz fifth. The caution came back out with 73 laps complete for a spin by Richard Savary in turn 2.

Pitkat charged into the lead on the restart but behind him the cars of Anthony Flannery, Kopec, and Mike Gervais all spun in turn 1 to bring the caution back out and eliminate Pitkat’s pass for the lead. Pitkat again took the lead back under green with Cipriano working his way into second. Matt Galko was third but he lost third to Swanson on lap-75 and Owen was fifth. Williams had fallen back to sixth but he spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 75 laps complete.

Pitkat took the lead and Galko shot into second on the restart, with Lutz taking third. Swanson took fourth and Owen got around Cipriano on lap-77 to move into fifth. Swanson spun in turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 77 laps complete. Galko got loose on the restart and fell back to fourth as Pitkat took the lead and Eric Goodale and Cipriano were side by side for second. Goodale got clear as the cars came to the white flag. Goodale made one last charge on the final lap but Pitkat was just strong enough to hold him off to win. Goodale finished second. Cipriano finished third with Galko and Rocco rounding out the top-5.

The New London Waterford Speedbowl presented the Bob Potter Memorial 102 on Saturday night. Potter is fourth overall on the all time winners list with 94 victories at the speedbowl. During his racing career at the Speedbowl he was the Modified Champion three times and the SK Modified Champion three times. He was also a five time SK Modified Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway. He recorded 24 wins at Stafford and also won at Thompson. Potter had much of his success with car owners Roger Bonnville, Howard Jiggs Beetham and Art Barry. He was also inducted into the NEAR Hall of Fame. Potter had the unique ability to read and feel a Modified race chassis and could communicate his feelings to his car owners.

The Potter Memorial was the centerpiece of a memorable night of competition at the Speedbowl. The Potter Memorial, honoring Bob Potter, winner of six Modified titles and Waterford and 94 victories, was dominated early by Kyle James. Jordan grabbed the lead at the midway point of the race and was cruising until Rocco. starting 16th in the 28-car field, roared through the pack to challenge.

The two traded the lead until Jordan blasted his way to front for keeps. It was his second win of the season, worth $5,100, the biggest payday of Jordan’s career. “You really don’t beat Keith Rocco,” Jordan said. “You just come to the track with a good car and hope its good enough.” It was during the final laps as Rocco’s comeback bid fell short. “I started pretty far back in the field and by the time I got to the front, my car was used up,” said Rocco, after settling for second. Rob Janovic Jr. came alive in the second half of the race to finish third. Cory DiMatteo finished fourth with Andrew Molleur, fifth. Sixth thru tenth was Todd Owen, Matt Hirschman, Chase Dowling, Joe Gada and Andy Jankowiak.

In other action, Wayne Burroughs captured his second SK Lite Modified win of the season, Ryan Lineham won his first Late Model race at the shoreline oval, Shawn Monahan captured his fourth Sportsman race, Charles Canfield held off Bill Sylvia for a win in the Mini Stocks, Randy Burr was a winner in the Speedbowl truck series and Barry Shaw pulled off a landslide win the Sports Truck feature.

The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island presented the Bubba 150 NASCAR Modified event which took the place of the Whelen Modified Tour event the speedway was forced to cancel. Tom Rogers Jr. set fast time (A new track record) then accepted the challenge from Tom Baldwin to start in the rear. He showed Matt Hirschman like patience even at one point the leaders were in his rear view mirror. When it was time to go he started picking them off one by one until he took the lead at lap 125 and never looked back.

Tom Rogers Jr. played both the role of a riverboat gambler and conservative race car driver perfectly and parlayed it into his 60th career NASCAR Modified victory in The Bubba 150 NASCAR Modified event presented by Oval Speed Unlimited. After smashing his own track record in qualifying with a lap of 11.272 Rogers and his Denise & Ken Darch team made the decision to accept the Tom Baldwin Challenge dropping to the rear of the field and going after the $750 posted by Baldwin Automotive. The challenge was open to any qualifier in the top five who fell to the rear and could win the 150. Rogers and team cleaned up with $5,910 in winnings including $1,950 in Hard Charger award monies including the Tom Baldwin Challenge.

Dylan Slepian was runner-up in his Eastport Feeds Chevy while John Beatty made a late race charge from his lap 100 pit stop to finish third in the TigerLyfe Energy Chevy. Beatty and his MSM Elite Motorsports team were the big winners in the bonus money category earning an estimated $4,500 aside from the posted purse. Michael Rutkoski and Roger Turbush completed the top five.

The Modified Racing Series visited the Star Speedway on Sunday. Anthony Nocella took the win over Matt Swanson, Ronnie Williams, Matt Kimball and Kevin Iannarelli.

Nocella started the race in 10th, and steadily worked his way up through traffic. He took over second place just before a caution on Lap 71. He got around leader Kevin Iannarelli on the restart and never looked back. A caution came on lap 95, but Nocella was able to fend off Matt Swanson in the five-lap shootout to score his 15th victory in the series. Donnie Lashua, Ryan Doucette, Jacob Perry, Max Zachem, and Kurt Vigeant rounded out the top 10.

August 28, 1971 Bob Melnick scored his only win at Stafford as he out dueled Moose Hewitt. Melnick, a member of the imfamous Gasoline Alley Gang from Needham, Mass.,became the seventh driver in the previous eight races to win at Stafford, Melnick took the lead from early leader Bobby Vee going into turn three on the second lap. Three cautions slowed the event. Freddie Schulz, in the Joe Brady No.41 found himself in the wall on lap seven. On the restart Tony Russo and Ed Yerrington tangled on the backstretch. After one more try the field got the green from Frank Sgambato and went non-stop from there. Gene Bergin lost oil pressure in the engine of the Bob Judkins 2x and drove the Armstrong No.1 to a third place finish. Rene Charland, finished fourth in the Bob Johnson No.17 with Fred DeSarro, fifth. Bob Santos, Ray Miller, Leo Cleary, Bernie Miller and Ernie Gahan followed. Gary Ryan won the All American Sportsman feature and Bob Wright Sr. took top honors in the Mini-Midgets.It was Seymour the Clowns’ birthday and Rene Charland presented him with a cream pie, right in the kisser. It was also announced that Pete Zanardi, then a sportswriter for the now defunct Hartford Times had been named as the first New England member of the Pure Oil Panel of Experts.

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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