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

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1946, Legend Bill Schindler was the Midget winner at Seekonk.

Seventy years ago in 1951 Wes Kingsley was the Wednesday night Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Dixon was the Claiming Car winner. Bobby Sprague was the Saturday night Modified winner at the shoreline oval. Bob Barbari was the Claiming Car winner.

Sixty five years ago in 1956, rain prevailed at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Seekonk got their Novice event in which was won by Marty Zengali. The skies cleared in New Jersey on Sunday allowing Tommie Elliott to annex another win.

Sixty years ago in 1961 local favorite George Janoski took the Friday night win on the dirt at Stafford. Joe Rosenfield was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Norwood fell victim to rain.

Fifty five years ago in 1966, Don MacTavish won a season ending 200 lapper on Thursday night at Catamount. Ernie Gahan broke Pete Corey’s stranglehold on victory lane at Stafford on the dirt. Waterford shifted to Sundays. Dick Dunn was the 30 lap Modified winner. Glynn Shafer was the Bomber winner and Red Barton was the Late Model Daredevil winner. Joe Rosenfield was the Class A winner at Seekonk.

Fifty years ago in 1971, the season ender at Islip was rained out and not rescheduled. Stafford ran their season ender on Sunday with Gene Bergin taking the win over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook, Dave Lape and Bugsy Stevens. Thompson ran an open competition event the same day with Bob Santos taking the win over Dick Caso, Tony Russo and Hank Stevens. The Waterford Speedbowl wrapped up their season with Bob Potter taking the win over Ronnie Wycoff. Eddie Hoyle made it three in a row in Class A action at Seekonk.

Forty five years ago in 1976, the NASCAR Modifieds were silent as race teams made ready for the upcoming Race of Champions at Trenton. The Waterford Speedbowl wrapped up their season with twin 25’s which were won by Dick Dunn and Bob Potter. Andy Guimond was the late Model Grand American winner. Bugsy Stevens in the Steve May 15 took the Modified win at Seekonk.

Forty years ago in 1981, Stafford ran the Fall Final for the Modifieds and NASCAR North (Busch North Series) The modified 100 lapper carried a purse of $6,300 and drew 59 cars. Richie Evans was the Modified winner as he beat out Corky Cookman, George Kent, Reggie Ruggiero and Bob Polverari. Jean Paul Cabana was the Late Model winner. It was also on this weekend that the New England Drivers and Owners Club (NEDOC) conducted tire tests which would hopefully lead to a more affordable-longer lasting tire for the Modifieds. Brands tested were Hoosier, M&H, McCreary and Goodyear.

Thirty five years ago in 1986, the modified tour headed for Oxford Plains in Maine. Forty-eight Modifieds and 10,000 fans were on hand as Jim Spencer took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Corky Cookman, Mike Mclaughlin and Brian Ross. Track owner Bob Bahre announced that in 1987,an 18 race NASCAR North-Late Model Series would replace the former Late Model Series that had been headed by Tom Curley. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Tim Richmond took the pole but it was Darrell Waltrip taking the win. Geoff Bodine finished second.

Thirty years ago in 1991, Don Fowler was the Saturday night winner at Waterford. Bob Potter finished second with Jerry Pearl, third. The Fall Final at Stafford ended up being a race that many would talk about for many months. Tom Baldwin, who qualified second and was running in the front all day was caught sleeping on a late race restart and got spun out. Baldwin was given his spot back as NASCAR stated the leader must start the race. Baldwin bulled his way to the front and eventual win. Jamie Tomaino ended up second with Reggie Ruggiero, third. The SK 35 lapper was red checkered after 30 laps when leader Ted Christopher blew his engine and collected Richie Gallup. Bob Potter was awarded the win. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Harry Gant was eight laps short of making it five in a row when he lost his brakes and had to give way to Dale Earnhardt who went on to record the win. Gant held on to finish second.

Twenty five years ago in 1996, it was Tom Baldwin again in victory lane at Stafford. As was his previous Fall Final victory, this one wasn’t too popular with the fans as he was greeted by the Bronx Cheer in victory lane. With two laps to go in the 300-lap contest, the outspoken Long Island driver spun Reggie Ruggiero out, causing a caution. Going over the 300-lap mark, Baldwin slammed into Tim Connolly, knocking him out of the way, and went on to take the win. Connelly finished second and was followed by Ruggiero and Steve Park. All on the lead lap. Rounding out the top five was Mike Ewanitsko, one lap down. Jim Broderick was the SK Modified winner, giving him two for two on the weekend as he won at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night over Steve Chowanski and Bob Potter. In Winston Cup action it was the final event to be run at North Wilkesboro. Ted Musgrave was the pole sitter but it was Jeff Gordon taking the win with Dale Earnhardt finishing second. Dirt driver Billy Pauch scored his 500th career win at the Bridgeport, N.J. Speedway. On a sad note, former driver and car builder Banjo Mathews passed away as did former New York driver Dick Nephew.

Twenty years ago in 2001, John Brouwer Jr. won the final Saturday night modified event at the Waterford Speedbowl. Mark LaJunesse finished second. Dennis Gada finished third and sewed up his third modified driving title in a row. It was the fifth championship title for car owner Harry Wyant. Wynatt’s other track titles at Waterford came with Jim Broderick driving. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Stafford for the Fall Final. Mike Ewanitsko was the Busch Pole sitter but the day belonged to Ted Christopher who all but dominated the event. Starting from the outside pole, Christopher jumped out to the lead at the start and held the point until pitting for tires and fuel on lap 90. Jerry Marquis inherited the lead at that point and held it thru lap 104 when Christopher blasted his way into the lead. From then on it was a no contest event. During the late stages, Marquis faded to third with Rick Fuller moving into the runner-up spot but Fuller had all he could hold on to because of blistering tires. Fuller hung on for second and was followed by Marquis, Ed Flemke Jr. and Mike Ewanitsko. Kerry Malone was the SK-Modified winner over Lloyd Agor and Jeff Baral. In Winston Cup action at Kansas City, Jeff Gordon took the win in an event that saw many crashes caused by flat tires. Jeff Green won the Grandnational event.

Fifteen years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Thirty-eight cars were on hand hoping to qualify for the 150 lap Fall Final. Todd Szegedy took the Busch Pole with a time of 18.091-second lap around the half mile oval. Donny Lia was second fastest with a time of 18.190 seconds. Rounding out the top five were Tony Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Chuck Hossfeld. In the redraw for starting positions Szegedy drew the pole with Hirschman drawing the outside pole. Heavy monsoon type rain forced NASCAR and the Arute family to postpone the Fall Final to Saturday, October 28.

The Thompson Speedway closed out their Thursday Night Thunder Series. Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT. turned his rookie Sunoco Modified season into a track championship and ultimately the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series Region Four Championship. Along with the glory will come a check for $25,000. Mini Stocker Shelly Perry of Ashaway, RI wrote quite a story of her own on Thursday night. Perry became the first female champion in the 66-year history of the Thompson International Speedway. Both the Sunoco Modified and Late Model divisional championships were decided with a pair of 20-lappers. Marc Palmisano of Hadley, MA swept Late Model twins to erase a thirty-two-point deficit in a single night to steal the championship. Joe Lemay of Millville, MA and Tommy Cravenho of Raynham, MA shared Sunoco Modified victories. Pro Stock checkers flew for Fred Astle, Jr. of N. Westport, MA. Jeff Zuidema had already secured the 2006 Pro Stock championship. In support division action, Ed Puleo of Branford was the Limited Sportsman feature winner, Brad Caddick ran to the Mini Stock checkers and Kurt Vigeant won back-to-back TIS Modified honors. Titles went to Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman division and Roger Larson, Jr. in the TIS Modifieds.

Joe Lemay of Millville, MA saved the best for last in the opening twin event for the Sunoco Modifieds. He ran strong throughout the 20-lap feature but poured it on in the closing lap. Lemay hounded early leader Jeff Malave and made the winning move on the final lap. The first SK Modified feature was led to green by Buddy Charette followed by Keith Rocco. Malave quickly moved into the third position on the start. Malave drove into the lead to complete lap two. Rocco followed Malave into the runner-up spot as Charette faded. Pitkat ran comfortably just outside the top-five. Lemay got around Rocco to take over the runner-up spot. Jimmy Blewett and Tommy Cravenho followed through as well. With Malave handily up front and Joe Lemay solidly in second the battling was for the third spot between Blewett, Cravenho, and Bert Marvin. Blewett was able to maintain his position as the trio ran under a blanket. Lemay, who had been slowing reeling in Malave, came on strong as the laps began to wind down. With only five laps remaining Lemay caught Malave. He made a bid on the lead briefly on lap 16 but settled back in line. There was a scary moment for point-leader Pitkat when third-running Blewett dropped off the pace nearly collecting Pitkat and Cravenho. Pitkat was able to maneuver his way through and into third place. Cravenho avoided any major contact as well. On lap 17, the first caution of event flew when Stephen Masse stalled in turn two-saving Blewett. On the restart, Malave was able to maintain his lead over Lemay. Pitkat sat in third followed closely by Cravenho while a fully recovered Blewett pressured Marvin for the fifth spot. On the final lap Lemay dove to the underneath entering turn three to steal the lead away from Malave and ultimately the win. It was the second win of the season for Lemay. Malave chopped a mere two points of Pitkat’s point lead as the two ran under the checkers second and third respectively. Cravenho and Marvin rounded out the top five. The Sunoco Modified divisional championship was decided with second 20 lap feature that went non-stop. The drivers went heads-up to start the nightcap. Malave led the opening lap from his second –place-starting position. Lemay dropped back on the initial start; leaving Malave to battle Cravenho and Blewett. Cravenho grabbed the top-spot from Malave on lap four. Blewett started to pressure Malave for second on lap five. Rocco ran third followed by Pitkat inside the top-five. The top three of Cravenho, Malave and Blewett ran nose to tail. Malave peeked out of line in turn two on lap eight looking for the lead but settled back into second. He made the same move on Cravenho in turn four and made the pass stick. At the halfway marker, Malave led Cravenho, Blewett, Rocco and Pitkat. Blewett got along-side Cravenho to complete lap 11 but could not make the pass stick. On the same lap Cravenho got a good run on Malave. With Malave out front it was a three-car battle for the top spot. Double-file lapped traffic changed the complexion of the race for Malave, who got caught on the outside, losing positions to both Cravenho and Blewett. Rocco dogged Malave for the third spot. At the end of 20-laps, Cravenho had run to his third feature win of the season in the green-to-checker finale. Blewett came home second followed by Malave and Keith Rocco. Pitkat cashed in on his fifth-place finish to become the champ.

The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway was supposed to close out their season with the Fall Final but Mother Nature ruled the roost, putting the season ender on hold until October 28. The sun shone bright on Saturday, which allowed a full day of preliminary action. The 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature took the green flag with Corky Hinze taking the lead ahead of Mike Sweeney, Ed Charette, Michael Chaves, and Joey Ferrigno. Back in the pack, the race for the championship was on between George Nocera, Jr. and Kevin Gambacorta. With 7 laps complete, Nocera’s championship bid looked to take a disastrous turn as he spun in turn 2 to bring out a caution. On the restart, Nocera drove through the frontstretch grass, but was able to keep going. Up front, Hinze continued to hold the lead, with Andrew Durand moving into second. A caution for a multi-car spin with 10-laps complete slowed the action. Durand powered around Hinze for the lead on the restart, with Bill Davis moving into third. A spin by Pete Cayer brought the caution out with 13 laps complete. Under the caution, Durand had a flat right front tire, which brought him to pit road and ended his race. Hinze was back out front as the race resumed, with Davis on his heels. Joey Ferrigno moved into third, but a near spin on lap-17 sent him back through the field as Nocera took over the third position after his early race troubles. With Nocera third, Kevin Gambacorta was 10th, one position short of where he needed to be for the championship. But on the last lap of the race, Gambacorta picked up the position that he needed, and he clinched the championship by 2 points as Hinze scored his first career feature win. Davis finished second, with Nocera, Charlie Newman, and Rob Dow rounding out the top-5. When the green flag flew on the final DARE Stock feature event of the 2006 season, Norm Sears, of Manchester, became the 2006 DARE Stock track champion. Duane Provost took the early race lead ahead of Jeff Hubbell, with Rob Lawrence, Vince Gambacorta, and Tom Stirk in tow.

The SK Modified 21 Means 21 feature took the green with Lloyd Agor taking the lead ahead of Kirk Zervas and Bo Gunning. Gunning quickly worked his way around Zervas for second, and set his sights on Agor and the lead of the race. Gunning made a pass for the lead on lap-8, but as he took the lead, the caution came out, putting Agor back out front. Gunning made the pass for the lead on lap-9 in the same fashion that he took the lead from Agor previously. Gunning had to hold off the field on two separate restart situations, but he went unchallenged to the checkered flag. Shawn Monahan finished second, with Rowan Pennink, Agor, and Tom Rogers, Jr. rounding out the top-5. The Late Model 16 feature took the green flag with Jay Stuart sertting the early pace ahead of Scott Foster, Jr., Chuck Docherty, and Mike O’Sullivan. The race ran green to checkered and Stuart went unchallenged as he pulled away from the field to cruise to victory. Foster finished second, with Docherty, O’Sullivan, and Patrick Townsend rounding out the top-5.

In other weekend action Ruckersville, Va’s Phillip Morris sewed up the 2006 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series National Championship after winning the 100 lap NASCAR Late Model Stock feature at Caraway Speedway. Kevin Harvick’s victory in a caution-filled Yellow Transportation 300 at the Kansas City Speedway also made him the first Busch driver to win seven races in a season since Dale Earnhardt Jr. did it en route to the 1998 title. Harvick had five victories when he won the title in 2001. Tony Stewart ran out of gas on the last lap of the Nextel Cup event but still managed to coast to victory at the Kansas City Speedway. Ruben Pardo won the season ending Busch East event at Lime Rock. Mike Olsen took the series championship.

Ten years ago in 2011, , the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH. Steady rain greeted competitors as they arrived at the track for tech inspection. The skies cleared on Thursday afternoon, allowing qualifying. Ron Silk, looking to get his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points lead back, was the top qualifier of the 29 cars on hand. Silk had a top lap of 29.764 seconds (127.967 mph) around the 1.058-mile oval. It was the fifth career pole for the Norwalk, Conn., driver, who won at the ‘Magic Mile’ in 2009. Eric Beers qualified second with a lap of 29.793 (127.842), followed by Justin Bonsignore at 29.799 (127.816). NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman, the defending race winner, and Erick Rudolph rounded out the top five. Rowan Pennink, Matt Hirschman, Todd Szegedy, Woody Pitkat and rookie Patrick Emerling completed the top 10. Bobby Santos, who incurred a flight delay and Ted Christopher who was absent because of personal reasons, did not take time which forced them to take provisionals.

The New Hampshire weather on Saturday was shakey to say the least and had an adverse effect on the crowd, especially those who chose just to attend Saturday’s events. Ron Silk pulled away from the field on a green-white-checkered finish to win the New Hampshire 100 and take back to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points lead. Silk got a push from Todd Szegedy on the final restart to open some ground on the rest of the field and was unchallenged over the final two laps. Szegedy, who won the tour race at New Hampshire in July, finished second followed by an outstanding run by Justin Bonsignore who finished third.

Ted Christopher came from a 29th starting spot to finish fourth with outside pole sitter Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Erick Rudolph, Zane Zeiner, Mike Stefanik, Matt Hirschman and Eric Goodale. Twenty one of the original 29 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who had problems was Rowan Pennink who was robbed of a top three finish when his car developed fuel delivery problems in the final moments. In the blink of an eye, Pennink went from running second to Silk on lap 97 to 22nd, one lap down, at the finish. Eric Berndt had a multitude of problems as he finished 23rd, four laps down. Wade Cole, who had been running in 23rd spot, broke an axle after completing 81 laps and ended up 24th. Richie Pallai, Jr and James Civali were eliminated in a wreck on lap 65. Bobby Santos III appeared to be down on power on a restart causing cars behind him to bunch up and make contact. Santos managed to remain on the lead lap, finishing 18th while Pallai ended up 25th and Civali, 26th. A big disappointment was the fact that Woody Pitkat suffered engine problems and finished 27th. Pitkat, who was told by his car owner Don King that he was shutting down his race team, had qualified ninth and had led at two different points, made his final ride and finish in the King Car a bitter pill to swallow. Ryan Newman, who was looking for absolution after being disqualified in a previous event with an illegal engine, dropped out on lap 28 with a blown engine. Newman, whom many thought would stink up the show, had qualified fourth, was running sixth, when his power plant died. Finishing 29th and first out was Jake Marosz who had a handling problem.

The actual race took 1 hour 13 minutes to complete, not counting a slight rain delay on Lap 43. There were four cautions for 25 laps and there were 17 lead changes among five drivers. In addition to Silk, Pennenk and Pitkat, Erick Beers and Bob Santos led laps.

In Whelen Southern Modified Tour action south of the Mason-Dixon line George Brunnhoelzl III’s fourth with of the 2011 campaign moved him one step closer to a second NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship as he took home the Tri-County 150 Saturday at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, NC.

After earning the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the evening, Brunnhoelzl led early on and the regained the lead from Jason Myers with a decisive pass on lap 73. The 2009 tour champion put it on cruise control from there for his 10th career victory. Brunnhoelzl stretched his lead by more than 10 car lengths as the end neared, but just the second caution of the event came out with five laps to go to negate the significant advantage. The West Babylon, N.Y., native was able to hold off his Andy Seuss, his teammate – on the final restart to seal the deal. Seuss settled for second followed by last year’s Tri-County winner Burt Myers, Brandon Ward and Jason Myers in the top five.

With the victory, Brunnhoelzl extended his lead in the championship standings by 20 points on Seuss Saturday night. Sixth through tenth were Tim Brown, L.W. Miller, Austin Pack, Renee Dupuis and Frank Fleming. There were 18 cars on hand.

In NASCAR weekly racing action at Thompson rain again prevailed.

With two events remaining on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series schedule Ron Silk, with 2182 points led Todd Szegedy by a mere 8 points. Rowan Pennink sat in the third spot, 164 behind the leader. Eric Beers and Doug Coby rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Justin Bonsignore, Bobby. Santos III, Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Erick Rudolph.

At the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco put the previous weekend’s disappointment behind him as he padded his point lead and picked up his 11th feature win of the year in the SK Modifieds®. Also scoring victories on the night were Al Stone, who won his sixth Street Stock feature of the season, Charles Canfield notched his first career victory in the Mini Stocks and Chris Correll captured his first career SK Light Modified checkered flag. In the touring NEMA races, Russ Stoehr won for the second time at the Speedbowl in 2011 while Anthony Nocella scored victory in the companion NEMA Lite feature race.

George Silbermann, NASCAR Vice President of Regional and Touring Series, officially notified Philip Morris that he had won his fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship based on his standout season in an asphalt Late Model. To claim the title, Morris won nine of his last 10 races. He closed out his second track title at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and then went to his old home track, Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. and won his 20th race of the season on Sept. 10. Morris edged defending national champion Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Conn., 789-778. Morris finished with 20 wins in 28 starts. Rocco, who started 51 events, won 24.

In addition to his championship run last year, Rocco finished second to Morris in 2009 and fourth in each of the two previous years.

The New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame announced the Class 2012. Driver Reggie Ruggiero and car owner Mario Fiore, at one time a powerful force on the modified scene, head up the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame class of 2012. Driver Joey Kourafas, car owner/mechanic Jim Jorgensen and track owners Irene Venditti and Donald Hoenig are also members of the class.

The group, along with three choices from the Veterans Committee, would be inducted at the NEAR’s 15th annual banquet Sunday Jan. 29 at the LaRenaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor , CT

In Sprint Cup racing at Loudon, Tony Stewart made it two in a row as he led a pack that included four other Chase drivers in the top 10. Brad Keselowski was second, Jeff Gordon was fourth, Matt Kenseth was sixth and Carl Edwards finished eighth. Gordon rocketed from 11th to sixth in the standings and was still a legitimate contender for his fifth championship.

Five years ago in 2016, Martin Truex jr was the NASCAR cup winner at Dover, Deleware.

Last year, 2020, Good News for the state of Connecticut race tracks. Gov. Ned Lamont announced that the state will move into phase 3 of reopening on Oct. 8, Outdoor event venues like theaters, stadiums and racetracks will be able to increase their capacities from 25% to 50%.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of double thunder. On Friday the speedway hosted their regular card of weekly racing. On Saturday the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made their first and only visit to the Arute family owned speedway.

In action on Friday, with all 5 of its divisions in feature competition. Stephen Kopcik used a mid-race charge to the front of the field to come away with his first SK Modified® victory of the 2020 season, Wayne Coury, Jr. picked up his second Late Model win of 2020, Alexander Pearl won his 2nd consecutive and fourth overall race of 2020 in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement scored his first win of the 2020 season in the Limited Late Model feature, and Meghan Fuller notched her 2nd consecutive and third overall feature win of 2020 in the Street Stock feature.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper, Kopcik took the lead following a restart on lap 23 with Mike Christopher in second. Todd Owen was third followed by Tony Membrino, Gervais, David Arute, Andrew Molleur, and Keith Rocco, who had recovered from an early race wreck at the start of the race. With 10 laps to go it was still Kopcik in command followed by Owen, Christopher, Gervais, Membrino, Arute, Rocco, Molleur, Vassar, and Hodgdon. Kopcik cruised to his first win of the 2020 season with Owen, Christopher, Gervais, and Membrino rounding out the top-5.

Stafford welcomed the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for its lone visit of the 2020 season on Saturday, September 26 for the NAPA Auto Parts 150. Ronnie Silk came into the race as one of the hottest NWMT drivers with 3 consecutive podium finishes and he continued his hot streak by winning the NAPA Auto Parts 150 for his second win of the 2020 season and his 4th career NWMT win at Stafford.

Silk enjoyed a dominating day at Stafford that began with his #85 car being the fastest car in practice to claim the number 1 pit stall for the NAPA Auto Parts 150. Silk qualified second, out of 26 cars, behind polesitter Eric Goodale and led the first 52 laps of the NAPA 150 before coming to pit road for his first of 2 pit stops during the race. Following Silk’s second pit stop of the race on lap-102, he restarted in 7th place and he moved up to second by the time the caution came back out on lap-117 for spins by Eric Goodale and Matt Galko who spun on the backstretch. Silk powered his way around race leader Chase Dowling on the ensuing lap-124 restart to retake the lead and he slowly pulled away from the field to lead the final 26 laps and take the checkered flag. Doug Coby finished second with NWMT points leader Justin Bonsignore rounding out the podium finishers. Max McLaughlin finished fourth in his first career Stafford start with Chase Dowling rounding out the top-6. Finishing 6th through 10th was Jon McKennedy, Ronnie Williams, Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Swanson, and Tyler Rypkema.

Nine caution periods slowed the event that concluded just before 7:30pm. The first caution flew on lap seven when Calvin Carroll spun on the backstretch entering turn four. Carroll restarted and finished 15th, on the lead lap. The second caution, on lap 34, was for Walter Sutcliff who spun in turn four. He restarted and finished 18th, one lap down. The third caution flew on lap 49 when Joey Mucciacciaro spun between turns three and four. He restared and finished 14th on the lead lap. The fourth yellow waved on lap 64 when Craig Lutz ran into Sam Rameau and collected Dave Sapienza and Matt Galko in turn four. Lutz continued to finish 13th and Rameau ended up 12th, both on the lead lap. Sapienza ended up 21st and Galko, 23rd. Caution 5 was displayed for J.B.Fortin who lost his brakes and ended up in the turn 4 fence on lap 78. Fortin was credited with 25th spot. The sixth caution was displayed for Chris Pasteryak who brushed the wall in turn three on lap 84. His crew made repairs and he finished on the lead lap in 16th spot. Caution 7 was displayed for Rob Summers who took a nasty shot into the turn four wall on lap 99. Summers was credited with 24th spot at the finish. Gary Byington spun in turn 2 for the eighth caution on lap 112. He parked it on lap 118 with handling problems, finishing in 20th spot. The ninth and final caution came on lap 122 when a wreck involving Eric Goodale, Matt Galko and Timmy Solomito occurred in turn 3 and 4. Goodale was credited with 22nd spot, Galko with 23rd spot and Solomito with 11th spot.

Next up for the Whelen Modifieds is the season ending World Series at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway on October 11. Justin Bonsignore hold a slim 27 point lead over Doug Coby. Sixteen points behind Coby is Jon McKennedy. Craig Lutz and Ron Silk round out the top five.

In addition to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Stafford presented feature events for the SK Lights, Limited Late Models, and Vintage All-Stars. Scoring feature wins were Jonathan Puleo in the SK Light non-points feature and Andrew Durand in the Limited Late Model non-points feature while Scott Anderson led all 15 laps to win the Vintage All-Stars feature event.

The New London Waterford Speedbowl presented a full night of racing. Timmy Jordan made it two for two as he won the 35-lap SK Modified feature. Andrew Molleur was second with Joey Gada third. Congratulations to Ryan Morgan who won the 30-lap Late Model feature. Win #2 at the speed bowl this season. At 11 am the car had no motor in it because there was a had a motor issue from last week, Jason Palmer was second with Tyler Tomassi, third. John O’Sullivan won the 25-lap SK Light Modified feature followed by third generation racer,

Jacob Perry who finished second and Robert Bloxsom III was third. Shawn Monahan went pole to pole to victory in the 25-lap Sportsman feature. Al Stone III was second and Jason Chicolas third.

In other action, Mark Panaroni captured the 25-lap Mini Stock feature. Tommy Silva was second and Charles Canfield third. David Darling of Seekonk, Mass. won the 150-lap Granite State Pro Stock feature. Giovanni Reggerio scored victory in the 25-lap Legends feature.

The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island continued their weekly racing program. In the 50-lap NASCAR Modified feature event Dylan Slepian sat victorious in the winners circle for the second time in three weeks. Before claiming his third career win Slepian would have to fend off a hard pressing championship leader in Tom Rogers Jr. in the closing laps. As the laps wore down Rogers was on the attack looking high and low for a lane by Slepian so he could collect his second win in a row. However Slepian was equal to all challenges thrown his way by Rogers and when the checker flag flew earned a hard fought victory. Kyle Soper, the defending NASCAR Modified track champion finished third in the Eastport Feeds Chevy of Wayne Anderson. CJ Lehmann was fourth for his best effort of 2020 with Chris Young completing the top five.

The Lake Erie Speedway in Pennsylvania hosted the annual Race of Champions on Sept 27. Matt Hirschman continued his domination of the event after he came back from a crash on lap 35. The sixth straight and eighth overall RoC 250 win, along with the $12,570 check, did not come easy for ‘Big Money Matt’. That crash was the result of a stopped Jody Buckley on the backstretch causing a stack-up when then leader Tommy Catalano slowed to avoid a collision, with Hirschman and Patrick Emerling receiving damage.

With both driver’s crews helping them to rally back into contention, along with sound pit strategies, Hirschman eventually ran down Catalano for the lead in the late laps. Hirschman then held off Emerling who finished runner-up ahead of Austin Beers who rounded the podium after a late race charge of his own.

In victory lane, Hirschman showed a glimpse of pride in the work that he and his team have done in the last decade in this legendary race. Emerling had his hands full on the final two laps, holding off young up and comer Eric Beers who impressed many in attendance with a great drive through the field after being one of the later drivers to take fresh rubber. Austin Kochenash and Jon McKennedy rounded the Top 5, while Tommy Catalano, Calvin Carroll, Chris Finocchario, Andy Jankowiak, and Timmy Catalano completed the Top 10.

September 6, 1971 Modified history was made on Monday at Stafford when Gene Bergin in the Bobby Judkins Pinto bodied 2x broke the track qualifying record and became the first Modified to turn the half mile in the 20.00 second bracket. Due to the efforts of Stafford owner Jack Arute, the Pinto body was made legal for NASCAR Modified competition and would be the beginning of the end of pre-war coupes used as bodies for Modifieds. Arute posted a then unheard of $12,000 purse. Bergin, who led every lap, cruised to a convincing win over Fred DeSarro. Bergin collected $3610 for his efforts. Max Berrier, Bugs Stevens and Eddie Flemke rounded out the top five. With the exception of DeSarro, Bergin had lapped the. field. That event was the official start of what would be known as the Pinto Revolution. The event drew 66 Modifieds including National Championship contender Jerry Cook. Cook failed to finish as his engine blew on lap 164.

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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