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

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1951 Don Collins was the 25 lap Modified feature winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

Sixty five years ago in 1956 the New London-Waterford Speedbowl had a 100 lapper on Sunday afternoon which was won by Don Collins. Leo Cleary, in his first ever appearance at the shoreline oval, was the 15 lap non-Ford winner. Pete Frazee was the winner at Old Bridge in New Jersey

Sixty years ago in 1961 saw rain prevail at the Waterford Speedbowl.

Fifty five years ago in 1966 the Norwood Arena closed out the season with the running of the Bay State 200 which was split into twin 100 lap segments. Fred DeSarro was the winner of the first 100 lapper over Gene Bergin. Leo Cleary won the nite cap over Fats Caruso and Eddie Flemke.

Fifty years ago in 1971, The Race of Champions at Langhorne and the Cardinal 500 at Martinsville went head to head because of a previous rain out at Langhorne. Many of the NASCAR Modified contingents at Langhorne withdrew their entries as they were committed to the Martinsville event. Needless to say, both events went off as planned. At Langhorne, it was to be the last ever event to be held at the one mile circle track and it was Roger Treichler taking the win over Jim Shampine. Bob Merz finished third with Graeme Bolia and Lou Lazzaro rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Mike Loescher, Will Cagle, Chuck Boos, Sonny Seamon and Gary Iulg. Among those who chose not to go to Martinsville were Ray Hendrick who finished 32nd, Geoff Bodine who finished 27th and Charlie Jarzombek who finished 26th. Richie Evans, finished 28th. The Race of Champions, a fall tradition since 1951, would move to the 1-1/2 mile Trenton Fairgrounds Speedway for the 1972 event. At Martinsville, Fred DeSarro took the win over Jimmy Hensley, Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. Sonny Hutchins was the Late Model Sportsman winner. With the NASCAR Modified season now over, Jerry Cook was declared the division champion. Finishing second in the point standings was Fred DeSarro with Bugsy Stevens, Bernie Miller and Dave Lape rounding out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Billy Harman, Dick Fowler, Denis Giroux, Billy Hensley and Lou Lazzaro.

The Seekonk Speedwy closed out their season with a 100 lapper which was won by Johnny Tripp.

Forty five years ago in 1976, all was quiet.

Forty years ago in 1981, all was quiet.

Thirty five years ago in 1986, the World Series was run under blustery conditions. Wes Rosner suffered severe head injuries when his late model hit the first turn wall driver’s side first. Rosner would survive but his racing career would be over. Corky Cookman started on the pole of the 50 lap modified feature and led the entire distance to record the victory. Mike Mclaughlin finished second and was followed by Jim Spencer, Jamie Tomaino, Brian Ross and Tony Jankowiac. Kerry Malone was the SK modified winner and Dick Houlihan was the Mini-Modified winner.

Thirty years ago in 1991, the season ending World Series was on tap. For the 125 lap Featherlite Modified Tour event, Mike Stefanik took the pole. Stefanik re-drew the outside pole but proved to be no match for Rick Fuller who jumped to an early lead. Fuller held the lead until he pitted on lap 65.By the 100 lap mark, Fuller was back in the lead and went on to take the win. Reggie Ruggiero ended up in second spot and was followed by Stefanik, Tom Baldwin, George Kent, Steve Park and Wayne Anderson. Bob Potter was the SK modified winner as he beat out Tom Tagg for top honors. Other winners were Eddie StAngelo in the Pro Stocks, Bentley Warren in the Supers, Nick Fornoro in the Midgets and Chuck Docherty in the Late Models.

Twenty five years ago in 1996, rain played havoc with the World Series at Thompson. Promoter Don Hoenig pulled the plug and rescheduled for the following week.

Twenty years ago in 2001, the Thompson Speedway closed out the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series with the running of the $65,068 World Series 125. One of the biggest crowds in the history of the speedway were on hand as 550 race cars including 55 Modifieds and 16,000 fans which forced the speedway management to close the parking lots one hour before the noon time start. It was a season end showdown for championship honors between Mike Stefanik and Jerry Marquis. Ted Christopher, in his last ride in the Gary Cretty No.25 took the lead from Stefanik on lap 65 and ran away with the event. Stefanik, with Marquis all over him at the end, finished second and wrapped up the division championship, his fifth, which was the first ever for car owner Art Barry. Charlie Pasteryak finished fourth with Tony Hirschman, fifth. The Sunoco-SK Modifieds provided their usual crashing and banging with a surprise ending. Coming off the fourth turn on the final lap, Kerry Malone held a slight lead. Ron Yuhas JR made a gut move to the outside and as the two headed for the stripe Malone attempted to block. Yuhas didn’t lift and the two came together just before the finish line. With Yuhas riding the wall, he and Malone crossed the line together and the race was declared a dead heat. Chuck Docherty ended up third with Ed Flemke JR and Wayne Bellefleur rounding out the top five. At the drivers meeting it was announced that NASCAR would be mandating head and neck restraints for their major divisions and it was only a matter of time when they would be come mandatory at all NASCAR events. In other weekend action, Danny Johnson walked off with $20,000 after winning the DIRT Eastern States 200 at Middletown, N.Y. In Winston Cup action at Talledega Dale Earnhardt JR passed Bobby Labonte on the last lap to take the win. Labonte bumped with Bobby Hamilton who hit the wall and triggered a 16-car wreck. Tony Stewart ended up second.

Ten years ago in 2006, Stafford, Waterford and Thompson were quiet. NASCAR reprimanded Carl Pasteryak and Matt Hirschman, following their actions at the World Series at Thompson, Pasteryak got physical with Rene’ Dupuis and Hirschman got overly vocal with Richard Savory after on-track incidents. Pasteryak, driver of the No. 75 car, was suspended from the next Whelen Modified Tour event and suspended from NASCAR until Oct. 30. He was penalized for violating section 12-4-A of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book: actions detrimental to stock car racing; involved in an altercation with another competitor on the track; verbal abuse to a NASCAR official and failure to follow a directive from a NASCAR official. Hirschman, driver of the No. 59 car, was also penalized for an incident after the race. Hirschman was placed on probation until Dec. 31 for violating section 12-4-A: actions detrimental to stock car racing; failure to follow a directive from a NASCAR official; of the 2006 NASCAR RuleBook.

Matt Kobyluck shed the bridesmaid tag in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown at the Irwindale Speedway in California, scoring a hard-fought victory in the NASCAR Grand National Division feature event while using the new, cost-reducing Grand National “spec” engine under the hood of his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet. Kobyluck, the runner-up in this event in 2004 and 2005, started sixth and took the lead for the final time from fellow Grand National Division, Busch East Series competitor Sean Caisse on a restart with ten laps remaining in the 150-lap race. AutoZone West Series champion Eric Holmes made a run at the win but tangled with Caisse on the final turn, spinning while Caisse held off AutoZone West Series driver Mike David for second. Tracy Gordon of the Busch East Series and Brian Ickler of the AutoZone West Series were fourth and fifth. Kobyluck was one of 11 drivers in the all-star event utilizing the new spec engine technology, which was introduced this season as a cost-saving alternative for NASCAR Grand National Division teams. The spec engine includes a closely-specified set of components to limit costs, while providing competitive performance and durability. The new engines, which are optional, are expected to save teams nearly 50 percent on the cost of their engines.

The southern version of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closed out their season at the Southern National Raceway Park in North Carolina. Junior Miller took the win and his second series championship. Tim Brown finished second. A last minute entry was Chuck Hossfeld in the Roger Hill No.79. Hossfeld started scratch in the 100 lapper and finished fifth.

Les Hinkley won the True Value Modified Series season ender at the Lee Raceway. Andy Seuss finished second with Jimmy Kuhn, third. Dale Evonsion and Bob Goodenough rounded out the top five. Dwight Jarvis was declared the series champion.

At the Martinsville Speedway Jimmie Johnson held off Denny Hamlin to win the Nextel Cup Subway 500. The Busch Series had a week off.

In a somewhat surprise move J&S Motorsports which owns the No. 36 that had been driven by Ted Christopher on the Whelen Modified Tour Series announced that they would part ways with driver Ted Christopher at the end of the 2006 Whelen Modified Tour season. According to car owner, Ed Whelan, this was a mutual agreement. Whelan said, “I wanted to clear the air so that everyone understands that there is no animosity between Ted and I. We’re still friends” Christopher was hired by Whelan to drive for J&S at the third race of this season at Jennerstown in June. Christopher was sixth on the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins list with twenty-six victories that include ten wins in the past two seasons. When asked about his future plans, Whelan responded, “We will run the full Whelen Modified Tour schedule in 2007.” When asked whether he was in negotiation with a driver for 2007, Whelan said, “I’m not planning on talking to anyone before we finish the season.” Before teaming up with Whelen, Christopher drove cars owned by Danbury, CT businessman Jim Galante.

On a sad note it was learned that Bobby Sprague and George Greco Sr had passed away.

Ten years ago in 2011, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series wrapped up their 2011 season at the Thompson Speedway. Ron Silk came into the event with a 59 point lead over Todd Szegedy. Thirty four cars made up the car count. The seat in the Flamingo Motorsports No.16 was still warm after the exit of Mike Stefanik when Ryan Preece strapped in. Preece wasted little time as he adjusted to his new ride in short order as he garnered the pole position for the season ending World Series 150. Preece toured the 5/8 mile oval on 18.634 seconds. Second fastest was Doug Coby who had a time of 18.655 seconds. Stefanik drove the car he normally drives in Modified Racing Series events and qualified17th at 18.901 seconds. Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Bobby Santos rounded out the top five. Point leader Ron Silk qualified 8th fastest. The only casualty was Matt Hirschman who slammed the wall during qualifying. Hirschman was allowed to take a provisional spot.

The World Series drew a total of 273 cars including 34 Whelen Tour Modifieds, 16 Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds, 28 Supers, 22 Super Late Models and 25 Midgets.

The Whelen Modified Tour Series provided some intense drama during the running of the event which didn’t see the championship finalized until the final moments of the event. The drama began on lap 52 when Silk and Tony Ferrante Jr spun and crashed into the first turn wall after hitting some oil that leaked out of the car of Timmy Solomito. While Ferrente suffered the most damage and had to be double hooked to the infield Silk was able to drive away with quite a bit of damage to his left front suspension. Once in his pit box the Eddie Partridge led crew went to work to repair the damage only to have to stop as the field went under a red flag while the oil was cleaned up that was spilled. After a short period the field went back under caution and work resumed on the Silk machine. When Silk finally re-entered the competition on lap 62 he was 10 laps down to the leader, Szegedy and it was thought that all was lost as far as the championship was concerned. Needless to say, Silk and the Partridge team kept digging and because of numerous cautions were awarded free passes under the rules which got them within three laps in arrears of Szegedy. Szegedy still had the title in hand until lap 148 when he got collected when Ken Heagy and Woody Pitkat tangled between turns three and four and collected Szegedy, shearing off his right front wheel which was the deciding factor. Silk finished 16th four laps down with 2,443 points with a 76 point cushion over Szegedy, who finished 25th. Both competitors were deserving of the title but it just wasn’t in the cards for Szegedy, the 2003 champion, to win it. Congratulations to Silk along with his car owners, Eddie and Connie Partridge and their entire race team. Silk and the No. 6 T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet team will be honored as part of the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards Gala on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, N.C.

Glen Reen scored somewhat of an upset as he took the win in a wild event that saw a season-high 16 cautions and the maximum three green-white-checker events attempts for his first career victory. Reen took the lead on lap 142 from Justin Bonsignore and watched in his mirror as his competition was eliminated. Pole sitter Ryan Preece, who had recently taken over the seat of the Flamingo Motorsports entry that was formerly driven by Mike Stefanik, was on cruise control for the first 36 laps, was eliminated in a wreck on lap 145 when he broke a tie rod. Stefanik, who finished ninth in a new tour ride, was running fourth on lap 155 when he went for an opening on the backstretch and triggered a wreck that eliminated Justin Bonsignore and Ted Christopher who were running second and third. Stefanik said, “the 51 moved up and I filled up the hole between him and Christopher”. “Once I got in there”, he added, “they didn’t give me any room”. Doug Coby and Daniel Hemric who were running second and third behind Reen on a lap 160 restart got together shortly after taking the green. Hemric, from Kanapolis, NC, was driving the Roger Hill No.79 and found himself in the turn one wall and Coby spun. NASCAR Control felt that Coby was overaggressive and placed him one lap down. It was later clarified that NASCAR did not penalize him for overaggression as he was the one who was taken out by the 79 on that late restart. “I was penalized for passing cars under caution to attempt to get my second place spot back”, he said. Brian Vance, the Tour Race Director, afterwards acknowledged that the one lap penalty was more a result of his frustration with all of the drivers for how the race was ending, and acknowledged that it may in fact have been inconsistent with other calls he made that day with regards to other drivers who were incorrectly lined up on the racetrack. On the final restart for a green-white-checker finish Reen watched in amazement as Tom Rogers and Bobby Santos went at it as they almost wrecked. In a gut move, going into turn three on the final lap, Santos sunk the Mystic Missile in deep and took over the second spot behind Reen. Rogers, who had gotten roughed up a bit by Santos, finished fifth. Matt Hirschman brought Ole Blu home in third while Chuck Hossfeld finished fourth. Sixth through tenth were Keith Rocco, Eric Beers, Patrick Emerling, Stefanik and Eric Goodale.

In other World Series action at Thompson on Sunday, Chris Perley turned in a dominating performance in the International Super Modifed Association (ISMA) 50-lapper to score the victory. Russ Stoehr scored top honors in the Northeastern Midget Association (NEMA) ranks. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Ryan Preece outlasted the field in a rough-and-tumble Sunoco Modified feature. Derek Ramstrom scored his sixth Super Late Model race to cap off the 2011 season at Thompson and Corey Hutchings survived numerous restarts in the Late Model main event to score the win.

Following a full day of practice and qualifying at Thompson on Saturday, ten (10) feature events were run. In Thompson regular weekly divisions it was Scott Sundeen scoring the victory in the Limited Sportsman division; Cam McDermott in the TIS Modifieds; and Chad Baxter in the Mini Stocks. Scoring Outlaw division victories were Rick Gentes (Late Models), Mike O’Sullivan (Street Stocks) and Richard Fournier (Mini Stocks). Frank Cardile capitalized in the Sunoco Lite Main event to score the victory. Jason Lafayette opened up the World Series feature festivities with a victory in the N.E. Trucks Series. Andy Lindeman led green-to-checker to win the companion Truck Series Shootout. Dan Meservey, Jr. earned the victory in the Harry Kourafas Memorial event for the Pro-Four Modifieds.

Down in the south land, Tim Brown ended his year-long NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour winless streak with a victory he called one of his biggest of his career. The Cana, Va., veteran scored his seventh career win Thursday night in the UNOH Southern Slam 150 on the quarter-mile on the front stretch at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was Brown’s first trip to Victory Lane since Sept. 4, 2010 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.

Brown took the lead from George Brunnhoelzl on a Lap 123 restart and led the rest of the way.

Brunnhoelzl, the points leader, finished second on a day in which he won the Coors Light Pole Award and led a race-high 124 laps. Brunnhoelzl will take a 150-point lead over Andy Seuss, who finished fourth, into the season finale on Oct. 22 at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. Defending race winner Burt Myers finished third and his brother, Jason, was fifth. There were 18 cars that went to post in the 150 lap event.

After a short reincarnation as an asphalt track, it was announced that the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY would go back to being a dirt track as it would be run by Lebanon Valley promoter Howard Commander. He had secured a leasing deal with the Richards family while they continued to pursue the sale of the track.

On a sad note, veteran driver Dan Wheldon, who won the Indianapolis 500 for the second time in 2011, died from injuries suffered Sunday when his car was entangled in a horrific, 15-car wreck early in the IndyCar series’ season-ending race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Englishman was 33.

Matt Kenseth won the Sprint Cup event held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards was the Nationwide Series winner.

Five years ago in 2016, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series closed out their 2016 season as part of the annual World Series. Twenty seven Modifieds were on hand for qualifying on Saturday. Taking the top spot was Timmy Solomito who toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.643sec, 120.689 mph. Second fastest was Doug Coby with a time of 18.720sec. Woody Pitkat, Rob Summers and Eric Goodale rounded out the top five.

Coby needed to finish 17th to clinch the series title. In the end he finished sixth. This was Coby’s fourth NWMT championship, his third in a row. The season ending World Series played to a full house of fans despite the fact that the New England Patriots were playing at home in nearby Foxboro, Ma. Timmy Solomito ran up front or near the front all day until fading in the closing laps to a fifth place finish. Justin Bonsignore took the lead for the eventual win on lap 130 with a bottom shot in turn three when he banged wheels with Solomito. Ryan Preece, who raced in the NASCAR Xfinity series event in Kansas started dead last on the field and brought the Eddy Partridge No. 6 home in second spot. Jimmy Blewett recovered from a soft tire incident on lap 46 to finish third. Donny Lia finished fourth with Solomito, fifth. Sixth thru tenth were Coby, Woody Pitkat, Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson and Dave Sapienza.

Six caution periods slowed the event. The first yellow was displayed on lap 5 for Kyle Elwood who brushed the wall in turn 2. The second yellow was displayed on lap 25 when Shawn Solomito’s Wayne Anderson owned Modified went up in smoke on the front chute. The third yellow was for Calvin Carroll who spun into the wall in turn three on lap 39. Jimmy Blewett had a right front tire go soft on a restart on lap 46 which resulted in a tangle between Ron Silk, Eric Goodale and Craig Lutz bringing out yellow Number 4. Bobby Santos stopped in turn three on lap 70 and was penalized two laps for bringing out caution No.5. The sixth caution was for Chase Dowling who had the misfortune of having his engine throw a rod on lap 103.

The Sunoco SK Modifieds saw Ryan Preece steal the glory from Rowan Pennink with a last lap pass. Preece won the battle but it was Keith Rocco who won the Track Championship war with a fifth place finish. Ronnie Williams finished third with Woody Pitkat, fourth.

For the 2016 season Rocco won six of the 11 events run.

The World Series provided just about every division of racing there is on the east coast. The Late Models started it off on Friday night with Rick Gentes taking the win. Tom Carey was first at the finish but was disqualified for having illegal fuel. Saturday saw a full day of practice, qualifying and features. Eight divisions ran their features on Saturday night. The most controversial was the Valenti Modified Racing Series event which was won by Woody Pitkat. Pitkat dominated the majority of the feature, but a yellow flag with 12 laps to go brought Steve Masse into contention. Masse gave chase on the restart, with Pitkat obviously blocking every move he made. Another caution with six laps to go doubled the field back up with Pitkat selecting the inside line for the restart, a choice not normally taken with the outside lane having the most momentum on the high-banked 5/8-mile oval. Pitkat and Masse went wheel to wheel into turn one. The leaders touched in turn two with Masse going out of control and into the concrete. While Masse limped to the pit area Pitkat went on to take the win. Pitkat was loudly booed in victory lane.

Other Saturday night winners were Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks, Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets, Bobby Theryen in the ACT Late Models, Joe Arena in the Northeast Street Stocks, Chase Dowling in the Northeast Pro Fours, Nick Maneatis in the Northeast Mini Stocks and Corey Barry in the Lite Mods.

In what could be considered the beginning of the end, NASCAR announced thru internet site RaceDay the consolidation of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour for the 2017 season. Although highly competitive the modifieds have long been treated like the red-headed step child. Paltry fields of cars in both divisions have brought the Modifieds to their knees. This past year there have been only 15 competitors run the entire Whelen Modified Tour schedule. In the Whelen Southern Modified division only seven competitors have run the entire 11 race schedule. In comparison, the NASCAR Modifieds race for peanuts when you compare their race purses to those who race on the New York DIRT circuit. The purses are so bad, NASCAR will not post them. As an example at the recent Super Dirt Bud Lite 200 at the Oswego Speedway race winner Stewart Friesan earned $50,000 for his efforts. Second place finisher Brett Hearn earned $25,000. Funny thing though, NASCAR continues to give lip service saying how great things are while their oldest division goes further and further down the tube. When someone like Melissa Fifield finishes in the top 20 there is a message there.

At this point much of the restructuring is a work in progress. The division is expected to have 17-20 events in 2017. It has not been finalized on whether or not events that land on the schedule at traditional Southern Modified Tour tracks will be points paying or non-points events. NASCAR has also not determined how the championship structure for the series will work.

Evidently NASCAR has failed to realize that most Modified team members are not full timers and work a regular job in order to eat and pay the bills. Running all over the country is almost impossible.

The Whelen Modified Tour will still run its traditional highlight events at Stafford Motor Speedway (Spring Sizzler and Fall Final) and Thompson Speedway (Icebreaker and World Series) and is expected to continue to have a heavy presence in the state with other events.

The division also runs one event annually at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

At this point in time the new 2017 schedule for the restructured Whelen Modified tour is not expected to include any events at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. one of the cornerstone tracks of what is now the former Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Bowman Gray, one of the most well known short tracks in the country, hosted the Whelen Southern Modified Tour once in 2016.

James Schaefer, one of the prime movers of the high paying Tri-Track Modified Series pretty much hit the nail on the head when he said, ” so the two Whelen tours have merged together… Does anyone really think there’s going to be more than 2-3 races down south? I’m betting on Bristol, Martinsville, and either maybe South Boston or Old Dominion. It certainly isn’t going to be a full schedule of races down south. I really think it was simply a way for NASCAR to get rid of the southern tour without actually saying “we’re getting rid of the southern tour.”

Hot on the heels of the Modified tour combine is word that Martinsville Speedway will become the latest American short track to add an LED lighting system. Track President Clay Campbell made the announcement advance of the track’s 70th anniversary season next year. Construction will begin shortly after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend on Oct. 29-30.

Campbell said during an afternoon press conference that there are currently no plans for nighttime racing at the historic .526-mile paperclip shaped oval. The track has already confirmed that its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events next year will start at 2 p.m. EST (April) and 1 p.m. EST (October).

The Made In America Whelen Modified Tour 300 ran under the lights at Martinsville Speedway in 2005 that were rented.

Area Auto Racing scribe Dave Dragovich lives in New Smyrna, Fl and suffered through Hurricane Mathew recently. While his family survived and his home suffered minimal damage the same could not be said for the New Smyrna Speedway where the storm wreaked havoc causing thousands of dollars in damage. The grandstand section to the right of the starters stand extending all the way into turn one was lifted up and tossed through the retaining fence and cables finally ending up on the track. The grandstands were installed less than a year ago. All racing has been cancelled. Hopefully the facility will be repaired in time for the 2017 World Series which is scheduled during Speedweeks.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Kevin Harvick delivered yet another clutch performance on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, scoring his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the year during the Hollywood Casino 400 to advance to the next round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. A week after an engine failure at Charlotte Motor Speedway dropped Harvick below the Chase cutline, Harvick once again found a way to win. This time Harvick made the most of a late-race restart to take the lead from Carl Edwards before pulling away to a 1.1-second victory.

Kyle Busch took advantage of 10 yellow flags to get back to the front and win Saturday’s crash-marred Kansas Lottery 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Kansas Speedway. Driving the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota, it was Busch’s ninth victory of the season, his 85th in the series and his third in as many races at the 1.5-mile superspeedway. Busch led 150 of the 200 laps and beat XFINITY Series point leader Elliott Sadler to the checkered flag by 4.025 seconds.

Last year, 2020, It rained pretty hard in Stafford Springs Ct. on Friday, over one inch, but that’s ok. They needed it as most of Connecticut was in a parched state. The speedway returns to life this weekend for what is hoped to be the first of many Tri-Track events to take place in the house that Jack (Arute) built. Race fans and race teams are abuzz about the Call Before You Dig Modified Classic slated for Saturday, October 24th. The event, which serves as the first Stafford appearance for the Tri-Track Modified Series, boasts a purse of nearly $50,000, including $10,000 to win.

Accompanying the 81-lap Modified feature at the late October event will be Stafford Speedway’s SK Light Modified and Street Stock divisions. Both divisions will run 25-lap features, an additional 5 laps from their regular weekly distance of 20 laps. The purse for both events will also be increased courtesy of R.A.D. Auto Machine and Gaston Racing Enterprises. Both the SK Light Modified and Street Stock payouts will be increased by approximately 60% which is huge. The SK Light Modified division features $5,510 in posted awards with the increased base purse courtesy of R.A.D. Auto Machine. The SK Light drivers will compete for $850 to win after contingency bonuses from Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair, Maybury Material Handling, and Sunoco Race Fuels. Spark Virtual Reality and Olson Apartments will also pay their weekly $100 and $75 bonuses for 2nd and 3rd. The posted awards for the Street Stock feature is $3,245, with the increased purse courtesy of Gaston Racing Enterprises. The 25-lap feature will pay $425 to the winner after the $75 weekly bonus from Big Haus Racing Enterprises.

The New London Waterford Speedbowl was back in action on Saturday night. Eric Berndt made it two in a row in SK Modified action as temperatures dipped into the 30’s at the shoreline oval. In the SKs Cory DiMatteo was second and Todd Owen was third. Rounding out the top five was Joe Gada and Andrew Molleur. Jason Palmer won the 31-lap Late Model feature with Charlie Rose, second and Ryan Morgan, third. Jason Chicolas won the 25-lap Sportsman feature over Josh Galvin and Al Stone III third.

Other winners were Charlie McDougal in the SK Lites, Charles Canfield in the Mini Stocks, Kenny Cassidy in the Trucks, Adam Petty in the Open Street Stocks and Jason Palmer in the Legend Cars.

The SK race was dominated by Eric Berndt, who took the lead early and dictated the pace for most of the 35 laps. Despite his problems Saturday, Timmy Jordan can lock up the title by finishing 10th or better in Sunday’s 75-lap feature, regardless of what Gada does.

SK Modified point leader Tim Jordan was involved in an early altercation during the 35-lap feature and was knocked out of the event. He finished 16th and his 28-point lead was cut to 16 points over Joey Gada.

The Riverhead Raceway celebrated the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction of Mike Stefanik with a 160 lap NASCAR Modified event. Kyle Soper in the Wayne Anderson 15 took the win. Infrequent visitor Juston Bonsignore finished second with Tom Rogers Jr, third. Dylan Slepian and John Beatty rounded out the top five.

A big shout-out to Jacob Perry who traveled to Hickory, NC and finished third in a Super Late Model event.

Joey Coulter piloted his Coulter Motorsports No. 2 to victory in the Smart Chevrolet 99 for the SMART Modified Tour. The former NASCAR Truck Series winner set fast time in qualifying, but started ninth due to a redraw of the top nine qualifiers. That was not enough to slow down Coulter. Burt Myers finished second. The SMART Modified Tour field boasted 19 cars, and the second-place finisher was as much of a testament to Coulter’s accomplishment as any of them. Ten-time Bowman Gray Stadium champion Burt Myers claimed the runner-up spot. Brian Loftin started on the pole for the race after the redraw. However, he had to rally from a mechanical issue to score a podium finish.

Joey Logano held off Kevin Harvick by a scant .312 seconds in a high-speed duel to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Hollywood Casino 400 Playoff race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. Ryan Preece finished 27th.

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