RPW Column: The Champ Trail; SMART Tour At Caraway, NASCAR Mods Heading To Richmond & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Modified action gets the green this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, April 1 thru 3. The Richmond International Raceway in Virginia will host the Whelen Modified Tour Series on Friday night.

On Saturday the action moves to the South Boston Speedway in Virginia for a SMART Tour event or to the Thompson Speedway in Connecticut for the Open Competition IceBreaker. From now until the end of October it will be non-stop action just about every weekend.

Events at Richmond and at South Boston will be live streamed by FloRacing.

In SMART tour action at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina Caleb Heady in the Tommy Baldwin scored an upset victory in the Warrior 99 on Saturday night. With 50-degree temps twenty -five cars went to post. Jonathon (John Boy) Brown was the top time setter with pre-race favorite Matt Hirschman a close second. The top 6 re-draw saw Brown drawing the pole with Heady on the outside pole. Hirschman drew fifth.

At the drop of the green Brown would take the lead and hold it for the first 2 laps with Heady close behind. Heady would take over the lead on lap three and lead the field to take the thirty lap Jerry Hunt SuperCenter Competition Caution to claim the $300 bonus. Brown and Bobby Labonte followed as the caution would wave.

Following the thirty-lap break Brown would regain the point and lead laps thirty-one to fourty-five when the caution would fly on lap 46 for Craig Young who spun. The front runners pitted for their allotted tire. Luke Fleming, who remained on the track, assumed the lead. Shortly after the drop of the green the caution waved again for Jeremy Gerstner who stalled on the front stretch

On the restart Fleming would lead till lap 57 when Bobby Measner would take over the top spot on Lap 58. Fleming took it back on lap 65for two laps when Labonte made his move on lap 78. While all this was going on Hirschman got bogged down in traffic, dropping out of the top ten.

The third caution of the night would wave on lap 86 when several cars piled up as they exited turn 2. Among those collected were Fleming and Brown. On the restart lap 87 Heady and Brandon Ward would be on the front row with Burt Myers and Anthony Bello following. Caution would come out once again on lap 88 for another muti-car pileup which took Bello out of the mix. This would allow more drivers to come in and take on their one tire allowed and the restart would put Heady and Myers on the front for the restart. Hirschman and Labonte made up the second row.

The last caution for the night came out on lap 95 for a Bryan Weber spin in turn 3. Myers turned up the heat for the final laps but could not muster that little extra to get by Heady. Burt Myers finished second with Bobby Labonte, third. Hirschman and Brian Loftin rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Bobby Measmer, Gary Putnam, Brandon Ward, Dennis Holdren and Jonathan Brown.

The next stop for the SMART Tour is this coming Saturday at the South Boston Speedway. This event will be live streamed by FloRacing.

With a short time remaining until the 50th running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®, Dave Etheridge’s entry has marked a milestone for the Greatest Race in the History of Spring. Etheridge’s #34 team became the 40th driver to enter the Sizzler®, the first time since 2007 a Spring Sizzler® has seen 40 entries.

“The support for the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler® has been strong,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “40 entries over a month out from the event shows how much these drivers care about the history and prestige of winning the Spring Sizzler®. With the NAPA Duel qualifying format we hope to see 2 fields of 25 cars battling it out Saturday afternoon to make Sunday’s 50th Spring Sizzler®.”

The early entry-list is dotted with winners and champions including 5 past Spring Sizzler® winners, Patrick Emerling (‘21), Ryan Preece (‘17 & ‘18), Doug Coby (‘06, ‘12, ‘16, & ‘19), Bobby Santos III (‘11, ‘13, & ‘14), and Woody Pitkat (‘15). Coby enters the event looking to become just the 2nd driver to win 5 Sizzler® trophies, while Santos has a shot to join Coby, Ted Christopher, and Mike Stefanik with 4.

“The quality of the field is impressive,” continued Arute. “We have 5 past Sizzler® winners in the field and almost 30 of the 40 entries have a past win at Stafford. There’s a few more entries we are hoping to see in the next few weeks.” Among the missing is defending Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Justin Bonsignore.

Word comes from Bob Finan, Public Relations director of the Riverhead Raceway Long Island’s last remaining race track is coming to FloRacing in 2022. Riverhead Raceway, a ¼-mile paved oval in Riverhead, New York, will have all of its NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series action streamed live on FloRacing this year. Finan is also the chief announcer at the track and hopefully he will be used to call the live streamed events.

Located just minutes from the luxurious Hamptons on Long Island, Riverhead Raceway is the only NASCAR-sanctioned race track in the greater New York metropolitan area. It has been continuously operating since 1949. With a strong NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series program and an impressive list of special events, fans will be entertained throughout the season on FloRacing.

“We are excited to join the FloRacing platform,” said John Ellwood, Riverhead Raceway’s General Manager. “We have worked very hard to tell the story of all the local racer’s dreams and accomplishments to a streaming audience. In 2022, I believe FloRacing’s platform will bring more awareness of production value to our racers and most importantly the fans.”

No doubt about it, FloRacing is the best deal in auto racing. It allows fans to enjoy their favorite sport in their own living room. The addition of Riverhead Raceway to FloRacing’s live broadcast schedule continues to broaden NASCAR and FloRacing’s investment into grassroots racing.

The best part about FloRacing is that they give back to the competitors and give them and their sponsors national exposure.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will also visit Riverhead Raceway three times in 2022. The first visit comes on May 14 and can also be seen live on FloRacing. Major events on the schedule include the three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events on May 14, June 25 and September 17, as well as the sixth-annual Islip 300 on November 12, all of which can be seen live on FloRacing.

The excitement continues to build at the Stafford Motor Speedway as 37 early entries have been received for the 50th NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler which is scheduled for April 23rd & 24th.

Doug Coby, Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat, Patrick Emerling, Bobby Santos III, Ron Silk, Eric Goodale, John McKennedy, Keith Rocco, Ronnie Williams, Michael Christopher, Chase Dowling and Jimmy Blewett have added their names to the ever growing list.

May 31, 1968 Bugsy Stevens in the mighty No.3 of Len Boehler took the win in the 75 lap Nutmeg Classic Memorial Day weekend special event over Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Fred Harbach and Tommy Borget. Stevens passed Eddie Flemke on lap 57. Flemke had led the event since lap 13.

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. The book documents Modified Racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway from 1967 to 1986. 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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