RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Hot Weather Produced Hot Racing Around The Asphalt Tracks Last Weekend

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The Stafford Motor Speedway was one hot place on Friday as temps hovered in the mid to upper 90s before the sun went down.

Keith Rocco ended a long dry spell with his first win of the year in the SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray continued his hot streak of top-2 finishes with his fifth win of the season in the Late Model feature, Tyler Chapman scored his second win of the 2022 season in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn notched his second win of the 2022 season in the Limited Late Model feature, and Bobby Stirk, III took down his third win of the year in the Street Stock feature.

In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Rocco started on the pole and led every lap. Anthony Bello couldn’t get close enough to Rocco to make a bid for the lead as Rocco scored his first win of what has been a very tough 2022 season. Dan Wesson finished third with Ron Williams and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.

A big shout-out to Alexandra Fearn for her hard charging style that put her in victory. She is a real racer, not a back marker slug likes the woman that shows up at all the Whelen Modified Tour Series events, runs a few laps then parks it!

The SK Modified win took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 300 wins which include 154 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 70 at Thompson and 76 at Stafford Speedway.

At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Andrew Molleur was the SK Modified winner. Todd Owen was second and Anthony Flannery third.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series took a week off in order to prepare for this Fridays Clash at Claremont 150 at New Hampshire’s Claremont Motorsports Park. For those of you that think the WMT doesn’t pay anything here are some numbers. Independent contributor Craig Gabriele has compiled the following:

  • New Smyrna Speedway – #60 Matt Hirschman $14,900 Total Paid Cash $94,725
  • Richmond – #51 Justin Bonsignore $16,400 Total Paid Cash $86,975
  • Riverhead Raceway – 7ny Doug Coby $12,300 Total Paid Cash $66,000
  • Lee USA Speedway – 7ny Doug Coby $13,160 Total Paid Cash $72,364
  • Jennerstown – 7ny Mike Christopher, Jr. $16,950 Total Paid Cash $81,900
  • Monadnock Speedway – #51 Justin Bonsignore $12,400 Total Paid Cash $62,650
  • Riverhead Raceway – #15 Kyle Soper $10,300 Total Paid Cash $63,000
  • Wall Stadium – 7ny Jimmy Blewett $11,300 Total Paid Cash $63,750
  • New Hampshire Speedway – #92 Anthony Nocella $13,800 Total Paid Cash $106,450

Total paid Cash for 9 races $697,814. Gabriele does not work for or represent NASCAR. The WMT end of the year point fund is huge. Right now nothing comes close to what the WMT pays to the teams on the Tour. The only race that paid more was the Stafford Spring Sizzler.

As the tour heads to Claremont Ron Silk holds a 10 point edge over Jon McKennedy. One point behind McKennedy is Eric Goodale. Justin Bonsignore, the only driver in the top ten who has won this year, twice, is 25 points behind the leader. Rounding out the top five id Austin Beers. Sixth thru tenth are Tommy Catalano, Kylr Bonsignore, Craig Lutz, Dave Sapienza and JB Fortin.

The total purse for the Clash at Claremont 150 rises over $83,000, with just over $11,000 on the line to the winner. It will be the largest paying Tour-Type Modified event throughout the field at Claremont in 2022.

With three races down and four to go before a Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series champion is crowned, teams headed north to New Hampshire on Saturday, July 23 for the 11th annual SBM Classic 125-lap race at the Star Speedway, worth $7,500 to win, with a total purse of over $40,000 throughout the field.

Jake Johnson took the win over Woody Pitkat, Max Zachem, Ryan Doucette and Chase Dowling. Pre-race favorite Matt Hirschman, who won a 50 lapper at the Evergeen Raceway Park in Pennsylvania finished 21st, one lap down. Hirschman was penalized one lap for speeding in the pit area. Johnson became the fifth different winner of the Epping, N.H. bullring’s signature Modified event.

Thunder Road winner Chase Dowling started from the front row and swapped the early lead with Johnson before taking control of the event. With points leader and six-time SBM 125 winner Matt Hirschman mired deep in traffic early, Dowling had an opportunity to capitalize in the points. But as Dowling struggled to clear lapped traffic, Johnson made a bold move to take the lead, trapping the Connecticut star behind slower cars for a few laps.

A lap-73 spin slowed the race for the first time, allowing the field to come to the pits. Hirschman emerged tenth, but officials held “Big Money Matt” one lap for a pit infraction, ending the Pennsylvanian’s charge. Officials claimed that Hirschman was speeding in the pit area but putting him a lap down was a total screw job as there was no way he could make it up. Matt Galko brought the field to green, keeping Dowling and Johnson at bay for a few laps. But on a lap-80 restart, Galko got stuck in the outside line, dropping through the field as Johnson took the lead back from Dowling.

Zachem and Pitkat emerged as new threats for the podium, swapping second and third, but Johnson got away on the restarts before the two racers could settle into line.A heated battle just outside the top five ended with a spin with a few laps to go, bunching up the field for one last restart. Zachem lined up alongside Johnson

Pitkat came up just short of nabbing his first Tri-Track win in seven years, while Zachem had a career night to come home third. Ryan Doucette raced his way to fourth in the final laps, while early leader Dowling could do no better than fifth in the second half of the race. Anthony Nocella, Dylan Izzo in Bob Horn’s #50, Ronnie Williams, Austin Beers and Les Hinckley rounded out the top ten.

The Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series continues on Saturday, August 6 at New London-Waterford Speedbowl, for the first race at the coastal Connecticut oval since 2015.

Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island After a two-week, mid-season vacation the NASCAR Modifieds of the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series return to Riverhead Raceway in a big way on Saturday July 30th competing in the annual Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77. The race will serve as the second leg of the Crown Jewel Series for the Ted Christopher Cup. The Class of ’22 will be inducted onto the Cromarty Wall of Champions with Rusty Turbush of Manorville and John Cozza of Medford the two inductees.

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium Brandon Ward dominated from the pole to hold off Chris Fleming to win the Fox 8 WGHP 100-lap featured race. It was Ward’s seventh career win; he’s now the points leader heading into next weekend. Jonathan Brown also had a good race, finishing third as he battled from the 13th starting position.

Making up the most ground, however, was Burt Myers, who finished fourth to win the extra $9,000 in the Fans Challenge. He qualified in the top four, then moved to the rear of the field. But by finishing fourth.was

The New England Antique Racers (NEAR) have announced their 2022 Hall of Fame inductions which include Matt Buckler, Dick Houlihan, Russ Stoehr, Nat Chiavettone, Phil Rondeau and Kenny Tremont Jr. Veterans to be inducted are Tony “Jap” Membrino and Charlie Webster.

The induction ceremony will be held on Sunday, October 30, 2022 at the Westford Regency Inn and Conference Center, 219 Littleton Rd, Westford, Mass.

At the conclusion of the 1969 season the Norwood Arena Speedway management announced that they were dropping the modifieds off their racing program. Stafford announced that in 1970 the speedway would switch to Saturday nights.

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 or at the track in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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