RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: First Week Of September
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1947, Frank Simonetti was the Midget division winner at Seekonk.
Seventy years ago in 1952 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Ray Delisle was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner and Bud Matter was the Claiming Car winner. Twin 50’s were run on Saturday night with Delisle and Cy Yates recording Sportsman wins while Matter recorded another claiming car victory. At Seekonk, Art Gibin was the Stock Car winner.
Sixty five years ago in 1957 Don Collins made it two in a row in Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner. At Seekonk, Red Bolduc was the Sportsman division winner and Jocco Maggigmo was the special Late Model winner. Al DeAngelo was the Saturday night winner at Old Bridge while Pete Frazee took the Sunday win.
Sixty years ago in 1962, Ernie Gahan made it two in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. At the Waterford Speedbowl Dick Beauregard was the 25 lap Modified winner. Ed Moody was the Bomber winner. Freddie Schulz and George Summers each wonClass A events at Seekonk while a special Cut Down event was won by Bud Crotty.
Fifty five years ago in 1967, The All Star League ran mid-week at the Islip Speedway. Eddie Flemke took the 100 lap win over Jerry Cook and Bill Wimble. Friday night racing at Stafford rained out. Bugsy Stevens, a regular competitor at Stafford made the right call as he and car owner Len Boehler traveled to the Albany Saratoga Speedway where Stevens finished fourth behind Don MacTavish, Ed Patnoad and Guy Chartrand At Fonda, on Saturday night, Bill Wimble took the win over Ray Sitterly and Jerry Cook. Bill Scrivener was the Modified winner at Waterford. Norwood Arena ran on Saturday night and on Labor Day Monday. Bill Slater won on Saturday night while.Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens each won 200 lap segments which made up the Bardahl 400. The Utica-Rome Speedway closed out their season on Sunday night with local favorite Clayton “Sonney” Seamon taking the win over Dick Fowler, Bernie Miller, Jerry Cook and Dave Kotary. After three successive rain-outs the Annual Trenton 200, which drew 60 cars, got to run. Bugsy Stevens, in the mighty no. 3 of Len Boehler, scored the big win over Donnie Allison and Fred DeSarro.
Fifty Years ago in 1972, Malta and Stafford ran head to head on Saturday night. Lancaster had a big open show on Sunday with qualifying on Saturday afternoon, which meant that many teams raced back and forth on the Thruway. Bugsy Stevens was the winner at Malta over Jerry Cook, Ed Pieniezak and Ron Newman. Because he chose to concentrate on the NASCAR Modified point title, Stevens elected to by-pass Lancaster in order to be in one piece for an extra point event at Utica-Rome on Sunday night. Bobby Santos was driving for Art Barry and the two decided to go for all three. Santos qualified at Lancaster on Saturday afternoon, raced to Malta where he finished sixth, raced back to Lancaster where he won the 200 lap open and then sped to Utica-Rome where he finished eighth. Richie Evans finished second to Santos at Lancaster and did it one better as he won at Utica-Rome. Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Ray Hendrick and Ernie Gahan followed Santos and Evans at Lancaster. At Utica-Rome, Lou Lazzaro, Jerry Cook, Fred DeSarro and Ollie Silva followed Evans. At Stafford, Leo Cleary in the Mystic Missile took the win over Ronnie Bouchard, Ernie Caruso and Ed Yerrington. Jerry Dostie made it two in a row at Waterford. It was a rough weekend, to say the least. Dave Dion was the Late Model winner at Norwood. It was the last ever race run at Norwood. The speedway was sold and ultimately destroyed.
Forty five years ago in 1977, Stafford’s Friday night racing was open competition as their NASCAR season ended on Labor Day. With 33 cars on hand, Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Geoff Bodine, Ed Flemke and Bob Polverari. Saturday night was extremely busy. Seekonk ran twin features, a 50 lapper and a 35 lapper. Taking the win in the 50 was Corky Cookman over Eddie StAngelo and George Summers. StAngelo won the 50 and was followed by Ronnie Bouchard, John Rosati and Cookman. At Westboro, Freddie Schulz, in the Tom Dunn Pinto wagon, took the win over George Savory, Fats Caruso and Joe Howard. The NASCAR Modifieds ran a 150 lapper at Richmond where Maynard Troyer took the top spot. Paul Radford finished second with Ray Hendrick, Joe Thurman, Harry Gant and Jerry Cook following. Islip presented a 100-lap double point event. Charlie Jarzombek ruled the roost as he beat out Tom McCann, Geoff Bodine, Wayne Anderson and Eddie Flemke. Waterford fell victim to rain and ended their season. Moose Hewitt was declared the modified track champion. On Sunday, Fred DeSarro took the win at Thompson over Freddie Schulz, Ray Miller and John Rosati. Freeport ran a 200 lapper that saw Long Island favorite Jim Hendrickson take the win over Maynard Troyer and George Brunnhoelzl Jr. At Monadnock it was Bob Karvonen taking the win over Punky Caron and Pete Fiandaca.
Forty years ago in 1982, the Thompson 300 took center stage. A huge field of 106 modifieds was on hand. Greg Sacks, who had won just about every major race in what is now considered his best season didn’t let this big one get away. After leading from lap 14 thru 134 when he pitted for fuel and tires, Sacks re-took the lead on lap 151 and led the remaining 149 laps to take the $10,000 win. Kenny Bouchard finished second with Gomer Taylor and Ray Miller on the lead lap at the finish. Doug Hewitt finished fifth, one lap down. Tony Hirshman, SJ Evonsion, George Brunnhoelzl, Dick Trayner and Dave Thomas rounded out the top ten. Dick Caso won the companion non-qualifiers event. In other weekend action, Jerry Cook won an 82 lapper at Shangri-La over Jim Spencer and Doug Hewitt and at New Egypt, John Blewett Jr won a 200 lapper over Richie Evans, Bob Polverari and Jerry Cook.
Thirty five years ago in 1987, the Thompson Speedway lost their entire 300 program to rain. Riverside Park was able to get their program in with Kenny Bouchard taking the win over Reggie Ruggiero, Bob Polverari and John Rosati. In Winston Cup action at Richmond, Dale Earnhardt, who started eighth, took the win.
Thirty years ago in 1992, Monadnock closed out their season on Friday night. Jerry Marquis, in the Bob Judkins 2x, won his seventh feature and sewed up the Modified Championship at the fast ¼ mile oval. At Waterford, on Saturday night, Don Fowler went pole to pole to win the modified feature over Ricky Young, Bert Marvin, Jim Broderick and Jerry Pearl. In late model action, Tom Gaudreau went pole to pole to win his first late model feature. With their regular season over, Riverside Park ran open competition modifieds and added SK-Modifieds to their line-up. With only seven showing up, the SK’s were grouped together with the modifieds. Dan Avery took the modified feature over Jerry Marquis and Bobby Gee. Chris Jones was the first SK to finish as he came across the finish line in 11th spot. The Thompson 300 was the big show of the weekend. Rick Fuller, in the Mario Fiore 44 took the win over Doug Hevron, Tom Baldwin, Chris Aman and Jamie Tomaino, all on the lead lap. Pole sitter Steve Park, finished sixth.
Twenty five years ago in 1997, Dennis Gada went pole to pole to beat out Rick Donnely and Todd Ceravolo at Waterford. Punky Caron got his 72nd career win at Monadnock and Dave Berube beat out Reggie Ruggerio at Riverside. The Thompson 300,now a Busch Grand National event saw the total domination of Mike Stefanik for the win. Stefanik, who started on the outside pole, led 290 of the 300 laps and closed to within nine points of current leader Dave Dion. Ricky Fuller finished second with Andy Santarre, third. At Richmond, Steve Park took the lead with 42 laps to go and took his third win of the year. His boss, Dale Earnhardt, who suffered a blackout the previous week at Darlington, was cleared to drive. Dale Jarrett was the eventual Winston Cup winner at Richmond and finally, Jan Opperman, who had been confined to a wheelchair since 1991, passed away.
Twenty years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway for the annual 300, the series’ longest event. Temperatures in the 90’s made the 300 a test of man and machine Forty-four Modifieds were on hand to qualify for the forty starting spots. Tony Hirschman, on the mend since a crash at Seekonk, was the Busch Pole sitter. Mike Stefanik took advantage of Charlie Pasteryak’s miss-fortune and took the win, which was worth $16,400. It has been an up and down year for the defending series champion and he had also all but written himself off as far as being able to repeat. Because of the fact that the 300 is an endurance run, things can change in an instant. Stefanik started 10th and led three times at various stages had all but accepted to finishing second to Charlie Pasteryak when fate reared its ugly hand in Pasteryak’s direction as he ran out of gas with six laps to go. It was a tough pill for Pasteryak to swallow as he and his team gambled and lost. Pasteryak had pitted on lap 211 and decided on not taking on gas. It was a decision that left him about a gallon short. That gallon of gas cost Pasteryak $14,500, the difference between first and fourteenth. The 300 paid $16,400 to win. Pasteryak, who lost two laps in the process, earned $1,900. There were only six cars on the lead lap at the finish including 65-year-old Bob Polverari, who finished sixth. Congratulations to Tony Ferrante, Jr. on his career best, since 1997 at Jennerstown, second place finish. Ferrante collected $6,405 for his efforts. L.W.Miller ended up third after a questionable confrontation with Chuck Hossfeld. Hossfeld had been running in the lead pack and possibly could have had a top five finish until he lost two laps due to the confrontation. John Blewett III finished a solid fourth with former series champion, Jamie Tomaino rounding out the top five. Sixth and the final car on the lead lap was 65 year old Bob Polverari. There were 18 caution periods for 99 laps, one lap short of a third of the posted distance.
Among the casualties were Rick Fuller who took a hard shot, rear first, into the concrete on lap 48 and Jim Willis who flipped and slid down the front chute on his roof on lap 187. It appeared that Tom Cloce brushed the front chute wall and when he bounced off, Willis was there. Willis got in the air and hit the starters stand as he was going over. It could have been disastrous and chances are, Bob Slade was counting his blessings after that. Ted Christopher was among the front runners until getting bit by ignition problems. Among the others who had mechanical problems were David Berghman, Jerry Marquis and Ed Flemke Jr. Pole sitter Tony Hirschman had a legitimate shot to win the event as he was one of the faster cars. Hirschman’s car was black-flagged after numerous NASCAR officials confirmed that he was leaking fluid. Hirschman ignored the black flag to pit and NASCAR pulled his scorecard. When he finally pitted, the leaking had stopped. With gage temperatures normal, chances are it was fuel but none the less, he was leaking. It doesn’t look like John Sneade will be participating in any NASCAR events in the near future after the show he put on under the starters stand. He went somewhat postal and had to be escorted off the track and his car was removed to the pit area.
The series point standings showed Ed Flemke Jr. was still in the lead by 37 points over Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik’s win moved him from seventh spot to third, only 59 points behind Flemke. Ricky Fuller and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Chuck Hossfeld, Ted Christopher, Nevin George, David Berghman and Jamie Tomaino.
The regular weekly racing in Southern New England saw Ted Christopher taking his 74th career win at Stafford on Friday night. Tommy Fox got his fourth at the Waterford Speedbowl despite the fact that the two slugs that started on the front row almost destroyed the entire field. Jay Miller finished second and was followed by Don Fowler and Ron Yuhas Jr. Yuhas was the only Waterford competitor to race at Thompson on Saturday afternoon and made it in time for the Waterford event.
The first of two weekend 20 lap features for the SK-Modifieds was run late Saturday afternoon with Bo Gunning taking the win over Ted Christopher and Jeff Malave. Numerous wrecks sidelined half the field. Among the bent cars was that of Ron Yuhas Jr. Yuhas headed for Waterford while his dad and crew took the mangled remains to their race shop in Groton where a new front and rear clip was installed after an all niter. Ted Christopher won the second 20 lapper, run on Sunday, over Gunning, Malave, Bert Marvin and Eric Berndt. Yuhas finished 22nd.
Belated condolences went out to the family of Bunk Sampson who lost his long battle with cancer and passed away. Bunk, a dedicated former director of the NASCAR Busch North Series was laid to rest a week previous. He was perhaps one of the most sincere and fairest NASCAR Officials ever employed by the sanctioning body and while the BNS director, he put his heart and soul into what he did.
Fifteen years ago in 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway for Modified Mania. Donnie Lia and car owner Bob Garbarino who were currently enjoying a dream season out time trailed thirty-five other Whelen Modifieds to score their third Busch Pole of the season. Lia and his Mystic Missile toured the 5/8-mile oval in 18.885 seconds. Ronnie Silk was aecond fastest with Matt Hirschman, third. Lia picked the pole starting position for the 150 lap main event. Ron Yuhas Jr picked the outside pole while Hirschman picked third.
Heavy rain at 4:00pm on Sunday forced officials to postpone the event to first to Saturday September 22nd and then on Monday to Sunday, September 23rd
In True Value Modified Series action at the Thompson it was great to see Mark Mockovak in his new spot with what has become a very popular series in New England. Thirty-two True Value Modifieds were on hand for qualifying for their segment of Modified Mania at the Thompson Speedway. Chris Pastryak, Andy Seuss and Jimmy Kuhn won three Heat Races. The 75-lap True Value Modified Racing Series portion of Modified Mania at Thompson International Speedway was postponed after completing only 2 laps because of inclement weather. Andy Seuss was leading the event when the torrential rain began.
In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified heat winners were Jimmy Blewett, Tommy Cravenho and Danny Cates. Glenn Boss scored the victory in the lone TIS Modified heat. Norm Wrenn and Jeff Zuidema of scored heat race wins for the Pro-Fours.
Matt Hirschman went pole to pole as he led every lap of the Race of Champions main event before the rains came in forcing the postponement of the Whelen Modified Tour 150 and the True Value Modified Racing Series. The True Value Modified Racing Series completed only two laps with Andy Suess of Hampstead, NH, holding the point before torrential rains hit the speedway.
Three of the other scheduled events of Modified Mania II were completed before the rains came with Todd Ceravolo taking down the Sunoco Modified main event and Leo Oliveira scored the TIS Modifieds victory. Thompson regular Norm Wrenn scored the Pro-Four Victory. Hirschman, the current Central Region point leader, led every lap en route to the victory. The second-generation driver jumped from his third-place starting spot to lead the opening lap and would not be headed. Rick Kluth ran strong in the second spot for much of the race. In the late stages, with Hirschman out front, Kluth turned back advances of a charging Woody Pitkat. The current Northern Region leader, Pete Brittain, who had run a conservative race up to this point, turned it on with only a hand full of laps remaining. With five laps to go, Hirschman continued to stretch his lead while Pete Brittain caught Kluth. That battle for second heated up over the final laps when Brittain got a run on Kluth in turn one. A single lap later, Brittain was able to make the pass on Kluth to move into the second spot. Time ran out as Brittain could do nothing but chase the potent Hirschman. At the checkers, it was all Hirschman. Brittain finished second over Rick Kluth and Woody Pitkat. Lenny Fisher rounded out to the top five By virtue of technical inspection, Leo Oliveira was declared the winner in the TIS Modified main event.
The Stafford Motor Speedway began their fall series of Friday night racing. Keith Rocco took the SK Modified feature win, Dillon Moltz won the Late Model feature, Chris Matthews won the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand won the Limited Late Model feature, and Dan Flannery won the DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Wade Mattesen charging past Richie Pallai, Jr. to take the early lead. Pallai would battle back by Mattesen on lap-5 to reclaim the lead. Rocco followed Pallai past Mattesen, and Pallai and Rocco ran nose to tail for the lead over the next several laps. Rocco moved by Pallai on a lap-11 restart, and from that point on, he would not be headed at the front of the field as he scored his third SK Modified feature win of the 2007 season. Kerry Malone finished a distant second to Rocco, with Ted Christopher, Curt Brainard, and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5. NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship hopeful Woody Pitkat suffered through several spins but came back to finish 9th.
In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Dennis Gada got a little closer to an unprecedented seventh Modified Track title as he scored his fifth win. Two race meets remain of the 2007 season. Gada currently trails Rob Janovic by 16 points. For the last two races Gada needs to run hard and run to win. Keith Rocco finished second and Janovic was third. Gada moved from fourth to second after a crash with 24 laps to go. Seven laps later, Gada moved underneath Rocco and cruised to his 55th career SK win. Tyler Chadwick and Jeff Paul rounded out the top five.Bruce Thomas Jr. unofficially clinched the Late Model championship, winning his 11th feature of the season by overtaking Ron Yuhas Jr. with eight laps to go in the 30-lap feature. Thomas won the Mini Stock title in 2001. Kyle James won his first career race in the Mini Stock feature. In the Sportsman feature, Walt Hovey Jr, won again.
In NASCAR Nextel Cup action at Richmond Jimmie Johnson hit his stride at exactly the right time, winning two straight races to roll into the Chase for the championship. Dale Earnhardt Jr. never had a chance, the victim of five faulty motors when his season was on the line. Johnson easily raced to his series-best sixth victory of the season. But Earnhardt, suffered his third blown motor in the past seven races to finish 30th. Kyle Busch was the Busch Series winner.
Ten years ago in 2012, The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Thompson Speedway for the UNOH Showdown which brought together NASCAR’s Whelen Northern and Southern Modified Tours which each had 75 lap features plus were combined for a 50 lap All green flag showdown.
In other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Cam McDermott earned his 13th season victory in the Lite Modified division and Chad LaBastie checkered the Thompson Modifieds.
In UNOH Showdown qualifying at Thompson, Ryan Preece captured the pole for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Rob Fuller won the pole for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Preece of Berlin, Conn., lapped the .625-mile oval in 18.828 seconds at an average speed of 119.503 mph, to earn his fourth pole at Thompson, his fifth pole of the year and the 11th of his career. With just one previous start in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour and 11 starts in the Whelen Modified Tour, Fuller of Boylston, Mass., had a lap of 18.947 seconds (118.752 mph) in taking his first career pole. Justin Bonsignore had the second quickest lap among NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers and was followed by Bobby Santos, Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink. Rounding out the top 10 were Todd Szegedy, Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik, Ron Silk and Eric Beers. In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour qualifying, meanwhile, Tim Brown was second quickest at 19.090 seconds (117.863 mph). Andy Seuss was third fastest, with Steve Masse fourth and Burt Myers fifth. They were followed by Danny Bohn, George Brunnhoelzl III, Matt Hirschman, John Smith and Jason Myers. There were 25 Whelen Modifieds and 21 Whelen Southern Modifieds on hand. Of the 21 southern cars only 14 actually race in the south, the rest were from the north.
The heavy overnight rains cleared which allowed both fans and competitors at Thompson to enjoy a full day of racing. Ted Christopher, pinch hitting for injured Keith Rocco, put the Boehler No.3 in for one of the biggest paydays that they have seen in quite some time as he took the top spot in the 2nd Annual UNOH Showdown 50 lap shootout. Christopher took the lead on lap six when he dove under Bobby Santos Santos to take over the lead coming out of turn two. Ryan Preece, Santos, Justin Bonsignore, and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top-five at lap seven. Donny Lia joined the front-runners in sixth as all of the top cars pulled away from the rest of the field. The race went under a red flag on lap 24 when Stefanik lost his power steering and dropped some oil on the track. Christopher drove to the front on the restart with Preece attached to his rear bumper. Preece tried to get by on the high line, but Christopher shut the door. Preece continued to pressure Christopher while Jimmy Blewett became a part of the mix in third. Blewett got by Preece for second on lap 37 while Christopher put a car length of breathing room over Blewett.
The top-five cars fanned out over the next several laps with Christopher keeping his distance from Blewett through lapped traffic. Christopher cruised to the checkers to score his first victory of the day and score a $15,000 paycheck. Preece finished third followed by Lia and Doug Coby. Sixth through ninth were Ron Silk, Matt Hirschman, Santos and Andy Seuss. Burt Myers rounded out the top ten.
Justin Bonsignore won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire Northern 75 under a yellow checkered after Ron Silk crashed in the turn two wall on the white flag lap. Bonsignore took the lead away from Ryan Preece at lap 68 and survived a late-race restart after caution set up a green-white-checkered finish at lap 81. Preece took the early lead and dominated most of the race before Bonsignore used the outside groove to take the lead in turn three seven laps before the scheduled conclusion of the race. A caution flew at lap 72 for a wreck in turn three that involved Rowan Pennink and Patrick Emerling and set the stage for Bonsignore to take the win. It was the Holtsville, NY-native’s second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory and his first at Thompson Speedway.
Bobby Santos ended up second and was followed by Ryan Preece, Todd Szegedy and Ted Christopher. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Donny Lia, Eric Beers, Eric Berndt and Richie Pallai.
Andy Seuss earned his 12th career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory after taking the lead on lap 24 of the 75-lap Green Pointe Energy Southern 75 portion of the UNOH Showdown weekend schedule. Seuss used the high groove to hold off a hard-charging Matt Hirschman through lapped traffic to take the checkered flag. The race was only slowed by one caution period. Seuss, who started from the third position, took the lead from Burt Myers coming out of turn four on lap 24. Hirschman took over the second position on lap 43 and pressured Seuss until the end. Pole sitter Rob Fuller, who was forced to start in the rear when his crew chief missed the drivers meeting, finished third. Burt Myers and Tim Brown rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Steve Masse, Danny Bohn, George Brunnhoelzl, III, John Smith and Cole Powell.
In Sunoco (SK type) Modified competition Ryan Preece took the checkers for the 10th time this season. Preece had built up a large enough lead to hold on for the win after something broke in his power steering with ten laps to go in the event. Woody Pitkat finished second over Keith Rocco. Kerry Malone, Jimmy Zacharies and Dennis Perry followed.
Other Sunday winners at Thompson included Damon Tinio in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action, taking wins were Michael Gervais, Jr. in the SK Modified® feature, Jim Peterson in the Late Model feature, Dylan Kopec in the SK Light feature, Cory Casagrande and D.J. Burnham in the twin Ltd. Late Model features, and Jeremy Lavoie was a first time winner in the DARE Stock feature.
Ryan Preece had closed the gap to Gervais as the leaders took the white flag. Preece got a good run to the inside of Gervais in turn 1, but he got sideways in turn 2 and Gervais pulled away slightly. Preece got a good run back through turns 3+4, but he came up just short at the checkered flag as Gervais picked up his second feature victory of the 2012 season. Woody Pitkat came home third, with Todd Owen and Ted Christopher rounding out the top-5.
In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl the Rocco Brothers scored a one-two punch as they beat the rain, finishing one-two in the SK Modified feature. Kyle James finished third with Jeff Pearl, fourth. Rob Janovic rounded out the top five. The Rocco brothers had words in the pit area later on as Jeff felt his brother deliberately blocked him as he attempted to pass for the lead. For some strange reason a bad storm front moving from west to east along the shore of Long Island Sound opened up as it reached the I-95-395 split in East Lyme and left the speedbowl in a weather window which allowed the shoreline oval to complete most of its racing program. Dillon Moltz drove to his sixth victory of the year in the Late Models race, while Bill Leonard took his second win in the Mini Stock division and Tommy Barrett Jr. won the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature. The scheduled Street Stock feature was rained out.
Keith Rocco was suspended for the remainder of the 2012 racing season at Waterford. Rocco was cited by track steward Scott Tapley for: “Participating in or inciting a fight – In this case, as a competitor that entered into another competitors pit area and physically abused a competing team member/patron; Unsportsmanlike conduct, endangering the safety of others in the pit area; Threatening or physical confrontations.”
Rocco said he confronted Mike Pane after the event concerning disparaging remarks Mike Pane allegedly made about the way Rocco drove against his brother in a battle for the lead during Saturday’s race.
In Valenti Modified Racing Series action, Tommy Barrett, who is being coached by Hall of Fame car owner Mario Fiore, started the race last out of the 22 drivers after running into problems during his qualifying race. Barrett started to challenge race leader Chris Pasteryak at the midway point. Once in the lead, Barrett held on through multiple restarts to win. Pasteryak ended up second while series points leaders Rowan Pennink was third. Jon McKennedy and Rob Goodenough rounded out the top five.
Tom Rogers took the NASCAR 50 lap Modified win at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Howie Brode finished second. Among the missing were regulars Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece who were in competition at Thompson. Shawn Solomito, with his third place finish, wrapped up the Modified Track Championship.
Kevin Harvick was in the right place at the right time, picking up his first NASCAR Nationwide Series triumph of the season at Richmond Int’l Raceway during the Virginia 529 College Savings 250. Harvick was running second behind Spring Richmond winner Kurt Busch when Busch made contact with the No. 39 Ford of Dexter Stacey on lap 227, sending Stacey spinning and allowing Harvick to drive by on the outside to take the lead away.
Clint Bowyer saved just enough fuel to grab his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series triumph of the season early Sunday morning at Richmond Int’l Raceway, but maybe more importantly Jeff Gordon finished second to claim the final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Bowyer, who cut a tire and spun out on lap 236 after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya, somehow managed to save enough gas during the final run pick up the victory. He jokingly thanked Montoya in victory lane for the contact that eventually allowed him to win at Richmond.
Five years ago in 2017, In racing action at the Stafford Motor Speedway taking down weekly feature wins Friday night were Ted Christopher in the SK Modified® feature, Glen Reen in the Late Model feature, Marcello Rufrano in the SK Light feature, Alexandra Fearn in the Ltd. Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker in the DARE Stock feature.
Ted Christopher came to Stafford last Friday with a distinct disadvantage. Because of his behavior on Sept 4 Christopher was denied any pre-race practice and forced to start last in his qualifying heat. Never to be called a slacker and not to be denied Christopher started dead last in the 22 car starting field.A true Modified racer, Christopher focused his efforts on his charge to the front, taking the lead from Chase Dowling on lap 30 and never looked back. Dowling hung on to finish second with Rowan Pennink, third. Eric Berndt and Stephen Kopcik rounded out the top five.
Christopher is the Staffords all-time winningest driver with 131 feature wins including 109 SK Modified victories. His over-all lifetime total shows a whopping 373 wins. At 59 years of age he shows no means of slowing down in the near future.
Speaking of records, Keith Rocco added to his as he won his seventh SK Modified win of the year at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Rocco brought his track win total to 145wins, 87 of those in an SK Modified. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 245 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 43 at Stafford Speedway. Todd Owen was second and Kyle James was third.
Starting fifth on the grid, Rocco wasted no time by grabbing the lead away from Todd Owen on lap-3. Ted Christopher and Rob Janovic Jr. rounded out the top five.
Eric Goodale of Riverhead, N.Y. won the 125-lap Exit Realty Modified Touring Series event. Woody Pitkat of Stafford was second and Ted Christopher of Plainville third. Richard Savary and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five.
Other winners at the shoreline oval were Wayne Burroughs Jr. who recorded his third victory of the season in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature and Joey Ternullo who won the 25-lap Legends feature.
Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway, twin 50s were run for the Modifieds with Kyle Soper and John Fortin taking the wins. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes concludes a two week break as they head to the Riverhead Raceway this coming Saturday, Sept. 16.
The Southern Modified Racing Series (SMRS) ran Twin-50s at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. Tim Brown and Burt Myers scored the victories.
Closing out the weekend on Sunday the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park saluted the fans with the annual For the Fans Night and 20/20 Sprint Sunoco Modified event. The event featured giveaways and fan appreciation activities as the spotlight on the track was put squarely on the local drivers and divisions of Thompson with one final chance to gain points and a win before the season finale in October.
The main event was actually a series of three races, all featuring the drivers of the Sunoco Modified division looking for points, wins, and a big payday. The Sunoco 20/20 Sprint features two points paying races and a final 10-lap shootout with the ultimate goal of every driver to finish as high as possible, thus collecting the least amount of points in the process, with the lowest score after the three events earning one driver a payout and the glory of being the overall 20/20 Sprint winner. Three different victors were crowned over the course of the evening, starting with two of the division’s biggest stars each taking home a trophy for winning one of the 20-lap features.
The first feature event was an important one for a local racing legend, Ted Christopher, who started in the top three and worked his way through traffic and restarts to claim his 99th career victory. Christopher looked to make the evening a big one for his career as he came within two positions of taking win number 100 in the second 20-lap segment of the 20/20 Sprint, but it was not meant to be. Despite working his way through traffic following the inversion of the starting order based on the first feature’s finish, Christopher made contact with the backstretch wall on a restart which eventually led to hard contact between Christopher and Matt Gallo taking both drivers out of the remainder of the event. Hoping to defend his 2016 title, Keith Rocco charged during the second segment and took his own victory.
While Christopher and Rocco drove home with trophy’s they were not consistent enough to take the overall 20/20 Sprint win however. That right went to Todd Owen, who sits second in the points behind Keith Rocco and turned a third place finish in segment two and a pair of second place finishes in the first and final segments into a big payday. Owen finished second to Troy Talman in the final ten-lap sprint, securing the 20/20 Sprint title to close out the evening.
The Late Models kicked off the evening with Ray Parent looking to build on his points lead and defending champion William Wall working to make up ground, but it was a new name that found his way into victory lane at the conclusion of the 25-lap feature. In his first race back after a work injury sidelined his racing venture Ryan Morgan took the checkered flag for his first win of the season and first win at Thompson.
The Limited Sportsman 20-lap feature saw the best of the division duke it out for a victory with the championship still up for grabs. Points leader Shawn Monahan saw early success, but it was his closest competition in the points Scott Sundeen who drove his way to the front enduring three way battles and an early race caution to take home the trophy.
In the Mini Stocks a former champion returned to his winning ways, and just in time too as the season draws to a close. It has not been an easy year for 2015 division champion Dave Trudeau, but he recovered well and finally found his way back to victory lane for the first time since the 2017 Icebreaker weekend in April. Finally in the Lite Modifieds Glenn Griswold made his way to victory lane.
In NASCAR Monster Cup racing, Kyle Larson and his Chip Ganassi Racing team snatched NASCAR’s last victory before the start of the playoffs Saturday night at Richmond. Brad Keselowski ran down Kyle Busch with 16 laps to go and drove away to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Richmond Raceway.
Last year, 2021, The Tri Track circuit returned to Seekonk Speedway on Wednesday, August 25, for the conclusion of the $10,000 to win Open Wheel Wednesday Speed51.TV Modified Madness.. It was originally slated for June 30, but a power outage in the area that night forced it to be postponed.
With temps in the low 90’s Matt Hirschman endured as he went non-stop, pole to pole to take the $10,000 win. His only challenge came from Chase Dowling over the final four laps. Anthony Nocella finished third. It was the fourth time that Hirschman has been victorious in the $10,000 to win event. Hirschman went from second to first on the opening lap and led all 100 circuits of the event. Dowling was able to get to the bumper of the leader with five laps to go, as Hirschman went to the outside of lapped car Blake Barney. Hirschman would work the top groove on Barney all the way until the field took the white flag, while Dowling tried to find a way to the bottom three-wide. Richard Savary charged from the back of the field to fourth, while rising star Joey Cipriano drove the Bob Horn prepared entry into the top-five. Ron Silk was sixth, followed by Robie, Doug Coby, Les Hinckley and Pro Stock standout Angelo Belsito.
Friday saw the fourth day in a row of 90 degree plus temperatures and high humidity in the New England area and despite threats of thunder showers it was another fantastic night of racing at Stafford.Scoring feature wins on the night were Stephen Kopcik in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the Late Model feature, Anthony Bello was a first time career winner in the SK Light feature, Gary Patnode in the Limited Late Model feature, and Chris Meyer in the Street Stock feature. The Kids Night Big Wheel Race was won by Brantley Sullivan, son of Stafford SK Light driver Brian Sullivan.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Marcello Rufrano took the the lead from polesitter Matt Vassar on the first lap and began to set the early pace. Teddy Hodgdon quickly moved into third with Tyler Hines taking fourth and Bryan Narducci taking fifth on lap-5 to drop David Arute back to sixth, just in front of Stephen Kopcik.
Rufrano took the lead on a lap 13 restart with Hines right behind him in second and Kopcik in third. Rufrano led Kopcik, Hines, Vassar, and Narducci to the halfway point of the race. Kopcik got around Hines to move into second and he was applying heavy pressure to Rufrano for the lead on lap-25. The top-3 cars had slightly pulled away from Vassar, Hodgdon, and Narducci and on lap-27 Kopcik went to the front of the field. Debris in turn 1 brought the caution back out with 28 laps complete.
Kopcik again took the lead on the restart with Rufrano and Hines right behind him. Hodgdon and Vassar were side by side for fourth place with Arute in sixth. Arute took fifth from Vassar on lap-32 while Hines, Hodgdon, and Rufrano briefly went 3-wide on lap-33 in the fight for second. Hines emerged in second with Hodgdon and Rufrano still fighting side by side for third. Todd Owen was on a late race charge as he moved into fifth and dropped Arute back to sixth with Narducci in seventh place. Owen continued his march to the front by taking third from Hodgdon on lap-37 just before the caution came out for spins in turn 3 by Noah Korner and Mark Alkas.
Kopcik resumed his place out front back under green while Hodgdon charged up to second. Owen took third from Hines as the field took the white flag with Arute in fifth. Kopcik led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2021 season. Hodgdon finished second with Owen, Hines, and Arute rounding out the top-5. Rufano faded to eighth at the finish.
Up next for the Whelen Modified Tour is a trip to Owesgo Speedway on Sept. 4
At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Andrew Molleur won round two of the Fast Five Series that honored Eddie Flemke and Eddie Flemke Jr. The event which paid $4,000 to win was sponsored by the Ron Bouchard Auto Stores and the Racing Guys. Cory DiMatteo finished second with Todd Owen, third. Mike Christopher Jr and Matt Galko rounded out the top five.
All season long, the outside groove at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl has brought out the best in Andrew Molleur so when he started on the outside against Cory DiMatteo with seven laps remaining in Saturday’s 50-lap SK Modified Fast Five feature, the 18-year-old thought he had an advantage.
Molleur captured his biggest paycheck of the season, but the win didn’t come easily. He was in second place for most of the race, trailing DiMatteo, who has rocketed to the lead on lap 19, overwhelming Todd Owen. There was a series of restarts late in the race and DiMatteo decided to restart on the inside.
“This is a tough race to lose,” DiMatteo said. “I definitely had the fastest car. I beat Molleur on the outside a few laps earlier, but for some reason I chose to restart on the inside late in the race.”
The outside turned Molleur’s car into a lightning bolt. “This definitely was a fun race,” Molleur said. “I have to thanks all the people responsible. I had a great time.”
There were 27 Modifieds that attempted to take the green flag, including two veteran drivers who were coming off long layoffs. Seven time SK Modified champion Dennis Gada ran inside the Top 10 for most of the race before finishing 13th. NEAR Hall of Famer Ed Flemke Jr. moved into fifth place late in the race before being involved in an altercation and finishing 11th.
Owen, the winner of the first Fast Five event, started on the pole and led for the first 19 laps before relinquishing the lead to DiMatteo. He fell back to fifth before rallying to finish third.
In other Speedbowl action Saturday, Justin Palmer went nose-to-nose with Ray Christian for 27 laps before pulling out a win in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Wayne Burroughs used his outside lane expertise to hold off Buddy Charette in the 25-lap SK Lite Modified race. Tom Silva remained scalding hot in the Mini Stocks, rolling to his third consecutive win.
A big shout-out to Jacob Perry and David Arute who finished second and fourth in the 75 lap Modified Racing Series action at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine this past Saturday night. Former Modified Racing Series champion Anthony Nocella took the win. Brian Robie finished third.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Kyle Soper came from last to first to win the Bubba 100. The last to first performance is the second time the race run in memory of Bob “Bubba” Patanjo that the winning driver came from last to win as Tom Rogers Jr. turned the trick in the inaugural event in 2020.
The Coke Zero Sugar 400 NASCAR Cup Series’ regular-season finale at Daytona International Speedway unfolded as billed with dramatic action all Saturday night that included 45 lead changes, a 14-minute red-flag period and a wild final lap of overtime to decide the championship playoff picture.
Ultimately, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney managed it all and took his second NASCAR Cup Series victory in as many weeks as a huge multicar accident happened behind him in the last corners of the track on the final lap. Ryan Preece had his best finish to date as he came home in fourth spot.
The New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame announced a class of 10 inductees for 2021, which included two veterans inductees.
The class includes legendary Modified innovator Bob Cuneo, co-founder of Chassis Dynamics, racing announcers John Spence Sr. and Pete Falconi, driver and tire distributer Dave Lind, driver Dave Grantz, former Lime Rock Park owner Jim Haynes, Jeff Horn and veteran inductees Andy Cote and Ted Stack.along with former NASCAR Busch North champion Kelly Moore
The NEAR New England Racing Hall of Fame induction dinner will be held Nov. 14 at the Westford Regeny Inn in Westford, Mass.
Saturday night September 4th Riverhead Raceway owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz will proudly induct three successful and popular former driving stars onto the Cromarty Wall of Champions right after completion of opening ceremonies. Dan Jivanelli of Hampton Bays, Jack Orlando of Calverton and the late Fredrick “Spider” Ligon of Riverhead will all take their rightful place on the wall that greets fans in the third turn midway.