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

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1947, Ted Tappet scored a win in the Midgets at Lonsdale.  Seekonk ended the year on a sour note when an unnamed competitor lost his life.

Seventy years ago in 1952, Dave Humphrey won a 50 lap Stock Car event at Seekonk.

Sixty five years ago in 1957 Johnny Rocco took the win at Old Bridge. Red Bolduc was the Sportsman winner at Seekonk and Bill Randall won the companion Midget division event.

Sixty Years ago in 1962 Smokey Boutwell made it two in a row at Norwood. Freddie Schulz was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Also on the card were the Midgets which ran 100 laps with King Carpenter taking the win. Fred Harbach won a 100 lapper at Islip. At Old Bridge Tommie Elliott took the win over Elton Hildreth.

Fifty five years ago, in 1967, rain washed out all racing in New England. The only action was at the Utica-Rome Speedway where a 150-lap season finale was held. Don MacTavish took the win over Jerry Cook, Bill Wimble, Sonney Seamon and Kenny Shoemaker. Wimble was crowned the Modified Track Champion and Bernie Miller was the Sportsman champion. Ralph “Hop” Harrington won the Bay State 200 at Norwood. George Summers was the Class A winner at Seekonk. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Richard Petty won the 500-lap event by four laps over Dick Hutcherson. Pete Hamilton was the Late Model Sportsman winner at Thompon.

Fifty years ago, in 1972, the modifieds headed to Martinsville for a 100 lapper. Local favorite Paul Radford took the win over Denis Giroux, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Bugsy Stevens. Stevens’ hopes of a fourth national title were going away as Cook held an 890-point lead. Jim Shampine took the season ending Oswego Modified-Sportsman 200.Eddie Flemke finished second with Mike Loescher, Roger Treichler and Geoff Bodine rounding out the top five.

Forty five years ago in 1977, a full plate of racing was to be had both in the northeast and in the south. Stafford ran an open competition 30 lapper on Friday night with Ronnie Bouchard being declared the winner after the event was stopped after 19 laps because of rain. Bugsy Stevens ended up in second with John Rosati, third. Seekonk’s 100 lap open and Islip’s All Star 300 also fell victim to rain as well as the Sunday Small Block Modified event at Thompson. In the Southland, Donald”Satch”Worley won the fall 150 at Martinsville on Saturday afternoon. Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Wayne Anderson rounded out the top 5. The modifieds headed up the road on Saturday night to the Franklin County Speedway where Geoff Bodine took the win over Paul Radford, Worley, Troyer and Cook.

Forty years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his dream year of almost total domination of the modifieds as he won the annual Race of Champions at the Pocono International Speedway. Sacks took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 160 of the 250-lap event. Richie Evans moved past Spencer on lap 169 and dogged Sacks to the finish. Spencer held is own in third spot until he lost an engine on lap 221. Ray Miller ended up third with Graeme Bolia fourth and George Summers rounding out the top five. During pre-race activities, driver and car builder Maynard Troyer was presented the Fred DeSarro Memorial Award. Shortly after the presentation Troyer announced that he was retiring from driving at the conclusion of the event. Brian Horn won the National Parts Peddler Street Stock Championship event. Jan Leaty finished second. Waterford’s Mike Lovetere finished fourth. Among those in the street stock event was Ricky Fuller. Although he didn’t finish in the top five in the main, Fuller was the big show in the consi as he came from a 27th starting spot to take the lead in six laps on the tricky ¾ mile oval. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Darrell Waltrip took the 500-mile win over Kyle Petty.

Thirty five years ago in 1987, George Brunnhoelzl Jr. made his mark in the record books as he won the Race of Champions at Pocono. Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett Jr. on lap 185 and never looked back for the remainder of the 250-lap event. Doug Hevron finished second and was followed by George Kent, Wayne Edwards, Roger Treichler and Ron Shepherd. Peter”Buzzie”Erickson was the winner of the companion Street Stock event. Two Hundred Forty eight cars, including 108 modifieds were entered into competition. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.

Thirty years ago in 1992, the entire East Coast was covered with rain.

Twenty five years ago in 1997, the re-born Race of Champions was run at Oswego. With the exception of Tony Hirschman, Jan Leaty, Tim Arre and Ted Christopher, the event drew mostly local drivers from Lancaster and Tioga. Hirshman, driving a Leaty teamcar, won the 200-lap event. Leaty finished second and was followed by Arre. At one time, the ROC was ‘THE” modified event but since falling on hard times a few years ago when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to ignore the event now. Saturday night action at Waterford rained out. At Dover Downs, Buckshot Jones spun while leading with 14 laps to go and handed the Grand National victory to Joe Bessey. Randy LaJoie finished second. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Kyle Petty had the field covered until he was forced to pit for fuel with 20 laps to go. Mark Martin took the win with Dale Earnhardt coming home in second spot.

Twenty years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was off .The series point standings showed Eddie Flemke still leading by a slim margin of five points over Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik, who had all but conceded a repeat title until his Thompson 300 win, sat third, seventeen points behind Flemke. By virtue of his Loudon win, Chuck Hossfeld had moved to within 48 points of the leader. Fifth thru tenth were Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Nevin George, John Blewett III and Jamie Tomaino. NASCAR’s Jim Hunter said, “The short tracks and the regional tours are the backbone of NASCAR. NASCAR”s Chris Boals said that the sanctioning body was developing a strategic plan to boost these series. Boals said that just about everything was now in place and an announcement should be coming from NASCAR in the not too distant future. Evidently part of the plan was the announcement made that The National NWRS Champion, Peter Daniels, will be invited to the NYC Banquet. Also, all of the Regional Touring Series Champions (including the FMS and the BNS) will be a part of the banquet. This was announced in the Drivers Meeting at New Hampshire.

The regular weekly racing in Southern New England was slowly but surely coming to a halt. Thompsom ran their final Thursday night Thunder series, which turned into a slugfest between Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher. Gunning had taken the lead from Christopher on lap 14 and was holding the former National Champion at bay until the final lap. Christopher made a move to the bottom and the two came together. Gunning went on to take the win as Christopher gathered it back up to finish second. Christopher claims the move was deliberate, Gunning, on the other hand said, “That’s racing”. Tom Fox finished third. Stafford was idle on Friday night. Tom Fox got a definite gift at Waterford on Saturday night. Dennis Charette had led a good part of the event with Fox on the outside. With 12 laps to go, Fox got a little wiggly in turn four and the next thing you know, both were in the fence. Both were able to drive away. Charette pitted and Fox took a position at the head of the field. Fox definitely lost foreword motion and should have re-started in the rear. It is common practice that when one causes the caution, which he did, and when one loses foreword motion, which he did, the car in question goes to the rear. Ed Reed Jr. finished second and closed the gap to 28 points behind Dennis Gada who is looking to win the championship. Gada had his problems and had to pit with a broken tie rod but made a remarkable recovery as he came from the back to nip Ron Yuhas Jr. at the finish line and record a fourth place finish. Mark Lajunesse finished third as he too, received a gift from officials. During the closing laps Ron Silk was attempting to pass Lajunesse on the outside in turn two when Silk felt that Lajunesse rode him up and he hit the wall. With obvious right side damage, Silk managed to make the next re-start and dumped Lajunesse into the infield as a pay back. Silk was black flagged and bounced for the night and Lajunesse was given his spot back.

Fifteen years ago in 2007 The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed back to Thompson to complete the Modified Mania weekend that was cut short by rain on September 9. As the weekend approached it appeared that NASCAR was dragging its feet as far as declaring officially who was the winner of the recent event at Loudon on September 15. Todd Szegedy had taken the apparent win when NASCAR decided to take a closer look at his intake manifold before making an official decision. It took five days to make a decision as it was announced late on Thursday that the part in question was declared legal and the win would stand.

Ronnie Silk earned his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour during the running of part two of Modified Mania II. Silk scored a popular win in the Whelen Modified Tour 150 at Thompson in front of a crowded house. In the opening stages of the event current point leader Donnie Lia and Ron Yuhas, Jr. ran at the head of the field. After making tracks through the pack, Christopher dogged leader Lia. At lap 55, the bulk of the field came down to pit road for service. Christopher opted to stay out on the track to inherit the lead on the restart. Silk had moved into the third spot with Reggie Ruggiero taking chase.During a long green flag run, Silk’s car continued to get better. He was able to take the top spot from Christopher one lap shy of the century mark taking Ruggiero along for the ride. Szegedy had gotten by Lia and started to make his presence known.On a restart late in the race, Ruggiero was able to power by Silk to take command of the race. Silk, never far behind, continued to chase the new leader. On lap 137, Silk got underneath Ruggiero and with sparks flying Silk was the leader once again on lap 138. A caution on lap 139 shook up the running order inside the top five. Contact between Christopher and Flemke ended with Flemke in the outside wall and Christopher on pit road to serve a one-lap penalty. Silk easily held off the competition on the final single file restart to score the popular win. Ruggiero settled for second ahead of Szegedy. Bobby Santos and James Civali rounded out the top five. Series point leader Don Lia finished eighth.

In True Value Modified Racing at Thompson Louie Mechalides turned in a dominating performance to win the 75-lapper for the northern New England based series. The event, which had been stopped by rain two weeks previous resumed on lap four with Andy Seuss at the helm with Chris Pasteryak and Jimmy Kuhn taking chase. Seuss held the top spot through a number of early race cautions. An early incident directly behind the leader that started when Brian Schofield got out of shape, caused a chain reaction that collected a number of cars including championship contenders Kirk Alexander and Les Hinckley along with Rich Savary and others. Alexander was taken off the track by double hook.The young driver held off several advances from Mechalides before relinquishing the lead on lap 15. Seuss saw his great run come to an end on lap 27 when his racer made hard contact with the outside wall. Everything was going Mechalides way as Hinckley was making great strides heading back to the front of the pack. Thompson Speedway regular Tommy Cravenho made it interesting in the closing laps giving Mechalides all he could handle. In the end, Mechalides was up to the task taking down the victory over Cravenho. Jon McKennedy came home third ahead of Jimmy Kuhn and Hinckley.

In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway a season packed with racing excitement at Thompson International Speedway came down to the final Thursday night with champions crowned in all six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. At the night’s end, Woody Pitkat made his first appearance in Sunoco Modified victory lane. But, it was Keith Rocco who drove his Bannister Motorsports #6 to a fifth place finish to earn the team their second championship in three seasons. In Pro Stock action, Mike O’Sullivan, scored his second Thompson Pro Stock championship in winning-style taking down Thursday night’s feature win. In similar fashion, Kurt Vigeant capped off his first TIS Modified championship with a feature win in the regular season finale. John Materas earned his first career Late Model win in a wild main event that also found Rick Gentes in for the divisional championship. Larry Barnett scored his fourth Limited Sportsman feature win while a seventh place finish allowed a retiring Keith DeSanctis to go out as a champion. Scott Michalski made it two in a row in Mini Stock competition but it was Mike Romano who took the championship.

Pitkat saved the best for last; earning his lone feature win in the finale. After a 2007 season of consistent finishes, Pitkat was in the running for the track title on the final night. He took the lead just after halfway and withstood heavy pressure from Kerry Malone to score the victory; however it was not enough to catch the point leader Rocco. An opening lap melee that started with contact in the front row ended with Masse hard into the outside wall in the turn one. Also collected were championship contenders Rocco and Tommy Cravenho as well as Bert Marvin. With the race underway, Geoff Gernhard was the early leader with Josh Steeves coming along for the ride in second. Steeves made a move on Gernhard to take the lead on lap four with Malone and Pitkat battling hard for the third spot. A pair of laps later, Pitkat was able to race ahead of Gernhard to take over the second spot. Malone put the young driver back to fourth. Meanwhile, Cravenho and Rocco were making their way back to the front. On lap 10, Cravenho was sixth and Rocco eighth. Up front, Steeves continued to lead Pitkat. Malone ran in second a comfortable margin ahead of Gernhard. On lap 13, Cravenho joined the top five. Rocco mirrored his moves to run in the sixth position. The #0 of Danny LeJeunesse came to rest on the backstretch on lap 14 to bring out the second caution. The restart pitted Steeves against Pitkat for the top spot. Steeves was up for the challenge and held on to the lead on the race. On lap 16, Pitkat got a run Steeves to take over the top spot. Steeves bobbled after contact with Pitkat; opening the door for Malone. Steeves was shuffled back into third. Cravenho had cleared Gernhard to move into the fourth. Rocco made his first appearance in the top-five on lap 21. Malone tailed Pitkat lap after lap while Cravenho was getting racy for third. Despite the efforts of both Malone and Cravenho they had to settle back in line. At the checkers, it was Pitkat in for the win over Malone. Steeves edged out Cravenho by inches to finish third. The newly crowned champion Rocco rounded out the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their regular Friday night season. Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco, who had wrapped up the Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Championship the previous evening, won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joe Allegro, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagan in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Rob Lawrence in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Willie Hardie leading the first two laps of the race before Lloyd Agor moved out front. Agor held the lead until lap-6 when Jeff Malave moved out front. Malave’s pass allowed Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher to both move by Agor, dropping him from the lead to fourth place. Agor would continue to backslide as Woody Pitkat and Brad Hietala moved into the fourth and fifth positions. The race ran green to lap-32 before the first caution came out and erased a sizeable lead for Malave. Malave would hold the race lead until lap-38 when he drifted up the track just enough in turn 4 to allow Rocco to dive to the bottom and take the lead. The caution came back out and set up a green white checkered finish. Rocco took the lead on the restart with Ted Christopher and Malave locked in a side by side duel for second. That side by side action gave Rocco all the cushion he needed as he took his fourth feature win of the 2007 season. Christopher finished second, with Pitkat, Malave, and Doug Coby rounding out the top-5.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval wrapped up its 2007 season with the Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. Dennis Gada won the battle but lost the war as Rob Janovic finished third and wrapped up the track championship. Don Fowler finished second with Diego Monahan and Jeff Pearl rounding out the top five. According to reports the Speedbowl took it on the chin at the front gate as attendance was way off for this event. The Thompson Speedway opted to run their rained out Modified Mania on the same date so as to accommodate an event that was held at the Oswego Speedway in New York. Because of the fact that Waterford and Thompson are NASCAR sanctioned and Oswego is not makes it hard to believe why NASCAR would let this conflict occur between two of their tracks that are less than 60 miles apart and draw from the same fan base. Both tracks shell out considerable money to the Daytona based organization. Letting a situation like this occur leads one to believe that NASCAR doesn’t care two cents about its short tracks.

Carl Edwards was the Nextel Cup winner at Dover Downs. Denny Hamlin was the Busch Series winner. Joey Logano finished second but became the NASCAR Busch East Series’ first rookie champion in the Sunoco 150 at Dover International Speedway Friday afternoon. Sean Caisse took the race lead from Logano with just eight laps to go, and then withstood a final charge by Logano to win by a car length.

Ten years ago in 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Loudon, NH for the F.W. Webb 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Thirty One Modifieds were on hand for the event. In early Friday morning practice Donnie Lia was the fastest of the fast as he topped the speed chart in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice. Lia toured the Magic Mile in 28.952 seconds at an average speed of 131.556 mph. Rowan Pennink was second quickest in the 95-minute practice session, turning a lap of 29.196 seconds (130.456 mph). He was followed by Ron Silk, Ted Christopher and Patrick Emerling. Completing the top 10 were Eric Beers, Doug Coby, Jimmy Blewett, Mike Stefanik and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Ryan Newman.

Lia carried his speed over to qualifying as he won the Coors Light Pole for the F.W. Webb 100. The two-time tour champion lapped the Loudon oval in 29.352 seconds at an average speed of 129.763 mph. Doug Coby, was second quickest with a lap of 29.571 seconds (128.802 mph). He was followed by Ron Silk, Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman turned in the sixth fastest lap on his first qualifying lap, then bounced off the Turn 2 wall on his second lap. Newman drove to the garage with damage to the nose of his car. Jimmy Blewett, Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Mike Stefanik completed the top 10 in qualifying.

Doug Coby held on in a two-lap dash to the finish to win the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to score his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. In a race that featured lead changes on nearly every lap early on, Coby took command on Lap 84 and never relinquished the top spot. While he charged to the checkered flag after a restart with two laps remaining, second-place running Ted Christopher ended up slamming the wall after contact from Donny Lia, who went on to take the runner-up spot as the race finished under caution. Lia, who restarted fourth clipped Christopher from behind and turned him into the front stretch wall. Christopher bounced off the wall and careened into the inside wall that protects the pit area.

Christopher used a few choice expletives to express his displeasure with Lia’s driving. Lia had a different story. “We were gonna fight for the win and I got a run there on the 3 car [Christopher] and got into the back of him, unintentionally, and caused a wreck,” Lia said. “It’s racing, I feel really bad about it, by no means was it intentional. I got a run and was trying to go to the bottom and got him in the left rear corner.” Following Coby and Lia across the finish line were Ron Silk, Ryan Newman and Rowan Pennink. Eric Beers, Richie Pallai Jr., Matt Hirschman, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Ryan Preece rounded out the top 10.

Perfect weather, clear and in the low 70’s greeted competitors alike. Prior to the start of the event

Boehler Racing Crew Chief Scott Richards gave Ted Christopher his marching orders. “Turn the fans on when the green drops and treat the first 50 laps as a practice session”. After starting fifth he ran consistently between fifth and tenth until the half way break. Following the break Christopher began his march to the front. By lap 76 Christopher was in the lead as he passed Doug Coby in turn three. Coby and Christopher were left to settle it prior to the hit by Lia.

The planned 50 lap break took a lot of pressure off crews to perform but it robbed the fans of the excitement that pit stops generate. The only excitement was the possibility of a fire when an individual who was fueling Patrick Emerling’s car accidentally spilled a lot of gas on the ground. Woody Pitkat, who was parked directly behind Emerling stated “Who ever fueled the 07 is a retard”.

Mike Stefanik, who won the July race in Loudon returned with a new car and great expectations for a repeat performance. Stefanik started tenth and got as high as sixth at one point before his engine suffered an internal malfunction on lap 31 and ended his day.

Sixteen of the original 31 starters finished on the lead lap. In addition to Christopher getting wrecked on lap 99 Eric Goodale was also collected in the same incident. Wade Cole started 30th and finished two laps down in19th spot. Extremely under funded, Cole stayed out of trouble and all things considered had a good day.

Mike Christopher made his only start of 2012. Starting 28th, his car appeared to be under powered as he was never a factor as he too was two laps down at the finish ending his day in 20th spot. Long Islander Johnny Bush also had an off day as he was also two laps down in 21st position.

Patrick Emerling, who finished 12th on the lead lap, triggered a big wreck on lap 92 in turn one that took out Woody Pitkat, Bryan Chew, Todd Szegedy and Matt Hirschman. Emerling bounced off the lapped car of Jimmy Blewett.

Donny Lia, who went on to take the runner-up spot as the race finished under caution, was not penalized for his over aggressiveness by NASCAR.

There were five cautions for 17 laps. The event went non-stop until the mandatory stop at lap 50. The second caution was for Jimmy Blewett who spun between turns three and four. The third caution came on lap 87 when it appeared that Blewett dropped oil on the track. The third caution was for the Emerling triggered wreck on lap 92, the fourth and fifth cautions were for the Christopher wreck and the ultimate finish under caution

There were 23 official lead changes among six drivers. D. Lia 1-3; R. Preece 4; D. Lia 5; R. Preece 6-11; R. Silk 12; R. Preece 13-14; R. Silk 15; R. Preece 16; R. Silk 17; R. Preece 18-19; D. Lia 20-23; R. Silk 24; D. Lia 25; D. Coby 26; D. Lia 27; D. Coby 28; D. Lia 29-45; P. Emerling 46; D. Lia 47-61; D. Coby 62-68; D. Lia 69-73; D. Coby 74-76; T. Christopher 77-83; D. Coby 84-100. There were numerous lead changes within the laps.

Doug Coby leads the point standings by 22 over Ryan Preece. Ron Silk sits third with Don Lia, fourth. Todd Szegedy rounds out the top five.

The purse for the 100 lap modified event was $159, 528. With Doug Coby earning $12,000 plus for his win, a nice amount but when one considers past winners were earning upwards of $18,000 grand, that is a big drop. Donny Lia earned $8,600 for second and Ronnie Silk earned $6,600 for third but the big question is why wasn’t the field filled, even if it was teams pulling out a backup car just to do a start and park for the roughly $2,000 to take the green. In the past, that was a common factor but with the field being short, that $159,000 purse was reduced by $10,000.

A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway stated that the Whelen Modifieds would be back for two events in 2013. That announcement would leave one to believe that Speedway Motorsports has no intention of moving any events away from NHMS at this time. The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final this weekend.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night it was a well deserved week off as track management and competitors prepare for the season ending Fall Final that is scheduled for this coming weekend.

In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program was highlighted by twin 35-lap SK Modified® features, the premier weekly division at the track. Tyler Chadwick of Ledyard won the first of the two races, his fifth of the year, while Tom Abele Jr. of Norwich won the night’s second feature, his first on the season. Cam McDermott of North Scituate, RI picked up his second checkered flag of the year in the SK Light Modifieds. Dan Darnstaedt of Durham scored the Street Stock feature race win and Garrett Denton of Hope Valley, RI grabbed his first Mini Stock division victory of 2012. The X-Car division competed in an event for their Saturday Showdown Series, won by Wayne Shifflett of Preston.

Among the surprise entries at the shoreline oval was NEAR Hall of Fame Legend Bob Potter. The 71-year old is a six-time Speedbowl track champion. He has been in the driver’s seat giving race fans at Stafford Motor Speedway the racecar experience in the two-seater SK Light Modified this season at the track. Potter also won five SK Modified championships at Stafford and ranks fourth all-time on the track’s SK Modified win list with 24 career victories, drove for car owner Pat Doherty in the SK Light Modified feature event. Potter finished eighth.

NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach Fla announced that Lee Pulliam, 24, of Semora, N.C., won the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in just his sixth year of racing and fourth year in asphalt Late Models. Pulliam rolled up 22 wins, 30 top fives and 32 top 10s in 36 starts to run away with the national championship. He out-distanced runner-up Keith Rocco, 794-748. Rocco dislocated his wrist and broke a bone in an accident during practice at Thompson July 29. He had surgery and missed an entire weekend of racing.

Rocco has nothing to be ashamed of as he finished second in the final standings for the second straight year and third time in four years. Rocco had 14 wins, 26 top fives and 32 top 10s in 43 starts racing his asphalt Modified at Connecticut’s Thompson International Raceway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. He won his fifth straight state title and has finished in the top five nationally seven consecutive seasons.

Only four points separated the rest of the top five. CE Falk III finished third with 728, followed by Nate Monteith with 726 and Ryan Preece with 724

Pulliam’s wins were spread among four tracks including 10 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., nine at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, two at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C., and one at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. He placed third in points at Motor Mile and South Boston running a partial schedule at each. He also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia championship.

In Sprint Cup racing Denny Hamlin put together a dominating performance at Loudon. Despite qualifying 32nd, Hamlin charged up through the field and drove into the lead before lap 100. Once out front, Hamlin was never seriously challenged as he drove to his first victory at the 1.058-mile asphalt oval. The victory, the 100th for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sprint Cup competition, moved Hamlin up to third in the series standings, only seven points out of the lead. Jimmie Johnson finished second and moved into the championship lead by one point over Brad Keselowski, who finished sixth. Jeff Gordon rebounded from his 32nd-place finish at Chicagoland and finished third. Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne completed the top five.

Austin Dillon completed a sweep of the season’s two NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Kentucky Speedway with a dominant victory in Saturday’s Kentucky 300. Dillon led 65 laps, driving his grandfather Richard Childress’ Chevrolet on the day after the team owner’s birthday. He beat Sam Hornish Jr. to the checkered flag by 1.059 seconds for his second victory of the season in his rookie season in the series.

Five years ago in 2017, Calling hours and a funeral service were held for Ted Christopher early last week. The line for those who came to pay their respects was nearly three-quarters of a mile long. Past champions Mike McLaughlin, Tony Hirschman were in line as well as Randy LaJoie. Ted Christopher’s race car was parked in the Bailey Funeral Home lot. Many mourners wore pins and other mementos with the number “13,” Christopher’s racing number. An estimated 3500 people attended.

The Hartford Courant reported, one person with a No. 13 pin was Zunilda “Zee” Rocco of Berlin. She was there because her twins, Keith and Jeff, became interested in racing in their mid-teens. Christopher, himself a twin who started his racing career with his brother Michael, took the Rocco twins on and taught them about cars.

Jeff went on to work in Christopher’s Plainville transmission shop while Keith joined the No. 13 pit crew, learned racing and eventually became a racer, competing at times against his mentor, Rocco said. “Ted was a wonderful guy. He and my husband raced years ago in the 1970s. He was a terrific man,” she said. “What a sad thing.” As she talked, Rocco tried to eat a rapidly-melting vanilla ice cream cone. Christopher loved ice cream, “had it after every race,” Rocco said. The Christopher family had two ice cream trucks parked on Broad Street to give free ice cream to mourners, a gift to people who came to pay their respects.

Town public works crews also handed out cold bottled water to people lining the sidewalks in the 90-degree afternoon heat. The wake was the first job of this type that Connecticut Ice Cream co-owner said he ever had. He said his truck had about 1000 ice cream treats to give away free to people. This truck offered maple walnut – Ted’s favorite.

A church packed with mourners gathered Tuesday morning for racing legend Ted Christopher’s funeral service. A church packed with mourners gathered Tuesday for the funeral service that lasted over 90 minutes.

In Friday night racing action at the Stafford Motor Speedway the evening began with a tribute to Ted Christopher, Stafford Speedway’s all-time winningest driver with 131 career feature wins, who passed away last Saturday, Sept 16, in a plane crash while heading to Riverhead Raceway.

Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the Late Model feature, Dan Wesson in the SK Light feature, Bryan Narducci in the Limited Late Model feature, and George Bessette, Jr. scored his very first win in the DARE Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, the race started with the pole position left vacant for Ted Christopher. Keith Rocco, who is a former crew member on the Christopher race team, took the lead from Ron Williams on lap-18 while Glen Reen moved up to third with Tyler Hines fourth and Josh Wood fifth as the field completed lap-20.

Rocco started to pull away from Williams who was in turn was pulling away from Reen, Stephen Kopcik, and Hines. Rocco led Williams to the white flag with Kopcik third, Reen fourth, and Hines in fifth. The entire field pulled down pit road after taking the white flag with Stafford Speedway announcers Ben Dodge and Matt Buckler calling Ted Christopher home as the winner. Rocco was on a mission and did his mentor proud. Very emotional and almost speechless Rocco dedicated the win to his friend, idol and teacher. It was Rocco’s 44th SK Modified win at Stafford.

Cassie Rocco pretty much summed it up when she stated last Saturday of the Arute Family and the Stafford Speedway “Thank you for everything you did last night, you honored Ted in away that will never be topped. Everything you did for his family and friends, his fans, everyone, it goes above and beyond anyone’s expectations.” She added,” The love and support that was felt last night was overwhelming to say the least but it is exactly what everyone needed, I’m honored to have you as my HomeTrack, you are an amazing family with amazing hearts.

In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series racing at Loudon, NH, Bobby Santos found the bottom groove had the most grip on the track in the final circuits. Santos took the lead on lap 90 for the first time in Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100, but lost the lead to Patrick Emerling on lap 96. He took his No. 44 Sully Tinio/Brendan Kelley Music Chevrolet back to the front on lap 97 and wasn’t challenged back to the checkered flag in the final three circuits.

It was also the 32-year-old’s 16th career victory in his 131st career Whelen Modified Tour start. He crossed the line 0.610 seconds ahead of Rowan Pennink. Behind Pennink, Patrick Emerling finished third after leading seven laps. Donny Lia and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Eric Goodale, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat, Ryan Newman and Anthony Nocella. There were 28 cars on hand for the event.

Despite the fact that the NASCAR cup and Xfinity Series cars will no longer have a fall date at Loudon beginning in 2018 a Short Track Triple Header will run at the New Hampshire oval in their place. The venue will include a 250 lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series event plus the K&N Series Late Models and the NASCAR Canadian Pinty Series.

Keith Rocco carried his winning ways over to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night recording his 8th SK Modified win of the year. Kyle James had another strong run as he finished second. Matt Galko was third. Rocco brought his track win total to 147 wins, 88 of those in an SK Modified. Rocco also has 48 career Late Model victories, four Limited Sportsman division wins, three Valenti Modified Racing Series victories, two Truck Series wins, one Pro Four Modified win and one NEMA Lite win during his career at Waterford. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 248 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 44 at Stafford Speedway.

Other wins at the shoreline oval were Andrew Moller in the SK Lites over Bryan Narducci, Chris Meyer scored his fifth win of the season in the Limited Sportsman.

In a somewhat related fact it was forty years ago that George “Moose” Hewitt won his first of five Modified championships. This past week, his grandson, Kyle Gero won the Wacky Wednesday X Car championship at the Speedbowl.

Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway, John Baker won the 40 lap Modified event left over from Sept 2 and David Schneider won the regular 40 lapper.

Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, N.Y. captured the U.S. Open 125 Race of Champions Modified Series event on Sunday afternoon at Lancaster National Speedway in western New York. Jankowiak started on the pole and lead 124 of 125 laps for his first U.S. Open Modified victory and his seventh U.S. Open win overall. Matt Hirschman cruised to his second place finish in his first Modified start at Lancaster this season. Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville, N.Y. won the 75-lap Race of Champions Sunoco Sportsman feature for the second year in a row.

The 67th annual Race of Champions which was advertised to pay $12,500 to the winner, has been changed to pay $13,013.13-to-win in honor of Ted Christopher, who suddenly passed away recently, with 26 starting position paying $1,000-to-start.

Tyler Reddick took the opener of the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs on Saturday at Kentucky Speedway by running away with his first career victory. By finishing fourth, Ryan Preece tallied his third top-five finish in three starts with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Kyle Busch was the Monster Energy Cup winner in what was the final fall NASCAR Cup weekend at the New Hampshire Int Speedway.

Last year, 2021, At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island a solemn crowd paid tribute to fallen track owner Eddie Partridge as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series rolled into town on Saturday. Earlier in the day a funeral mass was celebrated in his honor at the St John the Baptist Church in Wading River on Long Island. Following the service, Partridge’s casket was loaded on to one of his tractors and was taken to the Riverhead Raceway where fans, competitors and officials paid homage to the fallen friend and mentor to many. From the raceway he was taken to the Wading River Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

Partridge would have wanted to have their scheduled event at Riverhead and race they did!

Twenty six cars were on hand for the 200 lap event. Pre-qualifying practice showed Justin Bonsignore to be the fastest followed by Doug Coby, Patrick Emerling, Dave Sapienza and Craig Lutz who was pinch hitting for Anthony Noscella who had other commitments.

Time trials proved to be a big surprise as local runner Tom Rogers took the pole after turning a lap in 11.51 seconds. Second fastest was Doug Coby who turned in an 11.58 second lap. Third was another local runner, Dave Brigati. Rounding out the top five was Justin Bonsignore and JB Fortin.

Patrick Emerling started off eighth and didn’t pose a threat early, mired in the middle of the top 10 but not making quick work of any competitor in particular. But a rash of cautions over the middle portion of the race allowed Emerling to methodically work into the top five.

Emerling got his best break after a lap 106 caution that saw leader Riverhead regular Dave Brigati turn another regular, Tim Rogers Jr., sideways in front of the field. Ron Silk climbed the left-front tire of Rogers’ car but all continued forward with the exception of Brigati and Mike Christopher Jr., who suffered a flat right front.

That chaos allowed Emerling to restart on the front row alongside Kyle Soper. Emerling got the better of Soper on that and multiple restarts and eventually pulled away to hold off a final charge from Bonsignore.

The race started clean and green with a 45-lap run led entirely by Rogers before Tyler Rypkema turned around and brought out the first caution of the day.

Shortly after the restart, Doug Coby found his trouble in Turn 3 and saw his hopes of a three-peat vanish. Coby was looking for the hat trick at Riverhead this year, but contact between him, Tom Rogers and the outside wall entering Turn 3 destroyed his front suspension at lap 54. Rogers moved up as Coby attempted to pass. That sent Coby behind the wall early and jeopardizes his chances at the 2021 owner’s championship heading into Stafford.

At lap 90, a pileup involving J.B. Fortin, Kyle Bonsignore and Craig Lutz in Turns 1 and 2 brought out the red flag after Lutz’s motor expired and laid oil on the racetrack. Lutz, pinch hitting for Anthony Noscella was hoping to break into the top 15 in points so as to cash in at seasons end.

The seventh caution of the race came at lap 133 when Dylan Slepian and Chuck Hossfeld got together and turned Slepian sideways in Turn 1. The final caution waved on lap 146 when Silk, Kyle Elwood and Eric Goodale tangled in turn one.

On the ensuing restart, Emerling got the jump and never looked back. Justin Bonsignore finished second with Roger Turbush, third. Kyle Soper and Eric Goodale rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Woody Pitkat, Timmy Solomito, Tom Rogers and Andy Jankowiak.

Going into the season ending event, this weeks Fall Final at Stafford, Justin Bonsignore holds a 16 point edge over Patrick Emerling. Ron Silk sits third, some 68 points back. Kyle Bonsignore has moved into fourth spot and is 74 points down while Woody Pitkat rounds out the top five, 77 points down from the leader. Doug Coby has slipped to sixth and Jon McKennedy, who missed Riverhead to compete in the SuperModified Classic at Star Speedway which he won, slipped to eighth while Eric Goodale has moved into seventh. The top 15 spots pay point money.

Anthony Nocella was also at the Star Speedway where he won the 100 lap MRS event Matt Swanson finished second with Donnie Lashua, third. Ronnie Williams, Brian Robie and Todd Owen rounded out the top six. Jacob Perry finished 21st.

Ronnie Williams made it two in a row in the Thompson Speedway Outlaw, non-NASCAR Open Modified Series by winning the Twisted Tea Tripoint Showdown 75 at the northeast Connecticut oval on Wednesday, September 15. Williams followed a pattern to his Midsummer 75 victory in August by coming on strong late in the going to take home another $5,000 top prize at the final tune-up for the $20,000-to-win Thompson 300.

The pole starting position was left open in honor of car owner and Riverhead Raceway owner Eddie Partridge who passed away the previous week. Williams and Chase Dowling led the field to the green flag with Williams leading the first seven laps in his Casella Racing machine before Dowling muscled inside entering turn two, bringing Jon McKennedy with him. After initially coming back on McKennedy, Williams began to drift back in the field. As he did, McKennedy made his move, grabbing the point from Dowling on lap 25. McKennedy then led a four-car breakaway of Dowling, Chris Pasteryak, and Richard Savary.

The complexion race shifted on lap 36 when Russ Hersey came to a halt at the pit road entrance, bringing out the first caution. Every lead lap car except McKennedy headed to the pits with all of them putting on a fresh right rear tire and some also making chassis adjustments. Chris Pasteryak won the race off pit road to restart second with Matt Swanson, Williams, Tyler Barry, and Dowling in tow.

McKennedy’s gamble looked good at first as the field diced for second on the restart, which allowed him to open a big lead. But once they got organized, Williams, Dowling, and Swanson ran McKennedy down. Williams dove under McKennedy coming into turn three on the 52nd circuit, then completed the crossover attempt to reassume the lead.

Five laps later, Barry’s Modified went up in smoke to trigger the second caution. McKennedy finally decided to pit, handing the second spot to Dowling with Swanson and Keith Rocco in his rear-view mirror. Keith Rocco, who had started the feature at tail after problems in qualifying, grabbed third on the restart and took second from Dowling a couple laps later.

Rocco had nothing for Williams, whose crew had again made all the right calls. The former Stafford Speedway champion was off into the night, pulling farther and farther away over the final laps and making him an early favorite for the Thompson 300 on October 10. Dowling attempted to put some heat on Rocco down the stretch before settling for third. Swanson and Richard Savary had solid top-five efforts while McKennedy could climb no higher than sixth after his late pit stop. Brett Meservey, Pasteryak, Rob Richardi Jr., and Paul Charette completed the top-10

In other Wednesday night action, Ryan Morgan padded his Late Model point lead with his first win of the year. Nicholas Hovey sped to his first career Thompson Speedway victory in the Vandi Auto Supply Limited Sportsmen. SK Light Modified point leader Anthony Bello of Newtown, CT extended the gap between himself and the competition with his second win of the season. Jared Roy made it three victories in four events for the Mini Stock division.

Car counts still need to grow. There were 19 Modifieds while all but six would be considered back markers. The Limited Sportsman field totaled 20. The Late Model field consisted of 11 cars. Most were competitive but not enough for a 5/8 mile track. The SK Lights numbered 10, enough for one good heat but not a feature. The Mini Stocks numbered nine, not so long ago their field numbered in the mid 20s. Whats the answer? Race purses are good maybe it is the stigma that was given off by the track owners.

Prior to the start of the racing program a pit meeting was conducted by track management. Cris Michaud, the co-owner of the American-Canadian Tour and Tom Mayberry, who owns the Pro All-Stars Series have overseen operations of the six-event schedule on the Thompson Oval in 2021. The management team will be back in 2022. Both have a vast experience in the operation of speedways. Michaud co-owns Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT and White Mountain Motorsports Park in North Woodstock, N.H. Mayberry owns Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine.

Thompson Speedway winds up its 2021 racing season with the annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing from Friday, October 8 to Sunday, October 10. The Sunday portion of the World Series features the return of the $20,000-to-win Thompson 300 for the Outlaw Open Modified Series. The weekend also includes the Sunoco Modified Triple Crown Series, ACT Late Model Tour, PASS Super Late Models, all local divisions, an 8-Cylinder Street Stock Open, and much more. Conspicuous by their absence are the SuperModifieds and the Modified Racing Series (MRS).

Last Friday at Stafford competitors enjoyed the night off as they prepared for this week’s Fall Final weekend. The Fall Final will consist of two separate racing events with separate tickets needed for each. On Friday night the Stafford Weekly Racing divisions will be showcased with SK Modifieds, Late Models, SK Lights, Limited Late Models and Street Stocks. Saturday’s racing will consist of the 48th annual NAPA Fall Final 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour which will crown the 2021 Champion, SK Lights, Limited Late Models, Vintage All Stars and the NAPA Pit Party.

Also on tap this weekend is the annual Race of Champions. The odds on favorite to take the win in the 71st Lucas Oil Race of Champions 250 at Lake Erie Speedway is “Big Money” Matt Hirschman.

Hirschman’s record speaks for itself. Eight times he has captured the RoC 250 including the last six in a row. The Modified series point leader is also closing in on his eighth title which would extend that record there as well. Hirschman has picked up 19 wins overall in 2021 across all racing series.

At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Timmy Jordan nipped Todd Owen in the Fast 5 SK Modified feature that was run in honor of George and Rick Summers. Jordan took the lead from Owen with 18 laps remaining on a restart and held off a furious Owen charge on the final laps to win by 0.138sec. Rob Janovic finished third with Matt Galco, fourth. The Speedbowl drew its largest field of cars for the year with 29 SK Modifieds on hand.

RJ Marcotte was the Bubby Brouwer SK Lite Memorial winner as Ryan Morgan carried over his winning ways at Thompson to record his first Late Model win at the shoreline oval. Ryan Waterman was the Street Stock winner and John O’Sullivan was victorious in the Legends. Sam Mesick was the X-Car winner.

Matt Hirshman had a good week for himself as he won a 99 lap SMART event at the Dominion Raceway in Virginia and a Modified event at the Evergreen Speedway in Pennsylvania.

Congratulations to Doug Coby who drove the No. 24 Mayhew Tools Truck to a solid 12th-place finish in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway on Thursday, September 16. Driving for GMS Racing, Coby started 30th, with no practice or qualifying due to NASCAR’s new race policies and no previous laps in a truck.

NASCAR released its 2022 Cup Series schedule Wednesday morning, adding World Wide Technology Raceway to its premier circuit. The 1.25-mile oval, which has held NASCAR national series races since 1997 with the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, will make its Cup debut Sunday, June 5, 2022.

The track, which is located in Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis, also has been the host of the NTT IndyCar Series for the past six seasons.

The 2022 season will open Feb. 20 with the Daytona 500, two weeks after the exhibition Clash race will take place Feb. 6 on a quarter-mile oval at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Cup cars visit NHIS on Sunday, July 31 and Pocono on July 24.

This week is a somber week for many. In addition to the passing of Eddie Partridge we lost Mike Stefanik two years ago and Ted Christopher, three years ago.

In NASCAR Cup action, Kyle Larson, with an assist from Chase Elliott, who took Kevin Harvick‘s line at the 0.533-mile concrete track and slowed his progress, made the winning pass on Lap 397 of 400 and sealed his sixth NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season. Ryan Preece finished 17th.

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