RPW Column: The Champ Trail; SMART Mod & NASCAR Mod Tour News, Local News & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic was supposed to be at the Lonesome Pine Motorsports Park in Virginia.

Due to winter weather and a cold forecast, the race was postponed. A makeup date will be announced soon.

The SMART Modified Tour powered by Pace-O-Matic will head to Caraway Speedway for the Warrior 100 on March 25th!

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action a week from this Friday on March31 at the Richmond Int. Raceway. Among those on the entry list are Ryan Newman and Bobby Labonte. The two are racing as teammates this year for Sadler Stanley Racing, a team owned by two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series race winner Hermie Sadler and Virginia State Senator Bill Stanley.

One current NASCAR Cup Series driver is also believed to be considering an entry for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Richmond. That driver is Corey LaJoie, who claimed his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour triumph in October at Martinsville. LaJoie is far from being a polished driver especially after he bulled his way to victory last fall.

In addition to Newman, Labonte and LaJoie, the current stars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour are all expected to race at Richmond on March 31. They include six-time series champion Doug Coby, three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore, this year’s New Smyrna Speedway winner Ron Silk, defending series champion Jon McKennedy and Matt Hirschman, among others.

In NASCAR cup action Joey Logano won at Atlanta. Ryan Preece finished 28th.

Keith Rocco has entered the 51st Napa Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. In doing so, he hopes to continue to build on his record setting feature win total of 302 wins which include 154 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 70 at Thompson and 78 at Stafford Speedway. Rocco will be looking to turn around his Sizzler luck after a crash in the duel’s last season which resulted with a DNQ.

Stafford Speedway officials have released the weekend schedule for the 2023 NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® and have included a return of the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party. A fan favorite over the years, the NAPA Pit Party is a chance for race fans to meet drivers and get up close to the race cars prior to the afternoon’s events. “We heard the fans, they’ve been asking for the pit party to make a comeback,” explained Stafford Speedway General Manager David Arute. “After changing the Spring Sizzler® format last season, we took a look and found a spot in the weekend schedule to make the pit party work. We’re really looking forward to getting the fans and drivers together to kick off the new season.”

The NAPA Pit Party is scheduled to be held Sunday, April 30th at approximately 3:00pm following SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model qualifying. Fans will have one hour to meet with their favorite drivers before the afternoon’s events kick-off culminating in the 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®.

The schedule for Saturday, April 29th’s NAPA Auto Parts Duel has also been released. The NAPA Duels include two 40-lap Open Modified features that will set the lineup for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. Also on hand is the American Canadian Tour Late Model division, who already have 31 entries as of March 16th, along with Stafford’s Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Stars.

Riverhead Raceway on the east end of Long Island announced two preseason safety inspection days for Saturday April 8th and Saturday April 15th. Weather permitting, both inspection days run from 10:00 am through 3:00 pm and kickoff a busy month of April leading up to the 73rd season opening weekend Saturday evening May 6th and Sunday afternoon May 7th. Riverhead Modified teams competing with the NASCAR Spec engine package can have their engines sealed by NASCAR WMT officials during the April 15th inspections.

Kevin Rice reported that the MiltonCAT Modified Racing Series hosted race teams at the Princeton Station Restaurant in Chelmsford, Mass., on March 11, honoring drivers and car owners for their 2022 accomplishments.

Jack Bateman of Canaan, who was the car owner for champion Jacob Perry, was presented with a dedication to racing award for a career of 57 years as both driver and owner. Bateman turned over the reins of the 20-year Modified Series to Meredith’s Bill Doucette, who promised to carry it into the future with optimism.

“Jack’s tutelage has instilled in me the basic core ideals and principals this series was founded under,” Doucette told the crowd. “I plan on building on those principles. Racer friendly and fair. I will never forget that the racers are my customers. I will do my best and pay attention to our program and not what others are doing.”

Now a Modified Series champ at the age of 21, Connecticut’s Perry credited Bateman for giving him the opportunity to succeed in his cars. “He took a shot on a young kid that didn’t have a ton of Modified experience and he threw me in a great car,” Perry said. “We built the chemistry up and started winning races right away. We knew we had something special. A huge thank you to Jack. He has a list of accolades from his Modified racing and to be able to drive for him is a true honor.”

A point fund of $25,000 was announced for the 2023 season, thanks to the sponsorship from MiltonCAT. The first race of the new season is scheduled for April 16 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That “Northeast Classic” event will be run by officials from the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) and the American-Canadian Tour (ACT), but with additional bonus money for a 50-lap Modified event coming from the MCMRS.

With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.

The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:

Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.

Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181).

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