RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Third Week Of April
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy years ago in 1953, it rained again at Waterford. Fred Astle Sr. and Roland LaPierre Sr. won opening day events at Seekonk
Sixty five years ago in 1958, Ted Stack won the season opening 25 lap Modified event at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Arnie Harris was the non-Ford winner. Rene Charland was the Modified winner at the Plainville Stadium. Pete Frazee won at Old Bridge.
Sixty years ago in 1963, the Utica-Rome Speedway opened for the season. Tom Kotary won the 25-lap NASCAR Sportsman feature. Robbie Kotary finished second with Jim Luke, third. Rene Charland and Bill Wimble rounded out the top five. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, everybody’s friend, George Pendergast, was the 25-lap Modified winner. At Thompson on Sunday the Cut Downs (Early Supermodifieds) ran with Bud Crotty taking the win.Bill Slater won the first of three in a row at Old Bridge.
Fifty five years ago in 1968 there was no Spring Sizzler as most of the extra distance-added purse events were run in the fall after Labor Day. Ray Hendrick won a 100 lap modified event at Martinsville on Saturday afternoon. Norwood Arena in Massachusetts opened for the season with Eddie Flemke taking the win. Henri “Red” Barbeau won the season opener at Seekonk. At Fonda, Eddie Pieniezak took the win on the dirt over Jerry Cook and Ron Narducci. Flemke made it two for two on the weekend as he won the Sunday afternoon event at Thompson. Also running on Sunday was Fulton where Don Diffendorf took the win. It was the second win of the weekend for Diffendorf as he had also won the season opening 100 lapper at Lancaster on Saturday night. Ed Yerrington, who in later years would become the General Manager of the Stafford Springs Motor Speedway, won the 30 lap Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Bill Sweet was the Late Model Daredevil winner.
Fifty years ago in 1973, Ed Flemke got even for a disappointment suffered 12 months prior when he turned the tables on Fred DeSarro to win Sizzler II. DeSarro, who had won the original Sizzler when Flemke’s water pump broke, finished second and was followed by Maynard Troyer, Paul Radford, Guy Chartrand and Richie Evans. There were 140 Modifieds that attempted to qualify. At the Waterford Speedbowl it was George Allum taking the Modified feature win. The Busch North Late Models were at Seekonk where Bob Dragon took the lead.
Forty years ago in 1983 Greg Sacks was unbeatable as he scored a hard fought win over Reggie Ruggerio, Brett Bodine and Brian Ross. Jim Spencer won the non-qualifiers race and finished seventh in the 80 lap Spring Sizzler at Stafford
Thirty five years ago in 1988, The modified series was not included in the Sizzler. The SK’s took center stage with Ted Christopher taking the 80-lap win over Bob Potter, Bo Gunning and Tom Tagg. Phil Rondeau was the late model winner. The racing was good but the crowd that followed the Modifieds stayed away in droves.
Thirty years ago, in 1993, the Sizzler had been expanded from 80 to 200 laps for the NASCAR Modified Series. Reggie Ruggerio took the lead on lap 153 and held off Doug Hevron and Tom Baldwin for the win. Mike Christopher was the SK modified winner over his brother Ted. In Winston Cup action at Talledega, Ernie Irvan took the win over Dale Jarrett and Dale Earnhardt. Rusty Wallace had been ahead of Earnhardt but unfortunately got tapped by the man in black and went end over end in a wreck.
Twenty five years ago in 1998, the Featherlite Modified Tour was in Martinsville for a 200 lap event that served as a preliminary to their spring Winston Cup event. Mike Ewanitsko, in the Art Barry No.21, came from a 24th starting spot to take a hard fought win over Mike Stefanik and Tim Connolly. Stefanik led the event from the start to lap 167. Ewanitsko and Stefanik ran wheel to wheel for many laps. Reggie Ruggiero and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. The Waterford Speedbowl had a 200 lap event scheduled for Sunday until rain intervened. Rain also washed out the Winston Cup event at Martinsville. NASCAR has a “Next clear day policy” which dictated that the event would run on Monday. Bobby Hamilton was the pole sitter and led 378 of the 500 laps to take the win. John Andretti was running second with six laps to go when he ran out of gas. Ted Musgrave, running third at the time, finished second.
Twenty years ago in 2003 Ted Christopher and Ed Flemke JR got real personal as the two made repeated contact for most of the last 50 laps of the 200 lap Spring Sizzler at Stafford. With four laps to go it got ugly and the end result saw Flemke planted in the wall on the backstretch. Christopher continued on to take the win. Todd Szegedy ended up second with Tony Hirschman, third. Chuck Hossfeld and Ken Woolley rounded out the top five. Christopher also won the twin SK-Modified events that were run in conjunction with the Sizzler. The entire program was run on Sunday after rain-washed out Saturday qualifying. There were 40 Modifieds on hand. The Busch North Series showed with 27 cars for their series opener at Lee Raceway. Andy Santerre led pole to pole to win the 150-lap event. Kelly Moore finished second. In Winston Cup action at Fontana, California, Kurt Busch passed Jamie McMurray with 12 laps to go and went on to take the win. Pole sitter Steve Park wrecked on the first lap. Matt Kenseth won the companion Busch Series event. Racing at Wall Township, Riverhead and at the Waterford Speedbowl was rained out.
Fifteen years ago in 2008, The Waterford Speedbowl moved into its regular Saturday night schedule. The management created a new flag for the starter to display. It was called the “Meatball” flag and it was to be waved at an individual who refuses to comply with the officials in charge or someone who makes a dumb move or decision. The “Meatball Flag” should have been shown to the Late Model driver who started on the pole of the Late Model feature who triggered a wreck that eliminated the potential winning cars of Larry Goss and Eddie Reed Jr. Starting on the pole as a rookie makes no sense at all. The individual who made the line-ups was also deserving of the “Meat Ball”. Bruce Thomas Jr was the eventual winner and is now two for two in Late Model competition at the shoreline oval.
Defending SK Modified champion Rob Janovic redeemed himself after a poor showing at the season opener as he scored a convincing win in the 35 SK Modified feature. Jeff Paul, who also had a poor showing on opening day, finished second. Tyler Chadwick, Justin Gaydosh and Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. Opening day Nationals winner Dennis Gada was eliminated after making contact with Dennis Charette who was the early leader after pole sitter Frank Mucciacciaro spun out on lap 11. The Gada-Charette confrontation occurred on lap 18 and also eliminated Jeff Pearl and Jeff Malave.
Other feature winners were Jack Aquilina (Sportsman), and, Randy Churchill Jr. (Mini Stocks). Also making an appearance were the New England Antique Racers, presenting exhibition events featuring the cars of a past era. With over twenty restored racers taking to the track, fans were treated to a view of the true “racing roots” of New England short track history.
The True Value Modified Series opened their 2008 season at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire on Sunday. Twenty eight Modifieds were on hand. Kirk Alexander took the win over David Pinkham, Dale Evonsion, Mike Holdredge, Jon McKennedy. Ted Christopher Rob Goodenough, Les Hinckley, Ed Dachenhausen and Chris Pasteryak finished sixth through tenth.
Defending champion Alexander jumped into the lead on lap three and roared to victory in the” Governors Cup 100” Modified race. The win was Alexander’s 27th career victory with the touring series. The three-time champion survived a caution plagued race that was once stopped for an overheating racer that sprayed water on the racing surface resulting in six cars retired to the pit area. Sunday’s race was also the first of eight guaranteed starter races for the Sunoco Modified Mania 400 weekend at Thompson, CT. in September.
The Nationwide Series of NASCAR was in Mexico City while the Sprint Cup drivers had the weekend off to celebrate Passover with their families. Kyle Busch won his third consecutive race on NASCAR’s Nationwide Series, taking the Corona Mexico 200 by less than a second. This latest win was the 27th of his career in NASCAR’s top three series, and first on a road course.Marcos Ambrose finished a career best second after a hectic day in which he collided with Boris Said, knocking Said out of the race. Ambrose’s finish was his first top-10 finish of the year. He had six as a rookie in 2007. Ambrose trailed by 1.139 seconds in his Ford with two laps to go, and Busch was able to hold on for a 0.737-second win.
Ten years ago in 2013, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Spring Sizzler. Originally an 80 lap open competition race that drew close to 100 cars, now the Sizzler is NASCAR sanctioned, extended to 200 laps and drew 26 cars. The starting field was advertised by NASCAR to be 33 cars.
In Saturday qualifying Bobby Santos III was the pole sitter as he toured the half mile oval in18.082 seconds which calculated out to be 99.547mph. Todd Szegedy was second fastest with Rowan Pennink, third. Chuck Hossfeldt and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five.
Bobby Santos III left little doubt in anyone’s mind as he literally cleaned house at Stafford as he led all 200 laps in spite of making a pit stop for tires during a caution period on lap 104. Santos, thanks to a quick pit stop, lined up along side Patrick Emerling who chose not to pit. When the green flag was displayed on lap 107 Santos blew him away two laps later as he re-took the lead. Santos withstood six cautions and restarts to score the dominating win. Justin Bonsignore, who was having fuel starvation problems on the final lap, managed to finish second. Ted Christopher, Stafford’s top feature winner, didn’t pit when the leaders pitted on lap 104. Instead, he waited until lap 136 before taking on fresh tires. Despite a charge from the rear Christopher fell short and had to settle for third spot in the finish. Ryan Preece and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Doug Coby, Ron Yuhas Jr, Jimmy Blewett and Mike Stefanik.
Thirteen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap. Ten cautions slowed the field. Caution no.1 came on lap 2 when Woody Pitkat lost an engine in the Hillbilly No.79. The second caution flew on lap 46 for Chuck Hossfeldt who had a malfunction in his car’s suspension causing him to spin. Ronnie Silk was having handling problems as he spun between turns one and two, bringing out the third caution. Wade Cole spun in turn four on lap 102, bringing out the fourth caution. Patrick Emerling brought out caution no.5 when he spun in turn four on lap 134. Caution no.6 was for Ken Heagy who spun in turn four on lap 142. Caution no.7 on lap 149 ended up in a red flag situation. Ronnie Silk, who was fighting a loose car, over corrected after getting loose on the backstretch. Silk hit the wall and collected the cars of Bryon Chew. Gary McDonald and Richie Pallai. Caution no.8 was for Ed Flemke Jr who spun in turn two and caution no.9 was a result of a wreck triggered when Ted Christopher got loose on lap 184 and collected Todd Szegedy and Richie Pallai. Christopher was able to continue. The tenth and final caution was for Flemke and Pallai who wrecked in turn two.
In other Spring Sizzler action, Ryan Preece was the SK Modified winner. Todd Owen was second with Doug Coby, third. Dan Avery and Glenn Reen rounded out the top five with Ted Christopher, sixth. Mike Stefanik relieved injured Keith Rocco and finished seventh. JJ Hill went pole to pole to win the Late Model event.
In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl, Joe Gada made history Saturday night when he became the first third generation driver to win an SK Modified feature at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Gada took the lead on lap 6 and cruised to an easy victory in the 35-lap feature. Joe’s father, Dennis Gada, is the only driver in track history to win seven championships and his grandfather, Bob Gada, was also a winner in the Modified division. The Gada family has won 11 track championships and more than 120 races at the Speedbowl. Ted Christopher was a distant second and Diego Monahan was third. Keith Rocco and Craig Lutz rounded out the top five.
In other Speedbowl action, defending division champion Dillon Moltz won the 30-lap Late Model race, Josh Galvin won the 25-lap Street Stock feature, Ian Brew captured the 25-lap Mini Stock race and Corey Coates won the visiting New England Truck Series feature.
Modified action in the south moved to the Mad House, Bowman Gray Stadium. Tim Brown led every lap of the Hayes Jewelers 200. The victory was the 67th of Brown’s Bowman Gray career, and it follows a 2012 season in which he won eight races and a record ninth stadium title.
Brown, who last won the season-opening main event in 2010, took the lead from pole-winner Jason Myers on the opening lap and never looked back. Brown withstood 12 double-file restarts, holding off Myers and Danny Bohn, as well as a final single-file restart after a caution that extended the race to 204 laps. Myers finished second and Bohn, the runner-up in last season’s opener, finished third. John Smith was fourth, and Burt Myers, who had won the last two season-openers, finished fifth.
On a sad note, Waterford Speedbowl Championship car owner Al Gaudreau passed away on Saturday night. Gaudreau’s cars, with Dick Dunn driving, scored countless wins and won five consecutive track championships from 1972-1976. Prior to retirement Gaudreau owned Quality Auto Electric in New London.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action Kevin Harvick won Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 race at Richmond International Raceway by plowing through traffic on a two-lap sprint to the finish. Harvick was chasing down Juan Pablo Montoya for the lead when a caution flag flew with six laps remaining. Harvick and Montoya pitted for fresh tires, handing the lead to Jeff Burton and Jamie McMurray for a green-white-checkered restart. Harvick restarted seventh but flew through the field and quickly blasted by Burton, his Richard Childress Racing teammate, for the lead. Clint Bowyer finished second followed by Joey Logano, Montoya, Burton, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth.
Brad Keselowski won the Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway for his 1st win of the season and the 21st of his Nationwide career.
Five years ago in 2018, The Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, known as the MadHouse, began its 70th season of auto racing last Saturday night. Among the changes for 2018 is an increase in race purses. Burt Myers continued his dominant ways Saturday night as he won the Hayes Jewelers 200, but cautions marred opening night at the quartermile flat track. In the Modified Division, there were 13 cautions.
Myers, who won the pole Friday night, led wire-to-wire and held off Brandon Ward for the win. The race was scheduled for 200 laps, but because of cautions, the race went into overtime and last 210 laps. That didn’t bother Myers, who is the two-time defending Modified champion, and has won eight overall championships. It was also his 74th win at Bowman Gray, tying him for second with Junior Miller.
Tim Brown started second and finished third. Brown has won 10 championships in the Modified Division at Bowman Gray. Frank Fleming finished fourth and Randy Butner was fifth.
Anthony Nocella, the 2017 Valenti Modified Racing Series champion, won the Valenti Modified Racing Series O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring Dash 100 Saturday at Monandock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. Saturday. It was 43 deg at race time.
It was the first victory of the season for Nocella, of Woburn, Mass., who used a late pass of Todd Patnode to grab the victory. Richard Savory was third with Toni Ricci, fourth. Cameron Sontag rounded out the top five. Rookie Jacob Perry finished ninth.
On a sad note, John Anderson, a longtime Modified racing standout, and one of the greats of the SK Modified division at Stafford Speedway, passed away Friday, Apr 20. Anderson was 66 years old.
Last year, 2022, The Men that live by the Grace of God and 600 horsepower converged on the Stafford Motor Speedway for the running of the 50th annual Spring Sizzler. It was also the opening weekend for the Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina. High car counts including 42 Open (Tour Type) Modifieds in the Stafford pit and a full field of NASCAR Modifieds at Bowman Gray started off the season on a positive note. One of the best ever Saturday qualifying crowds at Stafford and a full house, close to 10,000 at Bowman Gray made the day complete.
In the NAPA Auto Parts Duel 40 lappers as part of the 50th NAPA Spring Sizzler® Weekend, Ronnie Silk and Ryan Preece were the winners. Feature races were held for the Pro-All Star Series Late Models, Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, and Vintage All-Stars along with two 40-lap NAPA Duel races that set the top-20 lineup for Sunday’s 100-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler® main event.
In the first Modified duel Matt Swanson led the early going. A lap-20 restart saw Swanson and Silk race side by side for a lap before Swanson got clear into the lead. Chuck Hossfeld continued to run in third with Jon McKennedy and Stephen Kopcik making up the top-5. Silk took the lead from Swanson on lap-22 and one lap later saw McKennedy take third from Hossfeld. McKennedy’s move allowed Kopcik to take fourth and drop Hossfeld from third back to fifth. Mike Christopher Jr was now up to sixth with Blewett, Lutz, Flannery, and Bobby Labonte making up the top-10.
Silk ran unchallenged to the checkered flag to win NAPA Duel #1 and earn pole position for the 100-lap NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The remainder of the top-10 positions, which would make up the first 10 cars on the inside row for Sunday’s main event were Swanson, McKennedy, Hossfeld, Christopher, Kopcik, Jimmy Blewett, Bobby Labonte, Anthony Flannery, and Andrew Molleur.
In the second 40-lap NAPA Duel Race, it was like days of old as the car known as “Ole Blu” which was driven by Ryan Preece, won by a country mile. Woody Pitkat finished second with Matt Hirschman, third. Teddy Hodgdon and Matt Galko rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Ronnie Williams, Doug Coby, Chase Dowling, Chris Pasteryak and Marcello Rufrano. Among the casualties was Keith Rocco who suffered front end damage after being collected in an opening lap crash on the backstretch.
In other feature racing action on Saturday, Taking down wins were Eddie MacDonald in the 75-lap PASS Late Model race, Matt Scappini in the 20-lap Limited Late Model race, Travis Hydar in the 20-lap Street Stock feature, and Ben Levangie in the 15-lap Vintage All-Stars feature.
At the Bowman Gray Stadium, It was a slippery track that made things more interesting than usual, Danny Bohn’s dominant car was never threatened as he won the featured Hayes Jewelry 200 in the Modified Division. Bohn, who started in the second row, grabbed the lead on lap 6 and then pulled off several restarts to perfection to take the checkered flag in front of a sold-out stadium of more than 14,000 fans.
It was Bohn’s 16th victory in 121 starts for the New Jersey native who lives in Huntersville, NC. Finishing second was Brandon Ward in second spot. Jason Myers, Chris Fleming and John Smith rounded out the top five. Sixth was was Burt Myers with defending champion Tim Brown, eighth. It was Brown’s 600th start for the 11-time Modified champion.
By lap 130 there were just 14 cars left in the field that started out with 23 cars and at the end of the race just 13 cars were left on the track. There were 14 caution flags during the 200 laps.
Sizzler Sunday at Stafford dawned just like the original in 1972. It was cold, damp and downright miserable. Despite the weather a near capacity crowd turned out. In addition to the 42 Open (Tour Type) Modifieds on hand there were 34 SK Lite Modifieds and 34 SK Modifieds, 18 Late Models,16 Limited Late Models and 19 PASS Super Late Models.
Many of those who were involved in Sizzlers of years gone by were on hand to partake in the 50th Anniversary. Included in that group was 1974 winner Bugsy Stevens, Eddie Flemke Jr, son of 73 winner Eddie Flemke Sr, Bob Garbarino, four time winning car owner, Mike Christopher Sr, Julie Stefanik, Jerry Marquis, Ryan Preece, Tony Hirschman Sr, 2005 winner, Mike Boehler son of car owner Len Boehler, Rick Fuller, Ken Barry, son of Art Barry and crew chief for Mike Ewanitsko along with Sizzler originators Lew Boyd, Dick Berggren and Bruce Cohen.
Last chance qualifiers were run for the Open Mods. Anthony Noscella took the win over Jack Ely. Bobby Santos ‘s bad luck continued as he failed to finish after an early race tangle with Patrick Emerling. Keith Rocco found himself in a no win situation as he was collected in an opening lap wreck in turn one in the second consi. Anthony Bello was the eventual winner as the sun finally came out.
In Late Model action, After numerous wrecks that slowed event it was Michael Wray celebrating victory in the 30-lap Late Model feature. Michael Bennett of Willington was second and John Blake of North Haven third.
The SK Lite 20 lap feature had a somewhat surprise winner in the form of Derek Debbis. Alexander Pearl started on the pole and led the first 12 laps. George Bessette Jr was putting on the pressure attempting to pass on the outside as they entered turn three when Pearl jumped a wheel of a lapped car who had not dropped down to let the leaders by. After riding over the wheel Pearl was thrown up the track into Bessette who hit the wall. Debbis assumed the lead on the restart and went on to take the win over Tyler Chapman.
The SK Modified 40 lapper saw a photo finish as Todd Owen scored a 24/1000 sec win over Bryan Narducci. Ronnie Williams finished third with Daniel Wesson, fourth. Numerous cautions slowed the event. Jimmy Blewett seemed to be involved in many of the cautions beginning with him taking out Marcello Rufano on lap 7. His day ended on lap 39 when he spun going for the lead and was crunched by Stephen Kopcik.
In what has to be considered as one of the best races ever run at the Stafford Speedway, the 50th annual Spring Sizzler ranks as one of the best. Matt Hirschman led the race twice for a total of 43 laps, including 22 of the final 23 laps as he came out on top of a late race duel between himself and Ryan Preece. Hirschman took home a total of $24,100 in winnings between his finish in the NAPA Auto Parts Duel on Saturday and his race winnings and contingency bonuses for the NAPA Spring Sizzler® on Sunday. In winning the race, Hirschman and his father Tony become the first father/son duo in NAPA Spring Sizzler® history to have won the race. Tony Hirschman won the NAPA Spring Sizzler® back in 2005.
In what turned out to be a long day those who were on hand and those who watched on FloRacing got their money’s worth. The Sizzler took the green at 8:00pm and Hirschman took the checker at 9:23pm.
The race took the green flag with Ronnie Silk leading Ryan Preece by a nose at the line but just as the field completed the first lap, Anthony Bello and Anthony Flannery spun into the turn 1 wall to bring the caution out.
On the restart, Silk took the lead back under green but he only led the second lap as Woody Pitkat shot his way into the lead on lap-3. Silk was able to get in line in second with Matt Hirschman working his way into third. Ryan Preece and Matt Galko were side by side for fourth place with Galko taking the spot on lap-5. The caution came back out with 6 laps complete for Noah Korner, who spun in the middle of turns 3+4.
Pitkat took the lead on the restart with Hirschman taking second. Silk slipped into third with Galko fourth and Preece in fifth Sixth through tenth were Chase Dowling and Jon McKennedy, Doug Coby, Michael Christopher, Jr., and Chris Pasteryak. Hirschman was stalking Pitkat for the lead but Pitkat was able to maintain the lead for the time being. Yellow fever continued as Jeff Gallup spun coming out of turn 2 to bring the caution back out with 12 laps complete.
Pitkat again took the lead on the restart but Hirschman went to the front on lap-14 but just as he took the lead, the caution came out for Mikey Flynn, who came to a stop in turn 1 and with scoring going back to the last completed lap, Pitkat was again the leader for the restart. Pitkat took the lead on the restart with Hirschman looking high and low for a way to take the lead away from Pitkat. Galko moved up to third with Silk dropping a spot back to fourth and Preece was still running fifth. McKennedy was sixth followed by Christopher, Dowling, Ronnie Williams, and Coby. Hirschman tried to make a move on Pitkat for the lead on lap-20 but couldn’t make the pass stick, which allowed Galko to get by him to move into second. Galko was working the high and low lanes to find a way around Pitkat but Pitkat was able to shut down his challenges as the race clicked off lap-25.
With 32 laps complete, the top-4 cars of Pitkat, Galko, Hirschman, and McKennedy were racing in their own 4-car train ahead of Preece in fifth place. Silk was sixth with Williams, Christopher, Kopcik, and Teddy Hodgdon making up the top-10. Galko took the elad from Pitkat on lap-35 just before the caution came back out with 36 laps complete for a spin coming out of turn 4 by Christopher.
Like he was shot out of a cannon, Hirschman streaked his way by Galko and into the lead on the lap-36 restart. Pitkat also got by Galko to take second and drop Galko back to third place, just in front of Silk and McKennedy. Hodgdon was up to sixth followed by Williams, Pasteryak, Dowling, and Anthony Nocella.
At the halfway point of the race it was still Hirschman in the top spot with Galko, Pitkat, Silk, and McKennedy all giving chase. Hodgdon, Williams, Preece, Pasteryak, and Nocella rounded out the top-10 positions. The caution came back out with 56 laps complete for Marcello Rufrano, who got into the turn 2 wall.
Under the caution all but 3 lead lap cars came to pit road for tires and adjustments. This put Jimmy Blewett into the lead with Coby second and Gallup third for the restart. Silk was the first car off of pit road and he would restart fourth with Buddy Charette fifth, Hirschman sixth, Williams seventh, Preece eighth, Christopher ninth, and Pitkat tenth.
On the restart, Pitkat came to a stop in turn 1 to bring the caution right back out. The second lap-57 restart saw Blewett take the lead with Coby in second. Preece shot up to third with Silk fourth and Hirschman fifth. The caution flew again with 57 laps complete as Andrew Molleur, Bobby Labonte, Todd Owen, and Nocella spun through the frontstretch grass. Blewett held off a charge from Preece to maintain the lead on the lap-58 restart but Preece edged his nose in front of Blewett on lap-59 to take over the lead just before the caution came back out for spins in turn 1 by Molleur, Hodgdon, Korner, Owen, Jack Ely, and Swanson.
Preece took the lead on the lap-60 restart with Hirschman on the prowl, taking second. With worn tires Blewett fell back to third with McKennedy fourth and Silk fifth. Williams and Christopher were side by side for sixth place with Williams getting clear on lap-61. Chuck Hossfeld was up to eighth with Eric Goodale ninth and Galko tenth. Hirschman was stalking Preece for the lead, nearly taking the lead several times but he was unable to complete a pass as the leaders clicked off lap-70 and had 30 laps to go.
Hirschman continued to pressure Preece for the lead and he was finally able to complete a pass on lap-78 to retake the lead. Blewett was still third with Silk and Williams making up the top-5. McKennedy was sixth followed by Christopher, Galko, Hossfeld, and Goodale.
The epic battle began as Hirschman and Preece began to encounter lapped traffic with 15 laps to go but the traffic didn’t slow either car down as they stayed glued together as they navigated their way through. With 10 laps to go, Hirschman had a lead of several car lengths over Preece with more lapped cars just in front of them. The action was slowed by the caution flag with 95 laps complete for Charette and Ely, who both spun in turn 2.
Preece was able to beat Hirschman to the line by a nose on the restart to take the lead on lap-96 and just as they completed the lap, the caution came back out for Owen and Pasteryak, who came together and spun on the frontstretch. On the restart, Hirschman took the lead on the outside of Preece but the field was only able to complete one lap before the caution came back out for a spin in turn 1 by Korner.
Hirschman again took the lead on the restart with Preece getting sideways in trying to keep pace with Hirschman. Hirschman led Preece to the checkered flag to win the 50th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®. Silk finished third with Williams and Blewett rounding out the top-5. Sixth thru tenth included Matt Galko, Chase Dowling, Michael Christopher, Jr., Jon McKennedy and Craig Lutz.
For his efforts, Hirschman earned $15,000 for the victory. He also made $4,000 in contingency bonuses and $6,450 in lap money for leading 43 laps for a total of $25,450 for the event. He also earned $1,150 for his third place finish in his qualifying race Saturday to kick his weekend total to $26,600. As a bonus, he also earned a starting spot with the SRX Series when the division runs its second event at Stafford on July 2.
Over-all the Arute family hit a home run and the FloRacing.coverage was great.
In NASCAR Cup action at Talledega, Ross Chastain’s journey from watermelon farmer to NASCAR racer got even sweeter Sunday afternoon. Chastain watched as the leaders ahead of him, Erik Jones and Kyle Larson, washed high through the tri-oval in a fight for the win, allowing the No. 1 Chevrolet to charge underneath with a push from Austin Dillon for his second career win. Chastain has two wins and six top-five finishes in the last eight races, the exceptions being a 19th-place finish at Richmond before an engine failure at Bristol dirt. After rallying from a speeding penalty at Lap 36 that caught him one lap down until the end of Stage 1, Chastain is now the second driver to score multiple wins this season, joining William Byron, who won at Atlanta and Martinsville. In Xfinity action, A mere 0.131 seconds is all that separated an Earnhardt from Victory Lane once again at Talladega Superspeedway.
On the final overtime restart of Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, Jeffrey Earnhardt fired off from eighth. He made his way up to fifth by the last lap. And then, as the top five completed their final trip around the 2.66-mile track, Earnhardt raced his way into second place come checkers. Noah Gragson took the win.