RPW Column: Looking Back A Bit: Final Week Of May
Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1948 the drivers strike at Seekonk continued into its fourth week.
Seventy years ago in 1953, Rhode Island invader Freddie Luchesi scored a one-two punch at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Bob Tyson and Bob Cahoon who both began their racing at the closed Kingston Fairgrounds in RI were the non-Ford winners. George Smaldone was the winner at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1958, Ray Moran was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster made it three in a row in non-Ford action at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Old Bridge rained out.
Sixty years ago in 1963 Rene Charland made it three in a row as he won the 25 lap NASCAR Sportsman feature at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Bill Wimble finished second with Jerry Cook, third. Bob Zeigler and Ken Meahl rounded out the top five. Ernie Gahan made it two in a row on the dirt at Stafford. Eddie Flemke made I three in a row at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Hank Stevens scored a popular win at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber winner. At Seekonk Joe Rosenfield took the Class A win. Bill Slater made it three in a row at Norwood. At South Boston, Ray Hendrick won a 50 lap Modified event.
Fifty five years ago, in 1968, on the Memorial Day weekend the Albany-Saratoga Speedway presented a 100-lap event. Jerry Cook rose to the occasion and took the win over Hop Harrington. At Stafford, Bugsy Stevens in the mighty No.3 of Len Boehler took the win over Fred DeSarro, Eddie Flemke, Fred Harbach and Tommy Borget. At Norwood, on Saturday night, Mr. Leo Cleary in the Joe Brady No.41 took the win. Ronnie Bouchard took an early win at Seekonk. On the dirt at Fonda, Lou Lazzaro was unbeatable as he beat out Jerry Cook and Eddie Pieniezak for the win. Rain washed out activities at Thompson and at Waterford. At Utica-Rome, Lou Lazzaro, in the same car he ran on dirt the night before changed tires and springs and went out and won on the pavement. Paul Hamel finished second with Jerry Cook, Dick Clark and Richie Evans rounding out the top five. Chuck Boos was the 30 lap Modified winner at Lancaster on Saturday night and Roger Treichler took a 100 lapper there on Sunday. Eddie Flemke was the winner at Catamount on Thursday night.
Fifty years ago on Memorial Day weekend in 1973, Albany-Saratoga started the weekend with a special 99 lap event which saw Richie Evans take the win over Eddie Pieniezak, Fred DeSarro, Sonny Seamon and Bugsy Stevens. At Stafford Speedway on Saturday, Mr. Leo Cleary was at his best as he took a hard fought win over Bobby Santos, Eddie Flemke, Freddie Schulz and DeSarro. Down the road at Waterford Gentleman Dick Watson was the 40 lap Modified winner. Big Mike Daigneault was the Grand American Late Model winner. At Islip, Jim Hendrickson won out over Junior Ambrose and Wayne Anderson. Lee Raceway ran a 100 lapper on Sunday. Freddie Schulz took the win over Jerry Cook, Jim Landry, Ed Yerrington and Santos. Stafford had a 100 lapper scheduled for Monday but rain washed it out. Rain also washed out Seekonk on Saturday night.
Forty five Years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine made it four in a row at Stafford. Leo Cleary finished second and was followed by Kenny Bouchard, Bob Polverari and Ed Flemke. Saturday racing at Waterford and Riverside, rained out. Bodine took the win at Seekonk. On Sunday at Thompson, Fred DeSarro in Len Boehlers’ Ole Blu won out over Ronnie Bouchard and Eddie Flemke. Geoff Bodine was disqualified for rough riding. In upstate N.Y., Maynard Troyer won three for the weekend as he took two at Fulton and one at Spencer. Wayne Anderson won what was to be the last NASCAR sanctioned event at Chemung as NASCAR pulled the sanction shortly after the event. At New Egypt, Geoff Bodine was again in victory lane.
Forty years ago in 1983, rain washed out holiday events at Stafford, Seekonk and Waterford. Star Speedway ran the Modifieds on Saturday night. Jeff Fuller took the win over Mike Murphy and George Murray. Stafford got to run their rained out modified 100 lapper on Sunday. Reggie Ruggiero took the win with Charlie Jarzombek, Corky Cookman and John Blewett jr. following. Other weekend winners were Richie Evans at Spencer and Oswego, Don Howe at Islip, Stan Gregger won two at Riverside, Doug Hewitt at Holland and Tom Baldwin at New Egypt.
Thirty five years ago in 1988, Ted Christopher went two for two as he won at Stafford on Friday and at Waterford on Saturday. Tom Tagg finished second at Stafford and Don Bundle finished second at Waterford. Mike Stefanik took a hard fought win at Riverside over Reggie Ruggerio and at Riverhead, Tom Baldwin beat out Chris Young. Tony Hirschman made it five in a row at Tioga and Brian Ross won the modified portion of Port City 150 at Oswego.
Thirty years ago in 1993, Reggie Ruggerio was in top form as he won the modified tour event at Stafford. Tom Baldwin finished second and was followed by Ed Flemke jr. Tom Tagg was the SK modified winner. Twin features were run at Waterford. Chris Jones went pole to pole to win the first one and Ted Christopher won the nightcap. Wayne Anderson got his 21st career win at Riverhead over Don Howe and on Sunday at Oswego, Jeff Fuller won the Port City 150 over Rick Fuller, Doug Hevron and Jan Leaty. At Charlotte, Dale Earnhardt made up two laps to win the World 600. Michael Waltrip won the Grandnational 300. In Busch Grandnational North action at Holland, Brian Ross scored his first division win after Kelly Moore dumped Robbie Crouch with three laps to go and was put to the rear for rough riding.
Twenty five years ago in 1998, it rained at Stafford. Dennis Gada was the big winner at Waterford as he won the modified main event over Jeff Pearl and Eric Berndt. Chris Wenzel won at Riverside and John Fortin scored at Riverhead. The Modified Tour Series was at Watkins Glen. Tim Connolly started on the outside pole and passed pole sitter Mike Stefanik on the last lap to take the win. Stefanik had led the first thirty-seven of the thirty eight-lap contest. Stefanik finished second with Chris Kopec, third.
Twenty years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series beat the foul weather that all but wiped out all racing on the East Coast a week ago. After getting rained out at Stafford on May 23 the series returned the following Friday night. The event drew 42 Modifieds for 31 starting spots. John Blewett III, who failed to qualify for this race last year, was the top time trialer. Because of a wreckfest during the SK-Modified feature the 150 lap Tour series event got a late start as they took the green flag shortly after 10:00 p.m. Long Islander Donnie Lia jumped out from his outside pole starting position to take the lead at the start. Lia, a rookie on the tour, cut his racing teeth at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Lia led the first seven laps before Blewett took command. Blewett led until lap 39 when he gave way to Todd Szegedy. Szegedy and Blewett would slug it out until Blewett’s tires would give up near the 90-lap mark of the 150-lap event. Former series champion Jerry Marquis started in tenth spot and after pitting for tires on lap 35, slowly worked his way to the front and as Blewett backed off, moved into second spot. Szegedy held off Marquis until the final lap when he got hung up behind cars about to be lapped which allowed Marquis to make his move and take the lead and victory in the event’s final seconds. Szegedy ended up second with Ed Flemke Jr., third. Flemke, who had a string of bad luck that started in Florida in February, rebounded and was back in contention as a potential winner. Ted Christopher, who won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford a few weeks earlier, finished fourth. Donnie Lia finished fifth. Seven cars were on the lead lap at the finish. Szegedy was extremely upset with Tom Bolles who did not heed the move-over flag that was displayed by the starter and felt that the Ellington, Ct. resident cost him the race. Bolles and Jamie Tomaino were the only other drivers to finish on the lead lap. Rounding out the top ten were Chuck Hossfeld, Mike Stefanik and John Blewett III. There were six caution periods for 33 laps. John Lobo Jr. won the SK Modified 50 lapper over Jim Civali and Jim Larsen. One of the many wrecks collected 14 cars. For the second week in a row rain-washed out racing at the Waterford Speedbowl. Seekonk Speedway, in Massachusetts, which was to have hosted the Busch North Series of NASCAR, was also rained out. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Ryan Newman took the pole plus the win. Jeff Gordon finished second. Newman drove the final 180 miles without power steering. Bobby Labonte finished third.
Fifteen years ago in 2008, The Thompson Speedway hoped to begin their series of Thursday Night Thompson Thunder (TNTT) racing programs on Thursday night. Mother Nature moved in and forced the cancellation of the Speedway’s opening Thursday night race program. A consistent rain and drizzle forced the hand of the track’s management to cancel the event shortly before 12 Noon. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series and the True Value Modified Series have ended their “Spring Break”. The Whelen Modifieds made their second stop of the season at Stafford and the True Value Modifieds traveled to the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT.
In action at the Stafford Motor Speedway, the Whelen Modified Tour Series almost got scrubbed as heavy showers caused a nearly 2-1/2 hour delay. The event, scheduled to go off at 9:00pm actually got the green at 11:30. Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino, ended a personal four year dry spell as he took the win in the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford. Hossfeld, who was also the Coors Light Pole sitter, started on the pole of the event and led 39 of the first 40 laps of the event before giving way to Bob Grigas III. Grigas and a host of the race front runners pitted on lap 92 under caution which allowed Matt Hirschman to assume the lead. Hossfeld beat Hirschman back to the starting line when the event went back to green on lap 107 and never looked back. Todd Szegedy finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik and Jimmy Blewett. Eric Beers, Ed Flemke Jr., Ryan Preece, James Civali and rookie Erick Rudolph rounded out the top 10. During post-race technical inspection, a probable illegal carburetor part was discovered on the No.19 that was driven by Blewett. The part in question will be taken back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C., for further evaluation.
There were 37 Modifieds on hand and nine caution periods for 46 laps. Prior to the race NASCAR honored seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Mike Stefanik as part of the season-long celebration of 60 years of Modified champions.
In True Value Modified Series action at the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Vermont seasoned veteran Kirk Alexender did it the hard way as he came from the tail end of the starting field to win the event. Alexender methodically moved to the front and in the closing laps took the lead and the win. This was his 3rd win in the series in 4 races, with missing one race totally. Dwight Jarvis had passed Peter Jarvis with 3 laps to go to take the 2nd place finish with Jarvis settling for 3rd. 4th place through 6th were Ed Dachenhausen, Chris Pasteryak and Jack Bateman,
NASCAR announced a different format for the upcoming Thursday night Whelen Modified Tour Series event at the Thompson Speedway. The New England Dodge Dealers 75 at Thompson, the fourth race on the 2008 schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take on June 19. The event would be the second of four dates for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2008 that was scheduled to run under the lights. The race would run under a unique format as it would finish upon the completion of 75 green-flag laps as those run under caution will not be counted. This will be the first of four races during 2008 that would run an alternative format. Events at Chemung, Riverhead and Spencer would feature heat races prior to the feature. This race, a 150 lapper, in 2007, carried a posted purse of $86,505 The Stafford Motor Speedway finally got to host their regular Friday night racing program. The 18th Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 150 program at Stafford Motor Speedway saw Ted Christopher victorious, for the 99th time at Stafford, in the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, while Chris Matthews and Norm Sears both took down their second consecutive wins in the 20-lap SK Light and 15-lap DARE Stock feature events. Due to a rain storm in the middle of the program, the 30-lap Late Model and 20-lap Limited Late Model feature events were postponed to a later date.
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green flag with Wade Mattesen setting the early pace. Mattesen surrendered the lead to Brad Hietala on lap-6 with Ted Christopher also moving past Mattesen for second. On lap-10 both Hietala and Christopher spun in turn 4 to bring the caution out and put Woody Pitkat out front. Pitkat held the lead of the race from that point until lap-37 when Christopher, who had charged his way back through the field after his spin, made a power move to the inside of Pitkat in turn 3 to take the race lead. A late caution set up a green white checkered flag restart, but rain began to fall and the race was red/checkered with 39-laps complete, making Christopher a winner for the first time during the 2008 season. Pitkat was second, with Jeff Malave, Bo Gunning, and Jimmy Blewett rounding out the top-5.
The Waterford Speedbowl hosted the ISMA Supers along with their regular venue of racing. Chris Perley, of Rowley , MA . put on a stellar performance in winning the 50-lap International SuperModified Association event at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday evening, and in doing so recorded the fastest lap-ever (over 108 mph), in the 57-year history of the facility. Former Speedbowl SK champion Rob Summers set the early pace before being overtaken by Jeff Holbrook on lap twenty-one. Perley rocketed by Holbrook six circuits later, quickly distancing himself from the field. The race was red-flagged on lap thirty-six when Mike Lichty exploded a motor and slammed the wall, taking the cars of Jamie Timmons, Scott Martell and Mike Ordway with him. On the restart, Perley resumed his commanding lead, finishing several lengths ahead of Holbrook and Summers. Following was Ray Graham Jr., Bobby Bond and Dave McKnight Jr. It was the second-consecutive Speedbowl victory for Perley who won the 2007 event.
Other feature winners were Jeff Pearl (SK Modified), Ron Yuhas Jr. (Late Model), Mark Cooper (Sportsman), and Ben Bargnesi (Mini Stock). Former champion Pearl won his first of the season, fending-off a late race charge by Rob Janovic in the 35-lap SK main event. Jay Miller, running perhaps his best race of the season led the early laps before Pearl took over with twenty-seven remaining Janovic slipped by Miller during the late stages. Rounding-out the top-5 were Jeff Paul and Ron Yuhas Jr.
Congratulations were in order to Ryan Morgan, 14-years old and a recent graduate of the quarter midget ranks, who dominated the Legends 20-lap feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday evening. In capturing his first-ever win in the division, Morgan quickly distanced himself from the field finishing several lengths in front of Mike Alcaro. Thomas Gray, George Whitney, and Max Zachem completed the top-five. Morgan is the grandson of John “Jack” Morgan, an auto sports writer who covered the exploits of the late Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens in the 70’s and 80’s
Donny Lia became the first rookie in five years to win a Craftsman Truck Series race Saturday, using a last-lap pass to take the Ohio 250 at the Mansfield, Ohio Speedway. Lia who won the Whelen Modified Tour title in 2007, got by leader David Starr in the second turn of the 250th lap on the half-mile oval. Lia, Starr and 2006 series champion Todd Bodine ran side-by-side down the backstretch before Lia pulled his Chevrolet ahead to edge Starr by .241 of a second for his first victory in eight starts.
Kyle Busch drove a Toyota fielded by Braun Racing to victory Saturday night in the Carquest Auto Parts 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, snapping a six-race winning streak Gibbs’ cars have had in the series.
Tony Stewart was handed his second heartbreaking defeat of the season Sunday night when a flat tire late in the Coca-Cola 600 gave Kasey Kahne the victory in NASCAR’s longest race.Stewart, who lost the season-opening Daytona 500 when he was passed on the last lap by Ryan Newman, had the tire go flat with three laps to go. He was forced to pit, allowing Kahne to zip past him.He wound up a frustrating 18th and stormed into his hauler without comment. He could be seen inside the truck kicking at cabinets as crew chief Greg Zipadelli was left to answer questions. Kahne, who led just five laps all season coming into Sunday, became the sixth driver, joining Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Darrell Waltrip, to win both the All-Star race and the 600 in this eight days of racing at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Most of the heavyweights dropped out of contention during an event that started in the late afternoon, ended in the evening and requires both intense mental focus and luck to make it to the finish. Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose winless streak hit 74 races, Johnson, Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch all led laps but had parts failures or tire issues.Greg Biffle was second to Kahne for the second week in a row and Kyle Busch was third despite two battery changes. Jeff Gordon was fourth and was followed by Earnhardt, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Carl Edwards and David Reutimann.
In a surprise move, Speedway Motorsports Inc. agreed to purchase Kentucky Speedway, opening the door for the northern Kentucky track to perhaps one day host a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. The deal was announced this past Thursday by SMI chairman Bruton Smith could end a lengthy battle between the track’s ownership group and NASCAR. The 1.5-mile oval, located in Sparta, Ky., midway between Cincinnati and Louisville, opened in 2000 and hosts several circuits a year, including the Nationwide Series and the Indy Racing League. Kentucky Speedway filed an antitrust lawsuit in 2005 against NASCAR and International Speedway Inc. The lawsuit was dismissed in January. SMI, which operates several other tracks that host Sprint Cup events including the New Hampshire Int. Speedway, could move one of those races to Kentucky Speedway.
It was also announced that H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., would retire following the running of this past Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at the North Carolina track Wheeler began working at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1975, was named general manager in 1976 and president in 1980.
Before the race, Wheeler, 69, received a standing ovation from the drivers. Wheeler, who had spent 33 years at the track, announced his retirement one week previous after track owner Bruton Smith declined to let him move into a part-time role.
Scott Dixon, who was born in Australia but raised in New Zealand, won the 92nd Indianapolis 500 on Sunday in a day of spins, hot tempers and stout open-wheel racing. Pole-sitter Dixon, 27, gave team owner Chip Ganassi his third Indy 500 victory. Juan Pablo Montoya won for Ganassi in 2000 and Emerson Fittipaldi in 1989. Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira finished second to Dixon, with Marco Andretti placing third. Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner, was fourth. Fan favorite Danica Patrick, who struggled for speed much of the day, collided with Ryan Briscoe as the pair was exiting the pits on lap 171 and was knocked out of the race. She finished 22nd, her worst performance at Indy in four starts. A fuming Patrick searched for Briscoe down pit lane afterward but was ushered away by security and track officials before she reached Briscoe’s pit box.
Ten years ago in 2013, The hills of northeastern Connecticut came alive on Thursday night as the Thompson Speedway began their Thursday Night Thunder weekly racing series. Ryan Preece in the Sunoco SK Modifieds, John Studleyin the SK Lites, Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks earned NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victories under warm and humid skies.
In the Sunoco Modified feature Preece started fifth and after a spirited battle with Todd Ceravolo, took the lead on a lap 8 restart. Ceravolo made numerous attempts to retake the lead but in the end, finished third after giving way to Woody Pitkat who moved into the second spot on the last lap. Keith Rocco and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. A tip of the hat to Dennis Perry who scored a solid sixth place finish and to Paul Newcomb who led the early going and recovered from a spin to finish seventh. Third generation driver Joe Gada made his debut at Thompson a successful one as he crossed the finish line in 8th spot. There were 15 SK type Modifieds on hand
The Limited Sportsman division is 31 cars strong and is highly competitive. Scott Sundeen was the eventual winner but the real battle was watching Larry Barnett march to the front. In the end Barnett ran out of time and was forced to settle for second. Jessie Gleason finished a strong third.
The Stafford Motor Speedway saw a new face in victory lane following the SK Modified feature. Danny Cates scored his first ever win in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature while Woody Pitkat took the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chase Dowling won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Austin Bessette won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker won the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Zach Aszklar took the lead at the green. Danny Cates and Michael Gervais, Jr. dueled side by side for second before Cates took the spot. Cates then moved by Aszklar on lap-4 to take over the race lead which he never relented. Ryan Preece, fresh off his win at Thompson on Thursday night, closed in on Cates’ bumper for the white flag lap with Woody Pitkat hot on his tail in third. Cates was able to keep the lead to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® victory at Stafford. Preece, Pitkat, Frank Ruocco, and Ted Christopher rounded out the top-5. Twenty one SK Modifieds took the green.
Jeff and Keith Rocco scored a one-two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. The Rocco brothers, each paid a visit to victory lane at the shoreline oval.
Jeff Rocco led from start-to-finish in capturing the 35-lap SK Modified feature while Keith out dueled Waterford’s Dillon Moltz to win the 30-lap Late Model feature.
In other feature races run during the Speedbowl’s annual Four Cylinder Fury event, Ken Cassidy Jr. won his second straight Mini Stock event, this one going 50 laps, Brad Voglesong won the 20-lap X-Car race and Andy Major checkered the visiting 25-lap Pro Four Modified race.
Jeff Rocco took the lead at the initial green flag of the SK Modified race and was in charge until the first caution came out on lap 27. Over the final 8 laps he overcame one jumped restart and late challenges by Nichole Morgillo and Diego Monahan. Todd Ceravolo of Gales Ferry eventually took second and Monahan wound up third. Jeffrey Gallup and Kyle James rounded out the top five in the 24 car starting field.
A major milestone was met at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC on Saturday night. Sixty nine years ago, Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins introduced stock-car racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. Saturday night, France’s great-grandson Ben Kennedy became a winner there. Kennedy charged to the lead with 26 laps left and stayed there for a memorable victory in front of a nearly packed house in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 for the touring K&N Pro Series East.
Burt Myers also was a winner, in a 100-lap race for Bowman Gray’s featured Modified Division. He added to the total of victories for the stadium’s most successful family, taking it to 140. Myers won for the third time this season and 53rd time in his career. He took the lead from pole-sitter Lee Jeffreys on the 15th lap after a side-by-side battle for two laps and hung on through five double-file restarts. Jeffreys wound up second, John Smith was third, and Tim Brown, the fastest qualifier who had charged from the 16th starting spot, finished fourth.
Timmy Solomito was the overall Modified winner at Riverhead on Long Island and at Seekonk’s Sunday SK Open show Matt Hirschman took top honors over Keith Rocco and Kyle James.
At Seekonk, Hirschman’s luck almost ran out in the closing stages when his engine developed a major malfunction. Hirschman had inherited the lead on lap 57 when second place running Eric Berndt spun leader Woody Pitkat. Berndt was penalized for the move, handing the lead to Hirschman. Matt Galko, and Tyler Chadwickrounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth was Doug Coby, Joey Gada, Ryan Preece, Eric Berndt and Tommy Barrett Jr.
Ryan Preese had started on the pole and quickly took over the lead, holding through lap 17, when Doug Coby closed in as lapped traffic slowed the leader. Coby moved ahead and Woody Pitkat closed in on Preese. The trio would duel through lapped traffic until Coby dislodged Preese from the lead. Pitkat began looking under Preese to take the runnerup slot. Eric Berndt was antagonizing Pitkat from behind as well.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Dover International Speedway, Tony Stewart drove by Juan Pablo Montoya with three laps left and pulled away to his first victory of the season. The victory didn’t come without a little bit of controversy. Jimmie Johnson, who dominated the second half of Sunday, was the leader when the caution flag waved on lap 376 when polesitter Denny Hamlin crashed in turns one and two.
All of the lead lap cars pitted, with Montoya leading Johnson and Stewart off pit road. The green flag waved for the final restart with 19 laps left and Johnson jumped the restart by a wide margin, forcing NASCAR to penalize him with a drive-thru penalty. The penalty against Johnson handed the lead back to Montoya, who was seeking his first Sprint Cup victory on an oval. He looked like he was well on his way to that victory when Stewart suddenly began closing on him with less than 10 laps left.
With five laps left Stewart caught Montoya and began looking for a way around. He first tried going low, but Montoya blocked the low lane. Stewart regrouped and with three laps left took to the high side, getting alongside Montoya in turns one and two and completing the pass for the lead in turn three.
In Nationwide Series racing at Dover, Joey Logano raced to his first Nationwide victory of the season
Five years ago in 2018, NASCAR Hall of Fame’s tenth induction class was announced late last week at the Hall in Charlotte, NC. Congratulations to the five individuals that make up the Class of 2019 are Davey Allison, Jeff Gordon, Alan Kulwicki, Roger Penske and Jack Roush and the Landmark Award recipient Jim Hunter.
It’s a travesty that nine-time NASCAR champion Mike Stefanik was again left out.
The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Modifiedz night, the biggest SK Light Modified race of the season, on Friday, May 25th. The SK Light Modifieds ran their longest race of the season with a 40-lap feature, doubling their weekly distance. Matching 2017, Doug Dunleavy of Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair partnered with Stafford Speedway to put up a posted purse of $9,940 including a $2,000 payday for the winner.If a $9,940 SK Light Modified purse wasn’t enough, Dunleavy posted an additional $2,950 for the 2018 Modifiedz night, doubling the winners’ purse for all Stafford divisions. With the increase, the SK Modified 40-lap feature paid a potential $3,600 to win, the Late Model 30-lap feature $1,750 to win, Limited Late Model feature $850 to win, and $400 to win for the Street Stocks.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Rowan Pennink ended Keith Rocco’s win streak by taking the win,Through no fault of his own, Rocco was collected in a lap six wreck. Rocco rallied back and came across the finish line in fourth spot behind Pennink, Ron Williams and Chase Dowling, . Following post-race inspection, Dowling’s car was found to be 10 pounds underweight and he was penalized 10 positions, one position for each pound his car was underweight, moving him to 13th in the finishing order.
Other winners at Stafford on Friday night were Marcello Rufrano in the 40-lap SK Light feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Jeremy Lavoie, and Johnny Walker in the Street Stock feature.
Round one of the 2018 edition of the Tri-Track Open Modified Series went to post in northern New Hampshire on Saturday night with 30 Modifieds on hand. Home track favorite Mike Willis, Jr. of Grantham, NH, scored the victory in the inaugural Ron Bouchard’s Auto Stores 100 at Claremont Speedway presented by SPAFCO and Jerico. A strong crowd was on hand to watch and appreciate as one of their own scored the victory over some of short track racing’s best like runner-up Ryan Preece and podium finisher and Series’ dominator Matt Hirschman. Hard-charging Tommy Barret and Ron Silk completed the top-five.
Despite starting on the pole it was not a cake walk for the young charger as he had to overcome dogged determination by his fellow competitors and late-race restarts to capture the popular win and the $6,000 winner’s share. Hard-charging competitors locked in fierce battles from the drop of the green flag, the race was undeniably a fitting tribute to the late, great Ron Bouchard.
On lap 95, Willis made a bold move and was able to take the lead away from Silk. The twelfth and final caution flew for an incident that involved Chris Bolton to set up a three-lap dash for the cash. Despite his efforts from the outside, Silk could not overcome Willis. Willis easily retained his lead; bringing Preece along and into second. Hirschman dogged Preece but to no avail. For as heated as the battle for the lead had been over the closing laps, Willis went uncontested for the win at the checkers. It was a popular win for a young driver who calls Claremont home. In victory lane he was quick to acknowledge his father and the efforts of his crew. Willis received congratulations from Preece and Hirschman, his fellow podium finishers in victory lane. Kudos go out to fourth-place finishers Tommy Barrett, who after suffering mechanical woes, a broken rear-end axle in the consi, used a provisional to get into the field and started scratch on the 27 car field. Silk completed the top-five. Sixth through tenth were Matt Galko, Woody Pitkat, Todd Patnoad, Rowan Pennink and Les Hinkley.sixth-place Galko. Recovering from adversity was the story for the remainder of the top-ten including Pitkat, Patnode, Pennink, and Hinckley.
The inaugural Ron Bouchard Auto Parts 100, presented by SPAFCO and Jerico, is also made possible with the help of a strong list of associate sponsors with a ton of racing heritage including Broad Brook Heating & Cooling, Fred Wilcox, Bruce Brennenstuhl, Fuller RV Rentals and Sales, Fuller’s Car Laundry, Ballard Trucks, Metcalf Paving, Pat’s Auto Center, George Summers Trucking, Ashaway Cement Products, Mad River Construction, Bradford Motors, Dunn’s Corner Repair, Twin Cedars, Central Mass Tree and Ed French & Son Paving. Next up for the TTOMS is the prestigious Open Wheel Wednesday 100 at Seekonk Speedway on Wednesday, June 27. .
On tap at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl was the Full Fendered Throwdown presented by Belltown Motors Tire Service Center and Belltown Recycling. Anthony Flannery was the overall champion of the Late Model 20/20/20 Shootout picking up $2000.00 check for his efforts. In three separate 20 lap features Flannery finished fifth, second and second. Individual winners were Jason Palmer, Ryan Morgan and Bruce Thomas Jr. Other winners were Scott Serydnsky in the 375 Sportsman, Jordan Hadley in the Limited Sportsman, Nick Pappacoda in the Mini Stocks and Dwane Noll in the trucks.
The Granite State Pro Stock Series was also at the shoreline oval. Joey Doiron collected his first win in GSPSS competition and like Flannery, he did it with consistency. He finished third in all three 35-lap races. Jacob Dore led from the pole to dominate the first 35-lap feature, Cory Casagrande battled hard in the closing laps against George Bessette and held him off for the win in the second feature and Devin O’Connell worked forward from fourth starting spot to dominate and drive away from the field to win the third 35 lapper.
Across the big pond on Long Island, Tom Rogers was the Modified tour type winner at the Riverhead Raceway. Howie Brody finished second with Kyle Soper, third. His NASCAR Modified triumph, 49th of his career leaves Rogers just one win shy of tying the late Jim Malone Sr. for second on the all time win list at the track.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, rain prevailed. Burt Myers, the defending champion, has accumulated 232 points and holds an 18-point lead over second-place Tim Brown, the all-time wins leader in track history. Lee Jeffreys sits in third with 196 points.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Officials announced that the May 20 event, which was originally cancelled due to the pending weather forecast, will now be rescheduled. The Limited Sportsman Long Distance, presented by Pepsi, is now scheduled for Thursday, June 7.
The race program is headlined by the ultra-competitive Limited Sportsman Division, who will compete in their longest race of the year. The Sunoco Modified, Late Model, and Mini Stock Divisions will all be on the card, as well, competing in regular distance events.
Will Power gave team owner Roger Penske a 17th Indy 500 victory in a sweep of the “month of May” at Indianapolis. Danica Patrick ended her racing career with a bang as she hit the wall and never finished.
Kyle Busch marked off the only track where a points-race victory had eluded him Sunday night, leading 377 of 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch is the only driver in NASCAR’s modern era to win a points race on every NASCAR track on the schedule. Busch started on the pole, won every stage in the circuit’s longest race and left everyone else fighting for second on the way to his fourth victory of the season. It was Busch’s first win in 29 tries points-racing at Charlotte and gave him a series distinction like no other with wins at all 23 tracks on the top series. Keselowski overcame a humid afternoon and an hour-long rain delay Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway to become the first repeat winner on the Xfinity Series this season.
Spring Break for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series is almost over. The mighty modifieds resume this coming Saturday at the track known as the cement palace, the Seekonk Speedway located at the Gateway to Cap Cod in Seekonk, Mass.Leading the point standings is Justin Bonsignore with 123 points, second, one point back is Chase Dowling. Craig Lutz, Jon McKennedy and Rob Summers round out the top five.Sixth through tenth are Timmy Solomito, Doug Coby, Ryan Preece, Chris Pasteryak and Rowan Pennink.
Last year, 2022, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Jennerstown Pa. Late in the afternoon on Friday Timmy Solomito got a surprise phone call. Donnie Lia was scheduled to drive the Ole Blu entry of the Boehler family but was unable to make the commitment. What did Solomito do?, he packed his bags and headed for Jennerstown.
Nineteen modifieds and three slugs were on hand in Jennerstown. Patrick Emerling was the fastest in practice but when the field ran against the clock it was Tyler Rypkema taking the pole position with Emerling taking the outside pole. Taking the third thru fifth spots were Ron Silk, Jon McKennedy and Kyle Bonsignore. Timmy Solomito qualified ninth and way back in 14th was Justin Bonsignore.
Mike Christopher scored his first ever Whelen Modified Tour win after a spirited battle with Tyler Rypkema in the Salute to Veterans 150 that carried a purse of $104,723 in somewhat of a light crowd. Rypkema took the lead at the start followed by Emerling and Jon McKennedy. As Emerling began to fade McKennedy moved into the second spot to pressure the leader. The first caution came on lap 26 when Tommy Catalano spun in turn two. With no damage he was able to restart in the rear.
The green was back out on lap 32 with Rypkema still leading with McKennedy and JB Fortin in hot pursuit. The trio set a blistering pace to the point where Timmy Solomito was lapped on lap 62, Justin Bonsignore was lapped on lap 63 and Emerling was lapped on lap 66. Rypkema continued to lead as the field closed in on the half way mark. McKennedy was still second as Mike Christopher Jr moved into third as Fortin slipped to fourth.
On lap 88 McKennedy surged into the lead, opening up a big lead over Christopher as Rypkema slipped to third. The second caution flew on lap 100 when Kyle Bonsignore hit the wall in turn 2. During the caution the leaders pitted. McKennedy missed his pit box which caused him to go around and try again. On the restart on lap 108, Catalano led Christopher and Rypkema to the green. In his desire to catch up McKennedy hit the wall and did damage to his suspension while Christopher retook the lead.
Rypkema took the lead on lap 118 as Christopher dropped back to second. Christopher put the pressure on as Rypkema rode him up on lap 138. One lap later Christopher made his winning move to the lead. At the checker it was Christopher taking the win with Rypkema, second. J.B. Fortin finished third with Andrew Krause, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Tommy Catalano. Sixth thru tenth were Jon McKennedy, Max McLaughlin, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk and Craig Lutz.
For Tommy Baldwin Racing it was three in a row. It was Christopher’s first Whelen Modified Tour win as well as the first win for his spotter Bryan Narducci.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season continues Saturday, June 18 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. The event will be shown live on FloRacing.
The Stafford Speedway attempted Friday night racing action with a Stafford Weekly Series program but the weather had other ideas. on Friday night, May 27th. Alexandra Fearn won the Limited Late Model feature before rain prematurely brought the rest of the evening to a halt.
With 10 of the scheduled 20 laps complete, Gary Patnode had the lead followed by Fearn, Matt Clement, Devon Jencik, Rich Hammann, Damian Palardy, Jeremy Lavoie, Jay Clement, Kevin Cormier, and Matt Scappini. With 5 laps to go, Fearn had closed to within a car length of Patnode for the lead while Jencik was applying heavy pressure to Matt Clement for third place. Going flat out, Fearn caught Patnode with 2 laps to go and as they took the white flag, Fearn made her move to the inside of Patnode to take over the lead. Fearn led Patnode back to the checkered flag to pick up her first win of the 2022 season after a rough start to her first three races. Matt Clement finished third with Devon Jencik and Hammann rounding out the top-5. While some females involved in racing profess to be racers, Alexandra Fearn is the real deal!
Word came from Long Island that faced with a forecast that includes a chance of heavy thunderstorms during the afternoon, Riverhead Raceway has rained out the May 28th program set for this past Saturday night. We now look forward to “The Flying Dutchman 90”, a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Fred Harbach’s 1992 NASCAR Modified championship and win in his final race this coming Saturday June 4th.
The Flying Dutchman 90, a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of Fred Harbach and the storybook ending to his driving career when he won the final race of his career and the 1992 NASCAR Modified championship at Riverhead Raceway. Track officials have confirmed the actual X-90 Cavalier that Fred drove on September 19th, 1992 will be on hand Saturday and in fact will race in the 15-lap Eddie Partridge Vintage All Star event with Fred’s son in law AJ Kitz at the wheel. The car will be transported to Riverhead in an enclosed trailer that double as a museum to Fred Harbach and will be placed prominently in the garage area for all to access after the races.
At the New London Waterford Speedbowl Todd Owen took the SK Modified win over Andrew Molleur. Ray Christian was the 50 lap Late Model winner.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium twin 25s were the order of the night. In the first Modified race it was points’ leader Chris Fleming, also known as The Showstopper, who won for the sec-ond time this season. He’s the first two-time winner in that division as he led all 25 laps. It was his 13th career win for the 58-year-old who has never won a points’ title in his long career in Modified. Lee Jeffreys finished second and was followed by Jason Myers and Tim Brown. In the second Modified race, Randy Butner hung on for all 25 laps and withstood a near wreck when Jonathan Brown tried to pass him on lap 24. Brown ended up wrecking near the front stretch and after a caution Butner stayed in front of Jeremy Gerstner who ended up second. John Holleman was third with Zach Brewer, fourth.
Chase Dowling won the Tri-Track 100 at the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre Vt on Sunday before a capacity crowd. Pre race favorite Matt Hirschman started 12th and was mired in traffic until the late going but simply ran out of time. Hirschman got as high as third after passing Ron Williams on lap 96. Anthony Noscella finished second. Williams ended up fourth with Kirk Alexander, fifth and Woody Pitkat, sixth.
The RACERS HONORING RACERS 100 scheduled for Friday, MAY 27 at the Claremont Speedway, was postponed..
In NASCAR top tier racing in Charlotte, NC, leader Carson Hocevar chose the inside lane for the final restart of the truck race on Fri night, and Ryan Preece, in the outside lane, nosed ahead past the start/finish line when Ross Chastain spun his tires and failed to provide Hocevar with a push. Running beside Preece on Lap 136 in the first attempt at overtime, Hocevar lost control and slid up the track into Preece’s No. 17 Ford, damaging both vehicles. Preece finished 11th after pitting with a flat tire.
Denny Hamlin won the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Ryan Preece finished 37th.
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).