Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The long awaited 2023 SRX Series season opened on Thursday, July 13 at the Stafford Speedway. It marked the third consecutive year the series ran at Stafford and had sold out. The series will run for six consecutive Thursday nights at 9:00pm, with all events broadcast on ESPN. The division was supposed to make its first appearance at Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, VT this coming Thursday July 20 but had to be scrubbed as the state of Vermont had severe water damage from floods. Other venues include Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn, Va (July 27), Berlin Raceway in Grand Rapids, Mich. (Aug. 3), Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Oh. (Aug. 10) and Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo. (Aug. 17).
Ken Schrader joins a full-time lineup that already includes Marco Andretti, Hallie Deegan, Brad Keselowski, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Paul Tracy.
All dressed up with newly painted walls and track lines Stafford played host to the SRX series with an absolute full house, over 10,000 fans. On a somewhat threatening night as thunderstorms were closing in. Denny Hamlin scored a dominating victory with rain and lightning in the area cutting the race short from the 75 scheduled laps to 58 laps. Hamlin took the lead on the lap-45 restart with Clint Bowyer in second. Ryan Newman moved into third with Paul Tracy fourth and Marco Andretti in fifth. Hallie Deegan took over fifth place from Andretti on lap-48 while Neman took second from Bowyer on lap-51 as Hamlin continued to lead the race. Just as Newman had caught Hamlin, the caution came out with 56 laps complete as rain began to fall with lightning off in the distance. The cars were shown the white flag on lap-57 and Hamlin took the checkered flag under caution on lap-58 at 10:42pm to score the victory in the opening round of the 2023 SRX Series. Newman finished second with Bowyer, Tracy, and Deegan rounding out the top-5. In a somewhat surprise move The SRX series will return to Stafford Speedway this coming Thursday, July 20th, 2023. The event has been moved from Thunder Road Speedbowl in Vermont due to flooding throughout the region. It has been announced that RYAN PREECE will take on the Superstars. The SK Lights will serve as the preliminary event..
Stafford Speedway also hosted the 9th race of the season for its SK Modified® division as part of the Superstar Racing Experience. Keith Rocco took control of the race just after the halfway point and then drove away from the field to make it two in a row at Stafford. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 300 wins which also include 80 wins at Stafford, 154 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, and 71 at the Thompson Speedway. Starting 14th, Rocco moved into the lead on lap 21. Once in the lead he inched away and at the checker had a little over 2 second lead.at the finish. Jimmy Blewett was an early contender for the win as he passed Anthony Bello for the lead on lap 18. One lap later Bello took it back.
Rocco followed Blewett by Bello to move into second and he then took the lead from Blewett on lap-22. This move brought Mikey Flynn up to second and Todd Owen third with Blewett falling back to fourth place. Blewett then went back by Owen to take over third place on lap-25 while Rocco was starting to stretch out his lead over Flynn. Mike Christopher Jr tagged Blewett in turn 4 on lap-26 with Blewett getting sideways and falling back to sixteenth place. With 10 laps to go, Rocco continued to lead with Flynn, Owen, Christopher, Cory DiMatteo, Bello, Michael Gervais, Anthony Flannery, Noah Korner, and Dylan Kopec making up the top-10. With 2 laps to go, Christopher had worked his way to the inside of Owen for third while Rocco was still comfortably in the lead with Flynn in second. Rocco led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive SK Modified® win of the 2023 season. Flynn finished second while Christopher cleared Owen on the last lap of the race to take third and DiMatteo came home in fifth place. Blewett was able to recover somewhat as he ended up 13th.
Friday night’s entire event at Stafford was cancelled due to impending bad weather in the area.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Loudon, NH for the premier event of the WMT season. Thirty cars were entered. After a slow pit stop with 25 laps to go sent the three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and pole sitter Justin Bonsignore back to 10th, he battled his way through the field and found himself slugging it out with Doug Coby and Ron Silk in the closing laps for the race win. On the final corner, Bonsignore dove low to block Silk and drifted back high to cover Coby, who attempted a cross-over move. Holding firm on the outside of Coby, Bonsignore beat his rival to the finish line in a near-photo finish.
It was just past 6pm when the field took the green as weather was closing in. Bonsignore who led from the start had a healthy on Tyler Rypkema lead when rain moved in and halted the event at lap 69. After a one hour delay the race was restarted. Prior to the green being displayed just about all the lead lap cars pitted for fuel and or tires. Bonsignore’s crew appeared to have bungled the pit stop as he rejoined the race in tenth spot.
The green was displayed on lap 78. Silk and Coby swapped the lead while Bonsignore was on the move. The second caution was displayed on lap 82 when Bobby Santos hit the turn one wall. The field went back to green on lap 85 with Silk taking the lead in turn 2 and Coby taking the lead in turn 3. By lap 95 Bonsignore had worked his way into the second spot and after swapping the lead with Coby took the lead. Coming off the fourth turn on the final lap saw a side by side drag race to the finish with Bonsignore winning by inches. Coby finished second and was followed by Silk, Austin Beers and Patrick Emmerling. Sixth thru tenth included Anthony Sesely, Corey LaJoie, Matt Swanson, Andy Seuss and Jake Johnson.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes a couple weeks off before returning to action Saturday, July 29 for the Clash at Claremont 150 at New Hampshire’s Claremont Motorsports Park. The race will start at 8:30 p.m. ET with live coverage on FloRacing.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Cory DiMatteo was the SK Modified winner. Andrew Molleur, Eric Berndt and Todd Owen followed.
The Modifieds had the week off at Riverhead
The Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina ran twin 25’s for their Modifieds. Jason Myers won the opener while his brother Burt was not as fortunate as he was collected on the opening lap and missed the restart while his crew repaired his leaking radiator. Chris Fleming won the second 25 lapper.
Following the June 8th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Wall Stadium Speedway NASCAR got tough on the action of two drivers, the following penalties were issued:
Driver JB Fortin of the No. 34 JB Fortin Racing team entry was fined $5,000; must attend and complete Anger Management Training as determined by NASCAR; and is indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and any NASCAR-sanctioned events until the fine is paid and successful completion of Anger Management Training has occurred. Upon reinstatement, the member will be placed under probation for one year. The rule infraction is as follows: 12-8.1 Member Conduct Guidelines B. 1. Disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership; 2. Verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.; C. 1. Physical confrontation with a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.; 2. Member-to-Member confrontation(s) with physical violence and other violent manifestations such as significant threat(s) and/or abuse and/or endangerment; E.1. Actions by a NASCAR Member that NASCAR finds to be detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR.
Team member Amber Fortin of the No. 34 JB Fortin Racing team entry was fined $2,500; must attend and complete Anger Management Training as determined by NASCAR; and is indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and any NASCAR-sanctioned events until the fine is paid and successful completion of Anger Management Training has occurred. Upon reinstatement, the member will be placed under probation for one year. Team members Nicole Fortin and John Fortin of the No. 34 JB Fortin Racing team entry were each fined $1,000 and are indefinitely suspended from NASCAR and any NASCAR-sanctioned events until the fine is paid. Upon reinstatement, each member will be placed under probation until December 31, 2023. They violated 12-8.1 Member Conduct Guidelines: 1. Disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership; 2. Verbal abuse of a NASCAR Official, media members, fans, etc.;
Driver Max Zachem of the No. 26 Lakeland Avenue Landscape Supply team entry has been fined $1,000 for intentionally damaging the No. 34 entry while under caution on Lap 139. 3. Intentionally damaging another vehicle under yellow or red flag conditions or on pit road with no one around. Additionally, a post-race time/lap penalty was assessed to the No. 26 per the rule listed below, reverting his finish to Lap 139. The No. 26 was placed behind the No. 34 in the finishing order and is now scored as finishing 20th.
Fortin told RaceDayCt that he is not going to anger management and does not plan on paying any fines. In other words, he and his race team are stepping back from the sport.
Congratulations on the 20th year anniversary of the Pronyne Motorsports Museum! This is a remarkable milestone that deserves to be celebrated. Over the past two decades, the museum has undoubtedly become a hub for racing enthusiasts, showcasing the rich history and thrilling experiences of auto racing.
Visitors have had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the world of racing, exploring the evolution of race cars, the achievements of legendary drivers, and the adrenaline-pumping moments that have defined the sport. The museum has not only preserved the heritage of auto racing but also educated and inspired countless individuals, fostering a deep appreciation for this exhilarating sport.
In some sad news, Area Auto Racing News, the nations No.1 Auto Racing Trade Paper announced that Daytona’s Living Legends of Auto Racing museum will be closing at the end of October. The museum is located in the Sunshine Mall in South Daytona. A severe lack of interest is the main reason for the closure.
In 1967 the Stafford Motor Speedway was paved. The NASCAR Modifieds were the headline division. For 20 years thru 1986 Stafford would host and provide competition from the best in the busines from throughout New England, New York State, Long Island and from the south. Names like Eddie Flemke, Bugsy Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Reggie Ruggerio, Ray Miller, Richie Evans, Maynard Troyer, Geoff Bodine, Charlie Jarzobeck, Greg Sacks, Wayne Anderson, Jamie Tomaino, Satch Worley and Ray Hendrick would be in the line-up and would record victories.
The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!
With the cooperation of the Arute family another 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).