Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – Seventy five years ago in 1948 rain wiped out the Midget racing action at the Seekonk Speedway.
Seventy years ago in 1953, the New London – Waterford Speedbowl staged three events in six days. Red Foote was the Wednesday and Saturday night 25 lap winner in the Sportsman division and Ray Delisle won a 50 lapper for the Sportsman on Labor Day. Non-Ford winners at the Bowl were Jack Connell, Bud Matter and Tom VanEpps. Dave Humphrey made it two in a row in Stock car action at Seekonk.
Sixty five years ago in 1958, Johnny Sandberg was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Other winners at the shoreline oval were Charlie Webster and Jack Wilson. Red Bolduc and Wild Bill Slater teamed up to win a 500 lap Modified event at Seekonk. R. Perkins won at Old Bridge.
Sixty years ago in 1963, Joe McNulty won a 50 lap Langhorne Race of Champions qualifier at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. McNulty finished 18th in the Columbus Day Classic. Jerry Dostie was the Bomber division winner at the Speedbowl. Racing on the dirt at Stafford was cancelled due to rain as was Seekonk. Eddie Flemke won the season ender at Fort Dix.
Fifty five years ago in 1968, Freddie Schulz was the Saturday night winner at the Norwood Arena. At the Albany – Saratoga Speedway, Sonny Seamon made a rare appearance and walked off with the win. Pete Corey finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Dave Gaul and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. No one knew it at the time, but it would be the last time fans would get to see MacTavish in action at the Malta oval as he would lose his life in a violent accident in Daytona in February of 1969. Don Collins was the 30 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Bill Scrivener was the Modified winner on Labor Day. Bill Sweet and Jim Mazzella were the Daredevil winners. John Arigo was the Class A winner at Seekonk. Lee Osborne was the 30 lap Modified winner at Lancaster. Thompson ran a 200-lap event on Sunday with Bugsy Stevens taking the win. Norwood rained out.
Fifty years ago in 1973, Lancaster Speedway ran their season ending 200. Maynard Troyer took the win over Bugsy Stevens. Shangri La ran the same day and held some of the NASCAR drivers including Richie Evans who took the win over Geoff Bodine and Eddie Pieniezak. Devils Bowl, in West Haven Vt. was paved at the time and hosted the NASCAR modifieds on Sunday afternoon. The Bug cleaned house, as Evans had to settle for second. Leo Cleary finished third and was followed by Jerry Cook and Ronnie Bouchard. At the Waterford Speedbowl, Dick Dunn, in the Al Gaudreau No.3 drove to a convincing win in the Wednesday night New England 100. George Allum was the Saturday night winner. Marshall White was the Grand American Late Model winner at the shoreline oval. George Savory scored his third Late Model Sportsman win at Seekonk
Forty five years ago in 1978, the modifieds ran at Seekonk on Saturday night after a fast run from Thompson where many were there for 300 qualifying. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over George Summers, Bob Santos and Red Barbeau. North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina ran a modified special, which was won by Ray Hendrick. Geoff Bodine continued his winning ways as he won the Thompson 300 over Santos and Bugsy Stevens.
Forty years ago in 1983, Waterford ran on Saturday night with Glynn Shafer taking the win with Ted Christopher, second. The annual Race of Champions at Pocono drew 98 modifieds. Jim Spencer took the win over Jamie Tomaino and Carl Pasteryak. At Seekonk on Saturday night Stormin Norman Holden took the Pro Stock win and Eddie StAngelo was the SK Modified winner.
Thirty five years ago in 1988,the battle for supremacy at Pocono came down to a last lap battle between Reggie Ruggerio and Satch Worley. As the pair roared off turn four, Worley made a move to the outside to go for the win but Ruggerio blocked and Worley rode the wall and had to settle for second. Finishing third again was Carl Pasteryak.
Thirty years ago in 1993,Apple Valley (Spencer) Speedway ran a special 50 lap event for the modifieds. Jan Leaty took the win over Jim Rudolph and Lee Sherwood and a 200 lapper scheduled for Waterford rained out for the second time. At Dover Downs, the Grand National 200 got a late start because of rain but it was well worth it as Todd Bodine took the win. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Rusty Wallace made up two laps to take the win. Numerous wrecks caused by blown right front tires and broken brake rotors marred the race. The Busch North Series ran at Lee Raceway and it was veteran Stub Fadden taking the win over Curtis Markham, Dick McCabe and Tom Bolles.
Twenty five years ago in 1998, the Race of Champions had been sold and moved to Oswego but the once prestigious event had lost a lot of its luster because of financial problems of the events previous Needless to say the event drew 49 modifieds, the majority from New York and few from the Modified Tour Series. Ted Christopher took the lead from John Blewett III on lap 24 of the 200-lap event and led to the 125-lap mark when his ignition box shorted out. From there on, Siege Fidenza led the way and went on to take the win. Tim Mangus finished second with Ryan Holland, third.
At Waterford on Saturday night it took 67 minutes to run 35 laps. Mike Gada survived seven wrecks and went on to take the lead with 11 laps to go and went on to take the win. Ed Dachenhausen finished second with Bert Marvin, third. Phil Rondeau scored his 97th win at the shoreline oval as he won the late model event.
Mike Stefanik finished 10th in a BGNN event at Beech Ridge and sewed up the 1999 title. Tracy Gordon won the 150-lap event over Dave Dion. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Mark Martin cleaned house as he led 380 of the scheduled 400 laps. Jeff Gordon finished second. Elton Sawyer won the Dover Grandnational event.
Twenty years ago in 2003, Matty Adante went pole to pole in Thursday night Thunder Sunoco Modified competition at Thompson. It was his first win. The action was hot and heavy behind him. Todd Ceravolo, who had been on a hot streak was eliminated while running second in the closing stages of the event when he was hit by Ron Yuhas Jr. while trying to weave his way through lapped traffic. Ceravolo’s night ended against the front stretch wall. Yuhas, who had previously tangled with Bert Marvin, went on to finish second. Eric Berndt finished third and was followed by Ted Christopher and Bob Santos III. Other Thursday night winners were Chuck Docherty in the Pro Stocks, Scott Bronczyk in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the Limited Sportsman and Roger Larsen in the Mini Stocks.
The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at Loudon on Friday for a 100-lap event that was run in conjunction with the Winston Cup weekend. Thirty-nine Modifieds took time for the event that carried a purse of$148,275, a $9450 increase over the 2002 September race. Tony Hirschman took the pole position with a speed of 127.649 mph. Second fastest was John Blewett III with a speed of 127.474 mph. Rounding out the top five were Nevin George, Chuck Hossfeld and Mike Stefanik. John Blewett III all but dominated the event as he cleaned house. After starting on the outside pole, Blewett made a determined run as he led on five different occasions. Driving for Curt Chase, Blewett took the lead for the final time on lap 69 when he passed Ted Christopher for the lead. Christopher was a factor but lacked that little extra to nail down the win. Christopher settled for second and was followed at the finish by Ken Woolley, Mike Stefanik and Chuck Hossfeld. Pole sitter Tony Hirshman led the first four laps. Mike Stefanik, who started fifth, made a determined charge as he took the lead on lap four. Stefanik led until lap eight when he gave way to Blewett. By lap ten the leaders were in lapped traffic and Stefanik was able to sneak by and retake the lead. Blewett glued himself to Stefanik’s bumper and re-took the lead on lap 16. The first of four cautions flew on lap 23 when Mike Molleur spun in turn four. On the re-start it was Blewett in command. Hirshman made a run at the high flying No. 77 and moved into the lead on lap 28 but lost it as fast as he got it as one lap later Blewett was on the point again. The second caution of the event flew on lap 41 when Dave Berube spun in turn two. The field went back to green on lap 46 for one lap as caution No. 3 flew for Nevin George who came to a stop in turn two after a spin. The field re-started on lap fifty. Hirschman made another stab at the lead and was able to head the pack on lap 53. His lead was short lived as Blewett powered by one lap later. The fourth and final caution came on lap 59 when Renee Dupuis came to a halt in turn four. The final restart came on lap 63 with Blewett leading. Ted Christopher was doing some bump drafting and got by Blewett to lead lap 68 but from then on it was Blewett on cruise control to take the win by 1.42 seconds. Blewett went non-stop and was having second thoughts about the amount of fuel he had but cautions made the difference and a pit stop was avoided.
At Stafford on Friday night, Chris Jones took his second SK Modified feature of the year. Eric Berndt made several attempts to lead the event but in the end it was Jones taking the win. Rounding out the top five were Ronnie Silk, Emil Downie and Willie Hardie.
At Waterford on Saturday night John Brouwer Jr. and Pete Pavone each won twin 25 lap events. It was the first win for Pavone who has been racing since 1985. Dennis Gada was hoping to solidify his lead in the NASCAR Regional point chase but wrecks in both features all but put him out of contention. Diego Monihan made it two in a row in Late Model action.
Saturday night racing at Wall Township and at Riverhead was rained out. Brad Leighton was the Busch North Series winner at Loudon and in Winston Cup action at the New Hampshire mile Jimmie Johnson took the win. The big news of the weekend came from NASCAR when it was announced that Brian France had replaced his father, Bill Jr. as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of NASCAR.
Fifteen years ago in 2008. the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson Speedway to partake in what was called Modified Mania. Thirty-two Modifieds were on hand for qualifying which ended up getting rained out. Based on point standings the field was set.
Preseason favorite Todd Szegedy broke through for his first win of the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season in the Sunoco Modified Mania 150. Szegedy, who started sixth, ran inside the top five for most of the afternoon, took his first lead of the race on Lap 132 and held off numerous charges by Ronnie Silk in the last 22 laps for his 13th career victory, and third at Thompson. Szegedy and Silk went non-stop without a tire change. Ted Christopher led the first 125 laps before pitting for tires under caution. Silk, who entered the event on a two-race winning streak at Thompson, led seven laps in the race but could not get past Szegedy despite three restarts in the closing circuits. Doug Coby, who is one of the drivers that replaced James Civali, came home third in the race, his second such finish in as many starts this year. Long-time series veterans Reggie Ruggiero and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five, for their best finishes of the year.
Fuller was honored prior to the race as part of NASCAR’s Celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions. Sunday’s finish was the 145th top five of his career.
Bobby Santos, Billy Pauch Jr., Matt Hirschman, Rowan Pennink and Eric Beers rounded out the top 10 finishers in the race. Despite a 14th place finish, Christopher retained a 63-point lead over Chuck Hossfeld with 11 races in the books.
There were 8 caution periods for 34 laps. Among those sidelined due to accidents or mechanical failures were Mike Stefanik, lap142, accident, Gary McDonald, Renee Dupuis, Glen Reen, lap134, accident, Jimmy Blewett, lap 131, Ryan Preece, Glenn Tyler, lap 109, accident, Richard Savary, Ed Flemke, Jr., Eric Berndt, lap 23, accident and Jamie Tomaino, lap 23 suspension failure.
In other Modified Mania action at Thompson, Matt Hirschman won the 75-lap main event for the Race of Champions. Todd Owen was declared the winner in a wild 75-lapper for the True Value Modified Racing Series (TVMRS). In weekly series action, Jimmy Blewett was the winner in the Sunoco Modifieds and R.J. Marcotte in the TIS Modifieds. Norm Wrenn was the winner in the visiting Pro-Four Modifieds.
Jimmy Blewett made it two in a row in the Sunoco Modified division. A single-file restart set up a five-lap dash to the checkers. With things unchanged in the running order for the top five, a battle for the sixth spot was brewing between Sylvester and Rocco. Sylvester came out on the top-side of the competition before the yellow flew again. With three laps to go, the third position was being hotly contested between Cravenho and Pitkat. After aggressive driving by both, Cravenho ended up in the outside wall. On the green-white-checker restart Blewett cruised to the victory over Marvin and Pitkat. Malone raced across the line in fourth followed by Josh Sylvester. After the event, Pitkat was penalized for his involvement in the incident with Cravenho. Malone was officially scored in third followed by Sylvester. Rocco rebounded from early race problems to complete the top five. Pitkat was placed last on the lead lap, which placed him in 15th spot in the final rundown.
Kerry Malone emerged as the new point leader in the Sunoco Modifieds. Malone led Todd Ceravolo, 478 to 466. Danny Cates slipped to third with 458. Jimmy Blewett was fourth wit 448 and Tom Cravenho was fifth with 422. Matt Hirschman proved to be the class of a star-studded Race of Champions Modified Tour. Hirschman went unchallenged to the checkers to score his fourth RoC win of the season. Blewett came home second ahead of Ryan Preece. Ted Christopher and Bill Pauch, Jr., rounded out the top-five.
Todd Owen scored his first True Value Modified Racing Series win in a controversial run to the checkers. Owen crossed the line in second but was awarded the victory on an official call. Coming down to take the checkered flag, contact between Christopher and Pinkham found Christopher spinning. Pinkham crossed the line first but he was called for over aggressive driving. The win was awarded to Owen. Holdridge and Malave joined Owen on the podium. Rowan Pennick and Jimmy Kuhn rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway kicked off its final month of NASCAR Racing for the 2008 season with a Whelen All-American Series feature event that saw Keith Rocco win the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco win the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chris Matthews win the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Joey Ferrigno win the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Duane Provost win the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Rocco survived a several late caution periods to post his second feature win of the 2008 season and retake the SK Modified points lead from Ted Christopher with 2 races remaining. The lead changed hands several times in the early laps as Wade Mattesen led lap one and Corey Hutchings led the next two laps before Woody Pitkat moved to the lead on lap-4. Pitkat slowly began to pull away from the field, building nearly a full straightaway lead before a caution with 18 laps complete erased that margin. Pitkat held the lead until a restart on lap-32 when Frank Ruocco moved to the front. Rocco moved past Frank Ruocco on lap-33 to take the race lead. Several more caution periods followed, but Rocco was able to hold off Donny Travaglin and Doug Coby to take the win. Todd Owen finished fourth and Wade Mattesen rounded out the top-5.
At the Waterford Speedbowl, it looked like property owner Terry Eames and track operator Jerry Robinson had kissed and made-up, legally, that is. The Hartford Courant reported on Tuesday, Sept 2 that Robinson made the bulk of the payments that he owed to the track ownership group, and also settled an outstanding property tax bill for the facility, during a court appearance New London. The ownership group filed suit against Robinson on Aug. 15 because of failure to pay about $45,000 in property taxes and also failure to meet scheduled rent payments.
Competition at the shoreline oval began with their Wacky Wednesday program. Ryan Morgan won the 30-lap Legends feature, while it was Billy Gerstch Jr. claiming the X-Modified 50-lap Summer Sizzler as presented by Prestige Properties. The program marked the final installment of the season for the popular mid-week series. Other feature winners were Greg Moran Sr. (Super-X Car), Curt D`Addario Sr. (X-Car), and Scott Foster (Outlaw Stocks).
Teenage Legends sensation Ryan Morgan passed early leader Glen Billings for the lead on lap-twenty, going on to snare his second in a row and his fourth feature victory of the season. Behind him a battle waged between 2008 Wednesday Legends champion Jason Palmer and Shaun Buffington. At the finish, Palmer narrowly edged-out Buffington to finish ahead of Max Zachem and Glen Billings.
Saturday night’s racing at Waterford fell victim to tropical storm Hannah.
Jimmie Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup event on Sunday at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Kurt Busch finished 15th, was wrecked twice and David Ragan had numerous on-track miscues to eliminate himself from Chase contention in a race delayed a day because of Tropical Storm Hanna.
In the Nationwide Series race that followed, Carl Edwards passed Clint Bowyer with 28 laps to go then pulled away through three restarts to win for the fourth time this season. Scott Wimmer finished second in the Emerson 250, Bowyer third. Edwards climbed into second in the points race.
Ten years ago in 2013, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series got back into action on Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway for the 175 lap Green Earth Technologies 200 on Saturday night.
Ryan Preece took the lead from Timmy Solomito on Lap 177, sliding underneath the local driver and holding on for his fourth win of the 2013 season. The 21-year-old Solomito, a regular in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified Division at Riverhead, won his first career Coors Light Pole Award in his sixth tour start and led the first 176 laps before giving way to Preece. Justin Bonsignore managed to get by Solomito on Lap 193 to take second, while Solomito settled for third.
Once in the lead, Preece strategically moved around the quarter-mile asphalt oval, pulling away for the win by 2.314 seconds. It was the ninth tour victory for the 2013 NASCAR Next driver and he tied Mike Ewanitsko for the most consecutive wins at the track, which has held 53 tour events. Woody Pitkat and Howie Brode rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, Ted Szegedy and Patrick Emerling.
There were 31 Modifieds, including 9 Riverhead regulars on hand. Seventeen of the original 28 starters finished on the lead lap. If the 200 laps run, 101 were under caution as 13 cautions slowed the event.
The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their regular Friday night season. Dan Avery picked up his first Stafford SK Modified® victory since 1982 in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn picked up his fifth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Chase Dowling picked up his seventh win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Josh Wood picked up his fourth win of the season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. picked up his second win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
In the SK Modified 40 lapper Avery took the lead from Joey Cipriano as the field completed lap 30. Ted Christopher was third with Todd Owen in fourth and Woody Pitkat in fifth. Avery held off Cipriano to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® feature victory at Stafford since the first season of SK Modified® competition. Christopher finished third, with Owen and Pitka rounding out the top-5.
The Valenti Modified Racing was also at Stafford. Ryan Preece became the 10th different winner in 14 races and the third first-time series winner in 2013. Preece started outside front row, jumped into the lead, and was never headed as he won the 4th annual Lincoln Tech 80. Preece received pressure early on from Ted Christopher. Christopher dropped out with mechanical problems during the only caution period on lap 34. From that point on it was all Preece to the checkered flag. Chris Pasteryak finished second with Richard Savory, third. Rounding out the top five were Tommy Barrett followed by Rowan Pennink. Ken Barry, Dan Meservey Jr, Norm Wrenn, Dave Etheridge, and Max Zachem finished sixth through tenth.
There were 34 cars on hand.
Action at the Waterford Speedbowl continued. A chilly night greeted race fans in attendance for the Speedbowl’s program on Saturday evening but the action on the track stayed red hot. Scoring NASCAR Whelen All-American Series victories were Frank Mucciacciaro in the SK Modifieds®, winning for the first time since 2006 while Keith Rocco won his ninth Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature of 2013. Ryan Waterman won his second Street Stock feature of the year and Ken Cassidy Jr. won another Mini Stock feature, recording an important victory in his accomplished racing career. Wayne Shifflett took down the checkered flag in the night’s X-Car race.
In the SK Modified 35 lapper The final 11 laps it were crucial as Todd Ceravolo really put the pressure on Mucciacciaro. Joe Gada and Rob Janovic raced behind in third and fourth positions while Keith Rocco was able to get by Jeff Gallup for fifth. On the point, Mucciacciaro held back every charge Ceravolo mounted to capture the victory. Ceravolo settled for second place while Janovic was able to put a final lap move to the inside of Gada to take third. Gada was fourth and Rocco finished fifth. Rocco was forced into a borrowed ride after his primary #88 car lost an engine in practice.
With three events remaining Keith Rocco led Todd Ceravolo 978-909 for the SK Modified Track Championship. Tyler Chadwick, who finished 16th, Craig Lutz who finished 10th and Kyle James who finished 8th round out the top five.
New York State dirt tracker Dave Lape closed out a 50 year racing career at the Fonda Speedway. Lape raced on both dirt and asphalt and amassed 191 feature wins including 99 at Fonda.
Matt Kenseth the GEICO 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway for his 6th win of 2013 and 30th career win. The start of the race was delayed about 90 minutes because of rain. Rain then started again on lap 109, causing a red flag of 5 hours 10 minutes before the race resumed.
Pole sitter Joey Logano lost an engine cylinder just past halfway. He fell out of the race shortly after and finished 37th.
Kyle Busch won the Nationwide Series Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway for his 10th win of the season. He put on another dominating performance, leading 195 of the 200 laps. Joey Logano finished second
Five years ago in 2018, the previous weekend marked the first anniversary of the passing of Ted Christopher who lost his life in an airplane accident while on his way to a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
Christopher was the all-time winningest driver at Stafford Motor Speedway, with 131 wins, and Thompson Speedway, where he had 99 career victories. He also raced regularly at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, where he had 48 career victories. The bulk of those victories came in each track’s weekly SK Modified division. He was also the the third winningest driver of all time on the Whelen Modified Tour.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the track paid tribute to Ambulance, EMS, Fire, Police, and all First Responder personnel. The track also had a moment of remembrance for Ted Christopher on the one year anniversary of his passing prior to the start of the SK Modified® feature. After Tom Fearn wrapped up the Late Model track championship one week previous, two more championships were decided as Ronnie Williams locked up the SK Modified® title and Jeremy Lavoie took the Limited Late Model crown. Scoring feature wins on the night were Mike Christopher, Jr. for the second week in a row in the SK Modified® feature, Darrell Keane scored his second win in the Late Model feature, Andrew Molleur took down his fourth win in the SK Light feature, Ryan Fearn scored his fifth win in the Limited Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker scored win #4 in the Street Stock feature.
In the 40 lap SK Modified feature, Keith Rocco took the lead shortly after half way with Christopher and Todd Owen side by side for second. Owen took second on lap-26 but Ron Williams moved into second behind Rocco on lap-27. As the two leaders came off turn 4 they touched with Rocco doing a 360 spin to bring the caution out. Williams was sent to the rear for the contact with Rocco, putting Owen and Christopher on the front row for the restart.
Josh Wood, Dowling, and Rocco got into the turn 1 wall on the restart to bring the caution right back out. Christopher got a good run in the outside lane and he took the lead from Owen on the next restart. Glen Reen followed Christopher in the outside lane and moved into second. Reen then almost took the lead from Christopher in turn 4 on lap-29 but he settled back into line. Michael Gervais, Jr. was now third with Owen back to fourth and Tom Bolles up to fifth.
With 5 laps to go, Christopher was still in command with Reen holding off Gervais and Owen for second and Eric Berndt now fifth. Christopher took the checkered flag to pick up his second consecutive win and third overall of the 2018 season. Reen finished second with Owen, Gervais, and Berndt rounding out the top-5. Ronnie Williams rebounded from his penalty to finish 6th, which was good enough to make him the 2018 SK Modified® track champion. Rocco ended up 16th.
Williams later admitted that he dumped Rocco on purpose as a payback from a previous incident.
On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl all was quiet. It was announced, with no explanation, that all racing for possibly the rest of the year will be cancelled.
George Whitney, operator of the Speedbowl thanked Kevin Burgess, otherwise known as Chowder, for taken time out of his busy life to report the Speedbowl to the Environmental Protection Agency which has now cost thousands of dollars in lawyer fees and engineered drawings and lots of unnecessary time that could’ve been spent on other things.
At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, it was a busy night of NASCAR Whelen All American Series racing with some 270-laps of feature event racing presented highlighted by the Whelen Engineering Night Twin 50’s for the NASCAR Modifieds. Kyle Soper of Manorville won the opening 50-lapper while John Beatty Jr. of Merrick topped the second 50-lap race. With a runner-up finish in the second race Soper will take a 11-point lead over defending NASCAR Modified champion Tom Rogers Jr. into the season finale September 29th.
Brad Keselowski raced to his third consecutive NASCAR Cup victory Sunday, persevering through a wreck filled Sunday afternoon and roaring away from the field in overtime to claim the playoff op ener.
Keselowski secured team owner Roger Penske’s 500th victory across all competitions with a resourceful performance amid trying circumstances and 99-degree Las Vegas heat.
Kyle Larson was second and defending Cup series champion Martin Truex Jr. third after a stop-and-start finish to a race that featured 12 cautions.
Ross Chastain won the Inaugural DC Solar 300, his first victory in 132 NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Ryan Preece finished sixth.
Last year, 2022, Fans at the Stafford Speedway enjoyed a full night of racing under clear skies and a full moon. The headline event of the night was the SK Modified TC13 which celebrated the life of the late Ted Christopher who lost his life in a plane crash five years previous. Mike Christopher Jr who has had less than a good season to date rose to the occasion as he took the lead on lap 10 if the 13 lap event from David Arute. Noah Korner moved into second with Andrew Molleur in third. Korner made a final bid for the lead coming off of turn 4 to the inside of Christopher but he came up just a half car length short as Christopher won the TC 13 Shoot Out. Molleur finished third with Arute and Dylan Kopec rounding out the top-5.
Quinn Christopher awarded three The Joie of Seating racing seats to through the Ted Christopher Safety Initiative and the three lucky winners were Keith Rocco, who finished 13th in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Christopher, who won the TC 13 Shoot Out, and SK Light driver Casey Vogt, who was the winner of a random draw consisting of all drivers signed in to race.
Jon Puleo was a first-time career winner in the SK Modified® feature. In the wreck marred event Puleo took the lead from Andrew Molleur on a restart on lap 38 with Todd Owen in third, David Arute in fourth, and Mike Christophe Jr in fifth. Molleur couldn’t get back close enough to Puleo to make a move as Puleo took down his first career SK Modified® feature victory. Molleur finished second with Owen, Arute, and Christopher rounding out the top-5.
Numerous wrecks and spins slowed the event. It seemed like there was a problem getting by the 16th lap. Michael Gervais and Mike Christopher touched wheels coming out of turn 4 on lap-15 with Gervais spinning and collecting several cars, including Ronnie Williams, Jon Puleo, Matt Vassar, Teddy Hodgdon, John Sandberg, John Montesanto, and several others. The field completed one lap with Rufrano holding the lead over DiMatteo before the caution came out for Montesanto, whose car caught fire under the hood going into turn 3 and he came to a stop in turn 4. Still on lap 16, The next restart saw DiMatteo and Rufrano touch tires going into turn 3 with Rufrano spinning to the infield and DiMatteo spinning backwards into the turn 3 wall to bring the caution back out. This put Leary and Molleur on the front row with Owen and Dylan Kopec in the second row for the next restart. Under the caution, Narducci developed a flat tire and had to come to pit road just as the field was going back to green.
Other Friday night winners at Stafford included Andrew Durand who was another first time career winner in the Late Model feature, Derek Debbis scored his third win of the season in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement led his brother Jay to the checkered flag to pick up his second win of the 2022 season, and Bobby Stirk, III picked up his fifth win of the season in the Street Stock feature.
The Stafford Speedway will be silent this coming Friday night (Sept 16). The weekend of Sept 23 and 24th will include the 49th annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final on the 24th. The Fall Final will include the Tri-Track Open Modified Series (80 laps), SK Modified® (40 laps), SK Light Invitational (non-points, 20 laps) and Vintage All-Stars (15 laps). Stafford will wrap up their season on Friday night, Sept 30 with Champions Night. The Tri-Track Open has over 50 entries.
Down on the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Todd Owen recorded his fifth victory of the season in the 35-lap SK Modified feature Saturday. Eric Berndt finished in the runner-up spot with Anthony Flannery, third. Andrew Molleur and Adam Gada rounded out the top five in the 11 car starting field.
Nick Hovey was the 25-lap SK Light Modified feature winner with John O’Sullivan and Evan Bourgeois making up the top three in the 12 car starting field. Other winners were Scotty Watts who won the 45-lap 350 SMAC feature, Sam Mesick, the 25-lap Mini Stock feature, Avery Stoehr, the 25-lap NEMA feature winner, Randy Cabral, the 25-lap NEMA Lites feature winner, Ed Ryan Jr., the 25-lap Truck feature winner and Brody Monahan the 25-lap Legends feature winner.
Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, It was a night to pause and reflect Saturday as the track remembered it’s late leader Eddie Partridge on the 1st Anniversary of his passing and also paid tribute to local first responders on the eve of 9/11. When the attention turned to the headlining Cecil Palm Tree 160 NASCAR Modified event the gloves came off and a wild race ensued. When the dust cleared Jack Handley Jr. of Medford fended off defending champion Kyle Soper of Manorville in a late race six lap dash to conclude the race earning his first career win in the process. Earlier Handley notched his 15th career Super Pro Truck win.
Leading the late stages, the last thing Handley wanted to see was another yellow which unfortunately for him waved on lap 154 for a single car spin. That turn of events set-up a six-lap dash for the cash and oh what a six laps were to follow. When the green waved for the final time Soper, a 28-time winner at the track was side by side with Handely who was seeking his first ever win. On the final lap the duo was side by side going through three and four and were side by side coming to the checker flag with Jack Handley Jr. by 0.056, or by a quarter of a car scoring the victory in the East End Excavating Chevy.
Among those in the Modified field was Dave Sapienza. Who finished 14th. Race follower Craig Gabriele stated that Sapienza is retiring from Whelen Modified Tour competition. Currently 11th in the 2022 WMT standings, the 57 year old has been a staple on the tour for nine years. Winless in 99 races, Sapienza has 26 top tens to his credit.
NASCAR has announced that the NASCAR Cup Series will make a stunning return to a revitalized North Wilkesboro Speedway next season, visiting one of its original tracks for the 2023 edition of the NASCAR All-Star Race during NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season.
In NASCAR cup racing action at the Kansas Speedway Bubba Wallace started sixth and stayed near the front all afternoon. He took the lead from Alex Bowman at lap 200 and stayed there until pitting under green at lap 214. He regained the point for good at lap 225, built a 5-plus-second lead, and won by less than a second over Denny Hamlin, his fast-closing team co-owner.
On a sad note, the entire racing community is mourning the passing of a true legend in Dirt Racing, Dave Lape, who has passed away. Dave retired from the driver’s seat in 2013 but has been instrumental to the legacy of the Fonda Speedway Hall of Fame and Museum as well as many of dirt racing’s best drivers over the years. During the early seventies Lape ran on the NASCAR Modified circuit and was the driver who beat out Billy Harman for fifth in the final national standings.
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).