CHAMP TRAIL - 02/10/09
by Phil Smith
After a long snowy winter in the northeast many race fans and competitors
packed their bags and headed to Florida for the annual Speedweeks. The New
Smyrna Speedway World Series of Auto Racing began on Friday night.
Temperatures were in the 50’s most of the day but once the sun went down it
got quite chilly. When the Modifieds took the green for their feature at 20
minutes to 11 it was 30 degrees.
Jimmy Blewett was the opening night Modified winner of what ended
up being a rolling 25 lap demolition derby. Starting in ninth spot, Blewett
took the lead after a lap 17 confrontation with Matt Hirschman. Hirschman
and Blewett were racing quite hard for the lead when they came together on
the backstretch. Hirschman rode the backstretch wall into turn three and
suffered significant damage to his car which had to be double hooked off the
track. Race Director Richard Brooks felt the incident was the result of hard
racing and took no action against Blewett. He did, however take action
against Ted Christopher following an incident on lap 21. Christopher dove
under Jon McKennedy going into turn four. McKennedy hit turn four wall a
ton. Christopher was penalized and sent to the back of the pack for over
aggression on the track. After almost an hour the checkered flag flew on lap
25. Blewett won and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, JR Bertuccio, Bobby
Grigas, Eric Goodale and Christopher.
Because of the lateness of the hour, 12:30am, officials shortened
the SK type feature to 15 laps. Jimmy Blewett went pole to pole to record
his second feature win of the night. Grigas and Kenny Horton followed.
Matt Hirschman and his crew completely rebuilt their damaged racer,
finishing it just in time for night #2 at New Smyrna. Their efforts paid off
as Hirschman put his car in victory lane after going pole to pole in the 25
lap Tour type Modified feature. Opening night winner Jimmy Blewett lost
control of his mount on the first lap and hit the wall. With minimal damage
Blewett restarted in the rear of the 22 car field and was able to salvage a
ninth place finish. Ted Christopher ended up in second spot after trading
positions with Chuck Hossfeld with eight laps to go. Hossfeld settled for
third and was followed by Kevin Goodale, Jon McKennedy and Bob Grigas. The
Modified feature was completed shortly after 8:00pm, a sharp improvement
from the opening night. Temperatures were a little more tolerable as the
thermometer stayed around the 50 degree mark.
Jimmy Blewett went from an eighth starting spot to take the lead in
the third lap as he cleaned house for the second night in a row in SK type
Modified competition. Bob Grigas finished second with Kenny Horton, third.
The Tour type and SK type Modifieds did not race on Sunday night.
One of the big issues so far at the Florida Speedweeks has been the
fans, or the lack of them to be exact. The economy of this country is not
good and many people have been laid off from their jobs. Last weeks Busch
Clash saw a lot of empty seats at the Daytona International Speedway. During
Sunday’s Daytona 500 qualifying the grandstands were virtually empty. In
past years these events drew considerably better crowds.
Among the rumors circulating at New Smyrna is that quite possibly
Modified competitors who race at the same tracks on the same weekends as the
NASCAR Cup cars may be forced to shod their cars with Goodyear rubber.
According to reports, Goodyear is working on a wider tire for the Cup cars
in order to put a little more excitement back in the division. It’s not fair
to Hoosier Tire which has stepped up to supply the Modifieds and have never
had a major problem with their tires. If in fact NASCAR mandates this it
will only apply to events scheduled for Loudon and Bristol. In the past Cup
competitors have wined that Modified rubber has messed up their set-ups.
The Waterford Speedbowl property is still scheduled to be
foreclosed on by mortgage holder Rocco Arbitell on March 2. Despite all
that, property owner Terry Eames continues to make plans for the upcoming
season. With Arbitell foreclosing on the track things will be slightly
different then if a bank were to foreclose on a property. A bank would
accept the highest bid no matter what their future plans were. Arbitell does
not have to accept any bids he just legally has to advertise an auction and
hold it. He could refuse any amount of money which in turn would ultimately
give him ownership and control of the facility.
It appears that former track operator Jerry Robinson may be setting
himself up for future problems with the Internal Revenue Service as he has
not complied with federal law in sending out accurate 1099's to competitors.
The law says that all tax forms are supposed to be postmarked by Feb. 2
(technically Jan. 31st, but since that was a Saturday, it was Feb. 2). In
the case of 1099’s, if the amount indicated includes money that was never
paid they are bogus. If Mr. Robinson fails to provide the necessary accurate
forms he could end up paying a hefty fine to the IRS and could find himself
An insider in the know at NASCAR has hinted that the Waterford
Speedbowl may not get a sanction unless the purse is paid from last years
Fall Finale. NASCAR was founded by Bill France Sr to protect competitors
from promoters who ran off with gate receipts when they should have paid
competitors. Evidently it doesn’t make any difference who will be running
the track in 2009. The competitors need to be paid before the NASCAR banner
Despite all the uncertainty the Waterford Speedbowl released its
2009 schedule with more than 50 events planned. Leading the way is 29
Saturday division points events, while the popular Wild ‘n Wacky Wednesday
Series will return with 18 shows of their own. Several special events are
planned throughout the season, featuring touring series’ including the ACT
Tour, ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets, True Value Modified Series and
more. Rounding out the schedule will be no less than 4 family fun thrill
The shoreline oval will open its gates for the 59th consecutive
year when it hosts the 13th annual $20,000 Budweiser Modified Nationals
March 28-29, the region’s premier SK Modified® event. Saturday division
racing concludes with The Finale, slated for October 10-11. The ‘Bowl will
be in action each and every Saturday night in between. The SK Modified®,
Late Model, Street Stock and Mini Stock divisions continue to be the core of
the Saturday night schedule. The prestigious Speedbowl ‘Triple Crown’
returns, consisting of 3 extra distance events - the Budweiser Modified
Nationals, Finale, and annual mid-season championship event - the latter
boasting 300 laps of feature racing in an Independence Day spectacular on
July 4. Each division will receive 2 scheduled weeks off totaling 27
championship point events. Legends Cars will often frequent Saturday nights
as well along with other guest divisions throughout the season.
In TV land this week, the action in Florida at the Daytona
International Speedway is at a fever pitch. Tuesday’s viewing begins at 3:00
on ESPN2 with a preview of the 2009 Sprint Cup season. A preview of the
Nationwide Series 2009 season follows at 3:30. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 goes at
5:00pm. At 8:00pm the Speed Channel has The SPEED Report, Special Edition.
Speed goes live at 10:00am on Wednesday with NASCAR Live from the Daytona
International Speedway. NASCAR Sprint Cup PRACTICE follows at 11:00am. The
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has a two hour practice session on Speed
beginning at noon. Sprint Cup practice follows at 2:00. The Camping World
Truck Series has their second practice of the day on Speed at 5:00pm. At
6:00 Speed goes with NASCAR Live from Daytona on Speed. At the same time is
NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Viewing on Speed continues at 7:00 with the Third
Annual SPEED Performance Awards. The Speed Report follows at 8:00. The Speed
Channel closes out the day at 11:00pm with Daytona 500 Memories, Great
moments in the history of the Daytona 500. Television coverage at Daytona
shifts into high gear on Thursday with live coverage. ESPN2 starts it off at
9:30am with NASCAR Nationwide Series practice for 90 minutes. At 11:00am the
action switches to the Speed Channel for the final practice for the NASCAR
Camping World Truck Series which will run for two hours. Live coverage
continues at 1:00 with a one hour NASCAR RaceDay. The first of two NASCAR
Sprint Cup Gatorade Duels is scheduled to take the green at shortly after
2:00pm. Live coverage will run through 7:00 with NASCAR Victory Lane on the
Speed Channel. ESPN2 will also have a special one hour edition of NASCAR Now
from 6-7:00pm. The Speed Channel will also provide live coverage of the
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying session. At 9:00pm the Speed
Channel will repeat the NASCAR Sprint Cup Gatorade Duels 1 & 2 that were run
at the Daytona International Speedway in the afternoon. Live coverage from
Daytona on Friday begins at 1:00pm on Speed with a 30 minute segment of
NASCAR Live from Daytona. At 1:30 Speed covers Sprint Cup practice for 90
minutes. At 3:00pm the action switches to ESPN2 for NASCAR Nationwide Series
qualifying for Saturdays Camping World 300 at Daytona. NASCAR Now on ESPN2
follows at 6:00pm. At 6:30 the Speed Channel begins a one hour segment of
Trackside (NASCAR) at Daytona before moving into pre-race mode at 7:30 for
the scheduled 8:00pm start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra
Energy Resources 250 at Daytona under the lights. Saturday’s coverage begins
at 10:00am with NASCAR Live at Daytona. Coverage continues at 11:00 with the
final 90 minute practice session for the Sprint Cup cars. While that is
going on ESPN2 starts their pre-race show at noon for the 1:15 start of the
NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300. At 4:00 ESPN 2 has a special
SportsCenter at Daytona scheduled which will recap the Nationwide race.
Speed will have their own recap as part of NASCAR Live at Five, pm, that is.
The Speed Channel will also have a special edition of the SPEED Report at
7:00pm. At 8:00pm the Speed Channel will show the Jan 13 Chili Bowl Midget
Nationals that were held at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in Tulsa, OK. Daytona
Speedweeks conclude on Sunday with the running of the annual Daytona 500.
Coverage begins at 19:00am on ESPN2 with NASCAR Now. The Speed Channels
coverage begins at 10:30 with NASCAR in a Hurry at Daytona. The Speed
Channel goes into a three hour pre-race warm-up at 11:00am. At 2:00pm the
action switches to FOX for live flag to flag coverage of the Daytona 500.
New England’s own Mike Joy will anchor the telecast with Dick Berggren
leading the pit reporters. Joy and Berggren are by far the best there is!
The Speed Channel rounds out the weekend with the Speed Report at 7:00pm,
NASCAR Victory Lane at the Daytona 500 at 8:00 and Wind Tunnel with Dave
Despain at 9:00pm on Sunday night.
On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week all three speedway
stocks showed substantial gains for the week. Leading the pack was the
International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.12 to 24.90. Dover Downs
went up 1.04 to 2.59 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.49 to 14.93. NASCAR
Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.04 to 2.47 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sun Oil
took a dive as they dropped 6.50 to 39.82. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear
went up 1.00 to 7.17. Two of the three publicly traded auto makers had
positive results for the week. Toyota went up 5.87 to 69.38 and Ford went up
0.07 to 1.94. On the negative side was General Motors which dropped 0.17 to
2.84. Race team sponsors did quite well for the week. Dupont went up 1.61 to
24.57 while Coca-Cola went up 1.02 to 45.97. Michael Waltrip confirmed last
Thursday that Aaron’s Rentals has agreed to sponsor the #00 MWR Toyota of
David Reutimann for the entire season. Aarons jumped 2.80 to 24.66 at weeks
end. Also having a good showing was Target Department Stores which went up
1.82 to 33.02. In the home improvement sector Home Depot went up 2.00 to
23.53 and Lowes went up 0.97 to 19.24. The World Racing Group continues to
be stagnant at 0.04.
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my
chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is
Smith / Tom Ormsby /