CHAMP TRAIL - 07/14/09
by Phil Smith
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Spencer Speedway this past
Saturday, July 11.
Following constant rain throughout Saturday morning, NASCAR and
Spencer Speedway officials postponed the Spencer Speedway 155 to Sunday.
Erick Rudolph’s first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win on
Sunday in the Spencer Speedway 155 made him the youngest winner in tour
history. At 17 years, 6 months, 3 days, the Ransomville, N.Y., driver
eclipsed the mark set by Ryan Preece in 2008. Preece was 17 years, 10
months, 25 days when he won at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
After failing to finish each of the first four races of the season,
Rudolph led the final 48 laps and withstood a furious charge from Todd
Szegedy on the final lap to claim the victory. On the last lap, Szegedy got
by Chuck Hossfeld for second and had the nose of his car nearly up to
Rudolph’s front tire as they crossed the finish line. The scheduled 125-lap
event was extended to 131 by a green-white-checkered finish.
Hossfeld followed on Rudolph’s bumper for third. Rowan Pennink and
Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. Donny Lia, who would have missed the
event if it had not been rescheduled, Mike Stefanik, Eric Goodale, Ron Silk
and points leader Ted Christopher completed the top 10. Lia attended the
wedding of his sister on Saturday when the event was originally scheduled.
Earlier in the day, Szegedy and Christopher won the two 15-lap heat races
that set the feature lineup. Rudolph, who was fastest in practice, finished
12th out of 14 cars in his heat. Szegedy led a race-high 60 laps before
being forced to pit for a flat tire on lap 80. He was able to cut
Christopher’s point lead to 17. There were 26 Modifieds on hand. Caution
Flags, the yellow was displayed on 12 occasions for 55 laps. And there were
ten lead changes among four drivers.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour now goes on “Summer Break for three
weeks before heading for the Riverhead Raceway on August 1.
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway on a
night when the Speedway was to have been silent, there was plenty of
activity on the 5/8th mile oval. Keith Rocco and Les Rose were among those
taking down victories. After experiencing three rainouts thus far this
season, Thompson Speedway management added a full slate of NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series competition that included a 50 lapper for the Sunoco
Modifieds. Keith Rocco came home the victor in the 50-lapper for the Sunoco
Modifieds. Les Rose took home the Super Late Model victory. Tommy O’Sullivan
broke into victory lane with his first feature win of the 2009 season in the
Late Models. Hometown racer Paul Coutu, Jr. scored an exciting win in the
Limited Sportsman division while Glenn Boss turned his luck around with a
victory in the TIS Modifieds. Brad Caddick was declared the winner of the
Mini Stock main event after post race technical inspection. Tim Taylor took
the Mini Stock checker but was found to be under weight at a post race tech
session. In victory lane Taylor voiced his displeasure with the way the
Thompson officials had allegedly treated him and was quite vocal over the
fact that he was moving his racing efforts to the Waterford Speedbowl.
In the Sunoco Modified 50 lapper Rowan Pennink led the charge at
the green but was overtaken by Kerry Malone on lap 2. Woody Pitkat moved
into second after Pennink ran Ted Christopher up as he was attempting to
make a pass. Danny Cates and Todd Ceravolo joined the battle for the third
position was well.
The caution flew on lap 18 when Henry Stamfl went up in smoke.
During the caution period, Christopher, Pennink, Rocco, Jimmy Blewett and
others headed down pit road to the attention of their pit crews. Pitkat gave
Malone a run on the restart but had to settle back in line in the second
spot. Ceravolo took chase in third followed by Cates and Josh Sylvester.
Harry Rheaume was having a good run in the sixth position. Debris in turn
four necessitated the caution at halfway. Rocco, who ended up restarting in
the rear, came down pit road to change a soft tire under the caution. Rocco
was joined on pit road by Sylvester. Back under green it was much of the
same for the lead pack of Malone, Pitkat, Ceravolo, and Cates. Rheaume had
moved into the fifth position but had his hands full with Christopher. After
another quick caution, Ceravolo tried the low side on Pitkat but had to
settle back in line. Cates and Christopher racing for the fourth position
made contact. Both were able to continue; however, Christopher lost several
spots. The caution flew again on lap 32 when early leader Pennink made
contact with the outside wall exiting turn four. Rheaume relinquished the
fifth spot to come down pit road for service. After a false start, Ceravolo
gave up the third position to visit pit road as his engine was overheating.
When the race went back to green Malone continued to lead Pitkat, Cates,
Christopher and Rocco in the top five. The complexion of the race changed
dramatically on the lap 33, a half a lap after the restart. Contact between
Pitkat and Malone sent Malone spinning from the lead. Rocco shot through the
narrowest of holes to miss the incident. Without completing a lap the lead
would have gone to Pitkat; however, he was given the consolation flag for
spinning the leader and was put to the rear. On the restart, Rocco was
pitted against new leader Christopher. Cates, Tim Sullivan, and Blewett made
up the top five.
On the restart, a cross over move by Rocco on Christopher gave the
youngster the lead. A spin by Blewett brought out the caution, requiring
Rocco to make the move once again. Rocco made it look easy on the ensuing
restart taking over the top spot with ease. Rocco immediately jumped out to
a sizeable advantage. Tim Sullivan was having the race of his young SK
Modified career running in the third position.
Cates got along side Sullivan on lap 38 but could not make the
pass. Ceravolo was running behind the duo in fifth. The pack ran out of
running room coming out of turn four. The cars of Sullivan, Cates, Ceravolo,
and Sylvester came to rest in a heap at the start-finish line. On the
ensuing restart, Rocco led Christopher and Pitkat to the green flag for the
restart. The duo of Rocco and Christopher immediately distanced themselves
from third running Pitkat. Blewett was already back up to the fourth
position followed by Rheaume in a distant fifth. The field stretched out
over the final laps of the event making for an uneventful run for the
checkers. Rocco scored his third win of the season to extend his point lead
over Pitkat and Pennink. Christopher settled for second ahead of Pitkat,
Blewett, and Rheaume.
Ryan Truex of Mayetta, NJ, used tire conservation to win the annual
visit of the Camping World East Series event on Saturday night at the
Thompson International Speedway. Thompson regular Derek Ramstrom of W.
Boylston, MA, led wire-to-wire to score a popular victory in the Pro
All-Star Series (PASS) feature event. Jeff Zuidema was back in top form in
the Late Models as part of the Pepsi Full-Fendered Frenzy. “Leadfoot” Larry
Barnett extended his point lead in the Limited Sportsman division.
Second-generation driver Brian Tagg scored his first career win in the TIS
Modifieds. Tim Taylor scored his fourth Mini Stock win of the season.
The Stafford Motor Speedway came alive on Tuesday night, July 7th,
with the 6th annual CARQUEST Extreme Tuesday program. Chris Perley won the
50-lap ISMA Supermodified feature for the second consecutive year, Nokie
Fornoro won the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature event, and Norm Wrenn made it two
in a row at Stafford by taking the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event.
The Stafford Speedway returned to action on Friday night with a
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program of five divisions. Ted Christopher
took down his second consecutive victory in the 40-lap SK Modified feature,
Ryan Posocco took his third feature victory of the 2009 season in the 30-lap
Late Model feature, John Montesanto came out the big winner in a thrilling
duel with Jay Goff to score his first career victory in the 20-lap SK Light
Modified feature, Carla Botticello outdueled her father to take her first
win of 2009 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Barry Fluckiger
took down his first feature victory of the 2009 season in the 15-lap DARE
The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Joe Allegro, Jr.
leading the first lap, but he was overtaken by Curt Brainard on lap-2.
Brainard held the lead unitl lap-8 when the caution came out. On the
restart, Woody Pitkat powered past Brainard in the outside groove to take
the lead. Frank Ruocco followed Pitkat past Brainard, as did Ted
Christopher, Jeff Malave, and Keith Rocco. The action was slowed again by
the caution with 14 laps complete for a spin by Kirk Zervas. On the restart,
Pitkat charged into the lead, but he was overtaken by Christopher for the
lead the very next lap. The caution came back out for a spin by Dave
Salzarulo and Wade Mattesen to slow the field and set up a restart. Pitkat
hung tough to the outside of Christopher on the restart and he took the lead
at the stripe before the caution came back out for a spin by Richie Pallai,
Jr. in turns 3 & 4. Pitkat and Christopher again put on a great duel for the
lead in a side by side battle that lasted for two laps before Christopher
was able to move out front. Contact between Brainard and Kenny Horton in
turn 2 sent both cars around and brought the caution back out.
Christopher took the lead on the restart, but Pitkat and Rocco spun
through the backstretch grass. Both cars were able to get fired up and the
race stayed under green. Pitkat and Rocco were able to get caught back up to
the field as the caution came out the next lap for a three-car spin in turn
1. This put Frank Ruocco alongside Christopher for the restart, and he was
able to keep pace with Christopher through several more caution periods, but
his night ended with a faulty distributor when the caution came out with 27
laps complete. Ruocco's misfortune put Doug Coby alongside Christopher with
Malave and Rocco on row 2.
Christopher charged into the lead, with Rocco moving to the outside
of Malave to take over third place. The top-3 cars then ran in line to the
checkered flag with Christopher nailing down his second consecutive victory
of the 2009 season. Coby finished second, with Rocco, Malave, and Horton
rounding out the top-5. It was the third victory of the season at Stafford
for Christopher and the 90th of his career behind the wheel of an SK
Modified at the track. Christopher now has 106 career victories at Stafford.
The racing action at Waterford Speedbowl was fast and furious for
July 11’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing event. Keith Rocco and
Danny Field picked up their fourth wins of the season, extending their
points lead in the SK Modifieds and Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock divisions
respectively. Bruce Thomas Jr. and Tim Jordan put on a classic duel in the
Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature with Thomas prevailing at the last
moment. Brandon Plemons picked up his first Street Stock win of the year and
Jason Palmer returned to Legends Car victory lane.
Frank Mucciacciaro and Corey Hutchings led the SK Modified field to
green on Whelen Night, with Milford’s Mucciacciaro taking the lead in a
superb 35-lap event. Ledyard’s Tyler Chadwick moved into second and
immediately began to size up the leader, looking for a way by. Chadwick
eventually chose the high line and moved alongside on lap five. The pair ran
side by side when Mucciacciaro suddenly lost traction in the low groove in
turn four spinning to the apron of the track to bring out the first and only
caution on lap seven. Hutchings lined up outside Chadwick for the restart
with Tom Abele Jr. third, Rob Janovic fourth, and Rocco in fifth. Chadwick
mastered the return to green taking over into turn one, but Abele quickly
challenged from third with a great run on the low side of Chadwick off turn
four. Abele, of Norwich, took command on lap ten with Chadwick tucking in
line behind on his bumper. The field behind was racing hard for position
Rocco advancing to third, Dennis Charette into fourth, and Dennis Gada
emerging in fifth. Chadwick patiently looked for opportunity on Abele and
found that opportunity making a darting low move into turn three to pull
alongside and challenge the leader. Chadwick regained the lead just before
halfway, with Rocco following in the inside line past Abele. The Wallingford
native began to pressure Chadwick for the lead shortly after. The youngster
from Ledyard defended Rocco’s high and low moves as the race moved past
halfway. Meanwhile, Ron Yuhas Jr. was moving through the field and into
fifth. Rocco, the national NWAAS points leader, made another outside move
and pulled even with Chadwick. The pair raced side by side for two laps
before nearly running out of racing room off turn four, making contact.
Chadwick bobbled but made a nice save, however dropped positions as the
field raced into turn one. Abele retook second, with Gada and Yuhas trucking
by Chadwick for third and fourth.
Over the remaining laps Rocco began to stretch his lead, while Gada
peeked outside Abele for several laps looking for the momentum to pull
alongside for second. Yuhas flirted with moving under Gada for third as he
tried Abele. The intense action all the way around the track ended with
Rocco going unchallenged to the checkered flag. Abele held for second, Gada
third, and Yuhas fourth as the trio crossed the stripe under a blanket.
Janovic finished in fifth close behind. Every competitor was running on the
lead lap at the end of the quickly raced and hard fought event.
The True Value Modified Racing Series headed to Lee USA Speedway on Friday,
July 11th for The Laticrete 100. Jimmy Kuhn, Jr. won his first ever TVMRS
race. Kuhn was the sixth winner this year in the series showing that the
competition has been tough and the race for the win tight. In the past Kuhn
himself has come close to winning a race but in the end lady luck jumped in
and robbed him of a victory. As usual the #72 team showed up at the track
with their car pristinely prepared and ready to race. And yes, race they did
as they won the first heat race and started the series race on the pole This
has only been the second series race for the Kuhn team, but both races have
found the team with the right combination for their pursuit of a win. Rob
Goodenough settled for a second place finish after a late race pass. On lap
97, Goodenough lost his hopes for the win as Kuhn made his pass for the
lead. Goodenough had inherited the lead on lap 63 after a race incident took
out the race leaders. Goodenough held off several challenges for the number
one spot during the race but in the end his efforts were not enough.
TVMRS point leader Jon McKennedy won the third heat race, started
the race in third and then went on to finish the race in third. This was a
good finish after the #73 race team was plagued with issues during practice.
A push truck had to come to the team’s aid when the car kept stopping on the
track. But the team got close to the root cause of the issue and once the
car was on the track it was hard to stop.
The next event for the series will be Saturday, July 18th at Oxford
Plains Speedway in Oxford, ME.
Motorsports publisher Coastal 181 announced the upcoming release of
I’LL NEVER BE LAST AGAIN, the autobiography of Bill Wimble. The long-awaited
memoir of the legendary racer from Lisbon, New York, was written in concert
with award-winning journalist, Lew Boyd.
Wimble enjoyed a meteoric career during the prime era of sportsman-modified
racing on the East Coast. He was NASCAR National Sportsman Champion in 1960
and 1961 and won seven state and fourteen track titles throughout the ’60s.
The lion’s share of Wimble’s wins came aboard the state-of-the-art,
signature red, black and white # 33s fielded by McCredy Motors in Sherburne,
NY. The Wimble/#33 combo grew into one of the most popular and lasting
brands in the history of short-track racing. In I’LL NEVER BE LAST AGAIN,
Wimble details his valiant struggle as a teenager to save his family’s dairy
farm along the St. Lawrence River . Later, following his near-fatal crash at
Lebanon Valley Speedway in 1968, he literally started over again,
re-crafting his career and honing his entrepreneurial skills. Along the way,
he developed an enduring set of life principles that carry poignant messages
for all of us. His is truly an American success story. I’LL NEVER BE LAST
AGAIN is 234 pages, hard-cover, with black and white photography. The book
is available for $26.95 plus $6 S&H at www.coastal181.com or by calling
1-877-907-8181 toll free during business hours.
In TV land this week, NASCAR Now on espn2 will be seen at 5:00pm on
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Speed channel replays last
weekends Sprint Cup Lifelock.com 400 that ran at the Chicagoland Speedway in
Joliet, IL. The World of Outlaws Late Models take center stage on Speed at
noon on Thursday with an event they ran at the Virginia Motor Speedway on
April 18. At 3:00pm it’s the July 4 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series West
King Taco 200 that was run at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Ca. The
World of Outlaws Sprints from the dirt track at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in
Charlotte, NC starts Friday’s viewing on Speed at noon. At 9:00pm the action
switches to espn2 for Nationwide Series practice at the Gateway
International Speedway in Illinois. Saturday’s viewing gets the green at
noon on Speed with the July 4 NASCAR Camping World Touring Series West King
Taco 200 that was run at the Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Ca. At 5:00pm the
action shifts to espn2 for Nationwide series qualifying at the Gateway
International Raceway in Madison, IL. At 6:30 the action switches back to
the Speed Channel for the pre-race show for the NASCAR Camping World Truck
Series Built Ford Tough 225 at the Kentucky Speedway, which is expected to
go green at 7:15pm. At 9:30pm its back to espn2 for the NASCAR Nationwide
Series Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250 at the Gateway International
Raceway in Madison, IL. Also at 9:30 will be the ARCA RE/MAX Series Drive
Smart Buckle-Up 150 at the Kentucky Speedway.
On Sunday,NASCAR New England, which highlights the weekly racing at
the Stafford Motor Speedway is on the New England Sports Network (NESN) at
6:30pm. The Speed Channel wraps up the weekend with The Speed Report from
7:00pm to 8:00, NASCAR Victory Lane at 8:00pm and Wind Tunnel with Dave
Despain at 9:00pm.
On the Speedway Stock Market Scene last week the three speedway
stocks continued in their negative mode. Taking the biggest dip was the
International Speedway Corporation, which dropped 1.16 to 24.09. Speedway
Motorsports dropped 0.74 to 13.03 and Dover Downs dropped 0.15 to 1.22.
NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.04 to 4.36 while fuel supplier Sun Oil
dropped 1.11 to 22.09. Also on the negative side was tire supplier Goodyear
which dropped 0.49 to 10.98. Two of the three carmakers were also down for
the week. General Motors showed promise as they went up 0.33 to 1.15 while
Ford dropped 0.17 to 5.72 and Toyota dropped 0.33 to 73.76. With the
exception of Target Department Stores and Lowes the team sponsors also had
negative results. Home Depot dropped 0.29 to 22.52, Dupont dropped 0.17 to
24.61, Coca-Cola dropped 0.73 to 54.22 and Aaron’s Rentals dropped 0.72 to
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 /