March 22, 2013
five years ago in 1968, Bugsy Stevens scored his first of many
Martinsville wins as he won the Dogwood 300.
Forty Years ago in 1973, Paul
Radford took the modified win at Martinsville. Richie Evans finished second
with Gene Bergin, Ed Flemke and Denis Giroux rounding out the top five.
Thirty years ago, in 1983, the
NASCAR Modifieds had their season opener at Martinsville. Richie Evans
started on the pole and ended up winning the event. Greg Sacks started on
the outside pole. His run lasted one lap as he lost an engine going into
turn three and headed for the pits. It was not a good weekend for Sacks as
he received word on Sunday morning that his sister and brother-in-law were
involved in a bad accident on Long Island. His brother-in-law perished and
his sister was seriously injured. Evans and Tony Hirschman pretty much
dominated the event. Hirschman ended up in second spot and was followed by
Brett Bodine, Roger Treichler, Bob Fuller and Joe Mammolito. Ray Hendrick,
Martinsville’s winningest driver, announced his retirement.
Twenty five years ago, in 1988,
the NASCAR Winston Modified Tour standings indicated that after two events
Mike McLaughlin was the point leader. Reggie Ruggerio was in second spot
with Satch Worley, Dave Rezendes and Rick Fuller rounding out the top five.
Sixth thru tenth included Jeff Fuller, George Kent, Carl Pasteryak, Tom
Bolles and Kerry Malone.
Twenty years ago in 1993, the
Winston Cup contingent was in Atlanta. Morgan Shepherd was a surprise winner
when Jeff Gordon pitted for fuel while leading in the late stages of the
event. Ernie Irvan finished second with Rusty Wallace, third. Gordon
finished fourth. Mark Martin dominated the early stages before breaking a
camshaft. A scheduled Busch Grandnational event at Martinsville was
cancelled due to rain.
Fifteen years ago in 1998,
Riverside Park opened up the 1998 season with a 200 lap modified event. With
52 cars and 7200 spectators on hand Mike Stefanik took the pole. Stefanik
led the early going until getting passed by Chris Kopec on lap 41. Reggie
Ruggerio considered by many to be the master at Riverside came from his 25th
starting position to take the lead on lap 108. While Ruggerio led, Stefanik
was battling with Ted Christopher for second spot. The pot boiled over on
lap 187 when Christopher attempted to pass and made contact with Stefanik
resulting in both of them spinning. Stefanik was able to restart and
finished in third spot behind Ruggerio who took the win and Tony Hirschman,
who finished second. In a post race interview Stefanik quipped, “when he
(Christopher) falls out of his tree he hits all the branches on the way
down”. Dan Avery finished fourth with Ed Flemke Jr., fifth.
Ten years ago in 2003, the Wall
Township Speedway signed with NASCAR for a weekly sanction and Featherlite
Modified Tour series event. NASCAR’s elite converged upon the Bristol
Raceway for the sanctioning body’s 2000th event. Ryan Newman took the pole
with Jeff Gordon on the outside. In the preliminary Busch Series event Kevin
Harvick and Tony Raines survived numerous wrecks to finish one-two on the
event. Twenty-three of the original 42 starters were running at the finish.
The Winston Cup was also plagued with numerous wrecks. Kurt Busch survived
to take the win. On March 23, Sammy Packard passed away at the age of 83.
Packard, originally from Rhode Island, was the last surviving member of the
group that met with Bill France Sr. in 1947 to form NASCAR.
Five years ago in 2008, the
Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series began their 2008 season on Saturday,
March 22, at the high banked Caraway Speedway in Ashboro, NC. And the
Thompson Speedway hosted the first of two open practice sessions, also on
Saturday from 12 Noon until 6 PM.
At Thompson, despite chilling conditions, a good sample of things
to come in 2008 were seen. Competitors and fans got to see the new lighting
that was installed at the speedway which would provide daylight type
conditions once the speedway began its Thursday night Thunder series. Mike
Stefanik braved the cold and the wind to give his mount a shakedown along
with numerous other competitors.
In North Carolina, LW Miller scored the victory in the Whelen
Southern Modified Tour 150 with a thrilling dash to the checked flag over
second-place finisher Ted Christopher. Southerners Brian Loftin and Tim
Brown finished third and fourth. Bob Grigas III who races on the True Value
Modified Series and the Whelen Northern Modified Tour rounded out the top
five. Ronnie Silk, who hails from Norwalk, CT and who drove the Westfield,
NC based Hill Enterprises No.79 finished sixth.
For the first time transponders were used to score and time the
race. In the past only races at Loudon and Martinsville used this
technology. Restarts were determined by the last completed green flag lap
and double file “Cup Style” restarts with the lead lap cars on the outside
The NASCAR Sprint Cup teams had the weekend off to celebrate
Easter. It was not all quiet as Scott Wimmer passed Richard Childress Racing
teammate Clint Bowyer with 21 laps to go and held on to win the Nationwide
Series' Pepsi 300 on Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway. Wimmer edged
Bowyer by 0.578 seconds for his sixth victory in 149 Nationwide Series
starts and first since 2003. Carl Edwards was third, followed by Brad
Keselowski and Kelly Bires. Bowyer took the series points lead from Kevin
Harvick, the fellow Childress Sprint Cup driver who skipped the Nashville
Kyle Busch started on the pole and was the class of the field,
leading a race-high 125 laps before spinning out with 62 laps left. The
Sprint Cup points leader grazed Bowyer, who was passing on the inside, and
was forced to pit for repairs. Busch finished 16th. It was the first
stand-alone Nationwide race of the year and Wimmer became the first
non-Sprint Cup regular to win in the series.
Last year, 2012, Snow, rain and
a dismal forecast forced the Thompson International Speedway management to
postpone Saturday's open practice session for 24 hours. Among those taking
advantage of the early season practice session on Sunday were Whelen
Modified Tour Series competitors Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece, Ron Yuhas, Bryon
Chew, Eric Beers, Donny Lia, Patrick Emerling, Richie Pallai, Jr, Rob Fuller
and Eric Berndt.
The Waterford Speedbowl, one of the nations oldest and most
historic racing venues in the country, opened its gates for the 62nd
consecutive season-opener with the annual Budweiser Blastoff Weekend. In
addition to the shoreline ovals usual bill of fare the NEMA Midgets and the
Valenti Modified Racing Series on the racing card. Competitors waited out
the rain finally getting on the track to practice shortly after three PM.
There were 25 SK Modifieds and 28 Valenti Modified Racing Series Modifieds
First on tap for Sunday's main events were the SK Modifieds who ran
a 62 lap feature. Tom Abele, Jr brought the field down for the green. His
lead was short lived as Todd Ceravolo stormed to the lead after a restart.
Ceravolo, with his future son-in-law Keith Rocco hot on his tail, led until
lap 14 when he gave way to the defending track champion. Rocco ran the rest
of the 62 lap distance without faltering as he captured his first win of
2012. It was his 37th career win at the Connecticut shoreline oval.
Ceravolo had a lock on the runner-up spot until less than five laps
to go when he was passed by Rob Janovic. Janovic ended up in second and was
followed by Ceravolo, Jeff Pearl and Doug Coby.
Jon McKennedy jumped out from his outside pole starting spot and
led all 100 laps to record the win in the season opener for the Valenti
Modified Racing Series. McKennedy drove a car owned by Preston CTs Art
Barry. Rowan Pennink finished second with Norm Wrenn, third. Even though
McKennedy went pole to pole the event was far from boring. Pennink came from
deep in the field twice in the event and Wrenn, who came from a 26th
starting spot, overcame going a lap down at one point.
Rounding out the top five were Mike Holdredge and Dave Etheridge.
Sixth through tenth were Charlie Pasteryak, Tommy Barrett, Doug Coby, Les
Hinkley and Chris Pasteryak.
In other opening weekend action at Waterford, Keith Rocco doubled
up, taking down the win in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division
event. Charles Beal of Ledyard was a first time Street Stock winner and Ken
Cassidy Jr. of Lisbon won the Mini Stock feature. Another first time winner
found victory lane in the NEMA Midget feature, as Louisville, KY driver John
Zych was victorious.
The Speedbowl also ran numerous feature races on Saturday. Picking
up wins included Paul French of Andover, who won the evening’s NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series SK Light Modified race, Ryan Bigelow of East Hampton who
found Victory Lane in the NEMA Light touring series race, and Corey Coates
of Ledyard who won in the visiting New England Truck Series. In INEX racing,
Dave Garbo Jr. of Stonington claimed the win in the opening day Legends Cars
feature and Jacob Urch in the afternoon’s Bandolero race. Other winners
included Jon Porter of Canterbury in Super X-Cars, Chris Garside of
Waterford in X-Cars and James Logan of Dighton, MA in the New England Four
Cylinder Pro Stock tour event.
Lou Modestino, who has been the Brockton, MA Enterprise's
Motorsports Writer for over four decades, announced that Ted Hebert, owner
of Teddy Bear Pools and Spas of Chicopee, Mass., has agreed to become an
associate sponsor of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the Monadnock
Speedway on Saturday night, May 12.
Following an idea created by Modified race fan Jim Schaefer at his
home track, the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, the Monadnock NASCAR WMT
event purse would be bolstered $5,000 by Teddy Bear Pools, the #1 Dealer of
Pools and Spas in all of Massachusetts. All competing drivers who sport a
provided Teddy Bear Pools sticker on their cars will be eligible to compete
for the added bonus money.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour series started their
season with a lot of heat both on and off the track, the Caraway Speedway in
North Carolina. A restart shortly after the halfway break set up a battle at
the front of the field, one that left Andy Seuss' car both out of contention
and destroyed. Contact with L.W. Miller's machine as the two tried to make
advances on eventual winner George Brunnhoelzl III, left both crews fuming
with one another and plenty of hot tempers on a warm spring night. Seuss
drove all the way from 12th on the starting grid to challenge for the lead
before Lap 100.
Brunnhoelzl was on the inside of the front row, with Seuss to his
outside and Miller behind them in third as the field raced through Turns 1
and 2 on the Lap 95 restart. Contact sent sparks flying, and Seuss' car hit
the outside wall hard with the right front.
Brunnhoelzl went on to take the win. Jason Myers eased by Miller
with two laps to go and ended up second. Miller finished third. Rounding out
the top five were Brandon Ward and John Smith.
Congratulations went out to Tom Fox, a 30 plus year veteran of
weekly short track racing, who had joined the Stafford Motor Speedway staff
as Director of Racing Operations and Competition. Fox’s duties during the
season would entail working alongside Frank Sgambato Jr in the Race Control
booth during races and oversee post-race technical inspection in the CBYD
Inspection Zone. Fox joined the SMS staff for the final 4 races of the 2011
season as an observer to better prepare him for his 2012 duties.
As a former racer Fox knew quite well some of the frustrations and
hard work that a competitor must go through in order to get his car to the
track and in the competition with others on the track. It should be a good
NASCAR has announced the 2012 race season programming for the
NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on the SPEED Channel.
As in the past, the Whelen Modifieds once again got what the cow left behind
after jumping over the fence.
The case of Jeremy Mayfield vs. NASCAR may finally be over. A three-judge
panel of 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled on the side of U.S.
District Judge Graham Mullen in his previous dismissal of the Mayfield’s
complaint against NASCAR.
Mayfield was suspended by NASCAR in May of 2009 after failing a
random drug test and later sued NASCAR and its Chairman Brian France for
defamation, unfair and deceptive trade practices and breach of contract.
Mullen ruled that Mayfield had signed documents waiving his right to sue and
tossed the case out of court despite Mayfield’s arguments that
over-the-counter medications led to his positive test.
For the fourth time Kevin Harvick started on the pole for a NASCAR Camping
World Truck Series race and for the fourth time, he went to victory lane in
the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway.
Harvick started on the pole and led 248 of the 250 laps of the
.525-mile race track in beating his Richard Childress Racing teammate Ty
Dillon to the checkered flag by three car lengths as the Chevrolet teammates
swept the top two spots.
In Sprint Cup racing, Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon
and Jimmie Johnson dominated Sunday’s Goody’s Fast Relief 500 at
Martinsville Speedway, but neither brought team owner Rick Hendrick his
200th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Instead Ryan Newman celebrated his first victory of the season and
the fourth for Stewart-Haas Racing. Newman lost a lap after a pit-lane
speeding penalty early in the race and was in position to take advantage
when all heck broke loose at the end of the race.
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were racing side by side for the
lead when David Reutimann stopped on the track with two laps remaining,
setting up the green-white-checkered finish. They were the only two drivers
not to pit during the yellow flag and when the green flag waved, Clint
Bowyer riding on fresh tires powered his Toyota three wide into the first
turn pushing Gordon and Johnson high on the track with Johnson and Bowyer
spinning and Ryan Newman shooting to the lead as the yellow flag waved
On the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, Newman and
A.J. Allmendinger battled side by side for a lap before Newman gained
control and carried his Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet to a .537-second
victory over Allmendinger in a race that ran 515 laps of the .525-mile
asphalt oval. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and
R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-mail:
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
This week are several vintage racing photos
SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's
Click on Photo for Full Sized
Carl "Bugs" Stevens
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit