March 29, 2013
years ago, in 1983, Greg Sacks rebounded from a blown engine at
Martinsville as he won the New England season opening IceBreaker at
Thompson. Sacks took the lead from Richie Evans with three laps to go in the
83-lap contest. George Kent finished second as Evans faded to third at the
checker. Ray Miller and John Rosati rounded out the top five. Evans, who
started on the pole, was forced to pit after suffering a flat left rear tire
on the second lap. Sacks, who started on the outside pole, led until lap 46
when Evans re-took the lead. Evans clearly had the fastest car but his hard
charge to the front took its toll on his tires. Cale Yarborough was the
Winston Cup winner in Atlanta.
Twenty five years ago, in 1988,
Riverside Park opened their season with a 100 lapper, which was won by
Reggie Ruggerio. Mike Stefanik in the Jack Koszela 15 finished second with
Stan Greger, third. Rounding out the top five were Long Island invader Tom
Baldwin and Marty Radwick.
Twenty years ago in 1993,
Riverside Park opened the season to a packed house of 8675 spectators. Famed
car owner Bob Judkins suffered a heart attack and was unable to watch as
Jerry Marquis took the win over Bruce D'Alessandro, Chris Kopec and Mike
Stefanik. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Dale Earnhardt won out over
Mark Martin. Robert Pressley won the Busch Grandnational event. The racing
world was saddened when news spread that defending Winston Cup Champion Alan
Kulwicki was killed in a plane crash on April 1 while heading to Bristol
Fifteen years ago in 1998,
Riverside Park had the traditional New England opener. Reggie Ruggiero
started 25th as a provisional. Working the Park like only Reggie could,
Ruggerio marched his way to the front and took the lead from Chris Kopec on
lap 108 and never looked back as he romped to victory. Pole sitter Mike
Stefanik led the first 40 laps before giving way to Kopec. Stefanik, who
ended up third behind Ruggerio and Tony Hirschman, was running in second
spot on lap 187 of the 200-lap contest when Ted Christopher slid up, causing
both to spin. Christopher lost a drive shaft and was done for the day. Dan
Avery and Ed Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. In Winston Cup action at
Bristol Rusty Wallace dominated until running over debris and hitting the
wall. Jeff Gordon inherited the lead and eventual win. Elliott Sadler was
the Busch Grandnational winner. On a sad note, Tim Flock who was a pioneer
in the sport back in the 50’s died after a long battle with cancer.
Ten years ago in 2003 In Busch
Grandnational action at the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR pulled one of its
biggest officiating blunders when they penalized Brian Vickers for passing
before the starting line on a re-start. Joe Nemechek took the win. Videotape
clearly showed that Vickers did not pass before the line. NASCAR held their
ground, as the word from the Big Red Trailer was that he “Intended to Pass”.
In SMART action at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina, Jay Hedgecock
took the win. Ryan Newman won the Winston Cup event that was run at the
Five years ago in 2008, the
Thompson Speedway held their second of two practice sessions on Saturday in
somewhat blustery conditions. According to Howie Hodge the following Whelen
Modified Tour Series drivers were on hand to shakedown their cars: 0 - Danny
Sammons, 3 - Ryan Preece, 10 - Ed Flemke, 11 - Anthony Sesely, 17 - Glen
Reen, 21 - Richard Savory, 28 - James Civali, 32 - Tom Abele. Jr., 46 - Eric
Beers, 58 - Kevin Goodale, 90 - Renee Dupuis, 93 - Rowan Pennink and 99 -
Kenny Barry, pinch hitting for Todd Ceravolo, in got in some decent
runs in the Dick Ceravolo owned Sunoco Modified. The Ceravolos' suffered
engine problems the week previous and had installed a new power plant.
Denny Hamlin overtook Jeff Burton on the 427th lap and went on to
win the Goody's 500 Nextel Cup event at the Martinsville Speedway in
Virginia. For 389 laps, the race looked like it would be another victory for
Hendrick Motorsports at the track it has dominated, winning eight of the
previous 10 races. Hendrick drivers led 371 laps, but Hamlin and fellow
Virginia native Jeff Burton made decisions under the next-to-last caution
that allowed them to move up front. And Hamlin ruined Burton's decision to
stay out while the rest of the leaders pitted. Jeff Gordon rallied to finish
second, followed by Burton, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Johnson had won
three straight at Martinsville heading into the race.
Dennis Setzer assumed the lead when Kyle Busch had to brake to
avoid a crash in front of him Saturday, then held on through numerous
restarts to win the Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race at Martinsville
Speedway. The victory was the first for Dodge since the late Bobby Hamilton
won at Mansfield in 2005, and the truck Setzer won in is co-owned by
Hamilton's widow, Lori. Don Lia scored his first top ten as he finished
Last year, 2012, the Waterford
Speedbowl endured some bone chilling weather and a smashed retaining wall
but managed to get their first Saturday night racing program in the record
books. Claiming the opening Saturday night feature wins included Justin
Gaydosh who wired the SK Modified® race, leading from start to finish and
Dillon Moltz, who won his first career victory in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall
Late Model division at his hometown track. Corey Hutchings took the win in
the night’s Street Stock feature while Ken Cassidy Jr. won his second
consecutive Mini Stock feature to begin the year. Thirteen-year old Kaz
Grala of Westboro, MA won the night’s Legends Cars feature and Ken Morin Jr.
of Old Saybrook reached Victory Lane in the Bandolero feature.
The 35-lap SK Modified® feature saw Gaydosh jump to the race lead
ahead of Harry Rheaume at the drop of the green flag. While Gaydosh moved
out to a brief early lead, Kyle James and Nichole Morgillo also snuck past
Rheaume’s inside before he was able to get in line in fourth position. The
field clicked away the early laps with James slicing into Gaydosh’s lead and
Morgillo alone in third place. Behind Morgillo, Rheaume led a train of cars
that included Tom Abele, Diego Monahan and Rob Janovic Jr. Monahan was the
first to jump out of line on lap-4, moving by both Abele and then Rheaume to
sweep into fourth position.
As James began to pressure Gaydosh for the lead, the running order
remained the same through lap-9 when trouble broke out in the pack of cars
battling for fifth position. Rheaume, Abele, Tyler Chadwick and Ed Puleo all
made contact exiting turn two, sending Rheaume and Chadwick hard into the
retaining wall. The violent impact sent Rheaume’s car airborne as the field
continued to scatter behind the wreck. The incident drew the red flag,
resulting in a 35-minute delay for repairs to the wall necessitated by the
severe impact. All the drivers walked away from the incident, however only
Puleo was able to resume after pitting for repairs.
Keith Rocco was looking to make it two in a row at the shoreline
oval before his luck ran out. Following a restart, Gaydosh and Rocco made
slight contacting entering turn one battling for the lead. Rocco got
momentarily crossed up, coming together with Janovic who tried to race by
Rocco’s inside into second. The two did a masterful job of keeping their
cars pointed straight ahead down the backchute, but the contact damaged both
cars suspension. Janovic slowed dramatically in turn four, drawing another
caution flag. Both Janovic and Rocco pitted but were unable to resume before
racing went back to green. The new running order for the final restart saw
James line up to Gaydosh’s outside, with Jeff Rocco, Monahan and Pearl
rounding out the top-five.
The final laps were run without caution after Gaydosh got another
good jump on the restart. James was again able to close the gap back to the
leader as the race reached the final laps. James was in striking position,
valiantly trying to put a crossover move on Gaydosh who defended each
attempt. James’ best run came on lap-33 as he drove off Gaydosh’s right rear
as the exited turn two. Gaydosh again defended the run and pulled back ahead
to set up the final two laps. James tried a last ditch effort on the final
lap but settled for second. Jeff Rocco, Monahan and Pearl held their
positions to round out the top-five.
One of the promising young rookies in the Waterford Late Model
division put his future as a driver on hold for a while. Ryan Morgan, who is
a graduate of the Quarter Midget, Legend Cars and the Thompson Modifieds,
made the move up this year and on opening day finished a solid fourth.
During his qualifying heat this past Saturday night he had the misfortune of
having his throttle stick wide open while going down the backstretch. The
Ledyard High School student hit the wall a ton and all but destroyed the car
that was owned by his dad, John. Ryan was transported to the L&M Hospital in
New London and later sent for observation at the Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The end result was no broken bones but a lot of soreness.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returned to the Caraway
Speedway in North Carolina last Saturday night where Brian Loftin took the
lead early and paced the field to the finish to win the Farm Bureau
It was an emotional Victory Lane, marking Loftin's first win since
the passing of his wife a year ago. The win gives the Lexington, N.C.,
driver a tour-leading eight victories at Caraway and marked his 12th career
tour win overall. Loftin, who started third on the field, took the lead from
Frank Fleming a third of the way through the 150-lap event and then held on
through four restarts in the second half of the race to score the win. L.W.
Miller followed Loftin across the finish line in second to collect a second
podium finish at Caraway for a second consecutive week. Rookie Daniel Hemric
finished third, with Tim Brown rebounding from a flat tire to finish fourth
and Danny Bohn taking fifth.
Sixth thru tenth were Patrick Emerling, defending champion George
Brunnhoelzl III, Jason Myers, Burt Myers and Andy Seuss. There were 22 cars
With his victory in the Farm Bureau Insurance 150, Loftin locked up
a spot in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series race at the UNOH Battle At The
Beach at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway next February during
Get well wishes went out to George Summers, one of the all-time
great Modified drivers in the northeast, who had been hospitalized in a
Mass. hospital with pneumonia.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series had the weekend
off to observe Easter.
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
Rene Charland Andy
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit