The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 13, 2013

    Sixty years ago in 1953, Don Collins was the 25 lap Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday night while Red Foote took top honors on Saturday night. Lou Tetreault went two for two as he was the non-Ford winner on both nights.

   Fifty five years ago in 1958, Ray Delisle was the 25 lap Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Benny Desrosier was the non-Ford winner and Bob Duffy was the Bomber winner. Duffy ran the Parts Counter at the John Ahr Ford Company in Westerly RI and was the engine builder for Hully Bunns Race of Champions winning car at Langhorne in 1951.

   Fifty years ago in 1963 Area Auto Racing News reported that Eddie Flemke, in a borrowed car normally driven by fellow Eastern Bandit Dennis Zimmerman, won the season ending race and wrapped up the track championship at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey. Flemke had demolished his own ride, known as the Grey Ghost, in an accident the previous week at the Southside Speedway in Richmond, VA. The NASCAR Modifieds ran a 300 lapper at the Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas, VA. Runt Harris took the win over Red Foote and Ray Hendrick. Other weekend winners included Wild Bill Slater at Norwood, Jim Hendrickson at Islip, George Pendergast at Waterford, Ernie Gahan on the dirt at Stafford and Wally Dallenbach at Wall Stadium.

   Forty five years ago in 1968, Gene Bergin had the M-6 in top form as he took the victory at Stafford on Friday night. Leo finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Bobby Santos and Don MacTavish rounded out the top five. On Saturday afternoon, Martinsville ran their Fall 100 with Jimmy Hensley taking the win. Saturday night at Norwood, Leo Cleary took the top spot and at Malta, Richie Evans closed the track’s season with a 50-lap win over Ron Narducci, Jerry Cook, Dave Gaul and Lou Lazzaro. At the Waterford Speedbowl, George "Moose" Hewitt was the Modified winner and Jiggs Beetham was the Daredevil winner. Donald "Dutch" Hoag won the season ending STP 200 at Lancaster. Chuck Boos was declared the Modified Track Champion at the western New York oval. Bugsy Stevens closed out the weekend with a win at Thompson on Sunday.

   Forty years ago in 1973, the big event of the weekend was the All-Star 300 at the Islip Speedway on Long Island. Jim Landry, the former Supermodified pilot from Rochester, N.H., took a surprise win over Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens and Jim Hoffman. Dick Dunn was the 30 lap Modified winner at the Waterford Speedbowl. Mike Daignault was the Grand American Late Model winner.

   Thirty five years ago in 1978, the Pocono Race of Champions ran on the same weekend as two modified events in Virginia. Richie Evans had the luxury of two cars, two crews and a plane and was able to run in all three. Ronnie Bouchard won the Martinsville 150 on Saturday afternoon over Jerry Cook, Paul Radford, Harry Gant and Brian Ross. Evans finished eighth. At the Franklin County Speedway on Saturday night, Evans finished fifth behind Radford, Satch Worley, Cook and Brian Ross. At Pocono, Geoff Bodine was untouchable as he beat out Doug Hewitt for the win. Evans lost an engine and finished 30th.

   Thirty years ago in 1983, Stafford ran a 40-lap SK event on Friday night. Jerry Pearl took the win over Kerry Malone and Mario Fats Caruso. At Waterford on Saturday night, Donnie Bunnell took the top spot over Gomer Taylor, Dale Holdredge and Bob Potter. At Wall Stadium, a young Ray Everham beat out veteran Tony Siscone for top honors. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer beat out George Kent, Mike McLaughlin and Richie Evans. Oxford Plains ran a 100 lapper on Sunday and it was George Summers taking top honors. Kenny Bouchard finished second. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd took the win over Bobby Allison.

   Twenty five years ago in 1988, Mike McLaughlin beat out Jeff Fuller and Randy Hedger at Shangri-La. Waterford ran twin 75,s for the Modifieds. John Anderson took the first on with Ted Christopher, second. Richie Gallup and Anderson finished one-two in the nightcap. Waterford also ran twin 50,s for Late Models. Phil Rondeau and Ricky Shawn finished one-two in both events.

   Twenty years ago in 1993, Jim Broderick won a 40 lapper at Waterford over David Gada and Jerry Pearl. Pearl wrapped up the modified title. Jay Stewart won the late model feature and Glenn Boss won in the Strictly Stocks. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ernie Irvan took the win over Rusty Wallace and Jim Spencer. The Busch North Series and the Modified Tour series were scheduled for Loudon but were rained out.

   Fifteen years ago, in 1998, Mike Stefanik recorded his 12th modified win of the season as he dominated the Stafford Fall Final 300.Stefanik took the lead on lap 220 when Rick Fuller pitted and outran Tom Baldwin to the checker. Mike Ewanitsko finished third and was followed by Ed Flemke Jr., Carl Pasteryak, Jim Broderick, Mike Christopher and Tim Connolly. Because of slippery conditions, 1/3 of the event, 100 laps were run under caution. Chris Jones was the 50 lap SK Modified winner and was followed by Broderick, Larry Ross and Steve Chowanski. At Waterford on Saturday night, Todd Ceravolo took the win over Mike Gada, Tucker Reynolds and Bert Marvin. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Ricky Rudd extended his winning streak to 16 straight years as he ran to victory in 100+ degree heat. Jeff Gordon finished second with Mark Martin, third.

   Ten years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series took a week off in order to prepare for the final three-race stretch run which would determine the 2004 series champion. Sophomore driver Todd Szegedy led the NASCAR Modified Tour Point standings. Szegedy, who had four wins in 16 starts, led John Blewett III by 84 points. In 16 starts, Blewett had won twice. Chuck Hossfeld, another sophomore driver, sat in third spot, 89 points behind the leader. Hossfeld had three wins in 16 starts. Ted Christopher was the fourth and final contender for the title. Christopher, 198 points behind the leader is 198 points behind the leader and had two wins to his credit. Rounding out the top five was former series champion, Jerry Marquis, 247 points behind the leader. Sixth through tenth were Rick Fuller, Jamie Tomaino, Ed Flemke Jr. and Donnie Lia.

   It had been a long time coming as NASCAR finally relented and eliminated racing back to the caution for it’s top three divisions, Winston Cup, Busch Racing Series and Craftsman Trucks. It was announced that all three divisions would carry electronic scoring transponders and there would be no doubt as to where competitors would line up for re-starts. There had been a lot of close calls when competitors raced to the caution and luckily no one had been hurt.

   Hurricane Isabel didn’t hamper the racing at Thompson on Thursday night. It was cool and a bit windy but it didn’t slow Todd Ceravolo who romped to his third win of the season. Ceravolo staged a torrid side by side battle with Ted Christopher during the latter part of the 30-lap feature. Ceravolo’s win propelled him into the second spot in the point standings, 40 points behind Eric Berndt. Berndt ended up in 15th spot after a bout with the wall in the closing laps. Berndt had been running sixth before misfortune struck. Following Ceravolo and Christopher were Bo Gunning, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Bert Marvin. Other Thursday night winners were GeGe Gravel in the Pro Stocks, Charles Bailey III in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan in the Limited Sportsman and Scott Michalski in the Mini-Stocks. Despite his miss-fortune, Eric Berndt held a forty-point edge over Todd Ceravolo. Ceravolo, who had come on strong, led Jeff Malave by a mere two points. Also in the hunt for the Sunoco SK-type Modified Championship was Bert Marvin who was behind Malave by four points. Chuck Docherty held a four-point advantage over David Berghman for Pro Stock honors. Other point leaders at Thompson were Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Michael Veins in the Mini-Stocks. Scott Bronczyk had already sewed up the Late Model title.

   The Stafford Speedway issued the following penalties during the week. Defending SK Modified Champion Bo Gunning was suspended indefinitely. The reason being actions detrimental to the sport of auto racing. In other words, the Stafford management saw an incident between Gunning and Ted Christopher on September 12 and evidently heard the pre-race threats that were allegedly made. Other penalties issued were to Frank Wainwright for his unsportsmanlike driving and the post race contact he had with another car. Wainwright was fined $250 and was handicapped out of the top 20 for the following weeks Fall Final. Ronnie Silk received the same fine and penalty for a similar incident. James Civali was suspended from competing in the Fall Final for unsportsmanlike conduct while on probation. Civali intentionally hit another car while the speedway was under a red flag condition. Late Model Championship contender Jay Stuart let his temper get the best of him when he hit another competitor following the feature on September 12. Stuart was fined and was handicapped out of the top 20 for the Fall Final. This had an adverse effect on his championship plans. Speaking of championships, when NASCAR and Dover Downs Speedway cancelled their Busch North event because of an impending hurricane they all but handed Andy Santerre the 2003 series title.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night, Dennis Gada didn’t have the best of nights, as he was involved in a devastating crash on lap 20. In spite of it all it looked like he had won the NASCAR Weekly Racing by Dodge New England Regional title which was worth in the neighborhood of $45,000. Gada’s rival for the regional title. Meme DeSantis who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania met a similar misfortune as he crashed out of his feature event and lost his spot as the leader of both his track points and regional points. Gada still maintained the point lead for the Modified title at Waterford even though he finished 18th and with two more races to go before the track's season ends he could become the tracks first five-time champion. He was currently tied with Dick Dunn with four titles each. Ricky Young held off Rob Janovic to take the win, his first since1996. Young started on the pole and led 33 of the 35 laps.Rounding out the top five in the modified feature were Chris Pasteryak, Zack Sylvester and Jeff Pearl. Other Saturday night winners at Waterford were Wayne Coury in the Late Models, Shawn Monihan in the Sportsman, Glen Colvin in the Mini Stocks and Corey Williams in the Legends.

   The Oswego Speedway, a 5/8-mile oval on the shores of Lake Ontario and known as the Supermodified Capitol of the World, was sold to former speedway competitor Steve Gioia Jr. and his partner Pat Furlong. The Caruso Family had run the Oswego Speedway, which has also hosted some high paying Modified events in years past, for 53 years. Since the closing of a near-by Miller Brewery and a Nestle Chocolate factory the speedway had fallen on hard times.

   NASCAR suspended Busch Series driver Shane Hmeil indefinitely for violation of the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy. Brian Vickers won the Busch Racing Series event at Dover. In Winston Cup action, Ryan Newman battled back after being almost two laps down to win his seventh of the season.

   Five years ago in 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour converged on the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday. Thirty-nine cars were on hand for qualifying which was held on Thursday. Sprint Cup star Ryan Newman posted the quickest lap in qualifying at 29.658 seconds (127.453 mph). Chuck Hossfeld, who won the New England 100 at New Hampshire on June 28, joined Newman on the front row with a qualifying effort of 29.745 seconds (127.080 mph). Rounding out the top five qualifiers were Jimmy Blewett, Eric Beers and Bobby Grigas III. Series points leader Ted Christopher qualified 12th for Saturday’s 100-lap race. Ryan Preece and Glen Reen did not go out for timed laps. Both drivers were given provisionals. Preece, who drives the mighty No. 3 of the Boehler family had engine trouble and had to send to Freetown Mass for a back-up. Reen crashed hard at Thompson and was given the opportunity to drive the Todd Szegedy back-up car. Sent packing was the No. 00 of Joe Brady which was driven by Jon McKennedy.

   The New Hampshire 100 turned into a wreckfest for the Modifieds with 18 of the original 38 starters running at the finish. Ted Christopher, who finished second to Chuck Hossfeld by just .001 seconds in the New England 100 at New Hampshire in June, garnered his third win of the 2008 season and extended his points lead in the process. Jimmy Blewett led seven times in the race but had to settle for a second place finish. Ryan Preece came all the way from a tail starting position to finish a strong third. Rob Summers ended up fourth with Danny Sammons, fifth for his best finish of the season. Rounding out the the top 10 were Matt Hirschman, Erick Rudolph, Woody Pitkat, Jamie Tomaino and Eric Beers.

   Numerous wrecks slowed the event that saw 15 lead changes among 5 drivers. The event started off with a bang when 12 cars were collected on the front chute at the drop of the green. Ricky Fuller’s engine had a malfunction and didn’t come up to speed when Fuller punched the throttle. This incident necessitated a complete restart. Ryan Newman, Chuck Hossfeld and Jimmy Blewett swapped the lead on numerous occasions until the red flag was displayed on lap 62 laps because of extensive damage to the guard rail on the backstretch caused by an accident that had Anthony Sesely making a hard hit. Kevin Goodale and Chuck Hossfeld were involved in the most devastating wreck of the day. Goodale spun out in turn two on lap 52 without a yellow being displayed. Continuing on to turn four he spun again. Just as he spun Blewett went high and Hossfeld went low as they were fighting for the lead. Hossfeld cought the spinning Goodale with his right front tire and almost launched himself. Because of a TV time commitment to the Craftsman Trucks the Modified event was put on hold under red at 2:45 for a 3:00pm start for the trucks. The race resumed at just before 6:00pm and was over by 6:30. The quote of the day came from Todd Szegedy as he talked to his crew on the radio. “This is why they treat us like amateurs because we drive like a bunch of a__h___s”

   A tip of the hat to Jerry Gappens, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway general manager who made the decision not to end the Modified event until the advertised distance was completed. Gappens went on the tracks public address system and explained to the crowd that the Modifieds would return to run the complete distance following the Truck race. “I don’t want to cheat anybody out of a single lap of Modified racing," he said”. This was the third race in the last four for the Modifieds at New Hampshire to be cut short because of television commitments for one of NASCAR’s national touring series. On each of the two previous occasions, however, the race was called official and cut short.

   With his win, Christopher had a 99-point lead on Hirschman in the season standings with four races to go on the schedule.

   Saturday at Loudon was a busy day. In addition to the Modified 100 there was also Sprint Cup practice as well as a 125-mile event for the NASCAR Camping World East Series (formerly Busch North) and a 200 lap event for the NASCAR Craftsman Trucks. Former Busch North Series competitor Brad Leighton appeared to have victory in sight when he ran out of gas on lap 120 as he exited turn two. Steve Park, who was running second, inherited the lead but his lust for glory came up short as he was passed with two to go by Eddie MacDonald. Park held on for the runner-up spot and was followed by Matt Kobyluck and Matt Hirschman. Hirschman did such a good job that Gillett Evernham will field a car for him for this Friday's Camping World East race at Dover International Raceway. Ron Hornaday won the Truck race. Crewmembers of Germain Racing teams for Todd Bodine and David Reutimann slugged it out with David Starr and members of his crew as the trucks were brought to a halt following the race. During the race, contact initiated by Starr sent the trucks of Bodine, Reutimann and Randy Moss Motorsports driver Donny Lia into the turn one wall.

   Thursday Night Thunder at Thompson International Speedway began with a moving tribute by long-time announcer Russ Dowd to the victims of the September 11th attacks. There was a moment of silence before the engines were fired. Keith Rocco roared into victory lane for his fourth win of the 2008 season. Jeff Connors, also turned in a dominating performance to score his first Pro Stock feature win of the season. Marc Palmisano took down an exciting win in the Late Model main event. Joe Coates of was hailed as the winner in the Limited Sportsman division and Scott Michalski of was tops in the Mini Stocks. Kurt Vigeant extended his point lead in the TIS Modified division with his second win of the 2008 season.

   Rocco took the lead early and went on to stretch out his lead during the caution-free main event for the Sunoco Modifieds on Thursday night. Tommy Cravenho started the race from the point and held the top spot with Tim Sullivan having a strong run in the early going in second. Rocco was on a tear on his way to the front. He made quick work of Todd Ceravolo and with a bump and run on Tim Sullivan moved into second. Cravenho held his line as Rocco was relentless in pursuit of the lead. With the two battling, Ceravolo was able to catch the lead duo. A bonsai move in the inside groove exiting turn three, gave Rocco the lead on lap 12. Ceravolo continued to trail closely.

   Kerry Malone, who swapped cars with teammate Woody Pitkat for the evening was locked in a battle with Bert Marvin just outside of the top-five. Once free of Malone, Marvin took over the fourth spot from Sullivan. While Rocco was getting away from the pack, Ceravolo worked over Cravenho for second. Blewett, who started scratch on the field after making his way down from qualifying his Whelen Modified Tour car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, had moved by Danny Cates and Pitkat with only three laps remaining. Rocco, never missed a beat in lapped traffic, cruising to his fourth win of the year. Cravenho held on to finish second. Ceravolo joined the duo on the podium. Marvin had a strong run to finish fourth. Sullivan had a career-best top five.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to the elements in what was supposed to be their final Friday night of racing.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl, Jeff Pearl and Matt Gallo won the twin 25-lap SK Modified features at the Double-Down Shootout on Saturday evening. Crowned overall Double-Down Shootout champions were Rob Janovic Jr. (SK Modified), Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Walt Hovey Jr. (Sportsman), and Randy Churchill Jr. (Mini Stock). Claming victories in round-two features (rescheduled from an earlier date), were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Glenn Colvin (Mini Stock). In the accompanying Legends and X-Car main events it was Jason Palmer and Patrick D’Addario Sr. respectively.

   Pearl jumped out to an early lead in the first of dual 25-lap SK events, but was shortly chased closely by Keith Rocco. With eleven-laps remaining, Rocco and third-place Dennis Gada tangled, the latter slamming the wall with great force finishing both for the event. Upon resumption, it was Pearl again, with Doug Coby in hot pursuit. With only a handful of circuits remaining, Ron Yuhas Jr. overtook Coby for second. It was the 30th career Speedbowl SK triumph for the 1998 champion. In the second feature, it was veteran Pete Pavone taking the lead followed closely by Dan LaJeunesse. A late restart shuffled the top-spots, with Tyler Chadwick getting the advantage at the green. Yet another yellow set the stage for a 2-lap shootout between young guns Chadwick, Matt Gallo and LaJeunesse. At the finish, Gallo prevailed to win his first-ever SK Modified feature. Following was 2007 champion Rob Janovic Jr., Chadwick, LaJeunesse and Doug Coby. Gallo is a senior at Berlin , Ct. High School and a member of a long-time racing family.

   Greg Biffle won the Sprint Cup event at Loudon. Joey Logano, the 18-year-old Connecticut native who will be replacing Tony Stewart in the No. 20 in 2009, had a long race in his Cup debut. He pulled away on an early pit stop with the jack hanging from his car and had to return for a penalty that mired him in the back of the field. He finished 32nd, three laps down.

   Last year, 2012, The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Twenty three Modifieds, eighteen tour regulars were on hand for qualifying. Ryan Preece was the top qualifier, started on the pole and went on to win his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event of the season. Preece, who has been a regular weekly competitor at the eastern Long Island track led 168 laps before he survived a green-white-checkered finish to earn the victory.

   A caution on Lap 196 set up Preece in a battle with Jimmy Blewett on the final restart and pushed the race to 203 laps on the quarter-mile. Blewett was penalized to the tail end of the lead lap for jumping the restart and finished 12th. NASCAR officials stated that Blewett passed Preece before the start-finish line.

   Justin Bonsignore finished second. Todd Szegedy was third, followed by Riverhead regular Howie Brode and Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top ten was Tom Rogers Jr., Eric Goodale, Donny Lia, Ron Silk and Eric Berndt.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to Long Island to run the Riverhead 200, a race that was rained-out on the original date July 28th. It was the 51st WMT race at Barbara & Jim Cromarty's quarter mile oval and arguably the most competitive one of those 51 races with Ryan Preece surviving a green, white checker to collect his second WMT victory of the season. Jimmy "Showtime" Blewett Jr. actually took the checkered flag first getting the jump on Preece on the final restart but NASCAR WMT Officials ruled Jimmy got to the line first and dropped him to last of the lead lap cars, 12th.

   Preece got off to a fast start winning the Coors Light Pole Award with a lap of 11.902 giving him the pole for the 200-lap event. The race was supposed to be 175-laps but when the 25-lap Qualifying race was not needed Barbara & Jim Cromarty along with Chad Little, WMT Race Director got together and those 25-laps were added to the feature event.

   When the field took the green flag it was Preece, a two time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series winner at Riverhead in 2012, bolted out front with Eric Goodale, who qualified second putting the heat on Ryan right from the start. For the first 112 laps of the event Preece and Goodale would race hard for the lead with Ryan leading the first 77 circuits before Eric made an inside pass to come to the front on lap 78. Undaunted about losing the lead Preece instead of being the hunted became the hunter and once again the duel between him and Goodale for the lead was intense. The duo rubbed their nerf bars on more than one occasion before Ryan Preece moved back out front on lap 112, while Goodale not only dropped to second but soon thereafter he faded a bit further as the handle went away on his car.

   Meanwhile Todd Szegedy who was sitting third having the best seat in the house for the Preece/Goodale tussle moved to second on lap 113. Justin Bonsignore, defending race winner of the Riverhead 200 started to make his way towards the front coming to third just past halfway, while Jimmy Blewett was another driver on the march as he approached the top five as well. Bonsignore would come to second on lap 158 passing Szegedy with Todd returning the favor on lap 176. This was the point of the race where things really started heating up with Bonsignore and Blewett appearing to have the best cars of the top four and both wheelmen were hungry for a win.

   The added 25-laps would prove to be, aside from the Preece/Goodale battle for the lead, the most intense and entertaining laps of the event. Jimmy Blewett was taking no prisoners as he worked his way past Bonsignore and then Szegedy on lap 188 for second, once he got to second it was time to go after race leader and go after him he did.

   A late race caution for a minor spin would set-up the green, white and checker finish and when the green light came on Blewett got the better of Preece as the crowd went wild for the former Riverhead raceway regular. As quickly as Jimmy came to the lead the call came over the NASCAR frequency to post the #76 for beating the leader to the scoring loop making Preece the race leader, with Justin Bonsignore now second even though Blewett was out in front of them. After the final laps were run and being declared he was the race winner, Preece noted he knew when Blewett beat him to the line NASCAR would address the issue, "they preach to us at every meeting the leader has to be the first to the line so I knew NASCAR would handle it". Ryan added "I'm so happy for Eric Sandersen and this Diversified Metal group. It's an honor to drive their car, along with Bill Park's machine here at Riverhead. We had a good points night tonight with Doug Coby dropping out of the race so we closed in on his points lead, I hate it for Doug but we'll take it". Ryan also took a moment to dedicate the race to his Grandfather, famed former car owner Bob Judkins, "my grandfather had a heart attack yesterday, he's going to be fine but this win is for him".
With Jim Schaefer aka Long Island Mod Maniac and his bonus money program the victory will exceed $11,000 for Preece and his team. The bonus money included $1,000, plus $3,300 in a "gambler's buy in". Each WMT received $300 from Schaefer and his bonus program and were asked if they wanted to put that towards the buy in, Ryan was one of eleven teams that chose to do so. Preece also won the Tri-Track Modified Championship that was held on three quarter mile tracks which, aside from Riverhead, included the WMT event at Monadnock Speedway in May and an open competition race at All-Star Speedway. The Tri-Track series was the brainchild of not only Schaefer but also Area Auto racing News writer Kevin Rice. The remainder of Ryan's winnings came in the form of lap money.

   Goodale led a career-high 35 laps. It was just the third race in his career that he ran out front.

   Among those who had problems and failed to finish was current point leader Doug Coby who was forced to drop out with engine problems. Coby finished 22nd after completing only 60 laps of the eventual 203 laps run.

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race next in the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this coming Saturday, Sept. 22. The race will air live on the SPEED channel.

   Thursday Night Thunder switched to Sunday. In Sunoco (SK) Modified competition Woody Pitkat won the battle but it was Ryan Preece winning the war as he wrapped up the 2012 Sunoco Modified Track Championship. It was Pitkat's fourth win of the year at the Big T. Preece finished second and was followed by Keith Rocco, Kerry Malone, Dennis Perry and Todd Ceravolo. On lap 27, Pitkat motored by Preece in turn one. Ceravolo began to work over Preece when the caution flew for a spin by Harry Wheeler. The green-white-checker restart gave Preece a shot to grab back the lead and the win.

   With the green flag flying, Ceravolo got a run to make it three-wide for the lead. In turn two, Pitkat backed out; leaving Preece to battle with Ceravolo. Entering three, they were three-wide again. Coming out of four, Pitkat came out of the three-wide for the lead. The next lap, Ceravolo slid through the turn taking Preece to the wall. Ceravolo lost the handle on his #16 to bring out the caution. On the second attempt to finish the race, Pitkat was able to hold the top spot but now with Rocco in second. The caution flew for two separate incidents one on the backstretch that found Dylan Kopec hard into the outside wall coming off turn two.

   The third time was a charm for Pitkat, who got the advantage on the third attempt at a green-white-checker restart. Rocco made contact with Preece allowing Rocco to run under for the second spot. Pitkat was driving away after a bump-and-run by Preece in attempt to take back second. The two went wheel-to-wheel with Rocco just edging out Preece at the stripe for second behind winner Woody Pitkat.

   In other racing at Thompson, Larry Gelinas of Buxton, ME, was opportunistic in his Super Late Model feature event win and Cam McDermott took the win in the Sunoco Lite Modifieds. After tasting a first-career victory a week previous, Damon Tinio added to his tally with his second straight Late Model win. Jesse Gleason took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division and a top-five finish in the Limited Sportsman division netted Scott Sundeen not only the divisional champions but also a (unofficially) NASCAR National championship. Jay Sundeen capped off a strong night for his racing family with a victory in the TIS Modifieds. The brothers Baxter were on the top of their game on Sunday at Thompson Speedway. The duo went one-two with Joe winning the feature event. By virtue of his runner-up spot, Chad earned the Mini Stock title. The “Outlaw” Antique racers were also on tap with twin feature events.

   At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action and Valenti Modified Racing Series action were featured. The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its second and final visit of the 2012 season to Stafford for the 2nd Annual Lincoln Tech 80. VMRS points leader Jon McKennedy helped extend his lead in the championship chase by taking the checkered flag for his first ever victory at Stafford Motor Speedway. Taking wins in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action was Todd Owen in the SK Modified® feature, Woody Pitkat in the Late Model feature, Zach Aszklar in the SK Light feature, Cory Casagrande in the Ltd. Late Model feature, and Austin Bessette in the DARE Stock feature.

   In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco was among those not in competition. Rocco was suspended for the remainder of the season for his part in a confrontation with former car owner Mike Pane. Rocco and Pane traded remarks and allegedly got physical after the running of the SK Modified feature on Sept 8. Rocco said that he was defending himself after Pane initiated a physical confrontation but Speedbowl Race Director Scott Tapley chose not to believe him. Short track racing is a contact sport and emotions run high. Keith Rocco was covering his spot in the closing laps which is something any driver would do. Is he a saint?, no way. Does he deserve to be tossed for the rest of the year? No way!

   Todd Ceravolo, substituting for reigning track champion Keith Rocco, captured the completion of the Budweiser Modified Nationals SK-150 on Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl. Reluctantly, the Speedbowl awarded the victory to Rocco who actually started the car on Sept 1.

   Starting in the rear of the field, Ceravolo spun on lap 55 and managed to claw his way back into the top ten by lap 85 and eventually eased his way into the third spot behind race leader Justin Gaydosh and Rob Janovic. With nine laps to go Janovic made an outside move to pass for the lead when Gaydosh rode him up into the wall between turns one and two. Janovic's car was trashed and Gaydosh was sent to the rear and was ultimately disqualified from the event. Ceravolo assumed the lead at that point and went on to take the win for Rocco. Woody Pitkat, pinch hitting for Rowan Pennink, finished second. Pennink was in competition at Riverhead. Tyler Chadwick, Jeff Pearl and Joe Perry rounded out the top five. For his efforts Ceravolo's first place payoff was $5,000.

   Dillon Moltz won the second of two 35-lap Late Model features after finishing second to Anthony Flannery in the first race while Walt Hovey captured the Street Stock event, Jeff Cembruch won the Mini Stock feature and Joey Ternullo won the Legend Cars feature.

   Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. re-established himself as the man to beat for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by winning Saturday’s Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Stenhouse struggled most of the day, but the driver of the No. 6 Ford made a late-race charge through the field. Following a restart on lap 171, Stenhouse quickly drove to second and began to chase down leader Kyle Busch.
With 20 laps left Stenhouse caught and quickly dispatched Busch at the 1.5-mile oval. From there he simply pulled away from Busch to a 2.402-second victory.

   Brad Keselowski fired the first shot of the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, winning Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps and finished second

   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
Courtesy of & Dave Dyke's

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Jap Membrino                                                Billy Greco                                             Ronnie Wyckoff

Bugs Stevens                                            Smokey Boutwell                                           Gene Bergin

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 13, 2013

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