The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 20, 2013

    Sixty years ago in 1953, Red Foote made it two in a row at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he won a 25 lap Sportsman event on Wednesday. Freddy Luchesi was the Saturday night winner. Lou Tetreault and Tom Van Epps were the non-Ford winners.

   Fifty five years ago in 1958, the New London-Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain.

   Fifty years ago in 1963, Area Auto Racing News reported that Rene Charland won a 100 lap Modified event at Islip and Wild Bill Slater was the Modified winner at Old Bridge. At the Wall Stadium, Bill Chevalier was declared the Modified Track Champion and Bill Brice, the Sportsman Champion. Years later Brice would become a respected NASCAR Official on the Whelen Modified Tour Series. Billy Harman won what was believed to be his first race at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Dostie was the Bomber winner. The Stafford Speedway records indicate that Ernie Gahan won the season ending event held on dirt in the John Koszela Woodchopper Speciall. The Rounds family in Rhode Island claims that Gahan was off chasing points and Koszela put Don Rounds in the car for the final event.

   Forty five years ago in 1968, Bugsy Stevens, driving the legendary Ole Blu of Len Boehler, closed out the season and wrapped up the modified track championship with a convincing win on Sunday at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second with Fred DeSarro, third. Fred Harbach and Holly Wilder rounded out the top five. Leo Cleary made it two in a row at Norwood on Saturday night and at the Fulton Raceway in New York on Sunday, Richie Evans took his first of 40 victories he would earn in nine seasons. Ed Yerrington ended a long dry spell as he won the 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Donnie Bunnell was the Daredevil winner.

   Forty years ago in 1973, the NASCAR Modified action was in the southland. Richie Evans scored a one-two punch as he won the Martinsville 150 on Saturday afternoon and won a 100 lapper at the Caraway Speedway on Saturday night. At Martinsville, Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Paul Radford. Cook also finished second at Caraway as Satch Worley finished third with Stevens, fourth. Ray Hendrick, driving the Dick Armstrong No.1 finished fifth. Hendrick had blown an engine at Martinsville, which necessitated Hop Harrington and crew making a hasty motor change. At the Waterford Speedbowl in New England, Joe Trudeau was the 30 lap Modified winner and Bill Sweet took the Grand Americans.

   Thirty five years ago in 1978, Waterford ran on Saturday night and it was Roland LaPierre Jr. taking the win. Eddie Flemke finished second with Pete Fiandacca, third. Oswego ran their season ending 30 lapper which saw George Kent brave the cold and hold off Richie Evans for the win. Jerry Cook finished third with Doug Hewitt, fourth. Seekonk ran a 100-lap open competition event on Sunday and it was Ronnie Bouchard in the Bobby Judkins 2x taking the win over Geoff Bodine.

   Thirty years ago in 1983, the Fall Final was a 100 lapper. Richie Evans took the win. Kenny Bouchard, driving for Ted Marsh, finished second and was followed by Corky Cookman and Bugsy Stevens. Jerry Pearl won the companion SK modified event with Kerry Malone, second. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter and race winner.

   Twenty five years ago in 1988, the Fall Final featured the SK Modifieds and Ted Christopher took the win over Bob Potter and Jerry Pearl.

   Twenty years ago in 1993, Waterford ran a 150-lap event. Ricky Young took the win after taking over the lead on lap 106 when Bob Potter pitted with a soft tire. Mark LaJunesse finished second and was followed by Jim Broderick, Potter and Bob Georgiades. At Riverside Park, Stan Gregger took a win over Ed Kennedy. At the Fall Final at Stafford, Mike Stefanik took the lead from Jeff Fuller on lap 83 and went on to win the 150-lap event. Satch Worley finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller and Jeff Fuller. Steve Chowanski was the SK Modified winner. John Anderson won the SK event but was disqualified after it was discovered that his engine had an illegal crankshaft. Hermie Sadler recorded his first Grand National win at Rougemont, N.C. In Winston Cup action at North Wilkesboro, Rusty Wallace took the lead with 100 laps to go and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt and Harry Gant announced that he would retire as a driver at seasons end.

   Fifteen years ago in 1998, the Modified Tour Series was scheduled for Flemington but was washed out. Waterford ran their season finale 100 lapper and it was young gun, Eric Berndt taking the win. Tucker Reynolds finished second and was followed by Bert Marvin, Mark LaJunesse and Todd Ceravolo. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte, Mark Martin took the win over Ward Burton. The event was stopped midway when sewage backed up and flowed across the backstretch. Mike McLaughlin won the 300-mile Grandnational event.

   Ten years ago in 2003, The NASCAR Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Speedway with the Busch North Series for the annual Fall Final. All qualifying was completed on Saturday but rain-washed out the main events, which were to be run on Sunday. The event was been re-scheduled for the following Saturday with a rain date of Sunday. There were 42 Featherlite Modifieds at Stafford. Nevin George was the top qualifier with a speed of 98.382 mph. Series point leader Todd Szegedy was a tick slower as his speed was 98.291 mph. Ted Christopher was third fastest with a speed of 98.167 mph. The re-draw for starting positions showed Szegedy on the pole with Eric Beers, outside pole. Eddie Flemke Jr. drew third with Tony Hirshman and Jamie Tomaino making up the front five. Nevin George drew 7th and Christopher, eighth. The long awaited return of Reggie Ruggerio turned into a non-event, event. Ruggerio, who teamed up with Long Island car owner Gary Cretty had the miss-fortune of having clutch problems and missed most of the practice and set-up sessions. Needless to say, he didn’t qualify.

   Joey McCarthy took the Busch Pole for the Busch North Series Fall Final. Mike Johnson was second with Matt Kobyluck, third. Current series point leader Andy Santerre, who was hoping to sew up the series title, will start sixth. Christopher, Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik saw double duty. Christopher starts 11th, Marquis, 16th and Stefanik, 18th. Twenty-nine cars will go to post.

   In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Eric Berndt managed to avoid a serious last lap wreck to sew up his first ever Modified Track Championship. Berndt knew what he had to do going into the final event of the point season. With a healthy cushion on second place runner Todd Ceravolo, Berndt drove conservatively and in the end finished fifth. Ceravolo, who finished third, could only gain if Berndt had trouble, which he didn’t. Third generation driver Bobby Santos III lined up on the front row along side Kelly McDougall. McDougall, a rookie, had no business starting on the point, as she was clearly slower than those behind her. Santos got the jump and looked to be on his way to his first modified win until the last lap when his hopes ended up in the wall in turn four. Ted Christopher, who is known to intimidate his competition, put the pressure on as the pair took the white flag. Christopher took the lead between turns one and two. Santos took it back in three; Christopher took it back in four in the run to the checker. Santos bumped with Kerry Malone and hit the wall, ending his night in 16th spot. Malone limped under the checkered flag with severe front damage and was credited with fourth place. Jeff Malave finished in second spot and garnered enough points to tie with Todd Ceravolo for second in the final track standings. Sixth through tenth finishers in the 30 lap feature were Bert Marvin, Ron Yuhas Jr., Matty Adanti, Kelly McDougall and Butch Perry. David Berghman won the Pro Stock division track title in fine style as he took the win in his main event. Other feature winners were Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Shawn Monahan, three in a row in the Limited Sportsman and Joe Godbout in the Mini-Stocks. Scott Bronczyk was crowned the Late Model Champ, Glenn Boss, the Limited Sportsman Champ and Ray Veins, the Mini Stock Champ.

   The Stafford Speedway recently issued a notice stating that Bo Gunning had been suspended indefinitely. After viewing videotapes of the incidents leading up to the suspension it appeared that race officials over-reacted. First off, Gunning was not denying that he threw a punch at Ted Christopher but if one were to view why he did what he did maybe Christopher had it coming as he did attempt to take Gunning out and as a matter of fact he succeeded. Gunning was also accused of assaulting track owner Jack Arute Sr. The video showed a verbal confrontation between the two. Gunning later apologized and it was accepted. It was also stated that Gunning hit another car after the caution had been displayed. The video clearly shows Ted Christopher slamming into Gunning after the yellow had been displayed. Race officials took no action against Christopher as they said they didn’t see it. Evidently race officials at Stafford are not allowed to view videos of events and are not allowed to let a recorded video influence their decisions. Bo Gunning is no saint and he will be the first to admit it but he feels that whenever Ted Christopher is involved in a situation they tend to look the other way. Gunning swears he never said he was going to “Take care of Teddy”. What he did say to Kerry Malone was that he would not race with him, as he knew he was running for a championship. Gunning made a similar statement to Eric Berndt and Todd Ceravolo on the final night for track points at Thompson.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night in regular Dodge Series weekly racing series competition Dennis Gada got his seventh SK-Modified win of the year. Gada, who had been involved or collected in many wrecks during the 2003 season, managed to keep most of the destruction behind him. Gada started near the front, which meant that he would have a fighting chance of staying alive in the point race. Looking for his fifth straight championship, Gada added 10 points to his lead over Ed Reed Jr. Reed finished sixth. The action was hot and heavy as Dennis Charette finishing second. Ron Yuhas Jr., Chris Pasteryak and John Brouwer Jr. rounded out the top five. Allen Coats won the Late Model war but it was Corey Hutchins who clinched the Championship. Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval were Dave Zemke in the Sportsman division, Dave Trudeau in the Mini Stocks and Mike Beebe Jr. in the Legends.

   NASCAR made it official the following Tuesday when they announced that Dennis Gada was officially the New England Regional Weekly Racing Series by Dodge Champion. It wasn’t a cakewalk by any means for the four-time Waterford Speedbowl Modified Champion. In 18 events he garnered six wins and 11 top ten finishes. Modified racing at Waterford can be rough and tumble at times and Gada has had more than his share of tumbles. Starting in the rear or near the rear just about every week Gada ran to win rather than just finish as his record shows. Much of the credit goes to car owner Harry Wyant and his crew who did yeoman’s work to keep the mighty No.3 on the track and in contention. For his efforts Gada received $45,000+ in awards. With one more week to go, Gada stood a good chance of breaking the track championship record of Al Gaudreau and Dick Dunn who have four track titles in a row. Ed Dachenhausen, a Waterford alumni, won the North East Regional Championship. Dachenhausen raced at the Chemung Speedrome in New York where he won 12 out of the 19 events he ran. Mark McFarland who raced at the Old Dominion Speedway in Virginia was named as the National Champion as well as winning the Atlantic Regional Championship. McFarland pocketed $213,000 for his efforts. Other regional champions included Tom Seets, Heartland, Mark Wertz, Southeastern Coastal, Jerry Robertson, Northwest, Rip Michaels, Sunbelt and Kyle Berck, Midwest. Following Gada in the New England Region standings were Jeff Strunk, who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania, Scott Bonney, who raced at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire, Eric Berndt, who raced at Thompson, Dwight Jarvis, who raced at Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire, Bobby Babb, who raced at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine, John Fortin, who raced at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Rick Houlihan, who raced at Seekonk in Mass, Jeff Crowley, who raced at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and Kerry Malone, who raced at Stafford. The top-10 received their awards in Nashville, Tenn. in early November. The Short Track regionals honor second division drivers. Ryan Posocco, who raced at Stafford, is the New England Champion. Aaron Fellows, who raced at the Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire, finished second. Waterford Late Model Champion Corey Hutchins finished third followed by Scott Bronczyk, who raced at Thompson.

   In Winston Cup action at Talladega, Elliott Sadler took the Busch Pole. Dale Earnhardt Jr. qualified tenth but had his time dis-allowed when inspectors determined that his right side body panel was too low. Earnhardt started in the rear and made up a lost lap to finish second to Michael Waltrip. Sadler had a good run going until four laps to go when he flipped violently.

   Five years ago in 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to Martinsville VA for the Made In American Whelen 300 which was be the 13th of 16 races on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule.

   For many years, the northern contingent has had a stranglehold on victory lane while southern competitors played second fiddle. Burt Myers became the first Southern driver to win a Modified tour race in a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville since Johnny Bryant in 1985. Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor Myers changed all that as he powered his way to victory at the historic Virginia oval. Of the 43 Modifieds on hand, Myers was fourth fastest in time trials and for the start, redrew the outside pole, starting along side another southerner, Bobby Hutchens. At the start Myers almost saw his day end before it started as he tangled with Hutchens at the initial drop of the green and triggered a massive wreck on the front stretch. Fortunately for him NASCAR declared the start false and mandated a complete restart with Hutchens and Myers back on the front row. Myers led the restart with fastest timetrialer Ryan Preece in tow. By the fifth go-round Preece had the lead. Preece pretty much dominated from then on, at least until lap 270 of the 300 lap event when Myers got by him in traffic. Myers led the final laps to collect the win and the famous Martinsville Speedway Grandfather Clock trophy. Preece finished second and was credited with being the first Northern Whelen Modified. Matt Hirschman finished third and was followed by Reggie Ruggerio and Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Woody Pitkat, Ed Flemke Jr, Rowan Pennick and Brian Loftin.

   Eleven of the original 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Sixteen caution periods for 88 laps slowed the event. Among those were had problems were outside pole sitter George Brunnhoelzl III who lost an engine, Hossfeld wrecked, Mike Stefanik lost a driveshaft, Ronnie Silk wrecked, Jimmy Blewett had his battery short out, Bob Grigas lost a rear end, Wade Cole lost his steering, Ken Heagy had rear end trouble, Andy Seuss wrecked, Billy Pauch wrecked as did Rick Fuller and Glen Reen. Richard Savory had an alternator malfunction and Jake Marosz wrecked.

   The following Tuesday the Hartford Courant reported that NASCAR officials have made the decision to disqualify Myers from his victory in Saturday's event at Martinsville. The decision handed the event victory to 17-year old Ryan Preece who drove Ole Blu, which crossed the finish line second to Myers. NASCAR officials would not comment on the situation. A NASCAR official did confirm that parts were confiscated from Myers' car following Saturday's event and taken to the NASCAR Research and Development Center for further inspection.
In non-NASCAR Modified racing, Tony Hirschman came out of retirement to win the annual Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway in New York state. In True Value Modified Series racing at the All Star Speedway, Jon McKennedy took the win over Chris Pasteryak and Dwight Jarvis.

   Thursday Night Thunder at Thompson International Speedway saw Keith Rocco clean house as he picked up his fifth win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. Rick Gentes resumed his late season mastery of the Late Models and Scott Michalski continued his hot streak in Mini Stock competition. Glenn Boss turned his luck around with a dominating TIS Modified win. Both Jay Macedonio in the Pro Stocks and Ed Puleo in the Limited Sportsman division enjoyed their his first wins of the season.

   Rocco motored by surprise Sunoco Modified championship contender Danny Cates to take the lead near the half way mark of the 30 lap feature. Cates took the early lead with a stout pack of cars battling from second position on back. When thing shuffled out by lap five Cates continued to lead Todd Ceravolo and Rocco. Jimmy Blewett had made tracks to the front and into the fourth position. Tom Cravenho rounded out the top five. At lap 10, Ceravolo had his hands full holding off the advances of Rocco. Rocco dove low into turn four trying to get a run on Ceravolo. Rocco drifted up the track taking Ceravolo with him. Blewett peaked low looking to make it three wide. The veteran thought the better of it and settled back in line in third. Rocco was able to steal the second position from Ceravolo. Rocco was applying heavy pressure to Cates, who had encountered lapped traffic, when the caution flew for a spinning Carl Oberg. Under the caution, Ceravolo relinquished the third spot to head to pit road. He was not able to continue.

   Cates and Rocco went wheel-to-wheel for the first lap of the restart before Cates, relinquished the lead to Rocco. Blewett took chase of Cates but quickly became the hunted. Cravenho made a strong move exiting turn three to get alongside Blewett eventually taking the position away. Both Blewett and Cravenho were able to get by Cates as Rocco was getting away from the field. Blewett and Cravenho were locked in a heat battle for the second position when both slipped up in the corner. Blewett was able to continue. Cravenho was forced to lift falling back to third. Cravenho gathered it up moving back by Cates once again.

   In the closing laps Rocco had checked out on the field to win his fifth victory of the season. Blewett was a distance second followed by Cravenho. Cates settled for the fourth position ahead of Kerry Malone, who quietly came home fifth to extend his point lead. Rounding out the top ten were Bert Marvin, Tim Sullivan, Ricky Shawn, Josh Sylvester and Woody Pitkat. Ceravolo ended up 18th in the final rundown.

   The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their Friday night racing series for 2008. Woody Pitkat picked up his fourth win of the 2008 season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Joe Rzeszutek picked up his second win of 2008 in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Mark Bakaj scored win number 4 of 2008 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand scored his third win of 2008 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Todd LaPorta was a first time career winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock season. Ryan Posocco clinched his fourth Late Model track championship with a third place finish with four more championships to be decided next weekend at the 36th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend.

   In the 40-lap SK Modified feature event, Woody Pitkat drove to his fourth feature victory of the 2008 season. Corey Hutchings took the early race lead and held the lead until lap-6 when Chris Jones moved to the front. Pitkat moved to second on lap-8 and he took the lead from Jones on a lap-11 restart. Over a long green flag stretch, Pitkat was steadily stretching his advantage over the rest of the field. Several late cautions kept the field tight, with Pitkat holding off Keith Rocco to the checkered flag. Zach Sylvester finished third, Ted Christopher finished fourth, and Jones rounded out the top-5. Heading into next weekend's CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend, Keith Rocco holds a 14-point lead over Ted Christopher.

   At the Waterford Speedbowl, competitors were forced to start off the night on the wrong foot as they were told that they would not be receiving their checks for the previous week’s racing because of the fact that track operator Jerry Robinson was ill and was unable to sign checks. The Jeff Pearl web site reported a direct confrontation with track operator Robinson and one of his employees. “I began the evening approaching official #1 who took the heat and offered that Jerry was in the hospital passing a stone at least on Friday and believed that the reason for no checks”. “The official took my beating graciously and was very empathetic.” Robinson was in fact at the Speedbowl on Saturday night. Jeff Pearl’s wife approached Robinson and very politely asked if the drivers would be getting paid. “He got right in my face (if I had my glasses on I swear there would be spit on them), and was emphatically told "NO!" she said.

   Competitors at the Speedbowl were NASCAR members and its time that the sanctioning body went to bat for them. Its not right what Robinson was doing! NASCAR needed to step in. What Robinson was doing was against everything that NASCAR stands for. Competitors have shelled out their hard earned money to belong to NASCAR and the sanctioning body needs to protect them. Rumors had already been circulating concerning a possible labor type action.

   Despite all the discontent the show at the shoreline oval went on. Keith Rocco won the USG Night 35-lap SK Modified feature. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Ed Lamb Jr. (Sportsman), Kyle James (Mini Stock), Jay Palmer (Legends), and Robert Norman (Super-X Cars).

   Starting from the outside-pole, Rocco held-off a determined Ron Yuhas Jr. to the checkers in leading every circuit of the event. Point-leader Dennis Gada gave chase for several circuits before Yuhas bolted into second following a lap-twelve restart. Rounding-out the top-5 was Gada, Jeff Pearl, and Tyler Chadwick.

   In NASCAR Sprint Cup action at Dover Downs Greg Biffle made it a sparkling 2-for-2 in the Chase for the championship using another late pass with nine laps to go and went on to hold off Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards and bolster his bid for the Sprint Cup title. Kyle Busch made it eight victories this season in the Nationwide Series, leading 157 laps and absolutely dominating to win on Saturday in a green-white-checkered flag finish. Matt Kobyluck and the Mohegan Sun Racing team locked up their first NASCAR Camping World Series East Championship Friday at Dover after posting a third place finish in the Sunoco 150 at Dover International Speedway. Kobyluck, a ten-year veteran of the series, left the event with a 219-point advantage over second place driver Austin Dillon with one race remaining on the schedule.

   Last year, 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Loudon, NH for the F.W. Webb 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Thirty One Modifieds were on hand for the event. In early Friday morning practice Donnie Lia was the fastest of the fast as he topped the speed chart in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice. Lia toured the Magic Mile in 28.952 seconds at an average speed of 131.556 mph. Rowan Pennink was second quickest in the 95-minute practice session, turning a lap of 29.196 seconds (130.456 mph). He was followed by Ron Silk, Ted Christopher and Patrick Emerling. Completing the top 10 were Eric Beers, Doug Coby, Jimmy Blewett, Mike Stefanik and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Ryan Newman.

   Lia carried his speed over to qualifying as he won the Coors Light Pole for the F.W. Webb 100. The two-time tour champion lapped the Loudon oval in 29.352 seconds at an average speed of 129.763 mph. Doug Coby, was second quickest with a lap of 29.571 seconds (128.802 mph). He was followed by Ron Silk, Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman turned in the sixth fastest lap on his first qualifying lap, then bounced off the Turn 2 wall on his second lap. Newman drove to the garage with damage to the nose of his car. Jimmy Blewett, Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Mike Stefanik completed the top 10 in qualifying.

   Doug Coby held on in a two-lap dash to the finish to win the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to score his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. In a race that featured lead changes on nearly every lap early on, Coby took command on Lap 84 and never relinquished the top spot. While he charged to the checkered flag after a restart with two laps remaining, second-place running Ted Christopher ended up slamming the wall after contact from Donny Lia, who went on to take the runner-up spot as the race finished under caution. Lia, who restarted fourth clipped Christopher from behind and turned him into the front stretch wall. Christopher bounced off the wall and careened into the inside wall that protects the pit area.

   Christopher used a few choice expletives to express his displeasure with Lia's driving. Lia had a different story. “We were gonna fight for the win and I got a run there on the 3 car [Christopher] and got into the back of him, unintentionally, and caused a wreck,” Lia said. “It’s racing, I feel really bad about it, by no means was it intentional. I got a run and was trying to go to the bottom and got him in the left rear corner.” Following Coby and Lia across the finish line were Ron Silk, Ryan Newman and Rowan Pennink. Eric Beers, Richie Pallai Jr., Matt Hirschman, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Ryan Preece rounded out the top 10.

   Perfect weather, clear and in the low 70's greeted competitors alike. Prior to the start of the event, Boehler Racing Crew Chief Scott Richards gave Ted Christopher his marching orders. "Turn the fans on when the green drops and treat the first 50 laps as a practice session". After starting fifth he ran consistently between fifth and tenth until the half way break. Following the break Christopher began his march to the front. By lap 76 Christopher was in the lead as he passed Doug Coby in turn three. Coby and Christopher were left to settle it prior to the hit by Lia.

   The planned 50 lap break took a lot of pressure off crews to perform but it robbed the fans of the excitement that pit stops generate. The only excitement was the possibility of a fire when an individual who was fueling Patrick Emerling's car accidentally spilled a lot of gas on the ground. Woody Pitkat, who was parked directly behind Emerling stated "Who ever fueled the 07 is a retard".

   Mike Stefanik, who won the July race in Loudon returned with a new car and great expectations for a repeat performance. Stefanik started tenth and got as high as sixth at one point before his engine suffered an internal malfunction on lap 31 and ended his day.

   Sixteen of the original 31 starters finished on the lead lap. In addition to Christopher getting wrecked on lap 99 Eric Goodale was also collected in the same incident. Wade Cole started 30th and finished two laps down in19th spot. Extremely under funded, Cole stayed out of trouble and all things considered had a good day.

   Mike Christopher made his only start of 2012. Starting 28th, his car appeared to be under powered as he was never a factor as he too was two laps down at the finish ending his day in 20th spot. Long Islander Johnny Bush also had an off day as he was also two laps down in 21st position.

   Patrick Emerling, who finished 12th on the lead lap, triggered a big wreck on lap 92 in turn one that took out Woody Pitkat, Bryan Chew, Todd Szegedy and Matt Hirschman. Emerling bounced off the lapped car of Jimmy Blewett.
Donny Lia, who went on to take the runner-up spot as the race finished under caution, was not penalized for his over aggressiveness by NASCAR.

   There were five cautions for 17 laps. The event went non-stop until the mandatory stop at lap 50. The second caution was for Jimmy Blewett who spun between turns three and four. The third caution came on lap 87 when it appeared that Blewett dropped oil on the track. The third caution was for the Emerling triggered wreck on lap 92, the fourth and fifth cautions were for the Christopher wreck and the ultimate finish under caution.

   There were 23 official lead changes among six drivers. D. Lia 1-3; R. Preece 4; D. Lia 5; R. Preece 6-11; R. Silk 12; R. Preece 13-14; R. Silk 15; R. Preece 16; R. Silk 17; R. Preece 18-19; D. Lia 20-23; R. Silk 24; D. Lia 25; D. Coby 26; D. Lia 27; D. Coby 28; D. Lia 29-45; P. Emerling 46; D. Lia 47-61; D. Coby 62-68; D. Lia 69-73; D. Coby 74-76; T. Christopher 77-83; D. Coby 84-100. There were numerous lead changes within the laps.

   Doug Coby leads the point standings by 22 over Ryan Preece. Ron Silk sits third with Don Lia, fourth. Todd Szegedy rounds out the top five.

   The purse for the 100 lap modified event was $159, 528. With Doug Coby earning $12,000 plus for his win, a nice amount but when one considers past winners were earning upwards of $18,000 grand, that is a big drop. Donny Lia earned $8,600 for second and Ronnie Silk earned $6,600 for third but the big question is why wasn’t the field filled, even if it was teams pulling out a backup car just to do a start and park for the roughly $2,000 to take the green. In the past, that was a common factor but with the field being short, that $159,000 purse was reduced by $10,000.

   A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway stated that the Whelen Modifieds would be back for two events in 2013. That announcement would leave one to believe that Speedway Motorsports has no intention of moving any events away from NHMS at this time. The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final this weekend.

   At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night it was a well deserved week off as track management and competitors prepare for the season ending Fall Final that is scheduled for this coming weekend.

   In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program was highlighted by twin 35-lap SK Modified® features, the premier weekly division at the track. Tyler Chadwick of Ledyard won the first of the two races, his fifth of the year, while Tom Abele Jr. of Norwich won the night’s second feature, his first on the season. Cam McDermott of North Scituate, RI picked up his second checkered flag of the year in the SK Light Modifieds. Dan Darnstaedt of Durham scored the Street Stock feature race win and Garrett Denton of Hope Valley, RI grabbed his first Mini Stock division victory of 2012. The X-Car division competed in an event for their Saturday Showdown Series, won by Wayne Shifflett of Preston.

   Among the surprise entries at the shoreline oval was NEAR Hall of Fame Legend Bob Potter. The 71-year old is a six-time Speedbowl track champion. He has been in the driver’s seat giving race fans at Stafford Motor Speedway the racecar experience in the two-seater SK Light Modified this season at the track. Potter also won five SK Modified championships at Stafford and ranks fourth all-time on the track’s SK Modified win list with 24 career victories, drove for car owner Pat Doherty in the SK Light Modified feature event. Potter finished eighth.
NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach Fla announced that Lee Pulliam, 24, of Semora, N.C., won the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in just his sixth year of racing and fourth year in asphalt Late Models. Pulliam rolled up 22 wins, 30 top fives and 32 top 10s in 36 starts to run away with the national championship. He out-distanced runner-up Keith Rocco, 794-748. Rocco dislocated his wrist and broke a bone in an accident during practice at Thompson July 29. He had surgery and missed an entire weekend of racing.

   Rocco has nothing to be ashamed of as he finished second in the final standings for the second straight year and third time in four years. Rocco had 14 wins, 26 top fives and 32 top 10s in 43 starts racing his asphalt Modified at Connecticut’s Thompson International Raceway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. He won his fifth straight state title and has finished in the top five nationally seven consecutive seasons.

   Only four points separated the rest of the top five. CE Falk III finished third with 728, followed by Nate Monteith with 726 and Ryan Preece with 724.

   Pulliam’s wins were spread among four tracks including 10 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., nine at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, two at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C., and one at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. He placed third in points at Motor Mile and South Boston running a partial schedule at each. He also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia championship.
In Sprint Cup racing Denny Hamlin put together a dominating performance at Loudon. Despite qualifying 32nd, Hamlin charged up through the field and drove into the lead before lap 100. Once out front, Hamlin was never seriously challenged as he drove to his first victory at the 1.058-mile asphalt oval. The victory, the 100th for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sprint Cup competition, moved Hamlin up to third in the series standings, only seven points out of the lead. Jimmie Johnson finished second and moved into the championship lead by one point over Brad Keselowski, who finished sixth. Jeff Gordon rebounded from his 32nd-place finish at Chicagoland and finished third. Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne completed the top five.

   Austin Dillon completed a sweep of the season’s two NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Kentucky Speedway with a dominant victory in Saturday’s Kentucky 300. Dillon led 65 laps, driving his grandfather Richard Childress’ Chevrolet on the day after the team owner’s birthday. He beat Sam Hornish Jr. to the checkered flag by 1.059 seconds for his second victory of the season in his rookie season in the series.

   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 from the collection of the late Danny Pardi,
Courtesy of & Dave Dyke's

Click on Photo for Full Sized

Mark Ferris                                                    Jeff Fuller                                             Tony Hirschman

George Savary                                                Bobby Vee                                               Bentley Warren

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: September 20, 2013

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