The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Stafford
Motor Speedway this past weekend for the annual Spring Sizzler. Originally
an open competition event and the brainchild of Dick Berggren, Bruce Cohen
and Lew Boyd, the Sizzler has become one of the premier events for the
Rain greeted competitors and fans at Stafford most of the day on
Saturday. A little before 4:00pm the rain stopped and a weather window
opened which allowed practice and qualifying for the Whelen Modifieds. The
gray, wet day for the season opener at Stafford Motor Speedway will be a
memorable one for Tommy Barrett, Jr. of Millis, MA who set fast time in
qualifying to earn his first career NWMT 21 Means 21 pole award with a time
of 18.221 second lap around the half mile oval. The 18 year old bested a
field of 27 Modifieds including Woody Pitkat with a time of 18.262 who will
line up on the outside bringing the field to green for the prestigious NWMT
NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler 200. Rounding out the top five were Justin
Bonsignore, Doug Coby and Ryan Preece.
Sunday morning dawned somewhat dismal at Stafford but it didn't hold back
the fans as they jammed the parking lot and filled the stands. Bobby Santos
defended his 2013 Spring Sizzler win as he made it two for two as he won the
200 lap race. Santos started eighth and was never out of the top five all
day. Pitting for fuel on lap101, Santos' crew got him out in fourth spot. By
lap 110 he was third and on lap 120 shot by Tommy Barrett for the lead which
he maintained for the remaining 80 laps. Barrett slipped a bit but was still
in contention until less than 15 laps to go when he and Ron Silk were sent
to the rear on a restart as officials felt they had stopped to avoid a late
Doug Coby ended up in the runner up spot and was somewhat upset over a
lapped car that was blocking his progress on the final lap and ultimately
cost him a possible shot for the win. Rowan Pennink finished third with
Justin Bonsignore and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top five. Sixth thru
tenth were Timmy Solomito, Ted Christopher, Donnie Lia, Matt Hirschman and
Ron Silk. Barrett ended up 11th.
There was quite a bit of merit to Coby's complaints about cars the were
way off the pace and which should have been parked by NASCAR. T.J.
Zacharias, the driver who stood in the way of Coby making a last ditch
effort, was nine laps down at the end and should have used better sense.
Melissa Fifield, who never sat in a Modified and was lapped for the first
time at lap 13. NASCAR used poor judgment when they didn't signal her to
park the car. Granted, she has a right to be there but should have used
better judgment and started her racing in a SK Lite, not an all out
With two events in the books Justin Bonsignore with 86 points, leads Coby
and Woody Pitkat by two points. Timmy Solomito is fourth with Santos, fifth.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour goes on Spring Break until Friday, May 23
when the Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the TSI Harley-Davidson 125.
In other action at Stafford on Sizzler weekend, Ryan Preece won the 40
lap SK Modified feature over Danny Cates and Rowan Pennink. Preece started
14th in the 28 car field. He worked his way up to fourth by lap 13. On a lap
14 restart Pennink went past Joey Cipriano for the lead with Preece
following to second. After another caution, on lap 15, Preece went by
Pennink for the lead and never looked back. Jay Stuart led every lap to win
the 30-lap Late Model feature event, and Toby Wells was the winner of the
25-lap NorthEast Mini Stock Tour feature.
A packed house on a perfect spring Saturday night welcomed another season
of Bowman Gray Stadium stock-car racing. Burt Myers, the defending Bowman
Gray champion, started from the pole position, momentarily lost the lead to
Tim Brown, got it back and then held off a final charge by Brown on the
final lap to win the season-opening Hayes Jewelers 200.
Tim Brown jumped the lap 70 restart to get the lead but after about 30
hits on his rear bumper he let the faster Burt Myers back by on lap 88.
Myers was sideways twice from Brown hits but he never spun or lost control.
Brown settled for second with Jason Myers, third.
The event drew 28 cars and a over-flow crowd which filled the 17,000-seat
stadium. Among those in the field was 63 year old Junior Miller, now in his
40th season, who ended up ninth in the final run down.
The Waterford Speedbowl cancelled its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
racing program scheduled for last Saturday, April 26 due to damp weather and
light rain that was forecasted throughout the evening. Action returns to the
shoreline oval this coming Saturday, May 3 with a six-division NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series program.
In the SK Modified division only 35 points separate the top five.
Defending champion Keith Rocco currently has a 16 point cushion over Ed
Puleo. Craig Lutz sits in third spot with Tyler Chadwick, fourth. Rounding
out the top five is Rob Janovic Jr. Rocco is also the point leader in the
Late Model division as he holds a 23 point edge over Bruce Thomas Jr.
Crews have been working day and night in order to bring the conditions of
the grandstands up to state standards.
On the speedway stock market scene last week all three speedway stocks
ended the week on the negative side. Taking the biggest hit was the
International Speedway Corporation which went down 1.05 to 31.35 while
Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.69 to 17.57 and Dover Entertainment dropped
0.01 to 2.24. NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.44 to 27.44 while
NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.70 to 7.82 and NASCAR fuel supplier
Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.28 to 55.78. The car builders had an off
week. Toyota dropped 1.53 to 106.49 while General Motors dropped 0.26 to
33.72 and Ford dropped 0.22 to 15.78. In the home improvement sector, Home
Depot went up 2.29 to 79.38 while Lowes dropped 0.42 to 46.38. In the area
of big team race sponsorship, Coca-Cola went up 1.70 to 82.41 and Target
Department Stores went up 1.26 to 61.26 while Dupont dropped 0.32 to 66.66,
Aarons Rentals dropped 0.75 to 28.66 and FedEx dropped 1.34 to 134.21.
On the tube this week:
Thursday, May 1
2:30 AM, NASCAR Now, ESPN2
7:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Richmond race re-air, FS1
9:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports1
Friday, May 2
2:30 AM, NASCAR Now, ESPN2
2:30 AM, NASCAR's The List - Greatest Finishes, NBC Sports Network
1:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
2:00 PM, NSCS Talladega practice, FS1
3:00 PM, NASCAR Live, FS1
3:30 PM, NSCS Talladega practice, FS1
6:30 PM, NASCAR Nationwide Series Talladega qualifying, FS1
Saturday, May 3
3:00 AM, NSCS Talladega practice re-air, FS1
4:00 AM, NSCS Talladega practice re-air, FS1
1:00 PM, NSCS Talladega qualifying, FOX
2:30 PM, NASCAR Countdown, ESPN2
3:00 PM, NNS Talladega race, ESPN2
Sunday, May 4
3:30 AM, NNS Talladega race re-air, ESPN2
10:00 AM, NSCS Talladega qualifying re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR Race Day, FS1
12:30 PM, NSCS Talladega race, FOX
Thatís 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.
Smith / Champ Trail