The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


April 29, 2014

  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 NASCAR Modifieds.

  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 race wreck.

  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 Modified.

  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.

SourcePhil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: April 29, 2014

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