The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


May 6, 2014

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continues on Spring Break until Friday, May 23 when the Stafford Motor Speedway hosts the TSI Harley-Davidson 125.

  Stafford Speedway was back on track under the lights for the first time in 2014 with the BFF Friday program on Friday night, May 2nd. Ryan Preece made it two for two in 2014 as he picked up the win in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray was the winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glenn Griswold was the winner of the 20-lap SK Light feature, Albert Saunders won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, David Comeau won the 15-lap DARE Stock feature, and Cory DiMatteo won the 20-lap Legend Cars feature.

  Ted Christopher was able to close to Preece’s bumper, but he couldn’t make a pass a Preece scored his second consecutive SK Modified® feature win to start the 2014 season. Rounding out the top-5 behind Preece and Christopher was Doug Coby, Keith Rocco, and Eric Berndt.

  Rowan Pennink continues with bad luck. Pennink, who was disqualified from the SK event on Sizzler weekend found himself on his roof on Friday night.

  The Waterford Speedbowl was again the scene of some hot competition on a cold night. Hottest of the hot was Keith Rocco who won the SK Modified and Late Model features. Rocco has the distinction of having a total family commitment and total dedication of his crew. During the early part of the evening Rocco was swept up in a crash that did considerable damage to his car which was considered unrepairable. Ron Rocco, Keith's dad, jumped into action and headed out to Wallingford, Ct to pick up the team's Thompson car which has been sitting idle since the Thompson Speedway IceBreaker. From Waterford to Wallingford its 48 miles one way and 57 minutes driving normal. Ron Rocco, a former distinguished racer himself, does not drive normal and made the round trip in record time. Once at the track, Rocco's crew prepared the car and sent him out to start the feature at the rear of the field in the nights 35 lap feature.

  It took Rocco 20 laps to weave his way through the field to get within striking distance of race leader Tim Jordan. Kyle James, who had recovered from an early race spin entered the picture to put some heat on Rocco.

  James quickly joined the battle at the front over the final seven laps. He took second position from Rocco on lap-29 after Rocco continued trying to work Jordan’s outside. A final caution flag on lap-30 set the stage for a final five lap shootout by the top three. Jordan got a good start and Rocco took second back from James. That set up his pivotal move on Jordan for the race lead on lap-32. With the laps winding down Rocco slid inside Jordan into turn one and came away with the lead. Jordan reached Rocco’s rear bumper the next two laps but Rocco hung on. Jordan finished second while James ended up placing third. Craig Lutz finished fourth and Diego Monahan rounded out the top-five.
Rocco’s run in the Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature tied a 43-year old record. It marked his fourth straight win in the division to begin the season, equaling the benchmark set by Mike Daigneault in 1971. Rocco trailed an early battle for the lead between Jason Palmer and Jeff Smith. Those two cars came together which sent both spinning between turns three and four on lap-8. Rocco got tagged from behind in the incident, which drew the yellow flag, but was able to drive through it into the race lead. Once out front Rocco was never seriously challenged. Bruce Thomas Jr. finished second and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Tommy Barrett Jr. was third.

  In other action at the shoreline oval, Josh Galvin took top honors as he scored the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Street Stock Showdown race, an extra-distance event for the division. Ken Cassidy Jr. was back in Victory Lane following the Mini Stock race and Randy Churchill checkered the SK Light Modified feature. Jordan Hadley won his first career race in the X-Car division.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was part of the 69th season opener at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. Richard Savory beat the elements and the competition to take the win in the 100 lap Modified win. Savory and Todd Annarummo swapped the lead numerous times in the event that was run in 29 minutes. Savory took the lead for the final time on lap 46. Thirteen of the original 23 starters were in the lead lap at the end. Annarummo faded to fifth in the final run-down. Justin Bonsignore finished second with Anthony Nocella, Stephen Masse and Annarummo rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Jeff Rocco, Rowan Pennink, Chris Pasteryak, Max Zachem and Todd Szegedy.

  The Valenti Modifieds take a three week vacation before heading to the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night, May 29.

  The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island opened for the season on Saturday night. Shawn Solomito was the winner of Twin 30's for the NASCAR Modifieds. Tom Rogers Jr. and Shawn's brother Timmy Solomito followed in the first event. With the second 30-lap main event lined up by the finish of the first race Shawn Solomito broke out front while Rogers and Timmy Solomito began an intense battle for second. That race for position got too close on lap 3 when the duo made contact ending Timmy's race, with Rogers having to go to the rear after the contact and ensuing yellow flag. When the race resumes Solomito found yet another family member to contend with as his cousin Eric Goodale was lined-up second on the restart with defending NASCAR Modified champion Howie Brode third.

  Once again Shawn was a master of the restarts as he stayed out front with Goodale and Brode racing for second with Howie passing Eric for the position on lap 4. Once to second Brode was able to keep in step with the race leader and at times was able to pull up to his rear bumper but that would be as close as he got over the final half of the race. Once again at the checkers it was Shawn Solomito taking the victory over Howie Brode. Dave Sapienza of Riverhead was third after an intense battle with 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece who ended up fourth.

  In Modified racing in the southland, Burt Myers made it two for two, and Chris Fleming ended a two-year drought at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina on Saturday night. Myers, Bowman Gray’s defending champion, followed up a victory in the season-opening race last weekend by leading pole to pole. And he sailed on to his 58th career victory at Bowman Gray. Jason Myers finished second in the first race, with Tim Brown third, Danny Bohn fourth and John Smith fifth.
Fleming snatched the lead from Cale Gale, a veteran stock-car racer but Modified rookie, and went on to victory in the second race.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks had positive results for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.67 to 18.24 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.04 to 2.28 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.06 to 31.29. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.88 to 8.70 and NASCAR fuel Supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.22 to 0.56 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.2.16 to 25.29. Two of the three major car builders were up. Ford went up 0.12 to 15.90 and General Motors went up 1.25 to 34.97 while Toyota dropped 3.06 to 103.93. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.02 to 79.40 and Lowes went up 0.60 to 46.98. Results for big team sponsors were all positive. Dupont went up 0.19 to 66.85, Coca-Cola went up 0.58 to 82.99, Target Department Stores went up 0.75 to 62.01, Aarons Rentals went up 1.73 to 30.39 and Fedex went up 2.74 to 136.95.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, May 7

2:30 AM, NASCAR Now, ESPN2
4:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC SportsNetwork

Thursday, May 8
2:30 AM, NASCAR Now, ESPN2
4:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN,
7:00 PM, NSCS Talladega race re-air, FS1

Friday, May 9
1:00 AM, NASCAR's The List - Legendary Drivers, NBCSN
1:30 AM, NASCAR's The List - Memorable Moments, NBCSN
2:30 AM, NASCAR's The List - Fights & Feuds, NBCSN
3:00 AM, NSCS Talladega race re-air, FS1
12:00 PM, NSCS Kansas practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NSCS Kansas practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NASCAR Live, FS1
4:30 PM, NCWTS Kansas qualifying, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Live, FS1
6:30 PM, NSCS Kansas qualifying, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS Kansas race, FS1

Saturday, May 10
2:00 AM, NASCAR's The List - Greatest Finishes, NBCSN
2:30 AM, NASCAR's The List - Legendary Drivers, NBCSN
3:00 AM, NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES practice re-air, FS1
4:30 AM, NSCS Kansas qualifying, FS1
7:00 PM, NSCS Kansas race, FS1

   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.

SourcePhil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: May 6, 2014

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