The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


June 17, 2014

  The Stafford Motor Speedway suffered its fourth rainout in the last five weeks. Last Friday's scheduled Valenti Modified Racing Series 80 lapper has been rescheduled to this Friday, June 20. The Arute family that owns and operates the speedway has added Friday, September 19 to its 2014 event schedule. The DARE Stock Xtra Mart Xtra D feature that was originally scheduled as part of last Friday's Summer Blast-Off program will move to next Friday’s Town Fair Tire VMRS 80 program and the fireworks will move to Friday, July 11th. The Limited Late Model Xtra D feature will be moved to Friday, June 27th.

  The VMRS cars return to Stafford on July 18 for the 4th Annual Lincoln Tech 80 and again on August 29 for the 5th Annual VMRS 80. The Valenti Modified Racing Series is still reeling from the departure of Scott Tapley. Tapley brought stability and respectability to the series. Being a race director is a tough job. Evidently a difference of opinion between himself and series founder Jack Bateman was the basis of his departure. Anybody who has ever been a race director or chief steward knows it's a no win situation when ever a race call is made. Somebody is made happy and somebody gets mad, that's the way it is! As the Valenti Modified Racing Series searches for a new race director for the 2014 racing season, series president Jack Bateman told website that he will serve as interim race director until the position is filled.

  In NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series news it was announced that change is in the air for Tour regular Rob Fuller Motorsports, who recently named 2003 Champion Todd Szegedy as the driver of the No. 15 Chevrolet for the New Hampshire 100 race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12. Team owner and driver Rob Fuller made the decision shortly after testing the new LFR Chassis at Thompson Speedway last week. Fuller is the owner of LFR Chassis, a new company that manufactures modified and late model chassis, and this was the first test session where Fuller drove a race-ready modified chassis created by his company. In addition to competing in the New Hampshire 100, Szegedy will run the No. 15 Rob Fuller Motorsports entry in the NASCAR Modified All-Star Shootout the day prior. Although Fuller is the head of LFR Chassis, the day to day management and oversight is handled by veteran NASCAR crew chief Tony Eury Jr. Eury Jr. has over 20 years of experience working at the top levels of NASCAR as a crew chief, car chief, mechanic and tire changer.

  The Big event in New England last weekend was the fourth annual SBM 125 at the Star Speedway in Epping. NH. Two time winner Matt Hirschman was the odds-on favorite to take the event which paid close to $10,000 to win. The SBM 125 IV had nearly $45,000.00 payout up for grabs. The base purse was $31,400.00. Thirty three cars ran four heats to set the field.

  Hirschman started on the outside pole after a re-draw of the heat winners. Hirschman was well on his way to victory until a spin on lap 93 spoiled his night. Les Hinckley and Rowan Pennink fought to lead but in the end it was Jon McKennedy who prevailed to take the win. Hinckley hung on for second while Pennink faded to sixth. Richard Savory ended up third with Steve Masse, fourth. Anthony Nocella rounded out the top five.. Sixth thru tenth were Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Max Zachem, Chris Pasteryak and Derek Ramstrom. Hirschman came back after a pit stop to finish 13th.

  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco scored a two-fer as he ran to victory in both the SK Modified and Late Model events on Saturday night at the Connecticut shoreline oval. Rocco, who celebrated his first Father's Day was happy as a clam. Josh Galvin won another Street Stock race and Randy Churchill was back in Victory Lane following the SK Light Modified feature. Jeff Lee was the only new winner, a career first victor in the Mini Stocks. Allen Coates added another Speedbowl win to his career in the visiting New England Truck Series race.

  An extra-distance 40-lap SK Modified® highlighted Saturday’s racing card, checkered by Rocco. He made the move of the race early and once in the lead, closed the race with a long green flag run to the checkered flag. The opening green flag saw the third place car Paul Kusheba come up to speed slowly, giving the outside lane behind the front row an advantage. Rocco was mid-pack and able to slide by multiple cars on the opening lap, led by Tim Jordan. Ted Christopher moved to second on lap-3 and tailed Jordan until the first caution of the race came out before the field could complete lap-5. Contact between the cars of Kusheba and Ed Puleo saw Puleo spin off the track down the back chute, collecting Frank Mucciacciaro.

  The restart saw Jordan lead Christopher but it was Rocco’s dazzling move in traffic that captured everyone’s attention. He went from fourth to second position between laps 5 and 6. The lead cars of Jordan and Christopher went wide through turn four causing a tense moment for the field behind. Jordan recovered to hold his lead, but Christopher lost momentum to keep his car off the wall. Craig Lutz darted inside Christopher while Rocco shot through the middle of both down the front chute, coming away with second position. He took a shot from Christopher in turn one before pulling outside of Jordan for the lead. Rocco stayed there for four laps before seizing control, clearing Jordan exiting turn two on lap-10.

  Tom Pinson spun in turn four on lap-12 to create the final restart. Rocco quickly got away from Jordan, who received a challenge for second position from Lutz. Behind them, Christopher was in a battle with Rob Janovic for fourth. Those side-by-side battles ended with Lutz clearing Jordan on lap-15, bringing Janovic underneath Jordan. Those three cars continued a battle for second behind Rocco for the final 20 laps of the race.

  The final 28 laps were run without incident and Rocco went unchallenged. The action for second intensified over the final six laps, including a nifty save by Janovic off turn four on lap-34. The cars of Lutz, Janovic and Christopher raced nose to tail on the final lap and Janovic got crossed up again, this time in turn two. He chased his car nearly saving it again, unfortunately getting into the infield off the back stretch and giving up a podium finish. Lutz continued his string of podium finishes and ended up second while Christopher finished third. Jordan was fourth and Kyle James fought to earn a spot among the top-five at the finish.

  The cars and stars from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour make their annual visit to the Connecticut shore for the Mr. Rooter 161, a tribute race to nine-time Modified champion Richie Evans. An action packed night of open-wheel Modified racing will be on display. Doug Coby and Ryan Preece, the past two series champions, have won the previous two editions of the 161. A full NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing card supports the event.

  The search for a buyer of the Speedbowl property continues. The property is valued at an estimated $3.075 million. If a buyer is not found the Speedbowl property will be sold at auction on Oct. 18. Current owner Terry Eames owes primary creditors Rocco Arbitell and Peter Borelli $1.09 million. He also owes other creditors $750,000 and the Town of Waterford $60,000 in back taxes. Eames continues to shake the bushes for someone to refinance the debt or buy it outright. One of those who has expressed interest in buying the property is former track champion Dick Ceravolo. Ceravolo stated, I'm interested but I won't pay $3 million when all I have to do is wait until October and buy it for $1.09 million".

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Tom Rogers Jr was the NASCAR Modified feature winner.

  In Modified racing in the Southland, Jason Myers turned in another strong performance, snatching victory away from a frustrated Tim Brown and celebrated again at Bowman Gray Stadium after winning Saturday night’s 100-lap Modified race. Myers never trailed from there and registered his 17th feature-division victory at Bowman Gray. Brown unhappily settled for second; Danny Bohn wound up third; and Burt Myers, fresh off a win Friday at Ace Speedway, lost little of his season points lead with a fourth-place finish.

  Winston-Salem (NC) State University is a step closer to buying city-owned Bowman Gray Stadium. City Manager Lee Garrity said this week that the city has received a $7.3 million offer from the state to buy the stadium, which has long been the home-base of WSSU football. The offer is contingent upon Winston-Salem State successfully completing a Brownfield agreement to test the land on which the property sits for contamination. Provisions have been added to the bill of sale to ensure that NASCAR racing remains at the stadium.

  Nancy Young, director of public relations at Winston-Salem State alluded to the fact that racing would continue at the historic oval. “We have been working with the racing folks on Saturday night,” Young said. “They have a long term contract and we are depending on that revenue to help us pay for the stadium.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were up. Dover Entertainment went up 0.09 to 2.70 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.13 to 31.98. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.54 to 18.13. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.05 to 8.73, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.64 to 56.29 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.99 to 26.24. All three auto manufacturers were negative for the week. Ford dropped 0.52 to 16.56, General Motors dropped 0.92 to 35.63 and Toyota dropped 0.91 to 114.24. The home improvement sector was also down for the week. Home Depot dropped 2.57 to 78.07 and Lowes dropped 2.32 to 45.45. The big team sponsor's stocks were also down for the week. Dupont dropped 1.39 to 68.30, Coca-Cola dropped 1.57 to 74.76, Target dropped 0.45 to 57.23, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.10 to 34.15 and FedEx dropped 2.42 to 2.42.

On the tube this week:

Wednesday, June 18

5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Network
6:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 2
7:30 PM, 100,000 Cameras - NASCAR All-Star Race, FS2
10:00 PM, Kurt Busch 36, NBCSN

Thursday, June 19
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS2
7:30 PM, Empty Cup - Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship, FS1

Friday, June 20
12:30 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Gateway race re-air, FS1
3:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sonoma practice, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NSCS Sonoma final practice, FS1
8:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
9:00 PM, The 600: History of NASCAR's Longest Race, FS1
10:00 PM, NSCS Sonoma final practice re-air, FS2

Saturday, June 21
3:00 AM, NSCS Sonoma practice re-air, FS1
5:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR Nationwide Series Road America qualifying, ESPN2
1:00 PM, NASCAR Live, FS1
1:30 PM, NSCS Sonoma qualifying, FS1
2:30 PM, NNS Countdown, ABC
2:45 PM, NNS Road America race, ABC
8:00 PM, NSCS Sonoma final practice re-air, FS2
9:30 PM, NSCS Sonoma qualifying, re-air, FS2
11:00 PM, The 600: History of NASCAR's Longest Race, FS2

Sunday, June 22
3:00 AM, NSCS Sonoma final practice re-air, FS1
4:00 AM, NNS Road America race re-air, ESPN2
4:30 AM, NSCS Sonoma qualifying, re-air, FS1
10:00 AM, NSCS Sonoma final practice re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, NSCS Sonoma qualifying, re-air, FS1
1:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
2:00 PM, NSCS Countdown to Green, TNT
3:00 PM, NSCS Sonoma race, TNT
7:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, 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: June 17, 2014

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