The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


September 2, 2014

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series, with 24 cars strong, made its third and final visit of the 2014 season to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the 5th Annual VMRS 80. Taking the checkered flag was Tommy Barrett, Jr., after starting fourth, used a bold three-wide move to take the lead for the first time on a lap-58 restart and led the rest of the way.

  At the drop of the green flag, Justin Bonsignore took the lead with Max Zachem in second. Rowan Pennink quickly moved past Zachem for second on lap-2 and Keith Rocco followed Pennink by Zachem to take third. Behind Zachem, Chris Pasteryak got around Tommy Barrett, Jr. to move into fifth place.

  Rocco got around Pennink for second and he then took the lead from Bonsignore on lap-6. Pennink was now third, with Zachem fourth and Pasteryak was fifth. Bonsignore went back by Rocco for the lead on lap-8 and then Rocco retook the lead from Bonsignore on lap-9.

  Rocco held the lead until lap-22 when Bonsignore went back to the front. Bonsignore’s lead was extremely short lived as Rocco went back by Bonsignore in the next set of corners. Things then began to settle in as the top-9 cars of Rocco, Bonsignore, Pennink, Zachem, Pasteryak, Preece, Barrett, Ted Christopher, and Woody Pitkat were all in close contact with each other. Preece’s run came to an end on lap-36 as his #31 dropped off the pace and he slowly made his way back to pit road. Zachem took a look to the inside of Pennink for third, but he was unable to make the pass stick and he settled back into line in fourth behind Pennink.

  Rocco took the lead back under green with Bonsignore in second. One lap after the restart, contact between Barrett and Pennink sent Pennink up the track and into the path of Zachem to bring the caution back out. Rocco took the lead on the restart but behind Rocco, Charlie Pasteryak, Mike Willis, Jr., and Carl Medieros, Jr. came together and spun on the backstretch to bring the caution out.

  Rocco again took the lead back under green with Bonsignore in hot pursuit. Christopher was third with Barrett and Pasteryak making up the top-5. Christopher’s car dropped off the pace on lap-54 and he slowly made his way to pit road. Bonsignore was all over the back of Rocco when the caution came back out with 57 laps complete for a spin by Bakaj.

  The next restart told the story as Barrett went 3-wide to the inside of both Rocco and Bonsignore to take over the race lead. Rocco and Bonsignore settled into second and third with Pennink back up to fourth after his earlier misfortunes. Woody Pitkat was up to fifth behind Pennink, his first appearance of the night in the top-5 with 20-laps to go in the race.

  Barrett pulled away from Rocco in the closing laps to pick up his third Stafford VMRS victory. Rocco finished second, with Bonsignore, Pennink, and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.
In other action at Stafford, Rowan Pennink won for the fourth time in the last 6 races in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Josh Wood was a first time winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno won for the fifth time in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Duane Provost won for the fourth time in the 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature, and Brandon Michael took down his second win in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  Following Pennink, Ted Christopher beat Doug Coby to the line by a nose to take second, with Dan Avery and Ryan Preece rounding out the top-5. Nichole Morgillo continues to keep her racing at Stafford as she finished 15th in the SK feature.
Mike Christopher Jr who made his open wheeled debut in a SK Lite finished 7th.

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series will be idle until the Riverhead 200 on Sept. 13 at Riverhead Raceway on New York’s Long Island. One of Modified racings legends, Eddie Flemke SR, would have been 84 last week had he lived. A great driver, innovator and one not afraid to express his opinions, Flemke mentored and touched many and is sorely missed.

  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval hosted Thunder on the Sound, a seven division motorsports program highlighted by the 18th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals SK Modified® 150. The biggest race of the year for the track’s headline NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division was won by Tyler Chadwick. Other winners on the night included Keith Rocco in the Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, while a pair of drivers picked up their third victories of the year, Ryan Waterman in the Street Stocks Ray Christian III in the Mini Stocks. Paul Buzel was a first time winner in SK Light Modified action, Mike Christopher Jr. won in the INEX Legend Cars and Paul LaPlante won the Vintage Outlaw Modified race.

  Chadwick’s biggest ally in the 18th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals may have been his patience. The 2012 division champion started the race tenth and slowly moved into contention just before the halfway point of the 150-lap grind. Ted Christopher was out front, showing the way after he passed early leader Ed Puleo on lap-11. Christopher led comfortably until a caution flag came on lap-96.

  Chadwick was in second on lap-70, and trailed Christopher until the lap-96 restart. He tried to unseat Christopher on multiple occasions, finally tucking in behind Christopher in second position. The intensity was definitely on the rise among the lead pack as the race moved to its final stages. Keith Rocco, who spent most of the first hundred laps outside the top-five exhibiting patience of his own, asserted himself in the final fifty circuits. Rocco pressed Chadwick until he gave up the outside, allowing Rocco to move to second on lap-117. Rocco stalked Christopher for the lead until he made a diving maneuver to the inside on lap-130 down the back chute. The two cars came together between turns three and four, spinning both and bringing out a caution.

  Chadwick’s patience paid off as he inherited the lead while Rocco and Christopher resumed from the tail of the field. Chadwick took off from Rob Janovic Jr. on the restart, distancing himself from the competition over the final dash to the finish as Rocco fired his way back through the field. Rocco’s furious rally landed him in second, but he could not catch Chadwick and finished in the runner-up spot. Puleo finished third, Janovic fourth and Matt Galko was fifth.

  Sixth through tenth were Craig Lutz, Ted Christopher, Dennis Perry, Joe Gada and Diego Monahan.

  Just one caution flag slowed Rocco’s roll in the 30-lap Valenti Auto Mall Late Model race, Rocco is now tied with Don Collins with 101 overall wins at the shoreline oval.

  In Modified racing in the Southland, Burt Myers got his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour win of 2014 Saturday night and not without controversy. The 38-year-old Walnut Cove, North Carolina, driver drove to Victory Lane at Langley Speedway after a wild final lap of the Bayport Credit Union 150. Myers was running second to George Brunnhoelzl III on the final lap when the two made contact coming out of Turn 4. Myers gave him a "Bowman Gray Tap" and crossed the line first as Brunnhoelzl bounced off the outside wall and spun across the track. After a video review of the incident, NASCAR officials upheld Myers win and Brunnholzl was scored in second. Andy Seuss finished third, followed by J.R. Bertuccio and Jason Myers.

  Kyle Ebersole, Danny Bohn, Gary Putnam, Ryan Preece and Luke Fleming rounded out the top 10 at Langley. Earlier in the day, Preece won the Coors Light Pole Award in qualifying, but a late race pit stop cost the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour regular a shot at the win.

  Preece led a race-high 64 laps, while Brunnhoelzl led 55. The race featured seven lead changes among four drivers. It was the first race in which, in lieu of a mid-race break, teams were allowed to pit and change one tire at any point in the race.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island John Fortin scored his third Modified feature win of the season.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks finished out August on the positive side. The International Speedway Corporation went up 1.33 to 33.49 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.60 to 18.60 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.01 to 2.70. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.07 to 5.61 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.98 to 57.45 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.90 to 25.97. The car builders were all positive for the week. General Motors went up 0.56 to 34.80 while Ford went up 0.24 to 17.41 and Toyota went up 0.23 to 114.32. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot jumped up 2.47 to 93.50 while Lowes dropped 0.02 to 52.51. With the exception of Dupont which went up 0.25 to 66.11 the big team sponsor's stocks were down. Coca-Cola dropped 2.24 to 74.36, Target dropped 0.98 to 60.07, Aarons Rentals dropped 0.51 to 25.62 and FedEx dropped 1.58 to 147.88.

On the tube this week:

Thursday, September 4

5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

Friday, September 5
1:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Richmond practice, ESPN2
3:30 PM, NASCAR Nationwide Series Richmond qualifying, ESPN2
5:30 PM, NSCS Richmond qualifying, ESPN2
7:00 PM, NASCAR Countdown, ESPN2
7:30 PM, NNS Richmond race, ESPN2

Saturday, September 6
4:00 AM, NNS race re-air, ESPND
10:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Countdown, ABC
7:30 PM, NSCS Richmond race, ABC

Sunday, September 7
3:30 AM, NSCS Richmond race re-air, ESPN2
3:30 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
4:00 AM, NSCS Richmond race re-air, ESPND
9:00 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane re-air, 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: September 2, 2014

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