The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


February 28, 2014

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter at Richmond but it was Ricky Rudd coming back from a violent wreck at Daytona to take the win. In victory lane Rudd showed signs of his violent wreck as he still had two black eyes. Ronnie Bouchard was the second fastest qualifier and after running in the lead pack, lost an engine and finished 29th.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Ward Burton won the 200-mile Grandnational event at Rockingham. Bill Elliott, driving the Junior Johnson No.11 was the Winston Cup winner.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, the cup cars and Grandnationals headed west to Las Vegas. Mark Martin was the BGN pole sitter and Dale Jarrett did likewise in the Winston Cup portion. Jim Spencer took the lead with 25 laps to go and went on to win the Grandnational event. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. A fourth turn wreck on the last lap saw Randy LaJoie finish the event on his roof. It was also after the completion of the event that Jeff Fuller was fired and replaced by Kevin Lepage. Mark Martin took the Winston Cup win over Jeff Burton and Rusty Wallace. Jarrett lost an engine.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the expertsí spoke in a poll conducted by NASCAR as far as who would win the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series title in 2004. Chuck Hossfeld, who was driving for Mystic, Connecticut car owner Bob Garbarino received the most votes as being the most likely to take the 2004 series title. Hossfeld finished second to Todd Szegedy in 2003. John Blewett III who was driving for Curt Chase, from Willimantic, Ct. was also considered to be a top contender. Rounding out the top five of those receiving the most votes were Szegedy, Ted Christopher and Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik was expected to make announcement pertaining to his plans for the NASCAR Modified Tour Series but it never came. Rumor had it that he would drive the Bear Motorsports No.14 or the Flamingo Motorsports No.16 that had been driven by Chris Kopec. Stefanik was committed to a full schedule on the Busch North Series and would compete in the Modifieds when his schedule permits. The Stafford Speedway announced that late model competitor Woody Pitkat had added his name to the SK-Modified roster for 2004. Pitkat, who had four late model wins at Stafford in 2003, was also one of the top runners at Thompson. Jim Broderick, who was hobbling around after hip replacements said he was all healed and had a very busy schedule planned for 2004. In what may be his last year, the Brookfield Connecticut driver will be running the full NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series schedule plus will be a regular in the SK-Modified ranks at Stafford. Broderick also plans a few special events at Waterford. Speedway Motorsports announced that they had record revenues and earnings for the fourth quarter and year ending 2003. Compared to 2002, total revenues increased 16% or $11.5 million to $84.6 million. Forth quarter 2003 net income increased 30% or $2.6 million to $11.1 million. Because of the fact that it was leap year NASCARís NEXTEL Cup and Busch Racing Series got a weekend off.

  Five years ago in 2009, Thompson Speedway owner Don Hoenig shifted gears again at the northeastern Connecticut oval. In 2008 the Speedway hosted two Thursday night dates for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series in addition to his traditional dates. For 2009 he announced that he was dropping the June event and replacing it with an open competition non-sanctioned Modified event. After much thought, Hoenig has decided to drop the idea of an open event and has replaced it with the True Value Modified Series and his regular Thursday Night Thunder Series divisions. Founded by Jack Bateman, the True Value Series runs at just about every track in New England.
Word had it that Donnie Lia would be back in the Mystic Missile for 2009. Through no fault of his own, Lia lost his full time truck ride due to the downturn on the economy. Chuck Hossfeld says he would run his own equipment in the New York area. In addition to the possibility of Hossfeld not being on the Whelen Modified Tour Series it looked like Matt Hirschman would also be missing from the line-up as he had not secured a ride as yet.

  The Waterford Speedbowl property continued to be a hot topic especially with a foreclosure looming in the near future. As of 2/24, six days remained before the shoreline oval was scheduled to be on the block. Years ago when the Arutes leased the Speedbowl, Ed Yerrington, who was the General Manager stated that the Speedbowl kept Stafford afloat while the track was rebuilding their weekly program after tossing out the Modifieds in favor of the SK Modifieds.

  The sounds of the open-wheel Modifieds returned to Orange County Speedway in North Carolina for the first time in over 15 years and despite cold weather and snowy conditions the teams in attendance knocked off some very competitive laps in preparation for the March 6 & 7 Frost Bite Modified Winter Nationals" at the Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, NC.

  Temperatures in the low 40ís and blowing snow did little to dampen the spirits of those on hand for the test and lap times were about a second a lap quicker than the regular OCS divisions. Ronnie Silk in the Hillbilly Racing #79 was the quickest of the group with laps in the 13:40 second range. Jay Foley wasnít far behind in his Foley Machine Chevy with laps in the 13:60 bracket and Jason Myers in the Tranthem/Moorefield, Myers Racing Ford turned laps in the 13:80ís. Silk and Foley tested the softer M-20 and M-30 combination and Myers ran the set-up with the harder M-45 compound on the right rear. "The OCS track record for the Modifieds was 12:92 when we ran here lastí, said Gary Myers, owner of the Jason Myers ride. The track is located on NC Hwy 57 half-way between Hillsborough and Roxboro, NC.
Kyle Busch did something Saturday that no NASCAR driver had done in the sanctioning bodyís top divisions, won twice in the same day. Busch added a dominating NASCAR Nationwide Series victory under the lights to a similar Camping World Truck Series win earlier in the day at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Busch led 95 of 100 laps in winning the truck race on the 2-mile oval, then was in front for 143 of 150 for his 22nd Nationwide victory. Kevin Harvick was second and Middletown native Joey Logano, Busch's Gibbs Racing teammate, was third. Carl Edwards beat Busch out of the pits on the last stops by the leaders Saturday night, but Busch took the lead on the restart 16 laps from the end and pulled away. Despite leads of up to 11 seconds at times, it came down to the restart on lap 135 after Edwards beat Busch out of the pits by the length of his hood.

  In Sprint Cup action, Matt Kenseth went the distance this week as he won the Auto Club 500 on Sunday. Kenseth, who won a rain-shortened Daytona 500 a week ago to open the Sprint Cup season, had to endure four short rain delays in the season's second race. But with the help of his pit crew, which several times got the No. 17 Ford off pit road first, Kenseth became the first driver since 1997 to win the season's first two points races. The last driver to start with two victories was Jeff Gordon, who fought furiously to deny Kenseth but settled for second. Middletown native Joey Logano finished 26th. Gordon, trying to snap the longest winless streak of his career at 42 races, passed Kenseth for the lead on lap 196 but lost the race off pit road on a caution 12 laps later and couldn't catch Kenseth.

  Gordon got almost to Kenseth's rear bumper on lap 232, but Kenseth held on for his 18th career victory. Kyle Busch, who made NASCAR history by winning both the truck and Nationwide races on Saturday, came up short of a weekend sweep, finishing third.

  Last year, 2013, the big highlight of last weekend was the 54th annual Frank Maratta Auto and Race-A-Rama at the Big E in West Springfield, Ma. Hundreds of custom cars, Motorcycles and Race Cars were on display. Numerous speedways were represented plus many racing related vendors. Among the cars on display was the Valenti Modified Racing Series Championship entry of Art and Kenny Barry of Spearpoint Auto and the beautiful V-One No. 52 of John and Joe Catania. One of the highlights of the weekend was the pit crew competition which was won by the Jeff and Keith Rocco race team.

  A hot topic of conversation was the exit of Frank Sgambato Jr from the Race Management team at the Stafford Speedway and the rumor that Tom Fox will be taking his place.

  Word from Long Island indicated that Ted Christopher would not be a regular competitor at the Riverhead Raceway this year. Wayne Anderson, a former five-time Riverhead Raceway NASCAR Modified champion announced that 21-year old Timmy Solomito of Islip would drive his famed Eastport Feeds NASCAR Modified at the ultra-competitive quarter mile oval in 2013. The Anderson/Solomito pairing would start their quest not only for the NASCAR Modified championship at Riverhead but also the New York State title in the Whelen All-American Series on Saturday evening May 4th in Twin 30 main events. Solomito is the defending opening night winner.

  Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice sent word that The Star Speedway in Epping, NH is very excited to announce a sponsorship donation of $4,400 from Long Island race fan Jim Schaefer that will go directly to the drivers who compete in the third annual SBM 125 Open Modified event at the quarter-mile oval on Saturday, June 15.

  Each of the 24 drivers who qualify for the race will be handed $100 bills by Schaefer once they are officially in the star-studded field. This means that the race will now pay $600 to start and a minimum of $5,125 to win, even before the thousands of dollars in bonuses are added in.

  At the 2012 event, race winner Matt Hirschman pocketed just under $9,000 when including the bonus cash. In fact 22 of the 28 race teams who entered the SBM 125 last June earned additional monies beyond the purse payout for their efforts.

  In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing, Kyle Busch led 142 laps at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday to end a 24-race Nationwide winless streak.

  In Sprint Cup action, Carl Edwards pulled away on a late restart and snapped a 70-race winless streak on Sunday, the second long drought he's ended at Phoenix. Danica Patrick became the first woman to win a pole and lead green-flag laps during NASCAR's season opener, sending her popularity to a new level.

  But she couldn't stay with the leaders at Phoenix, ending her day with one of the hardest hits of her career. It happened with about 100 laps left, when the right-front tire on Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet went down and slammed her into the wall.

   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.

Looking Back Archive

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: February 28, 2014

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