April 11, 2014
Fifty years ago in 1964 Ray Delisle made it two in a row
in Modified action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Krashen
was the winner in the Bombers.
Forty five years ago in 1969 the
Stafford Speedway opened for the season with an open competition program
featuring the Supermodifieds. Nolan Swift, the undisputed king of the Oswego
Speedway took the win. Don Kibbe was the Modified winner at the Waterford
Speedbowl. Wayne “Mr. Mysterious” Smith was the Daredevil winner. In NASCAR
Grandnational (Cup) action at Richmond David Pearson took the win.
Forty years ago in 1974 the
Spring Sizzler at Stafford was on. Taking the win was Carl "Bugsy" Stevens.
Ronnie Bouchard finished second and was followed by Merv Treichler in the
Garbarino Bros. Mystic Missile, Dynamite Ollie Silva and Jerry Cook. Bill
Scrivener was the Modified winner at Waterford and Ron Cote scored his first
of three in a row at the shoreline oval.
Thirty five years ago in 1979 the
action was at the Seekonk Speedway where Richie Evans showed that no matter
where he went, he could adapt to and master a never before seen track. The
event drew 44 cars and when all was said and done, Evans pulled into victory
lane. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Ronnie Bouchard, Leo
Cleary, Fred Astle and Ray Miller. Leo Cleary drove a car that Len Boehler
pulled out of the bushes and in fact had to heat the springs to make the
chassis handle. Cleary led the first 42 laps before worn tires forced him to
back off. Bugsy Stevens was also an early contender until he lost a fan
blade, which ultimately broke his water pump and put him out. Evans by the
way had been on the road all night as he had raced and won at Hickory, N.C.
the day before.
Thirty years ago in 1984
Riverside Park ran on Saturday night and it was Stan Gregger taking the win
over Jim Spencer, Ray Miller and Richie Evans. At the Thompson Speedway on
Sunday, Charlie Jarzombek ruled the roost as he beat out Mike McLaughlin and
Evans for the win.
Twenty Five Years ago in 1989, the
only action was at Riverside Park where Reggie Ruggiero won the 50 lap main
over Stan Gregger, Jerry Marquis and Bruce Dell.
Twenty years ago in 1994, Reggie
Ruggiero took the top spot at the Riverside Park Speedway. Richard Savory
finished second and was followed by Stan Gregger and Dan Avery. During the
overnight hours storm clouds moved in and washed out the Thompson Icebreaker
that had been scheduled for Sunday. The event was rescheduled for May 1
which created a direct conflict with Waterford. At Bristol in the Saturday
Busch Grandnational event, Mark Martin was leading under caution and mistook
the white flag for the checkered flag and pitted, giving the race win to
David Green. When Martin realized his mistake he returned to the racing
surface and ended up eleventh. It had to be one of his most embarrassing
moments as a racer. Dale Earnhardt was the Winston Cup winner over Ken
Schrader and Lake Speed.
Fifteen years ago, in 1999, the
Icebreaker at Thompson played under warm skies and a full house plus a full
pit of 51 Tour Modifieds. Mike Ewanitsko took the lead just past the half
way mark and held off Rick Fuller for the win. Chris Kopec finished third
with Jamie Tomaino and Carl Pasteryak rounding out the top five. In the 30
lapper for the SK's, Todd Ceravolo took the lead from Billy Sharp with four
to go in the 30 lapper and went on to record his first win of the season.
Sharp held on to finish second with Mike Christopher, third. At Bristol,
Tenn., Jason Keller was the Grand National winner.
Ten years ago in 2004, the Stafford
Motor Speedway got their Friday night program in the books while Waterford
suffered its second rainout in a row. At Stafford Lloyd Agor passed Frank
Ruocco on lap 31 of the 40 lap feature and went on to take the win in the SK
Modified division. Ruocco finished second followed by Willie Hardie, Ted
Christopher and Jeff Malave. A slim field of only 20 SK Modifieds was on
hand. Many have wondered as to why the fields of SK Modifieds have dwindled
at Stafford. The SK Modifieds had gotten out of hand cost wise plus the fact
that there was much destruction at Stafford in 2003. Some car owners have
sold out while others have chosen to race elsewhere or just park their cars.
Ryan Posocco and Jay Stuart finished one-two in Late Model action while
Michael Bennett won the 20 lap Limited Sportsman feature and John Hurley won
the Dare Stock event. James Civali who won the SK Modified portion of the
Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker and finished fourth in the recent SK Modified
portion of the Spring Sizzler before being disqualified for refusing tech
inspection now finds himself in a select group of drivers at the Stafford
Speedway that have been suspended from racing at Stafford indefinitely for
actions detrimental to racing. In other words Civali was put on suspension
because he drove through the pit area at high speed and almost ran an
official down. In addition to Waterford being rained out the opening night
festivities at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts and the Riverhead
Raceway on Long Island were also cancelled due to rain.
New England Raceway developer Gene Arganese who had been in the process
of proposing a domed racetrack in Plainfield, Ct. won a crucial zoning
approval after a close vote by the town's Planning and Zoning Commission.
The panel voted 3-2 to rezone roughly 900 acres off Interstate 395 and
include the land in a recently established "resort/recreational development
zone." Opponents of New England Raceway LLC's 140,000-seat racetrack plan
said they would appeal the commission's decision. Arganese said he planned
to move forward with the project despite the prospect of legal challenges.
Six appeals had already been filed against the commission's approval last
month of the new resort/recreational development zone. Consultants were
slated to begin design work in the near future. He said the design process
should take about five months, and he intended to bring the plans before the
commission by January. Arganese's $343 million project would include the
racetrack, a convention center, a 700-room hotel and 800,000-square-foot
retail complex. He continued to say he hoped to attract NASCAR, Indy and
CART events to the New England Raceway track, along with drag races,
concerts and trade shows.
Jeff Gordon won the wreck marred Aarons 499 at the Talledega Speedway.
Martin Truex was the Busch Series winner. The Busch race was also a wreck
Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour began its 25th anniversary year at the Thompson
Speedway ICEBREAKER last weekend. This year’s event marked the 107th time
that the WMT has raced at Thompson since the formation of the Tour in 1985.
An outstanding field of competitors attempted to qualify on Saturday
afternoon for a starting spot in the 150-lap main event which was run on
Sunday. The WMT was joined by Thompson’s “Super 6” NASCAR Whelen All
American Series divisions in this two-day racing spectacle that has ushered
in the beginning of the auto racing season in New England for well over 40
Thirty five NASCAR Whelen Modifieds were on hand for practice and
qualifying at Thompson. Jimmy Blewett made himself the pre-race favorite as
he was the fastest in pre-time trial practice. Blewett toured the 5/8 mile
oval in 18.612 seconds, 120.890 mph. Also up to speed and in contention were
Doug Coby, Jamie Tomaino, Todd Szegedy and Reggie Ruggiero.
Blewett might have been the fastest one in practice but Ted Christopher
was the fastest when it counted. Christopher won the Coors Light Pole in
qualifying for Icebreaker 2009 With a lap of 18.642 seconds (120.890 MPH),
Christopher earned his 19th career WMT pole and his eighth career pole at
Thompson. Doug Coby qualified second. There were a few surprises in
qualifying including Glenn Reen, Jamie Tomaino and Rowan Pennink who rounded
out the top-five. After the redraw, Coby and Pennink ended up on the front
row while Tomaino, who would make his record-setting 500th career start
would go third. Christopher picked the fourth position followed by Mike
Stefanik and Reen.
Christopher began his title defense the way he ended it, with a win at
Thompson. Once the green flag was displayed to start the 150 lapper
Christopher wasted little time in showing what he had as he took the lead
from Doug Coby on lap 10. Jamie Tomaino, who was making his 500th start, was
quite stout in the early going as he wrestled the lead from Christopher on
lap 41 and held it until a restart on lap 58 when he gave way to Mike
Stefanik. A caution on lap 48 when John Busch spun out in turn two opened
the door for pit stops by Christopher along with Don Lia, Ron Silk, Jimmy
Blewett and Rowan Pennink. Stefanik and Tomaino had elected to remain on the
track. By lap 62 Lia had worked his way back to 4th spot and had Christopher
and Silk in tow. Four laps later Lia was third. Tomaino retook the lead on
lap 67. Stefanik began to fade with obvious worn tires. Tomaino was able to
hold on until lap 74 when his tires went south as Christopher stormed by Lia
to take the lead. By lap 120 Christopher continued to lead as Ronnie Silk
had moved him into the second spot. For all intents and purposes Silks run
for the front ended a few laps later when Jimmy Blewett roughed him up and
almost planted him in the first turn wall. Blewett also roughed up Lia
before he passed him for the second spot. A caution on lap 133 for a Reggie
Ruggeri spin set the stage for some late race excitement. With Blewett on
the outside and Christopher on the inside they led the field to a restart on
lap137. As Christopher entered turn three Blewett made a bottom shot and in
the process moved him up to take the lead. Christopher returned the favor in
turn four as he retook the lead. A Woody Pitkat spin on lap 148 precipitated
a Green – White – Checkered finish. The field restarted for the final time
on lap 152, single file. Despite the fact that Blewett beat and banged on
the back of Christopher the defending champion never gave the aggressor the
opportunity for another bottom shot as he scored an impressive win. Blewett,
reluctantly settled for the runner-up spot with Lia, third. Ryan Preece and
Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Silk,
Stefanik, Coby, Pennink and Bob Grigas.
For his efforts Christopher pocketed $8,800. He also received the first
commemorative Tissot wrist watch, which will be presented by NASCAR and tour
sponsor Whelen Engineering to each of the 14 race winners throughout the
25th anniversary season. The win was Christopher’s eighth at Thompson and
his third in the track’s Icebreaker. He also won the traditional
season-opener, which hosted the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s first race in
1985, in 2004 and 2005. Christopher also moved into sole possession of
fourth-place on the tour’s all-time win list with his 32nd victory. He
trails only Mike Stefanik (69), Reggie Ruggiero (44) and Tony Hirschman
In Saturday night Sunoco Modified action at Thompson Keith Rocco scored his
first win of the 2009 season in a fiercely competitive opener. As Rocco
crossed the line to take down the victory, contact between Tom Cravenho and
Ted Christopher sent Christopher head-on into the turn four wall.
Christopher took a hard hit but walked away from the incident. Todd Ceravolo
finished a strong second over Eric Goodale, Rowan Pennink, and Zach
Sylvester. After post-race technical inspection, Goodale was stripped of his
third-place finish; moving Pennink and Sylvester up a position and Jimmy
Blewett inside the top five.
Defending division champion Jeff Zuidema of North Brookfield, CT, led
wire-to-wire to win the first of two Late Model main events scheduled for
Todd Ceravolo earned a hard-fought victory among a strong field of Sunoco
Modifieds on Sunday afternoon. Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH, kicked- off a new
era in full-fendered racing at Thompson Speedway with the first-ever Super
Late Model victory. Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, CT, went two-for-two in
Late Model competition on Icebreaker weekend winning both ends of the
double-header. Joe Arena of Bristol, CT, turned in a dominating performance
to score the victory in the season-opener for the Limited Sportsman
division. Chuck Rogers of Quaker Hill, CT, scored his first-ever winner at
the Thompson Speedway in the Mini Stocks. Brian Sullivan of S. Windsor, CT
picked up where he left off winning TIS Modified features.
Ceravolo jumped out to the early lead of the main event followed by Keith
Rocco. On the final lap, Bert Marvin got up alongside Ceravolo but could not
muster up enough momentum to make the pass. Ceravolo rolled into victory
lane for his first win of the season. Marvin had to settle for second
followed by Rocco. Woody Pitkat had a strong run to finish fourth. Cravenho
completed the top five.
The Waterford Speedbowl tried to open for the season but a forecast of
rain and possible snow put a damper on action at the shoreline oval.
The True Value Modified Racing Series reports that a record 53 teams had
secured numbers and paid fee’s to compete in 2009. Series founder Jack
Bateman structured a 16 race schedule in response and additional prize money
would be paid.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Jeff Gordon ended a 47-race winless drought,
the longest of his career as he beat Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie
Johnson to win the Samsung 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It
was the 17th Cup race at Texas, the track where Gordon has his only two
last-place finishes in his 552 career starts. One of the 43rd-place finishes
came last spring before he was runner-up to Carl Edwards in the fall race
after winning the pole. Gordon won by 0.542 of a second over Johnson with an
average speed of 146.372 mph. Middletown CT native Joey Logano, who started
10th, finished 30th. A strong rumor had his ride in jeopardy.
Kyle Busch won his third consecutive Nationwide race in Texas with
another dominating performance, leading a race-record 178 of 200 laps to win
the O'Reilly 300 even though he insisted it wasn't as easy as it looked.
Busch finished 1.447 seconds ahead of Tony Stewart, who made a late charge
from seventh with four new tires after a caution on lap 188. Brad
Keselowski, forced to start 42nd in a backup car, finished third.
Last year, 2013, The Thompson
Speedway opened for the season with Icebreaker 2013. The Ice Breaker
officially began the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series. Mike Stefanik,
still disappointed the way NASCAR handled the bump and run incident in which
he was intentionally spun out of the lead in the February Battle at the
Beach, eased the pain a bit during qualifying for the Icebreaker. The last
car out in qualifying, Stefanik took the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors
Light Pole Award on the second of his two laps in advance of Sunday’s
season-opening Icebreaker. Has fast lap was recorded at 18.668 seconds
(120.527 mph). The pole was the 48th of Stefanik’s career and the 10th at
Thompson. From Coventry, R.I., Stefanik has a pair of wins in the
Icebreaker, the last coming in 2006. He also holds the Whelen Modified Tour
record for overall wins at Thompson with 14.
Prior to Stefanik’s last-lap run, Ryan Preece was in position for the
Coors Light Pole. He would instead join Stefanik in the front row on Sunday
thanks to a fast qualifying lap of 18.707 (120.276). Rowan Pennink qualified
third at 18.745 (120.032) while Chuck Hossfeld was fourth-fastest at 18.781
(119.802). Ron Silk rounded out the top five. There were 29 cars on hand for
the qualifying session. Hossfeld’s qualifying run was later disallowed after
his No. 72 failed post-qualifying technical inspection. The fuel in his car
failed to meet NASCAR's specs. He was placed at the rear of the starting
Stefanik is not an overly religious person but he got redemption
following his bitter defeat at the hands of Steve Park in Daytona. After an
almost fatal flub in the opening moments of the Icebreaker 150 the former
NASCAR Champion regained his rhythm to come back to take the lead on a
restart with ten laps to go and went on to score the victory, his 73rd, in
Whelen Modified Tour Series action. Rowan Pennink finished second followed
by Ryan Preece, Ron Silk and Ted Christopher. Jimmy Blewett, Doug Coby,
Justin Bonsignore, Chuck Hossfeld and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top ten
the top 10.
Pennink, who led a race-high 79 laps, first took the lead from Preece on
Lap 7. The pair swapped it two more times based on their pit strategy.
Preece led 61 total laps. The race was slowed by seven cautions for 33 laps
with two red flags. Three of those caution periods were caused by Gary
McDonald who spun in turn 2 on lap 25, turn 4 on lap 43 and the front chute
on lap 53.
There were 17 cars on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who didn't
was Eric Berndt who parked it after 28 laps with an oil leak, Ron Yuhas Jr
and Rob Fuller who got collected in a turn 1 wreck and Bryon Chew who was
involved in a four car tangle in turn 2 on lap 135.
The Whelen Modified Tour Series takes a week off to prepare for the April 28
Spring Sizzler at the Stafford Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Whelen All American Series wins went to Keith Rocco, Glenn Boss, Cam
McDermott, Larry Barnett, and Scott Michalski. The Granite State Pro Stocks
showcased a 50-lap event that was won by George Bessette.
The Sunoco Modified feature started with a bang when a wreck on the front
stretch brought the field under caution, and ended with a dominating
performance by Keith Rocco, who registered his first Thompson win of the
season. On the restart, Rocco got a run on the outside groove to take the
lead from Ryan Preece. Kerry Malone and Woody Pitkat also passed Preece to
take over second and third respectively. The top four pulled away with a car
length between each spot as they set a torrid pace that fifth place driver
Todd Ceravolo could not close up.
Pitkat turned up the heat on lap 13 when he dove to the bottom groove in a
challenge against Malone. Malone held him off, but Pitkat was determined and
continued to keep the pressure on. Meanwhile, Rocco was solid in the lead as
he maneuvered through lapped traffic. On lap 19, Pitkat dove to the bottom
again in turn four and drove into second place. Pitkat was on the move and
closed in on Rocco. On lap 24, Pitkat used the bottom groove to his
advantage again and got alongside Rocco, where he battled for an entire
circuit before taking the lead at lap 26. Rocco returned the favor and
challenged Pitkat from the inside. The two were side-by-side on lap 27
heading into turn two when Pitkat’s No. 00 turned around and spun into the
infield grass. Rocco and Malone brought the field back to green after the
caution with Rocco jumping out into the lead. Malone, Preece, Ceravolo, and
Pitkat rounded out the top-five as they came around to complete the 28th
circuit. Pitkat moved up to third with Rocco dominating up front as they
came to the checkered flag. The official finish showed Keith Rocco taking
the win over Kerry Malone, Woody Pitkat, Ryan Preece and Todd Ceravolo.
Sixth through tenth were Dennis Perry, John Catania, Paul Newcomb, Nick
Boivin and Joe Williams.
It appeared that car counts at Thompson were headed in the right
direction. There were 19 SK Modifieds that took the green. There were 24
Limited Sportsman, 22 Mini Stocks, 14 Late Models and 10 SK Lites. The
speedway management expects these numbers to improve as the season
On a sad note, SK Modified division driver Jimmy Smith of Woodstock. CT
passed away Saturday after suffering a medical issue in his race
car at the track following a qualifying event. Smith was 62-years old. He
had just finished racing in an SK Modified division heat race when he came
off the track and parked his car behind his hauler in the Thompson pits.
The Waterford Speedbowl switched to its regular Saturday night venue.
Once the sun went down the temperature dropped but it didn't seem to slow
Tyler Chadwick who took the victory in the SK Modified feature. Chadwick
took the lead from Todd Ceravolo with an inside move on lap 10, survived a
challenge from Kyle James following a restart one lap later and pulled away
over the final six laps to win by 10 car lengths. James finished second and
Norwich's Tom Abele Jr. was third. Also claiming feature wins were Keith
Rocco (Late Models), Salem's Corey Hutchings (Street Stocks), Groton's Ray
Christian III (Mini Stocks), Dylan Izzo (Legends) and Jon Porter (X-Cars).
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was at the South Boston (Va.)
Speedway this past Saturday, April 13. George Brunnhoelzl III led
wire-to-wire to score his 18th career victory. Brian Loftin finished second
with Kyle Ebersole, third. John Smith and Tim Brown rounded out the top
five. Sixth through tenth were Burt Myers, Jason Myers, Gary Putnam, Jeremy
Gerstner and Renee Dupuis.
Kyle Busch got a NASCAR weekend sweep at Texas as he won the Nationwide
Series and Sprint Cup races. It was the second time this season, and a
NASCAR-record seventh time in his career, that Busch won Cup and Nationwide
races in the same weekend. He was the polesitter Saturday night, and won the
Nationwide race Friday night on the 1½-mile, high-banked track.
Busch, who also won both races at Fontana in March, led eight times for
171 of 334 laps. He is the first driver to win in all three series at Texas,
with six Nationwide wins and two in trucks.
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.
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