May 30, 2014
Sixty years ago in 1954, Freddie Luchesi in the Sgambato N0.9 was
the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl.
Joe McNulty was the Saturday night winner. Non-Ford winners at the shoreline
oval were Bob Karns and Charlie Schreiber.
Fifty five years ago in 1959 Bob
Vaughn was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. Joe McNulty won
the 50 lap Memorial Day weekend Special Sportsman event at the New London
Waterford Speedbowl. Rene Charland made it two in a row in non-Ford action
and John Arigoni made it two in a row in Bomber action at the shoreline
oval. The Lancaster Speedway in upstate New York held their grand opening
which was to feature a 50 lap URC Sprint Car event. The feature was halted
after four laps as the track was deemed unsafe. Lancaster was dirt at the
time. At the Buffalo Civic Stadium Roy Campbell took top honors over Bill
Fifty years ago in 1964 the New
York invasion was evident at Stafford Springs as Bill Wimble was the top dog
on dirt. Don Wayman finished second with George Janoski, third. Wild Bill
Slater was the Saturday night feature winner at the Norwood Arena in
Norwood, Mass. Other weekend winners were Al DeAngelo at Islip, Lou Lazzaro
at Fonda and Victoria and Elton Hildreth at Old Bridge. Hank Stevens won a
50 lap Memorial Day weekend Special Modified event at the New
On a sad note, NASCAR Grandnational Star Glen "Fireball" Roberts was
severely burned after a fuel tank explosion at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Tickets went on sale for the Annual Trenton 200 for Modifieds which was to
be held in August. General admission was $4.00!
Forty five years ago in 1969, the
Stafford Motor Speedway started the Memorial Day weekend off with a 100 lap
event. Charlie Jarzombek, in one of his first off-island trips made the one
to Stafford a successful one as he won the 100 lapper in his radical off-set
coupe. Fred DeSarro finished second and was followed by Bobby Santos, Jerry
Cook, Bob Karvonen, Ed Yerrington Frank Faria, Moe Gherzi and Wild Bill
Slater. Lou Lazzaro won at Malta and repeated at Fonda and also in the first
of twin features at Utica-Rome. Rene Charland finished second to Lazzaro at
both Malta and at Fonda. Thompson ran on Sunday afternoon and it was Bugsy
Stevens taking the win over DeSarro Lou Austin, Fred Harbach, Smokey
Boutwell and Slater. Stevens hot footed it up the Mass Pike and made it to
Utica in time to run the consi. Stevens finished third in the first feature
behind Lazzaro and Jerry Cook. Bernie Miller won the Utica night cap and
Stevens ended up seventh. Dick Dunn was the Modified winner at the Waterford
Forty years ago in 1974, Stafford
ran twice on the holiday weekend. On Friday night, Bugsy Stevens put the
Koszela Woodchopper in victory lane ahead of Dick Caso, Ron Bouchard and
Gene Bergin. Stevens made it a two-fer as he returned on Monday to win the
Holiday 100 lapper. Freddie Schulz finished second and was followed by Jerry
Cook, Geoff Bodine and Lou Austin. At Utica-Rome on Friday, local favorite
Dick Fowler took the 30 lap win over Cook, Andy Romano and Richie Evans. Jim
Tyler beat out Artie Tappen at Islip on Saturday and at Shangri-La it was
Maynard Troyer over Bodine and Evans. Evans got the jump on Troyer at Fulton
on Sunday night as he took the win there. Dick Dunn was the winner at
Thirty five years ago in 1979, a 100
lapper scheduled for Stafford, rained out. Spencer also rained out. Saturday
night at Seekonk, Mr.Leo Cleary was not to be denied as he took the top spot
despite constant pressure from Bugsy Stevens who finished second. George
Summers ended up third with Brian Ross, fourth. At Waterford, Joe Tiezzi won
out over Dale Holdredge and Moose Hewitt. At Islip, Greg Sacks beat Tom
McCann and George Wagner. Other weekend winners were Richie Evans at
Shangri-La Jeff Fuller at Westboro, Stan Gregger at Riverside, Ron Bouchard
at Thompson and Bugsy Stevens at Monadnock.
Thirty years ago in 1984, Stafford
started the weekend off with a 100 lapper. Brian Ross was on a tear as his
home built No. 73 handled to perfection as he sprinted to victory over
George Brunnhoelzl, George Kent, Richie Evans and Charlie Jarzombek.
Waterford had a 100 lapper scheduled for Saturday night but it rained after
twenty laps. At Riverside twin events were on tap with John Rosati and
Reggie Ruggiero taking the wins. Oswego ran their Port City 150 on Sunday
Mike McLaughlin won the modified 75 lapper over Brian Ross and Bentley
Warren won the Supermodified portion. In Winston Cup action at Charlotte,
Harry Gant was the polesitter and Bobby Allison the winner. Ron Bouchard
qualified 18th and finished third. Other weekend winners were Doug Hewitt at
Spencer, George Kent at Shangri-La, Wayne Anderson at New Egypt and Tony
Siscone, also at New Egypt.
Twenty five years ago in 1989,
Stafford’s holiday program rained out as did Waterford. For the ninth time,
Seekonk also fell victim to rain. At Riverside Park, Bob Polverari took the
victory and at Riverhead, Steve Park and Mike Ewanitsko finished one-two. In
SK modified action at Thompson on Sunday, the Christopher's, Ted and Mike
ran one-two to beat out Bob Potter and at Oswego; the Modified Tour series
winner was Tony Hirschman. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Tony
Twenty years ago in 1994 the Modified
Tour Series was at Stafford for a 150 lap event. On the start, the sparks
flew as pole sitter Ted Christopher found himself in the fence after being
hit by Ed Flemke Jr. It didn't end there as Flemke later tangled with Tom
Baldwin. Baldwin felt that it was deliberate and retaliated by ramming
Flemke. The end result was that Baldwin was fined $2,000 and suspended for
three events. Ricky Fuller was the eventual winner over brother Jeff, Wayne
Anderson and Jan Leaty. At Waterford, Ricky Young took the top spot over
Todd Ceravolo and Moose Hewitt. Chuck Steuer scored his first win at
Riverhead and Stan Gregger beat out Doug Meservey and Steve Park at
Riverside. Ed Kennedy made a surprise visit to Flemington on Sunday and
walked off with the main event there over John Blewett.
Fifteen years ago in 1999 Fifty-one
NASCAR Modifieds were on hand at Stafford for the Memorial Day weekend 150.
Tim Connolly, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino took the lead from
Ed Flemke Jr on lap 127 when he suffered a flat tire and was forced to pit.
Connolly led the rest of the 150 lap distance as he went on to record the
win. Carl Pasteryak finished second with Mike Ewanitsko, third. Rick Fuller
and Charlie Pasteryak rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ted
Christopher, Reggie Ruggiero, Jack Bateman, Tony Hirschman and George Kent.
Jerry Marquis was the SK Modified winner. At the Waterford Speedbowl on
Saturday night Dennis Gada made it four in a row in Modified competition as
he beat out Mike Gada and Tucker Reynolds for the win. Jeff Karns was the
Late Model winner. At Riverside Park Chris Wenzel beat out Ed Spiers and
Eddie Flemke Jr for the win and at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Dan
Jivenelli took the win. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Kenny Brack,
driving for AJ Foyt, took the win in the Indy 500 after Robbie Gordon ran
out of gas while leading the last lap. Tony Stewart finished ninth, flew to
Charlotte and finished fourth in the Cup event behind Jeff Burton, Bobby
Labonte and Mark Martin. Steve Park led twice for 84 laps before crashing
while trying to avoid a slowing Kyle Petty.
Ten years ago in 2004 the Thompson
Speedway began their regular Thursday night Thunder Series. Second
generation driver Kerry Malone staged a heated battle with Bo Gunning and
came out the winner. Todd Ceravolo finished third. Ted Christopher was also
in the mix until his engine began belching smoke, forcing him to drop out.
Christopher was credited with 19th place. Defending Sunoco Modified champion
Eric Berndt finished fourth with Richard Savory rounding out the top five.
Other Thursday night Thunder winners were Chuck Docherty in the Pro Stocks,
Corey Hutchings in the Late Models, Keith DeSantis in the Limited Sportsman
and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks.
The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Stafford Motor
Speedway on Friday night for the Haynes 150. The event drew 43 Modifieds and
produced a surprise finish with a lot of excitement. Ted Christopher, who
was the Busch Pole sitter once again, saw his hopes of a win disappear in
the closing moments. Christopher, who led the first 67 laps, took the lead
from Reggie Ruggiero on lap 123. Shortly after taking the two to go signal
Todd Szegedy attempted a move made famous by Christopher, the bonsai bottom
shot in turn one. With his left side tires in the grass and dirt Szegedy
slid up into Christopher as he moved down to block. The contact caused
Christopher to spin. Tony Hirschman was in the catbird seat as he jumped at
the opportunity to take the lead. Szegedy managed to keep going and fell in
behind Hirschman when the field returned to green on lap 161. Szegedy had
the misfortune of breaking an axle on the restart, which allowed Reggie
Ruggiero to move into second spot. Hirschman romped his way to the checkered
flag and the win. Ruggiero finished second. Tom Cravenho ended up third. Tom
Cloce and Jamie Tomaino rounded out the top five. Current point leader Eddie
Flemke ended up 11th after brushing the wall. Sixth through tenth were Jerry
Marquis, Jeff Malave, Dick Houlihan, Ted Christopher and Tony Papale.
Szegedy was last on the lead lap in 15th spot. A total of 11 caution periods
for 58 laps kept the average speed at 59.389 mph. Once the dust settled the
fingers were pointing. Christopher felt that Szegedy over drove and intended
in taking him out. Szegedy claimed that Hirschman hit him, forcing him into
Christopher. Hirschman stated that he did hit Szegedy but it was under the
starters stand and not in the first turn where he made contact with
Christopher. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series continues to
provide the best in competition and excitement of any NASCAR division. The
Stafford Motor Speedway management announced that the Haynes 150 would be
televised as part of their NASCAR New England weekly production. NASCAR had
been unable to secure TV coverage for the Featherlite Modifieds so far for
this year. Thanks to the Stafford management, competitors were getting some
exposure on the tube. In SK Modified competition at Stafford on Friday night
it was high-speed carnage and destruction of equipment. It was survival of
the fittest and the lucky. Jim Civale, who won the Nationals at Waterford
survived to take the win in the 40-lap feature. It took 63 minutes to run 40
laps. Steve Chowanski finished a distant second.
The Waterford Speedbowl gave its SK-Modified division the week off.
Double features for the Late Models were run with Corey Hutchings and Phil
Rondeau recording wins. John Puglisi won the 20 lap Sportsman feature and
Glen Colvin was the Mini-Stock winner. Vin Esposito topped the Legend field
and Jeff Walsh captured the X Car feature.
It looked like the proposed speedway in North Stonington, CT. was a dead
issue. Connecticut developer Gene Arganese shifted his intentions at land in
Plainfield, CT. for his $400 million domed ¾ mile speedway. The proposed
site was next to the Plainfield Greyhound track. Located mid-way between the
Waterford Speedbowl to the south and the Thompson Speedway to the north, the
proposed speedway would host various touring series events, NASCAR and non-
NASCAR events. In addition to the dog track the town is also hosts a Lowes
distribution center. The Lowes building is equivalent to four football
fields in area. Since the very beginning NASCAR had stated that there are no
additional Nextel Cup dates available and even went so far as to send
Arganese a letter from their legal department telling him that he should not
suggest that there are available dates that could be had. In a somewhat
related development New York City news radio station WINS reported that
NASCAR would be coming to a Naval-Military base on Staten Island. While the
Featherlite Modifieds were at Stafford the Busch North Series was at Lime
Rock Park in Connecticut. Brad Leighton took the win over Dale Quarterly.
Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first two, of 14 events,
had been on “Spring Break” since the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 26.
Friday it was back to Stafford for the TSI HARLEY-DAVIDSON CONNECTICUT
CLASSIC 100. Thirty-three Modifieds were on hand for the event. During a
somewhat heated drivers meeting NASCAR did its best to alienate two of its
top drivers when they questioned a restart policy. They, Mike Stefanik and
Ed Flemke, were told to take it “off line”. George Silbermann, managing
director of NASCAR’s racing series was at Stafford for all of the action and
one must wonder why he wasn’t at the driver’s meeting to get the first hand
knowledge of what dialog is missing between the officials and competitors A
year or two from now NASCAR will wonder where the cars and loyalty went. In
other words the Whelen Modified Tours outspoken drivers were told in so many
words if you don’t like the way the races are run that’s just tough!
Jimmy Blewett was able to slow down Ted Christopher’s dominant start to
the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season when he took home the checkered
flag in the TSI Harley-Davidson Classic Friday night at Stafford Motor
Speedway. Blewett went pole to pole.
Christopher had won the first two races of the season, and earned his
third-consecutive Coors Light Pole Award earlier on Friday, but Blewett
started on the front row on the redraw and led flag-to-flag for his fifth
career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory. Blewett survived six restarts
during the race, including a green-white-checker finish, but would not be
denied his second career win at the Connecticut half-mile. Todd Szegedy (No.
2 Wisk/Snuggle Ford) ran up front the majority of the race with Blewett, and
tried once to go around on the outside late in the race, but Blewett never
relinquished the lead. Szegedy settled for a third place finish when
Christopher got past him on the white flag lap.
Mike Stefanik and Reggie Ruggiero rounded out the top five finishers in
the 100-lap event. Chris Pasteryak, Rowan Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Doug Coby
and Ryan Preece brought home the top 10.
The Stafford Motor Speedway weekly feature winners were Ted Christopher
in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Michael Bennett in the 30-lap Late Model
feature, Tommy Membrino, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Kevin
Gambacorta in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Tony Membrino, Jr.
in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with Curt Brainard
taking the early lead. Brainard had Matt Gallo all over his back bumper
looking to move to the front. After several laps of trying both the high and
low grooves, Gallo was able to make a move into the lead on lap-6. Gallo's
pass brought Frank Ruocco past Brainard and Ruocco moved by Gallo on lap-9
to move to the front.
Ted Christopher was behind Ruocco and the middle stages of the race saw
some great racing between the top-2 as Christopher was searching for a way
around Ruocco. Christopher was finally able to make a move to the inside of
Ruocco on lap-28 and take the lead for the first time. The field was slowed
by the caution with 30 laps complete.
On the lap-30 restart, the cars of Chris Jones and Ruocco came together
in turn 1 while battling for second place, with Ruocco spinning and
collecting the cars of Brad Hietala and Dave Salzarulo. Jones was sent to
the rear of the field for rough riding by NASCAR officials. This put
Brainard back alongside Christopher for the restart. Several late cautions
kept the field in close contact, but Christopher was up to the task on each
restart and he held off Brainard at the checkered flag for his first SK
Modified® feature victory of the 2009 season. Rounding out the top-5 behind
Christopher and Brainard was Gallo, Wade Mattesen, and Mark Bakaj.
After being penalized the previous week for allegedly jumping a restart
Christopher swore up and down that he would not return to Stafford.
Evidently someone gave him an attitude adjustment as he knuckled under and
was back in the SK Modified lineup like nothing ever happened.
From the way it sounded the Race of Champions Series event run at the
Oswego Speedway in upstate New York was far better than the Whelen Modified
Tour Series at Stafford. Ted Christopher took advantage of Bill Putney’s
locked up wheel with only three laps remaining of the 75 lap Richie Evans
Memorial Port City 150. Christopher driving a car prepared and owned by
Terry Zacharias of Candor, NY knew the last three laps were going to be
tough. As defending RoC Champion Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa. was now
in second and Matt who was undefeated at Oswego in 2008 was looking to keep
his streak intact. Following another yellow on lap 72 a three-lap shootout
was set and everyone in attendance knew it was going to be an exciting
finish. Christopher, a multi time NASCAR National Modified Champion used
plenty of different driving strategies to keep Hirschman at bay. However
entering turn three on the final lap Hirschman got on the outside of
Christopher and the two exited turn four side by side with the crowd
standing on their feet. Christopher moved up the track just a hair but left
Hirschman enough room to stay alongside of him. As the two drivers drag
raced to the start finish line Christopher in his Ron Hutter powered Troyer
chassis car had just enough to hold off Hirschman by inches for the $2,800
win. Jan Leaty of Williamson, NY who started 11th ended up in third with
Eric Beers of Northampton, Pa. in fourth after starting 21st and Erick
Rudolph of Ransomville, NY finishing fifth after starting 16th.
The Waterford Speedbowl managed to avoid the numerous showers that hit
Connecticut on Saturday night. Groton native Ron Yuhas Jr. nearly won the
Waterford Speedbowl’s opening Saturday night event in April before Keith
Rocco stole the win by mere inches, but on Saturday night Yuhas would not be
denied going on to win the 35-lap SK Modified main event. Ohio native Dave
Shullick Jr. won the 50-lap ISMA SuperModified special in a caution filled
event, Bruce Thomas Jr. the Late Model event, Josh Galvin in the Street
Stocks, and Bill Leonard was the Mini Stock winner.
The SK Modifieds were first up with their 35-lap main event. Corey
Hutchings jumped to the lead over Jeff Pearl on the initial green, and the
field would stretch out over an extended period of green flag racing.
Hutchings would pull a straightaway lead over the competition as laps
clicked away. By halfway, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Keith Rocco were asserting
themselves working through traffic. Yuhas jumped to the outside lane to move
his way through the top five and into the top three. The event’s first
caution flew on lap 28 when Jeff Paul, running second, went up in smoke in
turn three ending his strong run to that point. Paul turned in the event’s
fastest lap. On the restart the action heated up with Yuhas looking outside
Hutchings. Meanwhile, Rocco applied pressure to both Hutchings and Yuhas
from third place. The entertaining action would be interrupted by caution
when Justin Gaydosh spun on the backstretch with four laps to go. Yuhas
battled his way into the lead in the outside lane on the restart, overcoming
Hutchings with three laps remaining. The event’s final caution waved with
two laps remaining setting up a green-white-checkered finish and a restart
rematch with Hutchings outside Yuhas. Hutchings could not muster the steam
from the outside, and would tuck into second behind Yuhas who would go on to
win by a car length. Rocco took an impressive third, Tyler Chadwick ran a
good race for fourth, and Rob Janovic Jr. rallied to finish fifth at the
There were 20 Modifieds on hand. Tough luck reared its ugly head when
Todd Ceravolo and Keith Rocco made contact which ended up with Ceravolo’s
car sustaining severe damage. Car owner Dickie Doo Ceravolo said it will be
a few weeks before the car returns to action.
The True Value Modified Series was at the Thunder Road Speedway in Barre,
Vermont. Steve Masse won his first ever True Value event. Rowan Pennick
finished second with Kirk Alexander, third. Ed Dachenhausen and Jack Bateman
rounded out the top five. Chris Pasteryak led from the start until lap 87
when he had issues and began to fade. The race, plagued by 12 caution
periods and one red flag to clear the track from damaged cars, slowed the
pace of the feature race, the third event of a 15 race schedule. Nine of
those caution periods came between laps 70 and 80.
The Thompson Speedway came alive on Thursday night with what had to be
some of the best open wheeled Modified racing seen in quite a while. Keith
Rocco of Wallingford, CT, scored the feature win in a dramatic finish for
the Speedway’s premier division. It was the second win for Rocco at Thompson
after his victory back in April on Icebreaker Saturday. In the early going
Kerry Malone got the edge on pole sitter Ted Christopher before the caution
flew for a pile-up exiting turn two. Danny Cates was sent spinning from the
fifth position and several drivers took evasive action. Only the #36 of Tim
Sullivan headed down pit road for service. He was able to rejoin the field.
On the restart it was Malone moving out to a five-car length advantage over
Jimmy Blewett. It was action-packed for the third spot as Josh Sylvester had
his hands full with Christopher and Woody Pitkat. Keith Rocco, who was
involved in the lap three caution, had worked his way back inside the
top-ten by lap eight. With 10-laps down, Blewett and company had caught
Malone. Blewett made a power move exiting turn two to take over the lead.
Sylvester and Christopher followed through. Christopher made quick work of
Sylvester to move into second. A single-lap later the caution flew for a
spin by Dana Young. Under the caution, Malone gave up the fourth spot to
head to pit road for adjustments. An incident that involved Harry Rheaume,
Tim Sullivan, Dave LaCroix and Andy Gasper brought out the caution again on
lap 16. The cars of Rheaume and Sullivan sustained heavy damage.
Back under green, Christopher was all but pushing leader Blewett while
Sylvester, Pitkat and Rocco where locked in a heavy battle for third. Sparks
flew when Christopher made a bid for the lead. Contact between the lead duo
ended with Christopher stopped on the front stretch with a flat tire;
necessitating the caution. Todd Ceravolo pitted from the fifth position
under the caution. Ceravolo parked his car after it was determined that his
mount had sustained suspension damage that could not be repaired. Pitkat
looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the restart giving Blewett a run
for the lead. Sylvester stood his ground. Pitkat slipped back to third
behind Sylvester. Rocco was now fourth followed by Marvin, who had worked
his way back into contention after being involved in the first caution. On
lap 23, Rocco muscled his way passed both Pitkat and Sylvester and into the
second spot. The young gun had five laps to chase down Blewett. It didn’t
even take one as Rocco caught Blewett. In turn three, Rocco made a dive bomb
move under Blewett. The car drifted up allowing Blewett to maintain his
lead. The cat-and-mouse continued over the final two laps.
On the white flag lap, Rocco ran Blewett up toward the wall in turn one.
Coming to the checkers, Rocco drifted high pushing Blewett toward the wall
once again in turn three. Sylvester saw a glimmer of light in the middle
while Pitkat looked low. All four cars had a shot at the victory. Slight
contact with Sylvester slowed Rocco but not enough to derail the run to the
victory. Blewett barely edged out Pitkat for second. Sylvester settled for
fourth. Marvin completed the top-five.
Norm Wrenn of Nashua, NH, a winner during the Icebreaker in April,
continued his winning ways in the Super Late Models while Rick Gentes of
Woonsocket, RI edged out fan favorite Jeff Zuidema to earn the Late Model
checkers. Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA, in Limited Sportsman; Brian Sullivan
of S. Windsor, CT in the TIS Modifieds; and Tim Taylor of Wauregan, CT in
the Mini Stocks also visited victory lane on the opening Thursday night.
Mike Bliss raced to his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory since
2004, catching a break to claim the rain-shortened event at Lowe's Motor
Speedway. Bliss, who started from the back of the field, took the lead
because he was in the right position when the caution flag came out with 39
laps to go. The caution put Bliss ahead of series points leader Kyle Busch,
who clearly had the car to beat most of the night. It looked as if Busch
would get lucky when rain halted the race a few laps later and got him back
near Bliss' bumper. But more showers came, and NASCAR officials called the
Carquest Auto Parts 300 with 30 laps to go and Bliss still out front.
Brendan Gaughan was second, followed by Busch, Brian Vickers and Joey
Helio Castroneves won the Indianapolis 500. The winner pulled away over
the final laps to beat Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick, who eclipsed her
historic fourth-place finish as a rookie in 2005 by crossing the strip of
bricks in third - the highest finish ever for a female driver.
NASCAR's longest race of the season spilled into a second day Sunday night
when the Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowes Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC was
postponed by rain for the first time in 50 years. Bruton Smith, the
outspoken, multimillionaire chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., ripped
NASCAR for choosing not to disclose the banned substance involved in driver
Jeremy Mayfield's suspension, for dropping record penalties on underfunded
driver Carl Long and for the kind of racing created with the Car of
Tomorrow. Smith also criticized two former Kentucky Speedway owners who
refused to drop an antitrust lawsuit against NASCAR. Their decision has
delayed the track from getting a Sprint Cup race.
NASCAR declared David Reutimann the winner when an ominous weather
forecast indicated it would be impossible to run the Coca Cola 600 to its
conclusion. The drivers had figured that out a day earlier, when the race
was postponed and carried over to Memorial Day for the first time in its
50-year history. With intermittent showers spraying the track all day
Monday, the race was one of strategy, as every driver simply tried to be in
front when the event was finally washed out. Reutimann gave it his best shot
when, running 14th, he and crew chief Rodney Childers decided not to join
the parade of cars following leader Kyle Busch down pit road during a
caution for rain 22 laps past the halfway point.
The race had reached the point where if it was stopped again for rain, it
was official, and the Michael Waltrip Racing team prayed the end was soon.
Reutimann claimed the lead, with pole-sitter Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon
following him to the front as the rest of the field went to pit road for
fuel and fresh tires. He didn't lead a single lap under green-flag racing,
but was out front for five laps under caution before NASCAR called the cars
back to pit road for the third rain stoppage. Most drivers headed to their
motorhomes to wait out the rain. Not Reutimann. He was joined at his car by
his 68-year-old father, Buzzie, a racer with one career NASCAR start who
still tears it up in dirt track events at East Bay Raceway near Tampa, Fla.
The two didn't bother with an umbrella as they stood in a steady drizzle for
just over 2 hours. Newman finished second and Gordon was third. Gordon might
have a problem, though. NASCAR confiscated his real axle housing following
post-race inspection for further evaluation. Carl Edwards, who had changed
into street clothes by the time the race was called, finished fourth,
followed by Brian Vickers and Busch.
Last year, 2013, The hills of
northeastern Connecticut came alive on Thursday night as the Thompson
Speedway began their Thursday Night Thunder weekly racing series. Ryan
Preece in the Sunoco SK Modifieds, John Studleyin the SK Lites, Rick Gentes
in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Eric
Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks earned NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
victories under warm and humid skies.
In the Sunoco Modified feature Preece started fifth and after a spirited
battle with Todd Ceravolo, took the lead on a lap 8 restart. Ceravolo made
numerous attempts to retake the lead but in the end, finished third after
giving way to Woody Pitkat who moved into the second spot on the last lap.
Keith Rocco and Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. A tip of the hat to
Dennis Perry who scored a solid sixth place finish and to Paul Newcomb who
led the early going and recovered from a spin to finish seventh. Third
generation driver Joe Gada made his debut at Thompson a successful one as he
crossed the finish line in 8th spot. There were 15 SK type Modifieds on hand
The Limited Sportsman division is 31 cars strong and is highly
competitive. Scott Sundeen was the eventual winner but the real battle was
watching Larry Barnett march to the front. In the end Barnett ran out of
time and was forced to settle for second. Jessie Gleason finished a strong
The Stafford Motor Speedway saw a new face in victory lane following the
SK Modified feature. Danny Cates scored his first ever win in the 40-lap SK
Modified® feature while Woody Pitkat took the 30-lap Late Model feature,
Chase Dowling won the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Austin Bessette won
the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Johnny Walker won the 15-lap DARE
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Zach Aszklar took the lead at
the green. Danny Cates and Michael Gervais, Jr. dueled side by side for
second before Cates took the spot. Cates then moved by Aszklar on lap-4 to
take over the race lead which he never relented. Ryan Preece, fresh off his
win at Thompson on Thursday night, closed in on Cates’ bumper for the white
flag lap with Woody Pitkat hot on his tail in third. Cates was able to keep
the lead to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® victory at
Stafford. Preece, Pitkat, Frank Ruocco, and Ted Christopher rounded out the
top-5. Twenty one SK Modifieds took the green.
Jeff and Keith Rocco scored a one-two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl on
Saturday night. The Rocco brothers, each paid a visit to victory lane at the
Jeff Rocco led from start-to-finish in capturing the 35-lap SK Modified
feature while Keith out dueled Waterford's Dillon Moltz to win the 30-lap
Late Model feature.
In other feature races run during the Speedbowl's annual Four Cylinder
Fury event, Ken Cassidy Jr. won his second straight Mini Stock event, this
one going 50 laps, Brad Voglesong won the 20-lap X-Car race and Andy Major
checkered the visiting 25-lap Pro Four Modified race.
Jeff Rocco took the lead at the initial green flag of the SK Modified
race and was in charge until the first caution came out on lap 27. Over the
final 8 laps he overcame one jumped restart and late challenges by Nichole
Morgillo and Diego Monahan. Todd Ceravolo of Gales Ferry eventually took
second and Monahan wound up third. Jeffrey Gallup and Kyle James rounded out
the top five in the 24 car starting field.
A major milestone was met at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC on
Saturday night. Sixty four years ago, Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins
introduced stock-car racing at Bowman Gray Stadium. Saturday night, France’s
great-grandson Ben Kennedy became a winner there. Kennedy charged to the
lead with 26 laps left and stayed there for a memorable victory in front of
a nearly packed house in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150 for the touring K&N Pro
Burt Myers also was a winner, in a 100-lap race for Bowman Gray’s
featured Modified Division. He added to the total of victories for the
stadium’s most successful family, taking it to 140. Myers won for the third
time this season and 53rd time in his career. He took the lead from
pole-sitter Lee Jeffreys on the 15th lap after a side-by-side battle for two
laps and hung on through five double-file restarts. Jeffreys wound up
second, John Smith was third, and Tim Brown, the fastest qualifier who had
charged from the 16th starting spot, finished fourth.
Timmy Solomito was the overall Modified winner at Riverhead on Long
Island and at Seekonk's Sunday SK Open show Matt Hirschman took top honors
over Keith Rocco and Kyle James.
At Seekonk, Hirschman's luck almost ran out in the closing stages when
his engine developed a major malfunction. Hirschman had inherited the lead
on lap 57 when second place running Eric Berndt spun leader Woody Pitkat.
Berndt was penalized for the move, handing the lead to Hirschman. Matt
Galko, and Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth was
Doug Coby, Joey Gada, Ryan Preece, Eric Berndt and Tommy Barrett Jr.
Ryan Preece had started on the pole and quickly took over the lead,
holding through lap 17, when Doug Coby closed in as lapped traffic slowed
the leader. Coby moved ahead and Woody Pitkat closed in on Preece. The trio
would duel through lapped traffic until Coby dislodged Preece from the lead.
Pitkat began looking under Preece to take the runnerup slot. Eric Berndt was
antagonizing Pitkat from behind as well.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Dover International Speedway, Tony
Stewart drove by Juan Pablo Montoya with three laps left and pulled away to
his first victory of the season. The victory didn’t come without a little
bit of controversy. Jimmie Johnson, who dominated the second half of Sunday,
was the leader when the caution flag waved on lap 376 when polesitter Denny
Hamlin crashed in turns one and two.
All of the lead lap cars pitted, with Montoya leading Johnson and Stewart
off pit road. The green flag waved for the final restart with 19 laps left
and Johnson jumped the restart by a wide margin, forcing NASCAR to penalize
him with a drive-thru penalty. The penalty against Johnson handed the lead
back to Montoya, who was seeking his first Sprint Cup victory on an oval. He
looked like he was well on his way to that victory when Stewart suddenly
began closing on him with less than 10 laps left.
With five laps left Stewart caught Montoya and began looking for a way
around. He first tried going low, but Montoya blocked the low lane. Stewart
regrouped and with three laps left took to the high side, getting alongside
Montoya in turns one and two and completing the pass for the lead in turn
In Nationwide Series racing at Dover, Joey Logano raced to his first
Nationwide victory of the season
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.
Looking Back Archive
Smith / Looking Back A Bit