The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


June 6, 2014

  Sixty years ago in 1954, Johnny Sandberg was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. Dick Brauregard was the Saturday night winner. Non Ford winners were Tom VanEpps and Irwin Fox.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959 George Tet ventured up from Long Island to capture the Friday night NASCAR Modified feature on the dirt at the Stafford Spring Speedway. Saturday night action at the New London Waterford Speedbowl fell victim to rain. Bill Rafter won his second main event of the year at the Buffalo Civic Stadium. At Lancaster in western New York Jack Soper took the win over Bud Johnson and Bruce Van Dyke.

  Fifty years ago in 1964 Glen "Fireball" Roberts who was severely burned in a crash at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, was showing signs of improvement but to no avail as the NASCAR Superstar would pass away. AJ Foyt won at Indianapolis and a fiery wreck took the lives of Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. Weekend winners included Richie Massing at Old Bridge, Don Stives at Wall Stadium and Fred Harbach at Fort Dix in New Jersey. Bill Wimble made it two in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway on Friday night. Following Wimble at Stafford were George Janoski and Don Wayman. On Saturday night Wimble won at Fonda and Jim Hendrickson won at Islip in New York. Ted Stack was the Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, rain washed out both Stafford and Albany-Saratoga on Friday. Saturday night at Norwood it was Freddie Schulz taking the top spot over Bob Santos, Eddie Flemke, Johnny Thompson and Bugsy Stevens. Lou Lazzaro made it three in a row at Fonda. Don Wayman finished second with Dave Lape and Jerry Cook rounding out the top four. Jim Hendrickson beat out Pat Moon at Islip and at Airborne Park it was Jean Guy Chartrand in the Hemi-Cuda beating Denis Giroux and Phil Spiak to the checker. Lazzaro made it two for two on the weekend as he won at Utica-Rome on Sunday. Lazzaro used the same car on both dirt and asphalt. Cook finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third. Thompson was silent as a sports car event was held on the road course-oval. Don Collins won the Modified 30 lapper at the Waterford Speedbowl. Don Bunnell was the Daredevil winner.

  Forty years ago in 1974, it rained on Friday night again, washing out events scheduled at Freeport and Utica-Rome. Saturday night was busy. At Stafford, Ronnie Bouchard put the Bob Johnson No.17 in victory lane, beating Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary to the stripe. At Islip, Charging Charlie Jarzombek rim rode to victory over Al Holmberg and Herbie Hulse and at Shangri-La, Geoff Bodine dusted the field despite attempts by Sonny Seamon and Dick Fowler to run him down. Richie Evans went to Lancaster where he beat out Jim Rudolph and Maynard Troyer while at Waterford Joe Trudeau took the win and on Sunday at Fulton, Troyer bested Bodine, Evans and Jerry Cook. In open competition action at Thompson on Sunday night, twin 30's were on tap and Fred DeSarro scored a double. Bob Santos finished second in the first one and was followed by Dick Caso and Ronnie Bouchard. Bugsy Stevens finished second in the night-cap and was followed by Bouchard, Santos and Angie Cerese.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday. Charlie Jarzombek took the win and it was almost ten years to the day from his previous win there. Jerry Cook finished second and was followed by Satch Worley and Dick Caso. At Spencer, Maynard Troyer beat out Billy Colton and Doug Hewitt. Jarzombek followed up his win at Stafford with a win at Islip on Saturday. At Riverside it was Richie Evans over Reggie Ruggiero and Jerry Cook and at Seekonk, Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens finished one-two. Other weekend winners were Jeff Fuller at Westboro, George Kent at Shangri-La, Rick Donnelly at Waterford, Ron Bouchard at Thompson, Reggie Ruggiero at Monadnock, Maynard Troyer at Lancaster, Punky Caron at Claremont and Richie Evans won the Port City 150 at Oswego on Sunday.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, monsoon type rains fell on New England and washed out Friday and Saturday night events at Stafford, Riverside and Waterford. The Connecticut River overflowed its banks and flooded Riverside Park up to the fifth row in the main grandstand. New Egypt got to run on Friday and it was Wayne Anderson taking the win over Tony Siscone and Jim Spencer. At Spencer Speedway, Jan Leaty led the charge to the checker with Roger Treichler and George Kent following. Leaty repeated the following night at Shangri-La as he beat out Corky Cookman and George Kent. Islip ran double features as did Wall Stadium. Tom Baldwin and Don Howe shared victory lane at Islip and at Wall it was Robert Hendrickson and Gil Hearne. In Winston Cup action at Riverside California, Terry Labonte took the pole and the win. The modifieds were at Thompson where Jeff Fuller took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, Bob Potter was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Ted and Mike Christopher followed. At Waterford, Rodney Tulba took the win and at Riverside, Stan Gregger beat out Reggie Ruggiero. Frank Vigliorolo won at Riverhead .The Modified Tour was at Waterford on Sunday. Mike McLaughlin took the event over Tom Baldwin and Mike Stefanik.

  Twenty years ago, in 1994 ago this week, Mike Paquette won at Stafford on Friday night over Ted Christopher. At Waterford, David Gada held off Todd Ceravolo and John Anderson. Tom McCann won at Riverhead and Dan Avery was the main man at Riverside. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Rusty Wallace survived many wrecks to take the win and in BGNN action at Watkins Glen, Butch Leitzinger won with little trouble.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Mike Christopher recorded his 23rd career win at Stafford on Friday night. Jerry Marquis finished second. Dennis Gada passed Rick Donnelly with 11 laps to go and made it five wins in a row at Waterford. Donnelly finished second and was followed by Bill Sharp and Todd Ceravolo. Ricky Miller got his third win at Riverside and at Riverhead, Ken Matlach won out over Al Ermarino. A dark cloud hung over Riverhead as NASCAR Chief Steward Walt Edsall, who was standing in turn three, was struck by a flying wheel off the modified of Joe Hartmann. Edsall suffered severe head injuries and would lie in a coma until he eventually passed away. Racing also lost one of its legends as Ralph "Hop" Harrington passed away in Florida after a lengthy illness. Bryan Wall got his first Busch North win at Holland, N.Y., after Brad Leighton and Tom Carey tangled. Evidently Busch North officials felt that Leighton had put Carey out as they placed him at the rear. At Dover Del., Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the Grandnational event. Ted Christopher wrecked after a tangle with Johnny Benson and ended up 30th.Bob Labonte was the Winston Cup winner.

  Ten years ago 2004 the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. A strong threat of rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the competitors or the fans. A huge field, 47 cars, was in the pit area. Jerry Marquis was the Busch Pole sitter. Marquis drew the outside pole starting spot and led the entire 200-lap contest to record the win, the 16th of his career in Tour competition. Marquis put on a superb display of precision driving. The Boehler Racing entry never missed a beat and handled like it was on a wire. Marquis lapped all but the top five despite five cautions that consumed 56 laps. John Blewett III, who has had nothing but bad luck this year, used the Riverhead event as a breakout race as he finished second. Mike Stefanik finished third with Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke Jr. rounding out the top five. Tony Hirschman, fresh off his win at Stafford finished sixth, one lap down. Gregg Shivers, Ricky Fuller, Doug Coby and Chuck Steuer rounded out the top ten. Racing at Riverhead can be very intense and nerves of steel are required for one to be successful. Among the seven caution periods was a red flag condition on lap 52 when Fred Vordermeir and Jamie Tomaino wrecked. Many of the tour regulars had their problems. Defending series champion Todd Szegedy retired with overheating problems after he completed only 114 laps. Rookie candidate Ken Barry got caught up in a wreck and completed only 90 laps. Chuck Hossfeld toughed it out with handling problems and ended up 16th at the conclusion of the event. Hossfeld was parked in the infield when the checkered flag was displayed. Eddie Flemke Jr. continues to lead the point standings with a 49-point lead over Ted Christopher. Tony Hirschman sits third with Jerry Marquis and Tony Ferrante Jr. rounding out the top five.

  Competitors, fans and officials endured at Thompson on Thursday night. Rain fell on the speedway shortly after Late Model qualifying. In what looked to be a rain out the speedway management persisted and in the end completed their racing program and had everyone headed home by 9:30 PM. Bo Gunning, who is concentrating on just racing at Thompson put the Eddie Partridge owned mount in victory lane. Gunning took the lead from Bert Marvin on lap six of the 30-lap feature. Ted Christopher, who finished second, made numerous attempts to pass but in the end settled for the runner-up spot. Jeff Malave was also a contender but lacked that little extra and settled for third. Rounding out the top five were Bob Santos III and Kerry Malone. Going into the event Todd Ceravolo and Eric Berndt were tied for the point lead. Thanks to the efforts of Adam Norton both were denied a top spot at the finish. In two separate incidents Norton turned into them. Berndt hit the wall and didn’t finish. Ceravolo ended up with bent wheels and a bent rear end but managed to finish. In Late Model action Corey Hutchings made it three out of five at the 5/8 mile banked oval. Hutchings and Charlie Bailey swapped paint on the final lap and in an almost photo finish Hutchings nipped Bailey at the finish line. Woody Pitkat finished third. Other winners were Mike O’Sullivan over David Berghman in the Pro Stocks, Larry Barnet over Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks.

  Ted Christopher was on the giving end rather than on the receiving end at Stafford on Friday night. Christopher used his famous bonsai bottom shot on Steve Chowanski in the closing moments of the 40 lap SK-Modified feature. In taking the win Christopher became the first repeat winner in SK Modified competition at Stafford. Chowanski faded to third as Willie Hardie took over second spot at the finish. Last week’s winner Jim Civale recovered from a flat tire and stormed his way into fourth spot. John Sanberg rounded out the top five. Other Friday night winners were Joe Rzeszutck in the Late Models and Glenn Barthowski in the Dare Stocks. Numerous wrecks and spins made for a long night. The SK-Modifieds continue to self-destruct. It seems that competitors have little respect for their peers or equipment.

  The Waterford Speedbowl also beat the impending rain. Nextel Cup stars Bill Elliott, Kerry Earnhardt and Ken Schrader were on hand to greet the fans and engage in a special race. In regular competition Ed Reed Jr. ended a long dry spell as he took the win in the SK-Modified feature. Rob Janovick finished second with Don Fowler, Dennis Gada and Chris Pasteryak rounding out the top five. Dwayne Conant was awarded the win in the Sportsman division after apparent winner Dwayne Dorr was disqualified because of an illegal suspension part on his car. Former Late Model competitor Danny Field went pole to pole to win the 20 lap Mini Stock event.

  Connecticut developer Gene Arganese officially announced that he planed to build his $400 million domed ¾ mile speedway in Plainfield, Connecticut. The proposed speedway, which Arganese continued to imply that he will be holding Nextel Cup racing within four years after the track opens, would be located next to the existing Plainfield Greyhound Park. Once the local permits are submitted and filed it would take a little over two years to construct the facility. Arganese had previously proposed building his track in North Stonington, Connecticut. Anyone who follows Nextel Cup racing knows that their schedule is maxed out. The only way a Cup date would be available would be if NASCAR extended their season and that is very unlikely. The most that Arganese could hope for were dates for the Craftsman Truck Series, Featherlite Modifieds and the Busch North Series. It was also mentioned that the track could host the IRL. Bob Bahre tried that at Loudon and dropped them like a hot potato when they couldn’t draw flies. Based on Arganese’s projections the track will be ready for racing in late 2007 or early in 2008

  The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the Dover Downs Speedway. Mark Martin survived a 400-mile wreck fest as he outran Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kasey Kahne had victory in sight when he spun in oil while leading and hit the wall in the closing laps.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, after the completion of the first three, of 14 events, had gone back on “Spring Break” until June 27 when the ground pounders would travel to Loudon, NH. Evidently NASCAR had chosen to ignore competitor’s requests for a “Town Hall” type of meeting where they could air their concerns and complaints.

  Defending WMT Champion Ted Christopher had himself a busy schedule. Starting off at Thompson on Thursday night where he finished sixth, he had planned on running at Stafford until the rain prevailed. To round out the weekend Christopher traveled to the Franklin County Speedway, which is located in the Moonshine Capitol of the world, Callaway, VA. The Virginia event, which drew only 14 cars, was won by Brian King. Burt Myers was second with Danny Bohn, third. Christopher and Ron Silk drove team cars for Roger Hill’s Hillbilly Racing and finished eighth and ninth respectively.

  In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Danny Cates of Chaplin, CT, was the big winner as he scored his first-ever Sunoco Modified feature event win. Derek Ramstrom of was tops in the Super Late Models while Rick Gentes celebrated his birthday with a Late Model victory. Leo Oliveira earned the TIS Modified feature win in a photo-finish. Leadfoot Larry Barnett of Ledyard, CT, took down the Limited Sportsman feature win on Thompson Night at the races. Tim Taylor made it two straight in Mini Stocks.

  Cates took advantage when a situation erupted between Keith Rocco and Todd Ceravolo when they were fighting for the lead in the closing moments and ultimately crashed. Both drivers escaped unhurt but their cars sustained thousands of dollars in damages. Setting the stage for the confrontation, Ceravolo took the lead from Kerry Malone on a lap 18 restart. By lap 22 Rocco had moved into second spot. On lap 25 of the 30 lap contest Rocco drilled into the side of Ceravolo’s car, almost pushing him into the concrete wall between turns one and two. Ceravolo lost a couple of spots as he managed to regain control of his family owned mount. By lap 27 Ceravolo had worked his way back into second spot. As the pair entered the third turn Ceravolo dove in low. Rocco attempted to block and the two made contact with the end result showing Rocco taking a hard shot into the wall along with Ceravolo.

  In the beginning, Kerry Malone drove by pole-sitter Ted Christopher to lead lap one. Josh Sylvester ran in third ahead of Woody Pitkat and Ceravolo. The cars got strung out immediately throughout the pack. The first car to step out of line was Pitkat looking for position on Sylvester. Keith Rocco was a bit more successful taking the ninth position from Jimmy Blewett. Ceravolo was making his way toward the front taking the fourth spot from Pitkat. A lap later, he took the third spot from Sylvester. Rocco was mired behind a double-file battle between Bert Marvin and Cates.

  On lap 10, Marvin was able to free himself of Cates. Rocco followed through. Up front, Malone had worked his way out to a half straightaway advantage over a brewing battle between Christopher and Ceravolo.

  Ceravolo was able to take over the second position on lap 14. Rocco made a bonsai move exiting turn three to shove Marvin out of the groove. Rocco gained the edge and the position. He made quick work of Sylvester making his first appearance in the top five. Jimmy Blewett was off the pace with a faulty ignition on lap 18, coming to a stop in turn one, to bring out the event’s first caution. On the restart, Pitkat got out of shape nearly making contact with the backstretch wall. He fell back as far as ninth. Rocco got a run on Christopher to take over the third position. A spin by Blewett brought out another caution on lap 22.

  On the restart, Ceravolo got the jump leaving Malone to defend his position against Rocco and Cates. Contact between Pitkat and Christopher on lap 23 resulted in a melee on the front stretch. Cars also involved included Malone, who had slipped back to fourth, Sylvester, Marvin, Dave LaCroix, Ricky Shawn, John Catania, Brett LeBlanc, and Carl Oberg.

  Rocco was able to muscle the lead away from Ceravolo on the restart. Cates moved into the second position following Rocco. Ceravolo gathered it back in to make a run at Rocco. The two made contact on several occasions. The final blow resulted in the two making hard contact with the outside wall in turn four. Cates emerged to take the caution as the new leader. On the restart, Danny Cates could taste his first career victory rocketing to the lead. He sailed under the checkers to take down the coveted win. Despite an eventful night for both Pitkat and Blewett, they were able to come home second and third respectively. Malone also salvaged a good finish in fourth ahead of Rowan Pennink.

  The racing at Thompson so far had been nothing short of being exciting and spectacular!

  The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain for the second week in a row.

  The Waterford Speedbowl managed to get their racing program in the record books despite the threatening coastal fog that was creeping in. Jeffrey Paul earned his first 2009 win by passing pole-sitter Don Fowler with 9 laps to go on a restart in the SK Modified main event. Paul survived some incredibly rough driving by Don Fowler. Fowler has a reputation of being a blocker. Rob Janovic, Keith Rocco, Tom Abele and Tyler Chadwick completed the top 5. Other wins on Saturday night went to Vin Esposito in the 30-lap Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late-Model Stock Car feature; Ed Puleo in the 20-lap Street Stock feature, and to Jay Palmer in the 20-lap Legends Cars feature.

  After winning his heat race, in a new car, young driving sensation Flyin Ryan Morgan started the 20 lap feature event in sixth position. On lap four, Ryan took the lead and looked like he was in a position to win his second feature event of the season until Jason Palmer, the winner of all feature events he completed this season, made a pass for the lead with five to go. Ryan's car developed a push near the end of the race and crossed the finish line a close second, not what the team wanted, but not bad for being the first time on the track with a new race car.
The True Value Modified Series traveled to the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH. for the running of the “Granite State Harley- Davidson 100.” Jon McKennedy became the fourth different winner in four races, winning the True Value Modified Racing Series sanctioned event. It was McKennedy’s first win this season and his third career TVMRS victory. Rowan Pennink, from his pole starting position, took the lead at the drop of the green flag and held it until lap 19 when three-time series champion Kirk Alexander snuck by. Pennink regained the lead three laps later, lost it to defending champion Chris Pasteryak, regained it again on lap 27, before turning it over to Alexander on lap 29, at which point the series all time winning driver took control until the mid-way mark.

  Dwight Jarvis, who started 24th on the field, worked his way to the front to contest for the lead. Jarvis and Alexander tossed the lead back and forth between laps 51 and 70. McKennedy, who started third in the lineup, faded to fifth in the early going and then methodically made his way to the front by mid-race. The part time ISMA supermodified driver moved to fourth on lap 46, third on lap 53, and then the lead as he passed both Jarvis and Alexander on lap 71. Jarvis took the lead back for one circuit on lap 87 only to turn it over to the race winner a lap later.

  Jarvis finished a strong second, Alexander third, Eddie Dachenhausen, fourth, and Steve Masse, fifth. Pasteryak, Les Hinckley, Ron Goodenough, Sean Bodreau, and Mike Holdridge, rounded out the top ten. 18 of the original 24 starters finished the event. Nine caution flags for minor spins slowed the race that took 52 minutes 59 seconds to complete. The top 15 drivers finished on the lead lap. 26 teams entered the event.

  Kyle Busch raced to his fourth Nationwide Series victory of the year and ninth overall NASCAR win of the season, easily holding off Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards in the Federated Auto Parts 300 at the Nashville Superspeedway in Tennessee.

  Tony Stewart used every trick available to stretch out his fuel during the final laps Sunday at Pocono Raceway, and came from the rear of the field in his backup car to win his first Cup points race with his new team. Stewart made his last pit stop with 41 laps to go and figured he could drive the rest of the way without another break. He took the lead in the No. 14 Chevrolet with 37 laps remaining and roared to a 6-second lead over Carl Edwards that gave him a crucial buffer down the stretch. Edwards pushed Stewart and whittled the lead down to about 2 seconds with inside 10 laps remaining, and the two-time Cup champion was unsure of how much gas he had left in the tank. Edwards was second, followed by David Reutimann and Gordon. Stewart's SHR teammate Ryan Newman was fifth.

  Lou Modestino reported that Sunday’s fourth annual Norwood Arena Reunion saw a huge gathering of the competitors, officials and fans who frequented the famed Massachusetts quarter-mile oval every Saturday night during the spring, summer and fall. The event was held again at Bezema Buick, Pontiac, GMC on the Auto Mile located on Route 1 in Norwood. Norwood ran its last event in 1972. Among those on hand were Bill Slater, John Grady, Val LeSeur, Lew Boyd, Bruce Cohen, Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary and Deke Astle.

  Marvin Rifchin, owner of the former M&H Tire Company in Watertown, MA, passed away on Tuesday, June 2, at the age of 94. Rifchin started in racing after WWII as the owner of midgets. Later on he got involved in stock cars. His cars raced at many area tracks, including Thompson and Waterford. He won championships at Seekonk and Stafford. The last raced car he owned was the #7 pinto bodied modified, driven by Ron Bouchard in the years before Bouchard moved south to become the 1981 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year. M&H shod Modifieds, Supermodifieds and Midgets won just about everywhere. During the 1970's, he was at the top of his game as was Dick Dunn, driving Al & Peg Gaudreau's #3 to four straight Modified titles at the Waterford Speedbowl. Rifchin took on Firestone and Goodyear, beating them both. Rifchin was also a man of his own convictions. When the New England Drivers and Owners Club attempted to institute a track tire at Stafford, Seekonk and Thompson Rifchin felt that he was being put out of business and filed an anti-trust suit against the club and the tracks as well as Hoosier Tire. He eventually lost the suit in the appeal process. Following his defeat he focused on the Midgets where he spent most of his time until his passing. Rifchin was a tough businessman but he was also a friend to many racers as he helped thousands with tires and money in order to keep them racing. RIP!

  In other sad news, Frank E. Anyzeski, of Ashaway,RI the beloved husband of Ann (Palmer) Anyzeski for 46 years, died on Friday, June 5, 2009 at R.I. Hospital in Providence, at the age of 67. Frank, also known as Frankie Edwards, was a former All American Six Cylinder Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway. He was the half brother of the late Leo “Ace” Hill of North Stonington, CT.

  BusinessWeek Magazine reported less than a week after NASCAR called a mandatory state-of-the-circuit meeting for all Sprint cup drivers and team owners to discuss the dire economy, General Motors filed for the largest industrial bankruptcy in U.S. history. While the U.S. government will pump an estimated $50 billion into the failed company, ensuring at least its short-term survival, there was no word as to what the bankruptcy might mean for GM's motorsports sponsorship programs, putting their estimated $125 million annual NASCAR investment into question.

  NASCAR has likely been hurt more than any other sport as a result of the current economic climate. Attendance is down because of the high cost of traveling to races, while TV ratings are off due to a perceived lack of exciting ones. Every telecast on FOX has seen a drop in ratings from the respective 2008 broadcast, with total ratings on the network down 13% from last year. And only an estimated 100,000 people attended the NASCAR Sprint Cup Autism Speaks 400 at Dover International Speedway, well off the approximate 140,000 in years past

  Last year, 2013 The Stafford Motor Speedway fell victim to rain again. A forecast of heavy rain and wind forced NASCAR and the Stafford management to postpone the TSI Whelen Modified Tour Series for the second time.

  In a bold move, the Thompson Speedway went against the odds of being rained out and ran Thursday night and got most of their program in before the rains came. Rain put a damper on the Thursday Night Thompson Thunder program when track conditions forced the postponement of the Lite Modified and Limited Sportsman features until a later date. Keith Rocco, Rick Gentes, and Joe Baxter picked up feature wins in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action while Darryl Dutch was the victor in a special 15-lap Outlaw Antique Racer’s feature.

  Rocco didn't let a wrist injury stop him from visiting victory lane at the northeast Connecticut oval. Rocco took the lead on lap nine of the Sunoco Modified feature and held off Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece in an exciting finish to the 30-lap feature that was slowed for rain three times.

  Woody Pitkat dove to the bottom on lap 24 and got side-by-side with Rocco before pulling ahead by a nose length out of turn two. Ryan Preece kept on the battling duo’s bumpers just waiting for a mistake. Rocco wasn’t about to settle in, however, and continued to fight on the outside groove before diving to the bottom of Pitkat on lap 26. The two fought door to door with Preece dropping to the bottom to go three-wide coming out of turn four of lap 27. Rocco reclaimed the lead coming out of turn two with Pitkat taking the white flag in second. Preece continued to keep the pressure on, but it was all Rocco at the checkered flag.

  Paul Newcomb and Dennis Perry continued to impress as they rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth included Tom Abele Jr who has settled in as a Thursday night regular, Kerry Malone, John Catania, Jay Sundeen and Todd Ceravolo.

  The rain dumped between 5-6 inches on the Waterford Speedbowl on Friday but by Saturday afternoon it cleared and the water level dropped, allowing the Saturday night program to go on. Keith Rocco won his fourth SK Modified feature of the season, capturing the 35-lap event.

  Other feature winners in the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series were Bruce Thomas Jr in the Late Model race, Corey Hutchings in the Street Stock race, Ian Brew in the Mini Stocks, Randy Church Jr. in the SK Light division and Nick Ladyga in the Legend Cars.
Rocco, who earned his first win since May 4, worked his way through the top ten to win this race. After Justin Gaydosh used a three-wide maneuver to take the lead, he held it until Kyle James moved in front on lap 14. Rocco, however, used the outside lane to challenge for the lead. He passed Gaydosh for second on lap 17 and used the outside again to get around James on lap 21.

  Rocco then held off Todd Ceravolo over the remainder of the race to take the win. Kyle James, Justin Gaydosh, and Diego Monahan rounded out the top five.

  In victory lane Rocco announced that he and his wife, Cassie, would have their first child in January. Cassie Rocco is the daughter of Todd and Terri Ceravolo and the granddaughter of Dickie Doo and Joyce Ceravolo.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series visited the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night for a 100 lap event. Louie Mechalides picked up his third career Valenti Modified Racing Series win holding off some late race charges from Tommy Barrett and Dwight Jarvis.

  Todd Annarummo jumped out to the lead from his pole position start, and set the pace for the first half of the race. Todd had his hands full, as Stephen Masse made his way through the field from his 11th starting position. By the time the race reached the one-third mark, Masse had closed in on the second generation racer, and put heavy pressure on Annarummo. Todd was able to hold on through a pair of restarts, but it would be lapped traffic that would be their undoing, as just past the half-way point, a car about to go a lap down struggled to find the right groove, causing Annarummo and Masse to get together.

  Mechalides took over at the top of the leader board with Jarvis next to him on the restart. The pair raced wheel to wheel for several laps before Jarvis settled in behind. Chris Pasteryak joined the fight for second, taking over the spot for a couple of laps in the latter stages before falling back. With a restart in the final 25 laps, Barrett started making a move to the front, and settled into third. At this point, Jarvis was back to trying to find a way by the leader, but Lightning Lou was keeping his hands busy keeping his ground pounder at the front of the pack.
Barrett tried a couple of times to squeeze by on the outside, making a strong bid for the lead over the final laps, but Mechalides kept pace at the front, and held on for his first win of the season. Jarvis slid underneath for second by several inches over Barrett. Todd Patnode and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Ryan Preece won the Richie Evans Hall of Fame 100. Justin Bonsignore finished second with Ron Silk, third. Tom Rogers Jr and Howie Brode rounded out the top five.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium Jason Myers and Michael Clifton were the winners of the night's scheduled twin 25 lap NASCAR Modified events.

  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing one week after a controversial restart cost Jimmie Johnson a victory at Dover (Del.) Int’l Speedway, the former Sprint Cup champion drove to a dominant victory in the Party in the Pocono's 400. Johnson led 129 of 160 laps en route to his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the 2013 campaign.

  Austin Dillon looked like he had the field covered during Sunday’s rain-delayed NASCAR Nationwide Series DuPont Pioneer 250 at Iowa Speedway. Trevor Bayne had other ideas. Dillon started on the pole and completely dominated the race, which was pushed to Sunday because of rain Saturday night. He looked like he was his way to his first victory of the 2013 season, but it all went away in the final 30 laps of the 250-lap event. The Ford Mustang of Bayne was able to nose ahead of Dillon’s Chevrolet Camaro as they crossed the start-finish line with 11 laps left to take the lead. Bayne completed the pass for the lead as he entered turn one, dropping Dillon back to second.

   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

SourcePhil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: June 6, 2014

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