The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 5, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Bill Rafter was the 20 lap feature winner at the Buffalo Civic Center.

  Sixty years ago in 1954 racing on Wednesday night at the New London Waterford Speedbowl was cancelled due to a power outage. On the morning of August 31, Hurricane Carol, the most destructive hurricane to strike Southern New England since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, came crashing ashore near Old Saybrook, Connecticut, leaving 65 people dead in her wake. Sustained winds of 80 to 100 mph roared through the eastern half of Connecticut, all of Rhode Island, and most of eastern Massachusetts. Scores of trees and miles of power lines were blown down. By September 4 electrical power was restored to the inland Waterford region allowing races to be held on Sunday and Labor Day, Monday. Fred Luchesi was the 25 lap Sportsman winner on Sunday and Moe Gherzi won a 100 lapper on Monday at the shoreline oval. Lou Tetreault and Butch Caswell were the non-Ford winners.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, Ernie Gahan, driving the Woodchopper Special of John and Sonny Koszela, was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford Springs. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl ran three times over the Labor Day weekend. In the Sportsman division Dick Beauregard won on Wednesday night and on Monday afternoon while Bill Slater won on Saturday night. Non-Ford winners were Ted Stack on Wednesday and Monday and Charlie Webster on Saturday. In the Bombers at the shoreline oval Newt Palm won on Wednesday and Saturday while Ben Hewitt won on Monday.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble was back in victory lane as he won the Friday night NASCAR Modified feature on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway over Kenny Shoemaker and George Janoski. Wally Silva won the Minuteman 400 at the Norwood Arena Speedway in Norwood, Ma. Charlie Webster made it two in a row in Modified action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner at the Ct shoreline oval.

  Other weekend winners were Al DeAngelo at Islip, Don Stives at the Wall Stadium, Rene Charland at Fort Dix (New Egypt), Lou Lazzaro at Fonda and Tommie Elliott at Old Bridge.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, Labor Day weekend meant many extra distance events were on the schedule. Albany -Saratoga started it off with a regular program, which saw Lou Lazzaro take the top spot over Bugsy Stevens and Jerry Pennock. Saturday night at Norwood Eddie Flemke won a double point event over Freddie Schulz and Bob Bacciocce. At Airborne it was Dick Nephew over Guy Chartrand and in South Boston, Va., Mr. Modified, Ray Hendrick won a 400 lapper over Perk Brown and Jimmie Hensley. Charlie Jarzombek made it two in a row at Islip as he beat out Jim Hendrickson and Fred Harbach. Waterford ran on Saturday night as well as on Monday. Fred “Fuzzy” Baer was the Saturday night winner with Don Collins taking the victory on Monday. Lou Lazzaro made it two for two on the weekend as he won the Utica-Rome 400 on Sunday night. Dave Lape finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens, Jerry Cook, Perk Brown and Bill Slater. From Utica it was off to Dover Downs for the All Star 100. Ray Hendrick cleaned house for the win. Sonny Hutchins finished second and was followed by Buzzie Reutimann, Bill Greco, Charlie Jarzombek and Bugsy Stevens. A 150 lapper scheduled for Labor Day at Stafford was cancelled. It was also during this week that NASCAR Winston Cup drivers formed the Pro Drivers Association and elected Richard Petty as their president.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Wednesday night racing at Riverhead and Friday night racing at Freeport rained out. Utica-Rome ran a 100 lapper on Friday, which saw Geoff Bodine take the win. Lou Lazzaro finished second and was followed by Jerry Cook and Richie Evans. Saturday night at Islip saw Charlie Jarzombek take the win over Charlie Siebert and at Stafford Bugsy Stevens edged out Leo Cleary and Ronnie Bouchard. Racing at Shangri-La was cancelled due to a power failure. Rain prevailed at the Waterford Speedbowl. At Fulton on Sunday, Clayton Sonny Seamon held off Bernie Miller and Maynard Troyer. In New England, Monadnock, Seekonk and Thompson went head to head. Jerry Pearl won at Thompson while it was Eddie Flemke at Seekonk and Brian Ross at Monadnock. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Labor Day and Bugsy Stevens made it two for two at the half-mile oval for the weekend. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Fred DeSarro, fourth.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, Labor Day weekend started on Wednesday with a 200 lap event at New Egypt. Richie Evans took the win over Jerry Cook and John Blewett Jr. Friday night at Stafford belonged to Ronnie Bouchard who led the way to victory over Evans. Oswego ran their annual Modified 200 on Saturday, which drew 72 Modifieds. Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook finished one-two in a lap by themselves. Richie Evans finished third, one lap down. At Seekonk, Leo Cleary gave Eddie St. Angelo a driving lesson and at Waterford, Rick Donnelly took the win. Charlie Jarzombek beat out Greg Sacks at Islip and at Westboro; Jeff Fuller took the top spot. Stafford capped off the weekend with their annual 200, which drew 60 Modifieds. Richie Evans took the win and sewed up the track championship. Maynard Troyer finished second and was followed by Mark Malcuit, Gil Hearne and Jerry Pearl.

  Other weekend winners were Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside and Monadnock, Jerry Cook at Spencer, Bruce Batchelder at Claremont, Ronnie Rocco at Plainville and Ronnie Bouchard at Thompson. Joe Howard sewed up the Thompson championship. Two days after his Oswego win, Geoff Bodine and car owner Lee Allard split up.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Reggie Ruggiero was the kingpin at Stafford as he won the Friday night 30 lapper and the Labor Day 200. Kenny Bouchard finished second on Friday and was followed by George Brunnhoelzl and Ray Miller. Richie Evans finished second in the 200 and was followed by Bouchard, Brian Ross and Brett Bodine. At Waterford on Saturday, Dale Holdredge beat out Gomer Taylor and at Riverside John Rosati took the win. The Oswego 200 was still the race to win as 62 Modifieds were on hand. Richie Evans took the win, which was worth $17,500. Jeff Fuller finished second and was followed by George Kent, Roger Treichler and Tony Hirschman. Other weekend winners included Kent at Spencer, Don Howe at Islip and Tom McCann at Wall Stadium. Down in the southland, Ronnie Bouchard won the Saturday Grandnational event at Darlington.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989, it rained at Stafford on Friday night. At Waterford on Saturday, Richie Gallup was the winner and Phil Rondeau scored his 12th win of the season in the late model ranks. The Oswego 200 was won by Tony Hirschman. Brad Hietella won at Riverside and Fred Harbach took the win at Riverhead.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, Thompson ran on Wednesday. Wayne Dion took the win over John Sneade and Frank Cardile. Ted Christopher was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bob Potter finished second with John Jensen third. Waterford ran double features with Jim Broderick winning both. Dan Avery won at Riverside and Dan Watts won at Riverhead. The Modified Tour Series was at Apple Valley (Shangri-La). Mike Ewanitsko recovered from a mid race flat tire to win the event. Wayne Anderson finished second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak. Richie Gallup and Rick Fuller were eliminated in separate wrecks after tangles with Ed Flemke Jr. Flemke ended up seventh. At Darlington, Mark Martin was the Grand National winner and Bill Elliott won the Winston Cup event.

  Fifteen years ago in 1999, Willie Hardie took the Friday night SK Modified win at Stafford. Todd Szegedy finished second with Curt Brainard, third. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour made its final visit to the soon to be closed Riverside Park Speedway for a 200 lapper. The event drew 49 Modifieds and a packed grandstand. Pole sitter Bob Polverari. Polverari led the first 61 laps before giving way to Reggie Ruggiero. Ruggiero held the point until passed by Ricky Miller on lap 126. Ruggiero faded to eventually finish 15th while Miller went on to take the win. Mike Ewanitsko, in the Art Barry No. 21, finished second and was followed by Ted Riggot, Tony Hirschman and Ricky Fuller. Dennis Gada scored his eighth win of the season at Waterford. David Gada, who initially finished fourth was moved up to second after it was discovered that the cylinder heads on the cars of Todd Ceravolo and Tucker Reynolds were illegal. Jay Stuart recorded his fourth in a row in Late Model competition and Richard Brooks took the Mini Stock feature. Eddie Brunnhoelzl won at Riverhead and at Thompson on Sunday Todd Ceravolo took the win over Curt Brainard. In Winston Cup action at Darlington Jeff Burton won the rain shortened Southern 500. Burton also earned the No-Bull $1million bonus. Ward Burton finished second. Mark Martin won the Darlington Busch Series 300.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Tongues were wagging in a positive way over the announcement that Whelen Engineering would take over as title sponsor of the series in 2005. Thirty-four Modifieds were on hand for the event that carried a $70,000 purse. Tony Hirschman took the Busch Pole. The draw for starting spots saw Hirschman draw the outside pole along side Eddie Flemke Jr. who drew the pole. Flemke took the lead at the start and held the position for 42 laps when Doug Coby was able to get by Coby lasted five laps on the point until Flemke took it back. The lead seesawed back and forth until lap 76 when Coby became the victim of a slipping clutch, ending his night. Flemke led until lap 96 when he began backing up, giving the lead to Todd Szegedy. Szegedy led the remaining distance to complete the 150-lap distance. Jerry Marquis, who started 12th, moved into the second spot on lap 96 but couldn’t catch Szegedy sleeping. Marquis settled for second. Mike Stefanik ran virtually without fanfare and ended up third while Flemke slipped to fourth at the finish. Tony Hirschman, in a determined run after having to pit with a flat tire, finished fifth. Sixth through tenth were Chuck Hossfeld, Kevin Konopka, Kenny Barry, Jamie Tomaino and Greg Shivers. Seven cautions for 42 laps slowed the event The most severe came as the field completed the first lap when a multi-car tangle occurred on the front stretch which resulted in Ted Christopher receiving severe rear end damage. Christopher drove to the pit area but never returned.

  The Modified Tour Series continued to be the strongest regional touring series that NASCAR has. Among those missing from the Waterford Mod Tour event were Bobby Santos III who normally drives the Joe Brady No.00. John Blewett III pinch-hit for Santos while he was at Oswego, NY for their annual Supermodified Classic. Santos finished second to Greg Furlong in the 200-lap grind. In the companion ISMA Super Nationals Santos swapped spots with Furlong as he took the win.

  In Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway Todd Ceravolo put himself back on top of the Sunoco Modified standings with a convincing win over Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone. It was his fifth win in which may be his final season. Ceravolo, an electrical contractor, had indicated that he would retire from racing at season’s end and would like nothing better than to go out as a champion. Ceravolo also stands a good chance of a high finish in the first tier of the NASCAR Dodge Regional standings. A single file re-start with three laps to go told the story. Bert Marvin was looking to record the win until Ceravolo powered by on the backstretch and that’s all she wrote. Following Ceravolo and Marvin at the finish were Kerry Malone, Eric Berndt, Jeff Malave and Richard Savory. Ted Christopher, who was the odds on favorite to become the NASCAR regional champion finished eighth after recovering from a lap six spin. David Berghman rebounded from a two-race slump as he recorded his seventh Pro Stock win of the season. Other Thursday night Thunder winners were Ryan Posocco in the Late Models, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Jason Paquette in the Mini-Stocks. On a sad note, Bo Gunning took a mean fall from atop the Eddie Partridge hauler and had to be transported to a nearby hospital. Evidently Gunning was assisting his crew in the removal of his car from the hauler when his cell phone rang which diverted his attention. The car rolled out of the truck on to the elevator ramp, striking Gunning. Gunning was taken to the hospital and released. Car owner Eddie Partridge made the decision to call it a night and did not enter his car into competition. Partridge, who was at Waterford on Saturday night stated that Gunning was sore but had no broken bones.

  Double features were on tap at Stafford on Friday night. Ted Christopher wrapped up his fifth track championship but it wasn’t pretty and he wasn’t happy. Steve Chowanski won the opening 30 lap SK Modified event with Jeff Malave hot on his tail. Todd Owen finished third. Christopher finished a conservative 10th. Christopher needed to finish 20th in the second event. Jeff Malave ended up taking the win in the second event after Christopher was put to the tail of the field for rough riding and ended up finishing tenth, again. Chris Jones, who has a short temper at times started on the pole of the second event and was able to hold onto the front spot until the five to go signal was given. All of a sudden Jones’ car drifted up and Christopher, running in second made a move to take the lead. Once Jones realized what was happening he turned left to block, making contact with Christopher and ended up spinning into the infield. Taking somewhat of a fit, Jones spun his car in the dirt. Race director Frank Sgambato Jr. gave the word that Jones was done for the night. The next thing you know, he puts Christopher to the rear for rough riding. Christopher, not a saint by any means, was the victim of a bad call. Jones came into him, period! Christopher vented his frustration with the Stafford management on Saturday night at Waterford. “I hope they enjoy themselves at the banquet this year, I know I won’t be there”, he said. In Late Model action Ryan Posocco made it three in a row.

  The tech man at the Waterford Speedbowl got tough on Saturday night. Doug Coby, who apparently had won the SK Modified main event found himself disqualified after the tech man discovered illegal chassis height. Rob Janovic, who finished second, was declared the winner. Tom Fox ended up second with Ed Reed Jr., third. Allen Coates, who was unhappy to hear he had to pay income tax on the vehicle he won in the Funkmaster event, took his fourth Late Model victory of the year. Richard Brooks made it two in a row in Mini Stock action and Jim Procaccini won the Sportsman feature. Twin 25’s at Wall Township were won by Kevin Flockhart and Shannon Mongeau. At Riverhead, Bill Park took the win.

  The Nextel Cup and the Busch Racing Series divisions of NASCAR were at the California Speedway in Fontana last weekend. For the first time since 1950 the Nextel Cup and Busch Racing series was not at the Darlington Speedway in South Carolina as NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation has seen fit to break tradition. Gregg Biffle won the Busch Series event after putting the fender to Casey Mears late in the race. Elliott Sadler was the Nextel Cup winner.

  Five years ago in 2009, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway last Thursday night. The competition and excitement provided by the “Men that Live by the Grace of God and 600 horsepower” was at a fever pitch as fans were on the edge of their seats for almost the entire 150 laps of the event. Donny Lia, in a show of sheer determination after being all but ridden into the wall by Ted Christopher, came from the rear of the field after a lap 113 restart and latterly blew the defending series champion away as he retook the lead in turn 4 on lap 139. Many of those on hand expected a “Pay Back” to Christopher was coming but Lia didn’t lower himself as he was in a hurry. Once back in the lead Lia dominated to the end as he recorded a convincing win. Christopher, who was experiencing electrical problems with his radiator fan ended up in the runner-up spot and was followed by Todd Szegedy, Rowan Pennink and Keith Rocco who was making his debut in the Eddie Partridge No.12 that had been vacated by Jimmy Blewett. Sixth through tenth were Eric Beers, Eric Berndt, Bob Grigas, Glen Reen and Eric Rudolph.

  There were 33 cars on hand as the economy and high cost of racing is taking its toll. Christopher, who drew the pole starting position, took the lead on the start after running outside pole sitter Mike Stefanik into the marbles between turns one and two. Christopher led until a restart on Lap 29 when Ryan Preece took the lead away in turn 2. Preece was running like a bear as he had ‘Ole Blu flat out. Stefanik spun out and hit the inside wall on the backstretch on lap 32. Preece led the restart on lap 37 but quickly lost the lead to Christopher. Preece developed power steering problems and eventually ended up going laps down before his crew cut the power steering belt in order to bypass the steering pump. While Preece was having his problems Lia, who started ninth, moved into the second spot on lap 39. Lia took the lead in turn three on lap 47 as Christopher’s tires were shot and he began fading fast. Rowan Pennink moved into the second spot on lap 52.

  Preece spun on lap 72 which allowed almost the entire field to pit for tires. Lia only took on a right rear tire, which allowed him to get back out ahead of most of the field as he restarted in third spot behind Berndt who chose not to pit. Berndt led the restart on lap 76 and held Lia at bay until a restart on lap 92 when Lia retook the point. A nine-car wreck on the backstretch on lap 93 brought out the red as the track was blocked. Among those who were involved were Woody Pitkat, Renee Dupuis, Kevin Goodale, Johnny Bush and Rob Summers. Once the wrecks were cleaned up Lia led the charge to the green on lap 98. Christopher took the lead in turn 4 on lap 103. Lia took it back in turn 4 on lap 106. One lap later Christopher attempted to move Lia up between turns one and two. Lia went into the concrete slightly, doing no damage. On the lap 113 restart Lia started in the rear of the field while Christopher diced for the lead with Todd Szegedy. Szegedy took the lead in turn 3 while Lia began his determined march to the front. By lap 123 Lia was back in the top five and closing fast. Following a lap 137 restart, Christopher took the lead with Lia hot on his bumper. The final lead change came in turn 4 on lap 139 when Lia took the lead for the final time.

  There were seven caution periods for 35 laps. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will hold its 10th race of the 2009 season at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 19. The pit fee was $50.

  The Hartford Courant announced that Jimmy Blewett had given up his Whelen Modified Tour Series ride and his SK-Sunoco Modified ride. Long Islander Eddie Partridge owns both cars. Blewett left to concentrate more time to his family and the family owned scrap metal business. Keith Rocco moved into Blewett’s vacant seat in the WMT car while Ron Silk assumed the driving chores in the SK-Sunoco car. Following the WMT event Partridge stated that he was happy with Rocco’s performance. Partridge was also happy with Silk as he finished fifth in the Sunoco-SK type Modified event.

  In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Rowan Pennink took a hard fought win in the Sunoco SK type Modifieds. Pennink led the opening lap but immediately had his hands full with Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher. Pennink was able to maintain the lead as Malone settled back in line ahead of Christopher. The fiercest battle amid the pack was for the fourth position between Tim Sullivan, Keith Rocco and Woody Pitkat. Sullivan had the spot with Rocco and Pitkat within striking distance. The action cooled when the first caution flew for a spin by Harry Rheaume. On the restart, Malone was able to get the edge but his advancement was for naught as the caution flew before the leaders could get out of turn two. The dreadful season for Sullivan continued as he made hard contact with the outside wall in turn one to bring out the second caution. Malone got slightly out of shape on the ensuing restart making contact with Ted Christopher. Christopher slid through the infield making contact with the inside wall on the front stretch. The damage forced Christopher to retire from the event.

  Rocco looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the restart moving to the second spot. Pitkat was able to get by Malone as well. A quick restart allowed Pitkat to gain another spot into the second position. Ronnie Silk, the new driver of the TS Haulers #12, made his first appearance inside the top five. After a stop on pit road, Danny Cates had come back to ride in the sixth spot. A bobble by leader Pennink exiting turn four one lap shy of halfway gave Pitkat a shot at the lead. Pennink recovered to maintain the position. A half-lap later, Pitkat tried the low side in turn three. The lane swap gave Rocco the edge to put him back in the runner-up position. Pennink continued to show the way with Rocco bearing down. Pitkat had settled back into the third position before the fifth caution of the event flew for a spin by Carl Oberg. Cates was back on pit road during the caution at lap 17.

  It was much of the same on the restart as Pennink had to fight off the advances of Rocco. Pitkat laid in wait in third followed by Malone and Silk. Rocco pushed Pennink on the straight-aways lap-after-lap. Rocco got alongside Pennink exiting turn four on lap 21. He had to settle back in line as Pitkat began to apply pressure to Rocco. On a restart on lap 24, Rocco tried the crossover move looking for the lead. He got the car a bit out of shape as he dove too low and into the dirt giving Pitkat daylight. Pitkat was able to take the second spot away. Rocco pulled in behind Pitkat. The two continued to dog Pennink. On the final two laps the cat and mouse for the second position between Pitkat and Rocco allowed Pennink to celebrate his birthday with a victory as he flashed under the checkers. Pitkat finished a strong second followed by Rocco. Malone and Silk completed the top-five.

  In other Thursday night Thunder action, Derek Ramstrom and Larry Barnett stretched their point leads in the Super Late Model and Limited Sportsman divisions respectively. After post race tech, Tommy O’Sullivan was awarded his third Late Model victory of the season. Brian Tagg streaked in TIS Modified competition with his second straight victory. Randy Churchill took down his first Mini Stock feature event win at Thompson.

  Among those on hand at the Thompson WMT event was former three time NASCAR Modified National Champion Carl “Bugs” Stevens. Getting a Bear Hug from the Bugman was the highlight of this reporter’s night. Also spectating was recently retired Dick Berggren. Berggren who was at the helm of Speedway Illustrated says that he will continue his work as a pit reporter on televised races but will take life easy when not doing that.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway Stafford Speedway returned to action after two rainouts with its Second Annual Late Model 100. Tom Butler was the big winner of the night, taking his second win of the 2009 season in the 100-lap extra distance race. Woody Pitkat made it two for the weekend as he scored his first Stafford win of 2009 in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Earl Pelletier was the winner in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Andrew Durand won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Bill Dunn was the winner in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
Justin Gaydosh and Keith Rocco split the twin 25-lap SK Modified races, which headlined the Waterford Speedbowl’s Thunder on the Sound event. Other 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series wins went to Bruce Thomas Jr. in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Al Stone in the Street Stocks while Louis Bellisle III was a popular winner in the Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock event. Jason Palmer, Allen Coates, Rob Corey and Onie Pierce also found themselves in Speedbowl Victory Lane on the night taking 25-lap wins of their own. With his win Gaydosh earned a guaranteed starting birth in the annual North-South Shootout taking place November 5th - 7th at Concord Motorsports Park in North Carolina. Fans at the shoreline oval got a little extra excitement as a concession stand caught fire. The Cohanze Fire Dept. made short order of the blaze.

  Kasey Kahne greatly improved his hopes of making the season-ending Chase for the Championship with a Sprint Cup victory Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway, pulling away from Kevin Harvick after a fortunate yellow flag late in the race. Kevin Harvick, who won the Nationwide race Saturday night, was in position for a weekend double until teammate Clint Bowyer spun with 15 laps to go, bringing out the final caution of the night. Kahne got Harvick on the restart and pulled away to an easy 1.766-second win. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third.

  Last year, 2013, the engines were silent at the Thompson Speedway as construction continued at the northeastern Connecticut racing facility. Speedway management told Internet Site RaceDayCt that despite the fact that "No Camping" signs had been erected, camping will be allowed for the upcoming World Series.

  The final point tally for the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds showed Keith Rocco and Woody Pitkat tied for the point lead (450)when the regular season ended on August 29. NASCAR rules dictate the tie breaker would be the top feature winner which in this case was Rocco who won five of the 16 events run. Pitkat won twice. Kerry Malone, who won on one occasion, ended up third in points, four points behind the leaders. Although winless, Dennis Perry recorded two runner-up finishes and numerous top tens which placed him in fourth spot in the final rundown, Rounding out the top five was Ryan Preece with one victory. Matt Gallo, who finished eighth, also had one win. Others in the top ten were Todd Ceravolo (6), John Catania (7), Paul Newcomb (9) and Jason Sundeen (10).

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Woody Pitkat made it two in a row in SK Modified competition. Cory Casagrande was a first time winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Payton Henry took down his first career victory in a photo finish in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Duane Provost took down his first win of the season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and championship leader Dave Secore scored his second win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  Keith Rocco was keeping Pitkat on the outside but Pitkat was able to get clear of Rocco as they took the white flag. Rocco made one last bid on the outside of Pitkat on the final lap but Pitkat held him off to pick up his second consecutive victory. Dan Avery finished third with Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece rounding out the top-5.

  Action at the Waterford Speedbowl continued as the season was winding down. A fast paced night of motorsports was completed placing five winners into Victory Lane. Leading the way was Kyle James who won his third SK Modified® race of the year after a heated battle at the front of the pack. Keith Rocco took home top honors in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division, Josh Galvin won his third Street Stock race of the season and Garrett Denton took his second Mini Stock victory in the past three events. Glenn Griswold rounded out the night’s winners, scoring his second consecutive SK Light Modified race win.

  In the 35 lap SK Modified event pole sitter Nicole Mongillo led to almost half way before giving way to James. James pulled along side on lap 18. The pair ran wheel to wheel for a lap before he took the lead as they exited the fourth turn to complete lap 19. Ted Christopher jumped into the frey as he got by Todd Ceravolo and Morgillo on the outside to follow James on lap-20. The top two cars began to pull away as Morgillo held off Ceravolo and fifth place runner Craig Lutz. Lutz was able to get past Ceravolo to try his hand at unseating Morgillo from a podium finish.

  Up front Christopher made a run at James. He was on James’ rear bumper on lap-22 applying pressure. James withstood the challenge and eventually pulled ahead by a car length. As the laps clicked off the scoreboard Christopher stuck with James, however was unable to mount a final rally. James raced to the checkered flag the rest of the way as Christopher finished just behind. Further back, a great battle that endured over the final 15 laps saw Morgillo hold back all challenges for third position to match her best finish of the year. Lutz finished in fourth and Ceravolo rounded out the top five. Rocco, the division point leader, battled back from his spin to finish in sixth.

  Saturday night racing at the shoreline oval will continue for three more weeks to September 28th.

  Down in the south land the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour was in action. Andy Seuss found his way back to Victory Lane at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina on Sunday night. Seuss picked up his sixth NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour win at the .455-mile oval, his first since 2011, in dominating fashion in the Caraway 150. Seuss led twice for a race-high 124 laps and out-distanced runner-up George Brunnhoelzl III by .833 seconds.

  John Smith finished third, followed by Tim Brown and JR Bertuccio. Kyle Ebersole finished sixth, which allowed Brunnhoelzl to stretch his points lead to 20 points with three races remaining. Danny Bohn finished seventh, followed by Gary Putnam, Brandon Ward and Jason Myers.
There were 18 cars on hand.

  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Timmy Solomito won Modified twin 30′s. Howie Brode clinched the 2013 NASCAR Modified championship.

  Could it be that the "Fix" was in at Richmond in at the NASCAR Sprint Cup event. In the moments after Carl Edwards won the Federated Auto Parts 400, the scene along pit road at Richmond International Raceway was a study in contrasts. Over near the finish line, there was Carl Edwards, burning out and back flipping in exultation. Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and Kurt Busch, three of the last members of the 2013 Chase, stood by their cars and welcomed well-wishers. Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. talked quietly with team associates; Delana Harvick wore a long red dress that matched the color of her husband's car.

  With six laps remaining, Ryan Newman was leading. With a win, he would make the Chase, leaving Martin Truex Jr. on the outside looking in. (Joey Logano was also two points behind Jeff Gordon for the final guaranteed Chase spot.) Over the radio, Bowyer was told that Newman was leading the race and was asked how his arm was feeling. And then Bowyer spun, and all hell broke loose. During the caution, Newman lost four spots due to a poor pit stop. On the restart, Gordon found himself shuffled back several positions. And just like that, in the space of five minutes, Gordon and Newman were out of the Chase. Logano and Truex, who happens to be Bowyer's teammate, were in.

  Was it a conspiracy? Did Bowyer spin on purpose? Was "is your arm hurting?" the cue for him to take a dive? Did Bowyer at long last get his revenge on Gordon for their fight at Phoenix the previous year?

  To hear Bowyer say it, there was nothing more to the spin than a car finally giving out. To hear everyone else, it was a premeditated and calculated dive that changed the entire complexion of the Chase and the finish.

  NASCAR was reportedly reviewing evidence that Bowyer deliberately spun his No. 15 Toyota in order to help Truex make the Chase. Had it not been for the caution period and subsequent restart, it is likely that Ryan Newman would have won the race and made the Chase instead of Truex.

  It was also believed that Truex’s fellow Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers purposely slowed during the final three laps to allow Joey Logano to pass him. That allowed Logano to remain in the top 10 in the standings so he didn’t have to use a Wild Card to get into the Chase, which also helped Truex.

  Following an intensive investigation NASCAR issued the following statement: “Based upon our review of Saturday night’s race at Richmond, it was our determination that the MWR organization attempted to manipulate the outcome of the race,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “As the sport’s sanctioning body, it is our responsibility to ensure there is a fair and level playing field for all of our competitors and this action today reflects our commitment to that.”

  As a result, MWR was found to have violated Section 12-4 (Actions detrimental to stock car racing). As a result, MWR’s three teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (No. 15, 55, 56) have been penalized with the loss of 50 championship driver and 50 championship owner points, respectively.

  NASCAR also fined the MWR organization $300,000 and indefinitely suspended MWR Executive Vice President/General Manager Ty Norris, who was also the spotter for the No. 55 car, for violating Section 12-4. The three crew chiefs — Brian Pattie (No. 15), Scott Miller (No. 55) and Chad Johnston (No. 56) — were all placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.

  Brad Keselowski passed Brian Scott on a restart with 11 laps to go Friday night and pulled away after another restart with six laps remaining to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond.

  In an unrelated matter, officials from three different series confirmed that all the events that were scheduled for Nov. 2 at Rockingham Speedway have been cancelled. Everything started when NASCAR announced that the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event scheduled for Rockingham had been cancelled. “It is unfortunate any time a race must be cancelled,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring. “However, the race track failed to meet its obligations and we were forced to terminate the sanction agreement."

  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: September 5, 2014

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