The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith


September 19, 2014

  Sixty five years ago in 1949, Ben Lalomia was the feature winner at the Buffalo Civic Center in New York.

  Sixty years ago in 1954, rain washed out the scheduled racing on Wednesday at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. The shoreline oval ran on Saturday night with Ray Moran taking the Sportsman 25 lapper.

  Fifty five years ago in 1959, George Janoski was the Friday night winner on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. Don Collins was the Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Other winners at the Connecticut shoreline oval were Dick Beauregard in the non-Fords and Lou Caso in the Bombers.

  Fifty years ago in 1964, Bill Wimble took the Friday night win on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway. It was Wimble's tenth win at the Connecticut oval. Pete Corey finished second with Ron Narducci, third. Manny Dias was the Saturday night winner at Norwood. Maine transplant Jerry Dostie was the 25 lap Modified feature winner and Bill Staubley was the Bomber winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

  Forty five years ago in 1969, Smokey Boutwell made it two in a row at Stafford as he won the final Friday night program of the season. Fred DeSarro finished second and was followed by Dick Elliot, Leo Cleary, Bill Slater, Jack Malone and Dick Watson. Albany-Saratogo ran a 100 lapper and it was none other than Rene Charland taking the win over Dick Clark, Dick Fowler and Lou Lazzaro. At Norwood on Saturday, Leo Cleary showed the kids the fast way around as he took the win. Bob Baccioce finished second and was followed by Bugsy Stevens and Eddie Flemke. At Airborne it was Dave Gaul over Guy Chartrand and Jerry Cook and at Islip, Billy Spade won out over Jim Hendrickson and Herbie Hulse. Newt Palm won at Waterford. Thompson closed out the weekend with a 100 lapper. Bugsy Stevens won a classic duel with Smokey Boutwell. Cleary finished third and was followed by Perk Brown and Ralph Hop Harrington. Brown, from North Carolina, raced weekly in New England in order to be near his son who was in the Navy and stationed at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.

  Forty years ago in 1974, Charlie Jarzombek had quite a weekend on Long Island. Riverhead ran twin features on Wednesday night and he won them both. At Freeport on Friday, he recorded a second behind Fred Harbach and at Islip on Saturday he recorded another second, this time behind George Wagner. Bob Potter was the winner at Waterford. In other weekend action, Maynard Troyer won the Lancaster 200 over Geoff Bodine and Ron Martin. At Fulton's final on Sunday, Troyer had to settle for second behind Bodine.

  Thirty five years ago in 1979, the annual Thompson 300 was on tap and drew 146 modifieds. Geoff Bodine in the Richard Armstrong No.1 led four times including the last 96 laps to win the longest event on the schedule for the modifieds. Maynard Troyer finished second and was followed by Leo Cleary who came all the way from a 37th starting spot. John Rosati finished fourth and was followed by George Kent, Gomer Taylor, Wayne Anderson, Bugsy Stevens and Brett Bodine. Rusty Ball won the non-qualifiers race. The event drew 10,500 spectators. Richie Evans who won the night before at Shangri-La was in the hunt at Thompson until losing an engine and ended up 24th.Seekonk ran their final program of the season. Eddie St Angelo took the win over Leo Cleary and Bugsy Stevens.

  Thirty years ago in 1984, Brian Ross took the lead on lap 192 of the 250 lap Pocono Race of Champions and went on to take the biggest win of his career. Brett Bodine finished second and was followed by Corky Cookman, George Brunnhoelzl, Mike McLaughlin and George Kent. The event drew 109 modifieds and 130 Street Stocks. Scott Poirier won the Street Stock championship. Waterford and Riverside rained out. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Harry Gant took the win. Randy LaJoie won the Saturday Busch North event.

  Twenty five years ago in 1989,Tony Hirschman won the 250 lap Pocono Race of Champions but a dark cloud hung over the speedway as New York state driver Don Pratt lost his life during the running of the event. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Reggie Ruggiero, George Kent, Mike McLaughlin, Jamie Tomaino and Mike Stefanik. It was also a big day for Brian McCarthy who beat out Tony Sylvester to win the 40 lap Street Stock-Late Model Stock event. Saturday night racing at Riverside Park rained out.

  Twenty years ago in 1994, the Pocono Race of Champions was gone from the Pocono Raceway and was scheduled to run at the Flemington Speedway later in the year. The only action in New England was at Waterford where Mike Gada won a 40 lapper at Waterford over Phil Rondeau, Jerry Pearl and Mark LaJunesse. It rained at Riverside and Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Dover Rusty Wallace took the win under caution, out of gas and with a flat left rear tire. It was also at Dover that Johnny Benson got his first Grandnational win.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1999, Hurricane Floyd washed out the time trials for the Busch North Series and Featherlite Modifieds at Loudon. At race time on Saturday, 60,000 spectators jammed the front grandstand to watch the best New England had to offer. Tony Hirschman took the lead with five to go in the 100-mile event and went on to record the win. Mike Ewanitsko finished second and was followed by Ted Christopher, Reggie Ruggiero and Ed Flemke Jr. Brad Leighton won the Busch North event. Ted Christopher started 35th and finished second. In Winston Cup action at Loudon, Joe Nemecheck scored his first win.

  Ten years ago in 2004, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire for the weekend. Forty-one cars were on hand for the second of two events at the one-mile oval. Ted Christopher, who won the July race took the pole with a speed of 128.173 mph. Taking the outside pole was Reggie Ruggiero at 126.990 mph. Rounding out the top five were Todd Szegedy, Tony Hirschman and Donnie Lia. Mike Christopher, runner-up to his brother in July qualified 24th. Steve Park in the Joe Brady No.00 qualified 19th.

  Rain on Friday and Saturday forced NASCAR to re-schedule the event to Monday. Those who stayed more than got their money’s worth, as once again the Modifieds were the best show of the weekend. Ted Christopher made it two for two at Loudon in 2004 as he drove to a convincing almost full straightaway win. Because of Monday being a workday only about 6,000 fans were on hand. Five cautions before the half way mark slowed the early going. The first caution came on lap 3 when Richie Gallup hit the backstretch wall. The second caution flew for Fred Vordermeir when he spun on the front stretch. Caution 3 was for Nevin George who spun while running fifth. George also brought out the fourth caution when he hit the inside wall in turn four on lap 27. The fifth and final caution was for Ron Silk who lost an engine. Christopher’s only challenge came from Mike Stefanik on lap 22 when he made a strong charge but was unable to out power Christopher. Stefanik later spun and was never a factor after that. Todd Szegedy finished second and was followed by Tony Hirschman, Donnie Lia, Tom Cloce and Chuck Hossfeld. Eric Beers, Zack Sylvester, Ken Barry and Doug Coby rounded out the top 10.

  NASCAR officially announced that Whelen Industries would be the title sponsor of the Modified Tour Series in 2005. NASCAR Vice President Jim Hunter officially welcomed the lighting manufacturer and indicated that it’s a good bet that the Modifieds will get more television time in 2005 and hinted that the Modifieds could very well be returning to Martinsville. The 2005 schedule is usually announced at the awards banquet in November. Present title sponsor Featherlite Trailers would remain involved in the series as they would sponsor the Most Improved Driver award and a year ending award of $3,000 to the driver that wins the most races.

  Ryan Moore, the 21year old son of Kelly Moore signed a driver development contract with Dale Earnhardt Inc. Moore, who would still compete in the Busch North Series when his schedule permits, would do testing and a limited Busch Series schedule in 2005.

  Busch North scribe Alan Claffie stated that a meeting was held with series owners and drivers at Loudon where they were told a new series title sponsor was expected to be announced plus short track purses would be doubled in 2005. Point moneys would be paid out three or four times a year and professionally installed car bodies would no longer be needed as individual body panels would no longer be blended to one another. A fifteen-race schedule was almost complete and Claffie alluded to the fact that Seekonk, Waterford and Beech Ridge in Maine would not be on the schedule.

  The Dodge Weekly Racing Thursday night Thunder at Thompson fell victim to heavy mist that blanketed the Connecticut area most of the day. The cancellation solidified current Sunoco Modified point leader Todd Ceravolo a hefty payday in the NASCAR New England Regional Dodge Racing Series. Point leaders, as of September 19, would gather in Nashville, Tenn. later in the year for awards distribution. Ted Christopher, the point leader at Stafford was the apparent winner of the series title. Dick Wolf, who raced at Lee USA in New Hampshire had closed dramatically in recent weeks and had got the attention of NASCAR. It seems that the Speedway has been “helping” Wolf with his title attempt. Wolf finished third on September 10 and was basically out of the title hope. Then, it seems Lee Officials disqualified the first and second place finishers and elevated Wolf to the No.1 spot which may have displaced Christopher from the standings lead. NASCAR did not release the standings as of Thursday as those in charge wanted to investigate what happened at Lee and make sure everything is on the up and up. In the past it didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out when a track was helping their guy out. It’s a big deal to be the track where the champion comes from and track operators have been known to show a little favoritism at times if their guy needed it. Hopefully NASCAR will straighten this situation out. In addition to Christopher, Ceravolo and Wolf, Jeff Struck who raced at the Grandview Speedway in Pennsylvania, Aaron Fellows who raced at the Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH, Vinnie Annarummo who raced at Seekonk Speedway in Mass, Eddie Reed who raced at Waterford, Bob Gahan who raced at the Star Speedway in New Hampshire and Bub Bilodeau who raced at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine were in the top tier of the New England Regional standings.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway was quiet on Friday night. Championships in all three NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series divisions had been settled. Ted Christopher with eight wins in 18 starts is the 2004 SK Modified Champion. In addition to being the top winner Christopher was the most consistent with18 top 10s. Christopher actually ran in 19 events but was disqualified on May 14, after finishing third, as his car weighed in with too much left side weight. During mid season from July 2 to August 6 Christopher was on a tear as he won five in a row, bring his lifetime feature win total at Stafford to 79. During the final weeks of competition Christopher has become unhappy with the way track officials have treated him and has made it known that he will not participate in the speedway’s awards banquet. Finishing a distant second to Christopher is Todd Owen. Ryan Posocco, with five wins has a lock on the Late Model championship and Kevin Gambacorta with one win is the DARE Stock champion. The speedway published their official ruling on the September 10 actions of Chris Jones. Jones is now under indefinite suspension and is not allowed on speedway property.

  Heavy rain at the Waterford Speedbowl forced the track management to pull the plug on Saturday night’s races. Eddie Reed Jr. and car owner Flash Gordon Rogers were extremely happy with the rain-out as it locked them into a first tier finishing spot in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series, New England Region and a healthy payday at seasons end. Reed led defending SK Modified champion Dennis Gada by 12 points. As he does at Thompson, Corey Hutchings led the Late Model standings at Waterford. In addition to his nine wins at Thompson, Hutchings has five at Waterford.

  The Nextel Cup division of NASCAR was at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, NH this past weekend. The Busch Series had a week off. Qualifying was rained out and points set the field. Jeff Gordon was given the pole starting position and Jimmie Johnson, the outside pole. Kurt Busch took the win after leading half the event. Matt Kenseth finished second with Dale Earnhardt Jr., third.

  Chris Economaki, editor of National Speed Sport, reported that NASCAR and the people within have donated generously to the political campaign of President George Busch. Five members of the France family that owns and controls NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation had each donated the maximum allowed $2,000. NASCAR President Mike Helton sprung for $1,000 plus $500 to the Republican National Committee. On the competitive side, Teresa Earnhardt gave $2,000 to Bush. Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett also gave. Three members of the Hendrick family gave $4,000 to Democratic candidate John Edwards.

  On a sad note, Ray DeLisle, a former competitor at the Waterford Speedbowl in the 50’s and 60’s, passed away.

  Five years ago in 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the New Hampshire 100, which carried a purse of $166,917. Forty Modifieds were on hand for qualifying.

  The Penthouse, the Firehouse and the Jailhouse all had their separate stories at Loudon. In the Penthouse was Ryan Preece who earned the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light with a lap of 127.692mph. Also in the penthouse was car owner Eddie Partridge who watched with pleasure as his two drivers, Ronnie Silk and Keith Rocco qualified their cars in second and third place. It was Rocco’s first time at the New Hampshire mile. Rounding out the top five was Eric Beers and Doug Coby. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Glen Reen, Erick Rudolph, Bobby Grigas III and Mike Stefanik. Current points leader Ted Christopher qualified 14th.

  In the Firehouse was Donny Lia, the June New Hampshire winner. Lia’s car, the Mystic Missile, caught fire during practice and suffered severe damage that prompted to an emergency run back to the Mystic River Marina where an all night session was put in to make the necessary repairs. According to car owner Bob Garbarino a loose fuel line was the culprit. Unable to qualify, Lia was forced to take a provisional, which would place him in 34th starting spot in the 40 car-starting grid.

  In the Jailhouse was part time Whelen Modified Tour Series driver Frank M. Ruocco, The Hartford Courant reported that Ruocco, who is also a weekly competitor at the Stafford Motor Speedway, was charged in a federal indictment on Wednesday, September 16, with obstruction of justice for trying to hide records of a scheme to illegally double the cost of removing contaminated soil from a New York construction site. Ruocco, Jr; his company, Earth Technology; and employee Boris A. Tomicic, 37, of West Hartford, also were charged with conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering for billing the unidentified New York developer at inflated rates. Tomicic was not accused of obstruction. Ruocco, who is 96 points behind Ted Christopher in the SK Modified point standings, was out on bail and finished sixth at Stafford on Friday night.

  Ron Silk passed Reggie Ruggiero on the backstretch of the last lap and held on through Turns 3 and 4 to earn the victory in the New Hampshire 100. Silk, swapped the lead with Ruggiero three times and ran bumper-to-bumper in the last 10 laps, with Silk surviving the battle. Ruggiero settled for a fourth-place finish after getting shuffled three spots on the last lap. Donny Lia crossed the line second followed by pole winner Ryan Preece and Mike Stefanik finished fifth. Lia entered the race third in points but his car caught fire during practice on Thursday and he was not able to qualify. After starting at the rear on Saturday with a provisional, Lia was involved in an early accident and went down three laps. He was the “Lucky Dog” beneficiary during three subsequent cautions, and rocketed toward the front for a runner-up finish. Keith Rocco, who was making his first start at New Hampshire finished 33rd after dropping out with mechanical problems.

  The race featured 17 lead changes among eight drivers, and was slowed by 11 cautions. It was Silk’s fourth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win and his first at New Hampshire. According to NASCAR, The New Hampshire Modified race on SPEED did a 0.5 TV rating. The show aired Saturday, September 19th, 1:00-2:31pm, total households- 349,000; total viewers- 442,000.

  In Thursday night Thunder action at Thompson, Ted Christopher made a mad dash from Loudon, NH, after qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event to win his sixth Sunoco Modified feature event of the season at Thompson and his second in a row. Christopher edged out fellow Modified Tour competitors Rowan Pennink, Keith Rocco, and Woody Pitkat to take down the victory. Mike O’Sullivan scored his third Super Late Model victory of the season to bring the chase to the championship to single digits. Cam McDermott had a good point night as he scored his second win of the season in TIS Modified competition. Rick Gentes returned to his winning ways in the Late Models while Sean Monahan scored the victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Steve Michalski earned his second Mini Stock victory of the season.

  Christopher drove by pole sitter Dave LaCroix in the first turn of the first lap and never looked back. At the finish, Christopher took down the win over Pennink. Rocco had to settle for third over Pitkat and Bert Marvin. With the finish, Rocco gained two points over his nearest competition, Pitkat. Rocco has a four-point advantage over Pitkat going into the final point race.

  The sparks flew between Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher at Stafford on Friday night. Keith Rocco took his fifth victory of the season in the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Dillon Moltz took his fifth win of the season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tommy Membrino, Jr. took down his second win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Norm Sears took down win number two of 2009 in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, and Stephanie Berardi scored her first career win in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

  The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with two caution periods in the first two laps of the event. On the lap-3 restart, Keith Rocco moved by Matt Gallo to take the race lead. Richie Pallai, Jr. was third, Ted Christopher was fourth, and Todd Owen was in fifth. Christopher quickly moved into second behind Rocco, with Gallo, Pallai, and Woody Pitkat making up the top-5. Rocco held the lead until lap-10 when Christopher moved by. The next lap saw the caution come out for a spin by Sean Foster that collected several cars including Gallo, Joe Allegro, Jr., Kirk Zervas, and Wade Mattesen.

  Christopher continued to lead back under green with Rocco, Curt Brainard, Pallai, and Chris Matthews making up the top-5. The top-5 ran in line for three laps before Pallai moved into third and Pitkat moved into fifth on lap-15. Christopher would continue to hold the lead until lap-20 when Rocco went back by to retake the lead. Rocco's lead was short lived as Christopher was able to move back by Rocco on lap-23 to take the lead back. The caution came out with 24 laps complete for a spin by Christopher Jones and slowed the action at the front of the pack. Christopher took the lead on the restart, but Rocco would move back out front several laps later on lap-30.

  Rocco's move for the lead opened the door for Pitkat to also get by Christopher, dropping him back to third place. But Christopher took the spot back from Pitkat on the next lap and set his sights on getting the lead back from Rocco. Christopher got the lead on lap-35 and looked like he had a car to hold off Rocco for the win. On the final lap, contact between Rocco and Christopher, a bump and run, moved Christopher up the hill in turn 3, which gave Rocco enough room to take the lead and the race victory coming off turn 4. After the checkered flag, Christopher slammed Rocco in turn 1, sending Rocco around and himself into the turn 1 wall. Pitkat finished third behind Rocco and Christopher, with Pallai and Owen rounding out the top-5. Christopher, who was the point leader and Rocco were suspended for one race because of their actions.

  The weather was cool but the action was hot at the Waterford Speedbowl as the track hosted Cystic Fibrosis Night and completed its NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race program with a first time winner and great battles in all the divisions taking center stage. Dennis Gada returned to victory lane in the SK Modifieds and Dennis Botticello ended a lengthy hiatus to Speedbowl Victory Lane in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models. Walt Hovey Jr. won his fourth Street Stock event of the year, Allen Coates checkered his seventh NEATV Truck Series race, and Ian Brew won his first ever Norwich Bulletin Mini Stock race.

  After the pre-race Cystic Fibrosis festivities, seven-time Speedbowl champion Dennis Gada of Salem used his pole starting spot to move to the SK Modified race lead when the green flag came out. Jeff Pearl moved to second with Rob Janovic Jr. in third. Tyler Chadwick moved inside Jeffrey Paul for fourth on lap six. Contact in turn one of lap 15 left Glenn Pressell III slowing to bring out the first caution flag.

  On the restart Gada jumped out over Pearl. Janovic moved in to challenge Pearl for second on the inside. Out of turn two on lap 16, Pearl and Janovic got crossed up triggering a chain reaction behind. Pearl and Janovic were able to continue through, however several cars made contact behind drawing the second caution when they stacked up into turn three. Gada again got out front over Pearl on the restart. Pearl began to look for a way around Gada. Janovic raced third and Chadwick in fourth. Keith Rocco was a man on the move, pressuring Tom Abele Jr. for fifth after starting from last after a qualifying race wreck. Ron Yuhas Jr., contending for the championship with Rocco, sat in seventh. Rocco made the move inside Abele on lap 23, advancing his way to the top five.

  Up front Gada opened up a one car length lead over Pearl when Joey Gada spun in turn two with seven laps remaining. The restart was more of the same. Gada, Pearl and Janovic occupied the top three spots. Rocco moved up past Chadwick and immediately set his sights on Janovic, racing outside for third when caution came out with three laps remaining for Jeff Gallup and Rich Hammann who came together. Gada survived the final restart to go on to his second win of the year. The win is his 64th career at the shoreline oval. Pearl took second and Janovic held off the challenges of Rocco for third. Chadwick completed the top five. Rocco was able to sustain his points lead over Yuhas with his finish.

  Dick Ceravolo continued to show a slight improvement in his condition. A slight infection continued to put reconstructive surgery on hold. He continued to be in an induced coma, now in its fifth week.

  The Charlotte Business Journal reported that Bruton Smith’s Speedway Motorsports Inc. filed suit against the city of Concord and Cabarrus County in North Carolina claiming they have failed to follow through on incentive agreements related to improvements at Lowe’s Motor Speedway and a nearby drag strip.

  In Sprint Cup racing at New Hampshire International Mark Martin took the win over Juan Pablo Montoya

  Last year, 2013 The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled up north for the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past Saturday, Sept. 21. A somewhat short field of 26 Modifieds were on hand for qualifying. The Modified Tour suffered another setback when internet news site RaceDayct broke the news that the tours biggest star, Mike Stefanik, will no longer be a part of the tour once the 2013 season comes to a close.

  Ryan Newman posted his fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award at the track in qualifying for Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100. Newman, from South Bend, Ind., toured the 1.058-mile oval with a fast lap of 29.475 seconds (129.221 mph) for the fifth overall Whelen Modified Tour pole.

  Two-time New Hampshire winner Donny Lia joined Newman on the front row thanks to a fast lap of 29.508 (129.077) while championship points leader Ryan Preece was third-fastest at 29.528 (128.989). Todd Szegedy, Bobby Santos, Doug Coby, Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink and Ron Silk rounded out the top 10 in the qualifying.

  Todd Szegedy ended a long dry spell, winless in 28 events, and a string of bad luck as he won the F.W. Webb 100 over Ryan Newman and Donny Lia. Bobby Santos and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five. Mike Stefanik finished sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat and Ed Flemke Jr.

  Following the race Szegedy acknowledged the contact he made with Lia to make the last-lap pass, but the desire to end that winless drought provided the motivation to do whatever it took. “I sent it in and drove it in as hard as I could,” Szegedy said. “I tried not to hit him, but I knew that we were going to hit. Trying to justify what he did, “I don’t knock guys out of the way to get victories, but I needed this one really bad.”

  Despite the fact that there were 23 lead changes among 5 drivers it was simple to see that Ryan Newman had the field covered as he could take the lead whenever he pleased especially in the first half. Newman did make a late bid for the lead coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap but settled for second. A victim of bad timing.

  Nineteen of the 26 starters finished on the lead lap. There were only three cautions for 11 laps, one of those was for the half time break. A minor spin which involved two cars and a hard crash in turn one on lap 60 which saw Rowan Pennink hit head-on and Ted Christopher take a slap shot on the driver’s side. Both drivers escaped injury.

  Series point leader Ryan Preece finished 12th but was able to extend his points lead over Doug Coby to 41 (480-439) with two races remaining. Coby, the defending tour champion, finished 13th. Preece, who announced that he would return to the Bill Park entry at Riverhead in 2014, stated that his car felt good when he was running near the front but lacked the horsepower to pass the leaders.

  Woody Pitkat complained of a sticking throttle but toughed it out to the end. Pitkat has done a great job in the Hill Billy Racing No. 79.

  Patrick Emerling turned twenty-one and part of the birthday celebration included a brand new race car purchased from Northeast RaceCars.

  A record setting night took place Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl as it hosted a six division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race program. Leading the way was a win by Nichole Morgillo in the SK Modified® feature, becoming the first woman to win a race in the track’s premier division in the 63-year history of the race track. Earlier in the night, Victoria Bergenty captured a victory in the SK Light Modified feature to join Morgillo as winning women in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, a first at the oval. Keith Rocco unofficially captured the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model track championship following his tenth win of the season to become just the second driver to win titles in three different divisions at the track. Ken Cassidy Jr. took one step further in his quest for a fifth championship in one division as he won the night’s Mini Stock feature, his 51st career win at the shoreline oval and Corey Hutchings won his seventh Street Stock race of the year. In INEX racing, Dylan Izzo won his fourth Saturday night Legend Cars feature of 2013.

  Morgillo’s historic run in the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature was hard fought down to the checkered flag. She held back a charging Ted Christopher over the final 11 laps to take the win, capping a memorable day at the track. Earlier in the night Morgillo’s boyfriend and fellow SK Modified® driver Shawn Thibeault proposed to her on the track’s front stretch before the crowd as part of the evening’s opening festivities. Rob Janovic, Jeff Gallup and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco had a rough night as he finished 11th after missing the final restart.

  Congratulations went out to Jacob Perry on his win on the Big Stage in the Gifford's Famous Ice Cream Bandolero Series at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Perry, son of Dennis Perry who competes weekly at Thompson, is a third generation racer. At 11 years of age he can now say that he won at Loudon on Cup weekend.

  It looked like Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece will have to wait another year as Lee Pulliam won NASCAR’s national championship of weekly short track auto racing for a second consecutive year in 2013. Pulliam became just the third driver in the series’ 32 years to win the national championship more than once and to win consecutive titles.

  Pulliam, 25, of Semora, N.C., scored the maximum of 810 points available this season. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series has had various points systems since it began in 1982, and Pulliam is just the fourth to win the title with a “perfect record.” Pulliam finished with 27 wins, 40 top fives and 44 top 10s in 47 starts to out-distance fellow asphalt Late Model driver Deac McCaskill, who finished second with 794 points. Pulliam’s wins came at four tracks in two states: South Boston (Va.) Speedway (16), Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., (8), Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C., (2), and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. (1).

  It must be noted that most of Pulliam's wins came from front row starting positions while Rocco and Preece did it the hard way as they came from the rear in handicapped starts.

  Rocco continued his iron man-style consistency in the series this year. He won a hard-fight battle with Ryan Preece for the third and final podium position in a match-up of asphalt modified drivers. The 28-year-old from Wallingford, Conn., finished in the top three of national points for the fifth consecutive year and has finished no worse than fourth over the last seven years. Rocco has nothing to be ashamed of as he matched his 2012 win total of 14 and won his sixth consecutive Connecticut championship. He recorded 30 top fives and 39 top 10s in 48 starts at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl. He also won his fourth Sunoco Modified Division championship at Thompson.

  Preece, 22 of Berlin, Conn., placed fourth in series points racing at Thompson, Stafford and Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway. Preece leads the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point race with three races remaining on the 2013 schedule. Rounding out the top-five in points is dirt modified driver Craig VonDohren who races at Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pa.

  Matt Kenseth made it 2 for 2 in the NASCAR Cup Chase, holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to win Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Ryan Blaney earned his first Nationwide Series victory and another win for the team's Mustang, holding off Austin Dillon and surviving several late cautions to win Saturday night's 300-mile race at Kentucky Speedway.

  Making News on web site was the fact that privately held NAPA and Nationwide Insurance would be moving their sponsorship dollars. NAPA is upset over the fact that Michael Waltrip Racing was caught trying to rig the finish of a cup race and Nationwide is upset over the fact that fans still refer to their titled series in NASCAR as the once titled Busch Series.

  On a more serious note, Customers of one rent-to-own company may have been getting much more than they bargained for. Aaron's stores are accused of keeping an eye on customers are little too closely. In a new lawsuit, the company is accused of having 185,000 e-mails containing personal and sensitive information. Those e-mails were sent secretly from computers people had rented from the store, and they were allegedly sent to the company's corporate computers.

  Aaron's was facing a huge class action lawsuit. It alleges the company installed spyware software on computers it leased. According to the filings, that spyware secretly sent those e-mails back to the company. Some of them even contained naked pictures and other personal information.

  The lawsuit says it was all secretly snapped by the computers' webcams. It isn't the first time the company has faced accusations like this.

  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 19, 2014

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