The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith


February 17, 2015

  The Florida flat lands came alive with the sound of racing engines as Daytona and New Smyrna come alive for the official start of the 2015 racing season.

  Both Daytona and New Smyrna held practice sessions last Thursday. Daytona held practice for ARCA cars which totaled 46. Bobby Gerhart, an ARCA regular was the fastest with a 47.633 run on the 2-1/2 mile oval. 25 58 John Lowinski-Loh was 25th with a 48.085 sec run and Tommy Barrett Jr. was 30th with a 48.441sec run. At New Smyrna approximately a dozen tour type Modifieds were on hand. Among the fastest were Ryan Preece, Chuck Hossfeld, Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio and Kevin Goodale.

  The Daytona Int. Speedway held qualifying for the ARCA cars last Friday, Taking the pole for Saturdayís ARCA 200 was Mark Thompson who turned a 48.042 on the 2-1/2 mile oval. Second fastest was Cody Coughlin followed by Tom Hessert, Brett Hudson and Martinsville Speedway promoter Clay Campbell. John Lowinski-Loh, who races at the Thompson Speedway, qualified 23rd and Tommy Barrett Jr., who competes on the Whelen Modified Tour Series, was 35th. Barrett was not quick enough to make the starting grid.

  Opening night at New Smyrna saw only 14 cars start the Modified tour type feature as temperatures dipped into the low 40ís. Ryan Preece ran away with it but was disqualified after a post race weigh-in. Justin Bonsignore was moved up to the winners spot. J.R. Bertuccio finished second with Jimmy Zacharias, third. Rounding out the top five were Kevin Goodale and Dalton Baldwin.

  Because of the cold night the grandstands were all but empty. Track officials dragged their feet in expediting the program as it took way too long to clean up wrecks and restart events.

  Spencer Davis, who drives for the Hill family, had a rocky start after a rear end issue sidelined him prior to the green flag. He lost five laps swapping spots with the driver of the Hillbilly Racing backup car and completed what turned out to be his best finish of the night after disqualifications in the Super and Pro Late Model features.

  Grant Enfinger won the ARCA 200 on Saturday afternoon at the Daytona International Speedway. John Lowinski-Loh was not as fortunate as he was an early drop-out with a blown engine. He was credited with a 33rd finishing position. Matt Kenseth won Saturday night's exhibition Sprint Unlimited, which was a crash-filled kickoff to the NASCAR season for the second consecutive year. Only 12 of the 25 cars in the field were running at the end of the race, which was stopped twice by red flags for multi-car accidents. There were only eight cars running at the end of the 2014 race.

  Ryan Preece got redemption from his opening night disqualification as he won the Tour type Modified 35 lapper on Saturday night. Chuck Hossfeld finished a close second with JR Bertuccio, third. Justin Bonsignore and Jim Zacharias rounded out the top five. Attendance was sparse as temps dipped to the low 40ís.

  In Daytona 500 qualifying last Sunday, Jeff Gordon, in what he says was his final attempt at the Daytona 500, got just enough of a draw from the line of cars ahead of him to post a lap of 201.293 mph (44.711 seconds), good enough to top all twelve cars who advanced to the third and final round of Coors Light Pole Qualifying and giving the four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion his second career pole (1999) for NASCARís most prestigious event. Johnson, who was at the tail of the drafting train in the final moments of qualifying, came up three one-hundredths of a second shy of his third career 500 pole (201.135; 44.746), but sits on the front row of the Great American Race for the fourth time in his career and gives car owner Rick Hendrick his fourth career "sweep" of the front row for the 500.

  The American-Canadian Tour (ACT) and the NASCAR K&N Series took center stage at New Smyrna on Sunday night. Eddie MacDonald led wire-to-wire to claim Sunday night's American-Canadian Tour 100 which went green to checker without a caution. Following MacDonald at the finish were Patrick Laperle, Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Travis Stearns and Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. The Rocco brothers, Jeff and Keith, finished 18th and 19th. Keith had a motor problem earlier in the day and was forced to borrowed one for Sunday night. A back-up motor arrived on Monday. Austin Hill, 20, took the lead after winning the 21 Means 21 Pole Award and never looked back on the field from there, besting a 26-car field and leading wire-to-wire to win the Hart to Heart Breast Cancer Foundation 150.

  Details of the settlement of the sale of the Waterford Speedbowl have been released. The New London Day reported that the title to the Waterford Speedbowl has been officially transferred to Bruce Bemer, owner of Bemer Petroleum in Glastonbury, CT following a creditorís withdrawal of an appeal, according to a lawyer involved in the foreclosure lawsuit. Attorney Michael S. Bonnano said that his client, Speedbowl creditor Edward DeMuzzio, withdrew an appeal of the sale on Wednesday, Feb 4.

  Bemer won ownership of the Route 85 track on Oct. 18 with a bid of $1.75 million at an auction. Speedbowl fan Rocco Arbitell and business partner Peter Borrelli filed for foreclosure against the racetrackís then owner, Terry Eames, in 2008. DeMuzzio later alleged that collusion had led to a winning bid that was artificially low, as the track is valued at about $3 million. He previously submitted documents to the court stating that the low bid led to him being "wiped out" as a creditor.

  Title was transferred from Eames to Bemer on Thursday, Feb 5 said Bonnano. A motion for a supplemental judgment outlining how much each creditor will receive from sale proceeds still requires approval by a New London Superior Court judge, according to Bonnano.

  The motion states that creditors Arbitell and Borrelli are to receive $1.22 million from proceeds of the sale. DeMuzzio is slated to receive $35,000 from the sale, and Shawn Monahan, who has also lent money to the track, is to receive about $13,000, according to the motion. Another $473,000 is to be divided among creditors First H&M Corp., Theodore Park Jr., and Shawn Parker, the motion states. DeMuzzioís firm CCi Inc., also listed as a creditor, is not slated to receive money from the court proceeds, according to the motion. Bonnano said parties in the settlement have agreed not to share further details of the settlement.

  Big News comes from the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. Could a Whelen Modified Tour Series event be in their future? The Venditti family just made their 70th season even more historic.
As confirmed by NBC 10 in Providence, RI, the Seekonk Speedway will return to the NASCAR Home Tracks program as a NASCAR-sanctioned short track for the 2015 season.

  "NASCAR and Seekonk Speedway officials have confirmed that Seekonk Speedway will be returning to the NASCAR family in 2015," said NBC 10 news lead sportscaster Frank Carpano. "Seekonk Speedway has signed as a NASCAR member track this coming season and will feature the NASCAR Whelen All American Series." An official announcement of the partnership between the track and NASCAR is expected in the near future. The Speedway was most recently part of the Home Tracks back in the 2005 season. The 70th season of racing at Seekonk will begin on Sunday, May 3 at 2 P.M.

  New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame member Billy Greco hosts a NEAR Movie Party on Saturday evening March 28th at the Polish American Club located at 194 West Spring Street in West Haven, CT. The event starts at 5:00. With previous editions having been very-successful, it remains a must-attend affair for New England race fans. Donations are $20.00 at the Door.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. On the positive side, Speedway Motorsports went up 0.52 to 23.42 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.68 to 31.08 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.09 to 2.53. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.31 to 5.23 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.32 to 60.17 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 2.43 to 25.91. The car manufacturers had a banner week. Leading the way was Toyota, which went up 6.82 to 132.49. General Motors went up 2.78 to 37.62 and Ford went up 0.94 to 16.30. The home improvement sector also had a banner week. Home Depot went up 8.46 to 111.89 and Lowes went up 4.35 to 72.05. The big team sponsorís stocks also had a good week. Leading the way was Coca-Cola, which went up 10.90 to 100.77. FedEx went up 4.02 to 176.47 and McDonalds went up 2.39 to 95.65 while Target Department Stores went up 0.79 to 76.12 and Aaronís Rentals went up 0.73 to 31.35.

  On the tube this coming week:

  Wednesday, February 18

10:00 AM, Daytona 500 Pole Day, FOX Sports 2
12:30 PM, NASCAR Sprrint Cup Series Sprint Unlimited, FS2
2:00 PM, NSCS Daytona practice, FS2
3:00 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Daytona practice, FS2
4:00 PM, NASCAR Gridiron Challenge, NBC Sports Net
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1

  Thursday, February 19
1:00 AM, NASCAR Gridiron Challenge, NBCSN
12:00 PM, NSCS Daytona final practice, FS1
1:30 PM, NCWTS Daytona practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1
3:30 PM, NCWTS Daytona final practice, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
7:00 PM, NSCS Duel at Daytona, FS1
11:30 PM, NASCAR Gridiron Challenge, NBCSN

  Friday, February 20
12:30 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
2:30 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
3:00 AM, NSCS Duel at Daytona re-air, FS1
7:00 AM, NSCS Duel at Daytona re-air, FS2
11:00 AM, NSCS Daytona practice, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Daytona practice, FS1
2:00 PM, NSCS Daytona practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NXS Daytona final practice, FS1
4:30 PM, NCWTS Daytona qualifying, FS1
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
6:30 PM, NASCAR America: The List - Rookie Seasons, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NCWTS Daytona race, FS1

  Saturday, February 21
3:00 AM, NCWTS Daytona race re-air, FS1
10:00 AM, Classic NASCAR - 1979 Daytona 500, FS1
10:30 AM, NSCS Daytona final practice, FS1
12:00 PM, NXS Daytona qualifying, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1
3:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
3:30 PM, NXS Daytona race, FS1

  Sunday, February 22
2:00 AM, NASCAR Gridiron Challenge, NBCSN
3:00 AM, NXS Daytona practice re-air, FS1
6:30 AM, NSCS Daytona practice re-air, FS1
9:00 AM, Classic NASCAR - 1979 Daytona 500, FS1
10:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:00 PM, NSCS Daytona 500, FOX
5:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

   Thatís 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.

SourcePhil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: February 17, 2015

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