The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - April 14, 2015

  The Thompson Motorsports Park had a practice scheduled for this past Friday but rain and fog prevailed. On Saturday morning the New England finally kicked in with sunny skies and temps in the 60s. Thirty five Whelen Modified Tour cars were on hand for qualifying. During an early practice session Rowan Pennink had the throttle stick wide open as he roared down the backstretch of the 5/8 mile oval. Pennink's car went head on into the concrete wall and burst into flames when the fuel pump was severed from the engine. Pennink escaped unhurt but his car was all but destroyed form the impact and resulting fire.

  Defending Tour Champion Doug Coby captured the pole position as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.679 seconds (120.456 mph). Second fastest was Bobby Santos III who was a blink of the eye short with a 18.735 second run. Corey LaJoie, Ted Christopher and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top five. Slowest in the field was sophomore contender Melissa Fifield who was almost 14 mph slower than the pole sitter. She is way out of her league and needs to take a step back, sorry to say. During the running of the Ice Breaker she was lapped on lap 8, the first of numerous times. finally after completing 100 laps at an extremely slow speed she parked the car in the infield after complaining of a slipping clutch and cramps in her feet.

  In other Saturday action at Thompson, Moose Douton opened up the 2015 Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park with a win in the Limited Sportsman feature after patience paid off big dividends for the Waterford, Conn. driver. Douton didnít know he won until after the race was completed. Other winners in NASCAR Whelen All American Series action were Tyler Hines in the Sunoco Modified Lite division and Scott Michalski in the Monster Mini Stock division. Roger Turbush won in the New England Truck Series, Scott Bigelow in the NEMA Lightís, and Scott Quinn in the Vintage Outlawís.

  The Sunoco (SK) Modifieds had a strong field of 23 cars to run three qualifying heats. Winners were Kerry Malone, Woody Pitkat and Ted Christopher.

  A picture perfect day coupled with an almost packed grandstand provided the back drop for Doug Coby who appeared to be out for a Sunday drive as he clearly dominated the 150 lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series 150 lapper. Coby, in his Phil Moran prepared mount, took the early lead and proved from the start he was going to be the man to beat. A few early race cautions stopped him from pulling out to a commanding lead, but after a lap 36 restart, thatís exactly what he did. A red flag on lap 14 when Danny Watts hit the wall provided a slight interruption. Once racing resumed, Coby was back out to a ten car length lead over Bobby Santos and Ted Christopher.

  A round of pit stops under caution on lap 75 provided a little drama as Ron Silk inherited the lead but not for long as Coby was able to jump six spots to place himself inside of the top five by lap 84 when the caution flew for Troy Talman. Coby reclaimed the lead on lap 100 when he went by Silk in turn three. Ryan Preece and Silk took tires under caution on lap 104 in hopes to give themselves a shot at Coby up front but to no avail. Timmy Solomito moved into the second spot on a restart at lap 118 putting him side-by-side with Coby for a restart at lap 122. Coby jumped right back out to the front with Santos taking over the second spot.

  Coby pulled away to a huge lead before caution was out again at lap 135. Coby handled the restart as well as he had any other, but this time it was Pitkat who took over the second spot. On the final lap, a five car tangle in turn four resulted in Coby taking the checkers under caution.

  Following Coby and Woody Pitkat at the finish was Santos. Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Timmy Solomito, Eric Goodale, Donny Lia, Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy.

  Ten cautions for 54 laps kept Coby's average speed at 67.514mph. Eighteen of the original 35 starters finished on the lead lap.

  In other Sunday action, Ryan Preece won in the Sunoco Modified Series, Marc Curtis in the Late Model division, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman, and Eric Bourgeois in the Mini Stocks. Other winners included Dillon Moltz in the Granite State Pro Stock Series and Scott Quinn in the Vintage Outlaws.

  Taking over an hour to complete the 75 lap distance, Ryan Preece used a late-race pass to slingshot past Keith Rocco on lap 69 and drive on to the victory in the Sunoco Modified 75 lap race. It was a battle right down to the wire in a race that was plagued by 12 caution periods. Preece and Rocco swapped the lead numerous times but in the end it appeared that Rocco lost some power in his engine. Woody Pitkat finished third and was followed by Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone.

  Thompson's next oval track event will be on Wednesday, June 10 when the Whelen Modified Tour Series along with the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series returns. The next Modified Tour event will be the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on Sunday, April 26.

  The Icebreaker is scheduled to be seen on NBC Sports this coming week. It is tentatively scheduled to be shown following a late night NHL Hockey game on Saturday morning. Based on when the game is over the Icebreaker could be on anytime after12:30am on Saturday morning. Just to be sure, set your DVR or VCR to record from 12:30am to 2:30am just to be sure.

  The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour series visited the Langley VA Speedway last Saturday. After a John Smith spin in Turn 2 on Lap 45, Burt Myers was forced to the pits to change a cut right rear tire. He thought the early setback ended any chance for a decent finish. He was mistaken.

  Myers piloted his No. 1 Remington SCT/Citrusafe/Speedway Auto Auction Ford into first place on Lap 88 of the Pepsi 150 at Langley Speedway and never relinquished the lead, capturing his second consecutive win at the southern Virginia oval and first victory of the 2015 season. The win gives Myers, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion, a total of 16 career wins on the Tour.

  Kyle Ebersole, driving the No. 5 Ebersole Excavating Ford, elected to stay on track as the leaders pitted during cautions at various points during the race, waiting until Lap 140 to get his new tire. He returned to the track in fifth position with seven laps remaining in the race, then worked his way to second with two to go, but was unable to catch Myers and finished in the runner up spot.

  George Brunnhoelzl III started from the pole and led the first third of the race, until pitting after the third caution. He ran in the top five throughout the race but had to settle for a third place finish. Defending Southern Modified Tour champion Andy Seuss finished fourth, and Frank Fleming kept his streak of top-10 finishes at Langley Speedway intact with a fifth place result. Jason Myers, J.R. Bertuccio, Jeremy Gerstner, Gary Putnam, and Bobby Measmer Jr. rounded out the top 10.

  There were 15 cars on hand for the event. The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour begins its spring break and will return to action on July 4 at Caraway Speedway.

  The countdown to the season openers at Stafford and New London-Waterford continues. As of this coming Friday, April 17, the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 26 is only a week away and the long awaited rebirth of the New London Waterford Speedbowl is two weeks away on Saturday, May 2.

  While the New London-Waterford Speedbowl has received a new lease on life, hopefully for many years, another historic speedway, the one-mile New York State Fairgrounds Speedway in Syracuse, NY may meet its demise after the running the Super Dirt Week event this coming fall. The one mile speedway, known as the Moody Mile, has been in existence for 109 years.

  Area Auto Racing reported that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo made the opening round of the demise when he allocated $50 million for capitol projects at the fairgrounds. The money promised to Onondaga County executive Joanie Mahoney is earmarked for a project which she says will turn the fairgrounds into a modern facility that can be profitable year round. Her vision and that of Fair director Troy Waffner is to tear down the 16,000 seat grandstand and remove the one mile speedway. In its place would be an Ice Plex for Hockey leagues, an Equestrian Center for horse shows, an RV Park along with useable grass and tree areas.

  Comments can be left on Mahoney's web site, Over 3000 race fans have already signed an on line petition to stop the destruction of the historic speedway.

  On a sad note, former Speedway Scene owner and editor Val LeSeur sent word that his best friend and son, Bob passed away at the age of 53 after suffering a heart attack in South Carolina. During the Speedway Scene years Bob served a vital role as he covered the NASCAR Cup and supporting events with his camera and his pen. Bob was pre-deceased by his Mom, Anne.

  After having won several honors at the North Carolina Masters swimming championships a week ago, Bob was working towards competing in the Nationals. After his shift at the Y, he was doing laps when he suffered a heart attack.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week on a positive note. The International Speedway Corporation led the pack as they went up 2.59 to 36.19 while Speedway Motorsports went up 1.04 to 24.75. Dover Entertainment dropped 0.16 to 2.28. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.12 to 4.97 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.89 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 1.14 to 55.44. The car makers had somewhat of a stale week. General Motors went up 0.07 to 36.57, Ford remained the same with a no change at 16.03 and Toyota dropped 0.37 to 139.65. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 0.70 to 115.24 and Lowes went up 0.06 to 74.90. Most of the big team sponsors had a positive week. McDonalds Corp went up 2.47 to 97.80, Coca-Cola went up 1.34 to 115.86, Target Department Stores went up 0.90 to 83.57, Aarons Rentals went up 0.90 to 28,76 and FedEx went up 8.15 to 174.37.

  On the tube this coming week:

  Wednesday, April 15

5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 2
8:00 PM, The 10 Greatest Bristol Moments, FS2

  Thursday, April 16
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS2

  Friday, April 17
2:00 AM, NASCAR America - The List - Memorable Moments, NBCSN
2:30 AM, NASCAR America - The List - Rookie Seasons, NBCSN
12:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bristol practice, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Bristol practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
3:00 PM, NXS Bristol final practice, FS1
4:30 PM, NSCS Bristol qualifying, FS1
6:00 PM, The 10 Greatest Bristol Moments, FS1

  Saturday, April 18
12:30 AM NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series Thompson Icebreaker, NBCSN
3:00 AM, NSCS Bristol practice re-air, FS1
4:30 AM, NSCS Bristol qualifying re-air, FS1
7:00 AM, NSCS Bristol qualifying re-air, FS1
8:30 AM, NSCS Bristol practice, FS1
9:30 AM, NXS Bristol qualifying, FS1
11:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
11:30 AM,NSCS Bristol final practice, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
1:00 PM, NXS RaceDay, FS1
1:30 PM, NXS Bristol race, FS1
4:30 PM, NSCS Bristol qualifying re-air, FS1

  Sunday, April 19
3:00 AM, NXS Bristol race re-air, FS1
5:00 AM, NSCS Bristol final practice, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FOX
1:00 PM, NSCS Bristol race, FOX
1:00 PM, NSCS Bristol race, FOXD
6:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1

  Monday, April 20
10:00 AM, NSCS Bristol race re-air, FS1
1:00 PM, NSCS Bristol race re-air, FS2

   Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.

Source: Phil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: April 14, 2015

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