The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - June 16, 2015

  The stars and cars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series made their second stop of the season at the Thompson International Speedway at the Thompson Motorsports Park with a field of 30 Modifieds. Color Him Gone is the only way to describe Doug Coby's dominate run at Thompson this past Wednesday night. Starting on the outside pole after being edged out of the top spot by Woody Pitkat, Coby took the lead in turn four just before completing lap two. Coby, with Pitkat in tow, set a torrid pace for 81 green flag laps before the first caution of the night flew on lap 82 when Anthony Nocella and Patrick Emerling came together between turns three and four. Just about all the lead lap cars pitted. Staying out to get his lap back was Ryan Preece who had gone a lap down after being sent to the rear on the start along with Todd Szegedy for making unapproved changes to their cars after qualifying.

  Quick pit stop action by crew chief Phil Moran and his crew got Coby out of the pit without losing the lead. Preece was the recipient of the "Lucky Dog" award and was waved around to the tail end of the field and into the same lap as the leaders. Coby led the field to the restart on lap 89. Justin Bonsignore came out of nowhere to roll into the second spot as Pitkat began to fade. Just as the field had completed 100 laps Ron Silk had come to a halt in turn four with suspension issues. On the restart on lap 106 Coby, with much determination, opened up a ten car lead leaving Bonsignore in the dust.

  Coby sprinted to the 125 lap finish unchallenged. Bonsignore finished second. Szegedy rebounded fron his earlier penalty and brought the Garbarino Mystic Missile home in third spot. Keith Rocco, who started third, turned in a strong run with the Robert Our entry and finished fourth. Rounding out the top five was Pitkat. Sixth through tenth was Bobby Santos, Preece, Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito and Ted Christopher.

  There were fourteen cars on the lead lap at the finish. Its amazing that NASCAR continues to allow Melissa Fifield to compete or better said to ride around on the track at all but at a crawl while the ultra fast Modifieds attempt to avoid her. On lap 54, at least three laps down to the leader she all but took out Woody Pitkat who was running second to Doug Coby at the time. It makes no sense and adds nothing to the show to allow her to run with the Modifieds. Wake up NASCAR before someone gets hurt or destroys their equipment!

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series takes a two week break before heading to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on June 27. the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will catch its breath before getting back to the track on Saturday, June 27 with at New York's Riverhead Raceway for the Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200.
  The Mr. Rooter 125 will be shown on NBC Sports Net this coming Thursday night. There are some confliction of broadcast times. NASCAR says it will be on from 6-7:00pm while TV says 5:30-6:30pm. Take your pick on this one!

  In the Sunoco (SK Modified) event Preece took his lumps for causing an accident and was penalized to the rear for rough riding but still took the checkered flag. Cam McDermott led the early going while all were watching Preece and Keith Rocco who beat and banged each other until Preece nearly sent Rocco into the wall. Both were warned and told to knock it off or they would be penalized. Preece was eventually sent to the back of the field for rough racing during a lap nine caution which ended strong, and potentially top five, runs by Shawn Thibeault and Ed Pulio. Preece made his way to fourth place in two laps on the restart and eventually took the lead on lap eighteen.

  A brief red flag on lap twenty-two bunched up the field but on the restart it was all Ryan Preece who maintained the lead and never looked back. Preece would survive one more caution before leading the final seven laps on route to victory lane and extending his points lead in the series. Preece said that it was a hard fought race and a good win but he did feel bad for contact that led to his penalty and caused damage to Thibeault and Pulio’s cars. “I’m just really upset how I got into Shawn Thibeault there. I feel bad for him and I’ll talk to him later,” said Preece. “Obviously that dampens the win right there, but (my team) gave me a great car. It’s really fun driving with them. They have great attitudes.”

  Woody Pitkat finished a strong second while Rocco managed a third place finish and McDermott had to settle for a fourth place finish despite his early run at the front. Kerry Malone rounded out the top five.

  In late Model action, the twenty-five lap Late Model feature included a massive wreck with less than ten laps to go that created a chaotic finish when early leader Jeff Rocco, who showed some muscle stretching out a two-and-a-half car length lead in the opening laps, was collected on a restart following a late race caution. It appeared that Rocco was taken out intentionally but it was later learned that the accident was a result of mis-communication between Rocco and his spotter. His brother, Keith Rocco, created a bit of his own drama when the cars came to the line for the restart, taking the battle for first and second nearly three-wide. Keith Rocco would settle for a 4th place finish while Late Model all-time win leader Rick Gentes added to his win total beating Brian Tagg to the line by .362 seconds. Larry Gelinas went on to finish third.

  Other Wednesday night winners at Thompson were Ryan Waterman winning a spirited battle over Corey Hutchins and Eric Bourgeois in the Monster Mini-Stocks and the Vintage Outlaws.

  The Mr. Rooter event was somewhat of a reunion of some of the all-time greats of the past in New England racing. Among those on hand was George Savory, Billy Harman, Billy Greco, Dickie Doo Ceravolo and George Summers. Among the missing was Mr Leo Cleary who is still in Florida recovering from a recent illness.

  Oval track racing at Thompson resumes on Wednesday, July 8. Thompson's Late Model division will take center stage this night as they compete in their second annual 20/20 Sprint. It will be comprised of two 20-lap point races and one 10-lap dash to determine an overall winner. As an added bonus, the overall winner of this race will not only receive a $1,000 prize, but will be a guaranteed starter for the 100-lap American Canadian Tour race at the World Series in October! Other events include Sunoco Modifieds (30 laps), Limited Sportsman (20 laps) and Mini Stocks (15 laps). Rain date is July 15.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night the temperature was up and the tension was high. Taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly feature wins were Michael Gervais, Jr. in a wild 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn was a winner for the third consecutive week in the Late Model feature, Daniel Wesson was a first time winner in only his 8th start in the SK Light feature, David Arute got his first win of the season in the Limited Late Model feature, Alexandra Fearn recorded her first win of the season in the DARE Stock feature, and Devin O’Connell got his third win of the season in the Legend Cars Feature.

  In the closing moments of the SK Modified 40 lapper Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece were racing side by side for the lead with neither driver giving an inch. Pitkat was able to edge Preece at the line for the lead on lap-36 and they remained side by side on lap-37 with Pitkat again leading by a nose at the line. That scenario repeated itself on lap-38 but as they raced out of turn 2 on lap-39, they touched wheels and both cars spun with Preece climbing over Pitkat’s front tire to bring the caution out and set up a green white checkered finish. This put Rowan Pennink into the lead with Gervais on his outside and Eric Berndt was now third with Tyler Hines on his outside in fourth. Pitkat was done for the evening, while Preece was able to keep going and he restarted in seventh place.

  Gervais got a great restart and he powered his way past Pennink and into the lead but Pennink came back strong and was right on Gervais’ bumper as they took the white flag. Pennink made on last effort in turn 4 on the final lap but Gervais was able to hold him off and record his first win of the 2015 season. Hines finished third, with Avery and Berndt rounding out the top-5. Preece finished sixth. Following the conclusion of the event Pitkat felt that Preece intentionally took him out while Preece stated that a hole opened up and he went for it. The only way one could pass judgment on this incident would be from an overhead view.

  Keith Rocco keeps rolling along at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco recorded his fourth SK Modified win of the season at the shoreline oval bringing his track win total to 111 wins. The win also brought Rocco closer to a career overall total of 200 wins which now total 198 which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways.

  Twin 30 lap SK Modified features were on tap on what has to be considered one of the best nights, weather wise, for racing. In the first feature, Rocco chased Ted Christopher to the finish line. Christopher took the lead on lap 25 in opening 30 lapper which was slowed by only one caution. Paul Kusheba, who started on the pole. finished third. Rounding out the top five were Diego Monahan and Tim Jordan. Making his first start of the year was Kyle James who started 20th and finished tenth. In the SK Modified night-cap, Rocco started ninth and by lap 12 was in the top spot in the caution filled event. James started 20th again, avoided all the wrecks as he finished second. Christopher started tenth but ended up 19th after being involved in a wreck. Tyler Chadwick, Joe Gada and Ed Puleo rounded out the top five.

  Other Saturday night winners at the Speedbowl were.Jack Aquilina in the Limited Sportsman, Corey Barry in the SK Lites, Cory Dimatteo in the Legends and Jordan Hadley in the Mini Stocks. The Late Models had the night off.

  Round two of the much touted Tri-Track Series was run at the high banked 1/4 mile Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH. Matt Hirschman was the big winner of the 100 lapper as he took advantage of Woody Pitkat and Chris Pasteryak who were battling for the lead with two laps to go. Hirschman started 22nd on the field. Mike Holdridge who worked his way into the feature by qualifying in a b-main, started 27th and wound up third behind Steve Masse. Zane Zeiner and Todd Patnode rounded out the top five. Pasteryak and Pitkat ended up 13th and 15th respectively. Sixth through tenth were Anthony Nocella, Andy Jankowiak, Ryan Preece, Doug Coby and Todd Annarummo.

  Total payout - $47,419.14. Matt Hirschman received a whopping $6000 for his efforts. Masse was awarded $3600 and Holdridge, $2600. Pitkat, who led numerous laps ended up 15th at the finish Because of the fact that he had led a ton of laps his pay for the night was $3075.

  Ron Silk executed a bump and run at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night that ultimately led to a victory. Silk was pinch hitting in the Bill Park car that has been driven to two wins at Riverhead by Ryan Preece. Jason Agugliaro was on the receiving end of Silk's bump. Vinny Biondolillo was runner-up while Tom Rogers Jr. crossed the line third. Howie Brode and Shawn Solomito completed the top five. Agugliaro faded to seventh.

  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC Tim Brown cruised to an easy 76th career victory in the 100-lap Modified Division race at Bowman Gray Stadium on Saturday night. Burt Myers, who qualified among the top-four and accepted the Colors Edge Challenge, which moved him to the back of the field but with a chance to claim a $3,000 prize, wound up leaking water around the midpoint in the race and finished 12th. Chris Fleming finished second with Joe Ryan Osborne, third. David Calabrese and Ronnie Clifton rounded out the top five.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks ended the week with positive results. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.36 to 37.21 and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.17 to 21.85. Dover Entertainment showed a no-change at 2.30. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.21 to 4.63 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.17 to 31.49 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.13 to 54.98. With the exception of Toyota which dropped 0.02 to 135.49 the car manufacturers had a good week. Ford went up 0.45 to 15.23 and General Motors went up 0.59 to 35.71. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 1.28 to 111.60 while Lowes dropped 0.76 to 69.03. In the area of big team sponsors stocks McDonalds dropped 0.48 to 95.06 and Coca-Cola dropped 2.85 to 123.00 while Target Department Stores went up 0.27 to 79.47, Aarons Rentals went up 0.44to 34.47 and Fedex went up 1.39 to 183.63.

  On the tube this coming week:

  Thursday, June 18

2:00 AM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBC Sports Net
2:30 AM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
12:00 PM, DRIVEN - Matt Crafton: Born to Race, FOX Sports South
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:30 or 6:00 PM NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series Mr. Rooter 125 from Thompson, CT
6:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
8:30 PM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN

  Friday, June 19
12:00 AM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
12:30 AM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
11:00 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Iowa final practice, FOX Sports 2
3:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Chicagoland practice, FS2
4:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub: Weekend Edition, FS2
5:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NXS Chicagoland final practice, FS2
8:00 PM, NCWTS SetUp, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS Iowa race, FS1

  Saturday, June 20
5:00 PM, NXS Chicagoland qualifying, FS2
9:30 PM, NXS Chicagoland race, FS1

  Sunday, June 21
7:00 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
7:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
8:30 PM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
9:00 PM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
9:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
10:00 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
10:30 PM, NASCAR America: Scan All 43, NBCSN
11:00 PM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN
11:30 PM, NASCAR America: The States of NASCAR, NBCSN

   That’s 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: June 16, 2015

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