The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - September 1, 2015

  Keith Rocco ended a long dry spell as he scored a one-two punch by scoring back to back twin 25 lap wins in the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Pepsi Back to School Bash on Wednesday night as the speedway wrapped up it's popular Wednesday night series. Rocco's career overall total of 207 wins also include victories at Waterford and Stafford Speedways. To make the night complete for the Rocco family Keith Rocco’s brother Jeff Rocco continued on his hot streak by winning three consecutive races in the Late Model division at Thompson and four of the past five Late Model races at the track. His streak would continue as Rocco handily won a hotly contested event in the 25-lap sprint, which included three and four-wide racing at times.
  In the first 25 lap Sunoco (SK type) Modified event, Rocco started in the top ten and worked his way up quickly to the lead, taking advantage of an early caution when Adam Norton, who had concerns during practice about the engine in his car, made hard contact with the turn three wall. Rocco raced his way to second with 23 laps to go and engaged in a neck-and-neck battle with Nick Ladyga for several laps before another caution slowed the field with 19 laps remaining. Rocco would benefit from a great restart and never look back holding off heavy hitters Woody Pitkat, Ryan Preece, Nick Ladyga and his own teammate Eric Berndt who rounded out the top five.
  In the second 25 lap Sunoco Modified event, Rocco worked his way to the top three with fifteen of the twenty-five laps remaining and engaged in a neck-and-neck battle for the lead with Ryan Preece. A bonsai dive-bomb with ten to go gave Rocco the lead and it was pedal to the metal as he held off Preece to sweep the Sunoco Modified double header. Following Preece was Nick Ladyga, Jason Sundeen, Kerry Malone and Ryan Morgan.
  Other winners at Thompson were Charlie Wilcox in the Outlaw Modifieds, Dave Trudeau in the Mini Stocks, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Jeff Rocco in the Late Models.
  The entire program was over by 8:35pm. Among those on hand was Linda DeSarro Palardy. Linda's first husband was the late Fred DeSarro who was a multi-time Modified track champion at the Connecticut oval.
  Next up for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park is the biggest event of the season, the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtramart. The Three night event kicks off on Friday, October 16th as many local series and the Whelen Modified Tour conclude their seasons in one wild weekend of racing at the Big T.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island on Saturday night. During the week leading up to the event NASCAR issued the following rule as a few race teams on the tour were not going but were letting others use their car numbers. "If a team is using a WMT car number, said car must show up at the track in that teams hauler with that teams crew chief." This was done to protect race teams that have supported all events.
  Justin Bonsignore grabbed the lead from Doug Coby on Lap 115 of the 200 lap event on the tight quarter mile and held on through six caution restarts to take down a third career victory at his home track, and second in a row in 2015. A 12th and final caution came out on Lap 199 just after Bonsignore had taken the white flag in his No. 51 M3 Technology Chevrolet, and he came around to a yellow-checkered. It was the eighth career victory overall for the Holtsville, New York native. Coby and his No. 2 Dunleavy’s Repair/A&J Romano Construction Chevrolet finished second, while rookie Chase Dowling, Donny Lia and Eric Goodale rounded out the top-five. Tom Rogers Jr, who won his second-consecutive Coors Light Pole Award at Riverhead earlier in the day, finished sixth. Woody Pitkat, championship points leader Ryan Preece, Todd Szegedy and rookie Jeff Goodale completed the top-10.
  There were 31 cars on hand including Melissa Fifield, who as usual was the slowest of the bunch. Because of the fact that she shows up at all tour events she was able to bump her way into the starting field. She managed to complete 66 laps before giving up. There were 12 caution periods for a total of 84 laps. Bonsignore's average speed was 43.321 mph.
  The Whelen Modified Tour Series goes into a four week hibernation before heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 26.

  At the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night it was the Lincoln Tech Back 2 SK®ool Blitz. Taking down feature wins on the night was sophmore sensation Ronnie Williams who scored his sixth SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Payton Henry in the SK Light feature, Al Saunders in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Brandon Michael in the DARE Stock feature, and Devin O’Connell in the Legend Cars feature.
  Williams, who started 10th, took the lead from Matt Galko as they completed lap-24. Rowan Pennink was third with Keith Rocco and Ryan Preece making up the top-5. Preece spun in turn 2 and collected Eric Berndt to bring the caution out with 26 laps complete. On the restart, Williams took the lead while Pennink and Galko were side by side for second and Woody Pitkat was side by side with Todd Owen for fourth. Pennink took second with Galko slipping into third. Pitkat got the better of his duel with Owen and took fourth.
  In the closing laps Pennink looked like he had a stronger car getting into the corner than Williams, but Williams would stretch out his advantage once they came off the corners. The two leaders were leaving Galko behind, who was in turn all by himself as Pitkat and Owen were side by side for fourth. Williams led Pennink to the checkered flag to pick up his sixth win of the season. Galko finished third, with Pitkat beating Owen to the line by a nose for fourth place. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Owen, Keith Rocco, Tyler Hines, Ted Christopher, Jeremy Sorel and Ryan Preece.

  The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine. Chris Pasteryak scored a dominate win over rookie driver Kevin Iannarelli who chased Pasteryak through out the event. Les Hinckley followed up his win at Monadnock with a third place finish. He was filling in for Rowan Pennink who was at the Riverhead Raceway. Russ Hersey and Donnie Lashua rounded out the top five.
  The MRS moves on to Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) this coming Friday for an 80-lap event.

  In regular weekly action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl six divisions of racing were on tap including the North East Street Stock Tour. Recording wins were Diego Monahan in the SK Modifieds, Corey Coates in the Limited Sportsman, Dana DiMatteo in the Legends, Corey Barry in the SK Lights, Larry Loomis in the Mini Stocks and Josh Galvin in the North East Street Stock Tour.
  In the SK Modified feature Monahan, who is the divisions point leader in what has to be the tightest points race in recent memory at the Bowl, fought an epic battle of horsepower from the drop of the green flag. Monahan, who started 6th, moved up to 2nd by lap 7 with Tyler Chadwick hot on his rear bumper. Monahan chased leader Dylan Izzo for 8 laps, when caution came out after Ryan Morgan made contact with the backstretch wall. On the ensuing restart, it was Izzo on the inside, Monahan on the outside, Chadwick, and Ted Christopher, who is 6th in points, just 30 back of Monahan, on the outside of the 2nd row. Monahan powered his way into the lead on the restart with Christopher glued to his bumper. Caution came out again on lap 13 after Dennis Gada, driving in place of his son Joey Gada, made hard contact with the turn 3 wall. Monahan held the lead on the restart, with Keith Rocco moving into 2nd past Christopher. Monahan and Rocco battled side-by-side, with Christopher right in the mix. Christopher passed Rocco and began to work on Monahan with 10 to go. Christopher pulled along side Monahan with 4 laps remaining, and used every trick in the bag to try to pass him. Monahan was able to withstand numerous challenges from Christopher in the closing laps to take home the win. Following Monahan across the line was Christopher, Rocco, Chadwick, and Paul Kusheba.
  With the New London-Waterford Speedbowl nearing the stretch run to close out one of the best seasons ever at the shoreline oval fans who haven't seen a racing event at the Route 85 oval should take in a race before the snow flies. The new management of Bruce Bemer and Shawn Monahan have taken giant steps in improving the facility from head to toe plus the racing there is second to none.

  Veteran Verizon Indy Car Series driver Justin Wilson died from injuries suffered in a crash during the recent ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. Wilson, 36, was involved in a crash with Sage Karam with 21 laps to go in Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. Karam lost control of his car coming out of the exit of turn one and slammed hard into the outside wall while leading the race.
  Wilson drove into the debris field left by Karam’s crashed car and it appeared that part of the nose that had broken loose off Karam’s Chevrolet hit Wilson, rendering him unconscious and sending his car out of control into the inside wall.
  Wilson was airlifted to Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pa., where he died the following day. Many in racing took to social media Sunday to thank Tony Stewart for donating the use of his plane to Justin Wilson’s family after Wilson was injured.
  Despite losing his life after a freak Indy Car accident, Justin Wilson is living up to his reputation as a wonderful human being. On Tuesday, Wilson's brother Stefan tweeted out that by donating Justin's organs, the fallen driver helped save six lives.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week all three speedway stocks had positive results. Leading the way was Speedway Motorsports which went up 1.11 to 19.54. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.21 to 31.97 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.03 to 2.32. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 2.36 to 49.56 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.24 to 29.52 and NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up went up 0.38 to 5.19. Car manufacturer Toyota went up 1.72 to 120.77 while Ford dropped 0.12 to 12.74 and General Motors dropped 0.60 to 29.00. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 3.36 to 119.52 while Lowes dropped 2.65 to 68.45. In big team sponsor's stocks, McDonalds dropped 0.88 to 96.25, Fedex dropped 3.58 to 152.50 and Target Department Stores dropped 0.37 to 78.03 while Coca-Cola went up 3.41 to 157.56 and Aarons Rentals went up 0.06 to 37.88.

  On the tube this coming week:

  Wednesday, September 2

6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX S1

  Thursday, September 3
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

  Saturday, September 5
3:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Darlington race, NBC

  Sunday, September 6
1:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
7:30 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Darlington race, NBC

   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: September 1, 2015

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