The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - October 6, 2015

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Fall Final. Twenty seven cars were on hand for practice and qualifying which started late Saturday due to intermittent rain. Fresh from their encounter at Loudon, Doug Coby and Ryan Preece qualified one-two for the 150 lap event. Coby garnered his ninth career Coors Light Pole Award with a fast lap of 18.329 seconds (98.205 mph). It was his fifth overall in 2015 behind the wheel of the No. 2 Dunleavy’s/HEX Performance Chevrolet. Following Coby and Preece in the qualifying results top 10 were Timmy Solomito, Bobby Santos, Donny Lia, Ted Christopher, Chase Dowling, Ronnie Williams, Eric Goodale and Woody Pitkat.
  True to form, wannabe driver Melissa Fifield qualified next to last at 83.141mph, 15.064mph off the pole speed. NASCAR is doing a gross injustice to the entire field as they continue to let her drive around at a snail's pace.
  In other Saturday action at Stafford, taking feature wins were Tony Membrino, Jr. in the SK Light feature, David Arute in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Brandon Michael in the DARE Stock feature, and Noah Korner in the Legend Cars National Qualifier event. Stephen Kopcik won the SK Light championship, Al Saunders clinched the Ltd. Late Model championship, and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. scored his second consecutive DARE Stock championship.
  It was cool and blustery but the sun shown brightly at Stafford on Sunday. In preliminary action Eric Berndt won the SK Modified 40 lapper. Ted Christopher finished second and Ryan Preece, third with Rowan Pennink, fourth. Pennink sewed up the division championship. Mike Christopher Jr rounded out the top five. Michael Bennett won the 30 lap Late Model contest.
  Doug Coby made it two in a row as he scored a decisive win over Ryan Preece as he won the Fall Final. Long Island drivers Timmy Solomito, Donny Lia and Shawn Solomito rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Chase Dowling, Matt Swanson, Jamie Tomaino, Ken Heagy and Todd Szegedy. All tolled, fifteen of the original 27 starters were on the lead lap at the finish.
  Preece, the 2013 champion who was the runner-up to Coby in 2012 and 2014, rebounded from an accident and pit road penalty to finish second at Stafford. Woody Pitkat, who entered the race weekend with the points lead, finished 12th after being involved in a late-race wreck.
Unofficially the fight for the title couldn't be tighter as Preece and Coby are tied at 565 points and Pitkat is at 561 point in third spot.
  Seven caution periods and two red flag conditions slow the progress of the event. The first caution was displayed on lap 29 for Todd Szegedy who spun in turn four. Szegedy lost a lap but in the course of the event made it up to salvage a tenth at the finish. The second caution flew on lap 48 when Jeff Goodale spun in front of the field as he was about to be lapped. At the same time Dave Sapienza and Dave Salzarulo spun together in turn two. The third caution flew for Matt Swanson who spun in turn two. The fourth caution came at the 100 lap mark when James Civali spun and was tagged by Ryan Preece. Also collected in the mêlée was Patrick Emerling, Jeff Goodale, Ted Christopher, Justin Bonsignore, Ronnie Williams and Shawn Solomito. The red flag was displayed on lap 102 in order to clean up the track and to tow Emerling and Williams to the pit area. Bobby Santos brought out the fifth caution on lap123 when his engine came unglued. A red flag resulted to get the track cleaned of the oil spilled. Ted Christopher spun in turn four on lap 130 bringing out the sixth caution. Max Zachem was also involved. Christopher got collected on the resulting restart and was eliminated from the event. The seventh and final caution was for James Civali who suffered a flat right front tire and stopped in turn three.
There were three different leaders. Preece took the lead at the start and held it thru lap 96. Lia led laps 97 to 105 and Coby led from lap 106 to the finish.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series takes a week off before winding up the 2015 season on October 18 at the Thompson Motor Sports Park Thompson Speedway.

  The New London-Waterford Speedbowl will host the Tri Track Open Modified Series Season Finale on Sunday, October 25. This event will also hold a completely different format than any of the other four races this season. There will be no short distance heat races followed up by consolation races and a B-main feature. Instead, this event will be started with two 35 lap “qualifying feature’s” that will determine who will advance into the big show.
The series will use a blind draw to line up the twin 35 lap feature’s, splitting the car count exactly in half. For example, if forty cars show up at the Speedbowl on that Sunday, twenty will be in the first feature and twenty will be in the second feature. From there, the top eleven finishers in each one will transfer into a 65 lap, $5,000 to win main event. The 65 lap feature that will conclude the afternoon will include 22 drivers, plus up to four provisional spots that could be added by series officials. Each 35 lap qualifying event pays $3,000 to win.
  Series officials will also award a $200 bonus for 34 teams that competed at the Lee USA Speedway and Monadnock Speedway events earlier in the season.
  Also on the racing card will be New London-Waterford Speedbowl Mini Stocks, who will hold a 50 lap feature event. The $2,000 to win “Battle of the Sound,” for the Legend Cars, will also be 50 laps in distance.

  Dick Williams and Jim Schaefer, principals behind the successful Tri-Track Modified Series, will share the 2015 New England Antique Racers’ Frank Maratta Award. The presentations, giving in recognition of their outstanding contribution and support of auto racing, will be part of the agenda at the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame 18th induction banquet Sunday, November 8 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor, Connecticut.
  During the past two seasons the Tri-Track Modified Series has paid out more than $400,000. The eight races have attracted an average car count of 40, including the top modified teams from New England and New York. Lee, Star, Seekonk, Monadnock and Waterford have hosted Tri-Track events.
  Williams, from North Stonington, Conn., and Schaefer, from Riverhead, New York, are the leaders of a group that has made the Tri-Track Modified Series a reality. According to Williams, a familiar face in New England racing for decades, the impetus was a conversation among a group of old timers.

  The Thompson Motorsports Park Thompson Speedway made it easier for a competitor to keep his family with him as they have changed their pit admittance policy. Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park has announced a change in their policy for minors in the pit area for NASCAR-sanctioned events. In the past, no one under the age of 14 was allowed in the pit area during events.
  Effective at the upcoming Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing presented by Xtramart, October 16-18, the pit area will be open to anyone holding a valid pit pass, including children. Anyone over the age of five may purchase a pit pass for $75.00. Children, age 5 & under, will be let in for free. Minor releases will still be necessary for anyone under the age of 18 in the pit area. Said speedway manager Josh Venada," Thank you to all for their feedback and patience while we worked this out. I know that this will help many of our teams to make their time here more family-oriented, and we are glad to be able to offer it!"

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were up for the week. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.88 to 32.11and Speedway Motorsports went up 0.07 to 17.72 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.02 to 2.27. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.05 to 4.25 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.06 to 42.89 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.50 to 29.23. In comparison, the car manufacturers had a good week. Ford went up 0.46 to 13.99 and Toyota went up 1.22 to 120.73 while General Motors jumped 2.32 to 31.73. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went up 1.54 to 70.23 while Home Depot went up 1.07 to 117.81. In big team sponsor's stocks, McDonalds went up 2.20 to 99.79, Coca-Cola jumped 6.02 to 195.15, Fedex went up 1.07 to 145.52 and Target Department Stores went up 0.48 to 79.53 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.81 to 36.62.

  On the tube this coming week:

  Thursday, October 8

2:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 2
6:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
7:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Charlotte practice, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Charlotte practice, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NXS Charlotte final practice, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NSCS Charlotte qualifying, NBCSN

  Friday, October 9
2:30 PM NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Fall Final NBC Sports Net
3:30 PM, NSCS Charlotte practice, NBCSN
4:30 PM, NXS Charlotte qualifying, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NSCS Charlotte final practice, NBCSN
7:30 PM, Countdown to Green, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NXS Charlotte race, NBCSN

  Saturday, October 10
3:30 PM, NSCS Charlotte qualifying re-air, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR America Saturday, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS2
6:00 PM, Countdown to Green, NBCSN
7:00 PM, NSCS Charlotte race, NBC
11:00 PM, NSCS Post Race Show, NBCSN
11:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN

  Sunday, October 11
12:30 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
11:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap re-air, 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: October 6, 2015

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