Champ Trail -
November 10, 2015
The big racing event last weekend was the annual North-South Shootout at the
Concord Speedway in North Carolina. Rainy skies and New England type cold
and dampness greeted competitors and fans alike. There were 28 tour type
Modifieds and eight SK type Modifieds on hand. Because of he fact that he
tracks was oozing water practice was minimal and qualifying heats were
eliminated. Keith Rocco just kept rolling along as he toured the the Concord
oval in 15.608 seconds. Bobby Measmer, Jr. was second fastest 15.615. Tommy
Barrett, Jr., who hasn't raced since being picked up under the influence
earlier in the year, was third fastest at 15.629. John McKennedy and Patrick
Emerling rounded out the top five in Shootout qualifying.
Jimmy Zacharias has the pole for the Mr., Rooter 50 lap SK Modified
Feature. Todd Owen was second fastest with Steve Kopcik, Keith Rocco and
Jimmy Wallace rounding out the top five.
Impending rain and a bad forecast for the evening forced officials to
postpone the event to Sunday.
Justin Bonsignore's eventual win in the Modified shootout had a dark cloud
hanging over it. Matt Hirschman was first under the checkered flag but a
reversal of fortune and some poor officiating after the fact took away
Bonsignore's glory. Race Director Tommy Fox was forced to leave the track
while the race was under a red flag with nine laps remaining for weather.
While Fox was on his way to the airport one of Matt Hirschman's tires
developed a leak. Those left in charge chose not to penalize Hirschman which
is a no-no. After much discussion and some loud words the decision was made
to place Hirschman in 16th place at the finish.
Keith Rocco won the Mr Rooter SK Modified event. It was Rocco's 213th
Woody Pitkat Crowned Valenti Modified Racing Series Champion in
Manchester, NH last Saturday night. Pitkat was joined by car owner Peter
Kulessa, crew chief Greg Felton, and the Patterson Farms race team for the
special presentations. The VMRS championship was the first for both Pitkat
In accepting his award Pitkat thanked the Perry family and Valenti (Auto
Group) for all their support and sponsoring of the series. Pitkat
acknowledged Jack Bateman, the series founder, saying “thank you for your
hard work, time, and sacrifice, to give us a great affordable series to race
at week in and week out. I admire your dedication.” Pitkat also stated
winning the series title was his first ever series championship and he
considered it a special feat. “I may never win another so this one means a
He complimented VMRS drivers. “Just because I run the tour does not put
me above anyone. I am a race driver and so are these guys with this series.
I am grateful for the opportunity to run with them and compete here. I look
at it as another addition to my resume.” Kulessa spoke proudly of his first
championship. “It’s unbelievable the guys just worked so hard. Last year we
made the switch to Woody and had top five finishes. We knew we had a good
car and we knew we had a good driver. This year we were supposed to run a
limited schedule. When July rolled around we were leading the points so we
decided we might as well give it a shot.”
In addition to the champion, the top 14 drivers were also recognized for
their accomplishments. Runner-up Chris Pasteryak, Norman Wrenn, Todd
Patnode, Todd Szegedy, Donnie Lashua, Mike Willis Jr, David Schneider,
Dennis Perry, Jon McKennedy, Rowan Pennink, Dylan Kopec, Russ Hersey,
Anthony Nocella, and Kirk Alexander were recognized.
Jack Bateman disclosed that 14 races are on the schedule for 2016 and he
anticipates two more dates to be added in the near future. The series will
make the announcement as soon as those dates are finalized.
Drivers Sam Posey, Greg Sacks, Joey Laquerre, Stan Gregor, the late Jim
cCallum and the late Ronnie Marvin, car owner the late Paul Dunigan,
publishers Lew Boyd and the late Jim Moffat, engine-builder Joe Fontana and
promoter Red McDonald were inducted in the New England Antique Racers Hall
of Fame this past Sunday. Vermont’s Justin St. Louis received the Mitchell/Ratta
Dick Williams and Jim Schaefer, principals behind the successful
Tri-Track Series, shared the 2015 New England Antique Racers’ Frank Maratta
Award. The presentations, giving in recognition of their outstanding
contribution and support of auto racing, were part of the agenda at the New
England Auto Racers Hall of Fame 18th induction banquet Maneeley’s Banquet
Hall, 65 Rye Street, South Windsor, CT.
Over the past two seasons, the Tri-Track Series has paid out over
$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, CT and Schaefer, from Riverhead, NY, are
the leaders of a group that has made the Tri-Track 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. “They were
saying how much they missed the old open competition events,” recalled
Williams. “We thought with a little common sense it could happen again and
we got four or five guys together and made it happen.”
This year’s payout $287,000 distributed in a number of ways including lap
money and last-chance races. There were six different winners in the first
'We'll get it right,' NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France said of how
the sanctioning body will react to Matt Kenseth's move on Joey Logano at
Martinsville. Logano was leading the race on Lap 454, when he was put into
the wall by Kenseth, who was nine laps down after being hit by Logano’s
teammate, Brad Keselowski, earlier in the race. Kenseth was suspended for
two events, fined and put on probation.
Another one bites the dust! Patrick Emerling, who comes from western New
York indicated on web site RaceDayCt that he may be cutting back his Whelen
Modified Tour Series schedule after being a regular in the series for five
years. Bottom line, if you spend 5 grand to run a race, that pays 3 grand to
the winner, and a few hundred to start, no matter how rich you are, or how
much your sponsors give you, Eventually it will no longer be fun.
On the speedway stock market scene last week, all three speedway stocks
ended the week on a positive note. Leading the way was the International
Speedway Corporation which went up 0.21 to 34.90. Speedway Motorsports went
up 0.20 to 18.67 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.07 to 2.32. NASCAR tire
supplier Goodyear went up 0.14 to 32.98 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco
(Energy Transfer) dropped 2.53 to 42.01 and NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint
dropped 0.20 to 4.53. The auto manufacturers showed some mild growth with
the exception of Ford wich dropped 0.39 to 14.52. General Motors went up
0.84 to 35.75 and Toyota went up 0.30 to 122.92. In the home improvement
sector Home Depot went up 2.34 to 125.98 while Lowes dropped 0.69 to 73.14.
In big team sponsorship, McDonalds went up 1.06 to 113.31, Target went up
0.04 to 77.22, Aarons Rentals went up 0.49 to 25.14 and Fedex went up 6.33
162.38. Coca-Cola took a big dive as they dropped 22.26 to 188.95.
On the tube this coming week:
Friday, November 13
12:30 PM, NCWTS Phoenix qualifying, FS1
2:00 PM, NSCS Phoenix practice, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NXS Phoenix practice, NBCSN
4:30 NASCAR America Live, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NXS Phoenix final practice, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NSCS Phoenix qualifying, NBCSN
8:30 PM, NCWTS Phoenix race, FS1
Saturday, November 14
4:00 AM, NCWTS Phoenix race re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, NSCS Phoenix practice, NBCSN
12:30 PM, NXS Phoenix qualifying, NBCSN
2:00 PM, NASCAR America Live, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NSCS Phoenix final practice, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NXS Phoenix race, NBCSN
Sunday, November 15
11:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
2:00 PM, NSCS Countdown to Green, NBC
2:30 PM, NSCS Phoenix race, NBC
3:00 PM, How It's Made - Liquor Jugs, Deli Meats, NASCAR Engines, SCI
6:00 PM, NSCS Post Race Show, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, NBCSN
8:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
11:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lap, 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.
Smith / Champ Trail