The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

May 15, 2015

  Sixty years ago in 1955, Moneybags Moe Gherzi won the first extra distance Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, a 50 lap Modified event. Lou Tetreault won his fourth non-Ford feature at the shoreline oval.

  Fifty five years ago in 1960 Bill Slater made it three in a row at the Norwood Arena. He also took his third Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl as the shoreline oval continued to run on Sundays. Ted Stack was the non-Ford winner and Newt Palm annexed his second win in the Bombers.

  Fifty years ago in 1965 Ron Narducci was the opening Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. At the Waterford Speedbowl Ray DeLisle was the Modified feature winner and Daring Dick Caso was the Bomber winner. At Fonda, Ken Shoemaker made it two in a row and three for the year in Modified action at the New York State oval. Lou Smith was fatally injured after his car hit the wall during the feature. At Utica-Rome it rained. Ted Stack put the Mystic River Marina V4 in victory lane at Thompson. Car owner Bob Garbarino used an experimental 396 cubic inch Chevy big block for power.

  Forty five years ago in 1970, Fred DeSarro hit full stride in his quest for the NASCAR Modified National Championship as he won on Friday night at Malta and twin 50's at Stafford on Saturday night. Eddie Flemke was just as hot as he finished second to DeSarro in all three events. At Malta, Charlie Jarzombek finished third and was followed by Andy Romano and Lou Lazzaro. In the first 50 lapper at Stafford, Lou Austin finished third with Bernie Miller, fourth. In the nightcap, Bobby Santos finished third with Austin, fourth. Ron Narducci who was inducted in the NEAR Hall of Fame won at Fonda over Don Wayman. Rain washed out all action at the Waterford Speedbowl. On Sunday, Thompson ran a 200-lap NASCAR championship event. Ray Hendrick was scheduled to drive the famous Tant/Mitchell No.11. Hendrick became fog bound in Newark airport so on the advice of Eddie Flemke, Hop Harrington was given the ride for the day. Harrington didn't disappoint his mentor as he went out and won the event. Bernie Miller finished second with Eddie Flemke, Moose Hewitt and Frank Faria rounding out the top five.

  Forty years ago in 1975, Stafford Speedway had been under duress since the beginning of the season when Jack Arute mandated that narrow tires be used on the modifieds. Stafford car owners voted to return to the fifteen-inch wide rubber and Arute gave in after a long fight. It was also on this weekend that Bill Slater tended his resignation from the Stafford management over differences of opinion. On the final weekend of running the narrow tires, Eddie Flemke in the Manchester Sand and Gravel No.10 took the Friday night win over Freddie Schulz, Bugsy Stevens and Lenny Cleaves. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Monday, Memorial Day. This event, the last on narrow tires was to be the biggest win of the late George Moose Hewitt. Ronnie Bouchard with a small block for power finished second and was followed by Ray Miller, Flemke and Richie Evans. In other weekend action, George Wagner won at Freeport on Friday night over Gary Winters, Jerry Cook and Charlie Jarzombek. Winters turned the tables on Wagner on Saturday at Islip with Jarzombek again third. Freeport ran a 100 lapper on Monday and it was Richie Evans outgunning Fred Harbach for the win. Billy Harman was the Modified feature winner at Waterford. Bob Gada Sr was the Grand American Late Model winner. In Sunday action in New England, Eddie Flemke won out over Fred DeSarro and John Rosati at Thompson and at Monadnock, also on Sunday it was Brian Ross over Ray Miller and Jerry Dostie.

  Thirty five years ago in 1980, Over 5000 fans were on hand at Stafford on Friday night as Richie Evans made it two in a row. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller and Corky Cookman. Mike Benevides who has since retired from racing and is now a CPA won his first late model feature. Evans carried his winning ways over to Saturday as he took a convincing win over Reggie Ruggerio and Miller. Ron Bouchard won at Westboro while Mike Beebe held off Bob Potter for the win at Waterford. Geoff Bodine had a busy weekend as he won the modified feature at Spencer in the Lee Allard modified, won a Late Model Sportsman event at South Boston, Va. in the Zervakas No.01 and on Sunday jumped back in the Allard No.99 to beat out Satch Worley and Jerry Cook at North Wilkesboro, N.C. Other weekend winners were Larry Record at Star, Tom McCann at Islip, Allen Whipple at Claremont, George LeBlanc at Danbury and Charlie Jarzombek at Plainville.

  Thirty years ago in 1985, Charlie Jarzombek was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Reggie Ruggiero finished second with Corky Cookman, third. Riverside ran a 100 lapper on Saturday, which saw only eight cars finish. Ruggiero survived to take the win over Wade Cole and John Rosati. Randy Hedger beat out Richie Evans at Spencer and at Waterford, Bob Potter and Dale Holdridge finished one-two. Bob Park scored a win at Riverhead and in SK action at Thompson, Wayne Dion in Brad LaFountain's 66 won out over Kerry Malone and Lloyd Agor. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Bill Elliott emerged the winner.

  Twenty five years ago in 1990, Steve Chowanski was the Friday night SK Modified winner at Stafford. Mike Christopher finished second with Wayne Dion, third. Christopher stepped it up at Waterford on Saturday, as he was no match for David Gada. Bob Polverari was the winner at Riverside over Jerry Marquis and at Riverhead; Bob Park beat out Frank Vigliarlo for the win. The racing world was saddened when it was learned that AJ Michaels had died at Oswego and the big news of the weekend was that Brian Ross had decided to retire from modified racing as he felt the modifieds were getting to the point that they were unsafe.

  Twenty years ago in 1995, Friday night action at Stafford rained out. At Waterford, Mark LaJunesse scored a popular win over Bert Marvin and Todd Ceravolo. At Seekonk, starter Ron Manfredo was struck accidentally by Tony Dias Jr. while directing cars for a restart lineup. Manfredo received a broken leg, a bad nose gash and many scrapes. At Riverside it was Reggie Ruggerio over Doug Meservy and at Riverhead, Bill Park took the top spot. The Featherlite Modified Tour was at Nazareth for a 100 lapper. Tony Hirschman, in the Len Boehler No.3 passed Tim Connoly with two laps to go to take the win. Connoly, in the Bob Fuller No.17 finished second and was followed by Ed Kennedy, Tom Cravenho and Mike Stefanik. Tim Fedewa won the wreck marred Busch Grandnational event, also at Nazareth. At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Todd Bodine won the Winston Open and Jeff Gordon won the Winston.

  Fifteen years ago, in 1990, rain played havoc in the northeast, washing just about everything out. Thompson drew 53 mods for the Featherlite modified tour event. Tim Connolly in the Mystic Missile took the pole with Tony Hirshman, second fastest. Todd Ceravolo and Ted Christopher were the SK mod heat winners and that’s as far as they got as the skies opened up.

  Ten years ago in 2005 saw Todd Owen, Tom Butler, Michael Bennett, Charlie Newman, and Jim Mavlouganes drive to victory lane in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series feature events at the Stafford Speedway. Both Owen and Newman were first time feature winners, while Bennett's win was his third in four events of the season. In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Owen, of Somers, took the lead on a lap-5 restart and led the rest of the way to pick up the first career SK Modified feature win of his career at Stafford. Owen had Ted Christopher lined up behind him on a lap 19 restart but drove away from Christopher in the closing laps to score a convincing win. Christopher finished second, with Eric Berndt, Jeff Baral, and John Sandberg rounding out the top-5 behind him.

  After three rainouts in a row the Waterford Speedbowl finally got their Saturday night racing program in. Tommy Fox avoided a multitude of wrecks and spins to go on to record his first win of the year. Fox led all but four laps. He battled Ron Yuhas Jr. over the final seven laps. Kurt Lenahan, Don Fowler and Rob Summers rounded out the top five. Allen Coates became the first two-time winner of the season as he won the Late Model 30 lapper. Coates took the lead at the halfway point and beat several restart challenges from Chris Douton. Carl Eriksson, Mark St.Hilaire and Charles Bailey III rounded out the top five. Roger Perry won the 20 lap Sportsman event and Jeff Miller was the winner of the Mini Stock feature. Jeffrey Paul was the 20-lap Legends Car winner.

  First it was the Tioga Speedway in Owego, NY, and then it was the Wall Township Speedway in Belmar, NJ now it appeared maybe the Waterford Speedbowl was on thin ice. The May 15 edition of the Hartford Courant hinted to the fact that the Speedbowl, in existence since 1951 may shut down at season’s end. The Speedbowl had been at the mercy of the weather in 2005 and with no money coming in the management had been put in a somewhat of a bad way. Speedbowl operator Terry Eames acknowledged that there was a study going on involving alternative uses of the property, which is owned by 1080 Hartford Road LLC. He said he had a “fiduciary responsibility” to other stockholders in that regard but cautions the “speculation” may be premature. “There are absolutely no firm plans to do anything at this time,” Eames said. “We have some big events on the immediate horizon including the Budweiser Modified Nationals and that is the Speedbowl’s primary concern right now,” Eames continued. “We have a dedicated group of competitors and fans and, many believe, the best racing in the area. We’re not about to just throw all of that away.” In the event that Eames does decide to pull the plug on his operation the word on the street has an interested group ready to step up to the plate.

  The Pro All Star Series was at the Thompson International Speedway on Sunday for the running of the Pro Stock Shootout 100. It proved to be a Shootout between Cassius Clark and Ben Rowe. At the end, C. Clark was the last man “standing”. In NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series action, Bert Marvin of Waterford, CT scored an impressive win in the Sunoco Modified Division. Charles Bailey, III picked up where he left off, winning the Late Model feature. Limited Sportsman honors went to Larry Barnett, Mini Stock checkers flew for Terry Boudreau.. It was a dominating win for Bernie Singer in All Star Truck Series competition. Ben Rowe summed it up best in his post-race interview. “He (Cassius) was the class of the field. Cassius Clark of Farmington, ME led much of the early going of the 100 lapper, only to lose the lead to Ben Rowe with just over 30 laps to go. Over the remaining 25 laps, the two went fender-to-fender swapping the lead a number of times. A caution with 14 laps remaining set up a final duel between the two. C. Clark got a great jump of the restart but Rowe retained the lead. A bobble by Rowe on lap 89 opened the door for both Cassius and Johnny Clark. The three had a comfortable distance between one another as they headed for the finish while Corey Williams and Scott Mulkern battled for fourth. In the waning laps, Rowe began to backslide a bit even falling into the clutches of Williams. Rowe was able to hold on to the podium finish with winner C. Clark and runner-up J. Clark. Williams and Mulkern finished rounded out the top-five. Bert Marvin drove a smart race to win his first of the season in Sunoco Modified feature action. Bo Gunning led the charge early while Tommy Cravenho and Jeff Malave were coming through the pack. Gunning held the point while positions were changing inside the top five. Marvin got the second position on lap 10 while Cravenho and Malave followed through into the third and fourth positions. Malave began to pressure Cravenho before the yellow came out. Just as the crossed flags were displayed the caution flew for a spin by Russ Savoy. The restart found Gunning with Marvin to his outside and Cravenho and Malave in the second row. Cravenho sailed his car into turn four to take over the second position from Marvin with Malave following through. The caution came out for a spin by Darin Renihan to negate the pass. Cravenho made the same move work a second time to take the second spot when they went back to green. Malave continued to take chase in fourth followed by Adam Norton. Cravenho caught Gunning and pressed for the lead. Contact between the two sent Gunning over the #31 of Cravenho and hard into the wall. Cravenho was sent to the rear for his involvement in the incident. Marvin and Malave lined up one and two for the restart with ten laps to go. Kerry Malone started to make his presence known on the restart. The battle up front began to heat up as well between Marvin and Malave. George Bessette was turning in a great performance in his debut in the #2. After several attempts at green flag racing the final shootout came with five laps remaining and a single-file restart. Malave glued his Interstate Diesel #6 to the bumper of Marvin. Malave even looked inside coming out of two but settled for second behind winner Bert Marvin. Malone finished third followed by Ricky Shawn and John Sandburg. Charles Bailey, III made it two in a row in the Late Model division.

  The NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series were in Virginia at the Richmond Motor Speedway. Carl Edwards took the Busch Series win and Kasey Kahne got his first Nextel Cup win.

  Reigning Indy Racing League champion Tony Kanaan took the pole for the May 29 Indianapolis 500. Kanaan, last year's Indy runner-up, had a four-lap qualifying run at 227.566 mph.

  Five years ago in 2010, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series returned to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the annual Spring Sizzler which had been rained out on April 25. The main event, 200 laps/100 miles carried a race purse of $88,142. Under bright and sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-80's, Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the completion of "The Greatest Race in the History of Spring", the 39th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler.

  Ted Christopher took the lead from Jimmy Blewett on lap 146 and then held on through a green-white-checker finish to earn his 10th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at Stafford. The event concluded with a multi-car accident on the front stretch after the leaders had taken the white flag, which made the race official, and secured Christopher his fifth Whelen Modified Tour win in the Spring Sizzler. His five wins in the event are now a record as he entered the day tied with Mike Stefanik at four.

  Christopher was followed across the line by Coors Light Pole Award winner Bobby Santos and Stefanik. Santos led the first 54 laps of the race before he was spun by lap traffic. Rowan Pennink, Todd Szegedy, James Civali, Chuck Hossfeld, Eric Berndt, Erick Rudolph and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top 10 finishers in the race, which featured 10 lead changes among nine drivers. Fifteen of the original 32 starters finished on the lead lap. Among those who ran into problems was Ryan Preece. Preece, who was one of the pre-race favorites lost numerous laps after hitting the wall. Jimmy Blewett made a move to take the lead causing Mike Stefanik to check up. Preece hit Stefanik and hit the wall.

  In addition to the Sizzler, Keith Rocco was the kingpin in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature and Dillon Moltz took top honors in the 30-lap Late Model feature.

  In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Keith Rocco led the field to the green flag with Ted Christopher, Frank Ruocco, Jeff Malave, and Woody Pitkat behind him in the top-5. The top-5 quickly settled into single file racing, but that single file was eliminated when the caution came out with 4 laps complete for a spin by Brit Andersen.

  There were several attempts at the next restart with Curt Brainard, then Matt Gallo, and then Joe Allegro, Jr., Adam Skowyra, and Glenn Griswold each bringing the caution back out for spins. Rocco continued to lead back under green with Christopher and Malave behind him. Tom Bolles made a power move to go from 7th to 4th on the restart, while Eric Berndt rounded out the top-5.

  The action was slowed again with 8 laps complete for a spin by Chris Jones. Rocco again took the lead on the restart, but a 5 car accident involving Glenn Griswold, Jones, Keith Carzello, Michael Gervais, Jr., and Matt Gallo brought the yellow back out one lap after the restart. The next restart saw Christopher power by Rocco to take the lead on lap-11. Berndt moved into third behind Rocco, with Kurt Lenahan moving into fourth and Malave was fifth. The top-5 then ran in line until the next caution came out with 16 laps complete for a multicar incident between Dan Avery, Kirk Zervas, Mark Bakaj, and Bolles.

  Christopher took the lead on the restart, but he would lose it to Rocco three laps later on lap-19. Berndt continued to run in third place, with Lenahan and Malave behind him. The running order remained the same until lap-25 when Christopher's car dropped off the pace and he came to pit road and was finished for the race. At the same time that Christopher's car gave up, Frank Ruocco also had engine troubles that brought him to pit road and ended his day. Rocco was the leader with Berndt now up to second. Lenahan was up to third, with Malave and Brit Andersen making up the new top-5. Rocco was building a large lead over Berndt, who was building a large gap back to Malave, Lenahan, and Andersen.

  Rocco's large lead was erased with 34 laps complete as a piece of sheet metal debris brought out the yellow flag. On the restart, Rocco powered into the lead with Malave moving past Berndt for second. Lenahan continued in fourth with Andersen in fifth. Rocco again pulled away from his closest pursuers and he cruised to victory in the first SK Modified® feature event of the 2010 season. Malave came home in second, with Berndt, Lenahan, and Andersen rounding out the top-5 at the checkered flag.

  In addition to the postponed Sizzler program which was run on Saturday the Stafford Motor Speedway began their Friday night season with a special program for their support classes. Frank Cardile took the checkered flag in the 30-lap SK Light Modified feature, Dan Flannery won the 25-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande won the 20-lap DARE Stock feature.

  The Modified Racing Series 100 lapper at the Monadnock Speedway was won by Dwight Jarvis. Jacob Dore finished second and was followed by Jim Boniface, Rowan Pennink and Sean Bodreau. Pennink had raced at Stafford in the afternoon where he finished fourth in the Spring Sizzler. One of the best runs of the day was turned in by Pennink. Pennink, who started 24th in the field, was involved in a lap 36 tangle that forced him to start last again. He made a late race charge that led to his fourth place finish.

  With the Spring Sizzler in the history books the Whelen Modified Tour Series goes on a four week "Spring Break" before returning to Stafford on May 28 for a 150 lapper. The Bob Valenti Modified Racing Series, which also ran last Saturday at the Monadnock Speedway also goes on "Spring Break" until heading to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway on May 21 for a make-up event.

  Long Island driver Johnny Bush has become the first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver to run a "Spec Engine" full-time in 2010. In fact, it is because of the SPEC that Bush even makes it to the track this year. The SPEC engine was developed in a cooperative effort between NASCAR and engine builder Carl Wegner of Wegner Motorsports as an economical alternative for race teams. The engine is assembled using “spec”ific components that produce a robust engine package. The recipe for the SPEC engine uses components from many of the best automotive aftermarket companies – names that are recognizable from the contingency sponsor decals on the race cars like Edelbrock, JE Pistons, Comp Cams, Holley and CV Products.

  The New London Day reported that Dillon Moltz had won the inaugural Richard Petty's Driver Search. As the winner of the competition Moltz will get the chance to qualify for the ARCA Racing Series event June 5 at Pocono Raceway in a fully-funded ride from the Richard Petty's Driver Search program. A graduate of the Quarter Midget ranks, Moltz has become one of the top runners in the Late Model division at the Stafford Motor Speedway.

  Keith Rocco scored a one-two punch on Saturday. In addition to his Stafford win, he made a heated trip to the Connecticut shoreline where he dusted the SK Modified field at the Waterford Speedbowl. Other winners at the Speedbowl were Tim Jordan (30-lap Late Model), Al Stone III (25-lap Street Stock), Sean Caron (25-lap Mini Stock) and Chris Lomartire (15-lap Bandoleros)

  It was Rocco's second straight feature win at the Speedbowl and his fourth victory overall. Rocco passed leader Tom Abele Jr. with three laps remaining. Abele finished second, followed by Ron Yuhas Jr. in third, Jeffrey Paul in fourth and Jeff Pearl in fifth. Early leader Todd Ceravolo dropped out with mechanical problems.

  The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC finally got their season going after a rain-out for their opening event. Tim Brown, one of the stars of the "MadHouse" TV series took the 200 lap win in front of a packed house at the 17,000-seat stadium. Lee Jeffreys finished second ahead of Brian Loftin. and Junior Miller fourth. Burt Myers, who challenged Brown after changing tires, settled for sixth.

  The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island opened for the season. Chuck Steuer looked like a man of a mission, winning the Modified feature.
Dirt track super-star Brett Hearn scored his 775th career victory at Accord, NY. Hearn began his racing career in 1976.

  Brad Keselowski raced to his second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, dominating all night and then rallying from fourth in a green-white-checker finish Friday at Richmond International Raceway. In Sprint Cup Series racing Kyle Busch became the latest driver to deny Jeff Gordon a victory, passing him after the final restart Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway for his first win of the season. For Busch, it snapped a 21-race losing streak, his longest since joining Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008.

  In some sad news, Busch Sport Scene Publisher George Campbell announced that 2010 will be his final year publishing the popular auto racing newsprint publication. The publication debuted in 1999 and plans are underway to make 2010 the final year

  Last year, 2014, the Big Event in New England was the first annual Bull Ring Bash at the Lee Speedway in Lee, NH. This event, promoted by Dick Williams and his "Racing Guys" drew a huge field of 34 Modifieds, the largest drawing of asphalt Modifieds to date in 2014. Four qualifying heats were run with Tommy Barrett Jr, Todd Annarummo, Matt Swanson and Matt Galco taking the wins, Matt Hirschman won the 14 car consi with Dennis Perry a very competitive second. Johnny Kay was the Dash for Cash winner for non-qualifiers.

  Jeff Rocco jumped out to an early lead at the drop of the green. The first caution flew on lap 30 for Josh Cantara who spun. The second caution was for Jim Storace who spun on lap 47. When the green came out on lap 46 Annarummo shot into the lead with Rowan Pennink hot on his heels. Rocco faded to third. Following the top three at the half way mark was Todd Ceravolo, Galco and Barrett.

  By the time the field had clicked off 60 laps Annarummo and Pennink had opened up a sizable lead. On lap 62 Pennink took charge as he moved into the lead. Rocco, who had been running third apparently had used up his tires and began to fade. By lap 71 he was tenth. Tommy Barrett Jr had slipped out of the top ten by the 3/4 mark brought out the third caution of the day on lap 75. Among those who pitted for fresh tires were Barrett, Pennink, Annarummo, Ryan Preece, Max Zachem, Rocco, Ceravolo, Perry and Jim Dolan. Pennink was the first car out of the pits as Steve Masse assumed the lead.

  When the green waved Masse jumped out as Pennink moved inside the top 15. Jim Storace brought out caution Number 4 on lap 79 as he spun on the backstretch. On the restart, Richard Savory and Justin Bonsignore moved in behind Masse and Todd Szegedy. Jim Dolan and Storace spun, bringing out caution No. 5 as the field attempted to restart. As the field finally restarted Masse continued to lead as Savory moved into second. On lap 81 Dolan spun again, bringing out caution No. 6. Dolan's car lost a lot of water and oil and had to be towed off the track. Masse maintained the lead on yet another restart. With 11 laps remaining, Matt Hirschman has come out of nowhere as he moved into the third spot. On lap 90 he passed Savory who spun, bringing out caution no. 7 and set his sights on Masse. Hirschman shot into the lead on the restart. Jim Storace spun for the third time bringing out the eighth yellow. Masse was given back the lead for the restart. When the green dropped, Pennink and Barrett tangled bringing out yellow no.9.

  On the restart Hirschman made it official as he took the lead over Masse. Two laps later Chris Pasteryak gets loose and spins just after turn one, bringing out caution no.10. Hirschman maintained his lead on the restart. With five laps to go Johnny Kay - "Dash for Cash" winner hit the front stretch wall a ton, bringing out caution no. 11. Hirschman continued to lead Masse as the field restarted. With four laps to go, Preece, driving the famous Ole Blu, turned up the wick. As Hirschman took the checkered flag for the win action behind him boiled over. Preece made a move to pass for second. Preece and Masse were side by side racing hard for checkers when they both got out of shape. Masse spun around and Annarummo went sideways over him after being accidentally hit. Dennis Perry was also in the tangle. Preece ended up second with Perry, third.

  Rowan Pennink ended up fourth with Max Zachem, fifth. Sixth through tenth were Jon McKennedy, Todd Ceravolo, Richard Savory, Justin Bonsignore and Spencer Davis.

  The Stafford Speedway fell victim to a rainy forecast for Friday night.

  The Waterford Speedbowl beat an early evening shower to get their Saturday night racing program in the record books. Kyle James, after some early season bad luck, recorded his first victory of the year in SK Modified® ranks. Keith Rocco continues his domination of the Late Model ranks as he won his fifth straight Valenti Auto Mall Late Model feature. Rocco is now five for five in the Late Models on the season. Ken Cassidy Jr. continued his mastery of the Mini Stock division. Paul French won his first SK Light Modified race on the year and Paul Bigelow came away with the victory in the NEMA Lite feature. Josh Galvin won the night’s Street Stock race, his second in a row.

  In the closing laps of the SK Modified feature James had two heavy hitters behind him for the run to the checker. Ted Christopher lined up to his outside and Keith Rocco behind him in third. Christopher got a good restart to stay with James for a lap, but James pulled ahead into the lead with nine laps to go. From there, James slowly distanced himself as the race ran uninterrupted through the checkered flag. Rocco was able to grab second at the finish and Rob Janovic Jr. got by Christopher in the closing laps to take third. Christopher settled for fourth with Craig Lutz, fifth.

  The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island was also threatened by rain but they endured and got their racing program in. A less than favorable weather forecast produced two 1-hour rain delays but in the end the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program was for the most part completed. Former three time NASCAR Modified champion John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville made a triumphant return to victory lane as he swept the headlining Twin 30 NASCAR Modified features.

  In Modified racing in the southland, Bowman Gray fell victim to rain.

  In some sad news, Danny Field, a long time racer from Deep River, Ct. who excelled in the Mini Stock ranks at the Waterford Speedbowl and at the Thompson Speedway passed away after battling cancer since the previous fall. A Pipefitter by trade at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton Ct, Field was a true backyard racer who built and maintained his own cars, racing out of his wallet.

  During his racing career he won Mini Stock division championships at Waterford in 2005, 2006 and 2009 as well as Mini Stock Championships at Thompson in 2008 and 2011 along with the 2012 Northeast Mini Stock tour.

  An emotional Saturday night opening ceremony at the Waterford Speedbowl began the night’s program following a brief rain delay earlier in the evening. The track honored the memory of multiple time track champion with much of his family and closest supporters in attendance. Field’s younger brother Eddie paced the Mini Stocks with an honorary pole-position behind the wheel of his brother’s #18 machine, pulling off the track before the start of the race.

  Jeff Gordon held off Kevin Harvick over the final laps and went on to win the 5-Hour Energy 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway on Saturday night. The victory was by .112 seconds and was the first of the year for the four-time champion and his third at Kansas Speedway.

  That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, 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.

Looking Back Archive

Source: Phil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: May 15, 2015

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