Champ Trail -
February 28, 2016
The World Series at New Smyrna shifted into high gear with the running of
the first of five Tour type Modified events, a 50 lapper on the fast high
banked ˝ mile oval. A healthy field of 24 cars went to post with up-state
New Yorker Amy Catalano on the pole and Jim Zacharias on the outside pole.
At the drop of the green, Catalano faded quickly as Zacharias took the lead
with JR Bertuccio in tow. Bertuccio took the lead from Zacharias on a lap-34
restart after riding him high. He then had to hold off Ryan Preece for a few
laps and then a late charge from Matt Hirschman as well. Bertuccio beat
Hirschman to the checkered flag by 0.237 seconds to take the victory. Preece
finished third with Jon McKennedy and Ron Silk rounding out the top five.
In previous years the New Smyrna management was considering abandoning
the Modifieds for the lack of participation. The biggest problem was the
officiating, as tech inspectors often looked the other way when cheating
occurred. As a result the fields of cars dwindled. A change in the Modified
officials and stricter and fair enforcement of the rules has resulted in
better fields of cars, which will allow the Modifieds to compete at the
Florida track for many years to come. This year's World Series drew the
largest field of cars in 17 years.
Round two of the Modified portion of the World Series was a 30 lapper on
Tuesday night. Newcomer Tyler Rypkema, from up-state New York, broke a rear
end and transmission on opening night but was able to make repairs and came
back with a vengeance as he led pole to pole in the non-stop event to score
a convincing win over Jimmy Zacharias. Jon McKennedy finished third with
Ryan Preece and Jimmy Blewett rounding out the top five. Round one winner JR
Bertuccio had a solid third place finish up until the last corner of the
last lap when he spun after making contact with Preece.
Bertuccio, who ended up 16th, lost his temper upon entering the pit area
and ended up in a confrontation with his dad and then with Preece. Bertuccio
made a mistake and couldn’t live up to the fact that he “blew it”. Ron Silk
finished sixth and was followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Hirschman, Timmy
Solomito and Tommy Catalano.
Heavy rain in central Florida washed out action at New Smyrna. The
Modified John Blewett III Memorial that had been scheduled for Wednesday
night was rescheduled for Thursday.
The skies cleared on Thursday night for the running of the John Blewett
III Memorial. In what was a highly competitive event with a lot of passing,
Ryan Preece scored a hard fought win over Matt Hirschman and Ron Silk.
Twenty six cars went to post. Justin Bonsignore who started 19th was the
show of the night as he fought his way to fourth at the finish. Jimmy
Blewett, who started on the pole, rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth
were Timmy Solomito, Richie Pallai Jr, Chuck Hossfeld, JR Bertuccio and
Preece and Jon McKennedy were tied for the point lead going into the
event. McKennedy spun on the last lap and ended up 13th.
Matt Hirschman saved the best for last as he scored a convincing win in
the Richie Evans Memorial 100 on Friday night at New Smyrna. Hirschman used
his inside position on a restart with 13 laps remaining and was able to get
by the leader from a majority of the race, Ron Silk, coming out of turn two.
Despite the win, Hirschman never broke a smile as he credited his dad,
former Mod tour champion Tony Hirschman, for doing a great job in building
and setting up the car. Silk ended up second. Jon McKennedy, Ryan Preece and
Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Timmy Solomito, Chuck Hossfeld,
Spencer Davis, JR Bertuccio and Richie Pallai Jr. made up the top ten.
Ryan Preece claimed his third straight World Series title in the Modified
division. Preece edged Hirschman by just a mere one point in the final
Former driver John Jarush made an interesting observation, “The truck
race Friday was a wreckfest and boring till I saw the Xfinity 4 hour race
marathon ! NASCAR wants to make it more exciting ? Maybe during red flags
have Brian France in the infield on a horse, like Joe Tinty on Sugarfoot at
Plainville. Add to that put him in a clown suit and that would sum up the
state of NASCAR, run by a clown (with no disrespect to clowns ) It's been
proven again and again, the first generation starts a business, the second
builds it up and the third runs it into the ground !!! “
Congratulations to Josh Vanada, Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway GM who
received the RPM Eastern Region Auto Racing Promoter of the Year Award.
A Memorial for Leo Cleary will be held at the McGoun-Biggins Funeral Home
on 135 Union St. in Rockland, MA 02370 this coming Friday, March 3 from 5-8
On the speedway stock market scene this week two of the three speedway
stocks ended the week on the positive side. Speedway Motorsports went up
0.05 to 21.81 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.05 to 2.35 while the
International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.25 to 37.80. NASCAR cup sponsor
Monster Beverage dropped 0.08 to 43.55, NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy
Transfer) dropped 0.62 to 37.71 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped
0.71 to 35.36. Two of the three car manufacturers had a positive showing.
General Motors went up 5.68 to 36.90 and Toyota went up 0.11 to 113.77 while
Ford dropped 0.11 to 12.47. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went
up 2.88 to 145.95 while Lowes dropped 0.61 to 76.10. With the exception of
Fedex which dropped 0.50 to 193.11 the big team sponsors stocks had a
positive week. McDonalds went up 0.87 to 128.65, Coca-Cola went up 0.26 to
177.32, Target Department Stores went up 0.72 to 66.51 and Aarons Rentals
went up 0.25 to 27.18.
On the tube this week:
Friday, March 3
10:00 AM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Atlanta practice, FOX Sports 1
11:00 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Atlanta practice, FS1
12:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Atlanta practice, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Atlanta practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NCWTS Atlanta practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NXS Atlanta final practice, FS1
4:30 PM, NCWTS Atlanta final practice, FS1
5:30 PM, MENCS Atlanta qualifying, FS1
Saturday, March 4
4:00 AM, MENCS Atlanta practice re-air, FS1
5:30 AM, NXS Atlanta final practice re-air, FS1
7:30 AM, MENCS Atlanta practice re-air, FS1
9:00 AM, NXS Atlanta qualifying, FS1
10:30 AM, NCWTS Atlanta qualifying, FS1
12:00 PM, MENCS Atlanta final practice, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, XFINITY, FS1
2:00 PM, NXS Atlanta race, FS1
4:30 PM, NCWTS Atlanta race, FS1
Sunday, March 5
5:00 AM, NCWTS Atlanta race re-air, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
2:00 PM, MENCS Pre-Race, FOX
2:30 PM, MENCS Atlanta race, FOX
11:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
11:30 PM, MENCS Atlanta race re-air, FS1
Monday, March 6
5:30 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
6:30 AM, MENCS Atlanta race re-air, FS1
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