The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - May 23, 2016

  The NASCAR Whelen Modified tour returns to New England on June 14 for a Wednesday night event at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Timmy Solomito leads Rowan Pennink by a mere nine points. Eric Goodale sits third with Justin Bonsignore and Max Zachem rounding out the top five.

  At Thompson last Sunday, the second annual Limited Sportsman Long Distance event. The drivers of the Limited Sportsman series took center with the highlight event of the evening, a 30-lap long distance race with 30 cars making up the field of competitors in the biggest race the series hold all season at the Big-T. The race was a popular new addition to the calendar in 2016, extending the normal 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature an extra ten laps. The 2017 event saw its share of drama as Ryan Waterman proved to be the car to beat, leading for much of the first half of the event. However, the extra distance paid off for Brent Gleason who took the lead around halfway and never looked back, surviving numerous cautions and a hard charge from Waterman to take the win but was later disqualified after post race inspection.
  The Sunoco Modifieds held their second race of the season at Thompson and it was a pair of familiar names up front battling for the checkered flag as Keith Rocco out-dueled Ryan Preece for the win after Preece took the victory in the Icebreaker when Rocco settled for a runner-up finish. The duo had to survive numerous multi-car wrecks that resulted in two red flag periods before racing to the finish in the 30-lap feature. Despite Preece’s best efforts, Rocco claimed a dominant win in his hunt for a second consecutive title. Rocco now has 235 career wins at Thompson, Waterford and Stafford. Woody Pitkat, Nick Salva and John Studley rounded out the top five.
  Other Sunday winners at Thompson were Roger Turbush in the Mr Rooter Trucks, Wayne Burroughs in the Minis and Rick Gentes in the Late Models.
  Up next for Thompson Speedway, the Whelen Modified Tour makes its second appearance at the track in 2017 with the Thompson 125 on Wednesday, June 14. The event will also feature the third races of the season for the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stocks and a 20-lap feature for the NEMA Lites.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the Valenti Modified Racing Series in addition to their regular Friday night program. Taking the checkered flag in the 80 lapper was Anthony Nocella, for his first career Stafford VMRS victory. Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Chase Dowling in the SK Modified® feature, Kevin Gambacorta in the Late Model feature, George Nocera, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson in the DARE Stock feature.
  A late race restart caused Rowan Pennink to lose sight of victory. Pennink’s car wouldn’t start back up after a red flag condition and Richard Savary came to pit road out of gas, handing the race lead over to Nocella with Woody Pitkat in second spot. It took 1-hour 18 minutes to complete the first race of the year. Three front running drivers were victims of fuel shortage. Rocco, Pennink, and Richard Savary were all sidelined for engines that quit while running at or near the front.
  The Nocella Paving race team purchased a brand new Race Works Chassis for the new season and the end result had Nocella pleased post race.
“Can’t thank Eddie Flemke (car builder) enough. Completely different than the other one. First race out with it so we really didn’t have a clue. We were horrible in practice and then it was awesome the whole race,” said Nocella. Nocella led Pitkat to the checkered flag to pick up his first win at Stafford. Mike Willis finished third with Chris Pasteryak and Ron Williams rounding out the top-5.
  With five laps to go in the regular SK Modified 40 lapper Dowling, Ted Christopher, Keith Rocco, Pennink and Williams were lined up single file. Christopher was working over Dowling while Pennink was looking high and low for a way to get around Rocco. Dowling led Christopher to the checkered flag to pick up his second win in three races in 2017. Rocco finished third with Pennink and Williams rounding out the top-5.

  In weekly action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Tom Rogers of Riverhead turned in a double dip performance Saturday night when he scored the win in both the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature event as well the 15-lap Figure Eight contest later in the program. The NASCAR Modified win was the 44th of Tom's career while the Figure Eight victory was his 27th trip to victory lane. The Granite State Pro Stock Series made their first ever Long Island appearance with Mike Mitchell of Cumberland, RI collecting his first career victory in the Riverhead 100 earning $2,000. Prior to Saturday night Mitchell had never even scored a GSPSS podium finish.
  Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville was runner-up in the Kennedy L.I. Realty entry while early leader John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville had a solid race scoring a third place tally in the Suffolk Pro Cycles Chevy. Dave Brigati of Calverton and John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville completed the top five.

  Down in the south land, Michael Clifton has been racing for years at the Bowman Gray Stadium, but after plenty of success it took him a while to get back to the winner’s circle. On Saturday, he won his first race since June 2013 to pick up his 20th career victory at Bowman Gray Stadium, winning the second 25-lap race.
  Clifton finished 11th in the first race after Tim Brown started on the pole and led from start to finish. Brown drew 14th after the Madhouse Scramble, which put Clifton on the front row for the second race. Clifton took the lead from Daniel Yates on the third lap and led the remaining 22 laps.
  “I’ve won 19, 20 tonight. I’ve won my share of races,” Clifton said. “I run good over here. I’ve qualified on the pole, I’ve won the first race. You draw for the second. I’ve won 100-lappers.
  Brown won the first 25-lap race, giving him 82 for his career at Bowman Gray. He defeated Jason Myers, James Civali and Burt Myers.

  Rumors have circulated for weeks that racer Norman Wrenn was attempting to buy New London - Waterford Speedbowl. Wrenn advised John Spence Sr that he does not have a sales and purchase agreement in place and does not see one (Wrenn) in the foreseeable future.
  Late last Sunday the following was released “The Management of the New London Waterford Speedbowl is pleased to announce that there is currently a working agreement for the Speedbowl to be Leased for the 2017 racing season. Additional information will follow within the coming weeks but it is anticipated that racing will begin before the end of June. Updates will be posted on our website as well as our Facebook page as details are confirmed. An open practice will be scheduled prior to opening weekend. We thank all of our staff, drivers, fans and supporters for their patience and love of the race track and ask that you continue to be patient as final details are made. In the meantime……LETS GET READY TO GO RACING!!”

  On the speedway stock market scene this week two of the three speedway stocks were down. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.25 to 35.50 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.08 to 1.95 while Speedway Motorsports went up 0.06 to 17.10. NASCAR cup series sponsor Monster Beverage went up 0.07 to 47.69 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.02 to 23.00 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 2.60 to 31.73. With the exception of Toyota which went up 1.15 to 107.56 the auto makers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.05 to 10.87 and General Motors dropped 0.89 to 32.72. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.58 to 156.30 and Lowes dropped 0.19 to 84.59. In the area of big team sponsors stocks McDonalds went up 2.82 to 148.15, Coca-Cola went up 4.49 to 204.42 and Target went up 0.19 to 55.99 while Aarons Rentals dropped 0.58 to 34.58 and Fedex dropped 2.29 to 189.37.

  On the tube this week:

  Tuesday, May 23

6:00 AM, The 600: History of NASCAR's Toughest Race, Fox Sports 1
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte All-Star race re-air, Fox Sports 2

  Wednesday, May 24
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

  Thursday, May 25
2:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
4:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Charlotte practice, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
6:00 PM, NXS Charlotte final practice, FS1
7:00 PM, MENCS Charlotte qualifying, FS1

  Friday, May 26
11:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1

  Saturday, May 27
9:00 AM, MENCS Charlotte practice, FS1
10:00 AM, NXS Charlotte qualifying, FS1
11:30 AM, MENCS Charlotte final practice, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay - XFINITY, FS1
1:00 PM, NXS Charlotte race, FS1
3:30 PM, NXS Post Race Show, FS1

  Sunday, May 28
4:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay. FS1
5:30 PM, MENCS Pre Race Show, FOX
6:00 PM, MENCS Charlotte race, FOX
11:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, 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.

Source: Phil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: May 23, 2017

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