The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

March 17, 2017


  Forty five years ago in 1972, the NASCAR Modifieds and the Late Model Sportsman (Grandnationals) were at Martinsville for the Dogwood 500.Seventy six Modifieds were on hand. Bugsy Stevens, in the Sonny Koszela No.15 took the win over Mike Loescher, Fred DeSarro and Ray Hendrick. Rounding out the top ten were Bernie Miller, Charlie Jarzombek, Richie Evans, Geoff Bodine, Lou Lazzaro and Lew Hennesy. Sonny Hutchins in the Emanual Zervakas No.01 was the Late Model winner with Jimmie Hensley, second.

  Forty years ago in 1977, the Modifieds traveled to Hickory, N.C. for a 250-lap event. Satch Worley, in the Clarence's Steak House No.26 took the win over Paul Radford, Jerry Cook, Wayne Anderson and Dave Nichols. Geoff Bodine, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 lost an engine while running second on lap 212.Attrician was so high that Bodine still finished 12th.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, the Modifieds were quiet as Darrell Waltrip took the pole and eventual win at Bristol in their spring Winston Cup event. Brian Ross and Bob Garbarino, who had been together as a team for almost ten years, went their separate ways. Shortly there after it was announced that Bugsy Stevens would be driving the Mystic Missile for the 1982 season.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, the NASCAR Modifieds began their season at Rougemont, N.C. Mike Stefanik in the Koszela No.15 took the win with Jim Spencer, second. Pole sitter Jan Leaty led the start and he first lap until overhauled by Doug Hevron. Hevron led until lap six and from there on it was Reggie Ruggiero, which is until three laps to go in the 150 lapper when he tangled with Satch Worley. Ruggiero and Worley spun and were able to restart but it was too late as a patient Stefanik took the lead and never looked back. Pre-race favorite Charlie Jarzombek, out with a brand new RE Chassis mod, blew a tire and finished in 15th spot. Following Stefanik and Spencer were Ruggiero, Carl Pasteryak, Kenny Bouchard, Mike McLaughlin and Worley. In Winston Cup action at Atlanta, Ricky Rudd took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, all was quiet.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, at Las Vegas, Jeff Green passed Tim Steele with 14 laps to go and went on to record his first Busch Grandnational win. Dick Trickle finished second after Steele faded. In a truck race at Homestead, Fl, John Nemechek, Joe's brother, suffered severe head injuries after crashing hard on the driver's side. Nemechek passed away five days later.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002, the Winston Cup and Busch Grandnational divisions of NASCAR were at Darlington. In Winston Cup qualifying Ricky Craven took the pole with Jeff Gordon on the outside. The big news was that Gordonís wife Brooke filed for divorce. Jeff Burton went pole to pole to win the BGN 200. Sterling Marlin started dead last after an engine change and charged his way to victory in the Winston Cup event. Steve Park, in his first race back since suffering head injuries, started fourth and was leading on lap 39 when he slid up into Stacey Compton, triggering a wreck that took out Craven. Tony Stewart also had a close call when he hit the lapped car of Buckshot Jones and then was hit hard by Jim Spencer. Stewart was life starred to a hospital where he was checked out to be ok.

  Ten years ago in 2007, NASCAR has announced their touring series television package and as usual the Whelen Modified Tour Series got the crumbs or better yet what the cow left behind after she jumped the fence. HDNet would air the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway on August 25, while the SPEED channel would air the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire International Speedway on June 30 and the combination event with the NASCAR Whelen Modifed Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 1.. In addition, SPEED would provide expanded coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division in 2007, as the network will air 23 races as part of its Racing Across America series, re-airing all 16 of HDNetís live events while originally producing six others. SPEEDís coverage of the division would culminate with live post-season coverage of the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in October.
  Itís really too bad that NASCAR didnít do more for the Whelen Modifieds as it had been proven by the Arute family at the Stafford Motor Speedway that produces NASCAR New England that TV coverage pays big dividends for both the competitors and the Speedway. Staffordís weekly car count exceeds 200.
  The Stafford Speedway announced that Phil Kurze, Vice President of Motorsports for Whelen Engineering, would serve as the grand marshal for 36th Annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST on April 27-29, 2007.
  Jimmie Johnson passed Tony Stewart three laps from the end Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway and went on to win his second straight race in Nextel Cup competition. Johnson had the car to beat as he led 132 of the first 238 laps. But the only laps he led the rest of the way in the 325-lap event on Atlanta's 1.5-mile oval were the last three. The 25th victory of his Cup career moved Johnson within 28 points of current series leader Mark Martin. Jeff Burton didn't need any last-lap heroics this time. But he did need a little luck as he made it two Busch Series victories in a row Saturday.

  Five years ago in 2012, Just when you were thinking of taking in a lot of racing in the coming season, the AAA says the average price of regular gas had topped $4 a gallon in Connecticut, and a state lawmaker is calling for a cap on the state's gross receipts tax on wholesale gas.
The motor club says the average price hit $4.006 a gallon, up from $3.998. Connecticut was now tied with New York with the fifth-highest average price in the country. AAA says Hawaii tops the list at $4.46 a gallon, followed by California at $4.36, Alaska at $4.23 and Illinois at $4.11. The national average price was $3.83 a gallon.
  Get well wishes went to Modified Car owner Joe Brady who underwent quadruple by-pass surgery.
  Elliot Sadler picked up his second NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season when his crew chief left him out on the track on old tires during the final caution at Bristol Motor Speedway. The call put Sadler in the lead on the final restart, with 28 laps remaining, and he easily held off Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski.
  No one had anything for Brad Keselowski in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 Sunday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski led 231 of the 500 laps of the .533-mile concrete track, including the final 111 circuits. It was Keselowskiís second straight victory at Bristol and his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series triumph in 93 starts.
  Driving Roger Penskeís Miller Lite Dodge, Keselowski held off the repeated challenges of Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver Matt Kenseth, taking the checkered flag .714 seconds ahead of Kenseth in a race run before one of the smallest crowds in recent Bristol history. Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers completed the top five.

  Last year, 2016, The 12th season for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour took the green flag at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina last Saturday night. Sixteen Modifieds were on hand for the series opener.
  In a NASCAR news release it said that Burt Myers, who came to pit road in the nightís second-to-last caution to flip-flop his left side tires, gained four positions in six circuits after the restart and four more by Lap 144. The nightís last yellow flag provided the Walnut Cove, North Carolina, modified veteran the final opportunity he needed. Myers beat Danny Bohn on the restart of the green-white-checkered flag finish and powered to victory in the Davis Roofing 150 at Caraway Speedway. It was the 17th triumph overall for Myers and his third at the venerable .455-mile oval.
  It was an up and down evening in the No. 1 Remington SCT/Speedway Auto Auction Ford for Myers, who started on the front row and took the lead for the first time from the polesitter Bohn on Lap 28. He manned the front until Lap 82 when he pitted under caution for a new right rear tire. Myers returned to the race eighth after a lengthy stop, but moved back up to fifth before returning to pit road for the tire swap that proved to be his key to victory.
  Bobby Measmer Jr. was also able to get by Bohn in the final circuit for second place, his best career finish. Bohn, Jason Myers and two-time defending tour titlist Andy Seuss rounded out the top five. Brendon Bock, George Brunnhoelzl III, Jeff Goodale, Richie Pallai Jr. and Jeremy Gerstner completed the top 10.
  The mild winter had been kind to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl where a major reconstruction effort had been taking place. The Armco guard rail that had been beaten to a pulp by many savage impacts was ripped out and replaced by a new concrete wall. Construction had been ongoing since the previous fall. Next on the schedule was the installation of new electrical conduits for the trackís lighting and a new catch fence that was long overdue.
  Gone for many years but now back was a second pit gate on the back stretch just off turn two. This addition was designed to improve access to the north pit area. The Speedbowl management will also be moving the scales out of the infield and into a new dedicated tech area, which will be located in the main pit area outside of turn three.
  The old scoreboard was gone! A new state of the art scoreboard was scheduled to be installed shortly. One project that was a possibility for this season but ultimately pushed to next off-season was a renovation of the grandstands. Track management decided to not take a chance of over doing the workload and received the thumbs up for use of the current grandstands in 2016.
  A pat on the back and a job well done to track owner Bruce Bemer and General Manager Shawn Monahan for their supreme effort in keeping the Speedbowl alive and making the track one to be proud of.
  It appeared simply amazing the strangle hold that NASCAR had on its Modified teams. FIVE Tri-track Open Series races carry an actual cash payout of $275,000 actual & not "fluff" in purses. There were 53 paid entries AND NOT ONE FULL-TIME Nascar Mod Tour team. Evidently money meant nothing to the NASCAR Mod Tour owners ???
  The June 11 race at Monadnock had been declared to be a Ron Bouchard Tribute race.
Kevin Harvick held off Carl Edwards in a photo finish to capture his eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory at the Phoenix International Raceway. Coming out of turn four it was a dead heat as Harvick and Carl Edwards battled for the victory. Edwards slammed into the left side of Harvickís Chevrolet to try and slow him down and Edwards returned the favor as they streaked towards the finish line, with Harvick edging Edwards at the finish line by just .010 of a second to claim the victory. It was the closest finish in track history. Kyle Busch sped to his third consecutive NASCAR XFINITY Series victory in a dominant performance that saw the Joe Gibbs Racing driver lead a JGR 1-2-3 finish with Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez in tow.
  Ryan Preece jumped to 17th in the Xfinity Series driver standings with a solid 21st-place run in Saturdayís Axalta 200 race at Phoenix International Raceway. Preece ran as high as 20th and stayed in the middle of the pack all afternoon.

  Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail, smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com.

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.


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Source: Phil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: March 17, 2017

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