The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

June 30, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 Don Collins was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ed McAvoy was the Claiming Car winner. Saturday night Sportsman action at the Speedbowl saw Al Riley take the Sportsman main event while Johnny Sandberg won his fifth of the year in the Claiming Car ranks.

  Sixty years ago in 1957, the New London-Waterford shifted to its summer schedule of running on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Red Foote was the 25 lap Sportsman winner on Wednesday night and Moneybags Moe Gherzi was the 50 lap Sportsman winner on Saturday night. Squeaky Rogers was the non-Ford winner on Saturday night.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962, Bill Slater continued his winning ways on the dirt at Stafford as he made it three in a row. At Waterford, Dick Beauregard won his first of five Modified features in a row. Ed Moody was the Bomber winner.

  Fifty years ago in 1967, Eddie Flemke won a 50 lapper at the Albany Saratoga Speedway on Friday night. Stafford had a 100 lapper scheduled but was forced to cancel due to rain. Following Flemke were Pete Hamilton, Bernie Miller, Elton Hill and Lou Lazzaro. Leo Cleary was the Saturday night feature winner at the Norwood Arena. At Fonda, Pete Corey took the win over Bill Wimble and Lazzaro. At the Islip Speedway on Saturday night Jim Hendrickson went pole to pole to win a 100 lap Trenton qualifier. Eddie Flemke finished second with Fred Harbach, third. Thompson and Utica-Rome fell victim to rain. The All Star League, the brainchild of Larry Mendelsohn and Lou Figari made its debut at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Fred Harbach took the 100 lap main event over Bill Wimble, Pete Corey, Rene Charland, Ernie Gahan, Kenny Shoemaker and Eddie Flemke. Charlie Webster won on Saturday at Waterford while Newt Palm won a 50 lap special event on July 4.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, the Fourth of July weekend started on a wet note as Friday night racing at Malta rained out. Saturday night at Stafford saw Canadian Denis Giroux take a popular win over Bugsy Stevens and Tom Sutcliff. At Islip, Fred Harbach out-dueled Missippi Curtiss and Charlie Jarzombek and at Fonda it was Lou Lazzaro over Irv Taylor and Don Wayman. Waterford ran double features because of rain the previous week. Don Bunnell won the leftover Modified feature while Dick Dunn took the regularly scheduled event. Seekonk ran a 100 lap open show on Sunday with Fred DeSarro taking the win over Ed Flemke, Bobby Sprague, Johnny Tripp and Bugsy Stevens. Utica-Rome also ran a 100 lapper with Richie Evans taking the top spot over Sonny Seamon, Denis Giroux and Jerry Cook. Stafford had a 150 lapper scheduled for Monday but tossed in the towel because of showers. The All Star League visited Fonda on Tuesday for a 100 lap contest which was won by Buzzie Reutimann over Jerry Cook, Lou Lazzaro and Ron Narducci.

  Forty years ago in 1977, Stafford started the Fourth of July weekend with a 100 lapper that drew 56 Modifieds and over 9000 spectators. Geoff Bodine took the hotly contested feature over Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller, John Rosati and Brett Bodine. Monadnock also ran on Friday night with a 50 lapper. Pete Fiandaca took the win over Bob Karvonen. On Long Island at Riverhead, Charlie Jarzombek won out over Fred Harbach and Tom Baldwin. Saturday night was also a busy one. At Seekonk over 15,000 were on hand to cheer Bugsy Stevens as he took the victory in the Fred Fusco No.1. George Summers finished second with Eddie StAngelo, George Murray and Ray Lee rounding out the top five. Joe Howard beat out Mike Murphy at Westboro and in a 100 lapper at Waterford, Bill Greco won out over Mark Geer, George Allum, Joe Tiezzi, Mark LaJunesse and Dick Ceravolo. Geoff Bodine carried his winning ways over to Riverside Park on Saturday night with a victory over Bob Polverari and Ron Wycoff. Islip and Freeport were still butting heads and fighting for cars and fans. Greg Sacks took the win at Islip over Fred Harbach and Wayne Anderson. At Freeport, Charlie Jarzombek took the win over George Brunnhoelzl Jr. Ronnie Bouchard was the king pin at Thompson on Sunday night. Fred DeSarro finished second with Bugsy Stevens, third.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Westboro ran an 82 lap open competition event on Wednesday night. Ronnie Bouchard took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Gomer Taylor and Reggie Ruggiero. Greg Sacks made it two in a row at Stafford as he beat out Bob Polverari and Reggie Ruggiero for his 13th win of the season. Bugsy Stevens, driving the Mystic Missile, had his season come to an early end as he suffered fractured lower vertebras after taking a hard shot into the turn one concrete as a result of a cut tire. It was also a not so good night for Daring Dick Caso who was given a three week suspension for making a banzai move that ended up wiping out the cars of Brett Bodine, Ronnie Bouchard, Ray Miller and Mike Hornat. Doug French took the Friday night win at New Egypt and Wayne Anderson took top honors at Riverhead. Waterford suffered a rain out on Saturday but at Seekonk it stayed dry as Mr. Leo Cleary put Joe Brady's 00 in victory lane. Gomer Taylor finished second with Eddie StAngelo, fourth. Marty Radwick won a 100 lapper at Riverside Park and John Blewett Jr. won a 100 lapper at Islip. At Shangri-La it was Jerry Cook over Jim Spencer and Doug Hewitt. Sunday night at Thompson saw Reggie Ruggiero take the top spot over George Kent, Richie Evans and Bob Polverari.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, the NASCAR Modified Tour was at Waterford for a Wednesday night event. Jim Spencer took the win over Bugsy Stevens, Mike Stefanik and Corky Cookman. Rain washed out Friday night at Stafford and Saturday night at Waterford. At Riverside Park, Stan Gregger took the win over Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles and Bruce Del. At Riverhead, Tom McCann won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper. The Mod Tour headed for Jennerstown, Pa on Sunday where Jan Leaty pulled off the win over Jim Spencer, Jeff Fuller, Mike McLaughlin and Mike Stefanik.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Touring Series was at Riverhead on Wednesday for a 201 lap event. Mike Stefanik started on the pole and led the entire distance to take the win. Ed Brunnhoelzl finished second. Rick Fuller, Reggie Ruggiero and Steve Park rounded out the top five. Friday night at Stafford saw Ted Christopher win out over John Sneade and Mike Christopher. MikeEwanitsko made it three in a row at Riverhead on Saturday night.Racing at Waterford was delayed two hours because of rain. The Strictly Stocks started their main event and got seven laps in the books before the Connecticut DMV shut them down because of the midnight curfew. Jerry Marquis was the big winner at Riverside and Dave Dion won the Oxford 250 for the third time and pocketed $37,150 for his efforts.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Jim Broderick got his fourth win of the season at Stafford as he put his Dodge powered SK modified in victory lane over Bo Gunning and Bob Potter. The Nascar Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Watkins Glen. Tim Connolly took the lead with six laps to go and went on to record the victory over Rick Fuller and Ted Christopher. Mike Stefanik juggled his schedule between Watkins Glen and the Busch Grandnational event at Nazareth. Stefanik practiced at Nazareth in the morning, flew to Watkins Glen and started the Modified event in the Brady 00, jumped out at the first caution, flew back to Nazareth for qualifying. Tucker Reynolds scored at Waterford after Todd Ceravolo pitted while leading with a leaky radiator. Don Fowler finished second. Jim Broderick was parked for the night after an altercation with Jeff Pearl and Ricky Young was suspended for two events because of a rough riding incident. Tim Continanno won at Riverhead and it was Richie Gallup at Riverside. Bob Dragon passed Jerry Marquis with five laps to go to take the Busch North Series event at Nazareth. Marquis finished second with Mike Stefanik, Tom Bolles and Andy Santarre rounding out the top five.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002 the weeks race schedule brought back fond memories of years ago when there was racing five days out of seven. There was something for everyone to say the least. The best of both worlds, The Busch North Series and the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour, were in Southern New England. Stafford started it off on Wednesday night with the twice-rained out Connecticut Classic 150 for the Featherlite Modifieds. Ted Christopher used his home track advantage to the fullest as he led the event from pole to pole. Some would say it was boring but if one were aware of the background drama their opinion would change. Christopher’s secret was the fact that his car was set up to the precision of a Swiss watch by crew chief Barry Kuhnel. In fact, the car was so perfect; Christopher went the 150-lap distance on the same tires in which he started. The show behind him was the one to watch as Ed Flemke Jr. came from the rear twice to finish second. The event was also a true test of human stamina and equipment durability as temperatures were in the mid 90’s and the humidity was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
  There were fourteen cars on the lead lap at the finish. Rick Fuller toughed it out to finish third with Jerry Marquis and Chris Kopec rounding out the top five. Twenty-nine of the original thirty-one qualifiers were on hand. Fred Vordermeir, who missed the cut in time trials pinch hitted for injured Tony Hirschman. Vordermeir did a good job as he finished in eighth spot. Jeff Fuller qualified the No. 17, which had been driven by Mike Ewanitsko before he got hurt. Fuller and car were no-shows.
  In the SK-Modifieds, Bo Gunning scored his second victory of the year. Mike Stefanik started the event as the point leader but an eleventh place finish, plus Marquis’ fourth, moved him back to second spot as Marquis moved into the lead. On to Thompson, on Thursday night, Jeff Malave found himself sitting in the catbird seat after Ted Christopher tapped Bo Gunning. Gunning and Christopher passed Malave for the lead on the 13th lap. On the next go-round, Christopher tapped Gunning who in turn spun and hit the wall a ton. NASCAR Chief Steward Richard Brooks felt that Christopher was rough riding and black-flagged him to the rear. It was the second incident of the night involving the defending national champion. Bert Marvin, who had been riding a streak of three in a row, got wrecked on the second lap after Christopher brake checked him. Christopher, who has been doing some verbal jousting with Marvin, denied his accusation.
  With Gunning and Marvin out of it Malave had a somewhat easy time of it as he took the win over Ron Yuhas Jr. and Kerry Malone. Christopher rebounded to finish fourth with Tom Bolles, fifth. A total of 29 cars took the green.
  On Friday night, it was back to Stafford for the SK-Modifieds or off to Lee Raceway for the Modified open. Ted Christopher scored his 62nd career win at Jack Arute’s place. Like Malave at Thompson, Christopher got the win over another’s miss-fortune. With seven laps to go in the 50-lap feature, Ron Silk was running second and took a header into the fence after going over the roof of Doug Coby. Once the mess was cleared, Christopher drove to victory without incident. Don Travaglin finished second with Jeff Baral, third.
  At Lee, Ed Flemke Jr. went pole to pole to take the 100-lap win. Charlie and Carl Pasteryak followed with Kirk Alexander, fourth.
  At Waterford on Saturday night, Jeff Pearl got redemption after a bone jarring wreck a week ago that all but destroyed his car. Pearl led all but one lap to record his first victory since July 8, 2000. Pearl and his dad, Jerry, along with his crew cut the wrecked car up from behind the seat and replaced the entire rear structure of the car plus running gear and sheetmetal. Dennis Gada finished second with Rob Janovic, Ed Reed Jr. and Don Fowler rounding out the top five.
  The Busch North Series made its annual stop at the shoreline oval with Kelly Moore taking the win.
  Finishing out the weekend on Sunday was a Race of Champions Tour event at the all new Adirondack Speedway in upstate New York. The ROC event drew 33 modifieds including Ted Christopher. Christopher started second and led laps 71 thru 133 until getting taken out by George Kent Sr. Kent was parked for his actions and took a fit on the track. Eric Beers took the lead after the demise of Christopher and led Jim Willis and Rick Zacharias across the stripe at the finish.

  Ten years ago in 2007 the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made it’s first of two visits to the New Hampshire International Speedway. Speedway owner and promoter Bob Bahre posted $164, 095 for the 100 lap-105.8 mile event. There were 40 Modifieds on hand for qualifying which took place on Thursday.
  With the exception of John Blewett III having mechanical problems and having to take a provisional starting spot, qualifying went smooth. Ted Christopher took the Busch Pole with a speed of 126.812mph. Second fastest was Donnie Lia with a speed of 126.795 mph. Jimmy Blewett, Matt Hirschman and Eddie Flemke Jr rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Tony Hirschman, Charlie Pasteryak, Bob Grigas III, Ronnie Silk and Glen Tyler.
  Donnie Lia, who signed on with longtime NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car owner Bob Garbarino just prior to the start of the season, picked up his fourth win in six races with a victory in the New England 100 at New Hampshire International Speedway last Saturday. For Garbarino, who has been a Modified car owner since the mid 1960s, its been a dream season. Never in over 40 years has he had a year like this. Lia and Co. made the strategic choice not to pit for tires or fuel, while other of the top contenders like Ted Christopher did at various stages and had to work their way back to the front.
  “If we pitted today, I don’t know if we could have got through like Teddy did,” said Lia, who had five career wins in 79 career starts entering 2007. “We made our decision and stuck with it. And it was apparently the right one.” The race was abbreviated to 85 laps due to time constraints. It was slowed eight times for 38 laps, with the last caution setting up a six-lap dash for the finish between Lia, Christopher and Eddie Flemke. Lia briefly lost the lead to Flemke but used a push from Christopher to get back by and then held on as Christopher and Flemke battled for second. Christopher, who has four Modified Tour wins at NHIS, held on for the runner-up finish. Matt Hirschman and Todd Szegedy were fourth and fifth respectively. Ronnie Silk, Bobby Santos III, Ron Yuhas Jr., Charlie Pasteryak and John Blewett IIII rounded out the top 10.
  Eight cautions for 38 laps kept Lia’s average speed at 67.140mph. Among those who failed to finish were Joe Hartmann who lost an engine on lap 2, Bob Grigas, Kenny Bouchard, Rick Fuller and Glen Tyler were eliminated in a lap 34 accident. James Civali lost a driveshaft on lap 35. Eric Beers and Mike Christopher lost engines while Jake Marosz and Rob Summers dropped out with suspension problems. Alex Hoag and Jimmy Blewett wrecked on lap 73.
  Lia held the points lead over Szegedy by 61 and Hirschman by 63. Jimmy Blewett and James Civali round out the top five.
  On a sad note, Whelen Modified Tour Series crew chief Greg Narducci sustained serious head injuries when he fell off a moving golf cart on Thursday night. He suffered several injuries to his facial area including possible fractures to the temple, cheekbone and area behind the eye socket. Swelling of the brain occured with possible clots behind the front area of the skull. He was Med Flighted to Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital in NH. Greg was touch and go for a while, but is now on his way to recovery.
  In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway, heavy rains caused the management to cancel its Thursday Night Thompson Thunder race program. The entire northeast was hit by heavy downpours and storms forcing management’s hand after nearly two hours of work to dry the track. Needless to say he is now back 100%.
  In Busch East series action at Loudon on Friday the racing was absolutely brutal. Connecticut’s Joey Logano won for the 3rd time in 6 series starts in the 125-mile event that was slowed by 10 caution periods and 2 red flags. It took two hours to finish the event. Logano held off 8-time New Hampshire International Speedway winner Brad Leighton and Tim Schendel over several late-race restarts. Twenty-four of the 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Cautions: 10 for 64 of the 126 laps completed.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway Zach Sylvester ended a seven year dry spell at the nutmeg oval. In addition to Sylvester who won the the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Tom Fearn won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glen Reen, the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagna, the Limited Late Model feature and Dean Casagrande, the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  The 40-lap SK Modified feature, run under a full moon, saw several attempts at getting it started with both front row starters being put back a row, which put Sylvester up front for the start, and he took the early lead. Sylvester held the lead through multiple caution periods, but would lose the lead to Willie Hardie on a lap-21 restart. Sylvester got back around Hardie on lap-23 and would hold the lead through several more restart situations until the final caution came out with 3 laps to go. Sylvester powered his way to the lead, but had Woody Pitkat and Ted Christopher all over his back bumper. Sylvester held strong and took the checkered flag ahead of Pitkat. Keith Rocco made a last lap charge into third place, with Christopher and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Rob Janovic Jr. notched his third win of the season on Saturday night as he won the 35-lap SK Modified feature on “Military Appreciation Night At The Speedbowl”. Janovic passed early leader Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. with 13 laps to go and was able to hold off Dennis Gada in the closing laps. Mucciacciaro set the early pace, grabbing the top spot from pole-sitter Jeff Paul with a daring move shortly after the initial green. Paired off with the eventual winner on several restarts, he maintained the lead until Janovic moved to the outside groove. An early wreck on the backstretch triggered by Don Fowler claimed several cars, including point-leader Shawn Monahan. The victory moved Janovic within six points of current leader Shawn Monahan in the battle for the championship. Mucciacciaro, Brandon Hansen and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five.
  Other feature winners at the shoreline oval were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Jim Procaccini (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), and, Chris Bakaj (Legends).
  Tom Rogers won the Cromarty Cup 50 at Riverhead and Steven Reed was the Modified winner at the Wall Township Speedway.
In Nextel Cup action at Loudon Denny Hamlin took the win. Kevin Harvick held off a late challenge by Carl Edwards to grab his second NASCAR Busch Series victory of the season Saturday at New Hampshire International Speedway.

  Five years ago in 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series continued on a three week break before heading to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Town Fair Tire 100 on July 14. Doug Coby, with his victory at Waterford, had stretched his point lead to 20 points over defending series champion Ron Silk. Silk held a slim three point edge over Ryan Preece. Justin Bonsignore and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Keith Rocco and Donnie Lia, tied for sixth, were only five points away from being in the top five. Rounding out the top ten were Ted Christopher, Ron Yuhas Jr and Todd Szegedy.
 It's amazing that some self proclaimed experts continued to believe that all is well with the Whelen Modified Tour Series. If it were not for wealthy car owners or wealthy drivers who buy their rides the division would be hurting. Lack of television and lack of daily media coverage does little to help attract sponsorship money. For the most part the supporting tracks were paying as much as they can.
  Thompson Speedway owner Don Hoenig felt that the more rules that NASCAR mandates, the more it costs the car owner. Instead of talking to those who currently compete on the tour NASCAR needs to talk to those who were formerly on the tour and ask what are their reasons for dropping out. Hoenig has his own problems on Thursday nights. Dwindling fields of cars for various reasons have taken their toll on the popularity of the Thursday night programs. The economy is to blame for some of it, inconsistent rules enforcement for some of it and inconsistent general officiating for some of it. The facility is great, the purses are fair and the contingency money is great.
  In Valenti Modified Racing Series action at the Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire Les Hinckley III, visited the winner’s circle for the first time this season after surviving the final 10-laps of Friday night’s Valenti Modified Racing Series event. The 100-lap race was marred by several crashes including a 10-car pileup at lap 90 that eliminated race leader Jon McKennedy from the event. In the final 10-laps race leaders Rowan Pennink, and Jeff Malave were also knocked from the lead. Series officials blamed aggressive driving for the incidents.
  Todd Owen finished second for his best finish to date. Louie Mechalides finished third. Chris Pasteryak and Max Zachem rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were, Jimmy Dolan, Joe Doucette, Norm Wrenn, Rowan Pennink and Mark Bakaj.
  Polesitter McKennedy led the first five circuits. Defending series champion Chris Pasteryak led the field through lap 17 when Pennink took command until lap 82. A hard charging McKennedy then regained the lead. Tommy Barrett who started 24th in the field, battling for the lead on lap 90, made contact with McKennedy, triggering a massive pileup. After Pennink and then Malave were eliminated from the lead, Hinckley led the final two laps to secure the win. Hinckley’s win was his 16th VMRS victory, his third at Lee tying Kirk Alexander for total wins (Lee). Seventeen of the 24 cars that started the race finished on the lead lap. Five yellow flags and one red flag on lap 90 slowed the event completed in 1 hour
15 minutes.
  Valenti Modified Racing Series competitor Tommy Barrett was given a two-race suspension and was put on probation for the rest of the 2012 season, the result of aggressive driving at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH., Friday night, June 29. Series Race Director Pete Newsham made the announcement following the notification. Barrett was fined and placed on probation by the series for the same infraction after last the June race at Seekonk, MA.
  Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw repeat winners dominate victory lane in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. Cam McDermott, John Lowinski-Loh, and Tommy O’Sullivan all added to their win totals while Mike Veins became the first repeat winner in the Mini Stock division. Woody Pitkat earned his first win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. The North East Mini Stock Tour entertained with a victory by Emerson Cayer in their stand-alone event and a Showdown victory for Thompson favorite Danny Field.
  In the Sunoco Modified event Woody Pitkat earned his first Sunoco Modified victory of the season after Keith Rocco was disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Repeat winners dominated victory lane in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action on Thompson’s Thursday Night Thunder program. Cam McDermott, John Lowinski-Loh, and Tommy O’Sullivan all added to their win totals while Mike Veins became the first repeat winner in the Mini Stock division. Woody Pitkat earned his first win of the season in the Sunoco Modified division. The North East Mini Stock Tour entertained with a victory by Emerson Cayer in their stand-alone event and a Showdown victory for Thompson favorite Danny Field.
  Pitkat's win came after Keith Rocco was disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Inspectors found that Rocco's engine had heat shields that were on the bottom of the intake manifold.
  John Catania drove out front on lap one of the Sunoco Modified feature, but heading into turn four, went high, and collected Shawn Thibeault as the two came flying across the front stretch and hit the inside pit road retaining wall. Catania’s No. 52 machine hit the wall hard and his night was over. Keith Rocco took the lead when the race resumed with Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher, and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top four. Preece was glued to Rocco’s bumper, occasionally moving out of line to look for a way around. Rocco never game him the chance to make a formal challenge for the lead, but Pitkat, was able to muscle his way around Christopher for the third spot at lap seven. Preece tried again to get by Rocco on lap 10 using the bottom, but Rocco closed the door. Rocco got some breathing room on lap 13 when Preece got loose coming off of turn four. Pitkat used the opportunity to his advantage and challenged Preece on lap 14, but Preece fought back and held on to the spot. On the following circuit, Pitkat darted to the outside and easily drove by Preece for the second position. Rocco drove straight to the checkered flag, but was later disqualified in tech handing the win to Pitkat.
  There was also a nasty incident involving Glen Boss in the Thompson Modifieds who was involved with a confrontation with another driver and refused to acknowledge the black flag. Rather than stop the race officials allowed Boss to continue in the race, unscored. Speedway head tech inspector, chief steward Mike Kun resigned his position at the track. Kun’s son Andrew Kun also quit along with fellow official John Andrade. Andrew Kun and Andrade are both listed as “assistant inspectors” on the staff list posted on the track’s website. The speedway named Josh Vanada as its new director of competition at the track. The new position replaces the old position of “chief steward. Vanada previously held the position of assistant starter at the track. Another former NASCAR Chief Steward, Richard Brooks, is now listed as Infield Coordinator.
  Keith Rocco got redemption from his Thursday night disqualification at Thompson at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night as he won the annual running of the Coors Light SK Modified® 100. Rocco took the checkered flag in the extra distance classic for his first Stafford win of the 2012 season, Corey Hutchings was a first time 2012 winner in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr. was a career first time winner in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Josh Wood picked up his 5th win of the 2012 season in the extra distance Limited Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande took home his fourth win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  In the Coors Litght 100 Frank Ruocco finished second, with Berndt, Foster, and Christopher rounding out the top-5.
  On Saturday night was the 9th annual CARQUEST Super Saturday program at Stafford. Mike Lichtyp won the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified feature, Mike Horn won the 30-lap NEMA Midget feature event, and Dan Meservey, Jr. won the 25-lap Pro-4 Modified feature event. In the CARQUEST Champions For Charities event, Ron Midford, Jr. took the checkered flag but the real winner was charity as the 13 champion drivers raised over $51,000 for their selected charities.
  In regular weekly racing at the Waterford Speedbowl the mid-season 300 was run which put six divisions in action for a total of 300 laps of racing. The special event provided the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions with extra-distance races including the annual 100-lap SK Modified® thriller. Tyler Chadwick was the night’s big winner, picking up the victory in the SK 100 for his fourth win of the year. Jason Palmer recorded his first win of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models while Walt Hovey Jr. took down his second Street Stock race of the season. Bill Leonard scored his first Mini Stock division win and Matt Pappa won his eighth Legends Cars race of the year at the shoreline oval.
In Modified action at Bowman-Gray in North Carolina twin 50 lap Modified events were run. Jonathan Brown won the opener over Danny Bohn, Tim Brown and Burt Myers. Randy Butner won the night cap over Jason Myers, Lee Jeffreys, Bohn and Burt Myers.
  In NASCAR Modified action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Tom Rogers made it two in a row after starting from outside pole.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action Brad Keselowski did it again at Kentucky Speedway. NASCAR’s master of saving fuel, made his gasoline last during the final laps of the Quaker State 400 and he grabbed his series-leading third victory of the season, virtually clinching at least a wild card spot for the Chase to the Sprint Cup.
  Driving the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge, Keselowski led the final 58 laps of the 1.5-mile superspeedway and won despite driving a back up car after crashing during the first practice session on Friday.
  Austin Dillon absolutely dominated the Feed the Children 300 at Kentucky Speedway to notch his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory. Dillon started from the pole and was the class of the field, leading 192 of the 200 laps and beating Kurt Busch to the finish line by 9.828 seconds at the 1.5-mile asphalt oval.

  Last year, 2016 Modified car owner Mario Fiore passed away on Thursday, June 23, after a hard fought four year battle with cancer. Fiore, who owned and prepared a NASCAR Modified for many years and has over 200 wins to his credit, was 65. Among his many drivers were Gary Coultiri, Reggie Ruggerio, Greg Sacks, Jimmy Blewett, Rick Fuller, Tom Cravenho and Jerry Marquis. Fiore was inducted into the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 2012. Fiore retired as a car owner early in 2001 after a win at South Boston Va. His only Whelen Modified Tour Championship came in 2000 with Jerry Marquis.
  Fiore was a long time car owner and was well known throughout New England with his #44 car. Fiore won track championships at tracks throughout New England. The Fiore no. 44 had a long run of success with Reggie Ruggiero. Together, Fiore and Ruggerio won track championships at Riverside Park in 1979, 1984, and 1988; Monadnock Speedway in 1979 and 1988; and Stafford Motor Speedway in 1983. They also won often at Thompson Speedway. Fiore was the winning owner in the 1987 Race of Champions at Pocono International Raceway, a two-time winner at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway, and a repeat champion of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.
In weekly Friday night racing at Stafford, the Arute family honored the memory of long time Modified car owner Mario Fiore by extending the SK Modified® feature distance from its customary 40-laps to 44-laps. The SK Modified® feature also paid out an additional $44 per finishing position in his memory.
  Ted Christopher served up a one-two punch as he won both the SK Modified 44 lapper and the Valenti Modified Racing Series 80 lapper. Other winners at Stafford included Kevin Gambacorta who recorded his second consecutive Late Model feature win, Joe Graf, Jr. who was a first time career winner in the SK Light feature, Paul Arute took down his third win of the 2016 season with a last lap pass, and Trace Beyer who scored his first win of 2016 in the DARE Stock feature.
  In the special 44-lap SK Modified® feature event in honor of Mario Fiore, Christopher held off Ryan Preece to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® win since the 2014 season. Rowan Pennink finished third, with Woody Pitkat and Matt Galko rounding out the top-5.
  Christopher and Jon McKennedy served up a see-saw battle on the closing stages of the VMRS 80 lapper. With 6 laps to go, McKennedy was right on Christopher’s back bumper. McKennedy hounded Christopher and he took the lead in turn 3 on lap-77. Christopher came right back in turn 1 on lap-78 as they were navigating their way around a lapped car and he retook the lead from McKennedy. McKennedy made a strong move through turns 3+4 on the final lap to get back to Christopher’s bumper, but he couldn’t make a pass as Christopher took the checkered flag for his second win of the night. McKennedy finished second with Dave Etheridge, third. Keith Rocco and Chris Pasteryak rounded out the top five.
  Ted Christopher is the Staffords all-time winningest driver with 123 feature wins.
  NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action shifted to the Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island last Saturday night. Timmy Solomito piloted the No. 16 Diversified Metals /R.B. Enterprises Ford to the win in the Riverhead 200. To get to Victory Lane Solomito had to hold off Justin Bonsignore in a green-white-checkered finish that capped a wild night on the historic quarter-mile. It was a Riverhead sweep of the podium, as Bonsignore settled for second and Donny Lia came home third. Jimmy Blewett, who had to drop to the rear on the start for making changes after qualifying, charged his way up to fourth. And Dave Sapienza rounded out the top five. Max Zachem finished sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Chase Dowling, rookie Matt Swanson and Doug Coby
  Earlier in the day, Coby won his fifth Coors Light Pole Award in six races this season. Coby led a race-high 81 laps but spun after contact with Bonsignore as the two battled with Solomito for the lead on Lap 196. Coby salvaged a 10th-place finish and maintained a 17-point lead over Max Zachem. There were 27 cars on hand.
  Twin 25's for the SK Modifieds were the main attraction at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Joey Gada won the first SK Modified feature of the night and Keith Rocco topped the field in the second for the division. Other winners at the shoreline oval were Ray Christian III who won the Late Model feature, Chris Meyer who was the winner of the Limited Sportsman feature, Wayne Burroughs Jr. who was victorious in the Mini Stock feature along with Dana DiMatteo who topped the field in the Legends feature and Robin Berghman who won the New England Pro Four Modified feature.
  Rocco continued to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco's win in the SK Modifieds brought his track win total to 125 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 221 wins which also included victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways.
  The NASCAR Modifieds ran twin 25s at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC. Jason Myers led a caution less 25 laps to claim the checkered flag in the opener. Brother Burt Myers finished on his bumper in second with Brandon Ward, third. Randy Butner won the nite cap over Daniel Yates and Junior Miller.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Tony Stewart was not going to be denied on Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway in California. Stewart lost the lead to Denny Hamlin during Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 in turn seven on the final lap, only to muscle his way back around Hamlin in turn 11 to emerge with the lead and score his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory since 2013..

  That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, and R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail,

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: June 30, 2017

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