The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

August 18, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 Cy Yates and Fred Luchesi were declared co-winners of a 25 lap Sportsman feature on Wednesday night after a photo finish at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Dean was the Claiming Car winner. Luchesi came back on Saturday night to record an uncontested win.

  Sixty years ago in 1957, Red Foote was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Charlie Webster was the non-Ford winner. Don Collins took another Sportsman win at the Bowl on Saturday night and Danny Gallulo paid a surprise visit as he won the non-Ford feature. Johnny Rocco was the feature winner at Islip over Johnny Coy and Al DeAngelo.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962, Hank Stevens scored a popular win as he took the Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ed Moody made it three in a row in the Bombers at the shoreline oval.

  Fifty years ago in 1967, the All Star League paid a visit to the Flemington Speedway on Wednesday night. Frankie Schenieder, one of the top dirt track drivers of the day took the win over Budd Olsen, Jackie Hamilton and Bob Pickell. Friday night at Stafford saw Eddie Flemke take the win over Hank Stevens, Bill Slater, Fats Caruso and Lou Toro. Albany Saratoga on Friday and Fonda on Saturday fell victim to rain but at Norwood it was dry as Bob Melnick took the win. It was also dry at Waterford where Charlie Webster took the Modified win and at Islip where Fred Harbach won a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier. Ron Schwenderman finished second with Eddie Flemke, third. Jim Hendrickson and Bugsy Stevens rounded out the top five. The up state New York rains continued into Sunday and washed out Sunday night action at Utica-Rome.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, Seekonk and Malta had double point events scheduled. It rained at Malta but not at the Cement Palace where Fred DeSarro took the win over Red Barbeau, Eddie Flemke, Hop Harrington, Ollie Silva and Ronnie Bouchard. Saturday night at Stafford saw George “Moose” Hewitt power his way to victory in the Freddie Doolittle No.23. Fred DeSarro finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, Eddie Flemke and Leo Cleary rounding out the top five. At Fonda, Lou Lazzaro took a hard fought battle over Ken Shoemaker, Dave Lape and Jerry Pennock Sr. Islip belonged to Charlie Jarzombek. Bill Scrivener took the win at Waterford. Utica-Rome staged a double point event on Sunday night. Denis Giroux took the win over Dave Lape, Richie Evans and Sonny Seamon. Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro were trying to chip away at Jerry Cooks point lead but lost ground as both were bogged down by up-front traffic. Cook finished fifth while Stevens ended up eighth and DeSarro, 12th.

  Forty years ago in 1977, Bugsy Stevens started the weekend off with a win at Stafford on Friday night. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Dick Caso, third. Bobby Santos ruled the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night. Eddie StAngelo finished second with Jim Wilkins, third. At Riverside, Reggie Ruggiero and Pete Fiandaca finished one-two and at Westboro, George Savory beat out Roland LaPierre Jr. and Mike Weeden. NASCAR scheduled a 300 mile modified event for the one-mile Dover Downs Speedway, on Sunday. Many of the New England based cars and drivers remained home to support the Sunday night small-block event at Thompson. Maynard Troyer won the Dover event over Paul Radford, Lennie Pond, Richie Evans, Jerry Cook and Ray Hendrick. Ronnie Bouchard took the Thompson win over Eddie Flemke, Bobby Clark, Brett Bodine and Dick Caso. After running somewhat successful modified events in 1969 and 1970, the Dover modified event was not a good fan draw. Needless to say, the modifieds have not been back since.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Stafford ran a stand alone SK-Modified event on Wednesday night. The event drew 41 of the then new limited modifieds. Stafford was testing the waters to see if a future decision to drop the unlimited modifieds from their weekly program would be justified. Charlie Savage took the win over Dan Avery and Randy Lajoie. The racing was good but the regular Stafford Friday night crowd didn’t support the event. Plans to dump the modifieds were shelved for a future date. In regular Friday night action at Stafford, Greg Sacks outgunned Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Kenny Bouchard finished third. Randy LaJoie was the SK-Modified winner. In other Friday night action, George Kent and Richie Evans finished one-two at Spencer, Fred Harbach over Wayne Anderson and Alan Harbach at Riverhead and at New Egypt, it rained. Dave Webber was the winner at Waterford on Saturday night. Don Bunnell, Moose Hewitt and Randy Lajoie rounded out the top four. Reggie Ruggiero beat out John Rosati at Riverside and at Seekonk, John Smith walked off with the checker. Fred Harbach made it two for two on the weekend as he backed up his Friday night win at Riverhead with a win on Saturday night at Islip. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer got the best of Richie Evans as he took the victory there. The modifieds and the Northern Molson Tour shared the billing at Thompson on Sunday. Jean Paul Cabana won the Late Model event and Richie Evans won the modified event over Corky Cookman, Reggie Ruggiero and George Kent. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bobby Allison took the win over Richard Petty. Geoff Bodine finished fourth and Ronnie Bouchard finished 10th.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, Mike Mclaughlin scored a convincing win as he took the top spot in the Manchester Oil Heat 100 at Stafford on Friday night. Jim Spencer finished second with Brian Ross in the Ed Cloce 69, third. George Brunnhoelzl and Mike Stefanik rounded out the top five. Jerry Pearl was the SK-Modified winner. S.J.Evonsion pulled off a surprise win over Mike Stefanik at Riverside on Saturday night. Ricky Young held off Bob Potter at Waterford and at Riverhead, Steve Park won the Charlie Jarzombek Memorial. The Riverhead event was also a qualifier for the Oswego 200.At Shangri-La, Tony Hirschman won a Thompson 300 qualifier. Thompson ran the 300 pole qualifier on Sunday. Brian Ross took the win over Jamie Tomaino, Mike Mclaughlin and Doug Hevron. Ted Christopher was the SK-Modified winner. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bill Elliott took the win.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, Friday night action at Stafford saw Steve Chowanski take the win over Tom Tagg and John Sneade. At Riverside it was Bobby Gegetskas over Alan Rudonas and Rick Summers. Riverhead and Waterford rained out. On a sad note, Clifford Allison, the younger son of Bobby Allison, lost his life after crashing during a Busch Grandnational practice session at Michigan.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Steve Park took the lead with fourteen laps to go and won the Busch Grand National event at Michigan and in Winston Cup action, Mark Martin made up two laps after getting a flat and took the win, also at Michigan. At Stafford, Steve Chowanski took the win over Jim Broderick and Lloyd Agor. Rick Donnelly beat out Todd Ceravolo at Waterford and it was Ted Riggot at Riverside. Tom McCann took the win at Riverhead and in Busch Grand National North action at Star Speedway, Mike Stefanik took the win over Brad Leighton. The Modified Tour series was at Loudon. Mike Stefanik attempted to pass Jan Leaty on the final lap and Leaty chopped him and triggered a big wreck, which took out Stefanik, Reggie Ruggiero, Rick Fuller, Satch Worley and Ed Kennedy. Mike Ewanitsko ended up second and Tony Ferente, third.Rick Hendrick accepted a plea agreement in his mail fraud case and on a sad note, Canadaigua backstretch starter Fred Taney was run over and died from injuries.

  Fifteen years ago in 2002 The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour had a hot and sultry night at Thompson on Thursday for the Bud 150. It was a good night for racing with close to 10,000 spectators on hand and 46 Tour Modifieds in the pit area. Eddie Flemke Jr., fresh off his recent win at Riverhead, made it two in a row in Tour Series competition. After setting fast time for the Bud Pole award Flemke drew the tenth starting spot Total preparation and coaching by crew chief David Hill were key factors. A good race set-up and a plan to go non-stop gave the second-generation driver a distinct advantage. Charlie Pasteryak picked the pole starting spot and led the first 23 laps before giving way to Ted Christopher. Just about the same time that Christopher took the lead, mis-fortune struck defending series champion Mike Stefanik who slowed and dropped out with a blown engine. Christopher, with his brother Mike in tow, led the field until lap 70 when they pitted for tires. Ted would return but Mikey would park the No.48 normally driven by Tony Hirschman. It appeared that an electrical short burned through a power steering hose. Running third, when the Christopher’s pitted was Flemke who assumed the lead. Chuck Hossfeld and Tony Ferrente Jr. also chose not to pit and followed Flemke. Hossfeld got a run on Flemke on a lap 88 restart and took the lead. Hossfeld set the pace until lap 110 when Flemke took it back for good. Meanwhile, as Hossfeld and Ferrente were feeling the effects of worn tires, Ricky Fuller and Ted Christopher moved into contention. With the race winding down with three laps to go, L.W. Miller and Jerry Marquis tangled and crashed into the turn two wall. Marquis took Miller a little low on the front chute and then Miller lambasted Marquis in the rear. Just before the crash Miller’s spotter told him to get by Marquis, no matter what. Both drove away but Marquis suffered severe rear end damage and had to make numerous pit stops in order to make repairs.
  After a couple of false starts, the field took the green on lap 155 for a green-white-checker finish. That’s when things got ugly. Christopher and Ricky Fuller had been slugging it out and as they entered turn one on the final lap Fuller attempted to pass on the outside and the two got together. Fuller bounced off the Christopher mount with the end result being that Christopher ended up in the turn two wall. With Flemke home free, Fuller was able to hold his spot and finish in second spot. Hossfeld got the benefit of the confrontation, as he was able to avoid the tangle as he brought the Mystic Missile home in third. Tom Cravenho got a solid fourth for Eddie Partridge and Christopher was able to regain his forward motion to finish fifth. Fuller later stated that Flemke had been dropping fluid for the final 25 laps and maybe Christopher went in a little too hard trying to pass and that’s why he slid into him. Fuller’s left front touched Christopher’s right rear and into the wall he went.
  The regular weekly racing started on Thursday at Thompson where Ted Christopher took the win over Jeff Malave and Ron Yuhas Jr. Defending champion Bert Marvin was never a factor as he dropped out with mechanical problems. During the running of the event Ronnie Silk and Tom Bolles got together on the backstretch. Silk attempted to pinch Bolles into the wall as he attempted to pass. Rather than hit the concrete, Bolles turned left and the resulting spin saw Silk hit the wall. Bolles pitted and it was at that time that a member of the Silk crew shut off Bolles’ air tank while his crew was attempting to change a flat tire. Needless to say, the tire got changed and Bolles finished sixth.
  Congratulations went out to Bo Gunning and the Long Island Gang led by Eddie Partridge on their victory at Stafford on Friday night. It was Gunning’s third of the year and the 41st of his career at the Arute Family oval. After getting drilled into the fence, while leading, the previous week, the win was especially sweet as Gunning and Partridge have the track championship on their minds. Gunning now led Ronnie Silk by 34 points. Dennis Gada finished second at Waterford on Saturday night and still got booed. Jeff Pearl took the win. Gada drove a clean race despite exerting a lot of pressure. Frustrated, Gada stated that all he hears is the whining of other competitors and feels it’s his job to win as many races as possible. Fans tend to hate one that wins too much. In 1978 when Geoff Bodine won 55 races he got booed every where he went but once he went south to seek his fortune in NASCAR’s top division, many of those who booed him became supporters. Now that Ted Christopher is not winning as many races that he did in the past, many of last years boos have turned into cheers. Two of the few drivers that never got booed for winning too many races were Bugsy Stevens and the late Richie Evans. Their abilities and personalities were far above their peers.

  Ten years ago in 2007, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson Speedway on Thursday night for the running of the annual BUDWEISER 150 presented by the New England Dodge Dealers. In what was to be a festive night of good hard racing the night turned to be one of sadness as John Blewett III lost his life while battling for the lead with his brother Jimmy. As close to 8,000 fans looked on the Blewett brothers tangled following a restart on lap 107 of the 150-lap race. Jimmy’s car, owned by Eddie Partridge, came to rest on top of John’s family owned mount. It appeared that John lost his life when a bumper came through the window opening and struck his helmet. Was it a case of sibling rivalry getting out of hand? Who knows! Earlier in the evening during the Sunoco Modified feature Jimmy Blewett hit the front stretch hard as he dueled with brother John for the start. Jimmy's car was towed off the track. In no way did Jimmy Blewett want to harm his brother but for a split second his will to win at all cost, cost him dearly.
  Car owners Eddie and Connie Partridge are extremely close with the Blewetts. John Blewett III was the key set-up man for Partridge’s SK Modified team as well as his Tour Car team. Jimmy Blewett idolized and loved his brother. Jimmy convinced Eddie and Connie to field a second Sunoco Modified for John to race at Thompson so they could be teammates this season. Jimmy had grown tremendously from John’s mentorship as a result of that decision.
  Blewett was 33 years old. The New Jersey native was a throw-back to the glory days of racing, an answer to fans who complained that drivers who become too buttoned-down, too politically correct and too willing to second-place in recent times. Blewett’s list of accomplishments in Modified racing was extensive. He had 10 career victories, 42 top five finishes and 76 top 10 finishes on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Blewett won two North-South Shootout races at Concord Motorsport Park (NC). He was the 2003 and 2006 New Hampshire International Speedway Modified division track champion. He was the 1996 NASCAR Regional Racing Northeast champion.
  During a fitting tribute at his home track, the Wall Township Speedway, an emotional mix of cheers and tears filled the stands Saturday as the late John Blewett III's No. 76 car led the ceremonial final lap at the Wall Township Speedway. No. 76, driven by Jamie Tomaino, was then parked in the grandstand area for fans to leave cards, letters and flowers. The ceremonial lap was followed by a memorial service lead by the Rev. Don Rivers of the Racing With Jesus Ministries.
  Automobile racing can be one of the most enjoyable sports but can be one of the most dangerous sports. Many great drivers have lost their lives including Dick Dixon, Fred DeSarro, Charlie Jarzombek Tom Baldwin and Richie Evans.
  The race was stopped and Todd Szegedy was the leader at the time of the red flag. Tony Hirschman was second with Ron Yuhas Jr, third. Donnie Lia was fourth. NASCAR deemed the race officially completed on Monday and awarded Szegedy his first win of the year.
  In True Value Modified Series action at the Seekonk Speedway on Saturday night all drivers on hand gathered on the track in turn four and had a few moments of silence in memory John Blewett III.
  Les Hinckley won the Seekonk event and was followed by Vinnie Annarummo, Tony Ricci, Dwight Jarvis and Kirk Alexander.
  In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Tom Cravenho won the wreckfest that was called the Sunoco Modified 30. Cravenho of Raynham, MA, withstood a number of cautions to score his first victory of the season. Fred Astle, Jr. of N. Westport, MA, continues to run strong in the Pro Stock division winning his second feature event in three weeks. Rick Gentes of Woonsocket, RI streaked to consecutive wins in the Late Model division. Ed Puleo of Branford was another first time winner on the season after taking down the victory in the Limited Sportsman Division. Roger Larson, Jr. of Milford, MA, and Rick Blanchard of Pascoag, RI, added to their win tallies in the TIS Modified and Mini Stock divisions respectively.
  Cravenho withstood a number of restarts in a caution-marred Sunoco Modified event to score his first feature win of the season. After taking the lead from pole sitter Buddy Charette, Harry Rheaume took his spot at the head of the pack. Rheaume had plenty of company as John Blewett III dogged the leader from the opening lap. A handful of laps later, John Blewett was the new leader. It was a three-wide battle for the second position with Rheaume, Kerry Malone, and Jimmy Blewett. The trio entered turn one stacked up. Jimmy Blewett shot out of the pack in second. He immediately ran down his brother John. The team cars went wheel-to-wheel for an entire lap before Jimmy claimed the top spot on lap eight. While Kerry Malone slowed on the speedway, Rheaume, who was running third, was punted by Rocco and made hard contact with the outside wall. Rocco was sent to the tail of the field for his involvement in the incident. The Blewett Brothers were vying for the same piece of real estate on the restart when contact sent Jimmy into the outside wall to bring out the yellow. Under caution, Rocco headed to pit road with a broken rear axle. John Blewett headed down pit road as well handing the lead over to Cravenho.
  There was mayhem on the ensuing attempt at a restart when Ceravolo went spinning at the start/finish line. Danny Cates ended up against the turn one wall with heavy damage. Under the caution, the point leader, Woody Pitkat, headed down pit road for service. The third attempt on the restart was a charm with Cravenho jumping out to the lead. Cravenho immediately stretched his lead while Bert Marvin and Buddy Charette battled for second. Marvin was able to gain the position on a lap 12. Geoff Gernhard was also able to advance his position into third. Gernhard made a power move on Marvin exiting turn two to take over the second spot on lap 15. Cravenho continued to stretch his lead. By the time the caution flew on lap 22, John Blewett had already made his way back into the top five. The incident that caused the caution involved Eric LeClair and Dave Salzarulo. Pitkat and Ceravolo took advantage of the yellow to come down pit road. On the restart, it was all Cravenho leaving Gernhard to hold off Marvin. At that point, Rocco had rejoined the field. The problems for the field continued when James Harrison came to rest on the front stretch. After only a few laps of green flag racing, an incident on the backstretch necessitated the caution. The #16 of Ceravolo came to rest atop the #09 of Brad VanHouten. The final four laps were uneventful with Cravenho stretching his lead. The closing laps also featured one of the best races of the night. The battle for the runner-up position heated up with Gernhard holding second over Marvin and John Blewett. Cravenho went unchallenged over the final laps to earn his first victory of the season. Gernhard had a career day holding on for second over Bert Marvin. John Blewett and Pitkat rebounded from early race incidents to complete the top five.
  Rain washed out the Friday night action at the Stafford Motor Speedway.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Dennis Gada passed Diego Monahan on lap 12 of the 35 lap SK Modified feature and went on to score his 54th career win at the shoreline oval. Monahan ended up second and was followed by Don Fowler, Zach Sylvester and Bo Gunning. In other races, Bill Leonard edged Seth Duval to win the 25-lap AllStar Race Truck feature, Dennis Botticello won the 30-lap Late Model feature, Jim Procaccini captured the 20-lap Sportsman feature and Danny Field won the Mini Stock 20-lapper.
  Denny Hamlin fought off a mid-race challenge from Matt Kenseth, then drove away for a dominating victory Saturday in the Carfax 250 NASCAR Busch Series race at Michigan International Speedway. Hamlin picked up his second Busch win of the season and the fourth of his career. His victory gave Nextel Cup regulars 22 victories in 25 tries on the Busch circuit for the season. There were three caution flags, all during the first 36 laps, and Hamlin took advantage of the green flag racing the rest of the way. He steadily pulled away, beating Kenseth to the finish by 6.988 seconds - the length of the front straightaway. Matt Kobyluck won the Busch East Mohegan Sun 200 at Lime Rock Park.
  Kurt Busch won for the second time in three races, prevailing in a rare Tuesday NASCAR event after two days of rain postponements at Michigan International Speedway. Busch, who didn't take his first lead until lap 101 and wound up leading four times for 92 laps, beat Martin Truex to the finish by 0.495 seconds, about eight car lengths on the high-banked, 2-mile oval.

  Five years ago in 2012, Thursday night Thunder at Thompson saw Ryan Preece make it four in a row and nine for the season during a great night of racing at the northeastern Connecticut oval. Preece started sixth and took the lead from Kerry Malone after a restart on lap 5. Wayne Arute started on the pole but was quickly overcome by Malone for the lead. Because of the fact that Arute was unable to come up to speed a back-up occurred which forced Ted Christopher to ride over another competitors wheel which messed up his front end handling. Two cautions slowed the highly competitive event, both for George Wilkinson who spun in turn four on lap five and again on lap 10. Following the lap 10 restart Todd Ceravolo moved in to second spot but had nothing for the leader as he settled for the runner-up spot at the finish. Woody Pitkat finished third with Christopher and Malone rounding out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Dennis Perry, Jay Sundeen, Nick Boivin, Eayne Arute and Richie Gallup.
  Other winners were Cam McDermott of Scituate, RI, in the Lite Modified division and John Lowinski-Loh, Jr. of Milford, MA, in the TIS Modifieds continuing the domination of their respective divisions. Tommy O’Sullivan of Wilbraham, MA, posted his ninth Late Model victory of the season. Bill McNeil of Putnam, CT, rebounded in the Limited Sportsman division with a victory. Chad Baxter of Pascoag, RI, posted his second win of the season in the Mini Stocks.
  Spending the evening with Modified legend Leo Cleary was priceless. At 83 years of age the NEAR Hall of Fame member was as sharp as a tack and can tell stories of years gone by like they happened yesterday.
  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ryan Preece made it two for two on the weekend as he captured the rain shortened 40 lap SK Modified feature. Preece was leading on lap 31 when thew caution was displayed after Matt Gallo and Frank Ruocco banged wheels on the front stretch which resulted with both cars hitting the wall. With rain beginning to fall, the race was red/checkered with 31 laps complete, making Preece the winner. Ted Christopher finished second, with Dan Avery, Glen Reen, and Curt Lenahan rounding out the top-5.
  Other winners at Stafford were Adam Gray in the Late Model feature, Dylan Kopec in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Cory Casagrande in the 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature, and Kris Fluckiger in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
It was good to see Keith Rocco back in action after suffering a severe lower arm injury. Rocco ran as high as fourth before dropping out after an infield spin.
  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval beat back the early day rains to stage its 5th annual ‘Wings & Wheels’ event Saturday night. The International Supermodified Association plus NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites joined the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program on the night. Scoring wins included Vernon CT competitor Rob Summers in the 50-lap Supermodified feature race, while Anthony Marvuglio of East Bridgewater, MA and Avery Stoehr of Lakeville, MA each picked up first-career victories in the NEMA Midget and NEMA Lite races, respectively. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing, Kyle James of Ashaway, RI recorded his first win since 2010 after coming out on top of a wild SK Modified® race. Rich Staskowski of Hope Valley, RI captured his first checkered flag of the year in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Corey Hutchings of Salem took down his fourth victory of the year in the Street Stock division and Ken Cassidy of Lisbon won his 11th Mini Stock feature of 2012.
  The 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified® feature was plagued by numerous caution flags during the race. Rich Brooks showed the way for the first five laps after starting in the pole position. Brooks led Jeffrey Gallup through lap-5 when Gallup made a bold move on the bottom of the track in attempt to take over the race lead. The two made contact, sending both spinning from the top two positions and bringing out the caution flag. During the caution, Keith Rocco pitted and turned the driver’s seat over to Doug Coby for the final 30-laps.
  Joe Perry was the new leader for the lap-5 restart, holding on through lap-13 when caution returned as Diego Monahan and Jeff Rocco made contact between turns one and two with Rocco spinning while competing for a top-five position. Jeff Pearl had raced into second position and lined up next to Perry for the ensuing restart, racing hard in the outside lane once the race was back underway to take the lead. Pearl cleared Perry for good on lap-16 and led through two more caution periods that brought the race to lap-24.
  On the lap-24 restart, Pearl got away from Kyle James to continue leading. Coby was on the move, climbing to third position on lap-28 behind Pearl and James. James looked outside Pearl on lap-30 as the leaders exited turn four, allowing Coby to immediately fill the gap inside of James. Pearl had two cars on his tail to hold back as James continued to threaten off Pearl’s right rear and Coby was glued all over Pearl’s back bumper. The battle among the three inside five laps remaining reached a crescendo just after they completed lap-32. The three cars made contact as they rounded turn one, with Pearl losing control and spinning. Coby also spun while James drove away into the race lead. Behind the spinning leaders, Diego Monahan and Ed Puleo both took hard trips into the turn one wall in the chaos.
  When the dust had settled James was the new leader with Shawn Monahan to his outside. James pulled away on the final restart from Shawn Monahan, who swapped second position with Gallup over the final two laps. James won his first race since 2010 in the division, while Monahan took second over Gallup, who battled back from his early spin to claim his first podium finish in the division.
  In NASCAR Southern Modified action at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC Tim Brown finished ninth Saturday night in the season-ending Carolina Farm Credit 150 and wrapped up a record ninth Bowman Gray Stadium championship.
  The two-year domination of Burt Myers ended, but Myers ended the season in style as he won the 150-lap finale for the featured Modified Division. Brown finished out what he said was his best season yet, one that included eight victories and needed to finish only 12th or better to wrap up the ninth title.
  Myers, who won the pole position, had his challenges as well, including one from hard-charging Dean Ward ,who took the lead in the 71st lap. Myers took the lead back on the 110th lap and held it from there, closing with a final restart challenge from his brother Jason Myers, who needed to finish 12 spots ahead of Brown to win what would have been his first title. Burt Myers led the rest of the way, registering his 50th career victory at Bowman Gray. Jonathan Brown finished second, and Jason Myers was third.
  Late Saturday afternoon rain cancelled all racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
  Greg Biffle won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday when leader Jimmie Johnson left the track because of engine trouble with six laps left. Johnson looked as if he had already finished the hardest work. After starting at the back of the pack, he had moved up quickly, and when he passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on Lap 191 of 200, his No. 48 Chevrolet seemed to be the superior car. Then Johnson's engine faltered with only six laps remaining. He lost the race and the Sprint Cup points lead to Biffle.
  In Nationwide Series action in Montreal, Jacques Villeneuve was in the driver's seat heading to the white flag, more than 20 car lengths ahead and his first victory in NASCAR just a lap away on the track named for his dad. Then, in the blink of an eye, Justin Allgaier bumped past him for the victory Saturday in a Nationwide race as a stunned crowd at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve recoiled in disbelief.
  Having maintained the top spot through restart after restart in the final laps of a race that went seven extra circuits around the 14-turn, 2.7-mile layout, Villeneuve was running low on fuel and kept turning off the engine of his No. 22 Dodge to conserve. What seemed like an insurmountable lead vanished on the last lap. Allgaier closed in a hurry as Villeneuve suddenly slowed and was hit from behind.

  Last year, 2016, The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park played host to the Budweiser ‘King of Beers’ 150 this past Wednesday, August 10, and featured the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NEMA, and Thompson’s four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. The speedway paid tribute to the late Ronnie Bouchard and the late Mario Fiore. The night also the debut of the all new book by Bones Bouncier on the life and exploits of the late Ronnie Bouchard.
  Justin Bonsignore got redemption from previous near misses as he took advantage of a great pit stop under the first caution of the event to give Doug Coby a run for his money and in the end he was able to secure not only the lead, but also an impressive win despite the best efforts of some of the series’ best talents to take the top spot away and a huge points day that put him in the hunt for the championship title.
  Bonsignore qualified third and was able to muscle by Coby for the lead in turn four on lap 73 and hold off the two-time defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion for his ninth career win and fourth overall at Thompson.
  Three cautions for 17 laps slowed the 25 car field. The first caution on lap 54 ended a long green flag period when Craig Lutz spun in turn four. This allowed then leader Coby along with most of the field to pit for fuel and tires. This eliminated any of the front runners from running out of gas. Chase Dowling and Eric Goodale didn't change tires and were first on the grid for the restart. The green flew on lap 61 and Coby wasted little time as he had the lead back by the time they got to the third turn. The second came on lap 126 when Ronnie Silk spun. Bonsignore, who had the lead by then, led the restart on lap 133 as Coby faded back to the fourth spot as Bobby Santos took over second with Woody Pitkat, third. The third and final caution of the race was given to the field on Lap 143 when Shawn Solomito spun in turn four. Bonsignore was able to drive away with Coby back in second to get his first win since the Holtsville, N.Y. native won at Riverhead Raceway last season. Santos finished third with Pitkat and Ryan Preece, who just got engaged, rounded out the top five. Max Zachem, who started sixteenth, was sixth with Silk, Donny Lia, Shawn Solomito and Jeff Goodale coming home seventh through 10th, respectively.
  Jimmy Blewett, fresh off his win at Stafford, fell victim to the wrath of NASCAR as he saw his hopes of a top finish vanish when he was put to the rear from his sixth position in the running as officials claim he was rough riding. Blewett had tapped Shawn Solomito, causing him to spin. Instead of a possible top five Blewett ended up finishing 14th.
  Twenty one of the 25 starters were running at the finish. Fifteen were on the lead lap. Andrew Krause, who started ninth, finished 22nd with suspension problems. Melissa Fifield finished 23 with alleged suspension problems. The truth of the matter is the fact that she was parked by NASCAR after being lapped 19 times and going too slow on the track. Gary McDonald had rear end problems and Rowan Pennink had 7, overheating problems with ole Blu.
  In other racing at the Big T, the Sunoco Modifieds took to the track twice as the series held its regularly scheduled event for the day and a makeup race that was rained out on July 9th. Points leader Keith Rocco looked to continue his domination of the series this season after seeing his win streak broken in late July. In the first race he would not be able to regain his winning ways but came home a strong third as Woody Pitkat, the reigning champions of the series, claimed his first win of the season, fighting off strong runs from Rocco and Ryan Preece to find his way back to victory lane. Rounding out the top five were Rowan Pennink and Ronnie Williams.
  The second Sunoco Modified event did see Rocco return to top form as he fought his way to the lead, passing Rowan Pennink on lap 25. Pennink had led following a lap 2 restart.
  “It’s tough when everyone is nose to nose. It’s hard to pass,” said Rocco in victory lane. “It looked like Preece spun himself out and it worked to our advantage – I have to thank the fans for sticking around and watching the race. I hope we made it fun for them.”
  Despite a spin while battling for the lead Preece finished third and shared some choice words with Rocco after the event as the two had engaged in an intense battle over the course of the race. Pitkat held on for a great night in the Sunoco Modified Series with a second place finish while Jeff Gallup and Mike Benevides rounded out the top five.
  In XtraMart Limited Sportsman Series Josh Wood led across the finish line and took home his third win of the season at the Big T, spoiling Corey Hutchings’ push for his second win of the season.
  The Late Models saw a comeback victory by a familiar name as William Wall continued his strong 2016 season. Wall claimed his fourth victory of the year after having to work his way to the front in the 25-lap feature. Matt Lowinski-Loh, Rick Gentes and Brian Tagg traded positions within the top three for much of the event, but Wall took advantage of a good car and a late race caution to take the lead and, eventually, the win.
  In the Mini Stocks it turned out to be a battle of the 24's as Joe Baxter and Brad Caddick fought it out in the closing laps for a win in the division. Despite starting in the rear of the field, Baxter worked his way to the front in methodical fashion to claim a win in the mini stock division. Baxter was later disqualified, giving the win to Wayne Burroughs, Jr.
  The NEMA Midgets also held a 25-lap feature where John Zych took home another win on the year and secured the points lead in the process. Prior to the NEMA event drivers performed a parade lap with the pole position left temporarily vacant in honor of Bryan Clauson who lost his life in a crash while racing in the Belleville Nationals in Kansas over the weekend.
Speedway manager Josh Venada pretty much summed up the event when he stated "The value of two of my core business philosophies were confirmed, (1) always be honest and forthright & (2) over-communicate."
  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night racing was cancelled due to rain and lightning.
  The New London-Waterford Speedbowl survived on hot night as temps were in the mid 90's with high humidity which ended up a true test of man and machine. Youth prevailed as Keith Rocco scored a triple play as he won two late model features plus the SK Modified feature. For the weekend, between Waterford and Thompson Rocco went four out of five in feature wins. Rocco keeps rolling along at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl as he continues to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco recorded two wins in the Late Model division and one in the SK Modifieds at the shoreline oval bringing his track win total to 130 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 228 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 42 at Stafford Speedway.
  In the first Late Model race, Rocco tracked down early leader Anthony Flannery midway through the race for his fifth win of the season. He didn't wait long for win No. 6, but he needed to pull off the closest finish of the night to make it happen. He squeezed underneath Jason Palmer with three laps to go, and then was able to beat him by a centimeter at the finish line.
  In the SK feature. He was running fifth on lap 9 when the four cars in front of him, driven by Bo Gunning, Todd Owen, Tom Abele and Justin Gaydosh, got together in turn 4. Rocco was able to avoid contact and take over the lead at the same time. Dennis Perry moved into second, but didn't have enough firepower to derail Rocco. Ted Christopher came from 11th starting position to finish third. Joe Gada and Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five.
  In other action at the shoreline oval there were two national qualifying races for the U.S. Legends cars. Eddie Fatscher of Eastport N.Y. was the winner in the completion of the first 50-lap feature, which was suspended by rain Thursday after 17 laps. Austin Green of Concord, N.C. dominated the second 50-lap feature.
  Jordan Hadley won the 25-lap Mini-Stock feature. There were two Limited Sportsman features. It took Monte Gibbs just 11 laps to go from 14th to first en route to a win in the opener. Then Chris Meyer survived a three-wide battle against Al Stone and Gibbs to win the second feature.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it was just as hot there as it was at Waterford as the east end raceway beat the elements on a truly a hot August night for the NASCAR Whelen All American Series. The NASCAR Modifieds ran Twin 50 feature events on Elvis Night with Kyle Soper and championship leader Shawn Solomito taking home the wins. For Soper it was his second win of 2016 while for Solomito it was his fourth triumph of the season.
  In action at the Bowman-Gray Stadium in North Carolina Chris Fleming and Jonathan Brown won twin 50 lap NASCAR Modified features.
  NASCAR's Sprint cup teams had the weekend off. Justin Marks was masterful in the rain on Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, leading a race-high 43 laps en route to his first NASCAR XFINITY Series victory. 

  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: August 18, 2017

2007-2017 © GeeLaw Motorsports/RGeePro    Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written prior consent