The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

September 1, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 the Waterford Speedbowl ran on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Cy Yates and Don Collins were the respective winners. Ray Legary and Bud Matter were the Claiming Car winners.

  Sixty years ago in 1957 Johnny Sandberg was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Irwin Fox was the non-Ford winner. Don Collins won a 50 lapper at the shoreline oval on Saturday night. Dick Beauregard was the non-Ford winner. Al DeAngelo won at Islip on Saturday while on Labor Day Johnny Coy won a 500 lap Midget event at the Long Island bullring.. Johnny Rocco won the final mid week event of the season, also at Islip.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962, Dick Beauregard won a special 75 lap Labor Day weekend special Modified event Ed Moody and Bill Scrivener were the Bomber feature winners. Ernie Gahan won his first of four in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway.

  Fifty years ago, in 1967, Leo Cleary paid a surprise and rare visit to Riverside Park where he won the Wednesday night All Star League 100. Jack LeCuyer finished second and was followed by Bill Wimble, Eddie Flemke, Gene Bergin, Buzzie Reutiman and Rene Charland. Stafford ran a 100 lapper on Friday night to start off the Labor Day weekend with Sal Dee taking the win over Smokey Boutwell, Bill Slater, Don Flynn and Bobby Santos. Albany Saratoga ran a 200 lapper with Don MacTavish taking the win over Bill Wimble, Richie Evans, Pete Hamilton and Eddie Flemke. At Norwood on Saturday, Bill Slater and his V-8 ruled the roost. It was Slater's 33rd and final win at the Massachusetts oval. Waterford ran on Saturday and Sunday with Newt Palm and Charlie Webster scoring Modified wins. The New Yorker 400 at Utica-Rome took center stage on Sunday night. Run in two-two hundred lap segments, Don MacTavish won the opening segment over Bugsy Stevens, Bill Wimble, and Jerry Cook. Dave Kotary won the nite-cap over Eddie Flemke, Jean Paul Cabana, Lou Lazzaro and Cook. The annual Labor Day afternoon Bardahl 400, also a two-segment event, was run at Norwood. Fred DeSarro and Bugsy Stevens were the winners. Before the tires and engines could cool, crews loaded their cars and headed to Stafford for the Labor Day evening 100. Gene Bergin took the win over Dick Watson, Maynard Forette, Ed Patnoad and Rene Charland.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, Seekonk started the weekend off with a 100 lapper on Friday night. The event drew 37 modifieds. Fred DeSarro took the win over Hop Harrington, George Summers, Ronnie Bouchard and Johnny Trip. The Albany-Saratoga Speedway ran a 250 lapper on Saturday night. Bob Santos in the Art Barry No.09 took the win over Denis Giroux, Lou Lazzaro, Jerry Cook and Bugsy Stevens. The Saturday event at Waterford was rescheduled to Sunday where Jerry Dostie took the win. Stafford and Islip had regular shows planned for Saturday night but rain prevailed. The rain carried over to Sunday and washed out the New Yorker 400 at Utica-Rome. The skies cleared and the 200 at Stafford was run on Labor Day afternoon. Denis Giroux scored his biggest win to date as he beat out Eddie Flemke, Bob Santos, George Summers and Ronnie Bouchard for the win.

  Forty years ago in 1977, an almost full week of racing wound up the summer season. Waterford started it off on Tuesday with a 100-lap open competition event. Charlie Jarzombek, a master of the short tracks on Long Island, took no prisoners as he beat out Waterford Top Gun, Dick Dunn for the win. John Rosati finished third with Eddie Flemke, fourth. Wednesday night at Thompson saw Geoff Bodine beat out Ronnie Bouchard, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans and Bugsy Stevens. Bodine made it two in a row as he traveled to New Egypt on Thursday night where he took the win over Fred Harbach and Pete Fiandaca. Bodine was looking to make it three in a row when he took the green at Stafford on Friday night but Ronnie Bouchard had other plans as he jumped out early in the event and wasn’t about to hand Bodine any gifts. Following Bouchard and Bodine were John Rosati, Eddie Flemke and Brian Ross. Also on Friday night, Don Howe won at Riverhead over Jerry Cook and Wayne Anderson. Rain forced a cancellation at Seekonk on Saturday night. At Riverside, Bob Polverari took the win and sewed up the track championship. Don Bunnell won a 100 lapper at Waterford and Fred Harbach won at Islip. Most of the top guns were at Oswego for the annual 200 lapper. Richie Evans took the win, his 26th of the year. Ronnie Bouchard scored his second win of the weekend as he took the top spot at Thompson on Sunday night. Fred DeSarro finished second with Bugsy Stevens and Leo Cleary rounding out the top four. Evans got his second win of the weekend at Utica-Rome on Sunday night as he out-ran Geoff Bodine and Jerry Cook at the 1/3-mile oval. Labor Day and the 200 at Stafford belonged to Eddie Flemke as he put the Manchester Sand and Gravel No.10 in the winner’s circle ahead of Bodine, Maynard Troyer, Evans, Stevens and DeSarro. The cagey veteran had beat the best there was at that time.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his dream season as he went three for three on the Labor Day weekend. Sacks started the weekend at Stafford on Friday where he beat out Ray Miller and Bob Polverari for the win. On Saturday, Sacks headed for Oswego where he walked off with the top prize of $12,000 as he won the Oswego 200. Roger Treichler finished second with Richie Evans, Jim Spencer and Jerry Cook rounding out the top five. During the running of the Oswego 200, many time Supermodified Champion Jim Shampine was fatally injured after being hit from behind. Sacks took Sunday off to rest up and travel back to Stafford for the Labor Day afternoon 200. Needless to say, the Long Island hot shoe was on a streak as he made it three for three as he won the 200 over Richie Evans, George Kent, Roger Treichler and George Brunnhoelzl. In other weekend action, Bob Potter won a 100 lapper at Waterford over Randy Lajoie and Dick Ceravolo, Tony Siscone won at New Egypt, Marty Radwick took the top spot at Riverside and Kenny Bouchard won a brown-out event at Thompson as the lights went out after 20 laps. In other weekend action, George Summers won a 100 lapper at Seekonk, Wayne Anderson won a 200 lapper at Islip and Fred Harbach won at Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Cale Yarborough took the Labor Day classic over Richard Petty.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, Richie Gallup was the Friday night winner at Stafford as he beat out Sonny O’Sullivan, Kerry Malone and Ronnie Rocco for top honors. At Waterford on Saturday night, Ronnie Rocco scored a popular win as he beat out Larry Lanphear in a 75-lap contest. Twin features were on tap at Riverside with Dan Avery and Mike Stefanik taking the wins. At Riverhead, Don Howe got the best of Bill Park. George Kent scored a double as he won the rich Oswego 200 and the Labor Day 100 at Stafford. At Oswego, Kent pitted early, on lap 16, and let the race come to him as he re-took the lead on lap 86 and went on to take the win. Kent would use this trick many times in the future. Jim Spencer finished second with Brian Ross, Tony Hirschman and Jan Leaty rounding out the top five. At Stafford, on Monday, Mike McLaughlin finished second with Mike Stefanik, Brian Ross and Reggie Ruggiero rounding out the top five. Ted Christopher was the Labor Day SK Modified winner. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Dale Earnhardt took the win over Rusty Wallace. In other matters, Thompson Speedway NASCAR Chief Steward Bill Slater was forced to withdraw a suspension issued to Ed Flemke Jr. for a rough riding incident at Thompson. Slater was threatened with a lawsuit and with out the backing of his boss, Don Hoenig, he would be standing alone.

  Twenty five years ago, in 1992, Richie Gallup, in the Ceravolo No. 31, took the Friday night SK-Modified feature at Stafford. Bob Potter finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau won the late model feature and set a major milestone, as it was his 100th victory at the shoreline oval. Scott Poirier was the modified winner as he beat out Mark Lajunesse and Bob Potter. Jerry Marquis, in the Bob Judkins 2x scored his tenth feature win of the season at Riverside Park and wrapped up the track championship. Chris Kopec finished second with Dan Avery, third. Bob and Steve Park finished one-two at Riverhead and at Lancaster; Rick Fuller won the Tony Jankowiak Memorial 100. The Oswego Modified 200 saw Jeff Fuller take the win over Jan Leaty, Jim Rudolph and Tom Baldwin.

  Twenty years ago in 1997, Steve Chowanski won the final Friday night program at Stafford. The Modified Tour series was also at Stafford and it was Mike Stefanik taking the win over Mike Ewanitsko and Tim Connolly. Reggie Ruggerio recorded his 92nd career win at Riverside on Saturday night. At Waterford, Jeff Pearl passed David Gada with 19 laps to go to take the win. Jim Broderick, who had been disqualified the previous week, driving the Harry Wyatt No.3 with an illegal carburator, jumped into the Angie Cerese No.51 and finished sixth. Ken Heagy won at Riverhead and Dave Dion led pole to pole to win the Busch North event at Beech Ridge. Mike Stefanik finished second with Jerry Marquis, third.
  In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Jeff Gordon rubbed fenders with Jeff Burton and won the Southern 500 by inches. Gordon also won the Winston Million. At the start of the event Dale Earnhardt acted strangely as he hit the wall and had problems finding pit road. Jeff Burton dominated the Busch Grand National event that was also held at Darlington.

  Fifteen years ago in 1992, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night for what had to be considered one of the best events of the 2002 season. Thirty-six Modifieds were on hand with Chuck Hossfeld in the Garbarino-Mystic River Marina No.4 taking his first ever pole position. The big surprise of the night and also the big show was that of Dennis Gada who put the Bear Motorsports No.14 on the outside pole. The re-draw for the main event start saw Zach Sylvester pick the pole with Hossfeld picking the outside pole. Ted Christopher picked third spot with Tom Cravenho, Dennis Gada, Ed Flemke Jr., Chris Wenzel, and Charlie Pasteryak rounding out the top eight. Ted Christopher was the eventual race winner and ended a long dry spell at the shoreline oval but the night belonged to Gada who put on a brilliant and gutsy display of driving that kept the near capacity crowd on the edge of their seats. Hossfeld took the lead at the start with Christopher in tow as Sylvester faded almost immediately to fourth spot. Before one lap was completed, Renée’ Dupuis spun out in turn four but managed to keep going without the yellow being displayed. By lap five, Gada had passed Cravenho and Christopher and the show began. Lap after lap, Gada ran on the outside of Hossfeld. He finally got the right bite as he exited turn two on lap 15 and passed Hossfeld for the lead. It was short lived as he entered turn three way too deep and almost lost it and Hossfeld re-took the top spot with Christopher moving into second. Gada recovered and tucked in behind in third spot. The first caution of the night flew for Fred Vordermeir on lap 17 when he spun and stalled in turn two. The green flew on lap 24. Gada slipped under Christopher and went to work on Hossfeld again. Same story, flat out and side by side. Gada again took the lead on lap 32 on the backstretch only to get loose again in turn three and four and lose it. Christopher again moved into second with Gada falling in third. The second caution of the night flew on lap 38 when Vordermeir, Dave Etheridge, Jamie Tomaino and Todd Szegedy tangled coming out of turn four. All restarted except Tomaino who had to be towed from the scene. The green flew on lap 44 with Hossfeld still leading. Christopher, Gada, Sylvester, Flemke, John Blewett III and Cravenho were following. Things settled down until lap 62 when Hossfeld slipped and allowed Christopher to take the lead with Gada in tow. With still plenty of car left, Gada went to work on Christopher who appeared to use the mirror on a few occasions. The third caution flew on lap 74 after Joey Caraccia lost an engine and stalled on the front chute. The restart came on lap 78 with Christopher leading followed by Gada, Hossfeld, Sylvester, Blewett, Flemke, Charlie Pasteryak and Mike Stefanik. Gada continued to pressure Christopher until his night came to an end on lap 95 when, as he exited turn two, his right rear hit the guardrail and when trying to correct, rode up on the backstretch fence and in the process broke a tie rod and blew a tire. Gada ended up in 25th spot. The green flew again on lap 104 with Christopher leading followed by Hossfeld, Blewett, Sylvester, Stefanik and Flemke. The fifth caution flew on lap 106 when Wade Cole and Renee Dupuis spun in turn four. Jerry Marqius, who started 13th and at one time was in the top ten, pitted for a tire change. The green flew again on lap 114 with the running order the same as before with the exception that Sylvester had faded which allowed Stefanik and Flemke to move into the top five. The sixth and final caution flew on lap 132 when Tom Cravenho spun in turn two. The field restarted single file on lap 138 and ran without incident to the finish. Jerry Marquis’ troubles continued as he lost power steering and ultimately lost a lap. Christopher took the win, his fifth on the tour for the year. Hossfeld recorded a career high second and was followed by Blewett, Stefanik, Flemke, Charlie Pasteryak, Rick Fuller, Dave Etheridge, Bob Polverari and Paul Suprenant. Pole sitter Zach Sylvester finished 11th. The checkered flag dropped at 9:43 p.m
  The regular weekly racing was supposed to start Thursday at Thompson. A 75 lapper was scheduled for the Sunoco-SK Modifieds but heavy rains caused the speedway management to pull the plug on the event.
  The rain quit in time for Stafford to get their Friday night program in where Jim Williams went from pole to pole to win the 50 lap SK-Modified feature. Ted Christopher put a lot of pressure on in the closing laps but Williams held his line and kept his cool. Christopher settled for second and was followed by Don Travaglin, Eric Berndt, Chuck Docherty, Lloyd Agor and current point leader Bo Gunning. Three events remained on the 2002 schedule as Gunning held a 34-point edge on Travaglin for the track title. Ron Silk, Lloyd Agor and Ted Christopher made up the top five.
  At Waterford on Saturday night, Ed Reed Jr. was the SK-Modified winner over Jay Miller, Don Fowler and Jeff Pearl.
  Just when it looked like Bill France was beginning to see the end of his medical problems and get back to a somewhat normal life another problem surfaces. The former president of NASCAR and the CEO of the International Speedway Corporation fell and suffered a broken hip. Upon examination, doctors determined that he had blockages and performed by-pass surgery. The prognosis was good and France was expected to make a full recovery.

  Ten years ago in 2007, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Martinsville, VA. Donny Lia got the victory of a lifetime in the Made In American Whelen 300 at Martinsville Speedway. Lia held off Ted Christopher for the win in the race, which was the annual combination event between the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Not only did the victory further solidify Lia’s Whelen Modified Tour points lead, it came two weeks after his friend and fellow driver John Blewett III passed away following a racing accident. John’s brother Jimmy won the Made In American Whelen 300 in 2006. After sitting out a week, Jimmy Blewett returned Saturday. He finished 43rd after engine problems. It was Lia’s sixth win of the Whelen Modified Tour season and he improved his points lead to 193 over Todd Szegedy with four races remaining.
  L.W. Miller was the top finishing Southern Modified Tour driver in third. Fellow Southern Modified Tour drivers Tim Brown and Brian King were fifth and sixth respectively. James Civali was fourth. Lia, who won the Budweiser Pole Award, led twice for 234 laps. He pitted for tires on lap 157 on the first caution following the mid-race break. And he took over the lead when Christopher pitted for tires on lap 184. Christopher moved from 15th to second by lap 225 but was unable to get by Lia in the closing laps. It took a little over three hours to complete the event. There were 15 caution periods for 88 laps.
  The Labor Day weekend venue of racing got started on Wednesday night at the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts with an event they called Modified Madness. The historic 1/3-mile Speedway oval hosted the third annual Open Wheel Wednesday program, featuring the Viveiros Insurance-sponsored 100 green flag lap Modified Madness event, an open competition race paying $10,000 to the winner. Local favorite Vinnie Annarummo of Swansea, MA scored the biggest victory of his storied 35-year career at the 1/3-mile Seekonk Speedway oval, winning the 3rd annual Viveiros Insurance Modified Madness 100, worth $10,000. Thirty-three competitors from seven different states attempted to qualify for the 100 green flag lap open competition event which carried a total purse in excess of $31,000. Annarummo pulled away from Chris Pasteryak in the closing laps and sailed under the checkers 0.682 seconds ahead to post his 44th career Seekonk win in the Francis Farm #12. “Ten thousand dollars- can you believe it?” the 58 year-old veteran asked from Victory Lane. “This is one hell of a division to drive in. All of the guys raced me clean. We struggled in warm ups this afternoon, but we took a spring rubber out and tonight the car was good.” “I got beaten by Vinnie Annarummo at Seekonk Speedway,” Pasteryak good-naturedly shrugged after posting a solid second place finish, worth $3,500. “We were tight on the bottom, too, and that hurt us at the end.” Matt Hirschman walked away with $2,500 for third, while Richard Savary pocketed $2,000 for finishing fourth. Ted Christopher finished fifth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Eric Beers, Dale Evonsion, who came on strong in the latter stages of the event, Louie Mechalides, and Dick Houlihan.
In True Value Modified Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Kirk Alexander took the win over Les Hinkley, Mike Holdredge and Todd Patnoad. Alexander came to the shoreline oval needing a win on the one-third mile speedway to complete a sweep with victories on every track that the series has competed on in its four-year existence.
  In regular Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Keith Rocco hit everything but the lottery on his way to victory in the Sunoco Modified 50 lapper. Rocco, who was the triggerman of a mid-race caution all but rode Todd Ceravolo into the turn two wall following a restart on lap 48. Ceravolo kept his wits about him and managed to recover and finished fifth. Woody Pitkat finished second with Bert Marvin, third and Tom Cravenho, fourth.
In other Thursday night racing, Jeff Zuidema of N. Brookfield, MA made a long-anticipated return to Pro Stock victory lane while Tommy O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, scored his second Late Model feature win of the season. Scott Sundeen of Douglas, MA edged Larry Barnett for the Limited Sportsman victory. Roger Larson, Jr. won the TIS Modified feature in tech while Brad Caddick of New London won a barnburner in the Mini Stocks.
It took Ted Christopher to end Woody Pitkat's five-race winning streak at the Stafford Motor Speedway as he won his second SK Modified feature of the 2007 season, Corey Hutchings won the Late Model feature, Josh Sylvester won his second consecutive SK Light feature, Sean Foster won the Limited Late Model feature, and Jim Brice won the DARE Stock feature.
  The 40-lap SK Modified® feature took the green flag with Willie Hardie charging from third to the lead on the opening lap. Ted Christopher quickly moved his way by both Lloyd Agor and Keith Rocco to move into second. A caution with 7 laps complete slowed the field and gave Christopher the opportunity to move by Hardie for the lead on the restart. The top-5 ran in line until lap-19 when Hardie fell back several spots from second as Rocco, Woody Pitakt, Jeff Malave, Kerry Malone, and Brad Hietala all moved by. Hietala was on the move in the middle stages of the race, working his way up to second behind Christopher. Several late caution periods set up a five-lap dash to the finish. Christopher was not to be headed as he led the final five laps to pick up the feature win. Hietala came home second, with Pitkat, Owen, and Hardie rounding out the top-5.
  In some sad news, Ed Yerrington who led the Stafford Motor Speedway out of financial despair in the early 1970’s passed away after suffering from liver cancer. Yerrington, Sr., 78, of 31 Trading Cove Circle, passed away Thursday, August 30, 2007, at his home. He was the President and General Manager for the Stafford Motor Speedway where he was the Co creator of the SK Modified Division. He also was an Operator and Promoter at the Waterford Speedbowl and was directly responsible for getting NASCAR and Don Hoenig together in order to secure a NASCAR Sanction at the Thompson Speedway. He was an avid racecar driver, racing along the East Coast for over 25 years. He was the 1970 Track Champion at the Stafford Motor Speedway when he drove the Freddy’s TV No.23. He was also a Technical Inspector for NASCAR at Daytona International Speedway. He was an avid antique car collector and especially enjoyed showing his cars within CT and MA. It’s a shame and a disappointment that there was no mention of Yerrington’s passing on the web site of the Stafford Speedway.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Jeff Pearl came from deep in the pack to win the first 25-lap SK segment of the “Double Down Shootout” at the shoreline oval. Following Janovic was Jay Miller, Don Fowler, and, Dennis Gada. In the nightcap SK event, it was Todd Ceravolo followed by Dennis Gada, Keith Rocco, Tyler Chadwick, and, Jeff Paul. For the second consecutive year, Gada was the overall “Double Down” winner.
  Other feature winners were Ed Reed Jr. and Larry Goss (Late Model), Walt Hovey and Josh Galvin (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. and Phil Evans (Mini Stock).
  In some sad news, Loren A. Card, 82, of Punta Gorda, Fla., the original starter at the Waterford Speedbowl, died Aug. 27, 2007. He was a colorfull starter from day one at the Speedbowl as he would start the races while standing on the inside of the track. He started races at the Speedbowl for over 20 years.
  After going four months without a victory, Jimmie Johnson picked a great time to get back to victory circle. The reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup champion came on strong at the end of Sunday night's 250-lap race, grabbing his series-leading fifth victory of the season, clinching a spot in the Chase for the Championship and guaranteeing he will be no worse than a tie for the top seed in the 10-race playoff. Johnson, who took the lead for good after a series of green flag pit stops 22 laps, led 65 of the last 82 laps on the 2-mile oval and easily held off runner-up Carl Edwards. Kyle Busch finished third. Jeff Burton passed Kyle Busch late and pulled away for his third Busch win of the season in the Camping World 300 at California Speedway. Busch held on for second place, Denny Hamlin was third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Clint Bowyer fifth.

  Five years ago in 2012, The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its first of two visits of the 2012 season to the Stafford Motor Speedway drawing 31 Modifieds for the 3rd Annual Shark Cycle 80. Tommy Barrett, Jr. was the big winner of the night, coming from the back of the pack to pick up his first career VMRS victory.
  A restart with 15 laps to go saw Jon McKennedy briefly take the lead from Rowan Pennink before Pennink went back to the point. McKennedy settled into second with Barrett in third. Barrett made a strong move in turn 3 on lap-68 to move into second with Doug Coby fourth and Ted Christopher in fifth. Jimmy Zacharias came to a stop in turn 2 to bring the yellow back out with 68 laps complete. The restart was called back and on the next restart, Pennink and Barrett were side by side for the lead with Pennink the leader by a nose. Richie Pallai, Jr. and Norm Wrenn spun on the frontstretch to bring the yellow back out with 11 laps to go.
  Barrett and Pennink were side by side on the restart with Barrett taking the lead at the line by a nose. Barrett got clear of Pennink the next lap and took over the lead but the race was slowed again by the caution as Joe Doucette spun in turn 4 with 10 laps to go. Barrett was the leader back under green with Pennink, McKennedy, Coby, Christopher, and Owen lined up behind him. Barrett was beginning to stretch out his lead over Pennink while Christopher was now fourth behind McKennedy with 2 laps to go. Barrett led Pennink back to the checkered flag to pick up his first career Valenti Modified Racing Series victory. McKennedy finished third, with Christopher and Owen rounding out the top-5.
  The final Thursday night Thunder at Thompson for 2012 saw Lite Modified driver Cam McDermott secure his 12th victory of the season. Other winners in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action included Woody Pitkat in the Sunoco Modifieds, Tommy O’Sullivan in an action packed Late Model feature, Jay Sundeen in the Thompson Modifieds, Larry Barnett in the Limited Sportsman, and Chad Baxter in the Mini Stock division.
  Woody Pitkat held off Ryan Preece in an exciting Sunoco Modified 30-lap feature. Pitkat took the lead on lap six and battled Preece until lap 20 when he was able to shake him off his rear bumper and drive on to the checkered flag. Kerry Malone held off Todd Ceravolo at the start to take the early lead. The top-four – Malone, Ceravolo, Woody Pitkat, and Ryan Preece – were bumper-to-bumper until lap three when Ceravolo went underneath Malone to challenge for the top spot. Malone held him off as Pitkat and Preece drove by Ceravolo using the outside groove. On lap six, Pitkat went underneath Malone and maneuvered around a lapped car to take over the lead in turn four. Preece moved into the second spot on lap 10 and attached himself to the back bumper of Pitkat. On lap 13, Preece went to the inside and took over the lead in turn three, but Pitkat retaliated and reclaimed the lead on lap 14. In a nail-biting duel, Preece challenged Pitkat several times, but Pitkat continuously closed the door. On lap 19, Pitkat pulled away enough from Preece to have some breathing room. The field began to stretch out until Pitkat took the checkered flag a commanding ten-car lengths over Preece.
  Ceravolo finished third with Ted Christopher a distant fourth. Christopher was gunning for his 98th win at the speedway. Kerry Malone rounded out the top five. Jim Zacharias, who normally races in the Race of Champions Series in New York state was a surprise entry and found that the boys who run up front at Thompson play hardball. Zacharias finished sixth and was followed by Ricky Shawn and Wayne Arute.
  NEAR Hall of Famer Leo Cleary predicted that Larry Barnett would win the Limited Sportsman feature despite never leaving the bottom groove on the track with the exception of two restarts in which he elected to take the outside. During his 40 plus year racing career Cleary was never shy about going "up top" to make a pass. Cleary stated, "when we ran the Firestone steamroller tires at Norwood Rene Charland and Ernie Gahan would block up the front row so no one could pass and the only way to go was up top and on the boards".
  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action, Sean Foster was a first-time feature winner in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray used a last lap pass to beat Tom Fearn in a thrilling Late Model finish, Ronnie Williams was a first-time winner in the 20-lap SK Light features, Carla Botticello picked up her first win of the season in the 20-lap Ltd. Late Model feature, and Kyle Casagrande took his 6th win of the season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  Foster, who led from lap 1 led Ted Christopher to the checkered flag to pick up his very first career SK Modified® victory. Danny Cates, Dave Gervais, and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top-5.
  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl it was called Thunder on the Sound. The Thunder fizzled after five laps were run of the 150-lap Budweiser Modified Nationals SK Modified feature as rain started falling while the field was under caution for a turn two crash by Shawn Monahan. The event has been postponed to Sept 15 when the final 141 laps of the $5,000 to win SK Modified feature will be completed. The track will also run twin Late Model features on Sept. 15. September 15 is also the rescheduled date for a Whelen Modified Tour Series event at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Among those who will have to decide on where to race on that date is Rowan Pennink who was in the field at Waterford and possibly Keith Rocco who may be back in the Boehler No.3 by then.
  When the rains came Joe Perry was leading the SK Modified feature with Ed Puleo running second and Tom Abele Jr. running third. Nine events were scheduled for the program in total with five
feature races completed before rain began falling.
  Taking victories in the races completed included Todd Bertrand in a special tribute Northeastern Midget Association race. Keith Rocco scored a career first win in the NEMA Lite series after making his first-ever start in the division. Cam McDermott took home the checkered flag in a rain-shortened NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified feature and in INEX racing action, Joe Mucciacciaro landed his first career Speedbowl win in the Legend Cars and Ken Morin Jr. was declared the winner of the Bandolero feature.
  The completion of the 16th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals SK-150 will take place on Saturday, September 15th along with the make-up Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model 30-lap feature from Thunder on the Sound. The remaining 141-laps of the SK-150 will join twin 30-lap Late Model features
plus the Street Stocks, Mini Stocks and Legend Cars on that date. This event has not been rain checked.
  Special congratulations to Keith Rocco and Cassie Ceravolo who were united in marriage on Sunday, Sept 2. The bride is the daughter of Todd and Terri Ceravolo and the granddaughter of Dick and Joyce Ceravolo.
  Ted Christopher took the NASCAR Modified win at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Christopher and Ryan Preece have been regulars at the Long Island oval this year. Preece was not as fortunate as he was trashed by another competitor. Howie Brode finished second with Justin Bonsignore, third. According to those who were there Preece was passing Shawn Solomito on the outside for 3rd. Shawn stuffed him in the wall coming off turn 2. Two or 3 back markers ran into the back of him about 5 seconds later.
  The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Series was at the Newport News Shipbuilding/Bayport Credit Union 150. There were 16 cars on hand. Jason Myers ended a 71-race winless drought with a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory on Saturday at Langley Speedway in the Newport News Shipbuilding/BayPort Credit Union 150. Myers took advantage of some bad luck at the expense of Corey LaJoie to earn his first win since Aug. 5, 2006 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. LaJoie, who led a race-high 71 laps, experienced transmission problems while leading the field to the green flag on a Lap 107 restart.
  LaJoie, son of Randy and grandson of Don LaJoie was filling in for Burt Myers, who injured his left arm in a shop accident on Friday and looked to have the car to beat after rookie Danny Bohn experienced mechanical problems at the outset of the event. Bohn, earlier in the day, won his first career Coors Light Pole Award. Frank Fleming finished second followed by Andy Seuss in third. John Smith and Tim Brown finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
  Burt Myers stated that an air grinder exploded and a piece of disc went in his arm and cut a muscle.
  In NASCAR Nationwide Series racing at the Atlanta Motor Speedway Ricky Stenhouse took advantage of a controversial late-race restart, which allowed Brad Keselowski and Justin Allgaier to stop for fresh tires and left Kevin Harvick, who dominated the race as a sitting duck. Harvick led 157 laps of the 1.5-mile superspeedway in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, but blamed eventual runner-up Brad Keselowski and the water bottle he tossed out the window of his No. 22 Dodge, for the final yellow flag and Stenhouse’s ability to pass him on the final lap.
  Denny Hamlin won his second straight Sprint Cup race, holding off Jeff Gordon at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night. Martin Truex Jr. appeared to be positioned for his first win since 2007 until Jamie McMurray smashed the wall on the front straightaway, bringing out a caution with three laps to go. The leaders went to pit road, and Hamlin's crew got him back on the track first, just ahead of Truex. While Truex struggled to get up to speed on the restart, Hamlin pulled away with Jeff Gordon right on his bumper. Brad Keselowski finished third, and Truex faded to fourth.

  Last year, 2016, Day one of the four day run of racing in southern New England began on Wednesday night at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Pepsi Back To School Night featured twin 25-lap features for the Sunoco Modified division as well as Thompson's three other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions as the championship season begins to draw to a close.
  Ryan Preece, second in points in the Sunoco Modifieds, swept the duel races and took a small chunk out of Rocco’s sizable lead with two events remaining on the schedule at the Big T. Preece worked his way to the front methodically in the first race, taking the lead ten laps in and never looking back, but took a much more aggressive approach in the second race of the night battling Rocco for the lead in the late stages and eventually using a crossover move to take the top spot with only five laps to go, completing an impressive sweep over his rival, Rocco, who finished runner-up in both events.
  Ronnie Williams finished third in the first Mod 25 and was followed by Woody Pitkat, Steven Kopcik and Rowan Pennink. In the second Mod 25, Pennink finished third with Pitkat and Williams rounding out the top five.
Other Thompson winners on Wednesday night were Wayne Burroughs in the Mini Stocks, Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman and Brian Tagg in the Late Models.
  The Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park closes out its summer season on September 7th with it’s last Wednesday program of the year. The Way Back Wednesday race lineup will feature the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks along with appearances by the NEAR and STAR series and the Vintage Outlaws.
Racing action for day 2 shifted to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl for the 100 lap-$10,000 to win Tri-Track Series. The pit area was jammed with 44 Modifieds. In only his third race of the year, Steve Masse walked off with the top prize after out sprinting Richard Savory following a restart on lap 88. Savary managed to hang on to finish second with Woody Pitkat, third. Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher and Justin Bonsignore rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Tommy Barrett, Eric Goodale, Dennis Perry and Rowan Pennink. Speedbowl Top Gun Keith Rocco had hoped to compete but never made it beyond practice as his car suffered motor trouble.
  The Tri-Track 100 served as a tribute to the late Ronnie Bouchard. Many of the cars that he drove were on display.
  Day 3 saw action at Stafford on Friday where garnering feature wins on the night were Rowan Pennink in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Tony Membrino, Jr., in the SK Light feature, Frank L’Etoile, Jr. in the Ltd. Late Model feature, Mike Hopkins in the DARE Stock feature, and Teddy Hodgdon in the Legend Cars feature.
  In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Ted Christopher drove his heart out but couldn’t get close enough to Pennink as Pennink took down his fifth win of the 2016 season. Mike Christopher, Jr. finished third with Matt Galko and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5.
The action shifted back to the New London-Waterford Speedbowl for Day 4. Diego Monahan went from the scrap heap to the top of the heap in one week. Monahan's car was trashed a week previous but he was able to borrow a car from his brother in order to compete.Monahan passed early leader Bo Gunning and held off Rob Janovic to score the win.
  Dennis Perry finished third and moved into the point lead when point leader Keith Rocco was involved in a mid-race wreck and finished 16th. Perry now leads Rocco by two points and Joey Gada by 5.Matt Galko and Todd Owen rounded out the top five.
  Other winners Saturday included Jacob Perry in the Mini Stocks, Ed Gertsch Jr. in the Limited Sportsman, Tony Membrino Jr. in the Magnus Racing Products SK Lights, Peter Martin in the Super X Cars, Kyle Gero in the X Cars and Norm Wrenn III in the Pro 4 Modifieds.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island this past weekend. The event drew 30 cars. Had it not been for the Long Island drivers, 17 of them, it would have been a very short field. Shawn Solomito led a top five dominance of Long Island drivers in time trials at the east end quarter mile. Timmy Solomito who along with his team, Flamingo Racing, had been contemplating dropping off the tour because of the gross screwing they got by NASCAR at Bristol was second fastest. Tom Rogers was third with Eric Goodale and Donny Lia rounding out the top five. Bottom feeder Melisa Fifield was once again the slowest.
  Justin Bonsignore led a top four Long Island sweep at the finish held off the charge of brothers Timmy and Shawn Solomito to score the victory. Bonsignore, who started seventh, took the lead from Timmy Solomito on lap 83. Prior to that the Solomitos dominated the front. Timmy led laps one and two plus 16 thru 83. Shawn Solomito led laps three thru fifteen. Tom Rogers and Chase Dowling rounded out the top five. Jimmy Blewett, Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Craig Lutz, Max Zachem, Frank Vigliarolo Jr. and Eric Goodale rounded out the top 10.
Melissa Fifield lasted four laps before dropping out.
In addition to the win, Bonsignore cut Doug Coby's championship points lead to 13 with five races remaining. Timmy Solomito remains 35 points back of Coby, who finished 15th.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series went to Oxford Plains Speedway in Maine last weekend. Anthony Nocella started tenth and methodically worked his way through the field, taking command on lap 63 and then held off late race charges by Jon McKennedy, David Schneider, and Todd Patnode to claim his third series victory of the year.
  After coming so close so many times before, Kyle Larson finally sealed the deal on Sunday afternoon by scoring his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory during the Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan Int’l Speedway. Chase Elliott finished second. After 297 NASCAR national touring series starts, Michael McDowell finally tasted victory in Saturday’s Road America 180 Fired Up By Johnsonville at Road America. McDowell led 24 of the 48 laps of the four-mile road course and held off a furious charge from his Richard Childress Racing teammate, Brendan Gaughan during a green-white-checkered finish for his first win in 94 NASCAR XFINITY Series races. Ryan Preece turned in the best run of his rookie season in the Xfinity Series in Saturday’s Road America 180 at the winding, 14-turn Road America course. Preece finished a strong 11th. 

  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: September 1, 2017

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