The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - March 29, 2016

  Now that Florida Speedweeks are over the clock is ticking in the northeast as there is only one week before the Men that live by the Grace of God and 600 horsepower get it on for the 42nd Annual Icebreaker at the Thompson Motorsports Park. The will take place on April 8-10, featuring the first championship race of the season for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT). The Icebreaker this year has been expanded to twelve divisions of racing, and will once again include the popular Fan Appreciation party on the track on Sunday morning before the second day of races begins.

  Thompson held a test and tune session for all competitors this past Saturday. Despite the fact that it was 43 degrees and overcast, 94 cars were on hand for shake-down runs. Some of the top names of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour were in attendance, as were some of the Thompson NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division stars. The day included constant practice sessions with divisions from not only the Whelen Modified Tour and Thompson, but from all over New England.
  Drivers from the NEMA Midgets, NEMA Lites, North East Street Stock Tour and other divisions also tackled the oval.
  Among drivers of the Whelen Modified Tour was defending three-time champion Doug Coby, who unloaded two cars to take to the track. Coby and his crew chief Phil Moran were preparing for their second year with the new LFR chassis. Last year, they dominated the final few races and drove away with the title.
  Joining Coby in the LFR chassis department was Bobby Santos, who unloaded the brand new machine for the first time. Santos told Race Chaser Online that the goal is the same as always with the new car, to win races and chase the title. He doesnít yet know if they will be a step above any other drivers with the new car. Donny Lia also unloaded his LFR No. 8 modified and took some laps on the track.
  Long Islander Timmy Solomito was on track with his Flamingo Motorsports No. 16, a year after finishing sixth in the point standings and finishing the year strong. He was joined by defending Rookie of the Year Chase Dowling, behind the wheel of his S&S Paving No. 9. XFINITY Series regular Ryan Preece drove his No. 6 TS Haulers modified on Saturday. He will be running a partial schedule on the tour this season while he continues his XFINITY career as well. Rowan Pennink drove the No. 3 BRE Racing machine for the first time in preparation for his campaign in 2016. Max Zachem also rolled his brand new paint scheme out of the trailer with his No. 20 MPZ Motorsports ride.
  As the start of the 2016 racing season nears on April 9-10 for the traditional Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Icebreaker, the Sunoco Modified field is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in recent history. Woody Pitkat returns as the divisionís champion in the Stan Mertz owned Sunoco Modified. By virtue of winning the title, Pitkatís team decided to rebuild the car in time for the championship banquet that was held in December for the first time at Mohegan Sun. Since that time, the car has been ready to race and to begin a title defense.
  2014 division champion and defending Icebreaker winner, Ryan Preece, has moved up to the national scene and is competing full time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for JD Motorsports. Preece is scheduled to be on hand for the season opener driving for Al and Cathy Moniz in the Sunoco Modified division. The husband and wife duo also back Preeceís Xfinity Series car as an associate sponsor with their company Falmouth Ready Mix appearing on the car for all 33 events this season. The remainder of his schedule will be determined on a race by race basis.
  Adding his name to the list of regulars for 2016 is Rowan Pennink who hasnít raced at Thompson full time since 2010 when he too drove for the Moniz family in the 31 machine. Pennink, the reigning SK Modified champion at Stafford Speedway, will replace Keith Rocco in the Ceravolo family machine and make the weekly 4 hour drive from his home in New Egypt, NJ to compete at Thompson. Pennink will also be on hand for the Whelen Modified Tour event as he takes over the Boehler Racing Ole Blu No. 3 full time this season.
  Rocco, a 4-time Thompson champion will return once again, but not only as a driver. He will also enter as a car owner for rookie Ronnie Williams who will run full time. Williams at just 19 years old has already garnered a lot of attention after a 6 win season at Stafford in 2015. He has never run a Sunoco Modified at Thompson and has only two starts at the track including his first ever SK Lite Modified start in 2011 at only 15 years old. It was the first time he drove anything other than a go kart. However, regardless of Williamís inexperience at the Big T, he is expected to be a factor this season.

  Last weekend was a quiet one except at the Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina where the inaugural event for the Southern Modified Racing Series Presented By PASS took the green. Among those on hand were Charlie and Chris Pasteryak from Lisbon, Ct plus Multi-time North-South Shootout winner Matt Hirschman, Jon McKennedy, Derek Ramstrom, Edward LeClerc, Mike Leaty, and Ryan Russo.
  Jon McKennedy found himself out front during Saturdayís inaugural Southern Modified Racing Series feature when the skies opened up, leading to officials to call the race after 108 laps and award him the victory. John Smith finished second with Burt Myers, third. Bobby Measmer Jr., Matt Hirschman, Kyle Bonsignore, Chris Pasteryak, Jason Myers, Patrick Emerling, Cale Gale, Brian Loftin, Edward LeCerc, Mike Leaty, Renee Dupuis and Charlie Pasteryak followed.

  Ben Rowe was on cruise control at Hickory Motor Speedway, dominating the PASS South super late model Easter Bunny 150 en route to a $5,000 payday. Rowe started the 150-lap event from the pole following a redraw, sharing the front row with his father and teammate Mike Rowe. The elder Rowe jumped to the lead at the start of the event and led the first 22 circuits before Ben Rowe moved around him on the outside to take the lead on lap 23.
  Riley Herbst finished second with Derek Ramstrom, third.

  On the speedway stock market scene last week two of the three speedway stocks were down for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.01 to 18.60 while the International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.56 to 36.35 and Dover Entertainment dropped went up 0.08 to 2.32. NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint recorded a no-change at 3.26 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) to dropped 0.88 to 28.90 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.23 to 32.18. The car manufacturers were all on the negative side at weeks end. Toyota dropped 0.38 to 106.32 and Ford dropped 0.58 to 13.06 while General Motors dropped 1.00 to 30.96. In the home improvement sector Home Depot dropped 0.89 to 130.46 and Lowes dropped 0.16 to 74.77. The big team sponsors stocks were mostly negative for the week. Taking the biggest dip was Coca-Cola, which dropped 11.90 to 159.29 , Aarons Rentals dropped 0.45 to 23.87 while McDonalds dropped 0.79 to 123.29, Target dropped 0.67 to 82.04 and Fedex dropped 1.06 to 162.65

  On the tube this week:

  The NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Martinsville will be shown live on Sunday, April 3 by Fox Sports 1 beginning at 1:00pm. Pre-Race programming begins at 11:30am.

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

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

Source: Phil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: March 29, 2016

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