Champ Trail -
June 21, 2016
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action resumed last Wednesday, June 15 at the
Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Twenty nine cars were on hand for the
Bobby Santos ended a long dry spell as he broke the stranglehold that
Doug Coby had on the division. Santos, who had tire issues early on staged a
lat race rally and passed Max Zachem on the final lap to take the win.
Zachem settled for second after coming within one lap of his first career
tour win. The 23-year-old from Preston, Connecticut, was making his 23rd
career start and led a race-high 43 laps. Rookie Matt Swanson finished
third, followed by Patrick Emerling and Jeff Goodale.
Ryan Preece, who is running NASCAR XFINITY Series full-time this season,
came back after a spin to finish sixth. Rowan Pennink, Brendon Bock, Jimmy
Blewett and Ken Heagy rounded out the top 10. Coby, who earlier in the day
won his fourth Coors Light Pole Award of the season, wound up 11th after
being black flagged for passing too early on a restart.
Fifteen of the original 29 starters were on the lead lap at the finish.
Ron Silk, Shawn Solomito, Justin Bonsignore and Andrew Krause were
eliminated in accidents with less than 15 laps to go. Craig Lutz and Nick
Salva were also accident victims as were Chase Dowling and Dave Sapienza.
Melissa Fifield finished a career high 19th, some six laps down. Last but
not least was Woody Pitkat who retired after completing three laps when his
clutch went bad.
The Thompson 125 will air on NBCSN this coming Wednesday, June 22 at 5
p.m. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action on Saturday, June 25
at the Riverhead (New York) Raceway on Long Island.
Doug Coby continues to lead the point standings, holding a 19 point edge
over Max Zachem. Zachem continues to impress with his extremly strong runs
as he came within a tick of scoring his first win in the Tour series. Rowan
Pennink, Donnie Lia and Justin Bonsignore round out the top five.
In regular weekly racing action at Thompson Keith Rocco made it four in a
row in the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds. A touch of the Flu didn't slow him
down as he scored his 220th overall career win. Ronnie Williams finished
second in a car maintained by Rocco. Ryan Preece finished third with Rowan
Pennink and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top five.
Other winners were Paul Charette in the Late Models, Dan Cugini in the
NEMA Lites, Brent Gleason in the Limited Sportsman and Wayne Burroughs in
the Mini Stocks.
Josh Vanada, general manager of the Thompson Motorsports Park, shared a
few thoughts following Wednesday night's Thompson 125.
1. "As far as stock car racing is concerned, Thompson victory lane is
hallowed ground. All aspire to be there, some make the special right turn to
celebrate there, and even fewer visit routinely. We saw drivers in each
category last night. Congratulations to Bobby Santos, Keith Rocco, Buddy
Charette, Brent Gleason, Wayne Burroughs, and Dan Cugini on their wins".
2. "Hard for a race fan to walk away unsatisfied after the event. Two
last lap passes for race wins. Aggressive driving throughout the night, but
particularly in the 125-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. Two first time
3. "Our racers deserve a lot of credit for the quality product we saw on
Wednesday night. Very proud of them".
4. "I'm equally as proud of our staff. Last Wednesday's event was a huge
undertaking and they worked it with ease, despite obstacles and challenges
thrown their way".
5. "There is an encouraging movement happening right now with young
talent throughout our four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions and
the Whelen Modified Tour. Ronnie Williams, Phil Jacques, Brent Gleason, Will
Wall, Matt Lowinski-loh, Matthew Swanson, and Max Zachem have promising
futures. We look forward to seeing them unfold".
In weekly racing at Stafford, taking down NASCAR Whelen All-American
Series weekly feature wins on the night were Eric Berndt in the SK Modified®
feature, Kevin Gambacorta in the Late Model feature, Daniel Wesson in the SK
Light feature, Justin Bren in the Limited Late Model feature, Alexandra
Fearn crossed the finish line first but was disqualified in post race tech
for a ride height issue, making Tyler Trott the winner, and Noah Korner in
the Legend Cars feature.
In the SK Modified feature, Rowan Pennink was able to make a pass stick
on Keith Rocco to move into second on lap-38 as Eric Berndt was the leader.
Berndt led Pennink and Rocco to the checkered flag to pick up his first win
of the 2016 season. Stephen Kopcik finished fourth and Ted Christopher
rounded out the top-5.
Third year SK Modified division driver Paul Kusheba IV scored his long
awaited first career victory in the division Saturday to showcase the racing
card at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Anthony Flannery was victorious
in the Late Model feature. Tony Membrino Jr. scored victory in the SK Light
Modified feature. Al Stone III was victorious in the Limited Sportsman
feature. Charles Canfield won the Mini Stock feature. Duane Noll won in the
debut of the track’s new Truck division in weekly racing action at the
In the SK Modified feature Kusheba took the lead early on and survived
numerous restarts to record the victory. Rob Janovic Jr. finished second
with Dennis Perry, Joey Gada and Todd Owen rounding out the top five.
The NASCAR Modifieds ran twin 50s at the Bowman Gray Stadium in
Winston-Salem, NC. Burt Myers broke a season long dry spell as he qualified
for the pole position and led every lap to record the win. Lee Jefferies and
Tim Brown followed. James Civali, driving the Hills Enterprises No.79
started on the pole but spun out of the lead which allowed John Smith ended
up with the win with Jason Myers, second. Jason Myers, Brandon Ward, Burt
Myers and Tim Brown rounded out the top five. Civali recovered from his spin
to finish 11th.
Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice reported that Modified car owner
David Hill was injured and his former driver, Joe Ryan Osborne from
Kannapolis, N.C. was arrested during an altercation in the pit area
following Saturday night’s second 50-lap Modified race at NC’s Bowman Gray
Hill told Area Auto Racing News that he approached Osborne’s car just to
talk to him as Osborne was passing by Hill’s pit stall on the way to his own
stall. Osborne then drove forward, and then spun his car around with Hill
hanging onto Osborne’s helmet to avoid being thrown from the car and run
over. Bystanders told Rice that Hill was thrown high into the air when
Osborne was trying to get away, but fortunately he escaped with minor
injuries and was not transported to a hospital. Osborne says that he was
released by police with no bail after charges were reduced to misdemeanors
The Riverhead Raceway on Long Island saw Kyle Soper take the Modified
Two Massachusetts racers scored big wins in Maine on Saturday night in
twin 50s for the Valenti Modified Racing Series at the Oxford Plains
Speedway. Anthony Nocella of Woburn, and Jon McKennedy, of East Chelmsford,
took decisive wins at the 1/3 mile speedway. Only two caution flags slowed
the race. 17 cars finished on the lead lap. Three yellows were displayed in
the second event. 9 cars finished on the lead lap.
Following Nocella in the first event was McKennedy. David Schneider
finished third with Richard Savary and Woody Pitkat rounding out the top
five. George Sherman was the runner-up in the second 50 lapper with Chris
Pasteryak. Russ Hersey and Colby Fournier rounded out the top five.
In some sad news, noted championship car owner and NEAR Hall of Fame
member has been fighting a valiant battle with cancer. On Friday close
friend David Salzarulo was informed by Mario's physician that all treatment
is now for comfort. While we will not stop hoping for a miracle, the racing
community is praying for comfort and a miracle.
On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway
stocks were down for the week. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.61 to 17.32
and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.08 to 2.16 while the International
Speedway Corporation went up 0.01 to 33.55. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco
(Energy Transfer) went up 0.59 to 38.56 while NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint
remained unchanged at 3.71 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 0.09 to
27.35. The car manufacturers were all positive for the week. General Motors
went up 0.17 to 29.23 and Ford went up 0.16 to 13.26 while Toyota went up
0.04 to 103.24. In the home improvement sector, Lowes went up 0.11 to 78.42
while Home Depot dropped 1.69 to 127.19. In big team sponsor's stocks
Coca-Cola took a huge jump as the soda giant went up 18.62 to 140.53. Fedex
went up 1.38 to 162.25 while McDonalds dropped 0.09 to 122.19, Target
dropped 0.38 to 67.50 and Aarons Rentals dropped 0.99 to 22.71.
On the tube this week:
Wednesday, June 22
5:00 PM NASCAR Racing: Whelen Modified Tour Thompson 6/15/16 NBC Sports Net
Thursday, June 23
7:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
8:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East competition in Stafford, Conn. 6/17/16
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FOX Sports 1
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
Friday, June 24
7:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
8:00 AM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sonoma final practice, FS1
4:00 PM, Tanked: Unfiltered NASCAR and Baseball Champions Tanks!, ANIMAL
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1
6:30 PM, NSCS Sonoma practice, FS1
Saturday, June 25
8:00 AM, NSCS Sonoma practice re-air, FS1
10:00 AM, NSCS Sonoma final practice re-air, FS1
11:30 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Gateway practice, FS1
1:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub Weekend Edition, FS1
2:00 PM, NSCS Sonoma qualifying, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS Gateway race, FS1
Sunday, June 26
2:30 AM, NCWTS Gateway qualifying, FS1
4:00 AM, NCWTS Gateway race re-air, FS1
9:30 AM, NCWTS Gateway race re-air, FS1
12:00 PM, NSCS Sonoma qualifying re-air, FS1
1:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
3:00 PM, NSCS Sonoma race, FS1
That’s 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.
Smith / Champ Trail