Champ Trail -
August 16, 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
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. The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be televised on NBC Sports Net on
Friday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action along with its NASCAR
Whelen Southern Modified Tour counterparts for their annual combination race
this Wednesday, Aug. 17 on the high banks of the Bristol Motor Speedway in
Tennessee. The Bush’s Beans 150 will be held at 6 p.m. as part of a
doubleheader with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The Bristol race
will be taped-delayed by NBC Sports Net and will air on Friday, Aug 26 at
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
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,
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.
Racing action returns to Thompson on August 24th for the track’s annual
Pepsi Back To School Night. The evening will feature many of the tracks
traditional racing series as well as twin 25-lap Sunoco Modified races as
the highlight events of the night.
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. Tickets and pit passes that were sold for this event
will be honored for the next 3 Friday night events at Stafford Speedway. If
an event has a higher ticket price than the August 12 program fans must pay
the difference at the admission gate.
This coming Friday night, August 19th will have the SK Light Xtra Mart
Xtra D feature as well as the DARE Stock Xtra Mart Xtra D feature event
along with Fireworks as well as the SK Modifieds®, Late Models, Ltd. Late
Models, and Legend Cars all in feature action.
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
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 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 third 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.
On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway
stocks showed modest gains. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.26 to 18.15 and
the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.20 to 33.86 while Dover
Entertainment dropped 0.01 to 2.12. NASCAR tire sponsor Goodyear went up
1.07 to 29.30 while NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint dropped 0.08 to 6.09 and
NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.67 to 41.61. The car
manufacturers had a positive week. Ford went up 0.14 to 12.33, General
Motors went up 0.77 to 31.57 and Toyota went up 1.83 to 117.79. In the home
improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 0.34 to 136.57 while Lowes remained
stable at 81.72, showing no gain or loss for the week. The big team sponsors
stocks were all positive. McDonalds went up 0.31 to 119.52, Coca-Cola
rocketed up 14.15 to 156.50, Target went up 0.87 to 75.81, Aarons Rentals
went up 0.12 to 24.78 and Fedex went up2.59 to 165.50.
On the tube this week:
Wednesday, August 17
9:00 AM, Classic NASCAR - 1993 Daytona 500, FOX Sports 1
9:30 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Bristol practice, FS1
11:30 AM, NCWTS Bristol final practice, FS1
4:45 PM, NCWTS Bristol qualifying, FOX Sports 2
8:00 PM, NCWTS SetUp, FS1
8:30 PM, NCWTS Bristol race, FS1
Thursday, August 18
4:30 AM, NCWTS Bristol race re-air, FS1
Friday, August 19
1:00 PM, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bristol practice, USA
5:15 PM, NASCAR America, USA
5:30 PM, NSCS Bristol qualifying, USA
7:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Countdown, USA
7:30 PM, NXS Bristol race, USA
Saturday, August 20
6:30 PM, NSCAR RaceDay, FS2
7:30 PM, NSCS Countdown, NBC Sports Net
8:00 PM, NSCS Bristol race, NBCSN
11:30 PM, NSCS Post Race Show, NBCSN
Sunday, August 21
12:30 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
5:00 AM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
12:00 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, FS1
12:30 PM, NCWTS Bristol race re-air, 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