The Chrome Horn - Champ Trail with Phil Smith

Champ Trail - November 22, 2016

  The reality of the combination of the Northern and Southern Whelen Modified Tour venues is starting to settle in and it looks like a possible bad decision by NASCAR to do this. NASCAR can not get it thru their heads that most modified teams are made up by volunteers who actually work for a living and can not just drop everything to go racing up and down the east coast. Chances are Bob Garbarino will run a few races in the northeast with a yet to be named driver. Same thing goes for Mark Sypher who fields the Modified for Donnie Lia and it appears that Bobby Santos will not have a full time ride. Last season there were 16 owners and drivers that ran the entire northern circuit of 17 events. With at least three dropping off that leaves 13 that maybe will run all races. There were four who ran 16 races, with a possible loss of one, the Lutz racing team, that leaves just three. Those from the south rarely come north to race so that will lead to some very paltry fields of cars.

  The Stafford Motor Speedway management welcomed a guest list of nearly 500 people consisting of teams, drivers, sponsors, and employees this past Friday night, November 18 at Maneely’s in South Windsor to officially honor Rowan Pennink, Tom Fearn, Tony Membrino, Jr., Duane Provost, Johnny Walker, and Noah Korner as the 2016 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions.
  With Stafford Motor Speedway broadcasters Matt Buckler and John Gates serving as the Masters of Ceremony, the 47th annual Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Champions Awards Ceremony not only honored the six track champions, they also recognized the top-15 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, and U.S. Legend Cars divisions. Special awards that were presented during the evening’s festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, NAPA Auto Parts Parts Rookie of the Year, R.A.D. Automachine Rookie of the Year, and the UNOH Youth Achievement Award.
  In the SK Modified division, Pennink is the fifth driver, joining Jerry Pearl ’84-’85, Mike Christopher ’89-’90, Bob Potter ’91-’92 and ’94-95, and Ted Christopher ’00-’01 to have won back to back championships but a three-peat has yet to be accomplished. For the season, the #99 team posted a division leading 6 wins, 11 top-5 and 15 top-10 finishes for an average finish of 4.9.
  The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Woody Pitkat in the SK Modified® division, Tom Fearn in the Late Model division, Daniel Wesson from the SK Light division, Bryan Narducci from the Limited Late Model division, Alexandra Fearn in the DARE Stock division, and Teddy Hodgdon in the U.S. Legend Cars division. The UNOH Youth Achievement award was won by SK Light Modified driver Daniel Wesson.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway has released a very aggressive and diversified schedule for 2017. With just over 5 months until the 2017 season kicks off at the 46th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, Stafford Speedway is proud to announce the 22 event 2017 schedule. Said track General Manager Mark Arute, “We are excited about the 2017 season, we have our marquee events and have added 4 new shows to the schedule,” explained Arute. “Stafford’s key focus remains to have a strong weekly program for the fans and race teams, we believe that is the backbone of short track racing.”
  The 2017 race season will begin at the 46th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler Weekend, April 29th & 30th. The two-day event is highlighted by the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party where fans have the opportunity to meet their favorite drivers prior to racing on Sunday.
  Following the NAPA Spring Sizzler, Stafford racing gets back to its weekly regiment beginning with the return of BFF night on May 5th and the Late Model 50 on May 12th. The Valenti Modified Racing Series hits the half-mile May 19th for their annual early season Connecticut stop and the series will make one additional Stafford stop on September 1st for another 80 lap feature.
  Doug Dunleavy and Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair has joined the schedule with a new Memorial Day Weekend event. Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair Modified Big Money Event plus Military Appreciation Night is scheduled for May 26th. Both the SK Modified® and SK Light Modifieds will have special events with details to be announced within the coming weeks. The night will be capped off with a fireworks display to honor all those who have served our country.
  The month of June will play host to two new events at Stafford. June 2nd will be the first of two Stafford stops for the exciting new Modified Touring Series with the second MTS event being held Friday July 21st.
  “Our team has been working with Gary Knight of the Modified Touring Series for a few months now and we really like the series he is pulling together,” said Arute. “We were impressed by his execution of the Winchester 200 last year at Monadnock and are looking forward to the Modified Touring Series Stafford debut on Friday June 2nd.”
  June will also play host to the ISMA Supermodified’s return to the half-mile. The fastest short track cars in the country will go 60 laps and be accompanied by Stafford’s five weekly divisions.
Friday, July 7th will see the biggest SK Modified® event in the country, the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, take place. Since the inaugural event in 2014 the NAPA SK 5K has seen 3 different winners and has paid over $120k in purse money. 2017 will be no exception, this is the event all SK Modified® drivers want to win.
  The Whelen Modified Tour makes its second of three stops at Stafford on Friday August 4th for the 27th Annual Stafford 150. The final NWMT stop comes with NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend on Sept. 30th-Oct. 1st where all 5 of Stafford’s 2017 track champions will be crowned.
  2017 Schedule Highlights
   · 3 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Events (4/30, 8/4, 10/1)
   · 2 Valenti Modified Racing Series Events (5/19, 9/1)
   · 2 Modified Touring Series Events (6/2, 7/21)
   · 1 ISMA Super Modified Event (6/23)
   · NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K (7/7)
   · Dunleavy Truck & Trailer Modified Night (5/26)
   · Late Model 50 (5/12)
   · Mr. Rooter Truck Series (4/29, 9/30)

  Matt Hirschman left the cold confines of Pennsylvania to spend the weekend in Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. He brought his race car with him and ended up with a win in the modified portion of a double header run at the Myrtle Beach Speedway. Hirschman spun with 30 laps to go and had to pit to change a flat right rear tire. He charged back through the field and closed in on a battle between Jimmy Zacharias and Daren Scherer with two laps to go. Hirschman went three wide and passed them both and checked out en route to victory.
  After the race, Hirschman said the tire change made no difference. “The right rear had nothing to do with it,” Hirschman said. “I just got my fresh right rear and immediately started getting a flat so, believe it or not, I’m sure most people are going to think that was the difference, but it wasn’t at all. It was purely just playing the game right and moving at the right time. I didn’t need that tire. I just put a new one on.”
  “Unfortunately, we didn’t get our money’s worth out of that one but this spare was good enough,” Hirschman continued. “I just had to wait it out, hope for a caution, didn’t look like we were getting one, so made a run for it. Regardless of what everybody’s going to say, I know it made it interesting. That’s what putting on a show is all about.”
  Scherer held off Zacharias for a runner-up finish, a finish he took in stride after issues in previous Myrtle Beach races. Zacharias had dominated in the closing stages of the race after having to start at the rear of the field. He had a seemingly insurmountable lead with 30 laps to go when the caution came out one final time in the race. Jon Kay finished fourth while Burt Myers finished fifth. Sixth thru tenth were Bobby Measmer, Jason Myers, Chris Pasteryak, Andy Seuss and Zach Brewer.
  The Myrtle Beach 400 for Late Models and Modifieds will run in 2017 on November 16th – 18th.

  With Thanksgiving closing in there remains only one race to close out the racing season in the northeast. All eyes will be on the Wall Stadium Speedway in New Jersey for the running of the annual Turkey Derby on Friday and Saturday.

  On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks were up for the week. The International Speedway Corporation went up 0.60 to 36.80 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.05 to 2.40 while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.89 to 19.37. NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 1.24 to 39.37, Goodyear went up 0.89 to 30.14 and NASCAR cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.26 to 7.35. Two of the three car manufacturers were down for the week. General Motors dropped 1.02 to 33.00 and Ford dropped 0.52 to 11.76 while Toyota went up 2.09 to 114.04. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.52 to 128.33 and Lowes dropped 0.42 to 69.31. With the exception of Coca-Cola which dropped 2.04 to 165.44, the big team’s sponsor’s stocks showed good gains. McDonalds went up 5.78 to 120.00, Target Department Stores went up 4.84 to 76.19, Aarons Rentals went up 1.54 to 29.01 and Fedex went up 3.60 to 187.29.

  On the tube this week:

  Thursday, November 24
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, FOX Sports 1

  Friday, November 25
5:00 PM, Tanked - NASCAR and Baseball Champions Tanks!, ANIMAL

  Sunday, November 27
8:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Awards Show, NBC Sports Net

  Monday, November 28
5:00 PM, NASCAR the List - Dale Earnhardt, Sr Moments, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NASCAR the List - Greatest Finishes, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Best of the Year, 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.

Source: Phil Smith / Champ Trail
Posted: November 22, 2016

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