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
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
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.
Smith / Champ Trail