The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

August 19, 2016

  Sixty five years ago in 1951 Steady Eddie Flemke Sr, who would become a Modified Legend in his own time, was the Wednesday night winner at what was then called the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Moneybags Moe Gherzi, who drove the Garutti Brothers No. 14 was the Saturday night winner at the shoreline oval.

  Sixty years ago in 1956 Don Collins was a double winner as he annexed victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Wednesday and on Saturday. Non-Ford winners at the bowl were Arnie Harris and Charlie Webster.

  Fifty five years ago in 1961, Ernie Gahan was the Friday night winner on the dirt at Stafford. He backed it up with by winning the mid-season championship at Norwood on Saturday night over Red Foote, Bill Slater, Leo Cleary and Joe McNulty. It was also in this night that young Dick Berggren won the Novice division consolation. Joe McNulty of Gales Ferry, CT became the fourth different driver from New England to win a feature at the Old Bridge Speedway in New Jersey. McNulty, who just beat out Bill Slater, Red Foote, Ernie Gahan and Dennis Zimmerman, took the lead in the 25 lap event on lap one from Ron Narducci. At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Newt Palm was the Wednesday night winner and Dick Beuregard took top honors on Saturday night.

  Fifty years ago in 1966, Bill Wimble went two for two as he won the Friday night 30 lapper at the Albany- Saratoga Speedway and followed it up with a 111 lap win at Fonda on Saturday night. Don MacTavish finished second on Friday night and was followed by Rene Charland, Pete Hamilton and Elton Hill. Pete Corey made it three in a row on the dirt at Stafford. Lee Millington finished second at Fonda with Charland, third. Don Collins was still at the top of his game as he won the 30 lap Modified feature at the Waterford Speedbowl. Jerry Glaude was the Bomber winner and Howard "Jiggs" Beetham, who in later years would team up as a car owner with Bob Potter, was the Daredevil winner. The annual North-South battle at what was then a one mile speedway in Trenton, NJ was on tap for Sunday. The event started 60 cars and was won by Ray Hendrick driving the Tant/Mitchell No.11. Fellow Virginian Bill Dennis finished second with Runt Harris, third. Jerry Dostie and Mario “Fats” Caruso rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Al Tasnady, Jim Hays, Pete Hamilton, Tiny Lund and Bugsy Stevens. Sunday night racing at the Utica-Rome Speedway rained out.

  Forty five years ago in 1971, Fred DeSarro and the Ole Blu of Len Boehler were on a tear as they did some serious traveling and some serious winning. The All Star League ran a 100 lapper at Catamount Stadium in Milton, Vt. DeSarro took the win over Lou Lazzaro, Jerry Cook, Bugsy Stevens and Andy Romano. All Star League regular, Ron Narducci took a wild end over end off turn three. Narducci sustained back injuries and his car was demolished. The All Star League moved to Stafford on Thursday where it was DeSarro again. Gene Bergin finished second and was followed by Hop Harrington and Leo Cleary. DeSarro continued his streak at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway where he took on the best of New York and New England. Running on a rail, DeSarro made it three for three. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Dick Clark and Guy Chartrand. Don MacClaren made it five in a row in NESMRA competition at Thompson on Friday night. Gene Bergin, in the all-new Bobby Judkins Pinto bodied No. 2x that had just been declared legal by NASCAR, was the spoiler as he had the car to beat at Stafford on Saturday night. DeSarro had to settle for second with Hop Harrington, Bugsy Stevens and Bobby Santos rounding out the top five. Don Steiner won at Waterford over Jerry Glaude and Terry Peabody. In other Saturday night action, Lou Lazzaro took the double point win at Fonda over Maynard Forette and Jerry Cook. DeSarro made it four out of five as he won the Utica-Rome 100 on Sunday night. The Bugman finished second and was followed by Lazzaro and Cook. Richie Evans was the Modified winner at the Fulton Raceway. Merv Treichler finished second. Ken Andrews made it two in a row in Supermodified action at Fulton. Nolan Swift finished second. Also on Sunday, Gene Bergin, in the Judkins Pinto, won a 100 lap open at Oxford Plains. Rene Charland finished second with Bobby Turner, third.

  Forty years ago in 1976, the Yankee All Star League was at Waterford where Fred DeSarro took the win. Richie Evans won a 100-lap Trenton qualifier at New Egypt. Wayne Anderson finished second. Friday night at Riverhead saw Charlie Jarzombek make it three in a row at the Long Island east end speedway. Wayne Anderson finished second with Fred Harbach, third. At Monadnock, Punky Caron was again, the top dog. On Saturday night at Stafford, Geoff Bodine made it two in a row. DeSarro finished second and was followed by Flemke and Brian Ross. Other Saturday winners were Tom McCann at Islip, Mike Beebe at Waterford, Roland LaPierre at Westboro and Ed Hoyle at Seekonk. Ronnie Bouchard streaked home the winner at Thompson on Sunday as Geoff Bodine got a little on-track education from Ed Flemke. With both cars out because of a wreck and DeSarro in the pits with a blown engine. Bob Santos ended up second and was followed by Gene Bergin, Moose Hewitt and Keith Williams.

  Thirty five years ago in 1981, Modified Madness, an open competition event, was run at Stafford on Tuesday night. Fifty-seven Modifieds and almost 7000 spectators were on hand to watch as Ronnie Bouchard in the Len Boehler No.3 beat the best in the business in this 50 lap contest. Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Corky Cookman and Jerry Cook. Back at Stafford on Friday, Brian Ross put the Mystic Missile in the top spot. Evans followed along with Reggie Ruggiero and Corky Cookman. Other Friday night winners were Doug Hewitt at Spencer, John Blewett Jr. and Punky Caron won his 46th at Monadnock. Joe Howard won the Thompson 300 qualifier at Westboro and it was Eddie St Angelo taking the top spot at Seekonk. Joe Tiezzi beat out Moose Hewitt at Waterford and at Riverside, Stan Greger and Ray Miller each scored wins. Double features were also on tap at Islip where Charlie Jarzombek and Wayne Anderson each scored wins. Fred Drumm took the Sportsman main at Danbury while Rit Patchen was the Modified winner.

  Thirty years ago in 1986, Reggie Ruggiero, driving for Mike Greci, won the Manchester Oil Heat 100 at Stafford on Friday night. Jamie Tomaino finished second with Mike Stefanik, third. Waterford ran twin features with Bob Potter and Bob Gada jr taking the checkers. Kenny Bouchard beat out Stan Greger at Riverside and at Riverhead; John Blewett jr took a 200 lap win over Mike Ewanitsko. Sunday racing at Thompson rained out.

  Twenty five years ago in 1991, Waterford ran a Wednesday night program with Ted Christopher in the North End Auto Parts No.54 taking the win. At Stafford on Friday night, Mike Christopher got a well-deserved win over Tom Tagg and Bob Potter. Seasoned veteran Moose Hewitt took the regular Saturday night win at Waterford and at Riverside Park; Reggie Ruggiero scored his seventh of the year over Rick Fuller. On the Island at Riverhead, Ed Brunnhoelzl won out over Tom Baldwin and Wayne Anderson. Thompson ran twin features on Sunday night which saw Richie Gallup and Mike Christopher. It was also on this weekend that Race of Champions promoter Joe Gerber announced that the ROC would be moving from Pocono Raceway to the Flemington Speedway after that year’s event. Little did many know that it was the beginning of the end of the historic event, the way it was! In Winston Cup action, Dale Jarrett, driving for the Wood Brothers scored his first Winston Cup win in a photo finish over Davey Allison at Michigan. On Monday, August 19, Hurricane Bob moved thru New England and did considerable damage to the main grandstand at the Thompson Speedway.

  Twenty years ago in 1996, Todd Ceravolo took a Thursday night win at Waterford when Don Fowler spun with two laps to go. Jim Broderick finished second with Tucker Reynolds Jr, third. Bo Gunning beat out Ted Christopher at Stafford on Friday night but the big news was that the Arute Family announced that the season ending Fall Final would be telecast by ESPN-2. Dennis Gada went pole to pole at Waterford on Saturday night as he beat out Scott Spaulding, Don Fowler and Jeff Pearl. Fowler was later disqualified. Tom McCann won at Riverhead and Reggie Ruggiero got his sixth win at Riverside. At Fonda, Jack Johnson took the win over Dave Lape and wrapped up his eleventh track championship. The Featherlite Modifieds shared the billing with the IRL at Loudon and had their event cut from 75 laps to 61 laps because of a scheduled TV start time for the IRL event. Tony Hirschman took the lead from Jan Leaty and scored a big win for car owner Len Boehler. Leaty finished second and was followed by Rick Fuller, Steve Park and Jerry Marquis. The Loudon event drew 24,000, many of those being Modified fans. The speedway management knew this and announced that the IRL would not be back. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Dale Jarrett passed Mark Martin with two to go to take the win. Jeff Purvis was the Busch Grandnational winner. In Busch North Series action at the Star Speedway, Jerry Marquis took the win.

  Fifteen years ago in 2001 the Thompson Speedway ran their annual Thursday night NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series event. With over $65,000 on the line, a full pit of 40 Modifieds and over 8,000 spectators was on hand. John Blewett III seemed to have things under control as he took the lead on lap 101 and was headed for victory when Tom Cravenho went in too hard and got Blewett wiggly enough to allow Tony Hirschman to duck under and go on for the win. Blewett recovered to finish second. Ricky Miller, Rick Fuller and Chris Kopec rounded out the top five. Cravenho ended up 13th. In SK-Modified action at Thompson, Ted Christopher continued his domination of the division as he recorded his ninth win. Bert Marvin finished second with Kerry Malone, third. Christopher carried his winning ways over to Stafford on Friday night where he won a 40 lapper over Frank Wainwrite and Lloyd Agor. Ronnie Silk scored an upset at Waterford as he beat out Dennis Gada for a 100-lap win and at Riverhead, Eddie Brunnhoelzl JR picked up his 21st career win at the Long Island oval. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Sterling Marlin got the win in a Chrysler product. It was the first win for the auto giant since 1979. The long awaited NASCAR report on the death of Dale Earnhardt finally went public. NASCAR’s determination was that the broken seat belt was a factor as well as the angle of the collision and the force of impact with the turn four wall at the Daytona Speedway. Bill Simpson of Simpson Safety Products stated that the reason the belt broke was due to the fact that they were not properly installed.

  Ten years ago in 2006, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the Thompson International Speedway on Thursday night for the New England Dodge Dealers/Budweiser 150. Ted Christopher, who started 20th ended up an unpopular winner as he was given the Bronx Cheer in victory lane. Christopher, who along with John Blewett III staged a torrid side by side duel for the lead from lap 131 to lap 140. Christopher had just exited turn two when he made contact with Blewett, sending him into the wall. Christopher said he didn’t mean for it to happen, Blewett and the almost capacity crowd felt different as they voiced their disapproval. NASCAR Tour director Ed Cox felt it was a racing accident and took no action. Blewett actually chased Christopher on foot to no avail. Had he caught him would have made for a different scenario. A few years back at Stafford, Blewett went after Carl Pasteryak and actually jumped aboard his car and began ripping at wires until the car shut off. Once the wrecked car of Blewett was removed Christopher ran the final three laps uncontested. Tony Hirschman, who was the Busch Pole sitter, ended up second with Zach Sylvester, third. Tom Bolles and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Mike Stefanik, Ed Flemke, Ron Yuhas, Don Lia and Jerry Marquis.
  There were 38 cars on hand. Among those who didn’t make the 33 car starting field was Reggie Ruggiero who was the victim of motor trouble as his crankshaft broke during practice. Alex Hoag also had motor trouble while Kevin Goodale hit the wall. Eric Berndt and Jake Marosz failed to make it on time. Pole sitter Hirschman led the opening laps which turned into a high speed freight train. Hirschman led for 45 laps before giving way to Mike Stefanik. A caution period on lap 30 saw John Blewett III pitting for a tire. Stefanik led until lap 82 when he pitted during a caution that came out when James Civali rode over Eric Beers’ wheel. Beers expressed his displeasure of Civali’s driving while Blewett pitted again for two more tires. A quick stop enabled Blewett to get a good spot for the restart as he was able to tale the lead from Steve Whitt on lap 98. From then until the Blewett wreck the racing was at a fever pitch.
  In regular weekly racing action Glen Boss took the win in the TIS Modifieds, Shelly Perry won her fifth Mini Stock feature, Jeff Zuidema took the Late Model main and Mike O’Sullivan won a squeaker in the Pro Stock feature. Larry Barnet was the Limited Sportsman winner and Jimmy Blewett gave a pay back body slam to Keith Rocco as he took the Sunoco Modified feature.
  The Stafford Springs Motor Speedway started their week on Tuesday night. Billed as CARQUEST Presents the Big One, drivers had a chance to make history with the largest Northeastern payout ever offered with the Valvoline $50,000 challenge. If a driver could win both the 30-lap Midget race and then start last and win the 100 lap PRA Big Car Series race, then that driver would leave Stafford Speedway with a $50,000 bonus provided by Valvoline, CARQUEST Auto Parts, and Stafford Motor Speedway. Bobby Santos, III first won the 30-lap midget feature event, and then went out and won the 100-lap PRA Big Car Series race after starting shotgun on the field to leave Stafford $50,000 richer. Santos, a third generation racer is home grown from Franklin, Mass.
  Stafford Speedway returned to action on Friday night with five NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series feature divisions all in action. In the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Woody Pitkat collected his second SK Modified feature win of the 2006 season by holding off a determined challenge from Frank Ruocco. Lloyd Agor led the first lap with Kurt Lenahan taking the lead on lap-2. Lenahan held the lead until lap-5 when Pitkat moved out front. Ruocco took second from Lenahan on lap-7, and he spent the next 33 laps glued to Pitkat' s bumper, looking for a weak point to use to his advantage and overtake Pitkat for the race lead. But that weak point was never exhibited to Ruocco as Pitkat was able to fend him off for the victory. Chris Jones finished third, with Jeff Malave, and Eric Berndt rounding out the top-5. Jim Peterson continued his winning ways with his second consecutive Late Model feature win, Glen Reen was a first time winner in the SK Light Modified feature while Mike Sweeney was also a first time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Hubbell was the DARE Stock feature winner, his first feature win of the 2006 season.
  The NASCAR Busch East, formerly Busch North Series, was at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. Matt Kobyluck treated the home folks with a victory after a paint swapping deal that saw Sean Caisse brush the wall. Bryan Chew ended up in second spot in a race that finished up in the rain. Earlier in the evening Jeff Pearl beat Chris Pasteryak on a green-white-checkered restart and held on to capture his third Waterford Speedbowl 35-lap SK-Modified feature of the season. Pasteryak, who stated he missed a shift fell to third as Shawn Monahan slipped into the second spot. Tommy Fox and Diego Monahan rounded out the top five. Jeff Miller won the 20-lap Mini Stock race. Rain ended the Late Model feature after nine laps.
  At the Michigan Int. Speedway Dale Earnhardt Jr. was able to push his way past Carl Edwards on a restart with two laps to go en route to winning Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series CARFAX 250. The incident created a firestorm of controversy that included Edwards pulling in front of Earnhardt's pit area for a heated verbal exchange with Earnhardt's crew. Edwards then pulled back onto the track to ram into the side of Earnhardt's Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the cool-down lap. In Nextel Cup action, Matt Kenseth easily kept four-time NASCAR champion Gordon at bay in the final laps of the GFS Marketplace 400 by conscientiously taking care of his tires after his final pit stop.

  Five years ago in 2011, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour joined the Indy Cars at Loudon, NH. Bobby Santos crossed another track off his list when he earned the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pole in time trials for the Granite State Classic. Santos toured the one mile oval in 29.858 seconds (127.564 mph) for his sixth career Coors Light Pole Award and second of the 2011 season. There were 31 cars on hand. Second fastest was Eric Beers with Eric Beers, third. Justin Bonsignore and Rowan Pennink rounded out the top five.
  Mike Stefanik ended a long dry spell in the No. 16 Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Pontiac when he earned his first win of the season and the 71st of his Tour career by edging Woody Pitkat at the line. It was Stefanik’s seventh win at the track and first since Aug. 2, 1998. Additionally, it was his first overall victory since winning at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 27, 2009. The runner-up marked the best career finish for Pitkat. Todd Szegedy finished in in the third position followed by Justin Bonsignore and Eric Beers in fourth and fifth, respectively. Bobby Santos, Ryan Preece, Glenn Tyler, Erick Rudolph and Doug Coby rounded out the top 10.
  There were 10 lead changes among 5 drivers. Santos led the opening 29 laps before giving way to Erick Rudolph who led lap 30. Santos retook the lead one lap later and remained on the point until lap 44 when Bonsignore took his turn on the point for one lap before giving way to a determined Santos who would lead to lap 53. Bonsignore and Santos slugged it out until lap 60 when Woody Pitkat came alive. From there on Pitkat and Mike Stefanik went toe to toe. Stefanik took the lead for the final time on lap 73 before sprinting home for the win. Seventeen of the original 31 starters were on the lead lap at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were James Civale, Andy Seus and Ron Yuhas who wrecked on lap 92, Matt Hirschman, Kevin Goodale, Eric Goodale and Don Lia who wrecked on lap 66, Jake Marosz retired on lap 62 with handling problems, Eric Berndt wrecked on lap 58 and Ted Christopher who dropped out with rear end problems after completing 50 laps. Jimmy Blewett, Wade Cole and Ken Heagy dropped out with engine problems with engine problems.
  The crowd on hand was extremely sparse. The Indy Cars that raced on Sunday also played to a sparse crowd, estimaed to be 30,000.
In Thursday Night Thunder action at the Thompson Speedway Sunny skies and 82 degree weather welcomed race teams and fans. The Late Model division took the center stage with their 40-lap extra distance race and Tommy O’Sullivan of Springfield, MA, was the star. Woody Pitkat of Stafford, CT, returned to top-form and to victory lane in the Sunoco Modifieds. Andy Lindeman of Poestenkill, NY, was tops in the touring New England Truck Series. Derek Ramstrom of Worcester, MA scored his fourth win of the season in the Super Late Models. Dwayne Dorr of Ledyard, CT, motored his way to the victory in the Limited Sportsman division. Jay Sundeen of Douglas, MA, bested the field to win in the TIS Modifieds. He had been knocking on the door and on Thursday night Eric Bourgeois of Moodus, CT, scored his first Mini Stocks feature event win of the season. There were 14 cars on hand for the event.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway did not run into any weather problems as Ryan Preece scored his third win of the 2011 season in the SK Modified® feature, Ryan Posocco scored his second win of the 2011 season in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Matt Galko nailed down his fourth win of 2011 in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Shawn Thibeault picked up his fourth win of the 2011 season in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Albert Saunders picked up his first win of the 2011 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  In the SK Modifieds, Keith Rocco came home in second, with early leader Dan Avery, Glen Reen, and Eric Berndt Berndt rounding out the top-5. Ted Christopher finished a distant 21st after being collected in an early race wreck.
  At the Waterford Speedbowl, the shoreline oval hosted the fourth annual Wings and Wheels event Saturday night, staging another round of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing for the SK Modifieds®, the track’s weekly headline division plus the visiting ISMA Supermodifieds, NEMA Midgets and Valenti Modified Racing Series.
  Claiming victories were Keith Rocco, continuing his domination of the SK Modified® division by picking up his tenth win on the season. Chris Perley scored his third career win at the Speedbowl by picking up the victory on the 50-lap ISMA Supermodified race. A first-time winner reached the winner’s circle in the 25-lap NEMA Midget feature as Todd Bertrand etched his name into the record books. In the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature, veteran racer Jerry Marquis of Broad Brook came out of racing retirement to score an upset victory.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series returned to the Stafford Speedway to complete a previously started event. Keith Rocco continued his winning ways as he picked up his first career Modified Racing Series victory in the Lincoln Tech 80. The race was started on June 24th, but rain halted the race with 32 laps complete. Rocco was the race leader when the rain came and he had to fight off strong challenges from Matt Hirschman and then Todd Owen to take the victory as he led the final 47 laps of the race.
  With 10 laps to go, it was a four-car train for the top spot with Rocco leading Owen, Doug Coby, and Hirschman. With 5 laps to go the running order remained the same, but Rocco was able to pull away from Owen by several car lengths. Rocco led the field around to take the checkered flag. Owen finished second, with Coby, Hirschman, and Mike Stefanik rounding out the top-5.
  Before the engines would cool the series headed to the Waterford Speedbowl. Retired race driver Jerry Marquis came out of retirement and won the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series feature at the shoreline oval. The win came on a night when the track presented the fourth annual “Wings & Wheels” program in front of a large crowd of open-wheel race fans. Marquis became the fourth consecutive first time winner and the 10th different winner for 2011. Marquis was asked to pinch-hit for regular driver Rowan Pennink who was competing in a Whelen Modified Tour event in Loudon. Marquis agreed to practice the car at Stafford, (CT) on Friday and be ready on Saturday at Waterford if needed. When the field of 21 cars rolled from the Waterford pit area, Marquis took his position in the front row to a rousing ovation.
  At the drop of the green flag, Marquis was the driver to beat and no one could top the Roscoe Racing #25. The 56-year Marquis had the field covered but received pressure throughout the race. Local favorite Rob Janovic Jr, of chased Marquis until Les Hinckley III slipped by on lap 40. For the next 60 laps Hinckley chased Marquis and ran him hard on restarts but this was not the night for the current point-leader. Marquis prevailed for the full 100-laps. Keith Rocco started 21st and finished a solid third. Chris Pasteryak finished fourth with Max Zachem rounding out the top five. Mike Holdridge, Louie Mechalides, Dave Etheridge, Tim Jordan, and Josh Sylvester finished sixth through tenth. 17 of the 21 cars that started the race finished the event, 16 on the lead lap.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, Eddie Brunnhoelzl was the NASCAR Modified winner.
  The Bowman-Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC fell under rain which washed out both 25-lap races for the featured Modified Division.
At Watkins Glen, subbing for injured Penske Racing teammate Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch held off Jimmie Johnson on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Nationwide Zippo 200 on Saturday.
  Busch beat his Sprint Cup nemesis by nearly a second for his third victory in 12 Nationwide races. He also deprived brother Kyle of his 50th career victory, which would have broken a tie with Mark Martin for the most in series history. Marcos Ambrose of Australia won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race in Monday's rain-delayed Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen. He had to make a late pass of Brad Keselowski to finally win at the Glen, where he had finished third, second and third in the last three Cup races there
  Get well wishes went out to Dick Caso, a long time Modified veteran who was critically injured following a accident on his moped. Dick was a multi-time winner at many New England tracks for about 3 decades and earned the nickname "Daring" Dick Caso for his driving style. In addition to his own cars Caso drove the Ted Marsh No. 55 and the Billy Simons No.9 in numerous NASCAR Modified events in the 1970's. Get well wishes also went out to former Speedway Scene publisher and editor Val LeSieur who had entered Tufts Medical Center in Boston with a knee infection.

  Last year, 2015, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was at the Thompson Speedway at the Thompson Motorsports Park on Wednesday for the Bud “King of Beers” 150, the tenth race in the fifteen-race season for the tour. Doug Coby used true grit and sheer determination to win the event. Coby was the second fastest of the 30 cars on hand. Patrick Emerling was the fastest and was the Coors Lite Pole sitter.
  Emerling led the field to the start but his glory at the front was short lived. Donnie Lia, who started fourth, was on the move as he took over the top spot on the backstretch of lap six. As Emerling began to fade, Coby began to move as he planted himself on Lia's bumper on lap 8. Coby dove under Lia in turn three on lap 14 to take the lead. The first of seven cautions flew on 18 when the about to be lapped Melissa Fifield spun in turn four and almost trashed the front runners who were closing in on her. Earlier in the evening during qualifying Fifield found herself dead last in 30th spot some 7.93mph off the pole speed of 120.00mph.
  The field restarted and took the green on lap 21 with Coby on cruise control, clearly the dominate car. Ted Christopher moved into second with Woody Pitkat, third and Lia, fourth. The second caution flew on lap 31 when Craig Lutz spun in turn four and ended up stalled on the infield grass. The field went back to green on lap 35 with Coby out front with Lia moving into the second spot and Christopher slipping to third, Chase Dowling fourth and Woody Pitkat, fifth. Pitkat moved up a spot on lap 36. The third caution flew on lap on lap 40 when Dave Salzarulo hit the wall in turn four. The green flew on lap 45 with Coby on the point followed by Todd Szegedy who moved into second. Christopher slipped to third with Pitkat, fourth. Jeff Goodale spun in turn three on lap 85 for the fourth caution. Coby led the entire field to the pit area. Some got gas while some took on new tires.
Chase Dowling, who didn't pit, led the field to the start on lap 191. At the drop of the green Dowling didn't go and Coby did. It took four laps for NASCAR to make a decision that they felt that Coby jumped the restart. Coby was black flagged which meant a stop and go penalty in the pit area.
Coby was saved by the bell as the caution flew on lap 85 when Shawn Solomito. He was penalized for potentionally bringing out the caution. Coby pitted but emerged in front of the pace car which actually put him a lap on the field. Coby was then held at the start-finish line in order to let the field by which placed him at the rear of the lead lap cars. Coby had a few choice words for NASCAR while talking to his crew on the radio.
  Christopher assumed the lead when the green was finally displayed on lap 102 with Eric Goodale and Szegedy in tow. In a "Hammer Down" style Coby was on the move. By lap 110 he was tenth and by lap 115 he was eighth. By then Pitkat had moved into second. The caution flew again on lap 124 when Christopher received a tap in turn four which sent him into the turn four wall. NASCAR felt the contact was a "Racing Deal" and took no action against Pitkat. Pitkat led the restart on lap 129 with Szegedy second, Ryan Preece, third and Eric Goodale, fourth, Lia, fifth and Coby, sixth. By lap 134, Coby was fourth. The caution flew on lap 135 for Derek Randstrom who spun on the front stretch. The green was displayed with ten laps to go with Pitkat leading over Szegedy, Eric Goodale and Coby. One lap later Coby turned up the wick as he surged by the top three in a brilliant and calculated move as he resumed the lead.
  At the finish it was Coby over Pitkat and Szegedy. Eric Goodale and Lia rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Preece, Emerling, Justin Bonsignore, Christopher and Timmy Solomito. Emerling scored his first career Modified feature win at the Lancaster Speedway in up-state New York on Saturday night as he captured the 110-lap feature. Emerling inherited the lead for good on lap 76 when Matt Hirschman pitted under caution for tires. He led the final 34 laps and survived a late-race challenge from Chuck Hossfeld to secure the victory.
  In other racing at Thompson on Wednesday night, Jeff Rocco who has won three Late Model features in a row made it a special night as he donated his entire winner's purse to Chase Bennett in his fight against leukemia. Rocco won the race handily after relinquishing the lead nine laps into the event with Keith Rocco finishing second. The Sunoco Modified Series saw a trio of familiar names run up front as Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat and Keith Rocco finished first through third respectively with strong showings all around. Preece took the lead early while Pitkat and Rocco worked their way up from outside the top five and took advantage of their well handling cars and a few cautions to move their way through the field.
  Preece said he used the opportunity to race in the Sunoco Modified at Thompson prior to the Whelen Modified Race by trying different grooves on the racetrack and was happy to come away with the win. “I didn’t know which lane to go on the restart and as racers we try to play games. I just knew what was on the top and then on the bottom it was just a little bit of contact going into three there, and then I don’t know if it knocked the toe in but it just really snugged my car quite a bit there. I was happy we didn’t have any cautions because I know those guys were pretty good behind me – We’re just happy it went green to the end and we were able to pull that win off.” rounding out the top five were Kerry Malone and Bert Marvin. Ryan Morgan finished sixth with a bent rim thanks to Bert Marvin.
  Dave Trudeau took the win in the Monster Mini Stocks and John Zych, Jr. claiming his third victory of the season in the NEMA Midgets.
  In a combined effort FANSCHOICE .TV and VictoryLaneradio .com did an outstanding job of web casting the event. The crowd was not affected at all. Looks like the management of the Stafford Motor Speedway shot themselves in the foot as they banned these web casts. Track manager Josh Vanada stated " We are talking with NASCAR to do one more event this season."
  At the Stafford Motor Speedway last Friday night it was Ingersoll Rand contingency night with bonuses going to the winners of the SK Modified®, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock features. Ronnie Williams took his fifth win of the year in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn collected his seventh win in the Late Model feature, Payton Henry scored his second win in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost took down his second win of the season in the Limited Late Model feature, Marcello Rufrano won for the second time this year in the DARE Stock feature, and Teddy Hodgdon was a career first time winner at Stafford in the Legend Cars feature.
  In the SK Modified 40 lap feature Williams got around Ryan Preece to take over the lead on lap-26 while Todd Owen got out of shape behind them, allowing Woody Pitkat and Rowan Pennink to both get by as Owen fell back to fifth. Keith Rocco was right on Owen’s bumper in sixth with Williams and Preece beginning to distance themselves from the pack. Pennink went by Pitkat to move into third with 12 laps to go and nearly a full straighaway gap to make up in order to close in on the lead duo of Williams and Preece.
  With 5 laps to go, Pennink was slowly reeling the two leaders in as Preece was staying right on Williams’ back bumper and he was looking high and low for a place where he might be able to make a pass for the lead. The opportunity for Preece never materialized as Williams led him back to the checkered flag to pick up his fifth win of the 2015 season. Pennink finished third, with Rocco and Pitkat rounding out the top-5.
  Stafford as well as Thompson and Waterford were feeling the pinch of the current economy as they both drew 16 cars for the SK Modified events. The New London-Waterford Speedbowl drew 18 cars for their SK Modified program
  Whelen Modified Tour Series car owner Eddie Partridge consummated the deal that put the Riverhead Raceway in his name after plunking down a cool$4-million Friday morning to Barbara and Jim Cromarty. Partridge, who also owns TS Haulers in Calverton, New York, said that current track general manager John Ellwood would remain in control, and will help run the track along with Partridge’s nephew, Tom Gatz. And for the present time, they would be running Riverhead Raceway at its current location. Although that could change a few years down the road. Partridge alluded to the fact that he would someday like to build a speedway on the former Grumman property in nearby Calverton. In the mean time it will be racing as usual at Riverhead.
  Web site Long Island Jam reported the Partridge’s own Hoosier Tire of Calverton which supplies tires at Riverhead Raceway along with the fuel and TS Haulers Racing which fields a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car for driver Ryan Preece and say their up for the challenge of owning a racetrack. “This is all new to us. Like the Cromarty’s they didn’t know anything about racing and all of a sudden they owned a racetrack,” Ed Partridge said, “We know about racing, we’re just going to come in here, clean the place up, try to make it more friendly to the families and the kids and go about it that way.” The Partridge’s nephew Tom Gatz and current track GM John Ellwood are also looking forward to 2016 and the future of Riverhead Raceway. “We’re very excited, I’m excited to be working with John [Ellwood] as well and excited about what the future is going to be here at the raceway and we’re really looking forward to it” Gatz said.
  Saturday at Riverhead Raceway car owner Carl Zeh was posthumously inducted into the Riverhead Wall of Fame along with drivers Mike Ewanitsko and Robin Vollmoeller.
  In NASCAR Modified action at the Long Island east end oval Ryan Preece scored his fourth win over Tom Rogers JR and Kyle Soper.
  Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem NC the historic venue ran it's 1000th NASCAR event. In celebration track management admitted women for $2.00 each. Close to a capacity crowd witnessed the event. NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison was the starter for the first 50-lap race, and Burt Myers came all the way from 12th to defeat his brother Jason. And Dean Ward won his second race of the year, defeating Jason Myers.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series suffered a major setback when Richard Savory, one of the series top competitors announced that he was all done with the series. Savory stated that series owner has gone too far with his late and somewhat cloudy decisions. He cited too much lag time in making calls and decisions. A strong rumor being circulated at Thompson was that Bruton Smith was considering moving one of the New Hampshire Sprint Cup dates to Las Vegas in the near future.
I  n regular weekly action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Ted Christopher took the SK Modified win over Rob Janovic Jr. Diego Monahan. Keith Rocco and Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five. Christopher took the lead with 30 laps remaining in the SK Modified feature. Keith Rocco kept rolling along as he continued to build on his record setting feature win total. Rocco recorded a win in the Late Model division 50 lapper at the shoreline oval bringing his track win total to 116 wins. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 204 wins which also include victories at Thompson and Stafford Speedways. It was the eighth victory in 10 Late Model division starts this year for Rocco.
  Other Saturday night winners were Al Stone III won the 25-lap Limited Sportsman feature. Ken Cassidy Jr. took the top spot in the 25-lap Mini Stock feature.
  In NASCAR Sprint cup racing at the Michigan Speedway, Matt Kenseth started in the lead, stayed there for most of the race and finished with his third Sprint Cup victory of the season Sunday, beating Kevin Harvick by 1.7 seconds. Regan Smith bumped his way past Alex Tagliani in the Carousel a turn from the finish Saturday to win the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

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

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

Looking Back Archive

Source: Phil Smith / Looking Back A Bit
Posted: August 19, 2016

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