Champ Trail -
May 23, 2016
The NASCAR Whelen Modified tour returns to New England on June 14 for a
Wednesday night event at the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway. Timmy
Solomito leads Rowan Pennink by a mere nine points. Eric Goodale sits third
with Justin Bonsignore and Max Zachem rounding out the top five.
At Thompson last Sunday, the second annual Limited Sportsman Long
Distance event. The drivers of the Limited Sportsman series took center with
the highlight event of the evening, a 30-lap long distance race with 30 cars
making up the field of competitors in the biggest race the series hold all
season at the Big-T. The race was a popular new addition to the calendar in
2016, extending the normal 20-lap Limited Sportsman feature an extra ten
laps. The 2017 event saw its share of drama as Ryan Waterman proved to be
the car to beat, leading for much of the first half of the event. However,
the extra distance paid off for Brent Gleason who took the lead around
halfway and never looked back, surviving numerous cautions and a hard charge
from Waterman to take the win but was later disqualified after post race
The Sunoco Modifieds held their second race of the season at Thompson and
it was a pair of familiar names up front battling for the checkered flag as
Keith Rocco out-dueled Ryan Preece for the win after Preece took the victory
in the Icebreaker when Rocco settled for a runner-up finish. The duo had to
survive numerous multi-car wrecks that resulted in two red flag periods
before racing to the finish in the 30-lap feature. Despite Preece’s best
efforts, Rocco claimed a dominant win in his hunt for a second consecutive
title. Rocco now has 235 career wins at Thompson, Waterford and Stafford.
Woody Pitkat, Nick Salva and John Studley rounded out the top five.
Other Sunday winners at Thompson were Roger Turbush in the Mr Rooter
Trucks, Wayne Burroughs in the Minis and Rick Gentes in the Late Models.
Up next for Thompson Speedway, the Whelen Modified Tour makes its second
appearance at the track in 2017 with the Thompson 125 on Wednesday, June 14.
The event will also feature the third races of the season for the Sunoco
Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, and Mini Stocks and a 20-lap
feature for the NEMA Lites.
The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted the Valenti Modified Racing Series in
addition to their regular Friday night program. Taking the checkered flag in
the 80 lapper was Anthony Nocella, for his first career Stafford VMRS
victory. Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Chase Dowling in
the SK Modified® feature, Kevin Gambacorta in the Late Model feature, George
Nocera, Jr. in the SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie in the Limited Late Model
feature, and Zack Robinson in the DARE Stock feature.
A late race restart caused Rowan Pennink to lose sight of victory.
Pennink’s car wouldn’t start back up after a red flag condition and Richard
Savary came to pit road out of gas, handing the race lead over to Nocella
with Woody Pitkat in second spot. It took 1-hour 18 minutes to complete the
first race of the year. Three front running drivers were victims of fuel
shortage. Rocco, Pennink, and Richard Savary were all sidelined for engines
that quit while running at or near the front.
The Nocella Paving race team purchased a brand new Race Works Chassis for
the new season and the end result had Nocella pleased post race.
“Can’t thank Eddie Flemke (car builder) enough. Completely different than
the other one. First race out with it so we really didn’t have a clue. We
were horrible in practice and then it was awesome the whole race,” said
Nocella. Nocella led Pitkat to the checkered flag to pick up his first win
at Stafford. Mike Willis finished third with Chris Pasteryak and Ron
Williams rounding out the top-5.
With five laps to go in the regular SK Modified 40 lapper Dowling, Ted
Christopher, Keith Rocco, Pennink and Williams were lined up single file.
Christopher was working over Dowling while Pennink was looking high and low
for a way to get around Rocco. Dowling led Christopher to the checkered flag
to pick up his second win in three races in 2017. Rocco finished third with
Pennink and Williams rounding out the top-5.
In weekly action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Tom Rogers of
Riverhead turned in a double dip performance Saturday night when he scored
the win in both the 40-lap NASCAR Modified feature event as well the 15-lap
Figure Eight contest later in the program. The NASCAR Modified win was the
44th of Tom's career while the Figure Eight victory was his 27th trip to
victory lane. The Granite State Pro Stock Series made their first ever Long
Island appearance with Mike Mitchell of Cumberland, RI collecting his first
career victory in the Riverhead 100 earning $2,000. Prior to Saturday night
Mitchell had never even scored a GSPSS podium finish.
Vinny Biondolillo of Farmingville was runner-up in the Kennedy L.I.
Realty entry while early leader John Fortin Jr. of Holtsville had a solid
race scoring a third place tally in the Suffolk Pro Cycles Chevy. Dave
Brigati of Calverton and John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville completed the top
Down in the south land, Michael Clifton has been racing for years at the
Bowman Gray Stadium, but after plenty of success it took him a while to get
back to the winner’s circle. On Saturday, he won his first race since June
2013 to pick up his 20th career victory at Bowman Gray Stadium, winning the
second 25-lap race.
Clifton finished 11th in the first race after Tim Brown started on the
pole and led from start to finish. Brown drew 14th after the Madhouse
Scramble, which put Clifton on the front row for the second race. Clifton
took the lead from Daniel Yates on the third lap and led the remaining 22
“I’ve won 19, 20 tonight. I’ve won my share of races,” Clifton said. “I
run good over here. I’ve qualified on the pole, I’ve won the first race. You
draw for the second. I’ve won 100-lappers.
Brown won the first 25-lap race, giving him 82 for his career at Bowman
Gray. He defeated Jason Myers, James Civali and Burt Myers.
Rumors have circulated for weeks that racer Norman Wrenn was attempting
to buy New London - Waterford Speedbowl. Wrenn advised John Spence Sr that
he does not have a sales and purchase agreement in place and does not see
one (Wrenn) in the foreseeable future.
Late last Sunday the following was released “The Management of the New
London Waterford Speedbowl is pleased to announce that there is currently a
working agreement for the Speedbowl to be Leased for the 2017 racing season.
Additional information will follow within the coming weeks but it is
anticipated that racing will begin before the end of June. Updates will be
posted on our website as well as our Facebook page as details are confirmed.
An open practice will be scheduled prior to opening weekend. We thank all of
our staff, drivers, fans and supporters for their patience and love of the
race track and ask that you continue to be patient as final details are
made. In the meantime……LETS GET READY TO GO RACING!!”
On the speedway stock market scene this week two of the three speedway
stocks were down. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 0.25 to
35.50 and Dover Entertainment dropped 0.08 to 1.95 while Speedway
Motorsports went up 0.06 to 17.10. NASCAR cup series sponsor Monster
Beverage went up 0.07 to 47.69 while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy
Transfer) dropped 0.02 to 23.00 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped
2.60 to 31.73. With the exception of Toyota which went up 1.15 to 107.56 the
auto makers were down for the week. Ford dropped 0.05 to 10.87 and General
Motors dropped 0.89 to 32.72. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot
dropped 0.58 to 156.30 and Lowes dropped 0.19 to 84.59. In the area of big
team sponsors stocks McDonalds went up 2.82 to 148.15, Coca-Cola went up
4.49 to 204.42 and Target went up 0.19 to 55.99 while Aarons Rentals dropped
0.58 to 34.58 and Fedex dropped 2.29 to 189.37.
On the tube this week:
Tuesday, May 23
6:00 AM, The 600: History of NASCAR's Toughest Race, Fox Sports 1
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
7:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte All-Star race re-air,
Fox Sports 2
Wednesday, May 24
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
Thursday, May 25
2:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte practice, FS1
3:30 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
4:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Charlotte practice, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
6:00 PM, NXS Charlotte final practice, FS1
7:00 PM, MENCS Charlotte qualifying, FS1
Friday, May 26
11:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
Saturday, May 27
9:00 AM, MENCS Charlotte practice, FS1
10:00 AM, NXS Charlotte qualifying, FS1
11:30 AM, MENCS Charlotte final practice, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay - XFINITY, FS1
1:00 PM, NXS Charlotte race, FS1
3:30 PM, NXS Post Race Show, FS1
Sunday, May 28
4:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay. FS1
5:30 PM, MENCS Pre Race Show, FOX
6:00 PM, MENCS Charlotte race, FOX
11:30 PM, NASCAR Victory Lane, 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