Champ Trail -
May 30, 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.
The big news is the re-emergence of Ted Christopher who will take over
the seat in the Dan Watts Modified that was recently vacated by Ron Silk.
Closing in on 59 years of age, Christopher hasn’t lost any of the fire that
has propelled him to third on the all-time list of Modified Tour winners.
The Stafford Motor Speedway pulled the plug on their Friday night racing
program. Due to a change in weather patterns and forecast for the rest of
the afternoon and early evening, Stafford Speedway officials decided to
postpone the Inaugural Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Modifiedz Night to Friday
June 9th. All activities scheduled for Dunleavy Modifiedz Night will be held
on Friday, June 9th including the 40-lap SK Light Modified $2,500 to win
special event, 50-lap SK Modified event, Fireworks, as well as special
pricing for members of the Armed Services.
Weekly racing at Stafford Speedway continues this coming Friday, June 2nd
with the inaugural Modified Touring Series 125. The Modified Touring Series
will take to the track with qualifying heats beginning at 6:15pm. Stafford’s
five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in action.
In weekly action at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it was
Throw-Back weekend with the running of the Islip 300. Fifteen year old
sophomore driver Dillon Steuer stood the Tour Type Modified world on it's
collective ear Saturday night at the eastern Long Island track when he
scored an upset victory in the $32,650 Islip 300. Steuer took the lead from
Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead with 37 laps remaining in the race and drove off
to an extremely popular win worth $7,000.
Qualifying found Ryan Preece. setting fast time and winning the pole for
the 300 with a lap of 11.845 in his East West Marine Chevy with Steuer
second quick at 11.960 earning the outside pole. As the 20 car field came to
the green Preece would move out front with Steuer giving chase for the first
lap before he was passed to the inside off turn four on lap 2 by Dave
Brigati. It was evident early on that Preece and his team's game plan were
to run as hard as they could early on with the hopes of putting the rest of
the field a lap down. While Preece was on a tear at the front of the field
Brigati would battle for second with Shawn Solomito who took the spot on lap
53 with an inside pass entering the first turn. With some extended green
flag laps being clicked off Preece's plan was working out just fine. A third
of the way through the race Preece had lapped all but the second place car
Things would start to change however as some caution flags would wave
prior to and just past the halfway mark with most contending drivers heading
to the pits to utilize the two change tires teams were allowed for the 300
which changed the complexion of the race. By lap 200 most everyone pitted
for tires with the exception of Preece and Howie Brode. Shawn Solomito with
two fresh tires made his way Preece for the lead with an inside pass up the
backstretch to take the race lead on lap 146 with Preece sitting second on
the tires he started the race on. On a lap 192 restart John Fortin Sr. would
make his way to second behind Solomito and would chase the leader until lap
209 when he made he way by Solomito with an inside pass heading into the
third turn. Preece in the meantime hanging on with his old tires but soon
found himself fighting to stay on the lead lap but to no avail. By the time
Ryan pitted for tires he'd be a lap down.
Fortin, a 30 time career winner at Riverhead would lead the way until lap
212 when he was overtaken by Tom Rogers Jr. to the inside entering the third
turn. Drivers also making their way into contention after pitting for fresh
tires included Dave Schneider and Dillon Steuer with Steuer making his way
to second after he passed Fortin on lap 246. Once to second Dillon quickly
reeled in 44-time career winner Rogers but catching the leader would be one
thing, passing him would be quite another story. Steuer attempted the
crossover maneuver several time on Rogers exiting the second corner but to
no avail as Roger slowed his car from the center off trying to break the
Steuer's big break would come on lap 262 as he and Rogers were working
lapped traffic through the third and fourth turn. Exiting the turn Rogers
went to the outside while Steuer chose to go to the inside of the lapped car
and by the time they hit the first turn Dillon Steuer would be the new race
leader. At first Rogers tried to make a crossover move of his own but as the
laps clicked off Steuer was able to motor away. In fact in the final few
laps Rogers would have a mirror full of third place driver Dave Schneider
who was turning in a career performance of his own in the 300.
With the checker flag waving off turn four and the large crowd on their
feet Dillon Steuer drove off turn four to score what will be the first of
many Tour Type Modified victories as the crowd roared with approval. Dillon
then proceeded to do several burnouts for the fans and by the time he
arrived in victory lane his left rear tire was cooked right off the car.
After track owners Eddie & Connie Partridge & Tom Gatz present Dillon with a
five foot tall Islip 300 trophy Dillon was asked if he ever imagined his
first career Modified win would come in such a big race the soft spoken
Steuer admitted, "no not really but my team had a great game plan tonight.
We pitted right around where we wanted to and the car was just perfect".
Steuer who'll return to classes at Connetquot High School Tuesday morning
added, "I can't thank my owner Grant Williams and my Dad enough for all they
do for me along with Northeastern Office Equipment, Sayville South Bay Auto
Repair, Coram Materials, KAMO Motorsports and TJ'S Heros."
Tom Rogers Jr would settle for runner-up money in his SGS Stone Works
Chevy and afterwards pointed to his right rear tire noting, "my right rear
is gone but hey good for Dillon and his family". Dave Schneider of Northport
was in the mix all race long and would come home third in his Schneider
Racing entry, "this is pretty cool to run among the leaders and come away
with a podium finish" Dave commented. Ryan Preece and Shawn Solomito of
Center Moriches would complete the top five. By the time Preece did
eventually get his lap back by passing Steuer it was too little, too late.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Lee USA Speedway in
Lee, NH last weekend. It took over 15 years to win his second race at what
he calls his ‘home’ race track, but Auburn New Hampshire’s Mike Douglas Jr.
finally put it all together Saturday afternoon May 27, and won his first
Valenti Modified Racing Series event at Lee USA Speedway, Lee, NH. Douglas
first trip to victory lane was in the tracks Hobby Stock division in 2003.
Saturdays race was a special holiday weekend presentation by the Lee track
with qualifying heat race winners receiving $500 to win and $3,000 was
awarded to the winner. Douglas was clearly the class of the field as he won
his heat race and then the 50-lap main event. The second-generation driver
started on the pole and led the entire race.
Donnie Lashua, of Canaan, NH, and Dana Smith, of Sunapee, NH, gave chase
early on with Richard Savary, of Canton, MA, and Anthony Nocella, of Woburn,
MA, providing some late race drama when Savary pulled alongside Douglas with
Nocella on his heels. While Savary was dealing with a tight car and Nocella,
Douglas pulled away to notch his first VMRS victory. Douglas’ car was a nine
year old Race Works Chassis.
Les Hinckley III finished fourth with Todd Annarummo, fifth. Sixth was Dana
Smith. Mike Willis, Jeff Rocco, Carl Medieros and Dennis Perry rounded out
the top ten.
Down in the south land, Tim Brown recorded his track-record 83rd career
victory at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, NC, winning the pole
for the first 25-lap Modified race and leading the entire way.
Brown beat Chris Fleming, Lee Jeffreys, Jason Myers and Burt Myers to the
line at the end of the first Modified race Saturday. Fleming made an attempt
to get under Brown coming out of the fourth turn on lap 10 but slowed up to
keep control of his car as it hit the infield grass. Brown sped away and led
by a comfortable margin as he maneuvered around slower traffic for the final
Brown drew an “8” in the post-race “Madhouse Scramble,” meaning the order
of the top eight finishers was inverted for the start of the second race,
and he moved from eighth to sixth in that event. Randy Butner started third,
survived an opening-lap wreck, passed Michael Clifton for the lead on lap 3
and held off Burt Myers for the win.
The New London Day reported last Wednesday that a spokesperson for the
owner of the New London-Waterford Speedbowl is taking back an announcement
that the racetrack will hold races this year.
After track management canceled the first spring weekend of racing, an
anonymous post issued on the Speedbowl’s website declared plans to open to
racers next month.
“There is currently a working agreement for the Speedbowl to be leased
for the 2017 racing season,” the post read. That post has since been taken
down, and Chuck Coursey, a spokesman for track owner Bruce Bemer who is
working with a law firm that represents Bemer's propane business in a
separate case, said the announcement was "premature."
"Although any announcement regarding a possible agreement to lease the
New London-Waterford Speedbowl for the upcoming season is premature,
management is working to preserve the upcoming season and jobs at the
Speedbowl," Coursey said in a statement. He did not comment further on the
lease agreement referenced in the Sunday night announcement.
NASCAR has released the 2018 schedules for all three national divisions,
with substantial changes made to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
calendar. The first change is moving the annual Daytona 500 back to
President’s Day weekend. The race will now be held on Feb. 18, 2018. Once
again many fans will take it on the chin as reservations for motel and
time-shares will again have to be changed.
In an unrelated matter, Many in the northeast, especially the Whelen
Modified Tour competitors and fans were disappointed that Mike Stefanik was
not included when NASCAR announced the inductees who will comprise the
NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018. The five-person group – the ninth since
the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Red Byron,
Ray Evernham, Ron Hornaday Jr., Ken Squier and Robert Yates. In addition,
NASCAR announced that Jim France earned the Landmark Award for Outstanding
Contributions to NASCAR.
The Annual Norwood Arena-New England Dragway South Reunions is on tap for
Sunday, June 4 at Bezema Motors on US Route 1, the AutoMile, from 10 a.m. to
3 p.m. It is the yearly get together of drivers, pit crew members, officials
and fans who attended the outstanding Saturday night action at the
quarter-mile track from late April through mid-October from 1948 through
The track was original built to conduct dog racing. But, the track owners
failed to get the Massachusetts Racing Commission failed to award any race
dates to them. They were forced to reconfigure the dirt race course to a
high banked paved oval to host the midget race cars. Following some success
with the small midget race cars for a few years the fan turnout dropped off
and the stock cars became the featured attraction.
On the speedway stock market scene this week two of the three speedway
stocks were up. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.08 to 17.18 and Dover
Entertainment went up 0.10 to 2.05 while the International Speedway
Corporation dropped 3.25 to 32.25. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went
up 3.21 to 50.90 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.87 to 32.60
while NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.19 to 22.81.
Two of the three automakers were up for the week. General Motors went up
0.35 to 33.07 and Ford went up 0.06 to 10.93 while Toyota dropped 0.46 to
107.10. In the home improvement sector, Lowes dropped 3.68 to 80.91 and Home
Depot dropped 1.40 to 154.90. With the exception of Target Department stores
which was down 1.59 to 54.40 the big team sponsors stocks were on the plus
side. McDonalds went up 1.71 to 149.86, Coca-Cola leaped 21.25 to 225.67,
Aarons Rentals went up 0.35 to 35.93 and Fedex went up 4.89 to 194.26.
On the tube this week:
Thursday, June 1
5:30 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1
Friday, June 2
1:30 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Dover final practice, FS1
2:30 PM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dover qualifying, FS1
3:30 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Dover qualifying, FS1
5:30 PM, NCWTS Dover race, FS1
Saturday, June 3
2:30 AM, NCWTS Dover race re-air, FS1
4:30 AM, Classic NASCAR - 1987: Winston 500, FS1
5:00 AM, MENCS Dover practice re-air, FS1
6:30 AM, NXS Dover final practice re-air, FS1
7:30 AM, MENCS Dover qualifying re-air, FS1
9:00 AM, MENCS Dover practice, FS1
10:00 AM, NXS Dover qualifying, FS1
11:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub - Weekend Edition, FS1
11:30 AM, MENCS Dover final practice, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay - XFINITY, FS1
1:00 PM, NXS Dover race, FS1
3:00 PM, NXS Post Race Show, FS1
Sunday, June 4
11:30 AM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:00 PM, MENCS Dover race, 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