Champ Trail -
July 11, 2016
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is winding up a late spring break. Next up
on the schedule is the Whelen Modified Tour All-Star Shootout this coming
July 14 followed by the Noríeaster 100 the next day, both at New Hampshire
Among those who have been missing from the Whelen Modified Tour Series
this year is car owner Bob Garbarino and his Mystic Missile. As part of the
Whelen Engineering All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the
famed yellow and black machine will appear on the track for the first time
this season with Preston, Connecticut driver Max Zachem behind the wheel.
Zachem will have the chance to compete with some of the best the Whelen
Modified Tour has to offer in the 35-lap shootout while sitting behind the
wheel of the symbolic ride.
"The opportunity to drive for Bob Garbarino, for me -- it's like winning
the lottery," Zachem said. "The iconic v4 with the beautiful yellow and
black paint -- there's just no better icon in all of modified history."
For those who will not make it to Loudon this weekend NBC Sports Net will
show the Friday event on Thursday, July 20 at 4:30pm and the Saturday event
on Thursday, July 20 at 7:00pm.
The Stafford Speedway beat the rain with the running of the 3rd Annual
NAPA Auto Parts SK 5k, which paid the winner $5,000 out of a purse of over
$27,000. With the Dunleavyís Truck and Trailer Sales Gamblerís Challenge
bonus of $5,300 and a total heat race bonus of $2,000 from Wheelers Auto of
Hamden, the total posted awards were over $34,000. The Gamblerís Challenge
was voted on by the fans on how it would be paid out and the top-3 choices
were put into a hat in victory lane with Doug Dunleavy pulling a chip with
the winning formula on it. Dunleavy pulled the split among the 6th through
10th place finishers chip, giving Chase Dowling a total payday of $5,325 in
purse and contingencies. In other feature action, Michael Bennett won the
Late Model feature, Wesley Prucker was a first time winner in the SK Light
feature, R.J. Surdell was a first time winner in the Limited Late Model
division, and Vince Gambacorta won the DARE Stock feature for his first
Stafford victory since the 2006 NAPA Fall Final.
Dowling held off Ryan Preece in the closing laps to score his biggest
paying victory of his Stafford career. Rowan Pennink finished third with
Todd Owen and Keith Rocco rounding out the top-5.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series returned to where it all started, at
the Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire. Long-time New Hampshire racer Russ
Hersey accomplished what he set out to do 14-years ago, to win a Valenti
Modified Racing Series race and it finally happened Friday night, July 7, at
Hersey started 15th in a 15-car field and didnít make a run to the front
in the early going. Pole sitter Mike Willis Jr. led the first seven laps
until Dylan Rock, got by and led the field for the next 30-laps.
Rock, age-17, was knocked from the lead when Sammy Rameau, age-15,
battling for the top spot, made contact with the leader. Both cars were
relegated to the rear of the field. On the ensuing restart Hersey took
command and led the race to the finish.
Dana Smith ran a steady race and finished a solid second with Anthony
There was no racing at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday
night due to the SailFest Fireworks display in New London harbor. As a
result the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway ran a Throw-Back event for the
NASCAR K&N series. The paltry field consisted of numerous series regulars
and a few drivers familiar with Thompson Speedway looking to make their own
mark by using their experience on the historic oval to their advantage. The
day started with a new track record as Chase Purdy topped Martin Truex, Jrís
previous record of 20.200 with a lap time of 20.197 in group qualifying,
nabbing Purdy his third consecutive pole. Purdy would lead the first few
laps of the nightís main event, but eventually found himself under attack by
Todd Gilliland, son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland, who started on the
outside pole and had a dominant car for much of the event.
Despite Gillilandís dominance however, the last 25 laps saw another
generational driver rise to the top and find his way to victory lane.
Harrison Burton, son of NASCAR staple Jeff Burton, was able to wrestle the
lead away in the final quarter of the event after racing side-by-side with
Gilliland for nearly five laps before finally completing a pass and never
looking back. The win was Burtonís fourth of the season, and fourth in the
last six races, building on his points lead as he continues to make his mark
on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Division.
The Sunoco Modified Series ended the night with the points leaders all
having trouble in a caution littered first half of the 30-lap feature.
Points leader Ryan Preece as well as his closest challengers for the title,
Keith Rocco and Woody Pitkat, all experienced setbacks in different
incidents over the course of the first half of the race while veteran racer
Ted Christopher returned to a familiar position atop the leader board,
leading much of the second half of the event. Christopher held off numerous
challengers, including several charges by Todd Owen on numerous restarts. Is
wasnít until the final restart of the night that Owen managed to beat
Christopher to the punch when Christopher took the outside line after having
found success on the bottom groove all night, allowing Owen the chance to
gain the momentum he needed to capture a win at Thompson.
Christopher ended up second with Troy Talman, third. Other winners were
Wayne Burroughs, Jr.in the Mini Stocks, Brent Gleason in the Limited
Sportsman, Matt Lowinski-Loh in the Late Models and Glenn Korner in the Lite
Next up for the Thompson Speedway will be the Whelen Modified Tour making
its third stop at the Big-T in 2017 with the annual Bud 150 on Wednesday,
August 9. The night will feature the biggest stars in open wheel racing
looking to edge closer to a series title at the World Series in October
while Thompsonís track division drivers will also take center stage as their
own points battles become even more heated as the summer begins to wind
Out on the east end of Long Island at the Riverhead Raceway Tom Rogers
strapped into his family owned car for the second week in a row promptly
steering the car to victory in the annual Baldwin Evans & Jarzombek 77. The
victory was the 45th of Tom's career as he closes in on Jim Malone Sr. (50)
for second on the all time win list at the track.
Prior to the feature racing Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. of Levittown a 22 time
NASCAR Modified winner at Riverhead along with former three time Figure
Eight champion Tom Kraft of Mastic Beach who won 29 times in his driving
career and Danny McNamara of Water Mill the leading all time INEX Legend
Race Car winner were all inducted onto the Cromarty Wall of Champions. Track
owners Eddie & Connie Partridge and Tom Gatz debuted a new Cromarty Wall of
Champions housed at the turn three entrance gate for all to enjoy.
At the drop of the green to start the 77 it would be Chris Young motoring
out front with Steuer tucking into second and Shawn Solomito who started
fourth settling into third. Solomito on lap 4 made his way by Steuer for
second and just three laps later was able to work his way by Young for the
lead on lap 7. Solomito once to the lead starting to get away from Steuer
who himself completed a pass of Young for second on lap 8. Steuer would soon
be entrenched in a fight for second a third of the way through the race with
Tom Rogers Jr who started the contest in 6th.
After testing Steuer for several laps Rogers was able to slip by the
teenage sensation on lap 34. Rogers then quickly turned his attention on
catching race leader Solomito who was seeking his third win of 2017. Once he
got to the back bumper of race leader Solomito little time was wasted by
Rogers making a bid for the top spot as he raced his way under Shawn
entering the third turn on lap 48. Just laps later Solomito's race would end
with a spin off turn two with his team pointing to a broken wheel as the
culprit. A highly motivated Eddie Brunnhoelzl III made his way to second on
lap 53 and for a spell seemed poised to make a run at Rogers for the win.
However as the race hit it's final stage Brunnhoelzl would actually try to
fend off John Fortin Sr. for second allowing Rogers to pull away. Fortin was
able to get by Brunnhoelzl for second with five laps remaining in the race.
Down in the south land, rain washed out action at the Bowman Gray Stadium
On the speedway stock market scene, all three speedway stocks were down
for the week. The International Speedway Corporation dropped 3.60 to 33.95
while Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.68 to 17.59 and Dover Entertainment
dropped 0.05 to 2.05. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage went 1.02 to 50.70
and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.51 to 35.47 while NASCAR fuel
supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) dropped 0.19 to 20.20. The auto
manufacturers had a positive week. Toyota went up 3.45 to 108.47, Ford went
up 0.07 to 11.26 and General Motors went up 0.01 to 34.94. In the home
improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 1.17 to 152.23 and Lowes dropped 0.48
to 77.15. With the exception of Fedex and McDonalds, the big team sponsors
stocks were on the negative side. Fedex went up 1.18 to 218.51 and McDonalds
went up 3.11 to 156.27while Coca-Cola dropped 1.91 to 226.96, Target dropped
1.22 to 51.07 and Aarons Rentals dropped 1.06 to 37.84.
On the tube this week:
Thursday, July 13
7:00 PM, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Thompson, CT, NBCSN
Friday, July 14
11:30 AM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series New Hampshire practice, NBC
12:00 PM, MENCS New Hampshire practice, NBCSN
1:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series New Hampshire practice, NBCSN
3:00 PM, NXS New Hampshire final practice, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
4:30 PM, MENCS New Hampshire qualifying, NBCSN
Saturday, July 15
10:00 AM, MENCS New Hampshire practice, NBC Sports App
11:00 AM, NXS New Hampshire qualifying, CNBC
12:30 PM, MENCS New Hampshire final practice, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR Scan All Special: Talladega, Kansas, Charlotte, NBCSN
3:30 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
4:00 PM, NXS New Hampshire race, NBCSN
Sunday, July 16
12:00 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
12:30 PM, MENCS New Hampshire qualifying re-air, NBCSN
1:30 PM, NASCAR America Sunday, NBCSN
2:30 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
3:00 PM, MENCS New Hampshire race, NBCSN
6:30 PM, MENCS Post-Race Show, NBCSN
Monday, July 17
7:00 AM, NASCAR Scan All Special: Texas, Bristol, Richmond, NBCSN
2:30 PM, NASCAR 120: MENCS New Hampshire race re-air, NBCSN
Thatís 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