April 7, 2017
Fifty years ago in 1967, Newt Palm was the opening day winner at
the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. John DeLong was the 15 lap Daredevil
Forty five years ago in 1972,
Bowman-Grey Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. opened for the season on Saturday
night. Wayne Lambreth took the win over Lloyd Ashby and Jerry Cook. At South
Boston on Sunday, Max Berrier took the top spot with Gerald Compton, Paul
Walton, Jerry Cook and Ashby rounding out the top five. Steady Eddie Flemke,
driving the Frank Vigliorolo No.34 which was the original Bob Judkins Pinto,
breezed to an easy win as he dominated the competition at the 50 lap Blast
Off at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Mott was the Sportsman Sedan winner.
Forty years ago in 1977, a 200-mile
NASCAR National Modified Championship event was run at the Trenton, N.J.
Fairgrounds on the 1-1/2 mile kidney shaped oval. Jerry Makara took the win
over Fred DeSarro, Satch Worley and Geoff Bodine. It was also the season
opener at Thompson where Bugsy Stevens was the Small Block Modified winner.
Freddie Schulz finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, third.
Thirty five years ago in 1982, the
only action was at Darlington where Buddy Baker was the pole sitter and Dale
Earnhardt took the win.
Thirty years ago in 1987, Wall
Stadium opened for the season with Tony Siscone taking the win over Jerry
Cranmer, Gil Hearne, Doug French and Tom Mauser. At North Wilkesboro, N.C.
Donald “Satch" Worley took the win over John Bryant. Riverside Park was not
as fortunate as rain washed out the program at the central Mass. Speedway.
Twenty five years ago in 1992, the
then called Winston Modified Tour was at Richmond for a fast 150 lapper.
Doug Hevron hit pay dirt with the Len Boehler No.3 as he outran Rick Fuller,
Jan Leaty and Ed Flemke Jr. Rounding out the top five, down a lap, was Tom
Baldwin. At Riverside Park, Jerry Marquis put the Bobby Judkins 2x in
victory lane. Ed Kennedy and Bobby Gegetskas followed.
Twenty years ago in 1997, Mark Martin
was the Busch Grandnational winner at Texas. In Winston Cup action, most of
the crowd could have taken a nap, as there was little or no passing. Jeff
Burton got his first win with Dale Jarrett, second.
Fifteen years ago in 2002, it took
two days to run the Texas Winston Cup event. Rain forced a red flag after
116 of the scheduled 200 laps were run. Matt Kenseth ended up with the win
after Dale Jarrett ran out of gas while leading with two laps to go. Jeff
Gordon finished second. It was announced that the Stafford Speedway would
have a weekly highlight program on Friday afternoons and in Texas it was
announced that Johnnie Cochrain would be the leading lawyer in the
anti-trust suit against the International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR.
Cochrain successfully defended OJ Simpson who was accused of murdering his
wife and her boy friend.
Ten years ago in 2007, The Waterford
Speedbowl was slated to begin its regular Saturday night schedule. Fans and
competitors were still buzzing about the poor officiating at the recent Bud
Nationals, especially the Jimmy Blewett incident. A ten shot photo series by
noted photographer Howie Hodge told the story. Doug Coby got into the back
of Frank Ruocco as they exited turn two. Blewett, running in fourth spot at
the time went low to avoid the car of Ruocco only to be hit accidentally by
Ruocco. Jimmy Blewett was below the white line when Ruocco’s left front tire
hit Blewett’s nerf bar. As stated previously it was a bad call! A video by
Nick Teto verified what really took place and what the Waterford on track
officials failed to acknowledge.
Extremely bone chilling temperatures put a damper on the Speedbowl as
racing was cancelled on Friday.
While the northeast continued in a deep freeze the action south of the
Mason-Dixon Line was hot. In the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour
American Revolution 150 at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina
Junior Miller rode around in the top five for the majority of the race
behind the dominant car of Matt Hirschman. Hirschman ran out front from lap
five until lap 129, when Miller drove underneath him to take the lead away.
Miller led the rest of the way en route to his 10th career NASCAR Whelen
Southern Modified Tour victory. After Miller took the lead, Hirschman fell
back to second until he spun coming off the fourth turn after contact with
Tim Brown. Hirschman’s late spin set the stage for a green-white-checkered
finish with Miller holding off Brian Pack for the win.
Miller’s win allowed him to take over the Whelen Southern Modified Tour
point lead by 28 points over Burt Myers. L.W. Miller, who held the point
lead coming into Saturday night’s race, was knocked out of the race on lap
45 due to electrical problems. For Pack, his runner-up effort tied a career
best NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour finish from last year at Motor
Mile (Va.) Speedway. Andy Seuss and Brandon Ward. Burt Myers, Jason Myers,
Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Hutchens and John Smith rounded out the top
10.Hirschman spun after contact with Brown on lap 147, necessitating the
overtime finish. Hirschman wound 11th, the last car on the lead lap.
Among the new driver-owner combinations slated to debut are Rick Fuller
who will be driving the Bear Motorsports entry. Don Lia in the Mystic
Missile and Jerry Marquis in the Brady Bunch entry. In addition Zach
Sylvester will make his first run in the Curt Chase No.77. The Blewett
brothers will make their team debut during ICEBREAKER weekend
The NASCAR Nextel Cup division had a weekend off to celebrate Easter. The
Busch Series raced on Saturday. Carl Edwards raced to his second consecutive
NASCAR Busch Series victory, easily winning the Pepsi 300 in chilly
conditions at the Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn., to extend
his lead in the standings. The Nextel Cup driver led the final 25 laps and
crossed the finish line 4.7 seconds ahead of David Reutimann. Dave Blaney,
who was involved in an early fracas, rallied to finish third. Jason Leffner
was fourth, followed by Regan Smith.
It was announced that sponsors of a $368 million NASCAR race track
proposal for Washington State had abandoned their efforts after encountering
stiff opposition from local officials and resistance at the state
Legislature. Great Western Sports, a subsidiary of International Speedway
Corp., announced the decision to drop the plan for the motorsports venue in
Kitsap County, across Puget Sound from the Seattle metropolitan area. ISC
spokesman Lenny Santiago said his group hasn't taken Washington state
completely off the table, but could not see a way to proceed this year.
Developers had touted the racetrack as a $4 billion boon to the state's
economy, including thousands of jobs. But legislation to help finance the
track had gone nowhere. The company's proposal had called for taxpayers to
pay for about half of the facility, with ISC contributing $180 million. The
company had said it would pay for any cost overruns. The state share would
have been paid through bonds. Despite the setback on the west coast ISC
raised its annual dividend by 2 cents to 10 cents a share. The dividend will
be payable on June 29 to stockholders of record May 31, the company said in
The company also said its board approved an additional $39.6 million for
Five years ago in 2012, the Waterford
Speedbowl endured some bone chilling weather and a smashed retaining wall
but managed to get their first Saturday night racing program in the record
books. Claiming the opening Saturday night feature wins included Justin
Gaydosh who wired the SK Modified® race, leading from start to finish and
Dillon Moltz, who won his first career victory in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall
Late Model division at his hometown track. Corey Hutchings took the win in
the night’s Street Stock feature while Ken Cassidy Jr. won his second
consecutive Mini Stock feature to begin the year. Thirteen-year old Kaz
Grala of Westboro, MA won the night’s Legends Cars feature and Ken Morin Jr.
of Old Saybrook reached Victory Lane in the Bandolero feature.
The 35-lap SK Modified® feature saw Gaydosh jump to the race lead ahead
of Harry Rheaume at the drop of the green flag. While Gaydosh moved out to a
brief early lead, Kyle James and Nichole Morgillo also snuck past Rheaume’s
inside before he was able to get in line in fourth position. The field
clicked away the early laps with James slicing into Gaydosh’s lead and
Morgillo alone in third place. Behind Morgillo, Rheaume led a train of cars
that included Tom Abele, Diego Monahan and Rob Janovic Jr. Monahan was the
first to jump out of line on lap-4, moving by both Abele and then Rheaume to
sweep into fourth position.
As James began to pressure Gaydosh for the lead, the running order
remained the same through lap-9 when trouble broke out in the pack of cars
battling for fifth position. Rheaume, Abele, Tyler Chadwick and Ed Puleo all
made contact exiting turn two, sending Rheaume and Chadwick hard into the
retaining wall. The violent impact sent Rheaume’s car airborne as the field
continued to scatter behind the wreck. The incident drew the red flag,
resulting in a 35-minute delay for repairs to the wall necessitated by the
severe impact. All the drivers walked away from the incident, however only
Puleo was able to resume after pitting for repairs.
Keith Rocco was looking to make it two in a row at the shoreline oval
before his luck ran out. Following a restart, Gaydosh and Rocco made slight
contacting entering turn one battling for the lead. Rocco got momentarily
crossed up, coming together with Janovic who tried to race by Rocco’s inside
into second. The two did a masterful job of keeping their cars pointed
straight ahead down the backchute, but the contact damaged both cars
suspension. Janovic slowed dramatically in turn four, drawing another
caution flag. Both Janovic and Rocco pitted but were unable to resume before
racing went back to green. The new running order for the final restart saw
James line up to Gaydosh’s outside, with Jeff Rocco, Monahan and Pearl
rounding out the top-five.
The final laps were run without caution after Gaydosh got another good
jump on the restart. James was again able to close the gap back to the
leader as the race reached the final laps. James was in striking position,
valiantly trying to put a crossover move on Gaydosh who defended each
attempt. James’ best run came on lap-33 as he drove off Gaydosh’s right rear
as the exited turn two. Gaydosh again defended the run and pulled back ahead
to set up the final two laps. James tried a last ditch effort on the final
lap but settled for second. Jeff Rocco, Monahan and Pearl held their
positions to round out the top-five.
One of the promising young rookies in the Waterford Late Model division
put his future as a driver on hold for a while. Ryan Morgan, who is a
graduate of the Quarter Midget, Legend Cars and the Thompson Modifieds, made
the move up this year and on opening day finished a solid fourth. During his
qualifying heat this past Saturday night he had the misfortune of having his
throttle stick wide open while going down the backstretch. The Ledyard High
School student hit the wall a ton and all but destroyed the car that was
owned by his dad, John. Ryan was transported to the L&M Hospital in New
London and later sent for observation at the Yale-New Haven Hospital. The
end result was no broken bones but a lot of soreness.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returned to the Caraway Speedway in
North Carolina last Saturday night where Brian Loftin took the lead early
and paced the field to the finish to win the Farm Bureau Insurance 150.
It was an emotional Victory Lane, marking Loftin's first win since the
passing of his wife a year ago. The win gives the Lexington, N.C., driver a
tour-leading eight victories at Caraway and marked his 12th career tour win
overall. Loftin, who started third on the field, took the lead from Frank
Fleming a third of the way through the 150-lap event and then held on
through four restarts in the second half of the race to score the win. L.W.
Miller followed Loftin across the finish line in second to collect a second
podium finish at Caraway for a second consecutive week. Rookie Daniel Hemric
finished third, with Tim Brown rebounding from a flat tire to finish fourth
and Danny Bohn taking fifth.
Sixth thru tenth were Patrick Emerling, defending champion George
Brunnhoelzl III, Jason Myers, Burt Myers and Andy Seuss. There were 22 cars
With his victory in the Farm Bureau Insurance 150, Loftin locked up a
spot in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series race at the UNOH Battle At The
Beach at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway next February during
Get well wishes went out to George Summers, one of the all-time great
Modified drivers in the northeast, who had been hospitalized in a Mass.
hospital with pneumonia.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series had the weekend off to
Last year, 2016, The NASCAR Whelen
Southern Modified Tour Series converged on the Concord Motor Sports Park on
Saturday with 17 cars including Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece from the
northern tour. NASCAR Hall of Famer Modified driver Jerry Cook was the Grand
Transplanted Long Islander George Brunnhoelzl III saved the best for last as
he walked off with the top spot in the 150 lap contest. In contention from
the start, Brunnhoelzl took the lead from Ted Christopher with three laps to
go and never looked back. Christopher, in the Brady Bunch entry finished
second with Burt Myers, third. Andy Seuss and Jason Myers rounded out the
top five. Early leader Ryan Preece led the first 63 laps before experiencing
problems which ultimately placed him 12th, one lap down at the finish.
Kyle Busch celebrated in victory lane for the second time in as many days
at the Martinsville half-mile oval after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series STP 500 and Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy
Solutions 250. Busch won Sunday’s 500-lap event in dominant fashion, leading
352 of 500 laps en route to the victory.
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, email@example.com.
Phil Smith has been a
columnist for Speedway Scene and various
other publications for over 3 decades.
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