The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

September 15, 2017

  Sixty five years ago in 1952 Dick Beauregard was the Wednesday night Sportsman winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Johnny Sandberg was the Claiming Car winner. A 50 lap September Championship was held at the bowl on Saturday night with Mike Ward taking the win. Sandberg made it two in a row in Claiming Car action.

  Sixty years ago in 1957, Don Collins made it three in a row in Sportsman action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Ted Stack made it two in a row in the non-Fords.

  Fifty five years ago in 1962, Ernie Gahan made it three in a row on the dirt at the Stafford Springs Speedway followed by Don Rounds and George Janoski. Russ Betz was the Novice feature winner. At Plainville Stadium George Lombardo won the 100 lap feature followed by Hank Williams, Bob Vivari, Russ Faust and Danny Devoe. Adolph Pecka was the Novice winner. George Pendergast was the Modified winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Joe Savard was the Bomber feature winner.

  Fifty years ago, in 1967, Gene Bergin made it two in a row at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Fred DeSarro, Jerry Wheeler and Rene Charland. The USAC Sprinters were also on hand for the Joe Csiki Memorial. Former Eastern Bandit Dennis Zimmerman, who would go on to become a Rookie of the Year at Indianapolis, won the event. Gene Bergin finished second with Earl Halaquist, third. Zimmerman and Bergin would also be inducted to the New England Auto Racers Hall of Fame. Norwood Arena ran their annual Bay State 200, which was won by another Hall of Famer, Ralph "Hop" Harrington. The Albany Saratoga Speedway wrapped up their season with a 50 lapper, which was won by Dave Kotary. Don MacTavish finished second and was followed by Rene Charland, Bill Wimble and Eddie Flemke. Bill Wimble was named as the Modified Champion. George Pendergast was the Sportsman Champion. Charlie Webster was the winner at Waterford followed by Don Collins, Bill Scrivner, Fuzzy Baer and Newt Palm. At Plainville Stadium Dave Alkas won the 100 lap feature. Danny Gaudiosi was second and was crowned the 1967 track championship. Gaudiosi was followed by Lloyd Kimbill, Ken Latour and Harry Bliss.

  Forty five years ago in 1972, the only modified action was in Connecticut and the state of New York. Islip ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night, which was won by Charlie Jarzombek. Ted Wesnoski finished second. Outsiders didn't fare too well. Bugsy Stevens finished 10th and Jerry Cook finished 19th. At Plainville Stadium Bob Vivari captured the 100 lap feature followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Elton Hill, Jap Membrino and Jack Proulx. Lee Genest was the Novice winner. Waterford ran on Sunday with Daring Dick Caso taking the win.

  Forty years ago, in 1977, it was Thompson 300 weekend. Stafford was scheduled to run on Friday night but fell victim to rain. Saturday night at Seekonk wasn't much better as it was very foggy at the cement palace. John Rosati took the win over Eddie St Angelo. The Thompson 300 was run under threatening skies. George Summers won the non-qualifiers 50 lapper and after starting dead last in the 50 car starting field, almost walked off with the top prize. Bugsy Stevens was leading when the field went to caution at around the 170-lap mark. Stevens gambled on having a re-start and felt he had the equipment to march to the front. Summers was also running around in the rain and in the lead when he pitted. Enter Eddie Flemke. Fresh off his 200 at Stafford win, Flemke played a waiting game and gambled that the red flag would indicate the end of the race. Needless to say, Flemke was right as the race was called official at 182 laps. A dripping wet Flemke had pulled off the two biggest wins in New England, The 200 at Stafford and the Thompson 300. Ronnie Bouchard finished second with Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook and Geoff Bodine following. The only other track running was Plainville Stadium where Ronnie Wyckoff took the 100 lap feature followed by Reggie Ruggiero, Dave Alkas, Ronnie Rocco and Dave Germano. Carl Charette took the Pleasure car feature.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, the Race of Champions at Pocono was the big show for the Modifieds. Twenty three thousand fans and over 100 Modifieds were on hand for what was then, the most prestigious race to win. Greg Sacks and the Ernie Wilsburg No.5 had all but dominated just about every major event run during the season. The Race of Champions wasn't any different. Starting fifth in the 45 car field, Sacks took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 13 and held the point thru lap 100 when he pitted for fuel and tires. Restarting in the rear, the Long Island hot shoe made a determined march to the front and re-took the lead from Spencer on lap 160. From there on it was a Sunday drive to the finish at 250 laps. Spencer blew his engine after being passed by Richie Evans on lap 221. Evans was no match for the high flying Sacks and had to settle for second. Ray Miller finished third with Greme Bolia, fourth. George Summers rounded out the top five, one lap down. Brian Horn won the National Parts Peddler Street Stock championship. Jan Leaty finished second, Mike Scroger was third and Mike Lovetere was fourth. Also in the field was Rick Fuller who got in thru the consolation. Fuller came from 27th to the lead in six laps. Maynard Troyer was presented the Fred DeSarro award during pre-race activities. Shortly after accepting the award, Troyer announced that he was retiring from driving after the conclusion of the event Waterford had a Saturday night event scheduled but threw in the towel because of rain. In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs, Darrell Waltrip took the 500 mile win over Kyle Petty. In the preliminary Busch North event, Randy Lajoie qualified a Bob Johnson car on the outside pole and led over half the race before blowing a tire and hitting the wall

  Thirty years ago in 1987, the Race of Champions was still going strong at Pocono. Now a NASCAR sanctioned event, one hundred eight Modifieds were on hand. George Brunnhoelzl took the win over Doug Hevron, George Kent, Wayne Edwards and Roger Treichler. Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett JR. on lap 185 of the 250 lap event. Carl Erickson won the 40 lap National Parts Peddler Street Stock Championship.
In Winston Cup action at Dover Downs Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.

  Twenty five Years ago, in 1997, the re-born Race of Champions was run at Oswego. With the exception of Tony Hirschman, Jan Leaty, Tim Arre and Ted Christopher, the event drew mostly local drivers from Lancaster and Tioga. Hirschman, driving a Leaty team car, won the 200 lap event. Leaty finished second and was followed by Arre. At one time, the ROC was 'THE" modified event but since falling on hard times a few years previous when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to ignore the event. Saturday night action at Waterford rained out. At Dover Downs, Buckshot Jones spun while leading with 14 laps to go and handed the Grand National victory to Joe Bessey. Randy LaJoie finished second. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Kyle Petty had the field covered until he was forced to pit for fuel with 20 laps to go. Mark Martin took the win with Dale Earnhardt coming home in second spot

  Fifteen years ago in 2002, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Loudon for what had to be one of the best events ever. Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino, went non-stop and used a brilliant three wide pass to take the lead and the eventual win. For Hossfeld and Garbarino, 2002 almost didn't happen. Garbarino was contemplating retiring from racing and Hossfeld was looking for a competitive ride on the western New York circuit. Less than a week before the season began the pair hooked up. Hossfeld ended up racing at tracks he never saw before but adapted with the precision of the professional that he is. Although not considered a rookie, Hossfeld had less time on Tour Series tracks than Todd Szegedy has. NASCAR determined because of the fact that Hossfeld was a competitor in the Craftsman Truck Series and was not a rookie. Hossfeld's win was no cakewalk. Ted Christopher and Ed Flemke JR were the class of the field but late race problems for both kept them out of victory lane. Flemke was the top lap leader but a slowly deflating tire was his undoing with less than ten laps to go. Christopher tried one of his famous bottom shots but got bit, as his worn tires weren't up to the task. Mike Stefanik, who came all the way from a 27th starting spot, finished second. In comparison to Christopher and Flemke, Stefanik's run was a cautious one and in the end, it paid off. John Blewett III finished a strong third and Christopher recovered from his daring move to finish fourth. Rounding out the top five was Tony Hirschman. Despite his nearly flat tire, Flemke toughed it out to finish fifteenth. Geoff Bodine, who qualified on the outside pole, never mustered the necessary steam to run up front and finished 24th, the last car on the lead lap. The series point standings showed Eddie Flemke still leading by a slim margin of five points over Jerry Marquis. Mike Stefanik, who had all but conceded a repeat title until his Thompson 300 win, sat third, seventeen points behind Flemke. By virtue of his Loudon win, Chuck Hossfeld had moved to within 48 points of the leader. Fifth thru tenth were Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy, Nevin George, John Blewett III and Jamie Tomaino. David Berghman had hoped to break into the top ten after qualifying sixth fastest but a broken transmission sidelined him after 86 laps which placed him 30th at the finish.
  The regular weekly racing in Southern New England saw Twin events run at Thompson on Thursday. The first event, left over from August 22, was looking to be Matty Adante's first win until the last lap when he made contact with Stu McCarthy. McCarthy took the checker but was put to the tail of the lead lap as officials felt that he deliberately put Adante around. Eric Berndt, who has had a somewhat hard luck season, was awarded the win. Ron Yuhas JR was moved up to second spot followed by Kerry Malone and Ted Christopher, who recovered from an early spin with Bo Gunning. Bert Marvin scored his sixth win of the season as he captured the nightcap. Ted Christopher now has enough points to secure the 2002 Sunoco-SK Modified track championship. Stafford wrapped up its Friday night racing as Doug Coby took his third SK-Modified feature of the year at the Nutmeg oval. Bo Gunning finished second and wrapped up the 2002 SK-Modified Track Championship'.
  At Waterford, on Saturday night, Rob Janovic got his third win of the year. The big story was the fact that Allen Coates, by virtue of his late model win, clinched the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series by Dodge Short Track Regional title as well as the track late model championship. The modified championship at the shoreline oval was still up in the air as Dennis Gada, who finished fifth held a slim 34 point lead over Ed Reed JR, who finished second, behind Janovic.

  Ten years ago in 2007, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at the New Hampshire International Speedway for their second of two visits for 2007. Forty NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for the 100-mile event that carried a $164,095 purse. Former series champion Todd Szegedy took the Busch pole as he toured the semi-banked oval in 29.725 seconds to the tune of 128.135 MPH. Second fastest and taking the outside pole position was Ron Yuhas JR. Yuhas' speed was 128.018 MPH. Series point leader Don Lia was third with Tony Hirschman, fourth. Rounding out the top five was JJ Yeley who drove a car that was assembled at Dale Earnhardt Inc in North Carolina and painted up to resemble the Modified driven by the late Tom Baldwin.As usual the NASCAR Whelen Modifieds got shuffled to the back of the bus as their event was rescheduled for late Saturday as well as being shortened 25 laps from the original 100. Pole sitter Todd Szegedy took the win in a somewhat clouded situation. NASCAR has some issues with Szegedy's engine and has sent it to NASCAR's R&D center in Concord, NC. In the meantime, the finish was pending. .Ronnie Silk finished second with series point leader Donny Lia, third. Bobby Santos III and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were James Civali, Tony Hirschman, Andy Seuss, Mike Stefanik and Bob Grigas III. The event, which was originally scheduled to go off in the early afternoon didn't get the green flag until 5:30pm. After a couple of early wrecks that thinned the field a bit the balance of the event was classic Loudon with numerous lead swapping and bump drafting the norm. During the final laps the top four were litterly under a blanket. It was announced that 31,000 fans were on hand to witness the event. Fifteen of the original 39 starters finished on the lead lap. The event, which took just under 45 minutes to run, produced four caution periods for 32 laps. Among those who failed to finish were Ted Christopher and Eddie Flemke who had major power plant malfunctions. Outside pole sitter Ron Yuhas Jr along with Matt Hirschman, Richard Savory, Kenny Bouchard and Reggie Ruggiero were eliminated in a wreck after James Civali dumped Yuhas out of second spot. There were actually 8 lead changes between two drivers, Szegedy and Silk. Szegedy took the lead for the final time on lap 68
  In NASCAR Busch East action at Loudon on Friday Joey Logano took the win in the 125-lap feature and unofficially clinched the championship at New Hampshire. Mark McFarland saw his excellent run go up in smoke after contact with Sean Caisse which landed McFarland in the wall. Matt Kobyluck, who had made it up to 6th after an early spin, got collected in an accident that also involved Kelly Moore and Scott Lynch. Kobyluck alluded to the fact that Moore intentionally wrecked him. Following Logano and Caisse were Rogelio Lopez, Peyton Sellers, Jamie Hayes, Jerry Marquis, Brad Leighton, Ryan Moore, James Buescher, and Eddie McDonald.
  In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway Kerry Malone won the Sunoco Modified main event. Mike O'Sullivan padded his point lead with a Pro Stock feature victory while Keith DeSanctis by virtue of his Limited Sportsman victory, moved into the point lead in the division. Tommy O'Sullivan added to the celebration by winning in the Late Model division.
  Unofficially O'Sullivan teammate Tim Sullivan bested the TIS Modified field helping his championship hopes. Scott Michalski earned his first win of the 2007 season in the Mini Stocks. Malone saw it all en route to his third Sunoco Modified win of the season. He nearly spun, took the lead, and his car was suspected of leaking fluid. But in the end, Malone was dry all the way to the checkered flag. For the second week in a row the points were shaken up atop the Sunoco Modified point standings. With his runner-up finish, Keith Rocco took over the points lead by 14 points over a tie for second between Tommy Cravenho and Woody Pitkat. After a pair of attempts at a start, pole sitter Steve Masse showed the way through lap two before relinquishing the top spot to Woody Pitkat. The first caution flew almost immediately for a spin by Eric Goodale. Back under green, it was a three-car breakaway at the head of the pack with Pitkat holding the top spot over Malone and Rocco.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway continued their Friday night Fall Series which would lead up to the season ending Fall Final . Chris Matthews secured the 2007 SK Light championship in grand style by winning the SK Light feature for his fifth feature win of the 2007 season. Frank Ruocco took the SK Modified feature win for his third feature win of the season, Michael Bennett was a first time winner in the Late Model feature, Joey Ferrigno was a first-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Don Wood was a first-time winner in the DARE Stock feature.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night a 20 plus year friendship between Rob Janovic and Dennis Gada became strained to say the least. From the mid point of the SK Modified feature to the finish Gada and Janovic ran wheel to wheel when they were not nose to tail. Gada worked harder than he has ever had to do as Janovic's driving pattern resembled that of a windshield wiper. Gada, who is gunning for a record seven SK Modified championships, never gave up as finally took the lead with four laps remaining. The Speedbowl wraps up their season this coming weekend with the Town Fair Tire finale. Janovic will go into the event with a 14-point lead over Gada. Todd Ceravolo, Mike Finkeldey and. Matt Gallo rounded out the top five.
  Tim Jordan, the 2006 Late Model champion won his first race since May and fifth overall, holding off Bruce Thomas Jr., who clinched the division title last week. Jordan has not run a full schedule at Waterford this year, racing instead a few times in Seekonk and Oxford on the ACT tour. Phil Evans won his sixth Mini Stock feature of the year, making him the all-time winningest active driver in the division. Jack Aquilina won the Sportsman feature while Dwayne Dorr wrapped up his second straight title with his seventh-place finish.
  In Nextel Cup action at Loudon, Clint Boyer raced to the first victory of his Cup career by embarrassing the field at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he started from the pole and led 222 of 300 laps while beating Jeff Gordon to the finish line by more than 6 seconds.

  Five years ago in 2012, The Whelen Modified Tour headed to the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island. Twenty three Modifieds, eighteen tour regulars were on hand for qualifying. Ryan Preece was the top qualifier, started on the pole and went on to win his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event of the season. Preece, who has been a regular weekly competitor at the eastern Long Island track led 168 laps before he survived a green-white-checkered finish to earn the victory. A caution on Lap 196 set up Preece in a battle with Jimmy Blewett on the final restart and pushed the race to 203 laps on the quarter-mile. Blewett was penalized to the tail end of the lead lap for jumping the restart and finished 12th. NASCAR officials stated that Blewett passed Preece before the start-finish line.Justin Bonsignore finished second. Todd Szegedy was third, followed by Riverhead regular Howie Brode and Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top ten was Tom Rogers Jr., Eric Goodale, Donny Lia, Ron Silk and Eric Berndt. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to Long Island to run the Riverhead 200, a race that was rained-out on the original date July 28th. It was the 51st WMT race at Barbara & Jim Cromarty's quarter mile oval and arguably the most competitive one of those 51 races with Ryan Preece surviving a green, white checker to collect his second WMT victory of the season. Jimmy Blewett actually took the checkered flag first getting the jump on Preece on the final restart but NASCAR WMT Officials ruled Jimmy got to the line first and dropped him to last of the lead lap cars,12th.Preece got off to a fast start winning the Coors Light Pole Award with a lap of 11.902 giving him the pole for the 200-lap event. The race was supposed to be 175-laps but when the 25-lap Qualifying race was not needed Barbara amd; Jim Cromarty along with Chad Little, WMT Race Director got together and those 25-laps were added to the feature event. When the field took the green flag it was Preece, a two time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series winner at Riverhead in 2012, bolted out front with Eric Goodale, who qualified second putting the heat on Ryan right from the start. For the first 112 laps of the event Preece and Goodale would race hard for the lead with Ryan leading the first 77 circuits before Eric made an inside pass to come to the front on lap 78. Undaunted about losing the lead Preece instead of being the hunted became the hunter and once again the duel between him and Goodale for the lead was intense. The duo rubbed their nerf bars on more than one occasion before Ryan Preece moved back out front on lap 112, while Goodale not only dropped to second but soon thereafter he faded a bit further as the handle went away on his car. Meanwhile Todd Szegedy who was sitting third having the best seat in the house for the Preece/Goodale tussle moved to second on lap 113. Justin Bonsignore, defending race winner of the Riverhead 200 started to make his way towards the front coming to third just past halfway, while Jimmy Blewett was another driver on the march as he approached the top five as well. Bonsignore would come to second on lap 158 passing Szegedy with Todd returning the favor on lap 176. This was the point of the race where things really started heating up with Bonsignore and Blewett appearing to have the best cars of the top four and both wheelmen were hungry for a win.The added 25-laps would prove to be, aside from the Preece/Goodale battle for the lead, the most intense and entertaining laps of the event. Jimmy Blewett was taking no prisoners as he worked his way past Bonsignore and then Szegedy on lap 188 for second, once he got to second it was time to go after race leader and go after him he did. A late race caution for a minor spin would set-up the green, white and checker finish and when the green light came on Blewett got the better of Preece as the crowd went wild for the former Riverhead raceway regular. As quickly as Jimmy came to the lead the call came over the NASCAR frequency to post the #76 for beating the leader to the scoring loop making Preece the race leader, with Justin Bonsignore now second even though Blewett was out in front of them.
  After the final laps were run and being declared he was the race winner, Preece noted he knew when Blewett beat him to the line NASCAR would address the issue, "they preach to us at every meeting the leader has to be the first to the line so I knew NASCAR would handle it";. Ryan added &;I'm so happy for Eric Sandersen and this Diversified Metal group. It's an honor to drive their car, along with Bill Park's machine here at Riverhead. We had a good points night tonight with Doug Coby dropping out of the race so we closed in on his points lead, I hate it for Doug but we'll take it";. Ryan also took a moment to dedicate the race to his Grandfather, famed former car owner Bob Judkins, ";my grandfather had a heart attack yesterday, he's going to be fine but this win is for him". With Jim Schaefer aka Long Island Mod Maniac and his bonus money program the victory will exceed $11,000 for Preece and his team. The bonus money included $1,000, plus $3,300 in a "gambler's buy in";. Each WMT received $300 from Schaefer and his bonus program and were asked if they wanted to put that towards the buy in, Ryan was one of eleven teams that chose to do so. Preece also won the Tri-Track Modified Championship that was held on three quarter mile tracks which, aside from Riverhead, included the WMT event at Monadnock Speedway in May and an open competition race at All-Star Speedway. The Tri-Track series was the brainchild of not only Schaefer but also Area Auto racing News writer Kevin Rice. The remainder of Ryan's winnings came in the form of lap money. Goodale led a career-high 35 laps. It was just the third race in his career that he ran out front. Among those who had problems and failed to finish was current point leader Doug Coby who was forced to drop out with engine problems. Coby finished 22nd after completing only 60 laps of the eventual 203 laps run.
  Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway switched to Sunday. In Sunoco (SK) Modified competition Woody Pitkat won the battle but it was Ryan Preece winning the war as he wrapped up the 2012 Sunoco Modified Track Championship. It was Pitkat's fourth win of the year at the Big T. Preece finished second and was followed by Keith Rocco, Kerry Malone, Dennis Perry and Todd Ceravolo. In other racing at Thompson, Larry Gelinas of Buxton, ME, was opportunistic in his Super Late Model feature event win and Cam McDermott took the win in the Sunoco Lite Modifieds. After tasting a first-career victory a week previous, Damon Tinio added to his tally with his second straight Late Model win. Jesse Gleason took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division and a top-five finish in the Limited Sportsman division netted Scott Sundeen not only the divisional champions but also a unofficially) NASCAR National championship. Jay Sundeen capped off a strong night for his racing family with a victory in the TIS Modifieds. The brothers Baxter were on the top of their game on Sunday at Thompson Speedway. The duo went one-two with Joe winning the feature event. By virtue of his runner-up spot, Chad earned the Mini Stock title. The "Outlaw" Antique racers were also on tap with twin feature events.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action and Valenti Modified Racing Series action were featured. The Valenti Modified Racing Series made its second and final visit of the 2012 season to Stafford for the 2nd Annual Lincoln Tech 80. VMRS points leader Jon McKennedy helped extend his lead in the championship chase by taking the checkered flag for his first ever victory at Stafford Motor Speedway. Taking wins in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature action was Todd Owen in the SK Modified(r) feature, Woody Pitkat in the Late Model feature, Zach Aszklar in the SK Light feature, Cory Casagrande in the Ltd. Late Model feature, and
Austin Bessette in the DARE Stock feature.
  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl Keith Rocco was among those not in competition. Rocco was suspended for the remainder of the season for his part in a confrontation with former car owner Mike Pane. Rocco and Pane traded remarks and allegedly got physical after the running of the SK Modified feature on Sept 8. Rocco said that he was defending himself after Pane initiated a physical confrontation but Speedbowl Race Director Scott Tapley chose not to believe him. Short track racing is a contact sport and emotions run high. Keith Rocco was covering his spot in the closing laps which is something any driver would do. Is he a saint?, no way. Does he deserve to be tossed for the rest of the year? No way! Todd Ceravolo, substituting for reigning track champion Keith Rocco, captured the completion of the Budweiser Modified Nationals SK-150 on Saturday night at the Waterford Speedbowl. Reluctantly, the Speedbowl awarded the victory to Rocco who actually started the car on Sept 1. Restarting in the rear of the field, Ceravolo spun on lap 55 and managed to claw his way back into the top ten by lap 85 and eventually eased his way into the third spot behind race leader Justin Gaydosh and Rob Janovic. With nine laps to go Janovic made an outside move to pass for the lead when Gaydosh rode him up into the wall between turns one and two. Janovic's car was trashed and Gaydosh was sent to the rear and was ultimately disqualified from the event. Ceravolo assumed the lead at that point and went on to take the win for Rocco. Woody Pitkat, pinch hitting for Rowan Pennink, finished second. Pennink was in competition at Riverhead. Tyler Chadwick, Jeff Pearl and Joe Perry rounded out the top five. For his efforts Ceravolo's first place payoff was $5,000.
  Dillon Moltz won the second of two 35-lap Late Model features after finishing second to Anthony Flannery in the first race while Walt Hovey captured the Street Stock event, Jeff Cembruch won the Mini Stock feature and Joey Ternullo won the Legend Cars feature.
  Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. re-established himself as the man to beat for the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship by winning Saturday's Dollar General 300 at Chicagoland Speedway. Stenhouse struggled most of the day, but the driver of the No. 6 Ford made a late-race charge through the field. Following a restart on lap 171, Stenhouse quickly drove to second and began to chase down leader Kyle Busch. With 20 laps left Stenhouse caught and quickly dispatched Busch at the 1.5-mile oval. From there he simply pulled away from Busch to a 2.402-second victory. Brad Keselowski fired the first shot of the 2012 Chase for the Sprint Cup, winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Geico 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Jimmie Johnson led the most laps and finished second

  Last year, 2016, Despite their best efforts, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP) officials made the decision to cancel their Way Back Wednesday event after lingering effects from Hurricane Hermine brought scattered showers to the area throughout the afternoon and into the evening. After attempting to dry the track with little success, officials called the race at 6:20 PM ET. With Thompson not re-scheduling and the final day for points to count toward NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships is Sunday, Sept. 18, it all but eliminated Keith Rocco from garnering the championship. Going into the weekend only three points separate the top three drivers. That's the equivalent of two positions on the race track or the difference between a win and a second-place finish. Matt Bowling led Rocco by one point. Bowling races in the Virginia-North Carolina area. Ty Majeski who races in the mid-west sits in third spot, two points behind Rocco.
  In regular Friday night NASCAR racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway the track hosted a First Responders Appreciation Night that recognized Fire, Police, EMS, and all First Responder personnel Taking down weekly feature wins on the night were Rowan Pennink in the SK Modified(r) feature, Tom Butler in the Late Model feature, Daniel Wesson in the SK Light feature, Bryan Narducci in the Limited Late Model Feature, Zack Robinson in the DARE Stock feature, and Noah Korner in the Legend Cars feature. For Pennink, it was his sixth win of the season with Mike Gervais, Keith Rocco, Woody Pitkat, and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.It was his second win of the season. For the young Narducci, ironically it was fifty years to the day that his grandfather, Ron Narducci, won on the dirt at Stafford. Following post-race inspection this past Friday night at Stafford Speedway, the #15 SK Modified(r) car of Michael Gervais was found to have an unapproved brake caliper mounting location and he was penalized to the last place finishing car in the SK Modified(r) feature.
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts on Saturday night for the 150 at Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts. The event drew 27 cars. Timmy Solomito muscled his way past Doug Coby on Lap 114 and then held off the three-time champion as well as championship contender Justin Bonsignore to take the win at the track known as the Cement Palace. It was Solomito's fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. Solomito started alongside Coby on the Lap 112 restart. After failing to get by on the outside on the first lap, Solomito fell into line behind Coby coming off Turn 4 and then drove low into Turn 1. Solomito's left side tires kicked up dirt and grass and the two banged side nerf bars as Solomito emerged from Turn 2 with the lead. The crossover pass in the grass was considered by many to be the move of the year. A late caution set up a green-white-checkered finish that pushed the race to 151 laps. Solomito was able to get away on the final restart as Bonsignore edged Coby for second. Matt Hirschman and Bobby Santos rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth were Eric Goodale, Jimmy Blewett, Rowan Pennink, Chase Dowling and Jeff Goodale. Twenty one of the 27 starters finished on the lead lap. There were seven cautions and there were 11 lead changes among three drivers, Solomito, Coby and Bonsignore. Matt Galko passed Joe Gada on a 19th lap restart to win the 35-lap SK Modified feature at the New London Waterford Speedbowl. It was Galko's first-ever SK Modified win. The night wasn't a total loss for Gada. His second-place finish enabled him to take a one-point lead over Keith Rocco with two races remaining for the track championship. Paul Kusheba IV, ended up third with Rocco, fourth. Justin Gaydosh rounded out the top five.Other Saturday night winners at the shoreline oval included Jason Palmer over Keith Rocco in the Late Models, Brett Gonyaw, in the SL Lights, Monte Gibbs, in the Limited Sportsman, Ken Cassidy Jr. and Ian Brew, in the Mini Stocks and Chris Meyer in the Northeast Street Stocks.
  At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, with five laps remaining in the Whelen Engineering Night NASCAR Modified feature at Riverhead Raceway former three time champion Howie Brode seemed content with a potential runner-up finish to Ken Darch. However a late race caution on lap 36 for a minor spin changed the complexion of the race as Brode powered his way to the outside on the double file restart to take the lead with three laps remaining in the race to collect his 20th career NASCAR Modified victory.
  Denny Hamlin survived an overtime restart to complete a dominant victory in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond Int'l Raceway, the final race before the start of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kyle Busch stomped the field on Friday night as he rolled to his eighth NASCAR XFINITY Series victory of the season during the Virginia College Savings 250 at Richmond Int'l Raceway.
  On a sad note, noted and respected auto racing journalist Gary London passed away. London wrote a column in trade paper National Speed Sport News and in Area Auto Racing News for years. He was also the right hand man of the late Lou Figari during the tenure of the original All Star League. 

  Thatís 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: September 15, 2017

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