The Chrome Horn - Looking Back A Bit with Phil Smith

September 22, 2017

  Fifty years ago, in 1967, rain washed out all racing in New England. The only action was at the Utica-Rome Speedway where a 150-lap season finale was held. Don MacTavish took the win over Jerry Cook, Bill Wimble, Sonney Seamon and Kenny Shoemaker. Wimble was crowned the Modified Track Champion and Bernie Miller was the Sportsman champion. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, Richard Petty won the 500-lap event by four laps over Dick Hutcherson.

  Forty five years ago, in 1972, the modifieds headed to Martinsville for a 100 lapper. Local favorite Paul Radford took the win over Denis Giroux, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Bugsy Stevens. Stevens’ hopes of a fourth national title were going away as Cook held an 890-point lead. Jim Shampine took the season ending Oswego Modified-Sportsman 200.Eddie Flemke finished second with Mike Loescher, Roger Treichler and Geoff Bodine rounding out the top five.

  Forty years ago in 1977, a full plate of racing was to be had both in the northeast and in the south. Stafford ran an open competition 30 lapper on Friday night with Ronnie Bouchard being declared the winner after the event was stopped after 19 laps because of rain. Bugsy Stevens ended up in second with John Rosati, third. Seekonk’s 100 lap open and Islip’s All Star 300 also fell victim to rain as well as the Sunday Small Block Modified event at Thompson. In the Southland, Donald ”Satch” Worley won the fall 150 at Martinsville on Saturday afternoon. Maynard Troyer, Jerry Cook, Billy Hensley and Wayne Anderson rounded out the top 5. The modifieds headed up the road on Saturday night to the Franklin County Speedway where Geoff Bodine took the win over Paul Radford, Worley, Troyer and Cook.

  Thirty five years ago in 1982, Greg Sacks continued his dream year of almost total domination of the modifieds as he won the annual Race of Champions at the Pocono International Speedway. Sacks took the lead from Jim Spencer on lap 160 of the 250-lap event. Richie Evans moved past Spencer on lap 169 and dogged Sacks to the finish. Spencer held is own in third spot until he lost an engine on lap 221. Ray Miller ended up third with Graeme Bolia fourth and George Summers rounding out the top five. During pre-race activities, driver and car builder Maynard Troyer was presented the Fred DeSarro Memorial Award. Shortly after the presentation Troyer announced that he was retiring from driving at the conclusion of the event. Brian Horn won the National Parts Peddler Street Stock Championship event. Jan Leaty finished second. Waterford’s Mike Lovetere finished fourth. Among those in the street stock event was Ricky Fuller. Although he didn’t finish in the top five in the main, Fuller was the big show in the consi as he came from a 27th starting spot to take the lead in six laps on the tricky ¾ mile oval. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Darrell Waltrip took the 500-mile win over Kyle Petty.

  Thirty years ago in 1987, George Brunnhoelzl Jr. made his mark in the record books as he won the Race of Champions at Pocono. Brunnhoelzl took the lead from John Blewett Jr. on lap 185 and never looked back for the remainder of the 250-lap event. Doug Hevron finished second and was followed by George Kent, Wayne Edwards, Roger Treichler and Ron Shepherd. Peter”Buzzie”Erickson was the winner of the companion Street Stock event. Two Hundred Forty eight cars, including 108 modifieds were entered into competition. In Winston Cup action at Dover, Ricky Rudd took the win over Davey Allison.

  Twenty five years ago in 1992, the entire East Coast was covered with rain.

  Twenty 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. Hirshman, driving a Leaty teamcar, 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 ago when promoters checks bounced, many competitors chose to ignore the event now. 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 off .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. NASCAR’s Jim Hunter said, “The short tracks and the regional tours are the backbone of NASCAR. NASCAR”s Chris Boals said that the sanctioning body was developing a strategic plan to boost these series. Boals said that just about everything was now in place and an announcement should be coming from NASCAR in the not too distant future. Evidently part of the plan was the announcement made that The National NWRS Champion, Peter Daniels, will be invited to the NYC Banquet. Also, all of the Regional Touring Series Champions (including the FMS and the BNS) will be a part of the banquet. This was announced in the Drivers Meeting at New Hampshire.
  The regular weekly racing in Southern New England was slowly but surely coming to a halt. Thompsom ran their final Thursday night Thunder series, which turned into a slugfest between Bo Gunning and Ted Christopher. Gunning had taken the lead from Christopher on lap 14 and was holding the former National Champion at bay until the final lap. Christopher made a move to the bottom and the two came together. Gunning went on to take the win as Christopher gathered it back up to finish second. Christopher claims the move was deliberate, Gunning, on the other hand said, “That’s racing”. Tom Fox finished third. Stafford was idle on Friday night. Tom Fox got a definite gift at Waterford on Saturday night. Dennis Charette had led a good part of the event with Fox on the outside. With 12 laps to go, Fox got a little wiggly in turn four and the next thing you know, both were in the fence. Both were able to drive away. Charette pitted and Fox took a position at the head of the field. Fox definitely lost foreword motion and should have re-started in the rear. It is common practice that when one causes the caution, which he did, and when one loses foreword motion, which he did, the car in question goes to the rear. Ed Reed Jr. finished second and closed the gap to 28 points behind Dennis Gada who is looking to win the championship. Gada had his problems and had to pit with a broken tie rod but made a remarkable recovery as he came from the back to nip Ron Yuhas Jr. at the finish line and record a fourth place finish. Mark Lajunesse finished third as he too, received a gift from officials. During the closing laps Ron Silk was attempting to pass Lajunesse on the outside in turn two when Silk felt that Lajunesse rode him up and he hit the wall. With obvious right side damage, Silk managed to make the next re-start and dumped Lajunesse into the infield as a pay back. Silk was black flagged and bounced for the night and Lajunesse was given his spot back.

  Ten years ago in 2007 The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headed back to Thompson to complete the Modified Mania weekend that was cut short by rain on September 9. As the weekend approached it appeared that NASCAR was dragging its feet as far as declaring officially who was the winner of the recent event at Loudon on September 15. Todd Szegedy had taken the apparent win when NASCAR decided to take a closer look at his intake manifold before making an official decision. It took five days to make a decision as it was announced late on Thursday that the part in question was declared legal and the win would stand.
  Ronnie Silk earned his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour during the running of part two of Modified Mania II. Silk scored a popular win in the Whelen Modified Tour 150 at Thompson in front of a crowded house. In the opening stages of the event current point leader Donnie Lia and Ron Yuhas, Jr. ran at the head of the field. After making tracks through the pack, Christopher dogged leader Lia. At lap 55, the bulk of the field came down to pit road for service. Christopher opted to stay out on the track to inherit the lead on the restart. Silk had moved into the third spot with Reggie Ruggiero taking chase.During a long green flag run, Silk’s car continued to get better. He was able to take the top spot from Christopher one lap shy of the century mark taking Ruggiero along for the ride. Szegedy had gotten by Lia and started to make his presence known.On a restart late in the race, Ruggiero was able to power by Silk to take command of the race. Silk, never far behind, continued to chase the new leader. On lap 137, Silk got underneath Ruggiero and with sparks flying Silk was the leader once again on lap 138. A caution on lap 139 shook up the running order inside the top five. Contact between Christopher and Flemke ended with Flemke in the outside wall and Christopher on pit road to serve a one-lap penalty. Silk easily held off the competition on the final single file restart to score the popular win. Ruggiero settled for second ahead of Szegedy. Bobby Santos and James Civali rounded out the top five. Series point leader Don Lia finished eighth.
  In True Value Modified Racing at Thompson Louie Mechalides turned in a dominating performance to win the 75-lapper for the northern New England based series. The event, which had been stopped by rain two weeks previous resumed on lap four with Andy Seuss at the helm with Chris Pasteryak and Jimmy Kuhn taking chase. Seuss held the top spot through a number of early race cautions. An early incident directly behind the leader that started when Brian Schofield got out of shape, caused a chain reaction that collected a number of cars including championship contenders Kirk Alexander and Les Hinckley along with Rich Savary and others. Alexander was taken off the track by double hook.The young driver held off several advances from Mechalides before relinquishing the lead on lap 15. Seuss saw his great run come to an end on lap 27 when his racer made hard contact with the outside wall. Everything was going Mechalides way as Hinckley was making great strides heading back to the front of the pack. Thompson Speedway regular Tommy Cravenho made it interesting in the closing laps giving Mechalides all he could handle. In the end, Mechalides was up to the task taking down the victory over Cravenho. Jon McKennedy came home third ahead of Jimmy Kuhn and Hinckley.
  In regular NASCAR Whelen Weekly Racing action at the Thompson Speedway a season packed with racing excitement at Thompson International Speedway came down to the final Thursday night with champions crowned in all six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. At the night’s end, Woody Pitkat made his first appearance in Sunoco Modified victory lane. But, it was Keith Rocco who drove his Bannister Motorsports #6 to a fifth place finish to earn the team their second championship in three seasons. In Pro Stock action, Mike O’Sullivan, scored his second Thompson Pro Stock championship in winning-style taking down Thursday night’s feature win. In similar fashion, Kurt Vigeant capped off his first TIS Modified championship with a feature win in the regular season finale. John Materas earned his first career Late Model win in a wild main event that also found Rick Gentes in for the divisional championship. Larry Barnett scored his fourth Limited Sportsman feature win while a seventh place finish allowed a retiring Keith DeSanctis to go out as a champion. Scott Michalski made it two in a row in Mini Stock competition but it was Mike Romano who took the championship.
  Pitkat saved the best for last; earning his lone feature win in the finale. After a 2007 season of consistent finishes, Pitkat was in the running for the track title on the final night. He took the lead just after halfway and withstood heavy pressure from Kerry Malone to score the victory; however it was not enough to catch the point leader Rocco. An opening lap melee that started with contact in the front row ended with Masse hard into the outside wall in the turn one. Also collected were championship contenders Rocco and Tommy Cravenho as well as Bert Marvin. With the race underway, Geoff Gernhard was the early leader with Josh Steeves coming along for the ride in second. Steeves made a move on Gernhard to take the lead on lap four with Malone and Pitkat battling hard for the third spot. A pair of laps later, Pitkat was able to race ahead of Gernhard to take over the second spot. Malone put the young driver back to fourth. Meanwhile, Cravenho and Rocco were making their way back to the front. On lap 10, Cravenho was sixth and Rocco eighth. Up front, Steeves continued to lead Pitkat. Malone ran in second a comfortable margin ahead of Gernhard. On lap 13, Cravenho joined the top five. Rocco mirrored his moves to run in the sixth position. The #0 of Danny LeJeunesse came to rest on the backstretch on lap 14 to bring out the second caution. The restart pitted Steeves against Pitkat for the top spot. Steeves was up for the challenge and held on to the lead on the race. On lap 16, Pitkat got a run Steeves to take over the top spot. Steeves bobbled after contact with Pitkat; opening the door for Malone. Steeves was shuffled back into third. Cravenho had cleared Gernhard to move into the fourth. Rocco made his first appearance in the top-five on lap 21. Malone tailed Pitkat lap after lap while Cravenho was getting racy for third. Despite the efforts of both Malone and Cravenho they had to settle back in line. At the checkers, it was Pitkat in for the win over Malone. Steeves edged out Cravenho by inches to finish third. The newly crowned champion Rocco rounded out the top five.
  The Stafford Motor Speedway closed out their regular Friday night season. Taking feature wins were Keith Rocco, who had wrapped up the Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Championship the previous evening, won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco in the 30-lap Late Model feature, Joe Allegro, Jr. in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Rick Lanagan in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Rob Lawrence in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.
  The 40-lap SK Modified feature took the green with Willie Hardie leading the first two laps of the race before Lloyd Agor moved out front. Agor held the lead until lap-6 when Jeff Malave moved out front. Malave's pass allowed Keith Rocco and Ted Christopher to both move by Agor, dropping him from the lead to fourth place. Agor would continue to backslide as Woody Pitkat and Brad Hietala moved into the fourth and fifth positions. The race ran green to lap-32 before the first caution came out and erased a sizeable lead for Malave. Malave would hold the race lead until lap-38 when he drifted up the track just enough in turn 4 to allow Rocco to dive to the bottom and take the lead. The caution came back out and set up a green white checkered finish. Rocco took the lead on the restart with Ted Christopher and Malave locked in a side by side duel for second. That side by side action gave Rocco all the cushion he needed as he took his fourth feature win of the 2007 season. Christopher finished second, with Pitkat, Malave, and Doug Coby rounding out the top-5.
  In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl the shoreline oval wrapped up its 2007 season with the Town Fair Tire Fall Finale. Dennis Gada won the battle but lost the war as Rob Janovic finished third and wrapped up the track championship. Don Fowler finished second with Diego Monahan and Jeff Pearl rounding out the top five. According to reports the Speedbowl took it on the chin at the front gate as attendance was way off for this event. The Thompson Speedway opted to run their rained out Modified Mania on the same date so as to accommodate an event that was held at the Oswego Speedway in New York. Because of the fact that Waterford and Thompson are NASCAR sanctioned and Oswego is not makes it hard to believe why NASCAR would let this conflict occur between two of their tracks that are less than 60 miles apart and draw from the same fan base. Both tracks shell out considerable money to the Daytona based organization. Letting a situation like this occur leads one to believe that NASCAR doesn’t care two cents about its short tracks.
  Carl Edwards was the Nextel Cup winner at Dover Downs. Denny Hamlin was the Busch Series winner. Joey Logano finished second but became the NASCAR Busch East Series’ first rookie champion in the Sunoco 150 at Dover International Speedway Friday afternoon. Sean Caisse took the race lead from Logano with just eight laps to go, and then withstood a final charge by Logano to win by a car length.

  Five years ago in 2012, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to Loudon, NH for the F.W. Webb 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Thirty One Modifieds were on hand for the event. In early Friday morning practice Donnie Lia was the fastest of the fast as he topped the speed chart in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice. Lia toured the Magic Mile in 28.952 seconds at an average speed of 131.556 mph. Rowan Pennink was second quickest in the 95-minute practice session, turning a lap of 29.196 seconds (130.456 mph). He was followed by Ron Silk, Ted Christopher and Patrick Emerling. Completing the top 10 were Eric Beers, Doug Coby, Jimmy Blewett, Mike Stefanik and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular Ryan Newman.
  Lia carried his speed over to qualifying as he won the Coors Light Pole for the F.W. Webb 100. The two-time tour champion lapped the Loudon oval in 29.352 seconds at an average speed of 129.763 mph. Doug Coby, was second quickest with a lap of 29.571 seconds (128.802 mph). He was followed by Ron Silk, Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman turned in the sixth fastest lap on his first qualifying lap, then bounced off the Turn 2 wall on his second lap. Newman drove to the garage with damage to the nose of his car. Jimmy Blewett, Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Mike Stefanik completed the top 10 in qualifying.
Doug Coby held on in a two-lap dash to the finish to win the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to score his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season. In a race that featured lead changes on nearly every lap early on, Coby took command on Lap 84 and never relinquished the top spot. While he charged to the checkered flag after a restart with two laps remaining, second-place running Ted Christopher ended up slamming the wall after contact from Donny Lia, who went on to take the runner-up spot as the race finished under caution. Lia, who restarted fourth clipped Christopher from behind and turned him into the front stretch wall. Christopher bounced off the wall and careened into the inside wall that protects the pit area.
  Christopher used a few choice expletives to express his displeasure with Lia's driving. Lia had a different story. “We were gonna fight for the win and I got a run there on the 3 car [Christopher] and got into the back of him, unintentionally, and caused a wreck,” Lia said. “It’s racing, I feel really bad about it, by no means was it intentional. I got a run and was trying to go to the bottom and got him in the left rear corner.” Following Coby and Lia across the finish line were Ron Silk, Ryan Newman and Rowan Pennink. Eric Beers, Richie Pallai Jr., Matt Hirschman, Ron Yuhas Jr. and Ryan Preece rounded out the top 10.
  Perfect weather, clear and in the low 70's greeted competitors alike. Prior to the start of the event
  Boehler Racing Crew Chief Scott Richards gave Ted Christopher his marching orders. "Turn the fans on when the green drops and treat the first 50 laps as a practice session". After starting fifth he ran consistently between fifth and tenth until the half way break. Following the break Christopher began his march to the front. By lap 76 Christopher was in the lead as he passed Doug Coby in turn three. Coby and Christopher were left to settle it prior to the hit by Lia.
  The planned 50 lap break took a lot of pressure off crews to perform but it robbed the fans of the excitement that pit stops generate. The only excitement was the possibility of a fire when an individual who was fueling Patrick Emerling's car accidentally spilled a lot of gas on the ground. Woody Pitkat, who was parked directly behind Emerling stated "Who ever fueled the 07 is a retard".
  Mike Stefanik, who won the July race in Loudon returned with a new car and great expectations for a repeat performance. Stefanik started tenth and got as high as sixth at one point before his engine suffered an internal malfunction on lap 31 and ended his day.
  Sixteen of the original 31 starters finished on the lead lap. In addition to Christopher getting wrecked on lap 99 Eric Goodale was also collected in the same incident. Wade Cole started 30th and finished two laps down in19th spot. Extremely under funded, Cole stayed out of trouble and all things considered had a good day.
  Mike Christopher made his only start of 2012. Starting 28th, his car appeared to be under powered as he was never a factor as he too was two laps down at the finish ending his day in 20th spot. Long Islander Johnny Bush also had an off day as he was also two laps down in 21st position.
  Patrick Emerling, who finished 12th on the lead lap, triggered a big wreck on lap 92 in turn one that took out Woody Pitkat, Bryan Chew, Todd Szegedy and Matt Hirschman. Emerling bounced off the lapped car of Jimmy Blewett.
  Donny Lia, who went on to take the runner-up spot as the race finished under caution, was not penalized for his over aggressiveness by NASCAR.
There were five cautions for 17 laps. The event went non-stop until the mandatory stop at lap 50. The second caution was for Jimmy Blewett who spun between turns three and four. The third caution came on lap 87 when it appeared that Blewett dropped oil on the track. The third caution was for the Emerling triggered wreck on lap 92, the fourth and fifth cautions were for the Christopher wreck and the ultimate finish under caution
  There were 23 official lead changes among six drivers. D. Lia 1-3; R. Preece 4; D. Lia 5; R. Preece 6-11; R. Silk 12; R. Preece 13-14; R. Silk 15; R. Preece 16; R. Silk 17; R. Preece 18-19; D. Lia 20-23; R. Silk 24; D. Lia 25; D. Coby 26; D. Lia 27; D. Coby 28; D. Lia 29-45; P. Emerling 46; D. Lia 47-61; D. Coby 62-68; D. Lia 69-73; D. Coby 74-76; T. Christopher 77-83; D. Coby 84-100. There were numerous lead changes within the laps.
Doug Coby leads the point standings by 22 over Ryan Preece. Ron Silk sits third with Don Lia, fourth. Todd Szegedy rounds out the top five.
  The purse for the 100 lap modified event was $159, 528. With Doug Coby earning $12,000 plus for his win, a nice amount but when one considers past winners were earning upwards of $18,000 grand, that is a big drop. Donny Lia earned $8,600 for second and Ronnie Silk earned $6,600 for third but the big question is why wasn’t the field filled, even if it was teams pulling out a backup car just to do a start and park for the roughly $2,000 to take the green. In the past, that was a common factor but with the field being short, that $159,000 purse was reduced by $10,000.
  A spokesperson for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway stated that the Whelen Modifieds would be back for two events in 2013. That announcement would leave one to believe that Speedway Motorsports has no intention of moving any events away from NHMS at this time. The Whelen Modified Tour Series heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway for the Fall Final this weekend.
  At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night it was a well deserved week off as track management and competitors prepare for the season ending Fall Final that is scheduled for this coming weekend.
  In Saturday night action at the Waterford Speedbowl the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program was highlighted by twin 35-lap SK Modified® features, the premier weekly division at the track. Tyler Chadwick of Ledyard won the first of the two races, his fifth of the year, while Tom Abele Jr. of Norwich won the night’s second feature, his first on the season. Cam McDermott of North Scituate, RI picked up his second checkered flag of the year in the SK Light Modifieds. Dan Darnstaedt of Durham scored the Street Stock feature race win and Garrett Denton of Hope Valley, RI grabbed his first Mini Stock division victory of 2012. The X-Car division competed in an event for their Saturday Showdown Series, won by Wayne Shifflett of Preston.
  Among the surprise entries at the shoreline oval was NEAR Hall of Fame Legend Bob Potter. The 71-year old is a six-time Speedbowl track champion. He has been in the driver’s seat giving race fans at Stafford Motor Speedway the racecar experience in the two-seater SK Light Modified this season at the track. Potter also won five SK Modified championships at Stafford and ranks fourth all-time on the track’s SK Modified win list with 24 career victories, drove for car owner Pat Doherty in the SK Light Modified feature event. Potter finished eighth.
  NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach Fla announced that Lee Pulliam, 24, of Semora, N.C., won the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship in just his sixth year of racing and fourth year in asphalt Late Models. Pulliam rolled up 22 wins, 30 top fives and 32 top 10s in 36 starts to run away with the national championship. He out-distanced runner-up Keith Rocco, 794-748. Rocco dislocated his wrist and broke a bone in an accident during practice at Thompson July 29. He had surgery and missed an entire weekend of racing.
  Rocco has nothing to be ashamed of as he finished second in the final standings for the second straight year and third time in four years. Rocco had 14 wins, 26 top fives and 32 top 10s in 43 starts racing his asphalt Modified at Connecticut’s Thompson International Raceway, Stafford Motor Speedway and Waterford Speedbowl. He won his fifth straight state title and has finished in the top five nationally seven consecutive seasons.
Only four points separated the rest of the top five. CE Falk III finished third with 728, followed by Nate Monteith with 726 and Ryan Preece with 724
Pulliam’s wins were spread among four tracks including 10 at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., nine at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, two at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, N.C., and one at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. He placed third in points at Motor Mile and South Boston running a partial schedule at each. He also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia championship.
  In Sprint Cup racing Denny Hamlin put together a dominating performance at Loudon. Despite qualifying 32nd, Hamlin charged up through the field and drove into the lead before lap 100. Once out front, Hamlin was never seriously challenged as he drove to his first victory at the 1.058-mile asphalt oval. The victory, the 100th for Joe Gibbs Racing in Sprint Cup competition, moved Hamlin up to third in the series standings, only seven points out of the lead. Jimmie Johnson finished second and moved into the championship lead by one point over Brad Keselowski, who finished sixth. Jeff Gordon rebounded from his 32nd-place finish at Chicagoland and finished third. Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne completed the top five.
  Austin Dillon completed a sweep of the season’s two NASCAR Nationwide Series races at Kentucky Speedway with a dominant victory in Saturday’s Kentucky 300. Dillon led 65 laps, driving his grandfather Richard Childress’ Chevrolet on the day after the team owner’s birthday. He beat Sam Hornish Jr. to the checkered flag by 1.059 seconds for his second victory of the season in his rookie season in the series.

  Last year, 2016 Keith Rocco went into the weekend needing to score wins at Stafford on Friday night and at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night in order to hopefully come out on top of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings. The final day for points to count toward NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships was Sunday, Sept. 18. No matter what happened, Rocco was guaranteed to finish in the top five in the national standings for the ninth straight season. Rocco recorded a fifth at Stafford and a win at Waterford. Matt Bowling, who races at the South Boston Speedway in Virginia, has led the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings the entire year. Bowling did not win last weekend but had enough of a cushion to sew up the national title.
  In regular Friday night NASCAR racing at the Stafford Motor Speedway the final Friday night event before the season ending NAPA Fall Final next weekend on October 1-2 was staged. It was a banner night for Glen Reen as he scored his first career victories in both the SK Modified® and Late Model feature events. Rowan Pennink finished the SK Modified® feature in 8th place which was good enough to make him the SK Modified® champion for the second consecutive season. Other feature winners were Daniel Wesson in the SK Light feature, Justin Bren in the Limited Late Model feature, Brandon Michael in the DARE Stock feature, and Noah Korner in the Legend Cars feature.
  A restart following a lap 21 caution saw the inside line get bogged down with allowed Glen Reen to move into the lead with Jeff Baral in second and Woody Pitkat in third. Ron Williams, who had been leading, faded to fourth with Eric Berndt in fifth behind him. Keith Rocco and Rowan Pennink were side by side for sixth place.
  With 10 laps to go, Reen was in command with Baral in second. Pitkat and Williams were side by side for third with Berndt, Rocco, Ted Christopher, and Pennink lined up behind them. Reen was starting to pull away from the train being led by Baral that consisted of Baral, Pitkat, Berndt, Rocco, Williams, Christopher, and Pennink with 5 laps to go. Reen, who started 22nd, led the field to the checkered flag to pick up his first SK Modified® win of the 2016 season and his second win of the night to go along with his Late Model feature win. Baral finished second with Pitkat, Berndt, and Rocco rounding out the top-5.
  The New London-Waterford Speedbowl wrapped up its Saturday night series weekly racing. Keith Rocco recorded his seventh SK Modified victory of the season. On the final Saturday night weekly show of the 2016 season it was the track’s all-time winningest driver, Keith Rocco, shining over the field to win the 35-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified feature at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. bringing his track win total to 134 wins, 80 of those in an SK Modified. The win also took Rocco over the top to a career overall total of 233 wins which also include victories at Thompson and 43 at Stafford Speedway.
  In other events Saturday, Jason Palmer won the Late Model feature, Corey Barry won the SK Light Modified feature, Monte Gibbs was victorious in the Limited Sportsman feature, Pete Zaikarite won the Mini Stock feature, Dillon Spain scored victory in the Legends feature and Ted Christopher won the Pro Four Modified feature.
  Following a restart with 31 laps left to run, Rocco got under Todd Owen for the lead off of turn four.Two laps later Diego Monahan moved to second place. With 21 laps left the caution flew again when Bo Gunning, deep in the field, sent Adam Gada into the turn two wall. After a long green flag run the race was slowed again when Monahan spun from second place and collected Ted Christopher in turn two.
  Under caution Owen gave up second place to go to the pits, moving Matt Galko behind Rocco and Ronnie Williams to third. Williams got by Galko for second on a restart with five laps remaining, but the caution flew again with two laps left when Gunning sent Frank Mucciacciaro Jr. spinning deep in the field in turn four. Gunning was parked from the field at that point for over aggressive driving.
  On the final restart Rocco was able to check out easily and it was Galko getting by Williams for second. Joey Gada and Tyler Chadwick rounded out the top five.
  The Valenti Modified Racing Series traveled to the Beech Ridge Speedway in Maine for twin 50's that were run as part of the Beech Ridge Fall Final. For the second time this season, at speedways in the State of Maine, Anthony Nocella, of Woburn, Massachusetts, and Jon McKennedy, of E. Chelmsford, Massachusetts, each captured VMRS 50-lap feature races.
  In the first 50-lap go, Nocella started 12th in a 19 car field, and smoothly worked his way to the front besting early race leader Richard Savary and Todd Annarummo at the checkered flag. Woody Pitkat and Jon McKennedy, rounded out the top five. The win was Nocella’s fourth of the season and his sixth VMRS win.
  In the second 50-lap race, McKennedy rolled off in the seventh starting spot quickly making his way to the point with Nocella in hot pursuit from his 11th starting position. Annarummo moved into third where he would finish. McKennedy would nail down his seventh win of the year and 22nd career series victory. Les Hinckley and Donnie Lashua finished fourth and fifth.
  Both races were caution flag free and run off in 13-minutes. The next event for the VMRS will be at the Lee USA Speedway on October 8 & 9.
  In a somewhat related matter it has been announced that series sponsor, The Valenti Auto Group of Mystic, CT has purchased McGill Chevrolet located in Pawcatuck (Stonington) CT.
  In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action at the South Boston Speedway in Virginia, James Civali passed Danny Bohn on Lap 107 and remained out front the rest of the way to score his first tour win since 2010 and second at South Boston Speedway in the South Boston 150. Civali held off Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Bonsignore over the final 20 laps of the race to win the first caution-free southern tour race since 2006. Bonsignore scored his best finish to date coming home second with George Brunnhoelzl third, Bohn fourth and points leader Burt Myers completing the top five.
  In action at the Riverhead Raceway Shawn Solomito and Kyle Soper were the winners of the twin 30 lap Modified features run at the east end Long Island oval. Track owners Eddie and Connie Partridge announced that Solomito and his car owner Wayne Anderson were the NASCAR Modified Track Champions for 2016.
  With all the poor reviews that NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series events were getting local New England standout Late Model driver Jeff Rocco stated a good point that maybe NASCAR should consider. "Put them back on bias ply tire at tracks a mile and down, mandatory 4 inch ride height and mandatory front spring rate of 900IB or more". Let the guys get back up on the wheel. When NASCAR went to radial tires the top divisions events became boring. Maybe that's one of the reasons that less than half the seats are filled at many events.
  In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, Martin Truex Jr. came back from a cut right rear tire on lap 69 to win the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday afternoon, the first race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Erik Jones secured the top seed in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase for the Championship by picking up his fourth win of the season at Chicagoland.

  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,

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 22, 2017

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