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Friday April 11, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

 
Thirty years ago, in 1978, the Spring Sizzler at Stafford drew 111 Modifieds. Maynard Troyer scored the win and led a top three sweep of New York drivers. Richie Evans finished second with Geoff Bodine, third. Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro rounded out the top five. Kenny Bouchard led the early going until being passed by Geoff Bodine on lap 8. Bodine led until lap 44 when Troyer brought the crowd of 13,000 to their feet as he took the lead John Rosati won the non-qualifiers event over Eddie St Angelo, Jim Tyler and Jerry Bartlet.

Twenty five years ago, in 1983, Gil Hearne won his 69th career victory at the Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Tony Hirschman finished second with Jerry Cranmer, third. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Harry Gant took the lead after Darrell Waltrip was forced to back off because of ignition problems. Geoff Bodine finished ninth after leading most of the laps run.

Twenty years ago, in 1988, Reggie Ruggiero took the 50 lap win at Riverside on Saturday night. Jerry Marquis finished second with Bruce D’Assandro, third. Al Hill was the modified winner at North Wilkesboro. The Winston Modifieds (Featherlites) were at Thompson for the Ice Breaker. Mike Ewanitsko took the win in the 75 lapper after Tom Baldwin was parked by George Kent with two laps to go in the 75 lap contest. Mike McLaughlin finished second with Doug Hevron, third. Rounding out the top five were Kerry Malone and Jeff Fuller. Baldwin ended his day in tenth spot and was ultimately fined $200 for fighting with Kent after the event was completed. It was also opening day at Seekonk where Johnny Tripp took the win over Bugsy Stevens.

Fifteen years ago in 1993, it was all quiet for the Easter weekend with the exception of the Busch Grandnationals who were at Hickory for a Saturday afternoon event which saw Steve Grissom take the win over Ricky Craven and Joe Nemachek. It was also on this weekend that NASCAR announced that they had entered into an agreement to run a 400 mile event at the Indianapolis, Speedway.

Ten years ago in 1998, Richie Gallup won the Saturday night 50 lapper at Riverside Park over Ted Riggott, Rob Summers, Eddie Spiers and Dan Avery. The Winston Cup was off for the Easter weekend. The Busch Grandnationals ran at Hickory, N.C. where Ed Berrier took the win.

Five years ago in 2003, rain threatened to put a damper on the IceBreaker for the second week in a row but as it turned out the sun came out on Sunday and the entire two-day event was run in one day. With 43 Modifieds on hand, Zach Sylvester took the pole. Tony Hirschman drew the pole for the start and led the first four laps of the 150-lap contest. John Blewett III led from lap 5 until lap 35 when he gave way to Nevin George. George led from lap 36 until lap 60 as Chuck Hossfeld turned up the wick and powered his way into the lead. Hossfeld and George swapped the lead until lap 99 when Hossfeld took it for good and led the rest of the way to the checker. Blewett ended up second and was followed by Charlie Pasteryak, Mike Stefanik and Sylvester. Twin SK-Modified events were run with Jeff Malave and Eric Berndt taking the wins. In Busch Racing Series racing at Nashville David Green took the win over John Sauter and Ashton Lewiss. In Winston Cup action at Martinsville, pole sitter Jeff Gordon gave Bobby Labonte the bumper, with 36 laps to go, to take the lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took second spot.

Last year, the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series was slated to begin with the running of the Ice Breaker at the Thompson Speedway but Mother Nature won out as she swamped the entire northeast with rain and sleet on Sunday. Speedway officials and NASCAR made a joint announcement postponing the event on Saturday evening. With fuel prices being what they were it was a wise decision.

The speedway was quite busy on Saturday as qualifying was completed for the Modifieds along with the tracks weekly divisions. Features were also run for the Sunoco (SK type) Modifieds and Late Models.

Forty eight NASCAR Modifieds were on hand for practice and qualifying. Reggie Ruggiero and Richard Savory were early casualties as their cars suffered severe damage. Ruggerio’s mount had a water hose let go which dumped water on the track, causing him to lose control and hit the wall. Savory, who is driving for Preston, Ct car owner Art Barry this year spun in the water and landed on top of Ruggiero’s car. Both drivers escaped unhurt but both cars were damaged severely and had to be withdrawn. Barry had a back-up but Ruggiero didn’t as his car owner, Dick Barney was forced to return to his shop in New Jersey to make repairs and hope for a provisional starting spot which he eventually got. Todd Szegedy broke the Modified track record set by Bob Polverari in 2001 as he toured the 5/8 mile oval in 18.457 seconds as he won the Busch Pole. Second fastest was former series champion Tony Hirschman. Zach Sylvester made a fine showing for himself in his first outing in the Curt Chase No.77 as he qualified third fastest. Rounding out the top ten were Donnie Lia, Ted Christopher, Richard Savory, Matt Hirschman, Mike Stefanik, Bobby Santos III in the Boehler Racing No.3 and Danny Sammons. A re-draw inverted the top six for the main event. Later in the day after the Ice Breaker was postponed NASCAR impounded four motors, the Chevrolets of Lia and Tony Hirschman and the Fords of Szegedy and Stefanik. They were taken to NASCAR’s R & D center in North Carolina for examination.
Todd Ceravolo started his season off on the right foot as he won the first of twin features scheduled for the Sunoco Modifieds. Rick Gentes followed suit in the Late Models. Ceravolo, who won his qualifying heat, led every lap to score the win in the first of twin features scheduled for the Sunoco Modified division. Ceravolo jumped out to the early lead but was immediately hounded by Keith Rocco who has replaced Jeff Malave in the Interstate Diesel #6. Ceravolo maintained his position as the top-four, which also included Tommy Cravenho and Woody Pitkat, jockeyed for position. John Blewett, making his Sunoco Modified debut at Thompson, ran alone in the fifth position. The first driver to peek out of line was Cravenho to challenge Rocco for the second spot. The two ran wheel to wheel for several laps. Pitkat capitalized and was able to tail Rocco on the outside, moving Cravenho back to fourth. Ceravolo never missed a beat as he entered lap traffic at the halfway marker. Pitkat dove to the inside of Rocco on lap fifteen and was able to make the pass stick taking over the second position exiting turn four. Pitkat immediately set his sites on the leader Ceravolo. Meanwhile, Jimmy Blewett had caught his brother John. The action was halted when the first caution of the event flew on lap 20 for a spin by Dan LaJeunesse. Ceravolo got a great jump on the restart to maintain his lead on the field. Pitkat got racy with only a handful of laps remaining. On Lap 22, there was contact between the leaders but no change in position. Pitkat remained glued to his bumper. With the white flag in the air, Pitkat got a run on the inside in turn two but had to settle back in line. Ceravolo ran to the checkers just ahead of Pitkat. Rocco came home third followed by Cravenho and Jimmy. Blewett, who rounded out the top five.
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After his heat race victory, Corey Hutchings started the 25-lap Late Model feature from the pole. Hutchings capitalized and took the top spot over Rick Gentes and Mark Jenison. In a distant third was Steve Landry. The field was bunched up for a caution on lap six for a spin by Jeff Hartwell. Under the caution, Jenison was forced to give up third position with a flat tire. Hutchings maintained his lead on the restart but had his hands full holding off Gentes. Jeff Zuidema moved into the third spot. Gentes went low to get by Hutchings in turn two. Hutchings got out of shape losing positions to both Zuidema and Landry.At halfway, Gentes continued to show the way over Zuidema, Landry, Hutchings and Conrad Cote inside the top five. Things settled down as the laps wound down. Cote made a bid on Hutchings in fourth with two laps remaining. Cote could get underneath Hutchings in the corners but could not muster up enough steam to take the spot away. Gentes posted the victory over Zuidema, Landry, Hutchings, and Cote.

The Waterford Speedbowl beat the impending rain on Saturday night. Dennis Gada survived several late race restarts to claim the 35-lap SK Modified feature. The defending champion pulled ahead of eventual runner-up Frank Ruocco for the final time with only three circuits remaining. Rob Janovic finished third with Doug Coby and Jeff Pearl rounding out the top five. Both Gada and Ruocco earned guaranteed spots in this coming Saturday’s TrueValue Modified Series 100 at the Speedbowl.

Other winners were Allen Coates (Late Models), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stocks), Chris Bakaj (Legends) and Dwayne Dorr (Sportsman).

At the Texas Motor Speedway Nextel Cup qualifying was rained out. NASCAR set the field by current points which meant that Michael Waltrip would miss his sixth straight race. The two-time Daytona 500 winner, in the first year with the Toyota team he owns, didn't have enough season points to get in the 43-car field. The latest setback for Waltrip comes less than a week after he was charged with reckless driving and failing to report an accident after hitting a telephone pole and rolling his SUV about a mile from his North Carolina home. Matt Kenseth made the save, then picked up the victory Saturday in the O'Reilly 300 Busch Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. After pulling out of a spin without hitting the wall early in the race, Kenseth ended Carl Edwards' two-race Busch winning streak, overtaking Denny Hamlin with 11 laps left. Kenseth won by 0.128 of a second, the closest margin in a Texas Busch race. Kenseth, running second when he spun, got his second Busch win of the season and 10th top 10 in 12 Texas races. Edwards was third. Jeff Burton passed Matt Kenseth on the final lap Sunday of the Nextel Cup Samsung 500 to become the first repeat winner at Texas Motor Speedway, winning 10 years after he won the inaugural race.Burton didn't lead until he overtook Kenseth on the backstretch coming out of turn 2 after more than 10 laps of trying to get past him. It was Burton's 19th career victory.

ISC director Raymond K. Mason Jr gave himself a nice Spring bonus of approximately $643,750 when he sold 12,500 shares for $51.50 to $51.70 each. Company insiders are required by the Security and Exchange Commission to report their transactions.

President and CEO Tom Deery, .of DIRT MotorSports, Inc. announced last week that it will change its corporate name to World Racing Group, Inc. The Company will operate under the d/b/a World Racing Group until the formal name change is voted on at the Company's upcoming shareholder's meeting. Following the formal corporate name change, the Company will also obtain a new stock symbol. Now based in Concord, N.C., the World Racing Group has unveiled an extensive television package which will showcase their events on the Speed Channel and ESPN.

This week here are several vintage racing photos of Maynard Troyer courtesy of vintagemodifieds.com and John Bisci's Turn5 Photo & Video


                                                                                   
That’s it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 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.
 

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