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Friday April 18, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

 
Thirty-five years ago in 1968, Don Wayman was the opening night winner at Fonda. Jerry Cook finished second with Dick Clark, third. Stafford began their second season on asphalt the way they began their first as Eddie Flemke took the opening day win over Bugsy Stevens, Jerry Dostie, Don MacTavish and Jerry Cook.

Thirty years ago, in 1973, Steady Eddie Flemke made up for his bitter defeat a year earlier as he won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Flemke led the inaugural event until a broken waterpump sidelined him in the closing laps. Fred DeSarro who won a year earlier, finished second with Maynard Troyer, Paul Radford and Guy Chartrand rounding out the top five.

Thirty years ago, in 1978, Maynard Troyer led a top three sweep of New York drivers as he won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford. Geoff Bodine finished second with Richie Evans, third. Rounding out the top five were Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro. Because of the fact that there were 111 cars on hand a non-qualifiers event was run with John Rosati taking the win over Moose Hewitt and Jim Tyler.

Twenty five years ago, in 1983, Gil Hearne won his 69th career victory at the Wall Stadium in New Jersey. Tony Hirshman 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 IceBreaker. Mike Ewanitsko took the win in the 75 lapper after George Kent parked Tom Baldwin 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, it was Easter weekend. The Winston Cup and the Busch Racing Series had the weekend off. At the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night Tommy Fox survived a marathon session of many wrecks to take the win. Fox passed Ron Yuhas JR for the lead on lap 15. Ed Reed JR ended up second with Yuhas, third. Dennis Gada and Jeff Pearl rounded out the top five. Wall Township, in New Jersey ran a double program, which included a 75 lap Race of Champions Tour event. In the regular weekly racing event, the Blewetts, Jimmy and John III finished one-two over Ken Woolley. The ROC event saw Dave Pecko lead from pole to pole to take the win over Ken Woolley and Pete Britain. It was also announced that Mike Ewanitsko had been released from the Eddie Partridge Featherlite Modified Tour Series team because of medical reasons

Last year, 2007, The 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series got the green flag on Sunday at the Thompson Speedway as a near capacity crowd watched James Civali sprint to victory in the 150 lap Ice Breaker. Civali took the lead on lap 109 after running wheel to wheel with John Blewett III for several laps. A late race wreck which involved Reggie Ruggiero set the stage for a green, white, checkered finish on lap 152. Chuck Hossfeld got two late race gifts as it looked like he would end his day in fourth spot. With seven laps to go the green flew after a caution. Civali led the field followed by Richard Savory, Ron Yuhas Jr, Hossfeld and Ruggerio. As the field exited turn two Ruggerio went low, passing Hossfeld and Yuhas. Ruggerio, trying to get back in line after the pass, clipped Yuhas and they both ended up hitting the back stretch wall. While the track crews were cleaning up the mess and the field was circling under caution Savory suffered a flat tire and was forced to pit, thus handing the runner-up spot to Hossfeld. Savory ended up 17th. Following Hossfeld was Ronnie Silk, Jimmy Blewett and Matt Hirschman. Sixth through tenth were Tony Ferrante Jr, Carl Pasteryak, Jon McKennedy, Bob Grigas and Zach Sylvester in the Mansfield, CT based No77 of Curt Chase.
 
Ted Christopher, who started on the outside pole, was the early leader as he passed pole sitter Savory in turn three before the field completed the first lap. Christopher led until a lap 23 restart when Don Lia shot by in the second turn. Lia apparently planned to go non-stop without a change of tires as almost the entire field pitted for tires during a caution on lap 71. It proved to end up being a bad decision as his tires lost their grip by lap 97 when he gave way to Civali. Lia remained in the top five despite fading fast. His undoing finally came on lap 137 when he spun out and was never a factor after that. Lia ended up 20th, four laps down. Christopher also had a bad day as he was collected in a wreck on lap 99 and ended up in 27th spot at the finish. Defending series champion was never a factor as he was eliminated after losing a wheel on lap 33 after making contact with Jerry Marquis. Stefanik ended up 34th.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly action ”Showtime” Jimmy Blewett , driving the Eddie Partridge No.12 was victorious in Sunoco Modified action. Rick Gentes doubled up in Icebreaker Late Model action (also winning last Saturday). Jeff Connors of Ellington, CT won the Pro Stock field while Keith DeSanctis won the Limited Sportsman division and Leo Adams was victorious in the TIS Modifieds. Andy Publicover scored the win in the Mini Stocks.

In Sunoco Modified action, Todd Ceravolo held the early lead over Woody Pitkat. A pack of hungry drivers, Jimmy Blewett, Keith Rocco, and Tommy Cravenho, were bearing down on the leaders. Slight contact between the lead duo opened the door for Jimmy. Blewett, who grabbed the second spot before the caution flew for Roland Bergeron. After a false start, racing resumed with Ceravolo retaining his lead. Contact between Pitkat and Rocco send Rocco hard into the turn two wall. Jimmy Blewett was able to take over the lead once racing resumed. A single lap later contact between Cravenho and Bert Marvin sent Cravenho spinning. A chain reaction accident claimed the cars of John Catania, Buddy Charette, and others. Marvin was sent to the rear for his involvement in the accident. Jimmy Blewett continued to lead Ceravolo and now his brother John when racing went back to green. Pitkat and Kerry Malone sat inside the top five. Pitkat was getting racy with John Blewett while the leader had his hands full with Ceravolo. The top four cars began to get some distance on Malone in fifth. Just after halfway, the caution flew when Harry Rheaume and Marvin made contact. Both cars were able to continue. On the restart, Jimmy. Blewett and Ceravolo were side by side for the lead; meanwhile, things got messy from third position on back. Pitkat and Marvin both sustained extensive damage in the melee. Also involved was third-running John Blewett. The battle for the lead continued when the race resumed. While Jimmy Blewett and Ceravolo began to distance themselves from the rest of the pack, Kerry Malone headed down pit road, relinquishing the third spot.

The final dash to the checkers found Jimmy. Blewett gaining some breathing room over Ceravolo. Dave Salzarulo and Danny Cates had great finish runs. Tommy Cravenho and Jo. Blewett had stormed back through the pack and put on a great show battling for the fifth position. At the finish, Jimmy Blewett scored the win over Ceravolo and Salzarulo. The rookie Danny Cates finished fourth in only his second Sunoco Modified start. John Blewett, who had won at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey on Saturday night recovered to finish fifth.

The Monahan brothers packed a one-two punch at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday evening, claiming the top-two slots in the 35-lap SK Modified feature. It was Diego prevailing, but only after an intense battle with older brother Shawn during several late-race restarts. Other winners were Rob Summers (True Value Tour Modifieds), Tim Jordan (Late Models), Al Stone III (Sportsman), and Phil Evans (Mini Stocks).
 
Joey Logano won a NASCAR Grand National Series event Thursday night at Phoenix International Raceway. Logano was a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Clint Bowyer won a stirring duel with Matt Kenseth on Friday night, taking the lead with 14 laps to go and holding on in the Busch Series race at Phoenix International Raceway. Jeff Gordon took the Nextel Cup win at Phoenix on Saturday and dedicated the victory to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

The board of directors for the International Speedway Corp. approved spending an additional $39.6 million for capital projects. With the approval, the board expects to spend $80 million to $90 million for a number of improvements at Darlington Raceway, including repaving the racing surface and aprons, constructing a new infield access tunnel, installing concrete pit stalls and other renovations. The improvements are expected to be completed in time for the facility's 2008 Nascar Nextel Cup and Busch series weekend.

The company also announced that William C. France, William P. Graves and Christy F. Harris were re-elected and Morteza Hosseini-Kargar was elected to the board by ISC shareholders. All terms are for three years.

This week here are several vintage racing photos of Eddie Flemke, Sr. and the Bob Judkins owned 2x courtesy of vintagemodifieds.com


                                                                                   
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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