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Friday April 6, 2012

By Phil Smith

Forty five years ago in 1967, Newt Palm was the opening day winner at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. John DeLong was the 15 lap Daredevil feature winner.

Forty years ago in 1972, Bowman-Grey Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. opened for the season on Saturday night. Wayne Lambreth took the win over Lloyd Ashby and Jerry Cook. At South Boston on Sunday, Max Berrier took the top spot with Gerald Compton, Paul Walton, Jerry Cook and Ashby rounding out the top five. Steady Eddie Flemke, driving the Frank Vigliorolo No.34 which was the original Bob Judkins Pinto, breezed to an easy win as he dominated the competition at the 50 lap Blast Off at the Waterford Speedbowl. Bob Mott was the Sportsman Sedan winner.

Thirty five years ago in 1977, a 200-mile NASCAR National Modified Championship event was run at the Trenton, N.J. Fairgrounds on the 1-1/2 mile kidney shaped oval. Jerry Makara took the win over Fred DeSarro, Satch Worley and Geof Bodine. It was also the season opener at Thompson where Bugsy Stevens was the Small Block Modified winner. Freddie Schulz finished second with Ronnie Bouchard, third.

Thirty years ago in 1982, the only action was at Darlington where Buddy Baker was the pole sitter and Dale Earnhardt took the win.

Twenty five years ago in 1987, Wall Stadium opened for the season with Tony Siscone taking the win over Jerry Cranmer, Jerry Cook, Gil Hearne, Doug French and Tom Mauser. At North Wilkesboro, N.C. Donald “Satch" Worley took the win over John Bryant. Riverside Park was not as fortunate as rain washed out the program at the central Mass. Speedway.

Twenty years ago in 1992, the then called Winston Modified Tour was at Richmond for a fast 150 lapper. Doug Hevron hit pay dirt with the Len Boehler No.3 as he outran Rick Fuller, Jan Leaty and Ed Flemke Jr. Rounding out the top five, down a lap, was Tom Baldwin. At Riverside Park, Jerry Marquis put the Bobby Judkins 2x in victory lane. Ed Kennedy and Bobby Gegetskas followed.

Fifteen years ago in 1997, Mark Martin was the Busch Grandnational winner at Texas. In Winston Cup action, most of the crowd could have taken a nap, as there was little or no passing. Jeff Burton got his first win with Dale Jarrett, second.

Ten years ago in 2002, it took two days to run the Texas Winston Cup event. Rain forced a red flag after 116 of the scheduled 200 laps were run. Matt Kenseth ended up with the win after Dale Jarrett ran out of gas while leading with two laps to go. Jeff Gordon finished second. It was announced that the Stafford Speedway would have a weekly highlight program on Friday afternoons and in Texas it was announced that Johnnie Cochrain would be the leading lawyer in the anti-trust suit against the International Speedway Corporation and NASCAR.

Five years ago in 2007, The Waterford Speedbowl was slated to begin its regular Saturday night schedule. Fans and competitors were still buzzing about the poor officiating at the recent Bud Nationals, especially the Jimmy Blewett incident. A ten shot photo series by noted photographer Howie Hodge told the story. Doug Coby got into the back of Frank Ruocco as they exited turn two. Blewett, running in fourth spot at the time went low to avoid the car of Ruocco only to be hit accidentally by Ruocco. Jimmy Blewett was below the white line when Ruocco’s left front tire hit Blewett’s nerf bar. As stated previously it was a bad call! A video by Nick Teto verified what really took place and what the Waterford on track officials failed to acknowledge.

Extremely bone chilling temperatures put a damper on the Speedbowl as racing was cancelled on Friday.

While the northeast continued in a deep freeze the action south of the Mason-Dixon Line was hot. In the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour American Revolution 150 at the Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina Junior Miller rode around in the top five for the majority of the race behind the dominant car of Matt Hirschman. Hirschman ran out front from lap five until lap 129, when Miller drove underneath him to take the lead away. Miller led the rest of the way en route to his 10th career NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory. After Miller took the lead, Hirschman fell back to second until he spun coming off the fourth turn after contact with Tim Brown. Hirschman’s late spin set the stage for a green-white-checkered finish with Miller holding off Brian Pack for the win.

Miller’s win allowed him to take over the Whelen Southern Modified Tour point lead by 28 points over Burt Myers. L.W. Miller, who held the point lead coming into Saturday night’s race, was knocked out of the race on lap 45 due to electrical problems. For Pack, his runner-up effort tied a career best NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour finish from last year at Motor Mile (Va.) Speedway. Andy Seuss and Brandon Ward. Burt Myers, Jason Myers, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Hutchens and John Smith rounded out the top 10.Hirschman spun after contact with Brown on lap 147, necessitating the overtime finish. Hirschman wound 11th, the last car on the lead lap.

Among the new driver-owner combinations slated to debut are Rick Fuller who will be driving the Bear Motorsports entry. Don Lia in the Mystic Missile and Jerry Marquis in the Brady Bunch entry. In addition Zach Sylvester will make his first run in the Curt Chace No.77. The Blewett brothers will make their team debut during ICEBREAKER weekend
The NASCAR Nextel Cup division had a weekend off to celebrate Easter. The Busch Series raced on Saturday. Carl Edwards raced to his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series victory, easily winning the Pepsi 300 in chilly conditions at the Nashville Superspeedway in Gladeville, Tenn., to extend his lead in the standings. The Nextel Cup driver led the final 25 laps and crossed the finish line 4.7 seconds ahead of David Reutimann. Dave Blaney, who was involved in an early fracas, rallied to finish third. Jason Leffler was fourth, followed by Regan Smith.

It was announced that sponsors of a $368 million NASCAR race track proposal for Washington State had abandoned their efforts after encountering stiff opposition from local officials and resistance at the state Legislature. Great Western Sports, a subsidiary of International Speedway Corp., announced the decision to drop the plan for the motorsports venue in Kitsap County, across Puget Sound from the Seattle metropolitan area. ISC spokesman Lenny Santiago said his group hasn't taken Washington state completely off the table, but could not see a way to proceed this year. Developers had touted the racetrack as a $4 billion boon to the state's economy, including thousands of jobs. But legislation to help finance the track had gone nowhere. The company's proposal had called for taxpayers to pay for about half of the facility, with ISC contributing $180 million. The company had said it would pay for any cost overruns. The state share would have been paid through bonds. Despite the setback on the west coast ISC raised its annual dividend by 2 cents to 10 cents a share. The dividend will be payable on June 29 to stockholders of record May 31, the company said in a statement.

The company also said its board approved an additional $39.6 million for capital projects.

Last year, 2011, The Waterford Speedbowl opened for its 61st consecutive season with the Budweiser Blast-Off event. The Speedbowl is the second-longest continuously running Modified track in the country. Despite financial problems, including a continuing bankruptcy case the Speedbowl opened on schedule. Because of precipitation and cold, a scheduled practice slated for Friday was cancelled. The precip pretty much ended on Saturday with the exception of a stray shower in mid afternoon. A surprising low number of SK Modifieds, 18, were on hand. All were Speedbowl regulars. No outsiders from Stafford or Thompson were on hand. The field of Bob Valenti Modified Racing Series cars was strong with 27 on hand and the field of Late Models was up from last year with 17 ready to compete.

On Sunday six features were run before an almost capacity crowd. The highlight of the day was the win by Chris Pasteryak in the 100 lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event. Pasteryak of Lisbon Ct executed a late race pass for the lead to score the popular home track win. Russ Stoehr of Lakeville, Massachusetts claimed the NEMA Midget victory. Keith Rocco of Wallingford, Ct continued where he left off at the end of 2010 in the SK Modifieds®, as he led every lap of the 61 lap SK feature. Vin Esposito of Seymour, Ct won his first extra distance event in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Models, Josh Galvin of Franklin, Ct won the Street Stock race and Bill Leonard of Wood River Junction, Rhode Island was the victor in the Mini Stocks.

Pasteryak started the 100-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series event by jumping to the early lead over Doug Coby after the pair started on the front row. The pair, each with five career Speedbowl wins to their credit, battled early and often. Coby peeked outside Pasteryak several times, finally pulling ahead on lap-35. Coby stayed there through an extended run of green flag racing that ended on lap-63. He picked up his lead over Pasteryak again and held the advantage until lap-85. Coby got loose entering turn one and Pasteryak seized his opportunity. He dove inside Coby and executed a clean pass as the two reached turns three and four. From there, Pasteryak didn’t look back as he went on to take the win. Coby finished second and was followed by Todd Annarummo, Rowan Pennink and Les Hinkley. Sixth through tenth were Norm Wrenn, Tom Barrett, Jacob Dore, Eric Goodale and Matt Hirschman.

In the 61 lap SK Modified event Rocco took the lead from pole sitter Rob Janovic at the spot and went on to lead almost the entire event. It was not a runaway by any means. Ron Yuhas Jr. moved around the outside of Janovic for second place on lap-15 and the top three cars pulled away from Diego Monahan who was in fourth. Tyler Chadwick ran alone in fifth position, while Justin Gaydosh and Jeff Pearl battled for sixth. Caution again waved on lap-26 for a single car spin when Joe Perry looped his machine off turn four.

Yuhas had a great restart in the outside lane. He edged ahead of Rocco for the lead into turn one, but Rocco battled back strong to his inside. The pair made contact exiting turn two resulting in Yuhas catching a wheel into the backstretch wall. Contact between the leaders continued in turn three as Rocco got shuffled out of the racing groove by Yuhas. As Rocco and Yuhas slid up the track, Janovic and Monahan darted by to the inside to become the new leaders. Yuhas’ day ended in the turn four wall just one lap later when he lost the right front tire on his car, ending his strong early run and bringing out the yellow flag.

Monahan had a great restart to the outside of Janovic once the track was cleared. They spent two laps side-by-side battling for the lead before Monahan faded in the outside lane. Rocco ducked past Monahan then set his sights back on Janovic out front. He made his move to the inside of Janovic exiting turn four on lap-32, reclaiming the top spot. The action was slowed again on lap-36 when Diego Monahan spun from third position in turn two with everyone able to avoid his spinning car. Chadwick was penalized for overaggressive driving, placing him to the tail of the field.

Rocco and Janovic moved out to a straightaway advantage ahead of Tom Abele when the field returned to green. Nichole Morgillo held onto fourth position with Perry back up to fifth. The race stayed green over the final 25 laps and although Janovic was able to keep Rocco in his sight, he could do nothing to challenge the defending track and national champion. Rocco went on to the win over Janovic, Abele, Morgillo and Chadwick, who rallied furiously in the outside lane over the final green flag run to claim fifth position. Six cautions slowed the pace of the race.

In NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action at the Hickory Speedway in North Carolina, George Brunnhoelzl III saved his best for last to win the Hickory 150 on Saturday. After starting third on the Lap 151 restart in a green-white-checkered finish, Brunnhoelzl passed James Civali to collect his second win of the season. It was the eighth career win for the 2009 Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion.

Zach Brewer also worked past Civali to finish second while Civali settled for third. John Smith and Thomas Stinson finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Although Brunnhoelzl celebrated in Victory Lane it appeared Brewer was on his way to his first win as he was passing Civali late in the race when Frank Fleming spun in Turn 1 to bring out the sixth and final caution flag of the race. On the restart, Civali chose the outside lane with Brewer on the inside. Brewer and Civali made contact on the restart allowing Brunnhoelzl to make his move and lead the final two laps of the race. Andy Seuss came home sixth, Jason Myers seventh and Burt Myers eighth. Renee Dupuis rebounded from a spin earlier in the race to finish ninth in her first start on the southern tour and Josh Nichols completed the top 10.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at the Martinsville Speedway, Kevin Harvick came from nowhere for the second consecutive week to grab his second victory of the season. It gave his Richard Childress Racing team its first win at Martinsville since the late Dale Earnhardt's 1995 victory, and came at the expense of his son, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who settled for second and saw his losing streak stretch to 99 races. The event was only the second of 2011 to have a sell out crowd.

This week are several photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Gil Hearne


Don Diffendorf


Eddie Flemke, Sr


Newt Palm

Red Foote

Kenny Shoemaker

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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