Friday August 28, 2009

By Phil Smith

Twenty years ago in 1989, Jerry Pearl was the Friday night winner at Stafford as he drove the S&S Racers No.33 to a convincing win, beating out Steve Chowanski. Bob Potter all but locked up the track championship at Waterford on Saturday when he took the win at the shoreline oval. The mod tour series was at Riverside where Mike Stefanik won out over Tom Baldwin. At Riverhead, Carl Miller held off Tom Tillotson and at Thompson on Sunday, Ted Christopher was the winner.

Fifteen years ago in 1994, Thompson ran on Wednesday with Ted Christopher taking the win over Tom Tagg. The Mod Tour was at Stafford on Friday. Jeff Fuller took the lead at the 3/4 mark of the 150 lapper to win out over Reggie Ruggiero.

Jerry Pearl was the winner at Stafford in 1989.
(Danny Pardi Collection)

Carl Pasteryak started on the pole and with a very impressive run, finished third. Jan Leaty and Tom Baldwin rounded out the top five. Mike Christopher was the SK Modified winner. At Waterford on Saturday night, Phil Rondeau inherited the lead after Jim Broderick and Todd Ceravolo tangled while fighting for the lead. Mike Gada finished second with Mark LaJunesse, third. At Riverside it was Reggie Ruggiero over Steve Park and at Riverhead it was Bob Park beating out Don Howe. In Winston Cup action at Bristol, Geoff Bodine dominated the 500 lap contest until suffering water pump failure just 45 laps from the finish. Rusty Wallace was the eventual winner with Mark Martin, second. Kenny Wallace won the companion Busch Grand National event and the big news was that Ernie Irvan who had suffered life-threatening injuries at Michigan improved to the point where he was taken off the critical list.

Last year, 2008, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Park for the Whelen 150. A strong field of 31 cars was on hand. Ted Christopher, who qualified sixth fastest but drew the No. 1 starting spot in the re-draw to sit on the front row, never trailed in the 157 lap race that went to a green-white-checker finish following a late caution. The win was his second of 2008 and the 29th of his career, which moved him out of a tie with Mike Ewanitsko on the all-time list.

In the process Christopher became the first driver to lead a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race wire-to-wire since Todd Szegedy did it in the 2006 Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

Jimmy Blewett (No. 19 United Crane/Ling Trucking Chevrolet) finished as the runner-up in the race and was followed closely to the line by Ryan Preece (No. 3 Mizzy Const./Reynold's Auto Wrecking Chevrolet), Coors Light Pole Award winner Eric Beers (No. 46 Reynold's Auto Wrecking/Sunoco Chevrolet) and Ronnie Silk (No. 79 Hill Enterprises/Coors Light/Sunoco Pontiac). Matt Hirschman, Erick Rudolph, Mike Stefanik, Kevin Goodale and Glen Reen rounded out the top 10.

It was a costly night for Chuck Hossfeld who led the point standings going into the event. After starting 13th Hossfeld went only 57 laps before being sidelined with a broken axle. Christopher now leads the point standings by 64 points over Hossfeld. Matt Hirschman sits in third spot with Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top five. Also on the racing card at Mansfield was the NASCAR Camping World Series (formerly Busch North Series). Brian Ickler took the win with Matt Kobyluck, second.

Keith Rocco made it two in a row in Thursday night Thunder Sunoco Modified Racing at Thompson. Norm Wrenn in the Pro Stocks and Rick Gentes in the Late Models each earned their first wins of the 2008 season. Larry Barnett took top honors in the Limited Sportsman division while Glenn Boss celebrated his birthday with a TIS Modified feature win. Mike Romano padded his point lead with a Mini Stock triumph.

Rocco proved to be the class of the Sunoco Modified field once again. Taking the lead early in the 30-lap main event, the Wallingford, CT, driver never looked back en route to his third win of the season and second in a row. The action was wild right from the drop of the green flag. Contact between front row starters Dave Nordman and Tim Sullivan, opened the door for Bobby Grigas, who made it three wide as they headed down for the initial start. The caution flew immediately; however, when contact deeper in the field sent cars scattering. On the ensuing restart, slipping and sliding at the head of the field allowed Jimmy Blewett to cleanly take the lead with Bobby Grigas moving into second and Todd Ceravolo in third. A spin by Rick DíAbate brought out the caution once again. Blewett was up to the challenge and continued to lead a battle for second between Rocco and Grigas. A pass by Rocco was negated by a spin by Josh Sylvester. Kerry Malone was the man on the move on the restart moving from the fifth position to third. Up front, Blewett was having all he could do to keep Rocco in check. Grigas was able to take back the third spot from Malone. Ceravolo, Woody Pitkat, and Tommy Cravenho made up the lead pack. Grigas caught the duo of Blewett and Rocco, making it a three-car battle for the top spot. At halfway, Rocco used a slide move to take over the lead from Blewett. Once out front, Rocco checked out. Blewett dropped off the pace a lap later. Grigas inherited the second spot with Ceravolo running in third. Malone and Pitkat made up the top five. Early leader Blewett spun exiting turn two to bring out the caution. Back under green, it was all Rocco. Grigas took chase a distant second and Ceravolo in third. Malone, Cravenho, and Pitkat were looking racy for fourth. Rocco cruised unchallenged to the checkers. Grigas had a season-high finish of second followed by Ceravolo. Malone and Cravenho completed the top five.

The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of a classic Ruocco/Rocco battle on Friday night. Ruocco, Frank that is, prevailed as he won his second SK Modified feature of the year. Rocco, Keith that is, settled for second. Ted Christopher recovered from an early tangle with Woody Pitkat to finish third. Todd Owen and Jeff Malave rounded out the top five. The highlight of the evening was the running of the 14th Annual New England Dodge Dealers Late Model 100. Like he had done in a previous 100 lapper, seventeen year old Dillon Moltz was the dominator. During the late going Moltz fought off challenges from Michael Bennett and Ryan Posocco over several late restarts. Mark Bakaj outlasted Joe Allegro, Jr. and Chris Matthews for his third win of the season in the 20-lap SK Light feature, Carla Botticello scored her first career victory in the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Scott Roy picked up victory number two of the 2008 season in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.

At the Waterford Speedbowl, Shawn Monahan went pole to pole to win the 35-lap SK Modified feature on Saturday evening at the Waterford Speedbowl. Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Brandon Plemons (Sportsman), Ken Cassidy Jr. (Mini Stock), Michael Gervais Jr. (Legends), and Scott Gregory (AllStar Race Trucks).
In an ultra-fast 35-lap SK Modified feature, it was hometown driver Shawn Monahan grabbing his first feature of the season. Taking the lead immediately from the pole position, he was tested only once during the events singular restart occurring when multi-feature winner Keith Rocco spun with 9-laps remaining. Handily resisting the challenges of Jeff Paul and defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. in the closing laps, Monahan cruised-home by a car-length over Paul, Janovic, Dennis Gada, and Matt Gallo.

It looked like Terry Eames (1080 Hartford Road LLC) and Jerry Robinson who leases the Waterford Speedbowl were at it again. Eames claimed that Robinson has failed to meet his obligations in making rent payments and paying property taxes. Eames had filed a suit in New London Ct Civil Court, which could have led to the eviction of Robinson from the shoreline oval.

The True Value Modified Series was at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH last Saturday night. Twenty-Two Modifieds were on hand. Kirk Alexander started sixth, took the lead on lap 10 and and never looked back. With the exception of some heat applied by Dwight Jarvis in the closing laps Alexender had an easy time of it at his home track. Jarvis settled for second and was followed by Rob Goodenough, Mike Holdredge, Jack Bateman and Chris Pasteryak.
Brad Keselowski passed Clint Bowyer with 24 laps to go Friday night and pulled away for his second victory of the season in NASCAR's Nationwide Series, capping a remarkable run from the 37th starting position at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Bowyer dominated the race after he slipped by Dario Franchitti for the lead on lap 107, but appeared to wiggle exiting the second turn on the 227th lap as Keselowski went past him.

Carl Edwards saw Kyle Busch lead 415 consecutive laps Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, then used his bumper to nudge Busch in the first turn on lap 470. That move caused Busch's car to wiggle just enough so that Edwards could drive by for his second consecutive victory on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. After taking the checkered flag, Edwards was making his cool-down lap around the track when Busch drove up and bumped his car. Edwards clearly wasn't amused, and when he responded by driving the nose of his car into the right side of Busch's, the fans cheered wildly. Busch finished second, followed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon.

This week are several vintage racing photos of long time modified driver Jerry Pearl from the Danny Pardi Collection, courtesy of the &
Click on Photo for Full Size

Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is:

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

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