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 Friday 02-17-06

By Phil Smith
 
Five years ago in 2001 Dale Earnhardt Sr. was buried in a private ceremony. Richard Childress announced that Kevin Harvick would drive the Goodwrench car that would be painted white and carry the number 30.NASCAR announced that the lap belt had broken on the Childress No.3.In Winston Cup qualifying at Rockingham; Jeff Gordon took the pole with Steve Park on the outside. Todd Bodine was the Busch Grandnational winner on Saturday. It took two days to run the Winston Cup event as the red was displayed after 51 laps on Sunday because of rain. Steve Park, who had run in the lead pack all day, took the lead from Jeff Gordon on lap 338 and went on to take the win. Park did a polish victory lap and in doing so, ran out of gas and had to be pushed to victory lane.
 
Last year, 2005, New Smyrna leftovers: Long Island modified driver Kevin Goodale came away from New Smyrna with one of the greatest gifts a driver could ever get, confidence! Prior to the World Series Goodale was just another obscure middle of the pack runner. With a win plus a runner-up finish and a fourth in points Goodale has emerged as a possible top runner once the Whelen Modified Tour begins. Despite winning the Modified championship, his seventh, Ted Christopher went away a little disappointed. In addition to winning four Modified races Christopher won one of the Super Late Model races and was leading the point standings in that division until he was forced to miss the last two events because his team was out of engines. Zach Sylvester went to Florida with a new paint scheme and a somewhat new crew, hoping to get a leg up on the 2005 Whelen Modified Tour season. Sylvesterís best finishes were a third and a couple of fourths. Car owner Tom Sylvester felt confident and believed the week was a learning experience which would give them an advantage once the regular season began. Milford Connecticutís Chris Jones left New Smyrna with a bloody nose and has vowed never to return. Jones, who was thrown out of Stafford in 2004 because of his antics and over aggression, ran in the SK Modified division at New Smyrna. Jones was leading the point standings and the feature until the final lap on the final night when an explosive situation developed. Jones was obviously blocking second place runner Steve Reed. As they exited turn two Reed made a move under Jones. The pair touched and Jones spun out of the lead. As Reed was slowing down to stop in victory lane Jones walled him in retaliation. It didnít end there as Jones stormed into the middle of the victory celebration and ended up in a wrestling match with a track official. While the New England region was getting pounded by yet another snow storm Developer Gene Arganese's proposal for a zone change to bring a racetrack to Plainfield, CT. was in process. The meeting kept the Planning and Zoning Commission, along with close to 600 residents, at the high school longer than most would have liked. The five-hour hearing ended after midnight when the commission voted to close the public hearing on the proposal. It will discuss the issue March 3. With the public hearing closed, the commission has 65 days to render a decision on Arganese's second attempt at changing zoning regulations to allow a resort/recreational development (C-5) zone which is needed to construct his proposed enclosed racetrack. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) settled their case against the Daytona International Speedway involving the death of track worker Roy Weaver during the 2004 Dash race. He was on the racetrack surface during a caution period to retrieve debris in Turn 2 of the Speedway. In the future track workers would have written guidelines, hands-on training and a definitive chain of command during racing events as part of a settlement agreement which was arrived at. OSHA withdrew its most serious citation against the track, its failure to have a written protocol for workers stepping onto the track. The track will also train its safety teams at least once a year and strengthen radio communication between the control tower and those on the ground tending to accident situations. A speedway spokesman stated that the track has been training its safety crews but does not have written documents on the subject. It was the first track worker death at the speedway since it opened in 1959. There were 12 additional violations and fines the Speedway did not contest. The Speedway would pay fines which total $4,875 for other minor citations dealt with issues including a security employee without hearing protection and a track worker without a helmet.
 
Hello SIRIUS, goodbye Motor Racing Network? NASCAR signed a five-year $107.5 million agreement that would make SIRIUS its official satellite radio partner. SIRIUS will broadcast all Nextel Cup, Busch and Craftsman Truck series events on a specially created 24-hour NASCAR channel beginning in 2007. SIRIUS will hold exclusive rights to radio coverage of NASCAR races and have exclusive trademark and marketing rights.
 
NASCARís top divisions were on the West Coast. Rookie Kyle Busch, the 19-year-old brother of defending NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Kurt, was the top qualifier as he took the pole for Sunday's Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.
 
Busch became the youngest pole winner in series history. Busch set the track record with a fast lap of 188.245 miles per hour in a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers, who qualified second with a lap of 187.740 mph in another Chevy, joined Busch on the front row. Martin, who originally retired from the NASCAR Busch Series after the 2000 season, returned to victory lane by winning Saturday's Stater Bros. 300 at California Speedway. Mark Martin won the Saturday Busch Series race at Fontana. It was his 46th career victory and first since winning at Darlington Raceway on September 2, 2000. Martin held off Kevin Harvick, over the final laps.
 
After Saturday's qualifications, Gregg Biffle predicted he would be the leader by the fifth lap. He did that one better by getting his Ford Taurus in front on lap 4 after starting fifth. Although he was later shuffled back, Biffle re-emerged by the time the checkered flag waved. Biffle went under Roush Racing teammate Kurt Busch for the lead in the third turn on lap 228 and cruised to the fourth Nextel Cup win of his career. He finished 0.231 seconds ahead of Jimmie Johnson, whoís Chevrolet Monte Carlo took a second away from Busch on the final lap. Jamie McMurray's Dodge Charger was fourth, followed by Carl Edwards' Ford. Biffle overcame a one-lap deficit midway through the race when his car started to develop a loose condition, but his crew made the adjustments to pave the way to victory lane. Johnson scored his second straight second-place finish at California Speedway. The Nextel Cup division enjoys a week off this weekend.
 
Steve Park completed his comeback from a serious head injury sustained in 2001, capitalizing when leader Mike Bliss ran out of gas with six laps remaining Friday night for his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race victory. The win at California Speedway was Park's first since taking the checkered flag in a Winston Cup race at Rockingham in February 2001, making him the 10th driver to win races in each of NASCAR's top three professional series.

Thatís about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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