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Friday February 22, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

Thirty years ago in 1978 Benny Parsons won the Richmond 400 as 20,000 spectators looked on. Lenny Pond finished second with Cale Yarborough, third. Darrel Waltrip and Dick Brooks rounded out the top five.

Twenty-five years ago in 1983, Bobby Allison won the Richmond 400 Winston Cup event.

Twenty years ago in 1988, the Winston Cup division of NASCAR was at Richmond and the tire war between Hoosier and Goodyear was on. Hoosier had the tire to beat. Morgan Shepherd took the pole on Hoosiers and Neil Bonnett took the win, also on Hoosiers.

Fifteen years ago in 1993, Mark Martin won the Busch Grandnational 200. Todd Bodine was involved in a bad crash after he blew a tire and hit the wall. Rusty Wallace rebounded from his wreck at Daytona and dominated the Winston Cup event. Dale Earnhardt finished second.

Ten years ago in 1998, Speedway Motorsports exercised an option to buy the 800 acres and buildings that made up the Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, California. In Winston Cup qualifying at Rockingham, Rick Mast was the Busch Pole sitter. Kenny Wallace was second fastest. Tony Stewart was the Busch Grandnational pole sitter. Mike Stefanik made it into the starting field with an ownerís provisional. In the GN 200, Matt Kenseth bumped Tony Stewart on the last lap and went on to take the win by a half car length. Stefanik finished 35th, 11 laps down. Jeff Gordon took the Winston Cup win after he passed Rusty Wallace in the late stages.

Five years ago in 2003, rain played a role at Rockingham as the wet stuff cancelled qualifying for both the Busch Series and the Winston Cup Series. Saturdayís Busch Series event was also rained out and re-scheduled for Monday. Jamie McMurray led the entire event to take the win over David Green. In Winston Cup action on Monday, Dale Jarrett and Kurt Busch swapped the lead four times during the final 11 laps with Jarrett coming out on top at the finish. On a sad note, Bill Colton Sr., who brought soft walls to Lancaster and Oswego Speedways passed away and Dexter Burnham, noted newspaper man and former Stafford Speedway Public Relations director passed away at the age of 79.

Last year, 2007, The only action of the weekend was on the west coast. Matt Kenseth took control in the closing laps Saturday night at California Speedway, driving off with his fourth NASCAR Busch Series victory in 12 tries on the 2-mile oval. Casey Mears grabbed second place 12 laps from the end and gave a big effort to try to catch Kenseth, but the Roush Fenway Racing driver wouldn't let Mears get close enough for a serious challenge, driving across the finish line about five lengths ahead. Kenseth made a clean sweep as he won the Nextel Cup event. TV camera angles indicated the event was not a sell out.

The Northeast Racing News carried the announcement that HD Net would extend their coverage of Busch East events to 2007. A while back NASCAR had indicated that there would be extensive television coverage of Tour Series events. With Speedweeks in Florida over and most of the major announcements made it looked like the Modifieds and NASCARís other regional series got the short end of the stick again.

In some sad news, Malcolm R. "Johnny" Thompson, 78, of Pond Drive, formerly of Pendleton Hill Road, North Stonington, died on Monday morning, Feb. 19, 2007 at his home. Johnny, a die hard Ford man, drove at many racetracks throughout his career from the old Kingston Fairgrounds in Rhode Island then at the Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford Speedway and the Thompson Speedway in Connecticut. He achieved his greatest success at the Norwood Arena where he was a Modified Champion. For many years Thompson and the late Leo Hill shared a garage in North Stonington where they fabricated their own cars.

Thatís it for this week from 40 Clark St. Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.

Photos Credits: VintageModifieds.com

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

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