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Friday February 17, 2011

By Phil Smith

Forty five years ago in 1967, Curtis Turner in a Smokey Yunick Chevelle took the pole for the ninth annual Daytona 500.Turner toured the 2-1/2 mile oval at 180.831 mph. Second fastest and taking the outside pole was Richard Petty. Petty went 179.068 mph. A total of 56 cars attempted to qualify.

Forty years ago in 1972, Bobby Issac in the K & K Dodge took the pole for the Daytona 500. Second fastest was AJ Foyt. Andy Hampton won the ARCA 300 at Daytona. Iggy Katona finished second with Red Farmer, third. Speedweeks in Daytona was the beginning of a big year of change for NASCAR. Bill France Sr, who formed NASCAR, stepped down as President and in his place was Bill Jr, 38 years old at the time. Before he stepped down, France Sr. reorganized the Grandnational (Winston Cup) tour into a 31-event championship program, which eliminated events of less than 250 miles and dirt track events.

Thirty five years ago in 1977, the Modifieds were added to the World Series of Asphalt Racing at the New Smyrna Speedway. Fred DeSarro was the opening night winner. Richie Evans finished second in the 25-lap event and was followed by Geoff Bodine, Ronnie Bouchard, Bugsy Stevens, Merv Treichler and George Kent. Geoff Bodine, in the Richard Armstrong No.1 came back to win the next three with Evans the bridesmaid on all three occasions. Donnie Allison was the Daytona 500 pole sitter with a speed of 188.048 mph. AJ Foyt was the outside pole sitter.

Thirty years ago in 1982, Benny Parsons was the Daytona 500 pole sitter with a speed of 196.317 mph. Harry Gant was second fastest with a speed of 195.609 mph. Bobby Allison won the Daytona Busch Clash. An all-new Modified team appeared at New Smyrna. Long Islander Greg Sacks teamed up with Ernie Wilsburg and took the Florida oval by storm as they won the first three events. Richie Evans finished second in the opening night event and was followed by Tony Hirschman, Ronnie Bouchard, Gil Hearne and Jamie Tomaino. Nite number two saw Evans again in second spot with Doug Hewitt, Maynard Troyer and Hirschman, following. Evans continued to be the bridesmaid as he recorded another second on Sunday night. Hewitt and Troyer followed with Gail Barber rounding out the top five.

Twenty five years ago in 1987, Bill Elliot was the top dog at Daytona as he took the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 210.364 mph. Elliott also won the Busch Clash. In World Series action at New Smyrna, Jamie Tomaino was the opening night winner. Jim Spencer finished second and was followed by Tony Jankowiac. Saturday night action rained out. Jim Spencer came back with fire in his eyes as he won the Sunday night event over Reggie Ruggiero and Dave Reszendes. Ruggiero got his night of glory on Monday as he won the 25-lap feature over Tomaino, Spencer and Reszendes. Spencer became the first repeat winner as he took top honors on Tuesday night. Tomaino finished second with Reszendes, third. Bobby Fuller arrived in Florida and wound up fourth in his second night out.

Twenty years ago in 1992, Sterling Marlin was the Daytona 500 pole sitter. Bill Elliott took the outside pole making it an all Junior Johnson front row. Geoff Bodine, in the Bud Moore No.15, won the Busch Clash. In World Series action at New Smyrna, Steve Park in the Joe Brady No.00 went pole to pole to win the opening Friday night event. Ricky Fuller finished second with Tom Baldwin, third. Park made it two in a row as he won again on Saturday night as he again beat out Fuller for the win. Fuller jumped into a back up car after wrecking on the start with Tom Baldwin and Jay Hedgecock. Tom Baldwin jumped out on Sunday night and went on to record his first win. Park finished second and was followed by Tim Arre, Rick Fuller and Bob Park. Ricky Fuller, driving for Mario Fiore, took the top spot on Monday night. Fuller was followed by Park, Richie Gallup and Tony Ferrente Jr. Gary Balough, who had won four late model features in a row, was disqualified for having too much left side weight. Park became the first repeat winner as he won on Tuesday night. Fuller, Baldwin, Gallup and Arre rounded out the top five.

Fifteen years ago in 1997, Jim Hendrickson, a top gun on Long Island and former driver of the Ferrente x3 passed away. Mike Skinner in the Richard Childress No.31 took the Daytona 500 pole with a speed of 189.813 mph. Steve Grissom was second fastest with a speed of 189.813 mph. Jeff Gordon won the Busch Clash, a sleeper of a race with no passing. Tom Baldwin was the opening night winner at New Smyrna, going pole to pole for the win. Tony Stewart, in the Bob Fuller No.17, finished second. Dave Berube, Eric Beers and Mike Christopher rounded out the top five. Baldwin made it two for two as he again went pole to pole as he won the Saturday night event. Stewart again finished second with Tim Arre, Dave Berube and Gary Meyers rounding out the top five. Arre went pole to pole on Sunday night with Fuller second and Stewart, third. Ted Christopher was having a horrible week as he blew three engines in a row. Stewart went pole to pole on Monday night. Baldwin finished second and was followed by Arre, Fuller and Doug French .Rick Fuller got his first win for Joe Brady on Tuesday night. Christopher finally got an engine to stay together and finished second. Stewart finished third and was followed by Baldwin and Tomaino.

Ten years ago in 2002 Charlie Pasteryak went pole to pole to win the opening Friday night 25-lap event at the New Smyrna Speedway. Ted Christopher finished second with Rob Summers, John Blewett III and Eric Beers rounding out the top five. Daytona 500 qualifying was held on Saturday afternoon with 53 cars on hand. Rookie Jimmie Johnson took the pole with a speed of 185.831 mph. Kevin Harvick was second fastest. Thirty Modifieds went to post on Saturday night at New Smyrna. Ted Christopher survived six cautions and came home the winner over Summers, Pasteryak, JR Bertuccio and Blewett. The Busch Clash for Winston Cup pole qualifiers was held on Sunday afternoon. Tony Stewart took the win in the 70-lap event that went non-stop. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second with Jeff Gordon, third. Rain washed out New Smyrna on Sunday night. In other news, NASCAR announced a television package for their touring series, which included seven events each for the Featherlite Modifieds, and Busch North Series. It was also announced that Knoxville Raceway promoter Ralph Capitani had been selected as the RPM Promoter of the Year. Francis Venditti of the Seekonk Speedway was the New England Regional winner. NASCAR was hit with a $8.5 million lawsuit that was filed by safety equipment manufacturer Bill Simpson who felt that he had been defamed over the way NASCAR handled the Earnhardt seat belt issue.

Five years ago in 2007, the engines started in New Smyrna, Fla. for the 41st annual World Series of Asphalt Racing last Friday night. Clear weather and temperatures in the 70ís greeted both fans and competitors. Twenty-one Tour Type Modifieds and 15 SK Type Modifieds were on hand. In the Tour Type 25 lap feature Eric Beers and Don Lia led the charge at the green. As the field entered turn one Ted Christopher spun, triggering a scramble that collected Jim Storace and Earl Paules. Christopher was able to restart at the tail end of the field. With Beers and Lia still on the point a second start was attempted. Bob Grigas spun in turn one, bringing out the second caution. Another spin made restart No. 3 a bust. Out of desperation Modified Chief Steward made the decision to start the field single file. With one lap on record Bob Holmes brought out the caution after hitting the wall in turn 2. One more caution, on lap 19 for a minor spin slowed the field. At the finish Eric Beers, who went pole to pole was the winner. John Blewett III finished second with Andy Seuss, third. Ted Christopher rebounded from his first lap skirmish to finish fourth. Don Lia rounded out the top five. Jimmy Blewett was the SK Type Modified winner.

The newly paved speedway saw elapsed times getting much faster as competitors toured the half-mile oval in the 16-second bracket. Joey Logano made his Tour Type Modified debut in practice. He got into the wall during practice and was not able to take time for qualifying . James Civali is driving a second Joe Brady machine renumbered the #80. Mike Andrews is also back in the driverís seat, driving the Bear Motorsports #14. Ryan Preece has also shown up at the track in the #40. Eric Beers was the fastest in Tour Type Modified time trials for the second night in a row when he blistered the half mile oval in16.526 seconds. John Blewett III was second fastest with Earl Paules, third. The first five tour type cars broke the track record. Twenty-two Tour Type Modifieds were on hand. Donny Lia and Eric Beers led the field down for the start. Just as the field completed the first lap Ryan Preece hit the wall in turn 2 and went along the outside wall for a few yards. Mike Andrews in the Bear Motorsports #14 hit the wall in between turn 3 and 4.Lia led the restart with Beers in tow. On lap five Ted Christopher brought out the caution when he tried to go under Andy Seuss between turns three and four. Both cars hit the wall a ton! As the field went under red both cars were double hooked off the track to the pits. Lia continued to lead Beers on the lap 5 restart. Chuck Hossfeld had moved into third with John Blewett III, fourth with Jimmy Blewett rounding out the top five. Caution No.3 flew on lap 10 for debris on the track. Beers applied the heat to Lia but to no avail. Hossfeld began to fade as the Blewett brothers passed him. Bob Grigas brought out caution No. 4 when he spun in turn four. He drove away. On the restart Butch and Shelly Perry got together as well as Bobby Holmes and James Civali. Once again, with seven laps remaining, the field restarted with Lia on the point followed in single file by Beers. On lap 20 Jimmy Blewett ran out of patience and in a bonsai move shot by Beers. John Blewett followed. At the finish it was Don Lia by four car lengths over Jimmy Blewett, John Blewett III, Eric Beers, Zach Sylvester and Chuck Hossfeld. After two nights it appears that only a chosen few can handle the increased speeds at New Smyrna. Jimmy Blewett made it two for two in the SK Type Modifieds.

The Modifieds had Sunday night off.

The Daytona International Speedway shifted into high gear with the running of the Busch Clash on Saturday night. Stewart nudged Kyle Busch out of the lead with eight laps to go, then calmly drove to his third victory in the all-star event when runner-up David Gilliland never challenged. Busch, who needed a huge save to keep his car off the wall, finished seventh and seemed certain that Stewart made at least slight contact. As Stewart closed in on the finish line, Dale Earnhardt Jr ran into the back of Elliott Sadler to start a four-car pileup far from the leaders that collected defending race winner Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle. David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd won the top two starting spots Sunday in qualifying for the Daytona 500. Gilliland turned a lap of 186.320 mph to win the pole, and Rudd was right behind at 185.609. Sixty-one cars attempted to qualify.

Last year, 2011, The long wait was over as the nights came alive in New Smyrna Florida as the green flag dropped for the 45th ANNUAL WORLD SERIES of ASPHALT STOCK CAR RACING at the New Smyrna Speedway The nine night series featured Super Late Models, Limited Late Models, Crate Late Models, NASCAR Tour-Type Modifieds, SK Modifieds, FL/IMCA Type Modifieds, Pro-Trucks, ACT Late Models.

The Modifieds were scheduled to run every night except on Sunday, 2/13. Opening night saw a slim field of Modifieds, 11 and a real slim field of SK Mods, 7. Earl Paules was the opening night 25 lap Modified feature winner. Paules took the lead from Ron Silk following a lap 12 restart. Silk finished second with Chuck Hossfeldt third and Ted Christopher, fourth. Rounding out the top five was Patrick Emerling. Because of the short field, the SK Modified feature was cut back to 15 laps instead of the scheduled 25. Ron Silk took the win with Earl Paules, second.

Night number two, Saturday, saw a new Modified winner in the form of Ted Christopher. Driving the Joe Brady #00 Christopher took the lead in the 25 lap feature on lap 2 and never looked back. Chuck Hossfeldt finished second with Ronnie Silk, third. Andy Petree who was a Championship Crew Chief for the late Dale Earnhardt Sr finished fourth with Earl Paules rounding out the top five. The Modified field continued to be thin as there were only ten on hand. Ron Silk made it two in a row in SK Modified action. The field of SKs continued at seven.

The Modifieds and SK Modifieds did not race on Sunday night at New Smyrna.

Kurt Busch won the exhibition Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night when Denny Hamlin was disqualified for going below the out-of-bounds line at Daytona International Speedway. The first NASCAR race on Daytona's new pavement created sizzling fast speeds, cars went over 206 mph at one point in the race, and created packs of two cars all around the oval.

Busch skirted around Newman at the top of the track, pulling McMurray with him. Hamlin actually crossed the finish line first, but was black-flagged and fell to 12th.

Instead of a smaller restrictor plate to lower the speeds at Daytona Intíl Speedway, NASCAR officials are taking a different approach by lowering the tolerance level of the pressure relief valve. By taking that approach, the cars will blow water out of the engine at a lower temperature, which will force cars locked in a two-car draft to pull out to get clean air into the inlet on the front grille.

NASCAR officials recognized a problem in Saturday nightís Budweiser Shootout at Daytona when speeds of two cars in a draft exceeded 206 miles per hour. Once those cars began to overheat and had to unlock each other, the closing rate of another two cars locked up was more than 20 miles per hour faster.

Since the advent of radial tires and the car of tomorrow Sprint Cup races have become a big time bore. Sprint Cup racing is nothing more than a glorified IROC race that in many cases is way too long.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. reclaimed the spotlight in Daytona speedweeks, winning pole position for the Daytona 500 with a lap of 186.089 mph in qualifying Sunday. Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Jeff Gordon, qualified second. It's the second straight Daytona 500 front row sweep for Hendrick, who put Mark Martin on the pole and Earnhardt in the No. 2 spot last year.

A little bit of New England racing nostalgia and history came to an end on Feb 10 when the roof that covered the former No. 44 race shop came crashing down. The Mario Fiore owned race team had occupied the premises from 1981 through 2006. It was from this race shop, located across the street from the former Riverside Park in Agawam, Ma that Fiore and his team produced and maintained some of the fastest and best handling Modifieds that ever turned laps.
 
National Speed Sport News reported that fuel injected engines will make their way into NASCAR competition in 2012. The fuel injection system will replace carburetors in the NASCAR Sprint Cup division. The series has used carburetors since its inception in 1949. NASCAR and its top series teams will test the technology during the 2011 season with the anticipation of the systems being rolled out in 2012.

Fuel injection was used in the NASCAR Modifieds up to and including the 1969 season. Among those who were the most proficient with the use and setup of fuel injection were Jack Tant, Bobby Judkins and the late Len Boehler.

NASCAR officials announced that they had lowered the minimum age for drivers competing in their five regional touring divisions from 16 years old to 15 years old. The change took effect immediately for the K&N Pro Series East and West divisions, the Whelen Modified Tour and Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the Canadian Tire Series.

It marked the second time in four years that NASCAR had lowered the age minimum for its touring divisions. Prior to the 2007 season the minimum age was lowered from 18 to 16. Joe Gibbs Racing took advantage of that change immediately entering Middletown native Joey Logano into competition in the K&N Pro Series East. The then 17-year old went to win the division's championship, become the youngest driver to win a NASCAR title. Logano was in his third season in the Sprint Cup Series for Joe Gibbs Racing.

In another move, NASCAR announced that it's Learner's Permit NASCAR license for Whelen All-American Series competitors would be applicable for all divisions at NASCAR sanctioned tracks. NASCAR introduced the Learner's Permit license last year, allowing competitors and crew members ages 14 and 15 years old entrance into entry level divisions at NASCAR sanctioned short tracks.

Many have mixed feelings about lowering age limits. Some kids are responsible enough to handle it while some are not.
It was announced that Ford Motor Co. has sued Ferrari in Detroit federal court, saying the sports car maker has violated its trademark over the pickup truck name F-150.

The suit is based on Ferrari's naming of its new Formula 1 racing car the "F150," and its creation of the website http://www.ferrarif150.com. Dearborn-based Ford says in Wednesday's filing that its trademark is being harmed, and the suit asks a judge to block Ferrari from using the trademark in the U.S. Ford also seeks unspecified damages from Ferrari.

Ferrari's website says the "F150" marks the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

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


Geoff Bodine


Jerry Humiston


Pete Corey


Don Moon

Gene Bergin

Eddie Flemke

Thatís 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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