Friday July 20, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                                                

Forty years ago in 1967, Fred Harbach scored his first and only win at Stafford on Friday. Dick Watson finished second with Leo Cleary, Fred DeSarro and Bill Slater rounding out the top five. Harback, one of the top guns from Long Island, raced at Stafford, Norwood and Thompson throughout 1967.Rene Charland was the winner of a 40 lapper at the Albany Saratoga Speedway. Bill Wimble finished second with Lou Lazzaro, third. Jerry Cook and Ernie Gahan rounded out the top five. Charland made it two for two as he won a 100 lapper at Fonda on Saturday night. Wimble and Gahan followed. Gene Bergin was the Saturday night winner at Norwood and Dutch Hoag won again at Fulton. Sunday action at Thompson and Utica-Rome rained out.

Thirty-five years ago in 1972, Bugsy Stevens beat out Long Islander Dan MacNamara at Seekonk on Friday night. Many of the big guns were at Malta for a 200 lapper where Eddie Flemke prevailed in the Frank Vigliorlo No.34 (formerly the Bob Judkins 2x) Bob Santos finished second and was followed by Ron Bouchard, Richie Evans, Maynard Forette and Fred DeSarro. Saturday night at Stafford saw Santos score another runner-up with Ronnie Bouchard taking the top spot. Fonda ran a double points event with Ralph Holmes taking the win over Ron Narducci and Andy Romano. Asphalt racer Bernie Miller tried his hand on the dirt and finished 15th. At Islip, it was Jim Hendrickson over Charlie Jarzombek and George Tet and at Utica-Rome on Sunday night, it rained.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Thompson ran a mid-week open competition event. Richie Evans took the top spot over Geoff Bodine and Eddie Flemke. At Stafford on Friday night, Bodine held off Bugsy Stevens and Dick Caso. Local favorite Bob Polverari took the top spot at Riverside over Bodine while at Seekonk; Corky Cookman took top honors with Jim Wilkins, Bugsy Stevens and Eddie StAngelo, following. Veteran Joe Tiezzi was the main man at Waterford. Jerry Pearl finished second with Moose Hewitt, Dick Ceravolo and Gene Bergin, following. Richie Evans invaded Islip for a 150 lapper and walked away a winner over Greg Sacks, Wayne Anderson and Fred Harbach. At Westboro, Mike Weeden won out over George Savory and Joe Howard. Thompson closed out the weekend with Fred DeSarro taking the win over Bodine and Bouchard.

Twenty-five years ago in 1982, Stafford had scheduled Modified Madness for Tuesday but rain prevailed. On Wednesday night, Thompson ran the Thompson 300 outside pole qualifier. George Summers in the Art Barry no.21 took the 40 lap win over Greg Sacks, George Kent and Kenny Bouchard. Sacks made it two in a row at Stafford on Friday night. Kenny Bouchard, in the Ted Marsh No.55 ran a strong second with Bob Polverari, Reggie Ruggiero and Mike Mclaughlin rounding out the top five. At Waterford on Saturday night, Don Fowler held off Don LaJoie and Joe Tiezzi. Promoter Dick Williams announced that Randy LaJoie would be in competition in the upcoming Busch North Series event that was coming up at the Speedbowl. Riverside Park ran a 200 lapper that saw Richie Evans in a class by himself as he won the event over George Kent, SJ Evonsion and Bob Polverari. Evans made it two in a row as he won at Thompson on Sunday. George Summers finished second with George Kent, third. Other weekend winners were George Kent at Spencer, Tony Siscone at New Egypt, George Brunnhoelzl at Riverhead, Gomer Taylor at Seekonk, Doug Hewitt at Shangri-La, John Blewett Jr. at Islip and Roger Treichler at Perry. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Bobby Allison took the win. Ron Bouchard finished fourth.

Twenty years ago in 1987, the weekend was marred by the death of Corky Cookman at the Thompson Speedway on Sunday night. Cookman, a quiet but well liked driver, hit the turn three wall a ton on lap 5 of the 75-lap event and was killed almost instantly. Cookman was transported to a local hospital as the race resumed. Reggie Ruggiero ended up with the win with Jim Spencer, second. In Late Model action, Ricky Shawn made it two in a row and in SK Modified action, Bo Gunning took the win. A few days after the death of Cookman, NASCAR announced that the 390 carburetor with unaltered boosters would be the only one allowed in the division. Bo Gunning was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Richie Gallup finished second. Waterford ran twin features on Saturday night with Ricky Young and Harry Rice taking the wins. Bob Potter finished second to Young with Dickie Doo Ceravolo, Ed Flemke Jr. and Bob Gada following. Following Rice were Dale Holdredge, Gada and John Anderson. Wayne Anderson ruled the roost at Riverhead despite pressure from Don Howe and Tom Baldwin in the closing laps. At Riverside Park, Wade Cole got a surprise win over Mike Mclaughlin and Reggie Ruggiero. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Tim Richmond was the pole sitter but the race belonged to Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at Stafford for a 150-lap event. Reggie Ruggiero in the Ed Cloce No.69 took the win over Doug Hevron in the Boehler No.3 and Jeff Fuller. Tom Tagg was the SK-Modified winner. At Monadnock, Marty Radwick scored a win over Jerry Marquis and Rusty Ball. Marquis, in the Bobby Judkins 2x, scored his seventh win of the season at Riverside Park on Saturday night. At Waterford and Riverhead, it was a night for the rookies. At Waterford, Scott Poirier scored his first ever win as he held off Mike Christopher and Bob Potter and at Riverhead, John Fortin beat out Tom Tillotson and Mike Ewanitsko.

Ten years ago in 1997, it was a big week for Reggie Ruggiero at Riverside Park as he recorded his 90th career win at the amusement park oval when he beat out Dan Avery and Mike Stefanik to win the Wednesday night NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series 150.Ruggiero backed it up with his 91st career victory on Saturday night over Richie Gallup and Ted Riggott. At Stafford on Friday night, Ted Christopher garnered his 46th career victory. Jim Broderick, Bo Gunning and Bob Potter followed. Broderick settled for second again on Saturday night at Waterford as Scott Spaulding took the win. Todd Ceravolo finished third. Spaulding took the lead from Broderick with five laps to go. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Dale Jarrett took the win. In other news, the International Speedway Corporation added Phoenix International Raceway to its war chest of speedways
Five years ago in 2002 the Thompson Speedway moved their night up to Wednesday so as to have a special appearance by Tony Stewart who would compete in a match race with Ted Christopher. Stewart’s car, a Christopher back up, suffered engine failure. Eddie Partridge came to his rescue for a replacement. The 20-lap race was declared a draw. In regular Sunoco SK-Modified action, Christopher took the win over Tom Bolles, Eric Berndt and Ron Silk. Bert Marvin took out Bo Gunning, leading at lap 13. Both were sent to the rear. Gunning ended up 20th and Marvin, 22nd. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was at Loudon for a Friday afternoon event. Forty-seven cars were on hand for the event, which had a posted purse of $138,825. Ken Woolley took the Busch Pole with Todd Szegedy on the outside. The 42 car field took the green around 5:00 p.m. after truck and Winston Cup qualifying. It was sprinkling at the time, which caused a wreck on the front chute. As the cars circled under caution the rain intensified and the event was finally re-scheduled for Saturday morning at 8:00. Jan Leaty took the lead with four laps to go and went on to victory over Todd Szegedy, Nevin George, John Blewett III and Jerry Marquis. Before heading for victory lane Leaty drove to the spot in turn one which was where he had gotten hurt in a previous event and exited his car to kiss the wall. Brad Leighton was the winner of the Busch North Series event, which was also run on Saturday at the New Hampshire oval. In other weekend racing activity, Stafford was rained out. Dennis Gada beat out Ed Reed JR at Waterford and JR Bertuccio scored his fifth win at Riverhead. Jimmy Blewett won the 100 lap Garden State Classic at the Wall Stadium. In Winston Cup action at Loudon, Ward Burton took the win over Jeff Green. The new track section between turns three and four broke up and turn three was the scene of six crashes. On a sad note, Fred Greco, son of NEAR Hall of Fame Member Bill Greco, was killed in a head-on crash on his way home,

Last year, 2006, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made its first of two stops at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday night. A total of 35 teams were signed in the pit area preparing for practice before the event was canceled shortly after noon. No rain date has been posted as yet. August 26 is the next open weekend.

The Thompson Speedway beat the rains that came with tropical storm Beryl on Thursday night. Scoring his second Sunoco Modified feature victory of the season was Keith Rocco.. Rick Gentes also scored his second of the season in Late Model action. Fred Astle, Jr. claimed his first Pro Stock feature win of the season while career firsts went to Brian Blaise and Tim Sullivan in Limited Sportsman and TIS Modified competition respectively. Rick Blanchard of Pascoag, RI continued his domination of the Mini Stock division with his fourth win of the season. Rocco jumped out from his third place starting spot and led the entire 30 lap distance. On a single file restart, with four laps to go, Rocco led a battle for second. Woody Pitkat dove underneath Tom Cravenho but Cravenho held strong . On the white flag, it was a replay of the same move by Pitkat. This time the move worked. Pitkat took second from Cravenho by inches to earn the runner-up spot to winner Rocco. Cravenho finished third. Jeff Malave and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five.
The Stafford Motor Speedway was the scene of the 33rd annual SK Modified 100. Todd Owen was the big winner of the evening, outlasting last year's winner Willie Hardie. In other weekly action, Woody Pitkat made it three in a row as he took home his sixth Late Model feature win of the season, Brit Andersen was a first-time winner in the SK Light feature, Sean Foster became a two-time winner in the Limited Late Model feature, Carla Botticello outlasted Norm Sears for her first win of the season in the DARE Stock feature, and Kenny Horton won the 21 Means 21 SK Modified feature. In the 33rd annual Coors Light SK Modified 100 feature, both John Blewett, III and Lloyd Agor were the early race leaders, setting a blistering pace at the front of the field. Near the midway point of the race, Bo Gunning, who was last week's SK Modified feature winner, moved out front and led the half-way point to pick up a $100 bonus from Reliable Welding and Speed. Gunning's good run turned sour when he and Frank Ruocco made contact while racing for the lead, which sent Gunning spinning and Ruocco to pit road for three fresh tires. Owen took over the lead of the race with Gunning and Ruocco's spin, and he led the rest of the way, outlasting Willie Hardie over the final 10-laps to take the win. Rounding out the top-5 behind Owen and Hardie were Jeff Malave, Ruocco, and Zach Sylvester. In the 30-lap Late Model feature, hometown favorite Woody Pitkat, didn't take the lead of the race until lap-25, and then had to survive several restart situations to nail down his sixth feature win of the 2006 season. Wayne Coury, Jr. led the first 24-laps of the race from the pole position, but his night ended with a crash in turn 1. Late Model points leader Jim Peterson finished second behind Pitkat, with Tom Butler, Tom Fearn, and Mark Lewis rounding out the top-5.

Denny Hamlin completed the Pocono sweep by winning the Pennsylvania 500 Sunday in Long Pond, dominating the field for his second career victory. Hamlin's first victory came six weeks ago at Pocono when he recovered from a spin through the grass and held on after a late restart. This race was easier, as Hamlin led 151 of 200 laps, putting him eighth in the Nextel Cup points standings. Hamlin's teammate Tony Stewart nearly self-destructed and Dale Earnhardt Jr. slipped in his pursuit of the title. Stewart, the defending Cup champion, was black-flagged early in the race for intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer. Stewart had been pushed up the track and against the wall by Bowyer, and waved a hand out the window as the cars separated. He then swerved directly into the side of Bowyer's car, sending it spinning into Carl Edwards. Stewart was flagged for aggressive driving, and had to pull into the pits for a one-lap penalty that dropped him to 41st. Stewart wasted no time getting back on the lead lap. But on the next round of pit stops, Edwards gave him a retaliatory shove that spun Stewart and earned Edwards a penalty. Stewart still worked his way to a seventh-place finish, moving him back to 10th in the standings.

Kevin Harvick held off Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer by .271 seconds Saturday to win the Goody's 250 Busch race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway - the first series race at the track since 1994. The victory was Harvick's series-leading fourth of the season. Harvick is one of six Nextel Cup drivers who are running full-time schedules in both that series and Busch this season.It was Harvick's 21st career Busch win and ties him for seventh place all time with Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harry Gant. Mark Martin leads the series with 47 victories. Harvick's No. 21 Chevrolet was by far the dominant car Saturday, leading 149 of 250 laps. He did, however, have to navigate several tricky restarts as the race was marred by a track-record 19 cautions covering 87 laps.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 E-mail:

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

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