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Friday July 3, 2009

By Phil Smith

Forty years ago in 1969, the Fourth of July weekend started of on Friday at Stafford and at Malta. Stafford ran a 100 lapper which saw southern invader Ray Hendrick make an appearance. Bugsy Stevens was the kingpin and made it known that he was not about to play second fiddle to the man they called Mr. Modified. Stevens took the event with Hendrick, second. Fred DeSarro finished third with Bobby Santos, fourth. Dave Kotary was the winner at Malta with Guy Chartrand, second. Saturday night at Norwood, Billy Schulz beat out Johnny Thompson and Roland LaPierre Sr. for the win. At Islip, Fred Harbach was the winner with Booker T. Washington Jones finishing second. At Fonda, Kenny Shoemaker made it two in a row and at Airborne Park; Guy Chartrand made it four in a row. Glynn Shafer made it two in a row at the Waterford Speedbowl as he won the 50-lap holiday special. Larry Crandall was the Daredevil winner. At Thompson, on Sunday, it was Bugsy Stevens holding off DeSarro for the win.


Ray Hendrick's trip from the south brought him a 2nd place finish behind Bugsy in 1969.
(Danny Pardi Collection)

Thirty-five years ago in 1974 the holiday weekend started on Wednesday, July 3 when Stafford ran a 150 lapper. Jerry Cook took the win over Geoff Bodine, Brian Ross and Richie Evans. Cook backed his Stafford win with a 100-lap win at Utica-Rome on Friday night. Evans finished second with Bernie Miller, third. Freeport was also scheduled to run on Friday but was rained out. In action on Saturday night, Bugsy Stevens won at Stafford. Ronnie Bouchard was the runner-up. At Islip, Jim Hendrickson in the Ferrente x3 beat out Gary Winters and Charlie Jarzombek. Glynn Shafer won the scheduled 30 lap Modified event at Waterford. Ron Cote was the Grand American late model winner. Fulton ran twin events on Sunday with Evans and Bodine each taking victories. In other weekend action, Gene Bergin beat out Fred DeSarro at Star Speedway on Thursday. DeSarro beat Deke Astle at Seekonk on Saturday and at Thompson on Sunday, won out over Angie Cerese and Tony Russo. Paul Radford won a 100 lapped at Oswego plus scored victories at Metrolina and Hickory in North Carolina.

Thirty years ago in 1979, the Fourth of July weekend started on Wednesday at Westboro with an open competition 50 lapper. The event drew 33 cars. On the start, nine cars were wrecked including pre race favorites George Summers and Bugsy Stevens. Geoff Bodine who was trying to make a name for himself in the Southland came north and took a ride with Lee Allard. Bodine won the 50 lapper and was followed by Charlie Jarzombek, Fats Caruso and Jerry Cook. On Thursday night the action switched to Holland. Maynard Troyer blew while leading and opened the door for Richie Evans to step in and take the win. Cook finished second with George Kent, third. On Friday night, Stafford presented the annual Ferrara 100. Bodine and Satch Worley driving Allard team cars finished one-three with Ronnie Bouchard being the spoiler, finishing second. Cook was fourth. On Saturday the racers got a break as all racing in New England and New York State rained out. On Sunday the Modifieds ran at Oswego and at Thompson. At Oswego it was a repeat of Stafford as Bodine and Worley were again one-three. This time Richie Evans was the spoiler. Roger Treichler was fourth. In small block action at Thompson, George Savory took the win over Leo Cleary and Ron Bouchard who borrowed the ride of Fats Caruso after his own suffered engine problems.
 


"The Reg" took down the Stafford win in 1984.
(Danny Pardi Collection)

Twenty-five years ago in 1984, Spencer Speedway had an event scheduled for July 4th but it was rained out. Friday night at Stafford belonged to Reggie Ruggiero as he beat out Mike McLaughlin and Kenny Bouchard for the win. Riverside and Waterford rained out on Saturday but Riverhead was able to get their show in with Wayne Anderson holding off Tom Baldwin for the win. Shangri-La ran double features with Jim Spencer scoring a one-two punch, winning both. Racing at Thompson on Sunday also rained out.

Twenty years ago in 1989, the Modified tour series visited Riverhead on Wednesday. Reggie Ruggiero went pole to pole to win the 151-lap event over Dan Jivenelli, Mike McLaughlin and Steve Park. Park had been running second at the 125-lap mark when he tangled with Mike Ewanitsko.

Rounding out the top five was Wayne Anderson. At Stafford on Friday, Mike Christopher took the 35 lap SK Modified win over Bob Potter. Waterford ran a 50 lapper with David Gada taking the win. Riverside set an all time attendance record as the track reported 9264 spectators on hand. Bob Polverari won the Modified event over John Zavisa. The Mod tour series headed for Oswego on Sunday. Tony Hirschman held off Mike McLaughlin who finished second with Ruggiero, third. In other weekend action, Jeff Malave won at Riverhead; Randy Hedger at Shangri-La and Tony Jankowiak won a Race of Champions qualifier at Pulaski, VA.

Fifteen years ago in 1994, Stafford started the holiday weekend off with a 100 lapper, which was won by John Anderson. On Saturday night at Waterford, Phil Rondeau scored one of his two modified wins as he beat out Mark LaJunesse, Bob Potter, John Anderson and Todd Ceravolo. Jerry Young was the late model winner. At Riverside Park, Reggie Ruggiero all but owned the place as he crossed the finish line ahead of Tom Cravenho and Dan Avery. At Riverhead it was Bill Park over Eddie Brunnhoelzl. On Sunday, July 3, Ed Flemke Jr. scored his first ever-Modified tour win as he won a 102-lap contest at Tioga. Wayne Anderson finished second with Chris Aman, third. On Monday, July 4, Lancaster ran a 150 lapper. New England invader Rick Fuller took top honors over Jim Rudolph and Jan Leaty. In Winston Cup action at Daytona, Jim Spencer did the bump and grind with Ernie Irvan over the final laps and raced home the winner, by inches.

Ten years ago, in 1999, Brad Leighton took the lead on lap 43 in the Busch Grandnational North 150 at Stafford after Dave Dion spun in oil. It was Leighton’s fourth win of the year. Jeff Taylor finished second with Dion, third. Stafford's SK Modified event rained out. Waterford ran a 100 lapper on Saturday night with Eric Berndt taking the win over Jeff Pearl and Tucker Reynolds. Riverhead went to Frank Vigliaro Jr. In 100-degree heat, Bert Marvin went pole to pole at Thompson. Todd Ceravolo finished second with Tom Tagg, third. At Riverside, Rob Summers won a 125 lapper over Ted Riggott and Bob Polverari. In Busch Grandnational action at Milwaukee, Casey Atwood hit Jeff Green on the final lap and went on to take the win over Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Glenn Allen. In Winston Cup action under the lights at Daytona, Dale Jarrett took the lead on lap 146 of the 160-lap distance and took the win over Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Burton.

Five years ago in 2004, The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series was on their mid season break. The next event would be at the Beech Ridge Speedway in Scarborough, Maine. With eight of the 19 scheduled events already in the record books Eddie Flemke Jr. sat atop the point standings with a 70-point lead over former series champion Tony Hirschman. Flemke, who won at Waterford on May 15, had finished in the top five on seven occasions. Flemke and his Roger Hill owned race team had a game plan to run hard and run safe in 2004 and if their first half performance was any indication, they could very well be sitting at the head table at season’s end. Hirschman, who won at Stafford on May 28 and at Lake Erie on June 12, had a total of five top fives. Jerry Marquis, who won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford on April 25 and at Riverhead on June 5, sat in third spot despite being the division’s top money winner. Marquis was 113 points out of the lead and including his wins, has 5 top fives. Ted Christopher, who won the season opening IceBreaker at Thompson, was 156 points out of the lead in fourth spot. Christopher’s win came at the expense of Todd Szegedy who was disqualified when officials determined he had an illegal rear end gear. Ricky Fuller, all though winless, rounded out the top five. Fuller had one top five in eight starts and is 238 points behind the leader. Sixth through tenth in the standings were Jamie Tomaino, Chuck Hossfeld, Tony Ferrante Jr., Tom Bolles and Tom Cravenho. Kenny Barry was the leading rookie and sat in 11th spot. Other Modified Tour Series winners at the mid-season mark are Todd Szegedy at Nazareth on May 23 and Reggie Ruggiero at Wall Township on June 26. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series had been one of the strongest in NASCAR as events consistently draw between 40-50 cars per event.
 
The Busch North Series was also off for the weekend. Car counts could have been better but the dedication of those in competition was very high.

Cool heads on a hot night prevailed at Thursday night Thunder at the Thompson Bert Marvin who has had more than his share of bad luck in 2004 finally got a break and recorded his first win of the season as he took the top spot in the Sunoco Modified SK type event. Marvin jumped into the lead on lap two and never looked back. Pole sitter Adam Norton spent a lot of time looking in his mirror as he bounced off or cut off just about everyone who attempted to pass. The mirror driving didn't work as he ended up 12th at the finish. Kerry Malone finished second but had nothing for Marvin. Bo Gunning, Ted Christopher and Todd Ceravolo rounded out the top five. David Berghman became a three-time winner in the Pro Stock division while Ryan Posocco got his first in Late Model action. Other winners were Scott Sundeen in the Limited Sportsman, Roger Larson in the Mini Stocks and Randy Cabral in the NEMA Midgets.

Ted Christopher beat out defending SK Modified champion Kerry Malone at Stafford on Friday night. The modifieds played second fiddle to the Late Models who were showcased in a 100 lapper that went to Tom Butler. Rounding out the top five in the SK Modified feature were Chuck Docherty, Woody Pitkat and Jeff Baral.

Ted Christopher carried his winning ways from Stafford over to Waterford on Saturday night as he made it two out of three for the weekend. Christopher led the 100-lap feature from lap 30. Tom Fox finished second but had nothing for Christopher. Keith Rocco, who is on Christopher’s crew, made it two in a row in Sportsman competition. Phil Rondeau waited until the final lap of the Late Model feature to steal the glory from Allen Coates as he won the exciting Late Model feature. It was announced that Late Model driver Brandon Plemons had been suspended from racing at any NASCAR track for the remainder of 2004. Plemons, who was also fined $250, deliberately smashed his car into the driver’s door of Carl Erickson on June 26.

The Nextel Cup division and the Busch Racing Series of NASCAR were at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Mike Wallace was the surprise winner of the Busch Series event as he went from fifth to first in the final lap. If Jason Lefler hadn’t been so intent on mirror driving and spinning out his competition he might have won. The Pepsi 400 got a two hour late start because of monsoon type rain in central Florida. Jeff Gordon was the eventual winner. Two spectators were slightly injured from lightning earlier in the day. It had been learned that former modified ace Greg Sacks has entered the upcoming Nextel Cup event at Chicagoland. Sacks would drive a former Ray Everham car now owned by himself, James Wilsburg and Ed Raabs. Wilsburg is a former crew chief for Sacks when he drove Modifieds.

Last year, 2008, The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Loudon, NH for their first of two visits for 2008. Rain greeted fans and competitors who were on hand for qualifying on Thursday. Because of adverse weather NASCAR was forced to set the starting field of 38 cars based on point standings and the rulebook. There were 42 cars on hand, which meant that four would go home. Sent packing were Doug Coby, Jon Mckennedy, Kenny Horton and Kenny Bouchard. Among those in the field was L.W. Miller who would become the first driver to run a Spec engine in Whelen Modified Tour competition.

The four Whelen Modified Tour teams that were sent home from New Hampshire Motor Speedway after qualifying for Saturday's New England 100 was cancelled on Thursday each received tow money from the track. Track spokeman Fred Neergaard confirmed that each team was paid $500 by the track.

Chuck Hossfeld led only one lap but it was the one that counted as won out in a photo finish with Ted Christopher. Christopher, who had led since lap 69 had a checker on his mind but Hossfeld had other ideas as he dogged him with no mercy. Ed Flemke Jr finished third and was followed by Eric Beers and Reggie Ruggerio. Sixth through tenth were Bobby Santos, Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece, Jeff Fuller and Ronnie Silk. Hossfeld pocketed $15,600 for his efforts. Hossfeld and Christopher kept the crowd on its feet for the final ten laps as they traded positions at the front numerous times.It was by far one of the best finishes ever seen at the New Hampshire oval. Hopefully someone in the O. Bruton Smith empire will recognize the great potential the division holds. L.W. Miller, who used the new “Spec Engine” finished 20th.

The victory was the seventh of Hossfeld’s career, his third at New Hampshire and his second of the season. The Loudon Modified event had been scheduled to be televised and was to be shown on the Speed Channel on July 18. Needless to say the Whelen Modifieds took it on the chin again as the TV coverage was scrapped. On the positive side Speedway Motorsports upper management was impressed with the Whelen Modifieds to the point where they indicated the Mods could possibly get a third date at Loudon if and when the Indy Cars are added to the track’s schedule.
The True Value Modifieds went up country to Maine for an event on Saturday at the Wiscasset Raceway. Rain prevailed forcing a cancellation.

The Thompson Speedway’s Thursday Night Thunder program fell victim to rain.

The Stafford Motor Speedway put their Late Model division on center stage Friday night with the first of two extra distance 100-lap feature events of the 2008 season. Waterford’s Dillon Moltz drove to his third consecutive Late Model feature victory of the season in the 100-lapper, with Woody Pitkat winning the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Mark Bakaj winning the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature, Joey Ferrigno winning the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Robert Thompson winning the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.
 

At the Waterford Speedbowl second generation driver Jay Miller ended a long dry spell as he captured his first ever feature win at the shoreline oval. Miller is the son of NEAR Hall of Fame driver Ray Miller. Miller took the lead on the fourth lap of the 35 lap SK Modified feature from Wendell Dailey but in the end had to contend with Dennis Gada and Keith Rocco for the win. Miller held on as Gada and Rocco followed across the finish line. Rob Janovic and Jeff Paul rounded out the top five.

Other feature winners were Tim Jordan (Late Model), Walt Hovey (Sportsman), Raymond Christian III (Mini Stock), and Shaun Buffington (Legends).

In Sprint Cup racing at Loudon, Kurt Busch had strategy and luck on his side.


Jay Miller took down his first Speedbowl victory last year. Unfortunately the celebration was short lived as Jay unexpectedly passed away a couple weeks later on July 15th.
(Keith Cyr Photo)

Tony Stewart had neither. Busch wound up ending his 29-race winless string in the rain-shortened Lenox Industrial Tools 301, while the frustrated Stewart simply added another disheartening loss to his own winless string that has reached 31 races. It is the first victory for the Penske Racing driver since September at California Speedway, and it came on a day when two-time Cup champion Stewart dominated, leading 132 of 284 laps, only to see the hard luck that has dogged him all season continue.

Runner-up Michael Waltrip, who had not finished better than 23rd, used the same strategy as Busch. The two-time Daytona 500 winner said he was hoping the race would go to the end because he believed he had a faster car than Busch. But Busch believed he could hold the top spot. Stewart, who dominated the second half of the race on the 1.058-mile oval, held off a challenge from two-time reigning Cup champion Jimmie Johnson late in the race and appeared on the way to his first victory since August at Watkins Glen, N.Y. But Stewart and most of the other drivers who had been racing at the front of the pack did not have enough gas to get to the end. On lap 271, Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had been in the top 10 all day, started toward pit road and was hit from behind by Jamie McMurray, who then spun into David Ragan, bringing out a caution. Stewart and the rest of the front-runners pitted under the ensuing yellow flag, while Busch and seven other drivers who had pitted more recently than the leaders, stayed on track. The race restarted on lap 279, but there was another caution on lap 280, with Clint Bowyer and rookie Sam Hornish Jr. crashing, then Juan Pablo Montoya slamming into series points leader Kyle Busch, Kurt's younger brother, moments later. Montoya was later assessed a two-lap penalty by NASCAR for rough driving and finished 32nd.

The rain that had been threatening for much of the afternoon began falling during that caution and, moments after the cars were red-flagged onto pit lane just before completing lap 285, NASCAR called the race, leaving Busch on top, ahead of Waltrip, J.J. Yeley, Martin Truex Jr., Elliott Sadler, Reed Sorenson and Casey Mears, all of whom had stayed on track during the previous caution.

In Nationwide action at Loudon Tony Stewart got track position, restarting third after taking just two tires during his final pit stop on lap 129 of the 200-lap event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. He took the lead on lap 136 from fellow Cup star Carl Edwards on lap 136 and led the rest of the way. Teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch finished second and third.

This week are several photos of Hall of Famer Ray Miller and his son Jay. Jay passed away unexpectedly on July 15, 2008. On Sunday July 12, 2009 a celebration party in honor of Jay is being held. Fans and Friends are invited to attend. For more information click on the icon below.
Jay Miller Memorial Party

Sunday July 12th
Click on Photo for Full Size


Courtesy of Keith Cyr's RaceDogPhotograhy


Jay & Ray at Racearama


Courtesy of Keith Cyr's RaceDogPhotograhy

That’s 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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