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Friday June 15, 2007

By Phil Smith                                                                                Click on Photo for Full Size                                

Forty years ago in 1967, rain washed out weekend racing at Stafford, Norwood and Thompson. Spencer Speedway got their show in with Bob Hudson taking the win. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night local favorite Clayton ďSonnyĒ Seamon took the win over Eddie Flemke, Lou Lazzaro, Kenny Shoemaker and Andy Romano.

Thirty five years ago in 1972, Gene Bergin, in the Dick Armstrong No.1 took the top spot in Friday night action at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N.Y. Bob Santos finished second with Richie Evans, Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro rounding out the top five. Ray Miller, in the Meyers-Sweatland Mustang, took Stafford by storm on Saturday night. Following Miller at the finish were Fred DeSarro, Billy Harman, Bob Santos and Eddie Flemke. At Islip it rained and at Fonda, Maynard Forette beat out Jerry Pennock, Ken Shoemaker and Jerry Cook. At Utica-Rome on Sunday night, Eddie Pieniezak took the win over Richie Evans, Bernie Miller and Jerry Cook.

Thirty years ago in 1977, Geoff Bodine won at Stafford on Friday night over Ron Bouchard, John Rosati and Dick Caso. Rain washed out action at Seekonk, Westboro, Waterford and Riverside on Saturday night. It remained dry at Islip where Gary Cretty took the win over Wayne Anderson, Cliff Tyler and Tom McCann. At Freeport it was Jerry Bartlett over Gary Winters and Jim Hendrickson. Riverhead ran a 100 lap Race of Champions qualifier on Sunday with Charlie Jarzombek taking the win over Jerry Cook and Fred Harbach. Kirby Monteith unseated Punky Caron as King of the Hill at Monadnock and at Thompson; Fred DeSarro made it three in a row as he beat out Ray Miller and John Rosati for the win. Other weekend winners were Richie Evans at Spencer and Maynard Troyer at Lancaster.

Twenty-five years ago in 1982, Reggie Ruggiero was the Friday night modified master at Stafford as he romped to a convincing win over Bob Vee, Ray Miller, Kenny Bouchard and Bugsy Stevens. Spencer ran twin features including a 100 lapper that was won by Maynard Troyer. George Kent won the nite-cap and carried his win streak to Riverside on Saturday night where he beat out Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero for the win. Waterford cancelled due to high water in the infield and at Seekonk; Bugsy Stevens took the top spot with the Mystic Missile. Carl Pasteryak finished second with George Summers, third. Sunday racing at Thompson rained out. Other weekend winners were Wayne Anderson over Richie Evans and Bob Park at New Egypt and Fred Harbach at Islip. In Winston Cup action at Riverside in California, Tim Richmond took the win over Terry Labonte and Geoff Bodine.

Twenty years ago in 1987, rain washed out Stafford, Riverhead and Riverside. At Waterford, Dickie Doo Ceravolo took a popular win as he held on to beat out Bo Gunning and John Anderson. At Shangri-La, Jim Spencer picked up his third win over Jan Leaty and Tony Hirschman. In Winston Cup action at Pocono the winner was Tim Richmond.

Fifteen years ago in 1992, Ted Christopher took no prisoners at Stafford on Friday night as he beat out Bo Gunning, Bob Potter and Richie Gallup for the win. Waterford ran twin 25's on Saturday night with Bob Potter and Rick Young each taking a victory. Tom Fox was the late model winner after Phil Rondeau and Jerry Young tangled late in the event. Jay Stuart won his fifth Pro Stock feature at Riverside and Ricky Fuller bested Chris Kopec for the modified win. Mike Ewanitsko won the Richie Evans Memorial 61 lapper at Riverhead. Bob Park finished second with Brian Miller, third.

Ten years ago in 1997, Stafford rained out on Friday night. The Featherlite Modified Tour Series traveled to Jennerstown, Pa. where Mike Ewanitsko scored his 16th Mod Tour win over Tony Ferrente Jr, Sam Russo and Doug French. Charlie Pasteryak had been leading with five laps to go in the 150 lapper when he broke a wheel hub and crashed. Jim Broderick took the lead for the win with two laps to go at Waterford. In victory lane he dedicated his win to Scott Spaulding's dad who had passed away during the previous week. Riverside ran a 100 lapper on Tuesday and a 50 lapper on Saturday night. Dave Berube won the 100 lapper over Ted Riggott and Ted Christopher and in the 50 lapper on Saturday, Richie Gallup took the win over Christopher and Rene' Dupuis. Rumors coming out of Riverside indicated that racing for 1998 could be in doubt due to consistently bad crowds. In other weekend action, Dale Shaw won the Busch North Series 150 at Beech Ridge over Mike Stefanik and Jerry Marquis and at Riverhead; Ken Matlach scored his first ever modified win.

Five years ago in 2002, Bert Marvin made it two in a row in Thursday night action at Thompson. Ted Christopher finished after coming from the back and was very critical of Marvinís blocking. Tom Bolles finished third with Ron Yuhas Jr and Jeff Malave rounding out the top five. Perfect weather drew a near capacity crowd. Ed Spiers ended a long dry spell as he scored his first win since 1989 at Stafford on Friday night. During the early going Ted Christopher and John Lobo Jr. were fighting for the lead when they tangled. Christopher lost two laps while his crew changed a tire and was never a factor after that. Ron Silk finished second with Bob Georgiades, third. Lobo finished fourth. The Busch North Series was also at Stafford. Kelly Moore won the 150-lap contest over Dale Shaw and Andy Santerre. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series paid a visit to the Seekonk Speedway. The 150 lap event carried a purse of $67,675 and drew 40 Modifieds and a reported 10,000 spectators. Ed Flemke Jr. started third and took the lead from Ted Christopher on lap 26, survived four re-starts and went on to record the win. David Berghman finished second and was followed by Tom Cravenho, Joey Carracia and Rob Summers. Tony Hirshman wrecked on lap five and re-injured his wrist, which all but eliminated his title hopes. Rob Janovic took the win at Waterford over Ron Yuhas Jr. and Dennis Gada. Mike Andrews took the win at Riverhead and Harry Reed got his second of the season at Wall Township. New England was well represented in a Hooters Cup event run at Indianapolis Raceway Park as former Waterford Late Model Champ Phil Rondeau finished fifth and Dale Evonsion finished eighth. George Kent Sr. won the Race of Champions Tour Series event at Tioga and in Winston Cup action at Sonoma, Cal. Ricky Rudd lucked into a win after Jerry Nadeau lost a rear in the Petty car that he drove.

Last year, the Thompson Speedway grandstands can normally hold close to 16,000 fans when filled to capacity. On Thursday night they looked to be about half full. Not bad considering it was a mid week event. The speedway management team headed by Ben Dodge and Russ Dowd prided themselves in running a fast, efficient race program. The final checkered flag of the night was waved at 9:20pm. Taking victories were Keith Rocco in the Sunoco Modifieds, George ďMad DogĒ Bessette in the Pro Stocks, Rick Gentes in the Late Models, Ed Puleo in the Limited Sportsman, Shelly Perry in the Mini Stocks and Roger Larsen in the Thompson Modifieds. Rocco, a second-generation racer, staged a knock down, drag out, door to door battle with Jimmy Blewett and Jeff Malave. As close as they ran, they never touched which is a true testimate of their abilities. In the end Malave settled for second over Blewett, Bert Marvin and Tom Cravenho. There were 165 cars, including 27 Sunoco Modifieds on hand.

The Stafford Motor Speedway hosted a double header on Friday night, which included the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series and the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Touring Series. When one mentions the ďBig OneĒ in racing circles most people think of the high-speed multi-car wrecks that occur in NASCARís Nextel Cup events. The Stafford Speedway had their own version during the running of the 40 lap SK Modified feature. A mid race bump and grind took out the front-runners. Eric Berndt was in the right place at the right time as he managed to drive through the carnage to take the lead and the ultimate win. Jeff Malave finished second, with Todd Owen third. Woody Pitkat was on a mission after an earlier spin and he charged through the field in the closing laps to come home fourth. Zach Sylvester rounded out the top-5. Berndtís victory, combined with Pitkatís fourth place finish, makes Berndt the new SK Modified points leader heading into this coming Friday nightís action. John Blewett III, who took over the driving chores of the Eddie Partridge No. 12 finished 26th. Ted Christopher, who was on hand to drive a Busch East car did not have a ride for the SK Modified feature.

In Late Model feature action, Jim Peterson ended Woody Pitkatís three-race winning streak with his 21st career Late Model victory. Chris Matthews was the winner of the SK Light Modified feature to become the first repeat feature winner in that division, Charlie Newman scored his first career victory in the Limited Late Model feature event, and David Gambacorta came away the winner of the 15-lap DARE Stock feature event.

Sean Caisse won his second straight NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series race of the season. Caisse came out the winner after a fierce duel with Matt Kobyluck in the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway. The pair, who started on the front row, were the only race leaders, swapping the lead among themselves eight times. Caisse took the lead for the final time after Kobyluck got wiggly in speedy-dry on a restart with 12 laps to go. Mike Olsen, who shadowed the leaders for much of the race, was third for the second week in a row. Dave Dion, making his 2006 debut, charged into contention in the closing laps to grab fourth, while southern visitor Jody Lavender made up for a late-race disappointment on home turf in South Carolina a week ago by completing the top five. Charles Lewandoski, Ryan Seaman, Joey McCarthy, Jeff Anton, and Bryon Chew were sixth through tenth. It represented a best career finish for both Lavender and Lewandoski. Stafford favorite Ted Christopher was a prime contender until an accident, which also involved John Salemi sent him to the pits after 122 laps. A few laps later, a strong run by Mike Johnson ended in a turn one accident. Brian Hoar, runner-up in the season opener, never took the green flag due to last-minute engine trouble. Ten caution periods resulted in 63 laps being run under the yellow flag. Attrition was high, with only 18 cars running at the finish, of whom a dozen were on the lead lap.

The Stafford Speedway suspended Jimmy Blewett for the remainder of the 2006 season. During the running of the SK Modified feature of June 9 Frank Ruocco drove Blewett up high coming out of turn four. Blewett appeared to retaliate and tagged Ruocco, sending him into the wall. Blewett said he got loose and it wasnít intentional. The Stafford management felt that it was intentional. Needless to say, it looks like John Blewett III will be in the Eddie Partridge No.12 at least at Stafford for the rest of the year. After viewing a video of the incident one could see that Blewett was being over aggressive. A couple of weeks off rather than a full season would have been more appropriate for the first offense.

At the Waterford Speedbowl. Danny Field won the 20-lap Mini Stock and Jim Procaccini won the 20-lap Sportsman feature. Robert Gingras III won the True Value Modified Racing Series event. The race, scheduled for 100 laps, was stopped after 53 laps because of track and state curfew rules. The SK Modified and Late Model features were postponed because of a rain delay of over 2 hrs. Grigas III won his first race ever on the TVM tour. He led every lap from the pole. Jimmy Dolan was 2nd and Dale Evonsion 3rd. Jeff Pearl was the highest finishing Speedbowl regular as he finished fifth.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was at Jennerstown, PA on Saturday night. After being silent for 48 days NASCARís oldest division didnít disappoint as Eddie Flemke Jr. led from the start to almost the end when Ted Christopher in the Ed Whelan No.36 stole his thunder. With two laps of the 100-lap distance remaining Christopher and Tony Hirschman slipped by as Flemke faded to third. Eric Beers and Don Lia rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Jerry Marquis, Chuck Hossfeld, Todd Szegedy, Doug Coby and Jon McKennedy. Unofficially Christopher now leads the series standings with a 30 point margin over Mike Stefanik. Stefanik finished the race in 11th. Hirschman was the Bud Pole Winner, setting fast time in qualifying. Flemke earned the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award. Steve Whitt was the recipient of the Powerade Power Move of the Race Award. Jon McKennedy was the rookie of the race. The next event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is at Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, Conn. on Thursday, June 29. There were 35 Modifieds on hand.

Other weekend winners were Kasey Kahne in the rain shortened Michigan 400, David Gilliland in a Busch Series event at Kentucky Speedway, JR. Bertuccio at Riverhead and Steven Reed over John Blewett III at Wall Township.

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