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Friday June 13, 2008

By Phil Smith                                             Click on Photos for Full Size                                

 
Forty-five years ago in 1963 Ernie Gahan won the 25 lap NASCAR Sportsman 25 lap feature at the Utica-Rome Speedway. Bob Zeigler finished second with Jim Luke, third.

Forty years ago in 1968, Don Wayman was the Friday night winner at the Albany-Saratoga Speedway. Richie Evans finished second and was followed by Dave Gaul, Ray Sitterly and Ken Canestrary. Bugsy Stevens put the mighty No.3 of Len Boehler in victory lane at Stafford. Don MacTavish finished second with Eddie Flemke, Holly Wildler and Mario Fats Caruso rounding out the top five. Saturday night action at Norwood was rained out. At the Fulton Raceway Bob Merz scored his first of ten features he would win in three years of competing at the track. Rene Charland was the top banana at Fonda as he beat out Ed Pieniezek for the win. Sunday action at Utica-Rome and at Thompson rained out.

Thirty-five years ago in 1973, the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, N Y. ran a 100 lapper that saw Richie Evans take the win over Fred DeSarro, Jerry Cook and Bugsy Stevens. Saturday night at Stafford, there was no stopping Bugsy Stevens as he won the 30-lap feature going away. Eddie Flemke finished second and was followed by Bobby Santos and Ray Miller. It rained on Long Island, washing out a 100 lapper at Islip. Tioga ran with George Kent taking the win. Sunday at Lee, NH saw Ernie Gahan take the top spot over Jim Landry and Ed Yerrington. Evans scored his second win of the weekend on Sunday night at Utica-Rome. Sonny Seamon finished second with Jerry Cook, third.

Thirty years ago in 1978, Geoff Bodine made it six in a row at Stafford. At Waterford, George "Moose" Hewitt took the win over Joe Tiezzi, Glynn Shafer and Jerry Pearl. At Seekonk it was George Summers and at Westboro it was Freddie Schulz. Reggie Ruggerio beat out Richie Evans and Jack LeCuyer and at Islip; Greg Sacks took the top spot over Charlie Jarzombek and Fred Harbach. On Sunday at Thompson, Ronnie Bouchard trimmed the field. Leo Cleary finished second with Bugsy Stevens third. Maynard Troyer won at Fulton and Evans won at New Egypt.

Twenty-five years ago in 1983, Brett Bodine was the Friday night winner at Stafford. Bugsy Stevens finished second and was followed by Brian Ross and Kenny Bouchard. At Waterford on Saturday, Donnie Fowler held off Dale Holdredge to take the win. Ted Christopher finished third. Reggie Ruggiero was the main man at Riverside as he beat out Jack LeCuyer and SJ Evonsion. The SKs ran at Seekonk with local favorite Eddie StAngelo taking the win over Kerry Malone and Richie Gallup. Other weekend winners were George Kent at Tioga, Richie Evans at Spencer, Tony Siscone at New Egypt, Bill Park at Islip and George Brunnhoelzl at Riverhead. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Darrell Waltrip was the pole sitter and Bobby Allison was the race winner.

Twenty years ago in 1988, Stafford ran twin SK modified events. Jeff Barry and Bo Gunning took the wins. Reggie Ruggerio took the win at Riverside with Charlie Pasteryak a close second. Ted Christopher won at Waterford and at Tioga, Rod Spaulding took the win over newcomer, Tim Connolly. Eddie Brunnhoelzl beat out Fred Harbach at Riverhead.

Fifteen years ago in 1993, Ted Christopher recorded his 26th career win at Stafford. Bo Gunning finished second with John Anderson third and Bob Potter, fourth. At Waterford, Bert Marvin beat out Jim Broderick and Tom Jensen for the win. At Riverside Park, Reggie Ruggerio took yet another win as he led Stan Greger and Chris Kopec across the stripe. Thompson ran a non-tour-modified event, which drew only 22 cars and a light crowd. Ruggerio took the win over Carl Pasteryak, Jan Leaty, Tom Baldwin and Tony Forente. In Winston Cup action at Pocono, Ken Schrader took the pole and Kyle Petty, the win. Jeff and Ward Burton finished one-two at Myrtle Beach. In Busch Grandnational North competition at Jennerstown, Dick McCabe was the winner over Jeff Barry and Mike McLaughlin.

Ten years ago in 1998 rain played havoc in the northeast the entire weekend. Mike Stefanik flew to Jennerstown Penn. after the Beech Ridge Busch North event rained out. Needless to say, Stefanik continued his domination in the Modifieds as he won the event over Mike Ewanitsko, Reggie Ruggiero and Tim Connolly. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Mark Martin took the win over Dale Jarrett.

Five years ago in 2003, the Thompson Speedway began their summer series, Thursday night Thunder. Rain and showers were in Connecticut all day but the speedway management held fast and the event was run. Being in the right place at the right time was a definite factor for Ron Yuhas Jr. Yuhas was running second to Bobby Santos III when the third generation racer spun in turn four on lap 22 of the scheduled 30 lap feature. Santos and Yuhas tangled but officials felt it was a racing accident and didn’t penalize Santos. Three laps later, the skies opened up and the event was declared completed with Yuhas the winner. Twenty-eight Sunoco SK type modifieds went to post with Todd Ceravolo on the pole and Santos on the outside pole. Ceravolo jumped out to an early lead, opening up a wide margin on Santos. Ted Christopher, who started fifth, began his march to the front and by lap 12 had moved into second spot. Bo Gunning, who started deep in the field, also moved into the top five. The complexion of the event took a drastic change during a caution period on lap 14 when Ted Christopher and Bo Gunning got together and ended up in the turn two wall and out for the night. Ceravolo continued to lead until lap 16 when he spun in turn four. Officials felt that Ceravolo got help from Bert Marvin and place the pair in the rear for the re-start. Santos assumed the lead at that point. With all the scrambling at the end, Jeff Malave ended up second with Matty Adanti, third. Ceravolo recovered from his spin and finished fourth. John Brouwer Jr. finished fifth with Bert Marvin, sixth. Other opening night winners included Jeff Connors in the Pro Stocks, Woody Pitkat in the Late Models, Glenn Boss in the Limited Sportsman and Andy Publicover in the Mini Stocks. The NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour was at the Lake Erie Speedway in Pennsylvania on Saturday night. Todd Szegedy, in his sophomore season on the tour, got redemption for being snookered at Stafford on the last lap as he took the victory at the variable banked 3/8 mile oval. John Blewett III finished second with Eric Beers, Chuck Hossfeld and Ricky Fuller rounding out the top five. Jamie Tomaino started on the pole by luck of the draw. Ted Christopher was eliminated on lap two after a confrontation with Tony Hirschman. Tomaino led until a lap eight re-start when Eric Beers out powered him to take the lead. Beers held the point until Szegedy took command on lap 62. Close behind Beers at the time was Jerry Marquis who settled in, in second spot. Marquis held the spot until lap 100 when he dropped out with suspension problems. From then on it was Blewett casing Szegedy to the finish. Donnie Lia was the pole sitter and after drawing tenth, ended up 14th, one lap down. He had a strong run going until he tangled with Ed Flemke Jr and was put to the rear for rough riding after spinning Flemke out. Flemke, who started ninth, had a confrontation with officials over his pit road speed and ended up losing a lap. Flemke finished fifteenth. According to various reports the speedway did well as the grandstands were over 2/3 full. For the fourth week in a row rain washed out racing at the Waterford Speedbowl. Not since 1978 had the Speedbowl had this many rainouts. The Labor Day weekend tradition at the Darlington Raceway came to an end as NASCAR announced that they had approved the request of the International Speedway Corporation to move the Labor Day Winston Cup date to the California Speedway. Darlington would still have two dates, as the speedway took a date formerly held by the Rockingham Speedway in North Carolina. In Winston Cup action at Michigan, Bob Labonte was the Busch Pole sitter. Kurt Busch took the lead from Jeff Gordon with 24 laps to go and went on to record his third win of the year. Bobby Labonte finished second and Jeff Gordon faded to third. It was announced that Jeff and Brooke Gordon had reached a divorce settlement rather than go to trial. Brooke got a reported $15.2 million. Thompson Speedway owner Don Hoenig, on his way to get a fireworks permit, was involved in an accident, which destroyed his pace car.

Last year, 2007, The big news of the week was that Woody Pitkat had been named as the driver of the Hillbilly Racing No.79. Pitkat replaced Chuck Hossfeld. In other big news, NASCAR listened to car owners concerns and changed the format for an upcoming “Flash” Whelen Modified Tour Series event that was to be held at the Twin State Speedway. After a comprehensive review of the “Flash” format, NASCAR announced changes effective for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event in Claremont (N.H.) on Sunday, July 8.The race, the seventh in the 16-race schedule, would be 100 laps in length. The 30-car field would be set through time trials and twin heat races. “

Thursday Night Thunder at the Thompson Speedway saw six drivers red hot in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition on an uncharacteristic night of yellow fever. Thursday night featured two first time winners with Marc Jenison scoring his first Late Model triumph in the division’s marquee 50-lapper and Eric Grant besting a strong Limited Sportsman field for his career first. Keith Rocco survived a caution-filled event to score the Sunoco Modified victory while Norm Wrenn, was tops in the Pro Stocks. Tim Sullivan was victorious in the TIS Modifieds and Mike Romano in the Mini Stocks.

After several ill attempts at lap one, outside pole sitter Rocco was able to drive out to the lead. Rocco enjoyed some breathing room as John Blewett and Woody Pitkat struggled to get by Harry Rheaume in the second spot. After finally freeing himself of Rheaume, John Blewett spun on the backstretch coming to rest in the infield. An attempt at the restart was thwarted when Danny Lajeunesse hit the wall in turn one. While the cars where slowing down for the caution, Rheaume went low, directly into the path of oncoming Todd Ceravolo, launching his #16 into the air. Jimmy Blewett was also collected. Back under green, Rocco resumed his spot at the head of the field but not before some contact with Woody Pitkat. A spin by James Harrison brought out the event’s next caution. Not to be deterred, Rocco was out front again on the restart. Tommy Cravenho was now in second with Bert Marvin and Kerry Malone in hot pursuit. Ted Christopher, driving the Joe Lemay owned #00, took over the fifth position from Pitkat. Cravenho was giving Rocco a run for the top spot with Marvin glued to the back bumper.The action was hot inside the top five while the battle was just as fierce from fifth on back with Christopher, Pitkat and a fully-recovered John Blewett. Just after the halfway marker, things settled down with Rocco getting a bit of distance on Cravenho and Marvin. Christopher had caught Malone, who had, for a time, run alone in fourth. With only nine laps remaining, Marvin was given the black flag for a fluid leak. With the aid of another yellow, Marvin was able to make repairs and rejoin the field. A spin by Rheaume brought out a caution that Rocco did not want to see with seven laps remaining on the scoreboard. Cravenho made a good run on Rocco’s lead on the ensuing restart but could not muster up enough for the pass. Losing some momentum, Cravenho lost second to Malone. Contact with Christopher sent Cravenho reeling. By that time, Malone got a great run and put some heat on Rocco. Eric Goodale spun exiting turn four collecting Marvin, who was making great strides after tending to his car on pit road under the previous caution. The caution now pitted the week’s winner Malone against Rocco. After another pair of cautions, one including an incident involving Cravenho and Christopher, Rocco was still able to maintain his edge. Things got dicey for the leader Rocco in the final laps. Malone dove low in a bid for the lead, making contact with Rocco. Malone checked up. Rocco gathered it up and headed to the checkers for his first Sunoco Modified win of 2007. Malone came home in second followed by Pitkat and John Blewett. Buddy Charette had a great run to finish fifth. After being responsible for wrecking half the field Rheaume finished ninth.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night. Woody Pitkat won the 40-lap SK Modified feature, Ryan Posocco, the 30-lap Late Model feature, Glenn Griswold the 20-lap SK Light feature, Andrew Durand the Limited Late Model feature, and Jeff Jolly the 15-lap DARE Stock feature.

The 40-lap SK Modified feature saw a thrilling battle for the victory between Woody Pitkat and Willie Hardie that saw Pitkat take home his second feature win of the 2007 season. Hardie took the lead at the start of the race, and set the early pace. Pitkat started 12th, but by the half-way point of the race he was up to the fifth position. After several caution periods slowed the action periodically, Pitkat moved into third place, and from there he took second from Brad Hietala on lap-34 and began to duel with Hardie for the lead and the win. Pitkat took to the outside groove, where he nearly had a pass completed several times, but Hardie was able to fend off his challenges. A final caution with 36 laps complete set up a sprint to the finish. The battle for the win came down to the last lap, where in turn 3, the cars touched, with Hardie getting out of shape enough for Pitkat to take the win and for Ted Christopher to move into second at the checkered flag. Hardie finished third, with Jeff Malave and Todd Owen rounding out the top-5.

Former Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Rick Fuller joined the Stafford Motor Speedway TV crew as a color man. Fuller’s insights greatly enhanced the Stafford produced NASCAR New England program that is seen every Saturday afternoon at 4:00pm on NESN.

In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the Waterford Speedbowl Dennis Charette passed early leader Jay Miller with ten laps to go, notching his first 35-lap SK Modified feature of the season. Dennis Gada and Diego Monahan completed the top-three. The race concluded with a grinding multi-car crash on the front chute that sent Wendell Dailey to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital.

Other feature winners were Bruce Thomas Jr. (Late Model), Al Stone III (Sportsman), Danny Field (Mini Stock), Jason Palmer (Legends).A lot of racing equipment was damaged as numerous wrecks took place in all divisions.

In True Value Modified Series action “Lightning” Lou Mechalides returned to his old stomping grounds, Lee USA Speedway and when the checkered flag was displayed on lap 100, the veteran driver captured his third career win with the touring series. Mechalides is no stranger to feature wins at the Rte 125 oval. He is a former champion of the tracks super modified division driving for the same car owner, Marco Turcotte. Twenty-six Modified race cars towed to Lee for the “Rockingham Boat Spring Fling 100.” Three 12 lap heat races and a 15 lap last chance consolation race determined the 24 car starting field. Mechalides set a torrid pace, leading the Black Mountain Painting half way award at lap 50. A third caution flag slowed the race on lap 57 for early race leader Tony Ricci who spun. Longtime Lee racer and fan favorite, Vinnie Annarumo moved into the top five on the 57th circuit. Fans were starting to watch the Les Hinckley # 06 as the two time winner was starting to put on a late race show. By lap 70, Hinckley got past Annarummo, and cracked the top five. He dogged Kirk Alexander for several laps racing right behind the two time champ. Following a lap 88 caution for an Annarummo spin, the last ten laps got interesting. Hinckley was fifth with 10 laps to go; when the checkered flag was displayed the second-generation driver was second. The charge to the front by Hinckley thrilled the crowd but it was the hometown driver, Mechalides, that put a charge into his old stomping grounds. Jimmy Kuhn Jr, also made a late race run to the front to finish in the top five while Donny Lashua garnered a solid sixth place finish driving the Jack Bateman entry.

In Nextel Cup action Carl Edwards ended a 52-race Nextel Cup winless streak Sunday by holding off Martin Truex Jr. at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. Stephen Leicht took advantage of Carl Edwards' late wreck, then passed good friend Brad Coleman with 13 laps to go to win the Meijer 300 on Saturday night for his first NASCAR Busch Series victory.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) filed a counter claim in U.S. District Court against AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless and AT&T Inc., alleging breach of contract, fraud and misrepresentation, and conspiracy to aid and abet wrongful interference with NEXTEL’s exclusive sponsorship agreement. NASCAR is seeking a minimum of $100 million in damages.

The NASCAR Rule Book governs participation in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and its contents are agreed to in writing by all NASCAR members and participants. Cingular is a member of NASCAR and agreed to abide by all NASCAR rules and regulations when its representatives signed official documents such as the NASCAR Membership and License Application.

NASCAR’s suit further alleges that AT&T, Cingular and its representatives breached its explicit agreements with NASCAR when they re-branded the No. 31 car; entered into contract with RCR knowing that they would litigate against NASCAR; and when they sought to ambush NEXTEL’s exclusive sponsorship rights.

NASCAR also submitted its response to a suit filed by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless by soundly rejecting each of their claims. The response demonstrates the clarity of NASCAR’s rule book and the baseless allegations made by AT&T Mobility/Cingular Wireless in its attempts to re-brand the No. 31.

Keith Rocco has been having an excellent season this year in the SK Modifieds. This week are several vintage racing photos of his father Ronnie Rocco Courtesy of VintageModifieds.com

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

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

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