Friday March 17, 2006

By Phil Smith
Thirty years ago in 1976, Ray Hendrick had a lap on the field at Martinsville when he crashed and handed the victory in the Dogwood 500 to Jerry Cook. Brian Ross finished second and was followed by Charlie Glazier, Harry Gant, Melvin Chilton, Jerry Dostie, Chuck Ciprich and Wayne Anderson.
Twenty five years ago in 1981, Martinsville was the scene of one of the wildest finishes ever seen in a modified event. Arch rivals Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine banged wheels and bumpers for most of the 250 lap event. A restart, with three laps to go, set the stage. With Bodine leading, Evans was on a mission and pulled out all the stops. After taking the white flag, Evans wailed Bodine in the rear hard enough to get him squirrelly and was able to take the lead going down the backstretch. Coming out of turn four, Bodine attempted to retake the lead when the two tangled coming down for the checker. Bodine crashed into the wall as Evans took the checkered flag in mid air. Bodine managed to finish second with John Blewett Jr, third. Blewett’s day was not without incident. During a caution on lap 234 Jamie Tomaino pulled along side Blewett to express his displeasure over a previous incident. Much to Tomaino's surprise, Blewett turned right and planted Tomaino in the wall. Following Evans, Bodine and Blewett at the finish were Jerry Cook, Maynard Troyer and Roger Treichler. Bodine was the Late Model (BGN) winner over Sam Ard.
Twenty years ago in 1986, the season got its start in Rougemont, N.C. Charlie Jarzombek in the Wilsburg No.5 took the win over Satch Worley in the Speedy Thomas No.07. Carl Pasteryak finished third and was followed by Corky Cookman, Jamie Tomaino and Jim Spencer.
Fifteen years ago in 1991, there was no modified action as Martinsville ran on March 9.
Ten years ago in 1996, the action was at Atlanta. Terry Labonte was the Busch Grandnational winner and in Winston Cup action, Dale Earnhardt beat Labonte by a half a straightaway.
Five years ago in 2001 the Thompson Speedway Ice Breaker was cancelled due to the fact that four inches of ice and snow covered the speedway. In Winston Cup action at Darlington, Steve Park dominated until lap 279 when Dale Jarrett took the lead after a pit stop. Park ended up second. Jeff Green was the Busch Grandnational winner.
Last year, 2005, the big news of the week was the announcement that former Whelen Modified Tour Series Champion Mike Stefanik would be driving the Joe Brady No. 00 in 2005. Stefanik would remain committed to the Busch North Series where he drove the Grizco Racing entry. Stefanik would be forced to miss five Whelen Modified Tour events including those at Waterford on June 25 and August 27 when the Busch North Series would be in Holland, NY and at Oxford Plains in Maine. Stefanik would be at Waterford on July 23 when the Modifieds are in Scarborough, ME at the Beech Ridge Speedway. Stefanik would also miss Modified events scheduled at the Seekonk Speedway and the Jennerstown Speedway in Pennsylvania. Even on a part time basis Stefanik and Brady would add immense quality and intense competition to the Whelen Modified Tour Series.
In a joint announcement from NASCAR and the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey, the Jersey shore oval would once again be under the sanction of NASCAR. It had previously been announced that New Jersey’s last remaining asphalt oval would revert back to being an independent oval in 2005. Extended negotiations between speedway partner Fred Archer with NASCAR’s Don Hawk and Ed Cox made it happen. Hawk, by the way, said that NASCAR was still working to get some television coverage of tour series events for the 2005 season.
It was announced that auto racing facilities in the state of Connecticut could now allow entire families, regardless of age, to enter their pit areas. Previously no one under 16 was allowed. With the advent of budget restraints the Motor Vehicle inspectors that previously over-saw racing in the state would no longer be in that role.
Mark Martin moved into the lead when Carl Edwards was sidelined by a flat tire, extending his record for Busch Series victories to 47 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman fought for the lead often running side by side through the late stages of the Nextel Cup event, but Johnson managed to take the lead away with 55 laps to go, and hung on for the win. For Johnson it was his 15th career win. Johnson's newest team mate, rookie driver Kyle Busch had a great day going too, and followed across the finish line in second place. Finishing in third place was Kurt Busch, the top running Ford of the day. Two more Chevy's driven by Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick round out the top five across the finish line. Jimmie Johnson lost the Nextel Cup points lead and his crew chief was suspended when NASCAR handed out several penalties for violations at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson's crew chief, Chad Knaus, was suspended for two weeks and fined $35,000 when the race-winning car failed to meet the minimum height requirement in the post-race inspection. The crew chiefs for Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick also were suspended. Todd Berrier was suspended for four weeks and fined $25,000 for rigging Harvick's fuel tank to appear full when it actually wasn't during qualifying. Alan Gustafson was suspended for two weeks and fined $25,000 because Kyle Busch's runner-up car was too high in the post-race inspection.

That’s about it for this week from 40 Clark St, Westerly, and R.I.02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467 or days at 860-433-5250.E-mail _ HYPERLINK mailto:

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene for over 3 decades.
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