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March 1, 2013

By Phil Smith

Thirty five years ago in 1978, the NASCAR Modifieds had an early season event at Hickory, North Carolina. Geoff Bodine took the win over Richie Evans, Jerry Cook, Wayne Anderson, Gary Cretty, Joe Thurman and Fred Harback.

Fifteen years ago in 1998, Jim Spencer took the lead with 25 laps to go and went on to win the Busch Grandnational 300 at Las Vegas. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. Randy Lajoie provided some excitement on the last lap when he flipped. Mark Martin was the Winston Cup winner.

Ten years ago in 2003 the NASCAR Winston Cup and Busch Series racing teams headed for Las Vegas. Because of intermittent rain qualifying for both events were run at night. Many of the teams arrived late after they were stuck in an ice storm in Texas. Terry Labonte was the Winston Cup Busch Pole sitter. Matt Kenseth took the lead after a pit stop on lap 237 and held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the win. Michael Waltrip finished third. In last lap action, Jimmie Johnson and Sterling Marlin wrecked while fighting for eighth spot. Joe Nemachek won the Busch Series race over Kevin Harvick.

Five years ago, in 2008, The big event in the northeast was the second annual Speedway Expo at the Big E in West Springfield, MA. The brainchild of Dick Berggren, Speedway Expo had something for everyone who is involved in auto racing. The show served as a preview of the upcoming season with many tracks showcasing their facilities.

On Saturday, Speedway EXPO hosted a Toast 'n Roast and the featured guest was Ted Christopher. Among the favorite Modifieds on display was the No.61 Richie Evans Ghost Rider that was restored by Spearpoint Racing and the original Ernie Wilsburg í82 Troyer that won just about every major race in the 82-83 season with Greg Sacks and Charlie Jarzombek at the controls.

With the announcement of the television package for the NASCAR Developmental Series, formerly Busch North, Busch East or whatever, it appears that once again the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series, which in words from NASCAR is the sanctioning bodies most competitive division, has got what the cow left behind after she jumped the fence! While 24 races in the NASCAR Developmental Series would be televised, only two Modified events, June 28 at Loudon and Sept 21 at Martinsville, would be televised.

Among the hot topics coming out of the Waterford Speedbowl was the rumor of former flagger and race official Bill Roberts taking over as General Manager, replacing Bill Roth who left at the conclusion of the 2007 season. Roberts was employed by the Electric Boat division of General Dynamics.

In Sprint Cup racing at Las Vegas, Carl Edwards won for the second time in six days. Edwards had to overcome an early pit road penalty, escape NASCAR punishment on a second pit road mishap, then hold off a rusty Dale Earnhardt Jr. on a pair of late restarts Sunday. The celebration of Carl Edwards' second consecutive victory was short-lived: His winning Ford Fusion failed a post-race inspection at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that could lead to severe penalties for his team. NASCAR officials discovered the lid was not on the oil tank box of his race-winning car and the parts were sent back to North Carolina to be checked. Dale Earnhardt Jr finished second. Greg Biffle was third and was followed by Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton. Kasey Kahne was sixth, followed by David Ragan, Travis Kvapil, Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin.

Mark Martin took Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Victory Lane by winning the Nationwide Series Sam's Town 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, then immediately apologized for an accident he started in the closing laps that took out a teammate. Martin added to his series record with his 48th victory in a car owned by Earnhardt's JR Motorsports. But the win came at the expense of Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, who races full-time for Earnhardt, .Martin was sixth following a final round of pit stops when the race restarted with 10 laps to go. With four fresh tires on his Chevrolet, he sliced his way toward the front while chasing cars that had only taken two tires. Edwards and Keselowski were racing side-by-side when Martin closed on Edwards' bumper. Slight contact sent Edwards' car wiggling across the track, and he slid high directly into Keselowski to wreck both cars. Martin slipped into the lead, then held on in a two-lap shootout to the finish.

Last year, 2012, Indoor racing came to Providence RI. in the form of The Coffee Cup INDOOR RACE at the Providence Civic Center on Saturday and Sunday. TQ Midgets & Sr. Champ Karts were on the bill of fare.

Canadian Stewart Friesen passed Erick Rudolph for the lead on lap 38 of the 40-lap Coffee Cup Classic Indoor Three Quarter Midget race at Dunkiní Donuts Center Saturday to earn his first Coffee Cup Classic victory. The win came after a thrilling side-by-side battle in an event that Rudolph dominated.

Ted Christopher was in the field and didn't disappoint those who came to watch him compete. Christopher, who started 25th and last in the field after fixing mechanical problems with his car just in time to make the call for the green flag, finished fifth.

The companion Champ Kart 25-lap main event was won by Glen Meisenhelder, who originally crossed the finish line in second place. When apparent winner Chris Daley was disqualified by technical inspectors for an out-of-compliance engine, Meisenhelder was elevated, albeit belatedly, to victory.

Stewart Friesen backed up his Saturday night three-quarter midget feature win in the Dunkin Donuts Center with a rousing win the Sunday afternoon. The race was halted three times before the 100th lap was put in the books and each time Friesen had to outrun Erick Rudolph and Joe Payne Jr. to preserve his winning drive. Friesen was also the leader of the 50th lap of the race when the field was stopped as designed by race officials to allow for refueling and minor adjustments. Drivers were able to restart in the second segment regardless of number of laps completed in the first half of the race.

Ted Christopher, who had been a contender in the first half of the event, pressured Friesen after working by Rudolph and Payne but dropped out of the event late in the going with mechanical problems.

Rudolph and Payne challenged Friesen over the final circuits but fell short. Ryan Smith was fourth at the checkered flag and Jon Gambuti was fifth.

After enduring the indignity of a disqualification the night before, Champ Kart driver Chris Daley was a man on a mission Sunday afternoon.

Ricky Stenhouse, the defending series champion, led the final 54 laps at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to become the first non-Sprint Cup driver to win a Nationwide race on the 1.5-mile oval. Stenhouse started sixth at Las Vegas and stayed near the front, taking the lead with 54 laps left. He pulled away from Mark Martin out of two cautions down the stretch of the 200-mile race and had a cushion of nearly 6 seconds when he crossed the checkers at the tri-oval in the desert.

Martin, who had won four of his previous six Nationwide starts at Las Vegas, finished second in his first race for Joe Gibbs Racing. Polesitter Elliott Sadler was third after a lengthy mid-race pit stop to fix a vibration and Danica Patrick was 12th in the first race at LVMS since IndyCar star Dan Wheldon was killed.

In NASCAR Sprint Cup racing action at Las Vegas, Tony Stewart dove to the edge of the apron and ducked under the two cars in front of him. With one bold move, the defending Sprint Cup champion was on his way to a redemptive win. Stewart made a three-wide pass on a late restart and held off Jimmie Johnson winning at a track that was the site of his biggest disappointment.

Thatís about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly R.I.02891.Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467.E-Mail smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

This week are several Vintage photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Hop Harrington


Ron Bouchard


Fred Luchesi

T
Ollie Silva

Walt Campbell

Danny Galullo

Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, 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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