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March 15, 2013

By Phil Smith

Thirty five years ago in 1978, the NASCAR Modifieds made their annual early spring trip to Martinsville. Richie Evans, who had 143 victories to his credit going into the 1978 season, added another to the list as he won the 250-lap event. Geoff Bodine, who would end up with 55 wins at season’s end finished second. Billy Hensley finished third with Jerry Cook and Brian Ross rounding out the top five. New England favorites Bugsy Stevens and Fred DeSarro did not have luck on their side as they both dropped put with mechanical problems. DeSarro lost an engine and Stevens lost a transmission.

Thirty years ago, in 1983, Richard Petty took the Winston Cup win at Rockingham after Geoff Bodine wrecked in the late stages while leading. Bill Elliott finished second with Darrell Waltrip, third. Bodine ended up 19th. Ron Bouchard was 20th.

Twenty five years ago, in 1988, Mike Mclaughlin found himself to be a surprise winner in the NASCAR Modified 200 at Martinsville. Jim Spencer was the apparent winner until he was disqualified in a post race inspection when it was determined that he had an oversized fuel tank. Satch Worley finished second with Reggie Ruggerio, third. George Kent finished fourth with Dave Reszendes, fifth. Rounding out the top ten were Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Billy Meyers, Wayne Edwards and Carl Pasteryak.

Twenty years ago in 1993, Winston Cup and Busch Grandnational events scheduled for Atlanta were cancelled when a blizzard hit the area.

Fifteen years ago in 1998, the Busch Grandnationals were in Nashville as the Winston Cup stars had a weekend off. Seventeen year old Casey Atwood took the pole. Robert Pressley was leading with eight laps to go when he clipped Mark Green causing him to spin and wreck. Mike Mclaughlin, running second at the time, inherited the lead and took the win under caution. Atwood finished second with Dale Earnhardt Jr., third.

Ten years ago in 2003, Ricky Craven passed Kurt Busch coming off the fourth turn on the last lap and after a lot of contact, won the Winston Cup event at Darlington. Because of foul weather the Busch Series was forced to run their event on Monday. Todd Bodine took the win after crashing with Jamie McMurray on the final lap.

Five years ago in 2008, the big news was the announcement of the end of racing at the Wall Township Speedway in New Jersey. Timothy H. Shinn, Managing Member For The four partners that own the Jersey shore facility made the official announcement. According to Shinn the partners did everything in their power the past six years since 2002, to provide top quality short-track racing and keep the doors to the Speedway open. “We have made numerous attempts to create a scenario which would enable us to continue with the Speedway operation, all to no avail”, he said. Unless someone comes along to buy the facility the 1/3 mile oval that was fashioned after the famed Lonsdale Sports Arena in Rhode Island will fade away to oblivion. The speedway has provided continuous auto racing for 57 years.

Jeff Burton took the Sprint Cup win at Bristol after Kevin Harvick wrecked Tony Stewart with 2 to go. Harvick bumped Stewart, sending both cars sliding and opened a hole for Burton to squeeze through and go on to victory. Stewart, who finished 14th, was livid on his radio after the accident but had calmed down by the time he climbed from his car and took partial responsibility for the contact. Harvick finished 2nd and Clint Bowyer finished 3rd. Dale Jarrett finished 37th in the final start in a points race of his 24-year career. Also at Bristol, Clint Bowyer grabbed the win in the Sharpie Mini 300 when rain moved back into the track just past the halfway mark and the race was called after 171 laps. The race started 2 hours late because of showers at the track earlier in the day. Kasey Kahne, who battled Bowyer hard for the lead prior to the rain, finished second.

Last year, 2012, Area Auto Racing News scribe Kevin Rice reported that the Bristol Motor Speedway hosted a test session for the NASCAR Modifieds. Participants were Champions Ron Silk and George Brunnhoelzl III along with Frank Flemming and Eric Goodale. The primary reason for the test was to experiment with rear end gears and quick change rear ends. NASCAR hopes to reduce the number of blown engines that persisted last year. Preliminary results showed no big change in lap times when higher gears were used.

Speedway Motorsports, Inc., CEO Bruton Smith said that he is moving ahead with plans to return Bristol Motor Speedway to its previous configuration. Speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio's The Late Shift with Buddy Baker and Jim Noble, Smith said feedback from fans had been overwhelmingly in favor of changing the legendary speedway's layout. Smith's change will take a multi groove track back to single consistently banked track. track.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour series was slated to begin at the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina. Caraway is a .455 mile semi-banked oval. Due to persistent rain showers and a forecast calling for possible severe thunderstorms throughout the weekend, NASCAR and Caraway Speedway postponed the Spring Classic 150 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race originally scheduled for Sunday, March 25. Twenty six cars were entered for the event.

The Dallas Business Journal reported that Bruton Smith, chief executive of Speedway Motorsports Inc., received $1.97 million in total compensation in 2011, according to a company filing with the Securities & Exchange Commission. Smith was paid a salary of $600,000 and received nonequity incentives of $1.37 million last year. The speedway CEO’s compensation totaled $1.78 million in 2010.

Also included the filing: proposals to elect Marcus Smith and Tom Smith to the company’s board; to approve of a revised stock plan; to reapprove the company’s incentive compensation plan; and to finalize selection of Pricewaterhouse-Coopers as principal accounting firm for 2012.

Joey Logano won the Nationwide Series race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA Saturday, holding off Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Brad Keselowski in an entertaining finish to Joe Gibbs Racing's eighth consecutive Nationwide win at the track. After starting from the pole, Logano reclaimed the lead after a restart with 12 laps to go before staying in front of a tight pack.

Tony Stewart got his second NASCAR victory of the season Sunday when rain shortened the race at Auto Club Speedway by 71 laps. Stewart's Chevrolet passed Kyle Busch 44 laps before the race was stopped when the looming rain clouds finally halted a race run entirely on green flags to that point. The race was called off after a short delay, giving Stewart his 46th career win and his second at Fontana. Busch finished second, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. added to his strong start to the season in third.

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


Frank Frederici


Geoff Bodine


Brian Ross

T
Buddy Krebs

Dick Berggren

Ed Ortiz

That’s 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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