Thirty years ago, in 1983, Greg
Sacks rebounded from a blown engine at Martinsville as he won the
New England season opening IceBreaker at Thompson. Sacks took the
lead from Richie Evans with three laps to go in the 83-lap contest.
George Kent finished second as Evans faded to third at the checker.
Ray Miller and John Rosati rounded out the top five. Evans, who
started on the pole, was forced to pit after suffering a flat left
rear tire on the second lap. Sacks, who started on the outside pole,
led until lap 46 when Evans re-took the lead. Evans clearly had the
fastest car but his hard charge to the front took its toll on his
tires. Cale Yarborough was the Winston Cup winner in Atlanta.
Twenty five years ago, in 1988,
Riverside Park opened their season with a 100 lapper, which was won
by Reggie Ruggerio. Mike Stefanik in the Jack Koszela 15 finished
second with Stan Greger, third. Rounding out the top five were Long
Island invader Tom Baldwin and Marty Radwick.
Twenty years ago in 1993,
Riverside Park opened the season to a packed house of 8675
spectators. Famed car owner Bob Judkins suffered a heart attack and
was unable to watch as Jerry Marquis took the win over Bruce
D’Assandro, Chris Kopec and Mike Stefanik. In Winston Cup action at
Darlington, Dale Earnhardt won out over Mark Martin. Robert Pressley
won the Busch Grandnational event. The racing world was saddened
when news spread that defending Winston Cup Champion Alan Kulwicki
was killed in a plane crash on April 1 while heading to Bristol
Fifteen years ago in 1998,
Riverside Park had the traditional New England opener. Reggie
Ruggiero started 25th as a provisional. Working the Park like only
Reggie could, Ruggerio marched his way to the front and took the
lead from Cris Kopec on lap 108 and never looked back as he romped
to victory. Pole sitter Mike Stefanik led the first 40 laps before
giving way to Kopec. Stefanik, who ended up third behind Ruggerio
and Tony Hirschman, was running in second spot on lap 187 of the
200-lap contest when Ted Christopher slid up, causing both to spin.
Christopher lost a drive shaft and was done for the day. Dan Avery
and Ed Flemke Jr. rounded out the top five. In Winston Cup action at
Bristol Rusty Wallace dominated until running over debris and
hitting the wall. Jeff Gordon inherited the lead and eventual win.
Elliott Sadler was the Busch Grandnational winner. On a sad note,
Tim Flock who was a pioneer in the sport back in the 50’s died after
a long battle with cancer.
Ten years ago in 2003 In Busch
Grandnational action at the Texas Motor Speedway NASCAR pulled one
of its biggest officiating blunders when they penalized Brian
Vickers for passing before the starting line on a re-start. Joe
Nemachek took the win. Videotape clearly showed that Vickers did not
pass before the line. NASCAR held their ground, as the word from the
Big Red Trailer was that he “Intended to Pass”. In SMART action at
the Caraway Speedway in North Carolina, Jay Hedgecock took the win.
Ryan Newman won the Winston Cup event that was run at the Texas
Five years ago in 2008, the
Thompson Speedway held their second of two practice sessions on
Saturday in somewhat blustery conditions. According to Howie Hodge
the following Whelen Modified Tour Series drivers were on hand to
shakedown their cars: 0 - Danny Sammons, 3 - Ryan Preece, 10 - Ed
Flemke, 11 - Anthony Sesely, 17 - Glen Reen, 21 - Richard Savory, 28
- James Civali, 32 - Tom Abele. Jr., 46 - Eric Beers, 58 - Kevin
Goodale, 90 - Renee Dupuis, 93 - Rowan Pennink and 99 - Jamie
Kenny Barry, pinch hitting for Todd Ceravolo, in got in some decent
runs in the Dick Ceravolo owned Sunoco Modified. The Ceravolos'
suffered engine problems the week previous and had installed a new
Denny Hamlin overtook Jeff Burton on the 427th lap and went on to
win the Goody's 500 Nextel Cup event at the Martinsville Speedway in
Virginia. For 389 laps, the race looked like it would be another
victory for Hendrick Motorsports at the track it has dominated,
winning eight of the previous 10 races. Hendrick drivers led 371
laps, but Hamlin and fellow Virginia native Jeff Burton made
decisions under the next-to-last caution that allowed them to move
up front. And Hamlin ruined Burton's decision to stay out while the
rest of the leaders pitted. Jeff Gordon rallied to finish second,
followed by Burton, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Johnson had won
three straight at Martinsville heading into the race.
Dennis Setzer assumed the lead when Kyle Busch had to brake to avoid
a crash in front of him Saturday, then held on through numerous
restarts to win the Kroger 250 Craftsman Truck Series race at
Martinsville Speedway. The victory was the first for Dodge since the
late Bobby Hamilton won at Mansfield in 2005, and the truck Setzer
won in is co-owned by Hamilton's widow, Lori. Don Lia scored his
first top ten as he finished ninth.
Last year, 2012, the Waterford
Speedbowl endured some bone chilling weather and a smashed retaining
wall but managed to get their first Saturday night racing program in
the record books. Claiming the opening Saturday night feature wins
included Justin Gaydosh who wired the SK Modified® race, leading
from start to finish and Dillon Moltz, who won his first career
victory in the Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model division at his
hometown track. Corey Hutchings took the win in the night’s Street
Stock feature while Ken Cassidy Jr. won his second consecutive Mini
Stock feature to begin the year. Thirteen-year old Kaz Grala of
Westboro, MA won the night’s Legends Cars feature and Ken Morin Jr.
of Old Saybrook reached Victory Lane in the Bandolero feature.
The 35-lap SK Modified® feature saw Gaydosh jump to the race lead
ahead of Harry Rheaume at the drop of the green flag. While Gaydosh
moved out to a brief early lead, Kyle James and Nichole Morgillo
also snuck past Rheaume’s inside before he was able to get in line
in fourth position. The field clicked away the early laps with James
slicing into Gaydosh’s lead and Morgillo alone in third place.
Behind Morgillo, Rheaume led a train of cars that included Tom
Abele, Diego Monahan and Rob Janovic Jr. Monahan was the first to
jump out of line on lap-4, moving by both Abele and then Rheaume to
sweep into fourth position.
As James began to pressure Gaydosh for the lead, the running order
remained the same through lap-9 when trouble broke out in the pack
of cars battling for fifth position. Rheaume, Abele, Tyler Chadwick
and Ed Puleo all made contact exiting turn two, sending Rheaume and
Chadwick hard into the retaining wall. The violent impact sent
Rheaume’s car airborne as the field continued to scatter behind the
wreck. The incident drew the red flag, resulting in a 35-minute
delay for repairs to the wall necessitated by the severe impact. All
the drivers walked away from the incident, however only Puleo was
able to resume after pitting for repairs.
Keith Rocco was looking to make it two in a row at the shoreline
oval before his luck ran out. Following a restart, Gaydosh and Rocco
made slight contacting entering turn one battling for the lead.
Rocco got momentarily crossed up, coming together with Janovic who
tried to race by Rocco’s inside into second. The two did a masterful
job of keeping their cars pointed straight ahead down the backchute,
but the contact damaged both cars suspension. Janovic slowed
dramatically in turn four, drawing another caution flag. Both
Janovic and Rocco pitted but were unable to resume before racing
went back to green. The new running order for the final restart saw
James line up to Gaydosh’s outside, with Jeff Rocco, Monahan and
Pearl rounding out the top-five.
The final laps were run without caution after Gaydosh got another
good jump on the restart. James was again able to close the gap back
to the leader as the race reached the final laps. James was in
striking position, valiantly trying to put a crossover move on
Gaydosh who defended each attempt. James’ best run came on lap-33 as
he drove off Gaydosh’s right rear as the exited turn two. Gaydosh
again defended the run and pulled back ahead to set up the final two
laps. James tried a last ditch effort on the final lap but settled
for second. Jeff Rocco, Monahan and Pearl held their positions to
round out the top-five.
One of the promising young rookies in the Waterford Late Model
division put his future as a driver on hold for a while. Ryan
Morgan, who is a graduate of the Quarter Midget, Legend Cars and the
Thompson Modifieds, made the move up this year and on opening day
finished a solid fourth. During his qualifying heat this past
Saturday night he had the misfortune of having his throttle stick
wide open while going down the backstretch. The Ledyard High School
student hit the wall a ton and all but destroyed the car that was
owned by his dad, John. Ryan was transported to the L&M Hospital in
New London and later sent for observation at the Yale-New Haven
Hospital. The end result was no broken bones but a lot of soreness.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returned to the Caraway
Speedway in North Carolina last Saturday night where Brian Loftin
took the lead early and paced the field to the finish to win the
Farm Bureau Insurance 150.
It was an emotional Victory Lane, marking Loftin's first win since
the passing of his wife a year ago. The win gives the Lexington,
N.C., driver a tour-leading eight victories at Caraway and marked
his 12th career tour win overall. Loftin, who started third on the
field, took the lead from Frank Fleming a third of the way through
the 150-lap event and then held on through four restarts in the
second half of the race to score the win. L.W. Miller followed
Loftin across the finish line in second to collect a second podium
finish at Caraway for a second consecutive week. Rookie Daniel
Hemric finished third, with Tim Brown rebounding from a flat tire to
finish fourth and Danny Bohn taking fifth.
Sixth thru tenth were Patrick Emerling, defending champion George
Brunnhoelzl III, Jason Myers, Burt Myers and Andy Seuss. There were
22 cars on hand.
With his victory in the Farm Bureau Insurance 150, Loftin locked up
a spot in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series race at the UNOH Battle
At The Beach at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway next February
Get well wishes went out to George Summers, one of the all-time
great Modified drivers in the northeast, who had been hospitalized
in a Mass. hospital with pneumonia.
NASCAR's Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series had the weekend off
to observe Easter.
This week are several
Vintage photos, Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dykes RacingThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size
That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner
Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes