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March 8, 2013

By Phil Smith

Twenty years ago in 1993, the NASCAR Featherlite Modified Tour Series traveled to Richmond for a 25 lap event which served as a preview of an up-coming event. Jeff Fuller took the event over Doug Hevron, Mike Stefanik, Reggie Ruggerio and Mike Ewanitsko. Mark Martin made the Busch Grandnational event at Richmond a no-contest affair as he coasted to an easy win over Joe Nemachek. In Winston Cup action, Davey Allison beat out Rusty Wallace by 4.38 seconds for the win.

Fifteen years ago in 1998, Steve Park, well on his way to becoming a NASCAR Winston Cup superstar suffered a major setback at Atlanta when he crashed during a practice session and suffered a broken leg, collarbone and broken teeth. The actual event, which was run on Monday because of rain, was won by Bobby Labonte.

Ten years ago in 2003 Ryan Newman was the Winston Cup pole sitter at Atlanta. Bill Elliott was the outside pole sitter. Bobby Labonte took the lead from Jeff Gordon with 11 laps to go in the 325 lap-400 mile contest. Many suffered blown engines on what has become one of NASCAR’s fastest tracks. Less than a full house of fans was observed.

Five years ago in 2008, History was made at the Atlanta Motor Speedway when Kyle Busch finished off a dominating drive in the Sprint Cup event for the first win with his new team and Japanese automaker Toyota. The Japanese automaker became the first foreign winner in stock car racing’s top series since Jaguar in 1954. Tony Stewart crossed the line second in another Toyota to give a 1-2 finish for the popular import.

There was more talk about Goodyear’s tires than Toyota’s landmark win, and no one was more ticked off than the runner-up. Feeling like he had just driven 500 miles on a sheet of ice, Stewart would like to say sayonara to Sprint Cup’s exclusive tire provider. “That was the most pathetic racing tire I’ve ever been on in my professional career,” he said. “Goodyear can’t build a tire that is worth a crap.” Others were a bit more diplomatic, but Stewart’s view was hardly in minority. Busch and third-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr. also griped about their rubber. Pole winner Jeff Gordon managed to finish fifth but fretted that every lap might be his lap because of those slip-slidin’ tires.

It was quite a weekend for Busch, who won the Craftsman Truck Series race Friday night and was dominating the Nationwide event on Saturday before a blown tire sent him careening into the wall.

Matt Kenseth was able to shake Kevin Harvick during a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Nicorette 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kenseth’s Ford finished 0.159-seconds ahead of Harvick’s Chevrolet. Jeff Burton’s Chevrolet was third followed by Carl Edwards’ Ford and Bobby Labonte’s Chevrolet was fifth.

It looked like the Mystic Missile owned Bob Garbarino would be back in competition for another year as it has been announced that Chuck Hossfeld would return as his driver. It had been speculated that Garbarino would retire from racing when it was announced that Donny Lia had secured a full time ride in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Hossfeld, who drove for Garbarino in the past, had an impressive resume that showed 45 career Modified victories’ including 5 Whelen Modified Tour Series wins.

Reports were circulating that Bobby Santos’ driver development contract had gone stale. Santos, who won the Whelen Modified Tour Series World Series event at Thompson in 2007 was hoping to return to the seat of ‘Ole Blu which is fielded by the Boehler Family on the Modified Tour. It had also been heard that Bob Grigas III, a tour regular last year, would run the tour again plus he would join the Thursday night Sunoco Modified ranks at Thompson along with selected appearances in True Value Modified events.

Speaking of the True Value Series, founder Jack Bateman purchased a new car for 2008 which was built in the Spearpoint Auto Shop in Preston, CT. Jimmy Blewett, who was already committed to a full schedule of Whelen Modified Tour Series racing plus weekly racing at Thompson and Stafford had indicated that he would participate in four to six True Value events in the 2008 season. Ted Christopher had also indicated that he will run a partial True Value schedule.

Thompson Speedway Sunoco Modified Champion Keith Rocco tried his hand at indoor dirt track racing at the Mototown USA track in Windsor, CT. Rocco, in his second start on Mototown’s indoor clay one-quarter-mile oval, came from fourth starting spot to oust early leader Jonathan Routhier along the backstretch on lap eight of their feature. The DL Painting Service No. 6 Chevrolet Camaro driver went on to lead the other 12 laps over heat winner Routhier.

Last year, 2012, Just when you were thinking of taking in a lot of racing in the coming season, the AAA says the average price of regular gas had topped $4 a gallon in Connecticut, and a state lawmaker is calling for a cap on the state's gross receipts tax on wholesale gas.

The motor club says the average price hit $4.006 a gallon, up from $3.998. Connecticut was now tied with New York with the fifth-highest average price in the country. AAA says Hawaii tops the list at $4.46 a gallon, followed by California at $4.36, Alaska at $4.23 and Illinois at $4.11. The national average price was $3.83 a gallon.

Get well wishes to Modified Car owner Joe Brady who underwent quadruple by-pass surgery.

Elliot Sadler picked up his second NASCAR Nationwide Series victory of the season when his crew chief left him out on the track on old tires during the final caution at Bristol Motor Speedway. The call put Sadler in the lead on the final restart, with 28 laps remaining, and he easily held off Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski.

No one had anything for Brad Keselowski in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 Sunday afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway. Keselowski led 231 of the 500 laps of the .533-mile concrete track, including the final 111 circuits. It was Keselowski’s second straight victory at Bristol and his fifth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series triumph in 93 starts.

Driving Roger Penske’s Miller Lite Dodge, Keselowski held off the repeated challenges of Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver Matt Kenseth, taking the checkered flag .714 seconds ahead of Kenseth in a race run before one of the smallest crowds in recent Bristol history. Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers completed the top five.

That’s 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


Gomer Taylor


Jerry Humiston


Jim Hurtibise

T
Elton Hildreth

Gene Bergin

Jerry Dosti

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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