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Friday November 19, 2010
 

By Phil Smith

Last year, 2009, Howard Hodge reported that Chuck Hossfeld would be driving Ed Bennett's car on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2010. Chuck replaced Eric Rudolph.

The Stafford Motor Speedway welcomed a guest list of nearly 500 people consisting of teams, drivers, sponsors, and employees at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor to officially honor Ted Christopher, Jim Peterson, Michael Gervais, Jr., Andrew Durand, and Don Wood as the 2009 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions.

With Stafford Motor Speedway broadcasters Matt Buckler and Joe Coss serving as the Masters of Ceremony, the 40th annual Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Champions Awards Ceremony not only honored the five track champions, it also honored the top-20 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions. Other awards that were presented during the evening's festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, Most Improved Driver Awards, Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards, and the Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award.

The race for the 2009 SK Modified® championship began with several contenders in Jeff Malave, Keith Rocco, and Ted Christopher, but slowly Malave and Rocco faded from contention and Christopher once again demonstrated a season long consistency that drove him to his record seventh career Stafford championship. For the season, Christopher posted 4 wins, 11 top-5, and 13 top-10 finishes in 15 starts with the #13 Broadband Access Chevrolet. Christopher's 4 victories this season brought his career SK Modified® victory total at Stafford to 91 wins. Combined with his Whelen Modified Tour Tech-Net Spring Sizzler victory at Stafford, his grand total of Stafford career wins now stands at 106 career victories.

Ted Christopher and Jim Peterson made a special presentation to Shawn Waddell. Waddell was the spotter for Christopher and Peterson this year at Stafford, and they presented Waddell with a special plaque that commemorated his dual championships as a spotter. Both cars Waddell spotted for this year at Stafford were numbered 13, the second time Waddell has spotted for championship cars in different divisions in the same season with the same car number. In 2002, Waddell spotted for Bo Gunning in the SK Modified® division and Peterson in the Late Model division when both cars carried the number 17.

Receiving awards for Most Improved Driver were Richie Pallai, Jr. in the SK Modified® division, J.J. Hill in the Late Model division, David Webb in the SK Light division, and Dave Yardley, III in the Limited Late Model division.

The Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards were presented by Brad and Linda Hietala of Reliable Welding and Speed to Mark Bakaj from the SK Modified® division, Adam Gray from the Late Model division, Michael Gervais, Jr. from the SK Light division, and Dan Flannery from the Limited Late Model division. The awards will be worth a $700.00 bonus to Bakaj, and $500.00 bonus to Gray, Gervais, and Flannery from Reliable Welding and Speed. Each Rookie of the Year bonus will be paid out in $100.00 weekly increments to each driver as they attend events during the 2010 season.

The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Woody Pitkat in the SK Modified® division, Dillon Moltz in the Late Model divisions, Heather DesRochers from the SK Light division, Carla Botticello from the Limited Late Model division, and Kyle Casagrande from the DARE Stock division.

The Craftsman Mechanic of the Year Award was awarded to John Berardi. Berardi prepared and maintained Don Wood's championship winning DARE Stock car as well as his daughter Stephanie's DARE Stock, which went to victory lane once during the 2009 season at Stafford.

The Waterford Speedbowl and (Formerly True Value) Modified Racing Series officials announced that the Modified Series would visit the shoreline oval three times in 2010 including the season opening event for both, scheduled for March 26-28th. In addition, the popular tour will visit the ‘Bowl for the 3rd annual Wings ‘n Wheels on August 14th and as part of Thunder on the Sound’s lineup taking place on September 4th.

Jack Bateman continued to pursue a series sponsor for the Modified Racing Series which was formerly sponsored by True Value Hardware. In the mean time Bateman released an 18 race schedule. The series opens on March 27-28 at the Waterford Speedbowl. From Waterford the series travels to the Albany-Saratoga Speedway in Malta, NY on April 17-18 and to Monadnock on May 1. Other scheduled events include May 30th at the Thunder Road Speedbowl, June 4th at the Twin State Speedway, June 12th at the Seekonk Speedway, June 17th at the Thompson International Speedway, July 3rd at the Monadnock Speedway, July 9th at the Lee USA Speedway, July 17th at the Oxford Plains Speedway, July 24th at the Canaan Fair Speedway, August 7th at the Beech Ridge Speedway, August 14th at the Waterford Speedbowl, August 21st at the Seekonk Speedway, August 26th at the Thompson International Speedway, September 4th at the Waterford Speedbowl, October 9-10 at the Seekonk Speedway and
October 23-24 at the Lee USA Speedway.

Bateman’s series had become a legitimate alternative to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series.

Photographers Howie and Mary Hodge, mainstays on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series were selected as the winners of the New England Antique Racers Jack Ratta Memorial Media Award. The Hodges, who had been recording New England racing history for 30 years, would share the limelight with 12 new members of the Hall of Fame. Howie started snapping pictures “seriously” in 1979. Mary joined him three years later.

The Hall of Fame “Class of 2010” included drivers Geoff Bodine, the late Mike Murphy, George Savary, Pete Fiandaca and the late Chuck Arnold, car owner/builders Billy Simons, Bob Garbarino, Vic Miller and Marty Harty and contributors extraordinaire Frank Ferrara and the late Archie Blackadar.

Kyle Busch held off a hard-charging Carl Edwards to win the 300-mile Nationwide Series race at Homstead FL, a fitting ending because the two NASCAR stars finished 1-2 in the final point standings.

Denny Hamlin won the FORD 400 Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway for his 4th win of the season and 8th of his career. Hamlin started 38th, the farthest a driver has started and won at Homestead. Jimmie Johnson [the 2009 Sprint Cup Champion finished fourth. Johnson won his 4th NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in a row, the first driver ever to so in NASCAR's 61 year history. Johnson was presented a check by Sprint for $6,520,800. Rick Hendrick became the first owner to finish 1-2-3 in the final Cup standings with Johnson, Martin and Gordon finishing 1-2-3. There were 7 cautions for 31 yellow flag laps and 18 lead changes among 10 drivers.
 

This week are several vintage racing photos Courtesy of SpeedwayLineReport.com & Dave Dyke's Racing ThroughTime.com
Click on Photo for Full Size


Jerry Humiston


Cannonball Baker


Larry LaFayette


Moe Gherzi

Pete Fiandaca

Smokey Boutwell

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is: smithpe_97_97@yahoo.com

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and various other publications
 for over 3 decades.

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