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November 16, 2012

By Phil Smith

Twenty years ago, in 1992, NASCARís Winston Cup division saw the end of one era and the beginning of another. Richard Petty drove his last race at Atlanta and officially retired from driving. Rick Wilson was named as his replacement. It was also at Atlanta that Jeff Gordon made his Winston Cup debut.

Ten years ago in 2002, The Busch North Series got some good news at their awards banquet when NASCAR Touring Series Director Chris Boals announced that the successful television package with the Speed Channel had been renewed, with expanded national television coverage for the BNS in 2003 and beyond. This was a definite shot in the arm for competitors who were in the process of securing sponsorship for their race teams. The Speed Channel had also announced that they would cover USAC events in 2003. The Stafford Speedway announced plans for a special invitational event for SK-Modifieds and Late Models. Tentatively scheduled for October 11, 2003, with a possible format of twin features for each division plus a grand finale for each, should make for an exciting day of racing.

Five years ago in 2007, it looked like Jimmy Blewett, who had 15 wins to his credit in 2007, would be spending his non-touring Saturday nights at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island in 2008. Blewett would compete on the tour in 2008 but not in the familiar Eddie Partridge No. 12. Blewett was scheduled be driving the George Bierce No. 19 that was driven by Ronnie Silk. Partridge consummated a deal that will saw both race teams merged into one. To supplement the Bierce team Partridge would supply an additional car plus motors and transmissions. Blewett and the Partridge SK Modified would compete weekly at the Stafford Motor Speedway and at the Thompson Speedway. Silk was a candidate to drive the Curt Chase No.77 as well as the Boehler No. 3, which is if Bobby Santos III is committed to racing in the south. Eric Beers, who lives down the street from Tony Hirschman, will be stepping into the Massachusetts based No. 46 that was driven by Dick Houlihan.

Beers, who drove the Boehler No.3 a while back, finished an impressive second in the No. 46 at the recent North-South Shootout. Jamie Tomaino, who is considered to be the oldest active tour driver with close to 500 starts, has his home in New Jersey up for sale and hopes to be moving to North Carolina. Once the move is made he will concentrate his racing efforts on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour with occasional starts on the northern tour.

The family of John Blewett III announced that it would be the end of an era as it will be the final appearance of the Blewett Motorsports family owned, Red, White and Blue #76 Modified. Jimmy Blewett, in honor of his late brother John who lost his life in a racing accident at the Thompson Speedway the previous summer, would race the car number for the final time in the Wall and Open Mods, and then the car will be placed in the Blewett Automotive Museum. The number 76 will be retired by Wall Speedway. The Blewett 76 has been a mainstay in Modified racing the last 4 decades.

The Stafford Motor Speedway honored its 2007 track champions at its 38th annual Champions Awards Ceremony at the La Renaissance Banquet Facility in East Windsor, CT. The guests of honor included Ted Christopher who was recognized as the 2007 SK Modified Champion, which is his sixth overall at the central Connecticut oval. Corey Hutchings was honored as the 2007 Late Model Champion, which he achieved in his rookie campaign at Stafford. Chris Matthews, who missed out on racing for the inaugural SK Light championship in 2006 because he was on his honeymoon, drove to the 2007 SK Light Championship in dominating fashion this season, clinching the championship with two races remaining. Sean Foster drove to four feature victories and eight top-4 finishes in the final 9 races this season and was recognized as the 2007 Limited Late Model Champion, and Norm Sears put together an amazing stretch during the second half of the 2007 season with seven podium finishes in the final eight races to win his second consecutive DARE Stock Championship.

Reliable Welding and Speed Rookie of the Year honors went to Wade Mattesen from the SK Modified division, Corey Hutchings from the Late Model division, Josh Sylvester from the SK Light division, and David Capriati from the Limited Late Model division. In addition to recognizing the 2007 track champions, other prestigious awards, including Most Improved Driver, Most Popular Driver, and the Reliable Welding & Speed Rookie of the Year awards were presented.

Matt Kenseth ended Johnson's four-race winning streak, but Johnson's seventh-place finish was more than enough to cap a brilliant Chase for the Nextel Cup performance and give him a 77-point final margin over Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon. Kurt Busch battled back from a flat tire 100 laps in to finish second. Denny Hamlin was third. Gordon ended up fourth. In Busch Series action at Homestead Jeff Burton won the Ford 300 for his 5th win of 2007 and the 27th of his career. It was the series' final race with Anheuser-Busch as the title sponsor. Mark Martin was second followed by Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Stephen Leicht, Greg Biffle and Tony Raines. In the season ending event for the Craftsman Trucks a spin by the #08 brought about a green-white-checkered finish and gave Johnny Benson the room he needed to make the pass on then race leader, Kyle Busch to pick up the win in the Ford 200 at Homestead Miami Speedway. This was Benson's fourth win in 2007; ninth career. In the race for the championship, an early tire problem put Skinner a lap down and then again on lap 74 Skinner had tire problems as he lost the left rear wheel. Skinner had to pull the #5 Toyota into the garage losing eleven laps while the team made repairs. Ron Hornaday finished seventh to win the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series Championship. In his first outing Don Lia finished 25th.

Last year, 2011, In NASCAR Sprint Cup action, Kasey Kahne snapped an 81-race winless streak with his victory at the Phoenix International Raceway, where Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart finished second and third to keep the title race tight headed into the following weekend's season finale. Jeff Burton finished fourth and was followed by Ryan Newman. Kyle Busch, racing again after NASCAR parked him at Texas the previous weekend for intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday Jr., worked his way up to third before his engine failed. He finished 36th. In Nationwide Series racing at Phoenix, Sam Hornish took his first NASCAR victory by passing points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and leading the final 61 laps at slippery Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday. Stenhouse took a big step toward the Nationwide season title when Elliott Sadler was taken out with 25 laps left on a bump from behind by Jason Leffler. The unfortunate incident leaves Stenhouse with a nearly insurmountable 41-point lead over Sadler heading into the season finale at Homestead.

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


Bill Gurney


Bones Stevens


Ken Bouchard

T
Paul Radford

Pete Corey

Reggie Ruggiero

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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