51's MODIFIED MADNESS Presented by Advance Auto PartsCompiled by Mike Twist
News From Throughout The Mod-ern World - North and South, Asphalt and Dirt
SKs: BLEWETT GOING STRONG AT 90
On Friday, August 4th, John Blewett III ,of Howell NJ, driving for owner Ed Partridge and the TS haulers Team, had his first SK Modified win at Stafford’s half-mile Speedway.
It was more than just another victory though – it was Blewett’s 90th career victory.
“We have been working on this since week one,” said Blewett, who started in the fourth position. “We came here about a month ago on a Friday to test. We changed some things to where we got comfortable that I could drive it. It was more towards my kind of setup. Starting position was key tonight. I do not have that great of a handicap.
“Tonight we were tight in the beginning. We had a set of tires that were a little bit short on stagger. I was hoping that they would come in, but they were not. They cooled down during the second caution and it brought the right rear tire in. The tires were where they needed to be.”
Blewett has driven and won for many different car owners. Earlier this summer, he won the 100 lap Whelen Tour race at NHIS and the Garden State Classic race at Wall Stadium all in the same day with different teams.
“I have pretty much have had success in everything that I have done but I also have had good equipment.”
A few weeks prior at Stafford’s 100 lap SK race, Blewett came in seventh.
“We came back with a new engine. I was really pleased with it, but we did not have 100% enough to win.”
Blewett won the 40-lap SK race after avoiding an incident in turn four. Kenny Horton (19) and Frank Ruocco (91) came together in turn four while they fought for the lead. Horton was leading the pack when the Ruocco’s car was coming under him for the lead. The two cars touched and spun.
“He was just trying to keep off of the grass and keep going. Frank Ruocco had a fast car all day. He was the class in the field as far as I am concerned from the time he unloaded to the time he spun.” said Blewett.
Horton was able to recover fast and rejoin the pack. Blewett drove to ensure he did not get caught up in the spinning. “I left enough room so that I could move to the outside and still keep some steam. When the caution comes out you do not want to loose too much of a distance because it is so hard to catch up.”
Ruocco’s car though spun into Willy Hardie (7) causing the #7 to spin like a top on the track. The #7 car spun so fast that one of its tires spun right off of the rim.
John took the lead on the restart holding off Stafford’s all time winner Ted Christopher (#38). “We were handling OK in the straight a ways, but not in the corners. But we were just good enough to hold off TC.”
Speaking about both of their new SK race teams, “This year it is the same thing for Teddy. He has a new team and is pulling things together. I know that he would not crowd me out of the way. He will race me clean.”
TC had a great race but just did not have enough to get around Blewett for the win. So in the end, he settled for apparent second place finish.
“The 81 car is getting better and better every week” said Ted. “It is a work in progress.”
It might have been too good though. Christopher’s car was disqualified from the runner-up position following post-race inspection. (Denise DuPont)
SPORTSMAN MODS: LaVOY MAKES HISTORY
On Saturday night at Lebanon Valley Speedway history was in the making on the ½-mile dirt track. Kim LaVoy became the first Female "Open Wheel" Racer to take the checkers at the Valley. LaVoy reached victory lane at Lebanon Valley, in the Sportsman Modified 20-lap feature.
John Blewett, III stands in victory lane at Stafford. (Stafford Motor Speedway Photo)
At the start finish line Kim Lavoy and her team were excited with her win.
“I did not think it was going to end. Every caution lap I just prayed to God to let us get a green run going. And then the cautions just kept coming out.”
Kim has been racing for about twelve years. “I started racing go carts when I was eight years old. I raced go carts until I was 14 years old. Came to Lebanon Valley when I reached 15 as a rookie in a Pro Stock. I raced there for a couple of years, then moved up to the sportsman class for three years.”
Her first season racing in the Open wheel cars was not a good one.
“I did terrible and we did not have a good car and motor. That was basically a learning experience for us. We were rookies again.”
As for this race season: “This year we are starting to get there. It has been a struggle, but we finally have it worked out. We are getting better and better.”
Being the first women to win in the open wheel car at Lebanon Valley was a historic event. “We did not think of making history. It just happened and it is pretty cool. It does not feel any different. We got a win and that was what we wanted.
Listening to the announcer Kim said, “We were not aware of it and it was not our goal for tonight. But we will take it. Oh yeah!”
DIRT: FULLER WINS AT ELDORA
It took reigning overall Hoosier Tire-Sunoco Race Fuels Mr. DIRT Modified Champion Tim Fuller three months to win his second Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT Series event of the season. But when he did, it was a big one as the Edwards, N.Y. driver led every lap to capture the decisive victory at Eldora Speedway on Saturday night in the headline ‘Advance Auto Parts Big-Block 100.’ Fuller’s memorable win came in his second-ever appearance at Tony Stewart’s high-banked half-miler in the Series’ longest haul of the season to Rossburg, Ohio.
Kim LaVoy in her #3 ride. (Lebanon Valley Speedway Photo)
“I was going crazy in lapped traffic at the end but I wasn’t gonna lose it, not this race at this track after being out front so long,” said Fuller, who scored his first ’06 Advance Auto Parts SDS win in May at Rolling Wheels Raceway steering a green and white skinned JL Motorsports no. 19TEO entry with fluorescent orange accenting his latest winning ride. He placed ninth in the inaugural DIRT Modified main staged at Eldora in 2002 yet failed to return the following autumn. “This is a real big win, the kind that a team needs to keep it going late in the season. I’ve won before on the Syracuse Mile and at Lowe’s in Charlotte but this one ranks right up there with all the big ones that have come before. I’m really proud to be part of the long history at this place with so many big names on the list.”
Fuller turned back a late-race rally by off-track buddy Billy Decker over the final 10 circuits before opening up a five car-length margin of victory at the line. Runner-up Decker emerged as the new AAP Series points leader at the halfway mark of the rain-shortened 25-race tour with all-time Advance Auto Parts Series winner Brett Hearn, Steve Paine and Jimmy Phelps filling out the front-five in a 37-minute race that was slowed by just a single caution. Fuller collected the $6,000 top-prize while the guaranteed starting berth in the Eckerd 200 Championship during Super DIRT Week XXXV, Oct. 4-8, at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse went to Paine.
Entering round number 13 in the ’06 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT Series, three-time race winner Alan Johnson led the point standings and looked well on his way toward strengthening his position after winning the Integra Shocks Fast Time Award. Fuller was second quickest of the 24 cars signed in representing DIRT MotorSports NorthEast and more importantly when it came time for the customary pre-race draw he selected the number one position to start the 50-mile main on the pole. And right along side was Decker, who time trialed 11th fastest in his back-up car after suffering a blown motor in warm-ups.
As expected, Fuller bolted out to the early at the drop of the initial green flag with Decker right in tow. 2003 Eldora Big-Block 100 runner-up Matt Sheppard, ’02 race winner Brett Hearn and Johnson filled into the front-five slots as the leaders ducked high and low searching for the fastest way around the legendary Eldora oval. Despite the leaders reaching traffic for the first time on lap eight and weaving their way through with great finesse, this order remain intact for the first half of the race with a dozen cars scored on the lead lap with 50 down.
“When I was having a hard time passing in traffic I figured everybody else must have been too,” noted Fuller, following his most dominant performance since leading all but 32 laps in Rolling Wheels’ Firecracker 100 in July of 2005. He fell 10 circuits shy of leading the entire 50-lap Modified main en route to his RWR victory on May 7.
Cut Stone/Bicknell ride. “This Finger Lakes motor might even be the same one Danny (Johnson) won with a couple years ago,” said Sheppard before the race. “I hope it can make the distance, it can’t be any worse than how we’ve been so far. Its been one of the toughest years so far motorwise, we’ve been scraping things together for a while now.” Unfortunately for Sheppard, who lost out to Johnson in the ’03 Eldora event after a late race setback in traffic, the motor trouble continued and he was listed 18th on the final scoresheet.
Paine began the second half surge chasing down fifth-place runner Jimmy Phelps before settling into fourth with a move low under Alan Johnson on lap 58. Fuller and Decker continued to pull away from the pack leaving Hearn all alone in third and Paine by himself while Phelps dogged Johnson for fifth-place for a quarter of the race. Traffic thickened as the laps dwindled with Fuller making his first three-wide maneuver on lap 68 as he split the 3R2 machine of Rusty Smith and Z-Car of Butch Tittle entering turn one. With 13 laps to go Phelps used Sean Beardsley’s car for pick and finally slid under Johnson for fifth with all eyes soon turning to the leaders as they moved in to shadow the top-10 running cars.
After the first 90 laps of cat and mouse games between Fuller and Decker, the race-long leaders turned it into an all-out street fight during the final 10 circuits as they battled bumper-to-bumper in every turn for the number one spot. Making the match-up even more dramatic was the leaders’ ability to run down brothers Alan and Danny Johnson with Dale Planck sandwiched in between; each trying to bolster their own status while holding down spots six through eight as lapped cars joined in the mix. With just two laps to go, Fuller was forced to pull off a second three-wide stunt as Decker crept alongside attempting to use lapped cars to his advantage. This time Fuller wedged himself between Tittle and Planck coming across the line while Danny Johnson did everything he could to stay on the lead lap. The final lap was just as wild with cars scattering both high and low as Fuller escaped with a narrow victory, lapping up to the seventh-place Johnson to conclude another breathing-taking DIRT Modified experience for fans at Eldora.
“At the end there were a lot of cars taking up a lot of room and I moved down on Billy a couple times but he knew the deal,” said Fuller, as he did all but catch his breath during the post-race interview with race announcer Shane Andrews. “The middle was better in turns three and four with the high side the fast way around in one and two. But those were the same places everybody else was going so you had to do some quick thinking when it came time to get around in traffic. And I did everything I could not to lose out in the end, I just didn’t want to come out on the short side after being ahead so long.”
Although Decker looked like a suitable challenger throughout the show, he was still content with a runner-up finish wheeling a back-up LJL Racing car, his second straight top-five tally at Eldora after placing seventh in the ’02 inaugural event. “I almost thought I had (Tim) snookered in traffic at the end, that was the only way I could’ve caught him tonight,” said Decker, who erased an eight point deficit to Alan Johnson in the Advance Auto Parts SDS standings and emerged with a seven point advantage. “I knew I needed to come down a groove in turn three to have a chance to catch him and after that I still needed to time it just right when we hit traffic together. Some of the lapped cars weren’t too cordial out there, you had to fight for every spot no matter what place you were in.”
Hearn settled for the show position, the first time in three attempts at Eldora that he remained trackside for the duration without making a pit stop. “Wow, that was a long stretch of green flag laps, those guys ran so good just like they’ve been doing all season,” said Hearn, who charged from last to first after stopping pit side for fresh rubber en route to the first DIRT Modified victory at Eldora in 2002. “If I had to start all over again all I would do is change the stagger a bit to maybe get us a little closer to the front. They had the field covered pretty much. Third is still good so we’ll just go on to the next race and try to get a couple spots better. There’s still a long way to go and we’re moving closer to where we want to be when it matters most.”
Vic Coffey (DIRT Photo)
The lone yellow flag flew on lap 23 when Frank Cozze’s no. 44 TEO machine coasted to a stop in turn two. Fellow Pennsylvanian Butch Tittle made a pit stop during the slowdown and so did tour regular Gary Tomkins, only he never returned after suffering terminal mechanical failure with the no. 1 Honeoye Auto Parts-Pillsbury/Bicknell Special. With the field back under green, rookie contender Kenny Stafford was the next victim of motor trouble, pulling pitside on lap 38 and with 49 clicked off on the scoreboard third-place runner Sheppard suddenly ducked to the infield with engine problems sidelining ‘Super Matt’ in the Ross Motorsports no. 44S BKS/G-U Hardware-Currier Pastics-Adam Ross
DIRT action at Eldora. (Jim MacDonald Photo)
advantage in the pits. We have a fantastic pit crew. Thompson is a passing track and if we have a passing car, we can use the track to our advantage,” he said.
There is a lot of racing between now and the season finale at Thompson in October, but Stefanik admits that he has his eyes set on a seventh championship. If Stefanik is able to claim the title, it will put him in a position of owning a total of nine NASCAR Touring Division titles. He has won the Busch East (formerly Busch North) Series twice. Nine championship titles would put Stefanik in a tie with his all-time racing hero and mentor, Richie Evans for NASCAR divisional titles.
When asked about his feelings concerning the possible tie with Evans, Stefanik said, “It’s spooky, I know people are going to talk about it and Richie’s name and record will certainly be brought up. But, he continued, it’s a different time and a different era. Richie ran from fifty to sixty races each year. Now it’s much different with the Tour and fewer races. But, I also feel it’s more competitive now with many more teams capable of winning. If we are able to win it, I will treasure it. We will be fortunate to be up there in the record books, but I try to keep it in perspective, it keeps your feet on the ground.”
Stefanik paused for a moment after saying that and then paid tribute to his late hero. “Richie will always be the King. There is no question about that and that’s the way I want it to stay.”
While Stefanik and Christopher hold the top two points positions going into the August 17th event, current title holder Tony Hirschman is next in the standings followed by Ed Flemke and rookie, James Civali. All of these competitors and many more will be on hand for this traditional mid-summer NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race. Three of the remaining race events on the “Tour’s” schedule will be at Thompson with the next coming on the weekend of September 9 & 10 when the Thompson International Speedway will present MODIFIED MANIA. The final visit from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour comes on Thompson’s World Series weekend in October.
PASS MODIFIEDS: STAPLES SHOWS ‘EM AT RIVERSIDE
Chris Staples of Brunswick, ME and the Dallas Oil #5 team came into the PASS TAT Link-Belt Modified race at Summerfest 2006 at Riverside Speedway, Groveton, NH with a slim six point lead in 2006 points over Dana Grover and the #99E. J. Prescott team from Waterford. ME.
Staples started seventh, one spot behind Grover in the 30-lap feature. Chris got a great start and was up to fourth when Grover ran into trouble on the backstretch on lap 15 and slid into an infield light pole in turn three with heavy damage that finished the #99 for the night. Richie Morse also went to the pits on lap 15 and was six laps down when he returned.
Jason Taylor from Searsmont, ME was third in the point’s chase only eight points behind Grover as the evening started. Jason and the #8 seized the opportunity when Grover had his troubles and followed Staples to the front.
At the finish, it was Staples and Taylor first across the line, with rookie Greg Ellis of Hermon, ME in the #29 third for his first top five of the season. Dana Reed of
Shapleigh, ME also had a good night as he brought the #60 to fourth. Troy Morse of Bridgton, ME in the #6 was fifth, followed by Steve Bennett, Jr of Buckfield, ME in the #12, Richie Morse of Waterville, ME in the #34, and Grover.
USA MODS: DAGER WINS AT BAER FIELD
Tony Dager claimed his first ever USA Modified Series feature win Saturday before a packed house on “International Truck Night” at Baer Field Speedway.
Thirty four Mods were present to race on Tom Ish’s tight half mile oval located by the Ft. Wayne Airport, and the US Air Force jets were not the only things that were fast taking off that night. Qualifying saw New Haven, Indiana pilot Steve Minich Jr. capture the “Firebottle Fast Time Award” with a lap of 18.225 and a speed of 98.765 MPH. Bud Perry, in the Redskin Motorsports entry was second with an 18.290 followed by Jeremy Wallen, Tony Dager, and Chad Poorman.
Staples enjoys his victory. (Chris Roy Photo)
Fuller crosses the finish line at Eldora. (Jim MacDonald Photo)
NASCAR WMT: STEFANIK EYES SEVENTH TITLE
Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, Mike Stefanik of Coventry, Rhode Island is looking to extend his points lead when the Tour invades the Thompson International Speedway on Thursday, August 17th. With one race to go before the Budweiser 150 presented by the New England Dodge Dealers, Stefanik has an advantage of forty three points over Plainville, CT driver Ted Christopher.
“We have just one car, said Stefanik, and we continue to work on it and make positive, controlled adjustments. If we can get the set up correct, I feel we’ll have a little
In preliminary action it would be Steve Minich Jr. taking the six lap dash, over Tony Dager, Wallen, Poorman, Perry and Springer. Edon, Ohio’s Brian Nester would take the Fast heat win over Brent Hook, followed by Jason Dietsch, and Rodney Scott.
Pete Wormcastle would take the win in the first of two b-mains over Don Skaggs and James Krueger, both of which would transfer to the feature. In the second b-main Bud Adams would become victorious over Dan Parker and Dean Cook, both of which would also transfer to the feature.
The feature draw would put Spencerville, Indiana’s Tony Dager on the pole with Bud Perry starting second, followed by Jason Dietsch, fast qualifier Steve Minich Jr., Brian Nester and former USA Champ Rodney Scott.
The green dropped from USA Flagman Steve “Chicken” Little and Dager charged into the lead Bud Perry in hot pursuit. On three different occasions the yellow would fly for spins and each time Perry could challenge for the lead, but then would fade on the long runs. Rodney Scott was working the high
side, passing Dietsch, Minich, and finally Brian Nester to run third. The checker flew for USA’s new “Zero Hero” Tony Dager and his Economy Motors sponsored number “0” machine.
Young gun Mike Hadley Jr. would take home the “Allstar Hard Charger Award” for his great run from 24th starting position to finish 9th. The USA Modified Series will be at O’reilly Raceway Park at Indy for “UAW Night” August 12th, for more info go to www.uasmodifieds.com
BG MODS: HUTCHENS CLIMBS IN POINTS
Never one to be complacent, Junior Miller made his presence known once again on Friday, August 4 at Bowman Gray Stadium. With a strong points lead in the GMAC Insurance Personal Pit Crew Modified Series, Miller looked to increase his points margin on Advance Auto Parts Night.
Miller turned the fastest qualifying lap on Friday, his fourth pole of 2006. The lap moved him into the lead for the Winston-Salem Journal Pole King Award, a $1000 prize given to the driver with the most poles in the season.
Miller drew second place as his starting position, surely hoping to get the jump on the pole-sitter and take his sixth win of the season. Starting on the pole was Bobby Hutchens, a formidable opponent who is unquestioningly having the best season of his career.
As the green dropped, it was Hutchens who got the best of Junior. “He’s the best over here hands down,” said Hutchens. “We got a jump on him and thank God there wasn’t a caution this time.”
Hutchens battled on through challenges for the lead and near-disastrous encounters with lapped cars. But in the end, the #14 of Hutchens led the way as the checkered waved.
Entering the event, Hutchens was third place in the points with Michael Clifton running second in the points. The win of Hutchens and the second place finish of Michael Clifton on Friday seemed to have the potential to shake up the points ladder. But Junior Miller finished right behind Clifton in third, keeping Miller in the points lead – but with a tighter margin.
This Saturday night is Winston-Salem Journal $1 Ladies’ Night, where all females are admitted for only one dollar.