51's Modified Madness Presented by Advance Auto Parts Compiled by Mike Twist
North, South, Dirt and Asphalt...All The Latest From the Mod-ern Racing World
WSMT: HISTORIC BOWMAN-GRAY HOSTS SOUTHERN TOUR RACE THIS WEEK
The rich racing history behind Bowman Gray Stadium in downtown Winston-Salem, N.C., is truly the stuff of legend, not only for the track itself, but the long list of legendary drivers that have raced at the quarter-mile facility through the years.
“I’ve been racing at Bowman Gray a long time,” said Junior Miller, a six-time Modified track champion since he started at Bowman Gray in 1975. “The track draws in more fans than any other track I’ve ever raced at, as far as the Modified Tour goes. I don’t know how many times I’ve been at Bowman Gray and a rainstorm will move through and they will sit out in the rain until the track dries off.
“Bowman Gray has got to have the most loyal fans I’ve ever seen. They are truly dedicated fans.”
Current drivers that compete in Bowman Gray’s weekly Modified division that also compete in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour include all-time win leader Miller (67 wins), Tim Brown (37), Burt Myers (27), Frank Fleming (21), Michael Clifton (14), Bobby Hutchens (5), Brian Pack (1) and Brian Loftin (1).
Burt Myers is one of the Southern Mod Tour regulars who also runs at Bowman-Gray. (BG Photo)
Bowman Gray Stadium is the oldest track under NASCAR sanction and is known as the ‘Home of the Hot Modifieds’ as well as ‘Bowman Gray Stadium – A NASCAR Legend.’
The very first NASCAR race at Bowman Gray was held May 18, 1949 and was won by Fonty Flock. The open-wheel Modified cars are the oldest form of NASCAR-sanctioned motorsports.
The list of drivers that have won at Bowman Gray through the years is a long and legendary one: Curtis Turner, Ralph Earnhardt, Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Tiny Lund and Marvin Panch.
The rich racing history and tradition at Bowman Gray isn’t lost on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers that will do battle Saturday, Aug. 4 in the Advance Auto Parts 199. Qualifying is slated for Aug. 3.
Expected to fly the Riverhead banner are defending track champion Chuck Steuer of Bohemia who comes off a huge win in the Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans & Charlie Jarzombek Memorial 77 on July 21st. Other NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers attempting to make the Miller Lite field are Bill Park, Dan Jivanelli Tom Rogers Jr., Wayne Anderson, J.R. Bertuccio, Justin Bonsignore, Dave Sapienza and Chris Young.
Twenty percent of the entries will make the race via time trials, while others will have to make the cut in two 25-lap qualifying races. Then the 28-car starting grid will be rounded out by the usual NASCAR WMT provisional format.
One of the most alluring aspects of the close to 20,000 fans that pack the grandstands on a weekly basis at Bowman Gray are the rivalries that have developed through the years.
“They either love you or hate you at Bowman Gray,” Miller said. “They are going to holler at you one way or the other to let you know how they feel.”
WMT: RIVERHEAD UP THIS WEEKEND
A new era in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing will debut Saturday evening at Riverhead Raceway when Miller Lite will present the first ever “Flash” type tour race. Qualifying for the 28-car field will come through both time trials and two 25-lap qualifying races as well as WMT provisional starting positions for the 140-lap main event.
Ted Christopher of Plainville, Ct. is the defending race winner having won the 200-lap Miller Lite event last summer driving for Long Island based car owner Ed Whelan. Among those challenging Christopher will be current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point leader Donny Lia of Jericho, L.I. who always performs well at the track where he cut his teeth in the open wheel machines. A full array of stars and cars from the NASCAR WMT are expected to be present and fight off the challenge of the ever-tough Riverhead Raceway regulars.
Bobby Hutchins is also familar with Bowman Gray's victory lane. (BG Photo)
When the 2007 season schedules for DIRTcar NE were unveiled in the Spring, restructured race day purses and a new point system for declaring the overall Mr. DIRTcar Modified champion sent teams scrambling to revise their own weekly agendas. Canandaigua mainstays like Gary Tomkins, Vic Coffey and Justin Haers relocated their Saturday night efforts while names like Alan Johnson, Matt Sheppard, Tim Fuller and Pat Ward no longer filled Cayuga County’s stacked roster every Sunday.
“All I ever knew was running against those same Series guys, but there’s really no slouches out here anymore with all the money on the line,” said Podsiadlo, who was a Big-Block rookie in 2004 following four seasons of DIRT 358-Modified activity which came to a fitting climax with the ’03 Small-Block points title at Canandaigua. Tour travelers and current track leaders Steve Paine (Canandaigua) and Jimmy Phelps (Cayuga County) are two of his biggest hurdles as the ’07 campaign rolls on. “Now I’m coming into every race knowing where we have to be. The car’s been fast everywhere and I’m learning some new things like working in lapped traffic. I’ve always started up front in the past and just tried to hold on to finish there. It doesn’t matter anymore where we start, I’m able to move forward and the confidence is growing very week.”
As much as he is enjoying his new found success in DIRTcar NorthEast’s premier Big-Block Modified class, Podsiadlo is just as content harboring hopes that he will finally complete a full season behind the wheel. On the point charts he currently stands 4th at Canandaigua and 5th at Cayuga County, with his no. 21 Penn Yan Mini Storage/TEO entry quickly becoming a fan favorite as it challenges for the checkers without any fear.
“That first win at Canandaigua is still sinking in but being able to run every week is even better for us in the long run. Year after year motor trouble has always managed to keep us out of the line-up at some point in the season,” said Podsiadlo, who graduated from Elmira (NY) College in 2000 with a BA degree in Nursing. He is currently employed by Geneva General Hospital where he serves as a member of the Surgical/Pediatrics unit. “Now my biggest problem is the frustration factor, I’m just not used to having to get through traffic and moving forward on a black track. I used to be the one the leaders were chasing most of the race and now I’m the guy having to charge from the back to the front. But having a chance to win is certainly worth the change.”
One driver that Podsiadlo won’t have to contend with this year is his sister Lorra’s boyfriend, former Modified runner Tim McCreadie, the ’06 World of Outlaws Late Model Series National Champion and a Richard Childress Racing teammate this season. “Timmy keeps telling me I’m doing fine, but we’re not on the same page yet. He’s really smooth and uses a lot of finesse and I’m usually hard on and off the gas. The only cure for that is more and more track time and I’m getting plenty of that lately.”
So much for missing close friends in the pits on weekends. Podsiadlo is now one of the rising stars in the DIRTcar Big-Block ranks as the landscape continues to take on new shape. He used to believe that running with the best forced him to step up his game. Yet after reaching victory lane there’s a new game in town and Podsiadlo is among today’s new breed of player finding the rules to his liking as he speeds onward in 2007.
“This is going to be a great event” Bob Finan of Riverhead noted “the qualifying format has something for everyone and those two qualifying races are like having two main events leading up to the 140-lap feature”
Joining the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be the Bud Sexton night 30-lap Charger event, which will also utilize time trial qualifying. The Blunderbusts will contest also in a 30-lap main event, with both classes running for double points. The wildly popular One-On-One Spectator Drags will complete the show.
Qualifying will start at 4:30 pm with Charger time trials and the feature races go green at 6:00 pm. It is expected the 140-lap Miller Lite NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour feature will take the green between 8:30 pm and 9:00 pm. In the event of rain the show would be run Sunday August 5th.
DIRT: PODSIADLO MAKES HIS MARK
Three months ago Derrick Podsiadlo felt somewhat empty and was yearning to have a little more fun running the DIRTcar Racing Big-Block Modified circuit in Central New York.
Talk to the talented open-wheel upstart from Penn Yan, N.Y. today and his plate is loaded and he can’t get enough racing in on two of DIRTcar NorthEast’s charter member tracks, Canandaigua and Cayuga County Fair speedways. A recent feature win under his belt has his confidence brimming and the chance for more victory lane appearances raises his enthusiasm like never before.
‘I’ve definitely changed my tune and everything has really come together at the right time,” admitted Podsiadlo, 29, still coming down to ground level after scoring his first career Big-Block feature win at Canandaigua on July 7. “Nobody likes change, good or bad, and nobody knew what to expect when the season started. Now my confidence is up, I’m knocking on the door every week and having a lot of fun along the way. I’m probably more disappointed with fewer races on the schedule this year. Everything is clicking right now and I want to run as much as I can around here.”
There is always a full pit of entries at Riverhead.
Derrick Podsiadlo's #21 (DIRT Photo)
Ted Christopher is one of the Mod racers planning to head to Seekonk. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
to converge upon the Route 6 facility for the third annual Open Wheel Wednesday program, featuring the Viveiros Insurance-sponsored 100 green flag lap Modified Madness event, an open competition race paying $10,000 to the winner. Last July, forty-two competitors from nine states attempted to qualify for the 26-car race, which carries a purse in excess of $31,000.
Among the drivers who have pre-registered for this year’s Modified Madness show are former NASCAR weekly series national champion Ted Christopher, veteran front-runner Jerry Marquis, third generation ace Bobby Santos III, Mike Stefanik, Matt Hirschman, Tommy Cravenho, Vinnie Annarummo, and Dick Houlihan. Others who have pre-registered include Eric Beers, Richard Savary, former Seekonk winners Louie Mechalides and Andy Seuss, Chris and Carl Pasteryak, Jimmy Kuhn, Jr., and defending race winner Kirk Alexander of West Swanzey, NH. Qualifying heats and a B-main will set the lineup for the 100 lap affair.
The Northeastern Midget Association and Pro Four Modified Racing Series will also compete in qualifying heats and 25-lap features. The pit area will open at 1 PM on race day with Modified inspections beginning at 1:30 and practice for all divisions running from 2 to 6 PM. Qualifying begins at 7 PM. Grandstand admission is $18 for adults, $5 for juniors ages 13 through 15, and free for children 12 and under. Pit admission is $30. The speedway campgrounds will be open for overnight campers beginning on Tuesday evening, August 28.
BOWMAN-GRAY: POINT RACE HEATS UP
Burt Myers slips a little in the points race after a last-lap pass for the lead sent his car spinning on Saturday night at Bowman Gray Stadium.
Burt Myers entered the first 25-lapper with a strong points lead in the GMAC Insurance Personal Pit Crew Modified Series, and Myers was running second place in the race behind Bobby Hutchens. But as Hutchens’ car began to slow due to mechanical problems, Myers decided to make a risky pass to the outside.
“I tried to go to the outside, and I guess he was trying to protect the lead he had,” said
Myers, who spun after becoming entangled with Hutchens during the pass. “I don’t know
what happened. I guess he hit the corner of the bumper there,” said Hutchens. “I just
stayed to the inside of the race track – that was all I could do.”
Myers disagrees. “I wish he would have run me cleaner,” said Myers. “I think Bobby just
needs to reevaluate some of the race situations he gets into.” The points leader was
forced to pit, giving him a disappointing 18th place finish.
Hutchens remained in the lead and had only one lap to go after the restart before he
would take the checkered. But engine problems kept him from being able to accelerate,
and Randy Butner slipped by Hutchens to take the lead and the win.
“Coming around to take the green, I knew Bobby was having some engine problems.
When everyone took off, he just didn’t go,” said Butner. “It’s like you’re running second –
then next thing you know you’re up in the lead.”
Burt Myers jumped into a backup car for the second 25-lapper and managed a 12th place finish, keeping him in the points lead. But unfortunately for Myers, he lost considerable ground to Tim Brown. “The Rocket” finished second and fourth, narrowing Myers’ lead from 41 points to only 17.
Lee Jeffreys remains third, and the win of Randy Butner keeps him in fourth – although he is now only 2 points behind Jeffreys. “The points have really tightened up, and we’re not out of it by any means,” said Butner. “We’ve got an uphill battle – and we can’t have any more bad luck. But we’re still in the points race and we still have a chance at this championship. And my guys and I aren’t giving up.”
This weekend is Advance Auto Parts weekend at Bowman Gray Stadium. At Hanes Mall on Thursday night, there’s a driver autograph session hosted by 104.1 WTQR’s Angie Ward. On Friday, there’s qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and racing for the Stadium Modifeds, Legends, Bandoleros, and Thunder Roadsters – and you can pick up $1.99 tickets for Friday at participating Advance Auto Parts stores.
On Saturday night, there’s the Advance Auto Parts 199 for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified tour plus racing for all other divisions. And as a special added attraction for Friday and Saturday, come by for an up close and personal Monster Truck experience with Grave Digger on display. Ticket gates open at 6:00 PM for practice runs, and the first race is at 8:00 PM this Saturday night.
WMT: THOMPSON GETS CLOSER
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the Thompson International Speedway on Thursday, August 16th for what is sure to be an incredible night of competition. Race fans have made this traditional August visit of the “Tour” one of the most popular events on the Thompson schedule.
Randy Butler after winning at Bowman Gray. (BG Photo)
OPEN SHOWS: SEEKONK RACE CHANGES RAINDATE
Seekonk Speedway assistant manager David Alburn announced today that the 1/3-mile Bay State oval’s Open Wheel Wednesday program which fell victim to rain on July 18, has been rescheduled in its entirety for Wednesday evening, August 29, at 7 PM.
“We’ve heard from people from all over the Northeast, fans and competitors alike, in the week since the event was rained out,” Alburn explains. “The overwhelming consensus was that they wanted the show to go on exactly the way it had been planned on a future Wednesday night.”
After meeting with officials from the True Value Modified Racing Series, Northeastern Midget Association, and Pro Four Modified Series, a deal was finalized late Wednesday.
The fastest and fiercest competitors in northeastern Modified racing circles are expected
Donny Lia won the last time that the Mod Tour went to Thompson. (Mary Hodge Photo)
The annual running of the New England Dodge Dealers presentation of the BUDWEISER 150 brings out the very best of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The “Bud 150” is always an extremely competitive event and it is the final “Tour” race in the northeast before the schedule takes the Whelen Modifieds to Ohio and Virginia.
Donny Lia, with four wins in seven starts this season, will lead a stellar field of “Tour” Modified race teams to the Connecticut oval. He will be joined by the likes of Matt Hirschman, Todd Szegedy, James Civali and Ronnie Silk. In addition, Mike Stefanik, Jimmy and John Blewett, Ed Flemke, Jr., Ted Christopher and Jerry Marquis will also be on hand to represent the very best in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing.
The BUD 150 event will mark the third of five scheduled visits of the Whelen Modified Tour to the high banks of Thompson. Civali won the season opening ICEBREAKER in a real nail-biter when a “green, white, checker” finish gave Chuck Hossfeld a shot at taking the top spot. But, Civali was able to maintain the lead and win by .26 seconds over Hossfeld.
The NASCAR Whelen Modifieds returned to Thompson in June and Donny Lia, who, at that time, had won two of the first four events of the season, continued his winning ways. He took command of the event for the final 66 laps. It was the 8th career win for Lia. Ted Christopher finished second and Bobby Santos, III had his best Whelen Modified tour finish by placing 3rd.
It will be a full night of exciting competition as the NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions at Thompson will also be in competition with feature-only events.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars will begin at 5:45 PM. Feature event racing will start at 6:30 PM. The running of the New England Dodge Dealers presentation of the BUD 150 is scheduled for an 8:45 PM start.