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
OPEN SHOWS: ALL-STAR SHOW FOR ALL-STAR SPEEDWAY
The pavement Modified division experienced a boom in popularity in the 1970's, largely because of events known as “Open Shows”. They offered competitors who raced at numerous home tracks a chance to compete against each other for a purse larger than their normal weekly payout. These events were fun and memorable for both fans and competitors alike. In the parking lot, license plates proved the interest was widespread.
Add to that Ted Christopher, who earned more money with a sixteenth place finish in the 2007 All-Star event than he was given for winning a recent touring series event. The winner of the All-Star Nationals last fall, Matt Hirschman is also entered.
Among other drivers stating their intentions to compete are Three-Time TVMRS Champion Kirk Alexander, Mike Stefanik, Ryan Preece, Bobby Grigas, Louie Mechalides, Jimmy Kuhn, Ken Barry and Tommy Cravenho to name a few.
Guaranteed starters for the race are Chuck Hossfeld, David Pinkham and Mechalides as point leaders of the NASCAR Whelen, True Value, and NASCAR All-Star weekly Modified standings respectively.
Four heat races prior to the LATICRETE 150 will be lined up by the luck of the draw, running 15 laps in length. One or two consolation races and a B-Main to determine the balance of the field are also on the schedule.
With no other Modified Touring Series events scheduled this weekend, the number of entries are expected to double in comparison to the 2007 event.
This Saturday night at 6:00 PM it's the return of the “Open Modified Show”. It's a format that made Modified racing in the northeast one of the most popular forms of motorsports, with Geoff Bodine and Richie Evans among the past open show winners at All-Star Speedway in the 1970's.
The LATICRETE 150, as part of the $20,000 WaterSnoGo All-Star Modified Showdown Series is sure to bring new memories to pavement Modified enthusiasts that could last a lifetime. Racing begins at 6:00 PM this Saturday night.
DIRT: DECKER AND PLANCK SPLIT ROLLING WHEELS WINS
Billy Decker successfully defended his title for a second straight year and Dale Planck scored his first-ever victory at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park as they each captured a leg of the Dig Safely New York 28th Annual DIRT Challenge Cup Advance Auto Parts Super DIRT Series event presented by Ferris Mowers on Sunday evening at the 'Fast Track.' The twin 50-lap Big-Block Modified feature races awarded the winners $3,000 each as well as valuable points in the 25-race Advance Auto Parts Series that culminates with the crowning of the overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Champion for a 33rd straight year in October.
Touring series events, with points, and strict rules have largely taken over the racing scene as of late, with open shows becoming small in numbers. All-Star Speedway and it's new owner Bobby MacArthur are aiming to put the “Open Show” back on the map, with a four race series in 2008 titled the 'WaterSnoGo All-Star Modified Showdown'
MacArthur stated, “Last year's event was a starting point. The quality of the racing was so good by bringing teams from all over the east together at All-Star Speedway that I decided to make it a four race series paying big money to win, and a large point fund. We learned last year that All-Star is most suitable for this type of an event. With the help of sponsorship from WaterSnoGo and LATICRETE, we were able to make it happen.”
The first of those events takes place on May 10, with the running of the 2nd Annual LATICRETE Modified Thunder 150. The race will pay $5,000 to win, plus lap money and bonuses. With caution laps not counting, it will truly be a 150-lap race. There will be a halfway break to allow teams to make adjustments and change two tires if desired. These two factors alone make it a Modified race like no other.
The race payoff, plus an additional $20,000 in point fund money, has generated interest from competitors across the Modified map. The top five finishers from the 2007 event will all be returning for this race. Rob Summers, Jon McKennedy, Andy Seuss, Ronnie Silk and Chris Pasteryak will each be looking for another good finish.
In addition to that, several drivers and teams will be competing for the first time ever at All-Star. Jimmy Blewett, Eric Beers, James Civali, and Danny Sammons head the list of confirmed entrants that have never even seen All-Star Speedway.
Blewett admitted, “I've never been to All-Star, but I heard that everybody liked the race last year. I'm definitely looking forward to it. If you just run the tour it's the same thing week in and week out. It's nice to do something a little bit different. It's no pressure, but we're going there to win.”
Brett Hearn was the best on the day, securing runner-up honors in the first round then placing fourth in the nightcap to overtake opening day winner Matt Sheppard atop the Advance Series point standings through three races.
Decker started on the pole in John Wight's Gypsum Wholesalers no. 91 Stadium Int'l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell entry and led the entire distance to score the convincing win in Rolling Wheels' 40th season opener on a sunny but cool day in Central New York. Only three caution periods slowed the race with the 1998 Mr. DIRTcar titlist building up a comfortable 10 car-length margin over Hearn under the checkered flag, followed by Jimmy Phelps, Gary Tomkins and Sheppard.
The top-12 were positions were inverted to start the second 50-lapper and outside pole-sitter Steve Paine took advantage of his front row spot to jump ahead of point man Alan Johnson on the initial circuit. Paine ran untouched ahead of the pack until Planck finally tracked him down aboard Carey Terrance's RezX Racing no. 77x Grow It Hydroseeding/TEO machine to forge the final lead change on lap 33.
The second-generation driver from Cortland, New York pulled out to over a three second lead at the stripe chased by Paine, Danny Johnson, Hearn and Phelps. Planck was also the Integra Shocks fast timer in qualifications, touring the spacious 5/8-mile Elbridge oval in a time of 20.094 seconds for an average speed of 111.974 mph.
Big-Block Modified race teams following the Advance Auto Parts Series get a three-week break from tour action before returning to the home of DIRTcar Racing NorthEast for the traditional Memorial Day Weekend stop across town at Cayuga County Fair Speedway in Weedsport.
On tap Sunday, May 25 is the 17th Annual Northeast Modified Hall of Fame Classic, this year highlighted by a 76-lap main event offering a $6,000 winner's share.
BOWMAN GRAY: RULE CHANGES MIX THINGS UP AT THE STADIUM
Some people love them. Some people hate them.
Billy Decker (Top) and Dale Planck (Bottom) split DIRT victories at Rolling Wheels. (DIRT Photos)
The 100-lap races for the Farm Bureau Insurance Modified Series at Bowman Gray Stadium are infamous for their hard-racing action caused, in part, by having the entire field randomly draw for starting positions.
But now in 2008, things will get even more exciting. Bowman Gray Stadium introduces a new restart rule for the 100-lappers - a new rule destined to shake things up, but also to allow competitors another great chance to advance through the pack.
The 100-lap races for the Modified Series will now use a double-file “choice” restart to determine the lineup after cautions. This replaces the old method of simply restarting in single-file once the race was underway.
Here's how the new system will work. After NASCAR scoring lines the competitors up in single-file, a signal will be given as they approach the start-finish line. As they cross the line, each driver will choose to either restart in the inside lane or the outside lane. While the inside lane gives drivers much better position as they race around corners - if many drivers choose the inside, the outside row could give a driver a chance to take a risk and climb up several positions.
The 1st place car will take either the inside of the front row (the pole position), or he can choose the outside. Let's say he chooses the inside. The 2nd place driver then chooses to go to the outside row or to stay to the inside behind the leader. He may, for instance, choose to take the inside lane behind the leader. The 3rd place driver then chooses to either go to the front of the outside row or to the third spot in the inside row. He may, for instance, also choose to take the inside lane. The 4th place driver then chooses to either go to the front of the outside or to the fourth spot in the inside row. At that point, he may feel that going to the outside row would be a better place for him to be. He may choose the outside lane - which would put him at the front of the outside row right beside the leader.
Burt Myers won last weekend's opening day race at Bowman Gray. What does he think about the new rules at the Stadium going into this week's 100-lap race? (BG Photo)
Last year's 150 lap spring race at All-Star Speedway was remembered for a wild battle between Ted Christopher and Andy Seuss (Top) and a come from behind victory by Rob Summers (Bottom - Jamie Williams Photos)
Like it or not, the double-file restart will definitely introduce new elements of strategy into Modified racing at the Stadium. “Track positioning, race situations, even new strategy on taking pit stops - this new rule will change the whole dynamic of the 100-lap race,” said Garrison.
The first 100-lap race of the season will be the Carolina Wood Floors 100, which is scheduled for this Saturday night. Ticket gates open at 6:00 for practice, qualifying begins at 7:20, and the first race begins at 8:00 PM.
WATERFORD: ROCCO TAKES HIS FIRST
Keith Rocco recorded his first-ever Speedbowl SK Modified win Saturday evening, narrowly defeating Dennis Gada and Ron Yuhas Jr. With 10-laps remaining, Rocco slipped by Yuhas, battling right down to the wire with Gada before pulling ahead following a late-race restart. Ron Silk and defending champion Rob Janovic Jr. completed the top-5.
Other feature winners were Ed Reed Jr. (Late Model), Chris “Moose” Douton (Sportsman), Jeff “Soup” Civardi (Mini Stock), and, Dave Pinkham (True Value Modified Series).
In the closing circuits, Rocco survived a dramatic outside-bid by 6-time champion Gada, who was seeking his third victory of the season.
“I couldn't give-in even a little, and had to hold my line,” said Rocco. “When you're running at Waterford, and Dennis Gada is behind you, you have to work extra-hard. He's the best at running the outside here.”
The 23-year old former Speedbowl Sportsman champion is well-aware of his family's history at the shoreline oval. His father Ronnie was once a fan-favorite at Waterford, taking many Modified victories.
“This win means an awful lot to me,” he said. “My father won a lot of races here, and I'm proud to add my name to that list. He's as excited about this as I am. You should have seen him in victory lane tonight. You would have thought he was driving that car. It's just a good feeling to finally get a Speedbowl SK win.”
WMT: TEAMS GET READY TO TEST NHMS
Race teams from the NASCAR Camping World Series East and NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour are set to visit New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a joint test session
on May 12.
The test sessions for NASCAR Camping World Series East and NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour teams are held in preparation for the series' upcoming events at New
Hampshire. The NASCAR Camping World Series East will run the Heluva Good!
Summer 125 on Friday, June 27 while the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take
the green flag on Saturday, June 28 in the New England 100. Both series are
scheduled to return to New Hampshire for events on Sept. 12-13. Please visit the
track's official Web site (nhms.com) for ticket information.
The Monday, May 12 joint session at the 1.058-mile track in Loudon, N.H., is
scheduled to run from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. The practice is open to the public.
RIVERHEAD: PARK GETS WINNER'S TROPHY AS A BIRTHDAY GIFT
On the eve of his 61st birthday, defending NASCAR Modified champion Bill Park of Manorville was declared the opening night feature event winner Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. Chuck Steuer had crossed the line first, but came-up light on the scales in post race inspection.
Early in the 35-lap NASCAR Modified feature on a cold and misty evening John Fortin and Chuck Steuer were locked in a tussle for the lead for the first 11circuits. Just after a restart Fortin went up the hill a touch in turn one and two forcing Steuer wide as well, Mike Andrews Jr. throttled his car to inside of both but exiting turn two Andrews and Fortin would tangle. Andrews car rode the hood of Fortin's all the way into the infield in turn three.
On the ensuing restart it was Chuck Steuer and Bill Park who both avoided the incident to be left to fight for the lead and fight they would. Park, long known for preferring the outside line made several attempts to do just that, but with the conditions the way they were his repeated tries at the outside would not pan out.
Steuer, who was driving with a touch of the flu, crossed the line first but it was all for naught as his all-new racer came-up light at the scales. NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Officials allowed Steuer and his team several attempts at the scales.
This inserted Bill Park in the Smithtown Nissan Chevy as the new race winner for his 27th career triumph in his four-decade career. Howie Brode of East Islip roared from 13th to runner-up money in the Long Island Freightliner Chevy, while Dave Brigati of Calverton went to a back-up car to race his way from 17th to third in the Full Throttle Hot Rod Magazine Chevy. Dan Jivanelli of Hampton Bays and Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue rounded out the top five.
The drivers on the outside row would face the challenge of having to find their way back into the inside lane. Doing so quickly would allow them to potentially gain a lot of ground. But failing to do so could get the driver “caught on the outside,” causing them to potentially lose position. That risk will be something that each driver has to weigh and decide on their own as they commit to the inside or outside lane.
“The choice restart will add another element of strategy into the racing,” said Gray Garrison, promoter of Bowman Gray Stadium. “You may be in the middle of the pack, try the outside row, fail to get back in, and fall back to the rear. Then again, you may be in the middle of the pack, try the outside row, and gain several positions.”
Drivers have mixed opinions about the double-file choice restart.
2007 Modified Champion Burt Myers feels that it will benefit some drivers, but may pave the way for problems. “I think that if a man has a good race car and he's mired up in traffic, it would probably benefit him to go to the outside. But the problem's going to be when someone's car is off a little, but he thinks he can gain something by getting outside. He's going to try to get in line, and he's going to hold people up,” said Myers.
2006 Modified Champion Junior Miller is in favor of the new restart rule. “I think it'll be great - you can just get outside and go. It mixes up the cars and makes it a whole lot better racing for the fans,” said Miller.
SUNOCO MODIFIEDS: THOMPSON PLANS FOR NIGHT TESTING
Thompson International Speedway race teams will now have an opportunity to drive under the new Thompson lighting system one week before the regular Thursday night Thunder series opens for the summer.
Speedway owner, Don Hoenig, today announced that he felt it was important for the race drivers and their teams to be introduced to the new “bright lights” before the regular season begins. “This will give drivers a chance to get a good feel for just how racing under the new lights will be. To some drivers, this may be a significant change. We feel that by moving the hours of our open practice to later in the day, drivers will be afforded this opportunity before they race in competition under the new lights the very next week. As a result, the track will open at 3 PM on Thursday, May 15th and the open practice session will be held from 5 PM until 9 PM,” Hoenig said.
The installation of the new Musco lighting system began last fall and was completed just
recently. Engineers from Musco Lighting will do the final adjustments on the lighting fixtures prior to the May 15th open practice.
“This is a major improvement to our facility,” said Hoenig. “It has involved many people, miles of new wiring and a lot of excavation all around the speedway grounds. This project also gave us the opportunity to repave the midway behind the grandstands. This is another improvement that fans will notice and appreciate. It has been a major undertaking and we are very happy to be able to offer our competitors and fans these improvements,” Hoenig concluded.
After the May 15th practice session, the next event on May 22nd will be opening night for Thompson's Thursday Night Thompson Thunder. The speedway will once again present it's 'Super Six” NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions.
SK MODIFIEDS: STAFFORD WET AGAIN
Due to inclement weather, Stafford Motor Speedway has postponed its May 9th New England Dodge Dealers Late Model 100 program
to Friday night, June 27th.
Stafford Motor Speedway returns to racing action next Friday night, May 16th with a Whelen All-American Series racing program. Stafford’s SK Modifieds®, Late Models, SK Light Modifieds, Limited Late Models, and DARE Stocks willall take to the track with heat and feature events.
Stafford Motor Speedway will also be celebrating NASCAR Day next Fridaynight, May 16th. Funds generated from NASCAR Day will benefit The NASCAR Foundation, which supports over 30 driver and industry charities. On NASCAR Day, fans, companies, schools, and organizations show their support of the charitable community of NASCAR by donating $5 for a commemorative NASCAR Day lapel pin. Pins can be purchased at the Speedway Collectibles booth, at the Main Pit Gate, or in the Speedway Office. To commemorate the fifth-annual celebration of NASCAR Day, Stafford Motor Speedway will host a pit-crew challenge. Participating fans may sign up at the Speedway Collectibles Booth on the midway next Friday night. Since the inception of NASCAR Day in 2004, Stafford Motor Speedway teams and fans have helped raise over $6,000 for the NASCAR Foundation.
Tickets for next Friday night’s Whelen All-American Series / NASCAR Day raceprogram are priced at $15.00 for Adult General Admission, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge.
Reserved seating is available and is priced at $18.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking with overnight parking available at no cost.
May is Youth Organization Month at Stafford Motor Speedway. As part ofYouth Organization Month, any child age 14 and under wearing a youth organization team shirt or uniform (Little League, Scouts, etc.) will receive free admission when accompanied by an adult.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will race at NHMS twice this season. (Jamie Williams Photo)
Thompson installed new lighting at the track this off-season. (TIS Photo)