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
WMT: A RICH HISTORY AWAITS MOD TOUR AT THOMPSON
NASCAR Modified racing is the oldest and most history laden type of racing sanctioned by NASCAR, the Florida based racing giant. 2008 marks the 60th year of NASCAR Modified racing and much of the history of this exciting racing division was written at the Thompson International Speedway. Another chapter in that colorful history will be written this Thursday, August 14th, when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Thompson for the New England Dodge Dealers-Budweiser 150.
won the inaugural event. In its first year, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour made five stops at Thompson and four of those races were won by Evans. Drivers who had become Modified legends joined the Tour concept and each race featured the very best of the best. Drivers like Evans, Bugs Stevens, George Kent, Brian Ross, Jimmy Spencer, John Rosati, Mike McLaughlin, Greg Sacks, Mike Stefanik and many, many more thrilled fans at each stop on the Tour's schedule.
Since the inception of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, seven-time tour champ, Mike Stefanik tops the list of race winners at Thompson. Stefanik has visited Thompson's victory lane a total of fourteen times. Jeff Fuller claimed ten Tour victories and his brother Rick and Tony Hirschman each have eight. A total of 103 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races have been run at Thompson since 1985.
In recent years, young, talented and exciting drivers have joined the Whelen Modified Tour. They have created an incredible amount of excitement as they do battle on the track with some long-time Tour veterans. The last race at Thompson won by a long-time veteran of the Modified wars was back in October of '06. The driver was Reggie Ruggiero. Ruggiero, as strong as ever, ended his '07 campaign at Thompson with two second place finishes and will be looking for the top spot this Thursday, August 14th, when the Whelen Modified Tour returns to the high-banked speedway.
Since Reggie's last win, victory lane has belonged, almost exclusively, to some of the young, hard chargers on the Tour. Capturing the top spots recently have been James Civali, Donny Lia, Todd Szegedy, Ronnie Silk, and Bobby Santos III. However, Ed Flemke put a stop to that when he won this year's Icebreaker in April.
From 1948 until the 1984 racing season came to a conclusion, the NASCAR Modified division was a free-wheeling, somewhat independent racing division. The NASCAR Modifieds were the premier weekly division at most tracks in the northeast. Many of the top drivers would compete on both asphalt and dirt tracks in as many as sixty or more events each year. At the end of the season, NASCAR would compile all of the points awarded to each driver and a champion was crowned based on the driver's overall points total.
In 1985, NASCAR introduced the Tour concept for the Modifieds and a new era was born. The number of races was brought into a manageable schedule for competitors and the race program was organized so that both race teams and fans could easily understand procedures and follow their favorite drivers. 1985 was a year of change and a year that ushered in an entirely new program for the storied NASCAR Modified division.
The first race under the new Tour concept was run at the Thompson International Speedway. The date was Mach 31, 1985 and nine-time Modified champ, Richie Evans
This Thursday, August 14th, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour veterans and young, hard chargers will once again face off for 150 laps. Jimmy Blewett, hot off a win at the Stafford Motor Speedway, will try to add his name to the list of winners.
As part of NASCAR's 60th anniversary celebration, former five-time Modified Tour champ, Tony Hirschman, will be honored during pre-race ceremonies scheduled for roughly 6 PM.
Grandstands open at 2 PM with Modified time trials set for 5:30 PM. Thompson's NASCAR Whelen All American Series “Super Six” divisions will open the night's activities with their feature races and the Whelen Modified Tour is set to take the green flag at about 8:45 PM. The event's complete schedule is available on line at www.thompsonspeedway.com
Eddie Flemke started out the Thompson season with a victory in the Icebreaker Mod Tour race. (Jamie Williams Photo)
TVMRS: WINGS AND WHEELS GET READY FOR WATERFORD
Geography - length, width, surface - makes Waterford Speedbowl an ideal spot for Saturday night's Racing Against Cancer Wings & Wheels presented by Foxwoods and Kool 101.
Three of the four fastest short track divisions in the Northeast, led by the International Super Modified Racing Association, are due. The Supers will be joined by the Northeastern Midget Association, the True Value Modified Series and the Speedbowl's SK-Modifieds.
A portion of every ticket will go to Racing Against Cancer. The gates open at 3:30 PM and racing begins at 5.
The True Values will go 100 laps, the Supers 50, the SKs 35 and the Midgets 25. All will qualify via heats and consis (starting at 5 pm) that guarantees some hectic action.
Chris Pasteryak (#15) is one of the local favorites for the TVMRS race at Waterford. (Jim Dupont Photo)
Three-wide Mod Tour action at Thompson. (Rick Ibsen Photo)
Ted Christopher will be returning in the Czarnecki #20. TC would like to add to a Speedbowl resume that includes, in addition to 33 SK wins, successes in the NASCAR Modifieds, NEMA Midgets and Pro4 Modifieds.
True Value regulars Chris Pasteryak, Ed Dachenhausen and Mike Holdridge are all former Speedbowl regulars. NEMA's Cabral, Nokie Fornoro, Erica and Bobby Santos III and Joey Payne all have strong followings at the Bowl as well.
They'll all be part of a host of short track giants that includes ISMA's Perley, Jeff Holbrook, Russ Wood, Dave McKnight, Mike Ordway Jr. and Mike Lichty, NEMA's Jeff Horn, Greg Stoehr, Lou Cicconi and TVMS David Pinkham, Les Hinckley, Kirk Alexander and Jean-Paul Cyr.
The Speedbowl's SK fraternity - Dennis Gada, Keith Rocco, Rob Janovic Jr., Jeffrey Paul, Ron Yuhas Jr., Doug Coby - will be striving to excel as well.
SK MODIFIEDS: COBY WINS AT STAFFORD
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event on Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway,
it was Doug Coby taking down hisfirst feature win of the 2008 season with a dominating
drive. Zach Sylvester took the early race lead and he lead the first 8 laps before Coby
took over the lead on lap-9. Jimmy Blewett followed Coby past Sylvester and moved
into second place.
The race was slowed by caution with 17 laps complete with Coby still out front. The
final 23 laps of the race ran green to checkered with Coby dominating the action.
Blewett and Chris Jones put on a spirited battle for second in the closing laps, which
allowed Coby to pull away. Blewett came home second behind Coby, with Jones,
Frank Ruocco, and Wade Mattesen rounding out the top-5.
DIRT: PAINE ENTERS CROSSROADS OF HIS CAREER
Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series standout Steve Paine is at a crossroads in his motorsports career. But don't mistake that for a lack of effort or motivation to win for the low-key driver from Waterloo, New York.
“I still plan to race for awhile but every year I'm getting a little closer to just running on weekends, maybe a midweek show nearby once a month,” said Paine, 47, who has forged a successful career in the Modified ranks over the past quarter-century, with the 2000 overall Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block Championship and 27 Advance Series victories heading the list. “The family is growing and the boys are getting involved in just about everything right now.
“I've gotten used to the family life but don't spend enough time with all their activities. I still enjoy the local series stuff, those races I can get back home from at a decent hour. There's so much information available today its getting tougher and tougher to get an edge. I'm just getting to the point where I see racing close by as more feasible with my own business still to run,” noted Steve, who continues to sell race car parts under the Paine Motorsports umbrella from the familiar Brewer Road site in his hometown.
Paine doesn't expect Saturday night racing on the storied Ontario County Fairgrounds in Canandaigua to be lost in the shuffle when he finally gets around to adjusting his summer schedule one of these years.
There are no strangers in the mix. Each division has established history at the Speedbowl. They come wanting to make more history. ISMA President Howie Lane insists the Speedbowl's first 11-seconds lap is a possibility Saturday.
Back in May, ISMA's Chris Perley turned a 12.489 seconds lap (107-mph plus) en route to victory. It was, just a few “ticks” better than Randy Cabral's 12.848 (105-plus) in the Bertrand Midget set a few weeks before. Those marks are now targets for two divisions that pay special attention to lap times.
Dwight Jarvis' 14.075 lap and many SK times in the 14.150 range this summer are testimony that the True Value and SK Modifieds are surpassing the century mark as well.
Bowl fans have their favorites in the touring divisions starting with ISMA's Rob Summers, the one-time SK champion who'll be coming with a True Value car as well. Summers would like nothing better than adding a ISMA checkered to his Speedbowl resume.
“I wanted to cut back some last year, then I put together a deal to run Weedsport on Sundays and suddenly I was back to running three times every weekend plus Rolling Wheels and all the (Advance) Series shows,” said Paine, who mirrors the same agenda in 2008 steering his familiar yellow no. 7x Tallmadge Tire-Swarthout Recycling-Instant Heat Wood Pellets/Troyer ride. “I looked at it as a way to get a little more seat time and generate some additional income. But it's a whole different ball game these days, you can't just run decent any more and get away with it if you want to win.”
“Right now the top four guys are pretty much locked in and its hit or miss for the rest of us. From now on I've gotta look at finishing between fifth and 10th in points. I've been getting better lately and think I can pick up a win although there's very little hope for much better (in points) the way things are going. Some of the tracks coming up I've
just never been good at and others I'm down on equipment with just the smaller motor I've got left,” remarked Paine, who owns a handful of Advance Series top-five finishes to stand seventh in points, and is tied with Billy Decker after setting Integra Shocks fast time on three occasions.
PASS MODS: IT'S TIME FOR 250 WEEKEND AT WISCASSET
The Toyota Tundra 250 at Wiscasset Raceway (ME) is set for this weekend and the PASS Modifieds will be part of the show. The weekend kicks off on Saturday August 16th with 50 laps for the late models, legends, and a full card of weekly racing topped off by fireworks and Super Late Model practice for the Toyota Tundra 250.
Sunday August 17th the pit gate swings open at 7:00 AM, practice takes to the track at 9:00 AM and the first green flag waves at 2:00 PM. Twin features for the PASS Pluffybilt Sportsman Series, a 40 lap go for the PASS Mods, a $500.00 to win Strictly Street special and all the super late model qualifying races guarantee a full throttle afternoon of racing. The 36 car field for the Toyota Tundra 250 is tentatively scheduled to roll off at 6:00 PM.
BOWMAN-GRAY: SEASON IS WINDING DOWN, THE ACTION IS NOT
As the season draws to an end at Bowman Gray Stadium, every lap carries an extra
bit of tension. That was true on Saturday, especially for the start of the first race for the
Farm Bureau Insurance Modified Series.
Burt Myers of Walnut Cove qualified on the pole, besting Tim Brown for the third time
in the 2008 season. Brown, a resident of Cana, Va., started on the outside pole. With
only 25 white-knuckled laps until the checkered flag waved in the first race, Myers
and Brown knew that the start would be the deciding moment.
But during that crucial instant, the #1 car of Myers lost traction as the two raced to
the green flag. “There was some dirt on the inside of the race track,” said Tim Brown.
“It caused the #1 car to spin pretty hard. I got a little bit of a jump there and was able
to pull away from him.”
Myers slid around as he crossed the start line and headed into turn one - just enough
of a misstep to let Brown claim the lead. “He got way sideways, and I knew at that
point that we had him,” said Brown.
Brown then led every lap to take the win. The victory was Tim Brown's sixth victory for
2008: more wins than the six-time champion has ever notched in a single season.
“This year has been an awesome year. I just hope we can finish it off with a
championship,” said Brown.
Burt Myers finished second, and Robert Jeffreys of Winston-Salem finished in third.
Kevin Powell of Winston-Salem started on the pole for the second 25-lapper; Bobby
Hutchens of Lexington was to his side on the outside pole. Again, the very first lap
proved to be the deciding factor in the victory. Hutchens was able to slam the gas,
give a little bump to the side of Powell's car, and claim the lead as the two entered
As Hutchens coasted ahead of the pack, Lee Jeffreys of High Point began hammering
the bumper of second-place Kevin Powell. The #99 car of Kevin Powell held its ground,
despite hard taps that turned Powell's car nearly sideways. Hutchens took the win,
followed by Powell and Jeffreys in second and third.
SUPERCLEAN MODIFEDS: ORANGE SHOW UP NEXT
The SuperClean Modified Racing Series will return to action this Saturday night, August 16th, with the second visit of the season to the always challenging Orange Show Speedway, OSS, a quarter mile paved oval in San Bernardino-California. Round number six of the series will be presented by K&N Performance Filters and will feature 22 of the best open wheel modified driving talent in the western states running a 75 lap feature with $1,000 going to the winner. The event will also be video taped for national television and will be shown on the Versus Network on September 14th at 6pm.
This outstanding ten race series, visiting five tracks in three different states, has been a hot bed of competition throughout the first half of the 2008 season. Saturday will mark the series' second appearance in a row at the OSS. The first race, held July 12th, was won by northern California's Scott Winters who was making his first ever visit to the series. The field of SuperClean Modifieds put on a spectacular show that night with multiple groups of cars racing wheel to wheel all throughout the 75 lap feature.
After winning the SK Modified feature, Doug Coby hopped into Don King's #28 Tour Modified and finished third at Stafford. (Jim Dupont Photo)
Paine's #7 DIRT Modified. (DIRT Photo)
Don't be the least bit surprised if the SuperClean Modified drivers takes that level of intensity several notches higher when the green flag falls on Saturday night's K&N Performance Filters 75. With the series beginning the second half of the season the points structure, and the driver bonus money, will become increasingly important. The SuperClean Modified Series has a combined purse and points fund in excess of $105,000. From that the series' champion is going to receive $2,500 plus $1,000 in Lucas Oil products. The points fund will be paid out to the top 15 drivers in the standings and that's means OSS fans are going to get that extra intensity of racing excitement Saturday night while watching the drivers do everything they can to elevate their points positions.
The top of the points standing has become a back and forth battle between Jimmy Dickerson and Andrew Phipps. Dickerson has been a dominant factor in the series from the very beginning. The El Cajon-California driver came on strong and won two races in a row, followed by a second place finish and then scored his third win. All this while Simi Valley-California's Andrew Phipps was doing all that he could to keep within striking distance of his rival in the points standings. He helped that cause by scoring a series win and making sure his car finished in the top five after each race. But the points standing
took a dramatic turn at the OSS on July 12th when Dickerson's car suffered a mechanical failure that sent him behind the wall. He eventually was able to return to the race but was multiple laps down and had to settle for a 14th place finish. Phipps finished second and left the OSS that night as the new points leader. He will go into this Saturday night leading by 24 points. Expect him to do everything that's necessary to protect that lead. On the other hand expect Dickerson to return to the OSS with a vengeance and do everything he can to get his points back where he thinks it belongs. These two drivers alone are going to be worth the price of the grandstand ticket this Saturday night.
But there will be other drivers who are planning on exerting some influence over who wins the K&N Performance Filters 75 this Saturday night. Certainly one of them is likely to be Mike Salm. Many felt that the Baldwin-California driver was robbed of a win during the July 12th race at the OSS. Salm rolled out of the hauler strong that weekend and set the Budweiser fast time after touring the speedway's quarter mile oval with a lap of 13.718 seconds. He led the first 38 laps of the race before getting caught up in a wreck, not of his making, with a lapped car.Expect Salm to come back to the OSS this Saturday night just as strong as his last appearance while thinking that this track owes him won.
Burbank-California's Tim Morse is another driver to keep an eye on this Saturday night. Here's a racing operation that has shown a lot of improvement over the past couple of races. Two top five finishes in a row has placed him third in the series' points standings 58 markers away from first. Also expect to see some strong runs from drivers who will be looking to improve their points positions by the end of the race. This groups includes Scott Brown, Billy Johanneck, Chris and Larry Gerchman along with Dave Arce.
But to improve positions in the points standings a driver has to first qualify to make the feature race and that's entirely another level of intensity in the SuperClean Modified Series. At the July 12th OSS race the separation in qualifying times for the entire 22 car field was a mere 46 one hundreths of a second. The first 16 cars in the A main will be set by the two lap qualifying runs. The next four positions will be transfers from the B main. A SuperClean Modified Series B main can often be as intense as the 75 lap feature. There's a lot on the line here because a transfer spot not only puts a driver in the feature but it also guarantees the driver is going to earn at least $250 just for taking the green flag in the feature. The B main winner also earns a $100 bonus. The last two starting berths will be determined by provisionals. From that point it's all about racing hard to see who's going to take home the $1,000 winner's check.
Tim Brown (Top) and Bobby Hutchins (Bottom) both won in front of a packed house at Bowman-Gray last weekend. (BG Photos)
The SuperClean Modifieds in action. (Series Photo)