51's Modified Madness Presented by Advance Auto Parts
News From The Ground Pounders - Dirt, Asphalt, North and South
Compiled from Series, Team and Track PR Reports

The biggest motorsports event ever staged at Cayuga County Fair Speedway is still over two months away. Yet when the richest racing weekend in Weedsport history arrives July 17-19, Billy Pauch Jr. plans to be in the field as the second-generation standout from Frenchville, New Jersey has already registered to become the first ‘official’ Big-Block Modified entry for DIRTcar All-Star Weekend.

“This kind of event really promotes dirt modified racing, its something I feel should be supported by all the teams,” said Pauch, 21, who is geared up to make his first trip to Cayuga County steering owner Bob Greene’s Pioneer Pole Buildings no. 8 Schaeffer's Harley Davidson-Seltzer Insurance Company/Bicknell ride. “The guys at DIRT are really sticking their neck out with so much (money) on the line and we definitely want to be there to see it work.”

“A big event like this is good for the future, it’s a positive step forward for our modifieds. Young guys like Matt Sheppard, Ryan Phelps and myself, we’re depending on this kind of show to be successful. A lot of the veterans will certainly be at this one but we want to be around after they’re gone to keep this sport moving ahead,” remarked Pauch, fresh off his sixth-place finish at Big Diamond Raceway in the 2009 Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series opener.

With a posted purse in the neighborhood of $100,000, the inauguration at this charter member track will make DIRTcar All-Star Weekend a destination event like no other for both fans and racers. Complete with camping, cookouts and concert entertainment, plus plenty of food and fun at the fairgrounds, Cayuga County’s three-day summer spectacular includes Sportsman Modifieds, Street Stocks and Pro Late Models, with $20,000 waiting the winner of the Advance Auto Parts Series ‘DIRTcar All-Star 100’ for Big-Blocks on Sunday, July 19.

The son of dirt track legend Billy Pauch, junior has divided his time on both dirt and asphalt among several different types of cars, including 358-Modifieds, ARDC midgets, NASCAR modifieds and ARCA stock cars. He made his 2001 debut in the Slingshot division and up until this year ran part-time at Big Diamond in Pennsylvania where he earned ’03 small-block rookie of the year honors at age 16. Scoring his first Big-Block Modified victory at Bridgeport (NJ) Speedway in 2005, Pauch is also slated to make frequent Saturday night visits to Grandview Speedway in the Keystone State.

“It was Bob’s (Greene, owner) idea to get into Big-Block racing this year, he thought it was a shame we couldn’t run more events,” noted Pauch, who anticipated additional Advance Series stops as his weekly schedule allowed. “He makes all the calls and I know he’s interested in doing some traveling this season.”

“I like traveling and visiting different tracks but I know driving for one team on Fridays and Saturdays will take priority. Still, if there’s a chance to take in a mid-week tour show its something we’ll consider. We’ve got two Big-Blocks and a team good enough to get the job done and run competitive,” said Pauch, who closes the book on his junior year this month at Rider University, where he majors in accounting.

Cayuga County will surely be one of the biggest tests for Pauch, considering he has never even seen a race at the banked 3/8-miler while his father last circled ‘The Port’ during the late 1970s. Pauch Sr. still harbors hopes of joining his son in the All-Star show piloting the Gold Rush Custom Trailers no. 126 car for owner Glenn Hyneman.

“I’ve only run a couple races nearby at Rolling Wheels and pretty much been to the tracks my father raced at so this will be an all new experience,” added Pauch, who finished 28th in his lone Advance Series show entered last season at RWR. “We’ll obviously be lacking any home track knowledge for this one.”

“We’re still confident we can do well after running with the same guys at Big Diamond and I think my car was even better than what it showed. Hey, with $1,000 to start, everybody will be giving it their best just to qualify. It would certainly be huge to pull of a win at Cayuga County, a place my dad has never even won. But I know it will be tough to beat these guys at their own game. Hopefully, we’ll put on a show, which will be a sign of good times ahead for both Cayuga County and PPB Racing,” Pauch figured.

In his maiden voyage to the heart of DIRTcar land, Pauch will face the stiffest competition from reigning overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar points king Decker, all-time Advance Series winner Brett Hearn and DIRTcar Northeast career Big-Block win leader Alan Johnson, also the defending Cayuga County champion. Pauch will also have to fend off Empire State stars Danny Johnson, Jimmy Phelps, Dale Planck, Gary Tomkins, Steve Paine, Matt Sheppard, Frankie Caprara, Ryan Phelps, Justin Haers, Billy Dunn, Jeff Brownell Jr. and ’08 Rookie of the Year Larry Wight, plus Canadian veteran Pat O’Brien and another New Jersey upstart, Michael Storms, from Wantage.

DIRTcar All-Star Weekend kicks off Friday, July 17 with Big-Block Modified practice and title events for DIRTcar Street Stocks and CRSA (Capital Region Sprint Agency) 305 Sprints. The Saturday program is highlighted by a $3,000-to-win, 50-lap Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series preliminary event, while Sunday culminates with the first-ever Advance Series ‘DIRTcar All-Star 100’ boasting $20,000 on top and $1,000 to take the green.


When the True Value Modified Series makes its first visit of the season to Waterford Speedbowl on May 9 for their 100-lap event, there will be several familiar faces dotting the roster for Speedbowl fans to root on.  Some competitors will be returning to the place their racing careers began, while other drivers very much in tune with the ‘Bowl’s two groove racing surface will be looking to turn a few heads.  Perhaps none more excited about the event are two current competitors with great success over the years at the historic shoreline facility, Jeff Pearl and Rob Janovic Jr.  Both are past Speedbowl track champions in the open-wheel ranks.

Pearl, the 1998 Speedbowl SK Modified® champion, has amassed 30 career wins behind the wheel of an SK Modified® over his 15-year ‘Bowl career, ranking third on the all-time list for the division.   He’s dabbled in the True Value Series with varying success in the past, however is looking forward to the opportunities this year.  “The first couple years we ran mostly with SK equipment and were a little overmatched, but we hung on for a fifth place finish our first time out” stated Pearl.  “Last year we put together a car specifically to run some events with this Tour, and struggled in the luck department a little bit.”   During the Wings ‘n Wheels event last August, Pearl won a heat race and was comfortably running second in the early portion of the race when mechanical failure forced him to the sidelines for the remainder of the event.  “There’s certainly a level of comfort with Waterford being our home track, but we haven’t always gotten the end result.  The last time out really boosted the team’s confidence, I can’t wait.”

Janovic was the runner-up in the points chase a year ago and claimed the 2007 Speedbowl SK Modified® title.  He lays claim to 17 wins in the open-wheel wars at Waterford and has been in the thick of the points battle each of the past several seasons.  Janovic’s excitement to test out the waters in the True Value Modified Series is evident.   “We’ve got our second car ready to go with the components to be competitive on this Tour” offered Janovic, a Waterford resident.  “It’s a matter of us learning the ropes and adjusting to the car, the competition and the Series in general.  I’d be happy if at the end of 100-laps we could be a top ten car – that would satisfy me.  If we’re in position for something more out of it, great.”  

Beyond Janovic and Pearl, another driver eyeing Speedbowl glory on May 9 will be Doug Coby.  Coby, who visited victory lane twice last year in an SK at the ‘Bowl, will be behind the wheel of the Czarnecki Brothers #20 entry.  According to Coby, “these guys really want to win a race at Waterford.”  Although it will be his first race with the team, he’s confident in the equipment he’ll have under him.   “The car was fast down there last year.  I love racing the ‘Bowl,  so I’m looking forward to returning in a Modified and think we’ve got a pretty good shot at it”.   The trio will look to represent the ‘home team’ well vs. Series veterans Kirk Alexander, Dwight Jarvis, Jack Bateman, Les Hinckley, and Rob Goodenough, the Series opener winner, to name a few.

Leading the list of True Value Modified Series stalwarts returning ‘home’ to Waterford is non-other than last year’s Series champion, Chris Pasteryak.   Pasteryak began his racing career at the ‘Bowl, cutting his teeth in the Legends Cars earning track championships before moving on to the SK Modifieds.  In four seasons, he won four times and finished second in 2006 points.   He visited Victory Lane the last time the Series visited Waterford.

Others on the tour that have frequented Speedbowl victory lane prior to moving on in their careers include Ed Dachenhausen; Mike Holdridge, who has won in a Street Stock, Late Model, and SK; and Jim Dolan.  Holdridge finished amongst the leaders in points on the Series a year ago, but would like nothing more than to pick up his first career TVMS victory at the place his racing career began and where his dad Dale found much success.

Joining the Series will be a full slate of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, led by the SK Modifieds for a 35-lap feature event.  Janovic, Pearl, and seven-time champion Dennis Gada will all look to stop Keith Rocco’s early season win streak in the division.  Qualifying action begins at 5pm with the popular True Value Modified Series heat races.  Admission is priced $25 for adult grandstands and $10 for youth ages 6 to 14, and free for children 5 and under.  For more information about the 2009 Speedbowl season and calendar of events, please visit www.speedbowl.com or contact track offices at 860.442.1585.


With two weeks of racing completed at Bowman Gray Stadium, 2008 Defending Champion Tim Brown is right where he wants to be – on top of the points ladder once again. But with many, many events left to go, and with the Bowman Gray Gear 100 this Saturday, all eyes will be on the Cana, Va. resident to see if he can maintain his position.
Brown finished 2nd and 8th in Saturday’s twin 25-lap races for the Farm Bureau Insurance Modified Series, earning him more points than any other Modified competitor that night. But on his tail the whole time was Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, Brown’s long-standing points rival and the 2007 champion.
Myers did his best to deliver some strong taps to the rear of Brown’s #83 car on Saturday, aware of the fact that his 18th place finish in the season-opening Tucson 200 gave him quite an initial disadvantage to overcome. Myers is known for his aggressive driving style, and he certainly was not going to let up on Brown. Scoring a 3rd and a 9th place finish, Myers jumped up to 10th in the points.
Junior Miller of Danbury, the record holder for most career Modified wins, has declared his intentions to make 2009 his 7th championship season. Like Myers, Miller had some bad luck during the season-opening race, finishing 20th. On Saturday, Miller spun when encountering some dirt on the track during the first race, but a lucky draw from the “Madhouse Scramble” sent him to the front for the start of the second race. Miller took home the win in the second 25-lapper, moving him up eight slots in the points ladder to 12th place in the points.
Chris Fleming of Mt. Airy entered the night with a second place standing in the points. Fleming was able to keep his rank, although Alfred Hill of Jonesville moved up from third to tie Fleming for the second spot on the points ladder.
This Saturday should be a true test of mettle for the points contenders: it’s the Bowman Gray Gear 100 – the season’s first 100-lap event. The notorious 100-lap races have their starting lineup determined by random draw, and the addition of the Double-File “Choice” Restart Rule has added another element of strategy and racing action.
A bad night for Brown could flatten the points race out considerably, possibly thrusting Fleming or Hill into the points lead. The #13 car of Fleming will be the one to watch on Saturday: Fleming has a reputation for choosing the outside lane at almost any chance he can get during the double-file restarts. In the season-opener, his riskiness earned him a second place finish, but Saturday may yield different results.
The double-file restart will give cars like Myers and Miller the chance to climb through the field if they find themselves towards the rear. Myers has made good use of the double-file restart before to climb from the rear to the front after spinning in a 100-lapper. Miller, known for his fearless racing attitude, may intimidate his fellow competitors and squeeze his way into the inside lane on many occasions.
The action continues this Saturday night with the Bowman Gray Gear 100. Starting position is determined by random draw, and the infamous Double-File “Choice” Restart Rule will be in effect. The Sportsman, Street Stock, and Stadium Stock Divisions will compete as well. Gates open at 6:00 for practice, qualifying begins at 7:20, and the first race begins at 8:00 PM. Ticket prices, directions, and more information can be found online at www.bowmangrayracing.com or by calling (336) 723-1819.


May is a rare month off from Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified competition this year for the Northeast’s top traveling teams, yet time won’t be wasted as drivers continue to rack up feature wins at their customary weekend stops.

With the DIRTcar Northeast circuit getting underway for a 34th consecutive season, nine Advance Series stars have already racked up 11 victories from the list of 22 drivers taking checkered flags. Waterloo, New York pilots Matt Sheppard (Canandaigua Speedway) and Jeff Brownell Jr. (Glen Ridge Motorsports Park) are the lone tour regulars to double up, with all four wins for the Xtreme Lubricants/Bicknell teammates posted in April.

Reigning Mr. DIRTcar points king Billy Decker, Canadian standout Pat O’Brien and rising tour star Ryan Phelps have swept the early rounds at Brewerton Speedway, while past Mr. DIRTcar champions Alan Johnson (Cayuga County Fair Speedway), Gary Tomkins (Canandaigua) and Brett Hearn (Volusia Speedway Park) continue to bolster their career totals. Frankie Caprara opened the season up north with his initial triumph taken at Can-Am Motorsports Park, where he is the defending Big-Block points champion.

Advance Auto Parts Series activity resumes in June with a big doubleheader in the Capital Region of New York State. Top point chasers head to the high banks of Lebanon Valley Speedway on June 6 before traveling north the next day for ‘The Battle of Plattsbugh’ on the asphalt of Airborne Speedway. Both 100-lap Modified main events pay to $6,000 to win and award valuable points toward the overall Hoosier Tire-VP Racing Fuels Mr. DIRTcar Championship.


Think of John Bennett as a fine bottle of aged wine. Race after race he just seems to improve on his performances.

For the second time in as many weeks the reigning Mahoning Valley Speedway Modified champ reached the Winner’s Circle ahead of everyone else, something that is becoming quite routine over the past few seasons.

Bennett, who started 12th, out-dueled Don Wagner for the lead on lap 14 and then pulled away from Lonnie Behler and Wagner in gaining the verdict.

“That was pretty good all night. Donny Wagner ran me really clean and so did Lonnie (Behler). I can’t say enough about racing against guys like them. When you can race as hard we do out here, it’s awesome and we would love to do this (win) every week,” said Bennett after picking up his 15th Modified win and 46th overall.

At the start pole sitter Todd Baer jumped to the lead but alongside him was Lou Strohl who took the spot away on the ensuing lap. Baer then bounced right back on lap three and Strohl returned the favor on the next go-around.

On lap six the caution waved for Bear. While in the midst of heavy front-running traffic he spun while running second. On the restart Wagner inherited the spot and when the action resumed he swiftly overtook Strohl for the lead.

What has become commonplace with the Mods, Bennett was on the charge and honed in on Wagner by lap eight. He then turned the pressure up and made his race winning move at the completion of lap13.

Behler, who is a rookie coming up from the Street Stocks, also worked around Wagner. For Behler the only time he was able to pose a challenge was following a caution. However, once a few green flag laps clicked off Bennett proved to be no match.

“I thought they were right there and I wasn’t sure close everyone was,” said Bennett. “The car preformed pretty much the way it does every week. The track always tightens up as the night goes on. It was a little slick earlier,” said Bennett.

Both Bennett and Behler competed in the Street Stock class and both are one-two in career track wins with a combined total 86.

“It was like old times,” said Bennett on once again going head to head with Behler.

This was only the third start for Behler in a Modified and he is adapting nicely. He notched a heat win in each of the first two weeks and now is vying for a win.

“I’m getting more comfortable in the car and its getting better without a doubt,” said Behler.

“This (modified) is like a Cadillac compared to the Street Stock.”

In the Dirt Modifieds Bret Ballard took a week off but was able to pick up right where he left off, in Victory Lane. Ballard passed Archie Meyers on lap three and from there never looked back. Point leader Steve Folk took second.


The thunder and power of tour type open Modified stock cars will return to Wall Stadium this Saturday night (May 9) at 7:00 p.m. when the “Mod Squad” makes its first appearance of the season for the 100-lap “Race of Champions Qualifier.” In the event of bad weather this Saturday, a rain date of Saturday, May 16, has been set.

Expected to lead an impressive field is Jimmy Blewett of Howell, the winner of the Tour Type Modified feature race at last November’s “Turkey Derby.” Blewett goes into the event on somewhat of a hot streak as he also won the season opening 100-lapper for the Red Bank Sleep Shoppe Modifieds at Wall back on April 18.

Blewett and his Partridge Racing No. 12 will see plenty of competition from some of the best drivers in the business when the green flag waves. Among those expected to be on hand for the event is Keystone State favorite Earl Paules of Palmerton, Pa. who spoke directly with promoter Jim Morton earlier this week. Also making their intentions known were local standout Ken Woolley, Jr. of Howell in the famous Dick Barney owned No. 14, Long Island favorite Tony Ferrante, Jr. in his family owned No. 31, 1990 NASCAR Modified Tour champion Jamie Tomaino of Howell in the Howard Harvey No. 99 and former stadium champion Pete Brittain in the Ling Trucking No. 66.

Also expected to post strong showings are Freehold’s Steven Reed in his family’s famous No. 55, Brick’s Marc Rogers in the Blauvelt Racing No. 41, Dave Cranmer in his No. 59, fan favorite Tim Arre of Toms River and Rich Ely of Manasquan, among others.


Officials from the American Speed Association (ASA) Southern Modified Races Tour (SMRT) and Franklin County Speedway announced today a schedule change for the 3rd Annual “Kenny Minter Memorial 125”.  The event, originally scheduled for Saturday, May 9th, will be run on Sunday afternoon, June 7th.

“The “down” economy seems to be affecting car counts at all local tracks and the Modified division seems to be especially hard hit right now.  The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour has struggled for strong car counts this Spring and the historic Bowman Gray Stadium had only 20 Modifieds on hand for the biggest race of the season on opening night and only 15 cars showed up for the first “Madhouse Scramble” race this past Saturday.  There were twenty ASA / SMRT Modifieds at Orange County Speedway in March for the “Josh Jenkins Memorial”.  Fans of Modified racing deserve better than an event with 10 - 12 cars and that is the car count we were looking at for the Franklin County Speedway event.  We want to give the FCS fans a great race when we come back in June and this extra time for teams to prepare as well as make a decision on where they want to compete may be just what the “doctor ordered” for the success of the event.  The change to Sunday afternoon should open up some teams schedules.  We have several competitors who work with Nationwide series teams and this should make it easier for them as well as anyone from Bowman Gray wanting to come”, said SMRT Director, Randy Myers. 

“We appreciate FCS Promoter, Whitey Taylor, giving us the chance to race at Franklin County and especially appreciate him working with us on the rescheduling of the “Kenny Minter Memorial 125” to June”, Myers said.

All discount coupons for the original date will be honored and can still be picked up at Rocky Mount, VA area Bojangles and Dairy Queen's as well as Clarence's Steak House in Ridgeway, VA and Ray's Restaurant in Floyd, VA.

The next ASA / SMRT event is set for Hickory Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 17th.  The Modifieds will compete along with the ASA Southeast Late Model Tour.

ASA, ASA Racing and American Speed Association are trademarks of Racing Speed Associates, LLC.  Racing Speed Associates, LLC is not related to or affiliated with ASA Late Model Series, LLC.

Pauch's #8 Modified.  (DIRT Photo)
Tim Brown in victory lane at Bowman Gray.  (BGS Photo)
Billy Pauch, Jr.   (DIRT Photo)
Team Brownell.  (DIRT Photo)
Rob Janovic (Waterford Speedbowl / Race Dog Photography Photo)