The Kids Are Alright
Normally, we are a little skeptical about seeing the children of Cup drivers get into short track racing and with good reason. There are so many deserving drivers who get passed over when at the same time you have kids of privilege squandering their chances at making their mark in racing (does anyone know what Barry Bodine or Jamie Skinner are up to these days?). But we've got to say that we have become believers that the current crop of Cup Juniors might be the real deal. Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Ross Kenseth and Coleman Pressley have been showing their talents by winning races and have good attitudes about it. We're happy to see them making the most of their chances at succeeding in this sport.
The news came out this week that Ford Motor Company is going to soon be putting their Mercury brand to sleep. While Mercury isn't exactly Chevrolet or Ford when it comes to its racing history, there are memories to the brand. At the Cup level, the Wood Brothers ran the badge on their cars for years. On the short track level, we fondly remember Jerry Babb running a Cougar Pro Stock (Super Late Model) in Maine and that current ACT Late Modeler Wayne Helliwell, Jr. got his racing start in a Grand Marquis Strictly Stock that was roughly the size of Rhode Island.
There's no other way to say it - Keith Rocco currently owns SK Modified racing in the State of Connecticut. Last week, he scored his 10th victory of the season in the division. Those victories have come at Stafford Motor Speedway, Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson International Speedway (which calls that type of racecar a Sunoco Modified). Since the calendar has just flipped to June, we wonder just how high Rocco's win total will go this season.
Coleman Pressley's transmission picked the wrong time to lock itself up in last weekend's UARA-Stars race at Newport Speedway. While there is never a good time for a DNF, it is especially heartbreaking to have something fail in the final turn of the last lap when you are leading the race. Pressley's misfortune turned into a gift to Alex Yontz, but we still can't help but feel for Pressley to be that close to victory and then have it snatched away.
Hamner Drops The Hammer
Speed is good in racing…usually. When it isn't quite as good is when you are on pit road. Josh Hamner did his best Cole Trickle impression in Friday night's Blizzard Series race at Five Flags Speedway (FL) and turned quite a few heads doing it. One of those heads was on the shoulders of technical director Ricky Brooks who called it “one of the stupidest things I've ever seen.” Brooks is promising to bring out a radar gun to police that sort of thing for the next Blizzard Series events of the season. No word yet on whether or not Sheriff Buford T. Justice will be manning that radar gun.
Saturday Night is Not Alright for Fighting
Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model officials threw the book at Will Vaught by suspending him for one year after he expressed his displeasure about on on-track incident in a very aggression way in the Show Me 100. Vaught drove the wrong way on the track and into the pit area under caution before ramming Jesse Stovall's car - exposing another driver and various crew members to injury. Cars should not be weapons and we applaud the series for their penalty. Now we just wonder if Bowman-Gray Stadium officials might be paying attention as we can remember a few incidents like this there that he brought little more than a slap on the wrist to those involved..
Santos is On His Game
In three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event this season Bobby Santos, III has won three poles, two races and finished second in the other. He's also won a USAC race at Iowa Speedway in his free time. Believe it or not, but Santos didn't even have a full-time ride lined up in the off-season as the deal to drive the Mystic Missile Modified only came after Donny Lia moved up to the NASCAR Truck Series. Right now, we're really wondering how Santos don't have a Truck Series or Nationwide ride. He should.
We love it when promoters actually promote a race track and we've been very entertained by hearing the different divisions that have run at the Indianapolis Speedrome this year. We've had Skid Plate Racing (where a front wheel drive car's rear axle is removed and replaced with a steel plate), Boat and Camper Trailer races, a School Bus Figure Eight and Heavy Metal Auto Roller Derby so far this year. No, that's not Super Late Model or Tour Modified racing, but it's great fun for short money…and isn't fun what racing should be all about?
North Invades The South
The annual North South Shootout for Tour-type Modifieds at Concord Speedway (NC) is not sanctioned by NASCAR and that is no surprise given that the sanctioning body apparently does not get that there can be a North vs. South rivalry in Modified racing. Why else would the sanctioning body hold a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia and make it a part of the “Northern” schedule, while leaving it off the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour schedule or even classifying it as a combination event this year?
Fans On Their Feet, Cars in the Air
Nobody likes to fix a wrecked racecar, but the wreck between Les Hinckley and Rowan Pennink in the Modified Racing Series feature at Airborne this past Saturday night might be worth the damage to the cars. The two drivers wrecked after the start finish line and kept fans on their feet with the wild action. Hinckley won and then repairing the car enough to finish sixth the next day at Thunder Road even with a bent snout. We've seen this kind of finish before - between Ben Rowe and Johnny Clark in the early days of PASS and between Richie Evans and Geoff Bodine in a Modified race at Martinsville - and we're still talking about those finishes years later.