Another weekend meant more racing for us! This past weekend we again packed up our camper and headed up to Stafford Motor Speedway for the Friday night show. As always, we enjoy being able to hang out with our race family and friends before as well as after the races so the camper helps. We also knew we would be heading up to Monadnock the following day for the Modified Touring race so off to Stafford we went. It was a very hot Friday but at least it wasn’t raining so we will take what we can get! The show moved along rather quickly and it was a bit remarkable how many cautions there were NOT in the fender divisions.
To start the night, the DARE stocks took to the track for their 15 lap feature. Nicole Chambrello was able to take the lead early on and had to fight her way through a restart to hold on to it for her first win of the season. In second would be Michael with Walker, Bessett and Bagnall in tow to round out the top five for the night. In the Limited Late Model feature there was a good fight early on that would leave Provost to take the checkered flag for the third time this season followed by Bloxsom, Al Saunders, Cliff Saunders and Alexander Fearn would round out the top five for the night.
For the Late Model race it would be Matt Vassar who would take the green to start the race. He was able to lead the first three laps before Michael Bennett was able to take over the lead. At lap 9, Bennett would still lead the race with Vassar in tow but the fight for P3 would heat up at this point. The battle between Gambacorta, Leary and Fearn was a tight one. At the end Vasser would close down the gap but Bennett was still able to take down his fourth win of the season. Leary would finish in third Fearn and Gambacorta following to round out the top five.
Now we know we maybe a bit bias but on Friday night we thought that both the modified divisions put on an amazing show being the modified fans that we are. The SK lights started off with two different cautions before a single lap would be recorded. The first incident would be a crash involving that of Cassandra Cole, a very hard hit by Kyle Jette and Joe Graf Jr. This would bring out a red flag to start the race. The second restart would be an incident in turn one including that of Marcello Rufrano, Ed Chicoski, Rit Dulac, Norm Sears, Tony Santangelo and Amanda West to again bring out a yellow flag before a lap could be completed. On the third restart, Todd Douillard would find himself leading on this third and actual first start of the race. After this restart to the race the field would move along nicely with good battles throughout. At lap 7, Prucker was able to make a move around Douillard to take the lead. Lap 13, Gonyaw was able to find his way into second looking to take the lead from Prucker with the battle behind them as well. Gonyaw was ruling the outside like we have not seen from anyone in a long time, he was at least a half to a full groove above the "normal" outside lane and making it work well for him. A caution would come out with 15 laps complete. On the restart, Gonyaw and Prucker would be side by side with Arute and Wesson right behind them. Lap 18 Gonyaw had the lead with Prucker and Wesson fighting it out for P2 and P3 right behind him. In turn 3 Prucker would make one last try to get that P1 away from Gonyaw but in the end Gonyaw would come home with the win following inches behind would be Prucker, then Wesson, Arute and DiMatteo to round out the top five for the night. Gonyaw would do his new sponsor Doug Dunlevy proud and nose the car in to victory lane so the rear panel was facing the crowd. With the "Dunleavy" sticker shining bright. Stafford may not have been very impressed... but the fans and other teams loved it and it got Brett a few new tires from Dunleavy as he Bet his drivers to do it if they won. It was a good race and a hard battle. We were thinking it maybe the best race of the night, and then the SK’s took to the main stage….
To start the SK race for the night it would be that of Cam McDermott and Tyler Hines that would take the initial green flag. They would fight it out up front for the first few laps with Reen challenging behind in P3. Behind him would be Galko and Rocco who would be two wide fighting for position. The order continued to shuffle, Dowling had got by Galko for second and by lap 15 it would be Dowling out front with Reen, Galko and Hines behind him. A caution would come out and on the restart. Dowling would take the lead again with Galko in second. There was a bit of checking up that happened but everyone was able to keep their cars moving coming out of turn four. The next cation would come out for a spin that involved Tony Mebrino, Jr. and Rocco. On the restart Stephen Kopcik would get loose and bring out another cation in turn 2. Again, there would be another restart in which Dowling would lead but that would lead to more havoc in turn 4. This would include the cars of Nick Salva, Josh Wood, Mike Christopher, Jr., Todd Owen and Tommy Membrino, Jr. On this next restart, Galko got a good run on the outside and was able to take the lead over from Dowling. Behind Galko, Dowling would find himself fighting side by side with Reen for P2. Just behind them would be Preece and Berndt side by side for P4 and P5. Again, at lap 20 a caution would come out at Bernt’s car was turned into the front wall. The race had been full of excitement to this point but the real battle was just about to get started.
On this restart Galko and Dowling would fight out the front row with Reen and Preece fighting in the second row with TC up to fifth and right on their bumpers. From lap 20 to lap 25 this was a two wide two deep battle till Preece was able to get around Reen and TC would be right on their heels. The next few laps P1 and P2 would continue to be side by side with the cars behind falling in. It would be 5 to go with Galko and Dowling still fighting it out side by side with Preece, Christopher and Reen in tow behind. At the completion of lap 36 it would then be two by two and two rows deep at that to the end with Galko, Dowling in row 1 with Preece and Christopher behind. At the white flag the pack continued to battle and coming out of turn 4 it would be a race to the line. It ended with Galko winning out with Dowling in second, Preece close behind with TC and Reen by inches to them. It was 2 wide and 2 deep many laps. TC and Preece may have had better cars but with Galko and Dowling up front side by side they had no way of proving it with out moving the 2 cars in front of them and they were in a good clean battle as well. This may have been one of the most exciting races we have seen at Stafford let alone this year. Side by side, door to door for laps rubbing and banging, it was good hard respectful racing and that is what we have come to love and respect about Stafford. The skill and talent is amazing, the drive to win and the racers racer mentality always puts on a show every week. For more info on Stafford click HERE
After the exciting finish for Friday night’s racing at Stafford we got up the next day and headed north for the EXIT Reality Modified Touring Series race at Monadnock. We knew this would be a good race as it was the last one before they paired it down to five drivers who will be able to run for the Sunoco Quest for The Cup $10,000 Championship at Waterford to end the season. Saturday was a hot and hazy day up in the hills of Winchester NH. Not only was it was hot, hazy but the air was dead! It wasn’t a bad day but with all the racing we have been chasing down we were not exactly ‘feeling it’ so to say. We took it a bit easy compared to normal with the pictures as the teams took the track to both practice and qualify. At the end of qualifying and the top ten redraw the staring order would be: Savary, Dowling, Barrett, Silk, Holdridge, McKennedy, Alexander, Pitkat, Pasteryak, Bleau for the top ten.
As most everyone knows already, on Saturday afternoon as they were finishing up the heat racing our phones started to ring and the messages started to flow in with the possibility that the worst news could be true. Once the heats ended, the track was silent and the mic was keyed up for opening ceremonies. At this point we were fairly sure the horrible news was true then as the voice that came across the track was that of Ben Dodge, we knew for sure that the news would be confirmed. At Monadnock, to start the night Ben would announce a moment of silence for that of Teddy Christopher who never made it to Riverhead to race in the Whelen Tour that night. We had to start to accept that we would never see TC race again. SO much would be left unfinished. The potential for another championship at Stafford, total wins at Thompson would never be able to reach the milestones that were possible. The jabs and jokes along with the hard racing we have grown to know, love and almost expect weekly on the track would be something to remember not something to look forward to any more. We were sick thinking of all those so close to him that had their lives forever changed in the blink of an eye. It was a hard night but in true TC form the drivers where there to race and race they did just that, it went on.
Earlier this week, we put down some thoughts on the passing of TC with many photos. We truly appreciate all the nice feedback about our story on TC. I guess when you have multiple grown men tell you that they were holding it together "ok" until they read our story, that we might have done TC a little justice....Please take a minute to read , click HERE to get to the story. He was bigger than life, no one person or story could paint the complete picture. There is so much out there right now on TC we all keep learning, laughing and crying more. We also have been putting together a "TC Tribute Album" where anyone can also add photos of TC to it. We figured to try and get a bunch of photos in one place would be neat. To check it out or add photos click HERE. God Speed TC. #13ModOn4Ever
Monadnock was having their final point night of racing. What an exciting night it was with the emotions flaring on the track. I wish it had been a normal week where we could have been less distracted and appreciated it more but let me tell you it did catch out attention as the racers where going after each other Bowman Gray style! Okay, not that bad but close and it was exciting to say the least. Congratulations to all the season Championship winners!
To start the MTS race, Mr. Ben Dodge came on and did a really great job with the line up with the missing man formation. It was a very moving tribute to TC by all the drivers, Gary and Alisha Knight along with Ben who really did a very classy tribute in such a short and emotional time. We are glad we got to be there for it. We were able to catch it on video, to be honest I’m not sure that either of us has been able to watch it again yet but if you would like the link to the video Click HERE as it has around fifteen thousand views at this time and it is touching. We were glad we could share this will all of you that could not make it. That is why we do what we do for just that reason.
It was an exciting race. There were lots of battles and hard running. It was the best MTS race of the four at Monandnock for sure and so far in the top 3 of 9 for the MTS thus far. With lots on the line they all would be giving it what they had and push the limits. Chase Dowling was able to take the lead early in the race from the pole sitter Richard Savary. He was able to hold off Pasteryak who had a late charge to keep the win. This is the second time that Chase has taken the car over from Rowan Pennink for car owner Gary Casella at Monadnock as Rowan had a conflict with the Riverhead tour date.
Although Dowling was able to win for the team it would leave them just outside of the top 5 in points so they will not be a contender for the $10,000 at Waterford to close the season. Another substitute due to the Tour race at Riverhead would be that of Ron Silk in the 58 for Eric Goodale. He had a solid run finishing in 8th and securing them a spot in the final Quest for the cup race. At the end of the night the feature ended with Dowling P1 followed by Pasteryak, McKennedy, Hinckley and Pitkat for the top five. After this race the points would shake out to leave the top five in points as follows Pitkat, McKennedy, Goodale, Barrett and Savary. These five will be starting from the back and battling it out at Waterford at the end of October for the final Quest for the Cup and the $10,000 pay out. And they will be battling the entire field for $5k first place race pay out as well. could be a $15K day for some drivers! For more info on MTS click HERE
At the same time that the MTS race was taking place in the hills of NH the Whelen Modified Tour was battling it out down on the island at Riverhead. They also paid tribute to the King with Dan Watt’s car (the one TC was heading over to race) taking to the track before the race to honor TC. It was a hard night there too but it was also a strong race. The points battle is crazy and tight at this point. Timmy Solomito needed to have a strong showing to stay in the chase for the title. Doug Coby was also looking for his first win at Riverhead and some room in the points if possible. Ryan Preece need every point he could get as he will not make this weekends tour race in Loudon. The 200 lap race would be a fight to the end with Timmy taking over Coby with four laps remaining and drove it home for the win.
A day or two later Doug Coby made a post on Facebook reflecting on his relationship with TC. The second half of it was very ironic and goes as follows, “Last night as we raced at Riverhead, the track that has tormented me for YEARS, after the news of Teds crash I just knew it was going to be my night to win. I just knew it. And when I grabbed the lead from Timmy Solomito with under 50 to go, held him off on a restart with 25 to go, and then got to 20,15,10 to go with a 1-2 car length lead...I just knew it was the right thing that on this night a Connecticut car would win on Long Island and leave all of those Long Islanders pissed off. It was going to be my night to conquer Riverhead and I was going to do it for Big Head Ted. 8 to go. 7 to go. And then I quickly closed in on two lapped cars racing side by side with just 5 laps to go. I hesitated for a split second, got steamrolled by the 16, and finished second for the 5th time this season. All in the blink of an eye. I haven't been that disappointed in years. I was SUPPOSED to WIN for Ted. Or so I thought.
It wasn't until I got back to the pit area that things became a little clearer and easier to digest. I looked down at the pit stall where our hauler was parked and I saw a freshly painted white number 16 on the ground. I turned and said to my crew guys, "How ironic is it that we are parked in stall 16 and Timmy just beat us?" And then, I looked a few spots over at Timmy's parking spot and surer than shit, emblazoned on the pavement near the back of the 16 hauler's pit gate - Ted's famous number "13".
On my ride home I knew that the way it played out with 5 to go was the way it was meant to be - one on one with the "13", "those fu*kinnn lapped cars" got in the way, and the "fu*kin non" finished second again, all with a playful shove and a grin. (from TC)
RIP to the best driver of our generation. I felt this way once before, ten years ago - things will certainly never be the same, nor should they be when you lose someone of such great importance.”-Doug Coby
Also on Saturday night the Speedbowl paid tribute to TC as well. The news rolled in and we are told that the pits have never been so silent. We were really feeling we should have been there with our ‘Bowl family. Doug DiPisa would drive the 13 around the track, all the drivers, teams and track staff came into the infield for his last ride. It is sure that nothing will ever be the same. We will always remember him. The winners for the night where Brian Narducci in the SK light, Al Stone III in the Limited Sportsman, Brett Mersrvey in the Pro-4 Modified, Andy Linderman for the Mr. Rooter Pro Truck Series and Keith Rocco in the Late Models as the fog started to roll in. To end the night the SK were cut short at lap 23 of 35. The night was cut due to the fog settling in on the track. The Mini Stocks were not able to run. It was interesting that the fog rolled in both at Riverhead and Waterford heavy that night. Guess TC may have been there with them. As Todd Owen rolled into victory lane he left the P1 spot open and parked where the P2 car normally would be. TC is going to be missed by all. For more info on the Bowl click HERE
Going into this weekend we are not sure what to expect other than it will likely be hard and it will be different going to all these races where we are used to seeing Ted in the field. Stafford is hosting the last Friday night of racing while the whole Whelen Modified Tour crew will be up at Loudon for qualifying. This Friday night show was added due to all the Friday night rain outs this season. We plan to head up to Loudon for the tour race. The points are close and there is a strong entry list including Jon McKenndy wheeling the #6 for Ryan Preece as he had a conflict with his Xfinity race in Kentucky. Patric Emerling will be there, Andy Seuss, and Jamie Tomaino are on the roster as well. Also, Woody Pitkat will be in the 82 of Dan Watts. In our opinion no better choice could have been made to race in TC's place this weekend. No doubt Ted was one of a kind and they broke the mold after. But Woody was made from the same material on and off the track. Woody is a hard nose driver that will lay it on the line and take to the limits to get a win. He has the talent and heart and like Ted he tame the Moody mile. Off the track is is all a great guy with a great sense of humor. No matter the out come we know Woody will make TC proud. We We would be lying if we didn’t say we were pulling for that whole team to win. We know they all want this win for Teddy and they all need it for points. It is one no one will want to miss. Current points 1.Ryan Preece 500 2.Doug Coby 494 3.Timmy Solomito 491 4.Justin Bonsignore 476 5.Rowan Pennink 467 For more info on the Whelen Tour click HERE
After the tour is over we are going to JET down to Waterford in hopes to catch the features and at end of the show the candle light vigil they will be having to honor TC at the end of the night. The Prestige Motorsports team will be there with the #13 on the midway all night as well. To quote or TC story "Its race day, what the hell are all you sons of bit*hes doing still crying? There is a race to be won!" What we think TC will be saying looking down this weekend...The Show MUST go on.
Keep knocking down those checkers up there TC.