STAFFORD CT- Last Friday night was the biggest race event on the schedule of the 2018 season for the SK Light division. Dunleavy's Modifiedz Night showcased the division with a 40 lap feature that ended the night. The modified car counts were strong and so were the payouts.
In the fender divisions, it would be Johnny Walker who would bring home the win on Friday. In the Limited Late Model race it would be Jeremy Lavoie who would lead the feature to the checked flag. In the Late Models, Tom Fearn would prove to have a strong car again and take down the win for the night.
The story of the night was the modified divisions. Keith Rocco had been unstoppable as of late. He had not lost a race yet this season and was going strong off his winning finish to 2017. On the flip side of the coin Rowan Pennink had been struggling to get that gold dust #99 back in victory lane but on Friday he was able to do just that. Pennink took home his first win of the season in the SK modified and to add some icing to his cake a check for $3,475. Following Rowan to the finish was Ronnie Williams and Chase Dowling rounded out the top three. Ronnie Williams has been looking strong and we expect to see a win out of the #50 camp soon. Also, Chase Dowling is looking like he has gotten a bit more of a handle on his car that has been fighting him all season. He crossed the line 3rd but after being 10 lbs light he officially finished P13 but we look to see Chase up front often.
To finish the night the SK Lights took to the track for their 40 lap feature. This double lap race would show a fairly smooth and clean first 20 laps. In the second half of this long-distance race, one of the favorites to win was Bryan Narducci he would end up tied up with the 2 of Mark Bakaj. Narducci would end up with a wrecked car and a DNF that would lead him to fall behind in the points chase. At the end of 40 laps of action, it would be a very fast Marcello Rufrano who would be able to not only have the claim to fame of winning on Dunleavy's Modifidez Night but he also took home a check for $2,025. Behind Rufrano would be the rookie Mikey Flynn and Geoff Nooney to round out the top three. Following Nooney was rookie Teddy Hodgdon in fourth place with his best finish yet and Brett Gonyaw to finish off the top five. At the end of the night Brett 'The Jet' Gonyaw may not have been able to take the win down to defend his title from last years race, but he was able to pull into first place in the points chase with his top five finish. With Gonyaw only 8 points ahead of Narducci we are looking forward to a good race this week as the points battle keeps building. Speaking of this week Ryan Preece will debut his brand new CD SK Modified and is looking for the checkers.
CLAREMONT NH- Willis finds success in a familiar place in the backwoods of New Hampshire. Mike Willis Jr. a Grantham New Hampshire native would have never thought walking into the pit gates of Claremont Speedway on Saturday night that he would be able to call himself a Tri-Track Series winner. “I just wanted to make the show. Once we were in, I knew we would have a solid piece.” 30 cars would enter looking for 26 spots and after the redraw, Mike Willis Jr who finished 3rd in the 1st heat would start on the pole for the feature. As the feature got rolling, Les Hinkley would show strength early on taking the lead away from the home track driver, Willis Jr. Hinkley would lead up until a caution on lap 42, where many would question a call for Willis to pit by his crew, seeing as he was in the 6th spot. “We didn’t plan on running a full-time schedule, so we tried a crazy strategy, and dad made the call to throw on the fresh right rear” Explained Mike.The race would get underway, and Hinkley would show the way until Ronnie Silk, just shy of halfway would take the lead in the Horn 50S.
Through the field came two drivers, Russ Hersey, and Mike Willis Jr. “I told myself to just let Hersey go, I got in line and rode behind him,” said Willis. Hersey would show the way for the two to the 7th, and 5th spots respectively. On an ensuing restart, Hersey would go down into turn 1, put his nose under another race car and slide up, causing a 4 car wreck, that would be the key to Mike Willis Jr’s race. Willis would miss the wreck, and restart 3rd. At lap 62 everyone else in the field would pit for tires, including Hirschman, Preece, Pennink, etc. This would restart them in the 6th- 10th position, leaving 3 spots of room between Willis and them. Silk would get the jump on youngster Sammy Rameau, Willis would fill the gap passing for 2nd, and a late race caution where Dana Dimatteo would end up in the wall. Willis would use the coveted “crossover” move to get under Silk, but it took him 3 times to make it work. Willis Jr. would take the lead with 5 to go, and the fans went absolutely insane. 5 laps away from his biggest win, a caution would fly, and everyone would hold their breath. A good restart was needed, and that’s exactly what Willis did. Through the gears, Willis would pull away, fending off Ryan Preece and Matt Hirschman for the biggest win of his young tour modified career. Claremont victory lane is a familiar place for Willis, but not against the stiff competition on Saturday night. “This is huge!” Willis stated in victory lane. “I can’t thank Spirit of Alaska Wilderness enough for never giving up on me, all the guys on the team, and my parents enough. I’m speechless.” The win would go down as an all-time great for many, leaving the fans, and even some drivers happy. “It couldn’t have happened to a better family,” said fellow competitor Woody Pitkat on his social media. Congrats to the whole #83 team and we think that "Mod Squad Racing Media" sticker on the back panel looked great in victory lane!. The race was a great one and many said the best of the year so far, not only was there great battles for the lead and win, but the top 10 would be constantly changing. Hard racing and contact throughout made for a great show on this racy unique track nestled in the hills of central NH.
The hills may be peaceful, but when one would look at the bumpers and nerfs after the 100 laps, there was no doubt that a show had been put on at Claremont Speedway. Early on Tommy Barrett and young gun Sam Ramaeu would put on a show with some aggressive racing coming from the rear to position themselves in striking distance. Hersey and Pitkat would make for some entertainment as they would run in the front of the pack as well. One that should never be counted out, is Tommy Barrett, Barrett finished P4 but maybe more impressive is his fastest lap of the race was the last one. Top 10 Mike Willis, Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman, Tommy Barrett, P5 Ron Silk, Matt Galko, Woody Pitkat, Todd Patnode, Rowan Pennink and p10 Les Hinckley. With a top 10 like that there is no way anyone could be let down.
This was our first visit to Claremont and we recommend anyone take a ride up, only 2 hours from Hartford it is well worth the drive. A great little racy facility that puts on goods shows. The facility and management are very welcoming and accommodating. We want to thank them all personally for the hospitality and great conversations had. We look very much forward to our next visit. They run weekly on Fridays and to learn more about Claremont Speedway click HERE. The next race for the Tri-Track Series will be at the Seekonk Speedway June 27th for Open Wheel Wednesday.
WATERFORD CT - The Shoreline Oval ran their Full Fender Throwdown event this past weekend at the New-London Waterford Speedbowl sponsored by Belltown Motors and Belltown Recyclers and it was a great show for everyone. Finally, mother nature let the Bowl race after nearly a month since the rain shorted the show at the Blastoff. With a good crowd on hand both in the front and back gates, many would get their money worth as drivers and fans alike would enjoy the show, to say the least.
The Granite State Pro Stocks took the stage for triple 35’s and it would be Jacob Dore, Cory Casagrande, and Devin O’Connell taking down feature wins. It was consistency on Saturday night that would lead to Joey Doiron winning the overall payout, with 3 third place finishes. The NLWS Late Models would be in action for triple features as well and it would be, Jason Palmer, Ryan Morgan, and Bruce Thomas Jr scoring victories. At the end of the night, Anthony Flannery would take home the big check of $2000 on Saturday night for the overall win as he put on a show. The Trucks were in action and it would be Duane Noll taking the checkers in dominant fashion leading it all the way, Jeff Karns, and Todd Taylor in the top 3.
The Limited Sportsman would have some drama and lots of action, but per the usual the division was full of good hard racing. Jordan Hadley would come out victorious with Charles Beal, and Bo Norman in the top 3. The drama started after a 3 wide racing indecent between Ryan Waterman, Hadley and Al Stone, within 20 to go. Stone would find himself in the wall for the second time this season. Stone would blame Waterman as he fired his car back up and rammed Waterman head-on under yellow with Track Personal around on the track. He would then jump out and continue to chase Waterman's car while on foot around the track followed by track staff as the crowd was on their feet. Though this may be a less common sight to see today, one of a generation beyond millennial's could look back and remember similarities to this happening as what seemed almost on a nightly basis back in the 80's and 90's though the exciting memories stand out, it was much more common then. People look to the Limited Sportsmen for hard racing, contact and on the edge racing often with the line being crossed at times intentionally and unintentionally along with hard rivalries as that's is what this division has been built on from day one. This is also why it is a crowd favorite of many race fans specifically the Speedbowls Limited Sportsman/Street Stocks.
Safety of track workers and bystanders must remain priority number one. If the incident did not escalate as far as it did and risk the safety of the personnel on the track I would venture to say the stands would be full of people this week wanting to see how this rivalry would shake out "on track." as that's what fuels excitement and interest as it had people buzzing all week. However, with the escalation and the crossing of the line, Speedbowl management handed out penalties as follows. #52 AL Stone- "Disqualified from the Sportsman Feature held on 5/26/18, Suspended from all competition until 6/30/18. Also loss of handicap for the next 4 Sportsman events attended after 6/30/18 for the following reasons: Endangering the safety of Track Workers and other competitors by driving the wrong way on the racetrack. Intentional Contact with another competitor under yellow, leaving your car on the race track and evading track personal while chasing after a competitor"; #75 Ryan Waterman-" Loss of handicap for the next 3 events attended and probation for the next 3 events attended due to over-aggressive driving during the feature event held on 5/26/18." Though many would say it was just a "racing deal" that started the fireworks between these two seasoned and skillful drivers. Many would also question an aggressive 3 wide move with close to 20 laps to go. Then again we have seen 3 wide moves hundreds of times at the Bowl in this division at any lap number. That is what comes to be expected. The difference as always is the out come, if they ran 3 wide and came out of it clean there would be no issue. But that is racing and the sport of unpredictability and raw emotions, taking chances and running on the line. It is always bad to see cars torn up and money having to be spent. Also anytime a driver is not at a track racing everyone loses regardless if they leave on their own or are not allowed to return. Hopefully soon enough, we will see all these talented competitors back putting on the shows as that is what they do best.
The Mini Stocks would see a great battle between the veteran long in-tooth, Nick Pappacoda and Chris Ivory. The youth would lose in a great battle and it would be Pappacoda taking down the win along with Ivory and Doug Curry the top 3. Early on the veteran Ken Cassidy Jr would barrel roll in big wreck that would also collect top competitor Charles Canfield. Though banged up all drivers would be ok and plan to run this weekend. The EXIT Realty 375 Sportsmen Tour was also on hand. With the nights energy high these guys per the usual put on a hard racing show for the fans. Not only were the cars flying so were tempers and helmets. With many great moves and battles all race it would be Scott Serydynski that would get the win. With lots of action and hard racing all night and even with the bit of drama, many left saying it was a great night of racing and they look forward to more! The next night of racing for the Speedbowl is this Saturday with the SK Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Mini Stocks, Enduros, and Spectator Drags! Visit SpeedbowlCT.com for more!
SEEKONK MA- This Saturday the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the Concrete Palace to bring thunder (but no rain) to the shores of southern MA at Seekonk Speedway. Rain has plagued Saturdays for the start of race season in southern New England and this will also be Seekonk's season opener as they have been pushed way back because of rain. Seekonk Speedway is so committed to getting this weekends race in that have spent the big money and are having a NASCAR Air Titan drying machine on hand “just in case”. Tip of the hat for that awesome commitment. With 30 drivers entered it will be a fight to make the starting field of 28 as some will go home. The 1/3 of a mile, wide and banked bullring provides intense racing action and the tour mods are no exception.
Race 4 of the season for the tour looks to set the pace heading into the summer after a month off. With the top 6 in points separated only by 21 points 2018 looks to be just as competitive and exciting if not more than the incredible season we had seen last year. Justin Bonsignore is leading the points at 123, Chase Dowling 122, Craig Lutz 118, Jon Mckennedy 110, Rob Summers 104 and 6th Timmy Solomito at 102 points. With 3 races and 3 different winners Mckennedy, Bonsignore and Preece, everyone is liking the way this season is heading. Of the entered drivers Timmy Solomito and Doug Coby are the only drivers with Tour wins at Seekonk with 1 each. Coby leads with 3 top 5’s in 4 starts. Other drivers that do well at the Concrete Palace are Matt Hirschman. Matt has 9 starts, 2 wins both in ’17 (Tri-Track Mods) and 6 top 5’s. One to watch for sure is Anthony Nocella. Though last year was Nocella's first run in a Whelen Mod at Seekonk he came home with an impressive P2 and put on a show. He also has two MRS wins at Seekonk, a P2 and P4 last year when the Tri-Track Mods visited the Palace and an impressive 39 career starts at the Konk, 8 wins and 20 top 5’s!
The Riverhead boys like Timmy Solomito, Justin Bonsignore, and Eric Goodale to mention a few, tend to do well on the 1/3 oval and none of them can be counted out. Looking fast this year at every race are young guns Craig Lutz, Chase Dowling, Matt Swanson and Ronnie Williams as they all have been turning heads and everyone is waiting for them each to get that first “W” on the tour, for any of the 4 it looks to be a reality very soon. Of course one can never count out Ryan Preece, Rowan Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Jon Mckennedy, Ron Silk and Rob Summers. All will be a very real possibility to be in contention at the end. With group qualifying at 5:30 and the headliner Whelen Modified Tour at approx 8 PM to do battle for 150 laps it's going to be one to remember.
Don’t worry though the weekly Seekonk Late Models, Sportsmen and Sport Trucks will keep you fully entertained as they always put on action-packed races and never let down! Seekonk is about a hour and a half from Hartford CT right off Interstate 95. It is a fun little wide bullring with banking that allows for some action as the bottom is the place to be. One has to really work and move cars to make a pass complete. Pits open at Noon and are $45 and $38 for the grandstands. Be there! For more info on Seekonk click HERE. #ModOn #ShortTrackNation RG, BW and MT