The SMART Modified Tour paid a visit to Hickory Speedway in North Carolina. The speedway surface had more cracks on its face than a 90 year old farmer.
The end result showed that Caleb Heady in the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7NY led every lap of the Hickory Hundred, but it won’t show how much Carson Loftin hounded him on a green-white-checkered finish set up by a Jeremy Gerstner spin with one lap remaining. Prior to that, Loftin was starting to eat into the lead before the final caution and Heady was going to have to earn that victory the hard way one way or the other. Loftin gave Heady a friendly shove coming out of Turn 4 on the white flag lap but couldn’t complete the pass.
Heady broke through to override a frustrating misfortune filled start to his spring. “All three races have been misfortunate (sic) runs,” Heady said in Victory Lane. “It sucked to have two poles and have nothing to show for it. We’ve got a hundred laps led and a trophy coming back home with us now.”
A Gerstner spin with 31 laps to go also set up controlled pit stops for teams to take their right rears. The biggest crash of the night occurred five laps later when Joey Coulter spun off Turn 4 and collected Jake Crum, Jason Myers and Spencer Davis.
Loftin, the son of Brian Loftin, continued to hound Heady over the remaining laps but couldn’t close out either on the long run or the overtime finish, but it was still his best career finish in Tour competition. Burt Myers with Jonathan Brown and Ryan Newman rounding out the top five.
The next SMART event will be on May 26 at the Franklin County Speedway located in the heart of the Moonshine Capitol of the World in Callaway, Va.
Pro All Stars Series (PASS) and American-Canadian Tour (ACT) officials invited Open Tour-type Modifieds to join the Northeast Classic at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway this past weekend. Jon McKennedy slugged it out with Anthony Bello to make it two in a row at the track known as the magic mile. It was a classic Modified race, too bad there was hardly anyone there to watch it.
PASS and ACT need to hire a competent Public Relations person to get the word out and create the hype that would make fans want to attend their event. A competent PR person would also get the results out in a timely manner.
Matt Swanson finished third. Matthew Kimball and Chris Young rounded out the top five. Sixth thru tenth included Anthony Nocella, Kirk Alexander, Brett Meservey, Ryan Doucette and Woody Pitkat. All tolled only 20 Modifieds were in the field.
Anthony Nocella and Matthew Kimball led the charge to the green. The first caution would come on lap 3 as Kimball’s right-rear tire blew, sending him spinning on the frontstretch with the rest of the field scrambling for safety. Nocella retook the lead on the restart before a lap 11 caution for Mike Collins who went into the turn two wall. On the return to green, Anthony Bello and Matt Swanson battled for the lead back-and-forth for over twenty laps as a five-car breakaway developed.
Jon McKennedy and Anthony Bello traded the lead in each corner before the final caution flag would fly on lap 48 for the spinning Woody Pitkat in turn two. The two-lap shootout between McKennedy and Bello began with a side-by-side slugfest that also featured Nocella and Swanson pushing the leaders from behind. Bello threw a last lap power-shot underneath Jon McKennedy in turn three to try and steal away the win but the veteran powered back coming out of turn four to take his second-consecutive Northeast Classic victory.
In other action at Loudon, Eddie MacDonald won the 50 lap PASS event, Derek Gluchacki won the ACT 50, Nick Anderson was the Mini Stock winner and Ryan Waterman won the Street Stock event
In NASCAR Cup Racing, Congratulations to Ryan Preece who topped the competition to earn his first career NASCAR Cup Series Busch pole award with a lap of 94.779 mph in his No. 41 SHR Ford at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Kyle Larson took the win. Preece finished 15th.
Don’t Miss the Biggest Modified Race of the Year, NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler 100 laps, $20,000 to Win, Over 40 Modified Teams. The Sizzler competes with no other event as it is in a class by itself! In some good news it was learned that Ben Dodge is on the heal and will return to the announcer’s tower to call the Sizzler. Hopefully Matt Buckler and his great wit will be there to join him. Only 25 Reserved Seats left for the 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. Over 40 modifieds entered. To guarantee their appearance the speedway requires each entrant to post a guarantee that they will be there. Discount registration for all 5 events until 4/1, was $450. In addition to the Sizzler the track will host the Call Before You Dig Open Modified 81on May 19, the Casella Waste Open Modified 80 on June 16, the GAF Roofing Open Modified 80 on July 7 and the Lincoln Tech Open Modified 80 on August 18.
All events will be live streamed by FloRacing.
The Bowman Gray Stadium, known as the MadHouse for its ruff and tumble racing opens for the season this Saturday night, May 22 with the running of the Hayes 200 for the NASCAR Modifieds. Bowman Gray Stadium is NASCAR’s very first weekly track, a famed quarter-mile where the sound of roaring engines and cheering fans has been heard since 1949. Racing at Bowman Gray Stadium was started by Bill France Sr. and Alvin Hawkins, two men who were founding fathers of NASCAR itself. It’s the track where Richard Petty won his 100th race. It’s the track where a young Richard Childress fell in love with racing, hawking peanuts in the stands and then later taking the wheel himself.
All events will be live streamed by FloRacing.
The annual New England Racers Reunion Presented by Autopac Gallery is set to feature a variety of race cars and race motorcycles for outdoor display at the New England Racing Museum (922 NH Route 106, Loudon, NH) on Saturday May 6th. The event will also showcase racing exhibits from the Ron Bouchard Museum, ProNyne Motorsports Museum, Ollie Silva Museum and the Maine Vintage Race Car Association. Senior Tour of Auto Racers and ACOT will have car corrals. The event is the season opening fundraiser for the nonprofit museum.
Congratulations to the late Mike Stefanik who has been added to the list that makes up NASCARs 75 Greatest Drivers. A versatile driver who built and drove many of the cars he won with, made a name for himself as a Modified Tour standout, Stefanik became a NASCAR Hall of Famer in the 2021 class. The Rhode Island campaigner won seven championships in Modified competition and added two more in the former Busch North Series. He was also Rookie of the Year in the Craftsman Truck Series in 1999. Stefanik has been inducted in the NEAR Hall of Fame and is memorialized in the book, “The Fifty Greatest Drivers of the Stafford Motor Speedway”
With the cooperation of the Arute family a book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.
The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:
Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.
Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181.
That’s about it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly, RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-248-1307. —–> Phil Smith, Author