Tom Herzig's Trackside: Full slate weekend in New England
There are a lot of short track racing options this weekend — with or without fenders. If you’re on vacation or just plain certifiable, you could head out tonight to Thunder Road’s double points Mid-Season Championships event, proceed Friday to Lee USA for a full NASCAR All-American Weekly Series card or to Stafford for the Lincoln Tech 80-lap Valenti Modified Series feature, and then ponder your Saturday choices.
Saturday’s options include the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Monadnock, White Mountain, Star, Bear Ridge, Twin State and Riverside. You can finish (with a flourish?) at Sunday’s $25,000-to-win ACT 300 at Airborne, the PASS-sanctioned Oxford 250 or weekly shows at Hudson or Legion speedways.
It’s crowded at the top of the Valenti Modified Series. Pennsylvanian Rowan Pennink holds a slim four-point lead over Chris Pasteryak. Justin Bonsignore, the Long Island chauffeur of Art Barry’s Spafco No. 21 and Todd Szegedy are close behind.
Pennink, Bonsignore and Szegedy competed in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 100 at NHMS last weekend. It was a top-shelf race won by Bobby Santos of Franklin, Mass., who executed a masterful fourth-turn pass of Ted Christopher. They’ll all be in action Saturday at Monadnock (note: time trials start at 4 p.m.). Many, if not all of them, will also be at Seekonk Speedway next Wednesday for the $10,000-to-win Modified open show that includes the NEMA Midgets Boston Louie event.
“I think the Modified Series is going to come down to the last race,” said Art Barry, who won the 2013 championship with Jon McKennedy at the wheel. “Justin’s done pretty well so far. He’s an excellent driver. The Valenti cars and the Whelen cars are nearly identical. It’s just that you have to run on the same four tires all night in the Modified Series cars, so you’ve got take care of them. Hopefully, all the drivers will have respect for one another out there.”
Scott Viets of East Granby, Conn., won the USAC Dirt Midget feature at Bear Ridge by holding off point leader Adam Pierson of East Corinth, Vt., and 59-year-old former Sprint Cup driver Ken Schrader, who was driving a Bobby Seymour-prepared machine. NASCAR on Fox analyst Mike Joy was on hand for Sunday’s NMHS Camping World RV Sales 301. Joy watched with interest as Kevin Chaffee used lapped traffic to keep Chris Donnelly at bay in an entertaining Modified feature. Chaffee came from 18th to earn his first 2014 win. Rookie Mike Danforth drove to his first career-win in the DIRTcar Wells River Chevrolet Sportsman Coupes feature.
Hudson’s Joey Polewarczyk Jr. would like to see history repeat itself in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Sunday. Joey Pole, currently the point leader, pocketed 25 grand by winning last year’s ACT biggie at Airborne. There’s another $25,000 payday awaiting the winner of this year’s event, which goes 200 green flag laps. Airborne’s open-wheel Sportsman Modifieds and Thunder Road’s Tiger Sportsman make up the undercard.
ACT entrants include Eddie MacDonald, Brian Hoar, 2013 Fall Foliage 200 winner Alex Labbe of St-Albert, Quebec, 2014 Airborne 100 winner Ray Parent of Tiverton, R.I., two-time Thunder Road champion Nick Sweet and 17-year-old Emily Packard of East Montpelier, Vt. Packard recently became the first woman and the youngest driver to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model event at Devil’s Bowl Speedway. She is tied for second in points on the Tour with Jimmy Hebert.
The Oxford 250, which seems poised to draw more cars than the ACT International 300, has among its listed entries Granite Staters D.J. Shaw, Wayne Helliwell Jr., Derek Griffith, Jeremy Davis, Bryan Kruczek and Dan Colby. The NEMA Midgets and the NEMA Lites race there Saturday. The Oxford event is a continuous 250-lap race. The ACT event is a three-segment deal (50-75-75).Dave Shulick won the “King of Wings” ISMA Supermodified race over the weekend at Oswego Speedway. Chris Perley was second, point leader Mike Lichty third and Jeff Locke of Raymond fourth.
Defending Benson Lumber and Hardware Ironman champion Travis Hollins of Milford scored his first 2014 win last Friday at Lee USA. Leslie Keyser of Northfield wired the field in the Supermodified main. Ricky Porter rallied late for his first Late Model Sportsman win of the season.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.