Monday April 16, 2007

By Brian Danko                                                                  

THOMPSON, CT---------
The season opening Icebreaker scheduled for the Thompson Speedway was postponed late Saturday afternoon as weather reports of 2 to 4 inches of rain from a powerful nor'eastern forced track officials to pull the plug.

The event will be made up this coming Sunday, April 22nd.

While the race itself was rained out, there was a lot of news and it wasn't especially what competitors on the modified tour exactly wanted to hear.

On Thursday night, April 12th, NASCAR held a meeting at the Thompson Speedway with drivers and owners on the 2007 season but specifically concerning the "Flash" races that are set to be held at the Wall Township Speedway on Sunday, May 6th. Other events include the Twin States Speedway in New Hampshire on Sunday, July 8th and Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, August 4th.

Reports of the meeting slowly began to trickle in on Friday and most drivers and team owners weren't too happy with the news that they knew was coming. One veteran driver called it disgusting while another said it was frustrating. Besides filling the teams in on a new race procedure and safety issues, most of the talk centered on the 'Flash" events'.

Ed Cox, the modified tour series director was the man that delivered the news and one would think that as one driver put it, 'as NASCAR's brain child' that someone else at NASCAR, maybe George Silbermann or Richard Buck would be on hand to deflect any heat away from Cox. Silbermann is the managing director of Racing Operations for NASCAR while Buck is Director of Touring Series.

One thing that ticked off many at the meeting was that is was done on a Thursday night. It meant teams from New York, New Jersey and beyond had to be prepared to be at the track with their haulers, as they weren't going to go to the meeting, head back home and return on Friday or Saturday morning.

"Why" asked one driver, couldn't the meeting be held Friday night or first thing on Saturday morning and NASCAR claims that they want to 'save us money.'

According to a few reports, the qualifying heats will pit the top twenty in points splitting the first two heats with car owners in 21st and beyond along with non-tour regulars would run in other heat(s). There will be tour provisionals available. Drivers must start the feature on the tires that they qualified on and if a driver is forced to change a tire because of a flat or accident, they will start the feature down two laps per tire.

When I asked Mark Mockovak, media coordinator for the Whelen modified tour about the tire issue he did say that NASCAR officials were going to rethink it but nothing is settled yet.

One driver said what is to stop a driver with a guaranteed provisional from starting the heat race, take one lap and pull in and start the feature on fresh tires. Good question!

When the talk of pit fees for the 'Flash' races came up, one owner asked if they were going to be reduced like the purse and according to Cox, he didn't know but would check into it.

Eddie Flemke, Jr. summed up the meeting saying that teams "would have to knuckle up this year and see what happens." While the purse break out wasn't announced it was rumored to be about $60,000 and that included reduced driver bonus plans. One must wonder how many teams will decide to skip the 'Flash' races, but if you are running for a championship, you must attend.

A total of 48 NASCAR modifieds signed into the pit area on a sunny but breezy afternoon at the Thompson Speedway. Todd Szegedy in the Wisk #2 captured the pole for the Icebreaker with a new track record of 18.457 seconds, breaking the track record held by Bob Polverari.

Tony Hirschman was second with Zach Sylvester third in his first ride in the Curt Chase machine while Donny Lia was fourth in Bob Garbarino's modified with Ted Christopher fifth fastest.

On the redraw, Richard Savery and Ted Christopher will lead the field to green this coming Sunday with Donny Lia and Zach Sylvester on the second row.

Reggie Ruggiero and the Dick Barney team were forced to load up for New Jersey when Ruggiero's car was destroyed in a morning practice. Ruggiero lost liquid from his #14 modified when the top radiator cap came off and Richard Savery, with no where to go climbed over the Ruggiero car ending up on top of it.

Ruggiero though did get a provisional spot and will start 33rd while other tour provisionals went to Billy Pauch, Jr., Eric Beers, Wade Cole and Rick Fuller on a past champions provisional.