September 26, 2011

ARCHIVES                                         

By Brian Danko                           

Ronnie Silk of Norwalk, CT won his third race of the year and his second at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in another classic modified tour race in the F.W. Webb 100.

The modified tour had a awful race in July as only three lead changes highlighted the race but in a clean race broadcast live on Speed Network gave the fans a taste of what modified racing at New Hampshire is all about as there was 23 unofficial lead changes that was only slowed by three cautions, one for a light mist.

A green-white-checker finish was in play when Ryan Preece spun with less than five laps to go but Silk, who led the most laps, was able to hold on for the big win. Todd Szegedy, the points leader heading into the race was second with Justin Bonsignore third and Teddy Christopher fourth.

Unofficially it appears that Silk by virtue of the win and leading the most laps retook the points lead as the tour heads to the Stafford Motor Speedway next weekend.

Other than Silk and Roman Pennick, who put on a great battle for most of the race, the other most impressive drive was that of Christopher, who was forced to start last when he had to miss time trials because his wife was injured. Eric Beers also had quite an impressive day to finish fifth.

Pennick had a problem and pulled off on the white flag lap and finished 22nd but he and the rest of the modified teams put on a great battle at overcast New Hampshire Speedway.

Another good crowd for the weather conditions was on hand.

The race, as we mentioned was done by Speed Channel live with longtime teammate at Area Auto Racing News, Bobby Dillner doing the play by play with Jimmy Spencer and Larry McReynolds adding color.

The race started at the track at 12:45 p.m. but it came on air on delayed coverage at 1 p.m. and that extra 15 minutes came into play when the mist forced the first cautions and the cars to be parked on pit road on lap 38.

The camera work was good and although there were a few gaffs from Spencer, overall the broadcast was done quite well.

Ryan Newman who was stripped of a win here in July started fourth and ran in the top five but he blew a motor in the #77 just before the half way mark.

Mike Stefanik spun early in the race and came back to finish 8th while Doug Coby, who was involved in an accident on a restart rebounded to finish 16th.

KING CALLS IT QUITS

The NASCAR Whelen modified tour has lost another long time car owner after Don King, the owner of the Woody Pitkat #28 car officially announced what many people knew since the beginning of the summer that King was likely to call it quits following the 2011 season.

King has been in the sport for at least 10 years and employed drivers such as Jamie Asklar, James Civali, Doug Coby and now Pitkat.

King could continue to go on but as he told several people, he wasnít about to spend his retirement money.

King owns his own business, a very successful business but as he told the Hartford Courant in a story that the purses havenít kept up with the cost and it is too expensive to run the tour.

Pitkat gave his car owner one heck of a ride and actually led the race before something broke and he brought out the second caution with 38 laps remaining in the 100 lap event.

With the modifieds fielding a paltry field of 29 cars at unquestionably their best track, racing for the biggest purse, it doesnít bode well when another well financed team calls it quits.

There was a time just a few short years ago when the modifieds were bringing 50 plus car to New Hampshire and 40 plus to other New England tracks but those days are gone.

If I was NASCAR, I would get King on the phone and find out the whole story, chances are there is more to his getting out but maybe not. But when a long time dedicated team leaves, who replaces them, right now nobody and if I am NASCAR I am concerned.

King and his team have always been a welcomed sight at every modified track but sadly another team is going by the wayside.

NASCAR refuses to acknowledge problems with the tour but the numbers donít lie and the fields keep getting smaller, but I would want to find out why and what we can do to help solve the issue.

TELEVISION $$$$ HURTING SPORTS?

When one looks across the landscape of American sports, one trend, at least for me, is the greed of money and the willing to let your sport suffer at the hands of television.

What am I talking about? Have you heard about the many colleges that are in the middle of switching long time conferences and deserting rivals all in the name of George Washington and other dead United States Presidents.

One of the biggest culprits is ESPN. Now where I live in central Connecticut, the self proclaimed World Wide leader in Sports is one of the main groups of television executives throwing billions of dollars around all in the name of getting exclusive televisions rights to this event or that event.

Now I live less than five minutes from the Bristol, Ct based operation and it employs many friends of mine but having watched it grow from an old construction trailer where the first broadcast was done to the mega-college type campus that it is now is truly incredible but them and their money is ruining not only college sports but other sports and NASCAR falls into this category.

On Friday afternoon at Loudon, N.H., the weather in the northeast was at best iffy for the scheduled start of time trials that was set to come on the air at 3 p.m. eastern.

But the first car didnít roll onto the track till 3:10 p.m. Why? So ESPN and their talking heads could talk about the approaching weather that they were monitoring. They knew it was coming but we still had to kill 10 minutes with the cute little stories that ESPN and other networks love to do.

As time trials were winding down, specs of rain began to hit the track, just with five cars remaining to take time.

Because the television contracts are written in a manner to give the networks their way, it nearly cost New Hampshire Motor Speedway and their fans from seeing time trials completed. As the track dryers were called out onto the track, it took nearly 45 minutes to dry before the last five cars timed in and allowed the second race of the Chase to begin by time trials and not points.

All the talking heads needed to do was have NASCAR send out the first car just three minutes earlier and all of this would have been a non story but sports have become slaves to the television executives and their billions dollars. And you wondered why sporting events on the east coast donít start the World Series until nearly 9 p.m. or Monday night football that begins at 8:40 p.m.

Television and its deep pockets have ruined sports and because of the greed by the sports executives and college presidents,  They are now in bed with television and have lost all say in what goes on in their own sports leagues.

As a big sports fan, I am fed up with what they are doing to our favorite sports. ESPN isnít the only one but they certainly are the 10 headed monster in the sports scene right now.

RICHIE EVANS TRIBUTE

Kudos go out to Tommy Baldwin, Jr., Sprint Cup car owner as he ran a special Richie Evans Orange paint scheme on his Cup car driven by Dave Blaney and the same paint scheme was run by Bobby Santos, driver of the Bob Garbarino #4 modified.

Tommy, who was crew chief on his fatherís modified, raced against and learned a lot about racing by watching and racing with Evans and this was a great tribute by Baldwin and Garbarino.

Tommy Baldwin also ran a special tribute to the Len Boehler #3 modified in the Sprint Cup series driven by former modified driver, Steve Park but Park failed to qualify for the Sylvania 300.

So many times, people forget where they came from but Tommy Baldwin certainly has not.