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BUMP STOPS: Busy Stretch, Busy Driver and Gettin' Busy Behind The Wheel

Thursday, July 7, 2011
Photo: Getty Images/NASCAR

It's Thursday again. Time to dust off that ol' Mini Stock and take it out of the garage for a spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street.

I REALLY THOUGHT, like a lot of people did, that this was going to be Brett Moffitt's year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

One car owner went so far as to say the same thing to me after the season opener at Greenville Pickens Speedway, noting that everybody was just racing for second place so long as the No. 00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota didn't beat itself. Even then, it was still going to be hard to lose that championship.

Bright young talent in Moffitt. Two-time championship team with Ryan Truex. Multi-time championship crew chief in Mike Greci.

But that, as they say, is why you race the races.

 

It's not been Moffitt's dream season. In fact, the Grimes, Iowa, native sits fourth in the standings through four races – with two wins, but just two other Top-5 finishes. He's nearly 100 points behind leader Max Gresham, who, incidentally, drives for the same Joe Gibbs Racing team that Moffitt left at the end of the 2010 season.

Moffitt, of course, isn't done just yet – and writing him off now would be a mistake.

Of the series' five remaining races this season, two of them are at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – including next weekend's New England 125 on Friday. Truex swept the two New Hampshire stops a year ago, catapulting his championship run.

The season finale is at Dover International Speedway in September, where Moffitt was victorious a year ago.

Five races, three of them on tracks a mile in length or longer, where Moffitt has excelled.

So, Moffitt's not done just yet, but if he's going to add that one missing item to his resume – a series championship after three years in NASCAR – he's going to have to get a jump on it.

At New Hampshire.

The race to the chase begins next weekend for more than just Sprint Cup Series teams.

IS KEITH ROCCO going to slow down?

The man who welcomes comparisons to the late Richie Evans – a Modified racing legend in there ever was one – became the first driver in history to win SK Modified races at three different Connecticut short tracks in three consecutive days last weekend.

The win streak extended to four when he won at Thompson International Speedway tonight.

Not his competitors, not a separated shoulder suffered in a heat race crash last month, not even rain seems to be able to slow Rocco as he pursues a second consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.

Now all we need is for someone to take a chance and put him in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride. It's not exactly a really risky chance, is it?

What I wouldn't give to see Rocco in the field for a Modified Tour race at NHMS.

SPEAKING OF NHMS, remember the good ol' days of the Busch North Series, with car counts at the track in the high 40s?

Well, those days are back, it would see.

A total of 43 cars are entered in the New England 125.

Who said NASCAR killed the series?

THINKING BACK TO Ted Christopher's miraculous, almost Earnhardt-like charge to the front to win the Whelen Modified Tour's Budweiser 150 at Thompson last Thursday...

Going from 14th to first in a span of 26 laps was one of the most impressive late rallies I've witnessed in person from any driver in any series on any track. Some of my colleagues in attendance agreed.

THE GODFATHER WAS right.

"Hardcore Pawn" on TruTV is impossible to turn off.

JIM UTTER OF the Charlotte Observer had the line of the week when it came to all of the hub-bub over the 51-car Sprint Cup Series test at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, a test that featured five cars testing out the new fuel injection system the series will begin running in 2012.

Via Utter's Twitter feed (@jim_utter): "'See that car there, it has fuel injection.' End of NASCAR fuel injection report. Thanks. Have a good day."

Perfect.

It seemed there were a lot of NASCAR media types on hand, complaining about how long the "practice" was, while not offering much that was really new when it came to the fuel injection "story." I'm with Utter on this one.

Must have been a slow news week.

WHEN I TOLD people I was heading to Canaan Fair Speedway in Canaan, N.H., last weekend, I got a lot of eye rolls, head shakes and "Yeah, enjoy that" dripping with sarcasm.

But I have to say, I was impressed with the trip there.

Sure, it's a little off the beaten path. But the track drew a big crowd for the PASS North Series Firecracker 150, put on great racing it its support divisions and was yet another picturesque northern New England short track.

Kudos to GM Dick Therrien. It's a great, hidden little gem.

YOU'VE BEEN A great audience. Try the chili cheese dogs and cole slaw, and don't forget to tip your waitress. Taylor Swift is here, so stick around.

– TB