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THOMPSON, Conn. – And the old is new again. Or the new is old again. It's one of those, and it doesn't matter which.

Ted Christopher found what worked on a brand new race car Thursday night at Thompson Speedway, gaining 13 spots over the final 26 laps to win the Budweiser 150. The hair-raising charge to the front marked Christopher's fourth straight Tour win at the track, and his seventh victory in the last nine races held here.

And this time, that old familiar feeling of seeing the Plainville, Conn., driver back in Victory Lane left jaws agape across the grandstands.

"That's some carving in 25 laps, huh?" Christopher said with a sly grin. "Turn 3's the best here, isn't it? I love Turns 3 and 4 here. Sometimes, I wish I could watch some of this (stuff)."

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THOMPSON, Conn. – File this one under "shocking."

Ted Christopher turned a lap of 18.693-seconds (120.366 mph) to win the pole for the Budweiser 150 at Thompson International Speedway on Thursday. It marked Christopher's seventh career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pole at Thompson, and his second straight in this event.

Point leader Rowan Pennink of Huntington Valley, Pa., qualified second. Bobby Santos, Doug Coby and Todd Szegedy rounded out the Top-5 qualifiers.

Christopher, who was the only driver to top the 120-mph mark in qualifying, has 23 career poles on the Tour. This is his first of the season.

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THOMPSON, Conn. – Been a short turnaround for the guys on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, who come to Thompson International Speedway for tonight's Budweiser 150 just four days after running at Monadnock Speedway in western New Hampshire.

When last we left these guys, Todd Szegedy led all 175 laps to win the Monadnock 200. Rowan Pennink also held onto his points lead, despite some bad luck at the Mad Dog, and Matt Hirschman posted his first Top-5 of the season.

So, now we head to Ted Christopher International Speedway for tonight's mid-week 150-lap event on the long high banks at Thompson.

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It's the best time of the year again!  The weather is hot, the pools are cold, the grills are lit...and so are the fireworks!

This (long) weekend, most of us will celebrate our Independence Day.

That is, unless, you're a Sprint Cup Series driver.  They'll be celebrating anything but independence.

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It's time, Dale.  The winless-streak has lasted over three years and spanned 109 races.

It's time you won a race, Junior.  You've come close several times.

At this point, whether you're a loyal member of Junior Nation or just a loyal member of this great nation, it's time to watch Dale Earnhardt Jr. make a trip to Victory Lane.

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Each Monday we take a look back at the top performers from the weekend that was.

Rain (where have we heard that before?...) once again put a damper on the festivities across New England, closing down a number of weekly shows and the ACT Late Model Tour, while also delaying the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event and some other notable races.

Still, some guys had no problem getting the job done a few days later than expected. Without further ado...

1. Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn.

Szegedy won the pole and led every lap of the rain-delayed NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Monadnock 200 at Monadnock Speedway on Sunday, one day later than originally planned. It was Szegedy's 15th career Tour victory.

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WINCHESTER, N.H. – Rowan Pennink's championship lead took a hit on Sunday at Monadnock Speedway, but things could have been worse for the Huntingdon Valley, Pa., driver.

Much worse.

Pennink thought his day was going to end on Lap 99, when he nearly barreled head-on into the outside wall in Turn 2.

"Someone got into the back of me pretty hard. I thought we were going right into the fence," Pennink said. "I was able to save it and keep it going. Then we ended up coming back from the back and salvaging a Top-10 out of it."

Pennink finished second in each of the first three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races this season before heading to the Monadnock 200 – where he brought a 51-point lead into the race. By the time he left, though, he scraped to finish 10th in the 26-car field and leave with his point lead over Ron Silk cut by more than half to just 25 points.

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WINCHESTER, N.H. – Todd Szegedy's 15th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory was one of his most dominant.

Szegedy started on the pole and led every lap to capture the Monadnock 200 at Monadnock Speedway on Sunday. He expertly motored away from any and all challengers over several restarts, including second-place finisher Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk earlier in the event.

For Szegedy, the 2002 Tour champion, a little practice made perfect. The Ridgefield, Conn., driver ran a pair of 25-lap Modified features at Monadnock last weekend.

"Coming here certainly helped," said Szegedy, who is tied for 12th on the all-time Whelen Modified Tour win list. "It's a unique track, and there's a little bit of knick-knacks on the track that you've got to learn to figure it out. We figured it out.

"I knew what the car needed. We struggled a little bit in practice, threw a big change at it and put it on the pole. We got this Mike Smeriglio Ford in Victory Lane."

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WINCHESTER, N.H. – Todd Szegedy's recent foray into NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing at Monadnock Speedway paid early dividends.

Szegedy's 12.447-second lap (72.307 mph) around the quarter-milewas the fastest of the Monadnock qualifying session Sunday afternoon, giving the Ridgefield, Conn., driver his eighth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour pole. It was Szegedy's first pole since Lime Rock Park in July of 2010.

Szegedy competed at Monadnock last weekend to compete in a pair of 25-lap features for the track's Tour-Type Modified division.

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WINCHESTER, N.H. – Made it to The Mad Dog, the affectionate nickname planted on the quarter-mile Monadnock Speedway, for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Monadnock 200.

The "200" is actually something of a misnomer – with a 25-lap heat race for all qualifiers outside the Top-16 after time trials, followed by the 175-lap main event. There is late word that the 25-lap heat race will be scrapped due to the compacted schedule brought on by the postponement of the event from last night.

Truth be told, there are 28 cars entered for the 28 starting spots in today's race – so lack of a qualifying race isn't really all that big an issue.

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It's the end of the week again. Time to dust off that ol' Mini Stock in the garage for a test spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

ONE THING THAT has become apparent on the ACT Late Model Tour in recent seasons is that the best racing doesn't always take place over the final 20 laps of an event. In fact, as John Donahue proved again last Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park, sometimes the race for the win happens even before the halfway mark.

Donahue locked himself into a fierce battle with the likes of Quinny Welch, Brian Hoar and Wayne Helliwell Jr. early on at White Mountain – surviving a rash of restarts and side-by-side racing on the high banks – to pull away to the victory over the second half of the event. Donahue himself admitted that he was a little worried about having used his stuff up too soon before making it clear that his car's handling never dropped off the way he feared.

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Sometime in the 100-mile, three-hour drive to Sonoma last year, it occurred to me that there was an event going on at Infineon Raceway.

The drive from the South Bay where I lived in Campbell to Sonoma was a straight shot on the highway and I had envisioned something similar to a leisurely Saturday afternoon drive up I-89.

I was wrong.

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After this weekend's Loudon Classic, we might be short a checkered flag or two here at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

That's ok.  They shouldn't be hard to find.  I'm pretty sure I know where they ended up.

We'll start by checking the garage of Shane Narbonne and hauler of Shaun Buffington.

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Every Christmas Day, no matter how cold or how much snow was on the ground, Richie Evans would drive his race car over to The Rusty Nail, the Rome, N.Y., bar that also sponsored his famous orange and black No. 61, to celebrate the holiday. For Evans was never far from his roots.

This week, short-track fans up and down the East Coast were celebrating the announcement that Evans would be one of five people inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Evans made his name with eye-popping statistics from his career in a Modified.

But Evans cemented his legend a long time ago with the stories that surrounded his career.

"He was just about huge entertainment and great racing. People don't forget that," said Mike Stefanik, himself a seven-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion. "They remember guys like Richie. They remember him bouncing off the wall at Martinsville with his foot still in the gas.

"Those are memorable moments that never people never forget. I certainly haven't forgotten them."

Evans won a total of nine NASCAR Modified national championships, and he was named No. 1 on NASCAR's All-Time Top-10 Modified Drivers in 2003. He won an amazing eight consecutive Modified titles, including one in 1979 when he won 37 of 60 starts that season.

In a career that spanned more than 1,400 races, Evans won more than 475 feature events – everywhere from Thompson, Conn., to Daytona International Speedway.

In the intense culture of Modified racing, any career will always be measured against Evans.

CLICK HERE to read the complete story at NASCARHomeTracks.com

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Each Monday we take a look back at the top performers from the weekend that was.

ACT teams had one shot to take a victory at White Mountain Motorsports Park, a flurry of activity took place surrounding the 88th Loudon Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and racing has hit high gear around the northeast.

Here we go:

1. Richie Evans, Rome, N.Y.

The announcement that Evans would be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame with this class was a victory for Modified and short-track racers everywhere. Evans' legend was as big as his talent, and his lifestyle was the embodiment of the short-track culture.

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NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. – John Donahue didn't bother waiting around for the final 10 laps to make his move.

Donahue took the lead well before halfway on Saturday night at White Mountain Motorsports Park, buzzing by hometown favorite Quinny Welch en route to winning the ACT Late Model Tour White Mountain 150. The victory was the first of the season for Donahue, who is trying to cut away at the ACT points lead held by Brian Hoar.

"When we got behind Quinny, we were just trying to knock off laps – but then I said, 'I've got to get in front of him,'" Donahue said. "I kept getting stuck on the outside, and I thought those guys were going to start coming. It was going to pin me on the outside.

"But when I got by Quinny, and I realized I had a good car."

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CLICK HERE to see the full gallery from race day at White Mountain Motorsports Park.

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NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H. – Made the trip over the mountain today and got here to White Mountain Motorsports Park in plenty of time for the start of ACT Late Model Tour practice.

The main event is the ACT 150 later tonight, the only stop of the season for the ACT teams at the scenic quarter-mile. Should be a good one, too. This is one of those facilities that's made for this Late Model package – not unlike Thunder Road and Lee USA Speedway.

It's a great little banked race track, and there are 45 teams entered tonight – including point leader and defending race champion Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt.

Some early notes for those of you basking in the rays before before heading to the track (which we know you will!...):

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It's then end of the week again. Time to take the ol' Mini Stock out of the garage for a spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

RICHIE EVANS IS in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is not only a victory for anybody that knew Evans or saw him race during a remarkable career. It's a victory for short-track racing on the whole.

Despite the repeated and over-the-top "shock" professed by national auto racing writers at Evans' inclusion in the field of five who comprise the third class to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, Evans deserves to be there. The Hall is, after all, a NASCAR Hall of Fame – not a "Sprint Cup Series" Hall of Fame.

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Michigan Represented

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The big story: Boston won the Stanley Cup last night against Vancouver.

My job: to write a fantasy NASCAR column about a race in Michigan.

Connect the two?  Easy!

The only American-born player dressed for Boston was goaltender and Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) winner Tim Thomas.  Thomas hails from Michigan.

Boom!  There you go!

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Paul Revere's New Ride

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Thanks to Sarah Palin, the story of Paul Revere has become a hot topic in the news.

Palin completely botched the history of the famous "British are coming" ride by claiming he warned the British that the colonials were ready to bear arms.

On Monday, we at NHMS continued to spin the story as we used a Brit to announce his own arrival.

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Each Monday we look back at the top performers from the weekend that was.

Rain played a big part in the festivities – where have we heard that before this season? – canceling races across northern New England. But they did race a few times across the region, as well as north of the border, and more than a few teams were up to the challenge.

Here we go:

1. Max Gresham, Griffin, Ga.

Don't look now, but the 18-year-old driver's win at Gresham Motorsports Park (Coincidence? Nah.) on Saturday night put him right in the thick of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship picture. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver earned his first win of the season in the rain-delayed Slack Auto Parts 150 and sits just five points behind Darrell Wallace Jr. through six races.

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Well, it's not exactly Thursday again (hey, we had to spend an extra day in the shop making repairs this week), but it is once again time to take the old Mini Stock out of the garage for a test spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street...

A MAD, MAD, mad world it was at Bowman Gray Stadium last week.

In some ways, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race was almost exactly what had been predicted. There were 15 caution periods totaling 87 laps under the yellow flag – more than half the race distance. Lapped cars did pose a problem for leaders in very tight quarters. Not a single car emerged without at least a good bent-up piece of sheet metal on it somewhere.

But the racing was also better than many had expected. Of course, at The Madhouse, the racing is entirely secondary.

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So...I usually try to write something insightful and/or funny about the upcoming race, but I'm struggling, because it's been a long day.

This weekend's race is the 5-Hour Energy 500 in Pocono, PA.  Since i can't come up with anything, here's a brief Bump Stops-esque kind of breakdown.

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Remember when you were a kid just trying to have fun?

You'd be out at recess and your teacher yelled at you for going down the slide two at a time or bumping some slow kid off the monkey bars.

Well, say goodbye to those silly teachers, because we're adults now and we don't have any supervision during recess!  Nor do we have mothers chastising us for getting dirty and traipsing mud all over the place.

As adults, recess is unsupervised!

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Every Monday we take a look at the weekend that was around the region. Somehow, some way, June got here, and suddenly we're in the throes of a full-blow racing season. It was a great weekend with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut at Bowman Gray Stadium, a pair of events for ACT Late Models and short-track racing all across the northeast. Some guys out there – and you know who you are! – really stepped up.

And away we go:

1. Matt DiBenedetto, Grass Valley, Calif.

The front was the place to be Saturday as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East made its debut at "The Madhouse" – the historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C. DiBenedetto led all 156 laps in the Army Strong 150 to earn his third career victory and the first for the new X Team Racing.

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Madhouse lived up to its nickname on Saturday night.

Matt DiBenedetto and Corey LaJoie waged a fierce battle over the closing laps of the Army Strong 150, with DiBenedetto emerging with the first Bowman Gray Stadium victory in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history.

DiBenedetto led all 156 laps in the overtime event, but it wasn't as easy as it looked on paper.

"Honestly, I felt like there was a heck of a lot of luck on our side. That's what it took for anybody out here tonight," DiBenedetto said.

"We were just fighting like crazy. (LaJoie) did a really good job racing me really hard and not doing anything to wreck both of us. It was a good points day for both of us. We raced hard – beating and banging a lot – and the right side is tore off our car, but we're really excited about it."

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CLICK HERE to see the complete photo gallery from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Coleman Pressley stood outside of a short track press box surrounded by history on Friday night.

Pressley's first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole couldn't have come under better circumstances. It came at the venerable Bowman Gray Stadium, in the series' first trip to the tight quarter-mile bullring.

The second-generation driver will lead the field to the green in the Army Strong 150 on Saturday night.

"I was a little scared about (my lap), because we were half a second slower than we were in practice," said the 22-year-old Pressley, son of longtime Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver Robert Pressley. "I didn't think it was ever going to hold."

But it did, with Pressley's lap of 14.772 seconds (60.926 mph) holding off X-Team Racing teammate Matt DiBenedetto for the pole.

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NASCAR -- All eyes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East garage have been on Brett Moffitt, virtually since the very minute word came down that he would be moving over to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2011.

With Ryan Truex in the seat, MWR won each of the last two series championships – while Moffitt had won four races in 21 starts for Andy Santerre Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing. The pairing of Moffitt and MWR seemed to have blended one of the strongest teams in the garage with one of its most promising talents.

"The transition was not difficult at all," said the 18-year-old Moffitt, a native of Grimes, Iowa. "It was actually really easy. It was a little harder to make the decision, but obviously they've had the results here in the past two years. It was where I needed to be and where I felt I needed to be to have that championship and to win a lot of races this year.

"The (MWR) guys are really easy to work with, and they have the same goal in mind as me – do everything we can do to put ourselves in position to win races and win the championship."

Moffitt leaned on Truex for some advice about making the move, though it wasn't quite as easy as people might first suspect to pry information from the usually reserved Truex.

CLICK HERE to read the complete story at NASCARHomeTracks.com

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It's Thursday again... Time to roll that out Mini Stock out of the garage for a spin around the cul-de-sac at the end of the street while I pull together a week's worth of thoughts, observations and musings lacking any real insight.

ONE OF THE best drivers nobody ever talks about on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is Ron Silk.

Silk is one of those guys that doesn't necessarily garner a whole lot of attention from the outside. He's not brash, he's not flashy and he's certainly not a headline-hunter. The perfect example of Silk's entire career, it would seem, came at the end of the 2010 season.

While most everybody seemed focus on the fierce championship battle atop the standings between Bobby Santos and Ted Christopher, Silk went virtually unnoticed. Add in the fact that Mike Stefanik was making his own quiet run at yet another title, and Silk's story ranked fourth in the Top-4 stories heading into the final two races of the year.

But Silk finished in the Top-10 in all but four starts last season, including nine Top-5 finishes. He won a pole at Stafford Motor Speedway and only started a race worse than 10th once. For the record, the only start worse than 10th came at Monadnock Speedway – where he started 16th before finishing third. It came during a stretch of five straight Top-3 finishes for Silk.

So, why doesn't he get more love?

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Sorry, Dorothy.  We're back in Kansas this weekend!

After several weeks on the East Coast, NASCAR will follow the yellow brick road to Kansas.  For the Midwest, hopefully a weekend at the speedway will provide some much needed normalcy for an area getting blasted by an ugly series of tornadoes.

While Dorothy's house gets swept up in the timeless classic, there's nothing theatrical about the travesty in the Midwest. Continue...