Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s 40th Annual ICEBREAKER has arrived. Considered the Northeast’s first “superspeedway” at the time of it’s grand opening back in 1940, the Hoenig family’s Thompson Speedway has a rich history with the Modified division.
This ICEBREAKER should have been the Modified division’s second event in the Northeast, but Mother Nature had other plans for the Waterford Speedbowl’s BLAST OFF weekend. A dose of inclement weather crossed with what some believe was an extension of time for repairs at the Waterford Speedbowl delayed the BLAST OFF and Valenti Modified Racing Series season opener. If the latter rumored reason is even partially true, anyone who maintains a public seating venue right down to a being home owner can relate to well needed repairs. With that said, kudos to the Speedbowl organizers and best of luck getting the facility race and fan ready when the gates open.
Now it’s the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s turn to take the baton and open the season in grand fashion. It was recently reported that 27 total Modifieds have officially entered the WMT event. As a fan those numbers are disappointing. Seems every season the car counts take a slight dive with less than a handful of teams either folding up shop or scaling back to a limited schedule. It’s definitely less than expected and hoped for, but times are tough and money is hard to come by these days for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors. The racing on the track is what will tell the tale and hopefully the crowd turnout is big and the race winds up being a barn burner.
Doug Coby in his new ride, the Smeriglio #2, will be looking to make it two for two in 2014. Ryan Preece, who dominated in the Battle at the Beach before an incident with a lapped car in the last few laps ruined his night, has to be the favorite. Last year Mike Stefanik scored the ICEBREAKER victory in the Our Motorsports #22. This year he will be with another team as Our and Stefanik parted ways. Young hot shoe Tommy Barrett Jr. of Valenti Modified Racing Series fame the last two seasons takes over piloting duties for Our and Stefanik will be behind the wheel of Ed Marceau’s Cady’s Tavern Chevy #1.
If you can’t make it to the ICEBREAKER you have many resources to choose from in order to get your fill from Thompson. MyRaceNews will be updating us fans all weekend with stories, photos, and results as the weekend moves forward. Tune into the ChromeHornLive with Denise DuPont‘s spectacular up to date reporting. The ICEBREAKER will be shown on Fanschoice.TV. Live 2pm Eastern on Saturday and Sunday immediately following the NASCAR Cup event. Fanschoice.TV will have one manned camera for footage which will be located on the roof of the press box. You could say it’s truly going to be by a fan’s point of view. You can tune in here and search for the video stream.
Get the Punk Out!
Those that do know me know that I am not a fan of NASCAR’s self proclaimed big 3 divisions or what I refer to as the NNBD (NASCAR’s national broadcast divisions). However this past Sunday, knowing their Cup race was at the half mile short track of Martinsville, a former Modified favorite, I decided to tune in for a while before the IndyCar Grand Prix of St Pete.
Not long into the event, which in my opinion should be shortened by a couple hundred laps, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch got into a fender bender on the severely cramped pit road. Keselowski was racing off pit road and when Kahne attempted to enter his pit box, Keselowski not only plowed into Kahne, but well after initial contact continued to turn Kahne in order get by. In the process of his carelessness he ran into Busch who was pretty much hugging the outer wall of pit lane.
What happened after was an epic whine-fest crossed with a terrible lack of officiating by the officials of NASCAR’s highest tier division. Keselowski made an absolute jackass out of himself by pointing a proverbial finger at Kurt Busch. As his car was being repaired in the garage, he cried into the camera. Keselowski blamed Busch for everything except his upset stomach from lack of being burped the morning of the race.
Once Keselowski’s car was repaired and he was back on track his actions became the stuff usually seen and dealt with quickly on the short track level. However, series officials turned a blind eye towards it. Keselowski, 30 plus laps down, proceeded to drive around waiting for Busch to arrive on his rear bumper and then Keselowski, being the fine former champion he is proceeded to flip Busch off as he break checked and blocked Busch over a period of laps. Once Busch attempted to make a pass, the kid made every attempt to wreck Kurt Busch. At one point, while Busch was inside, Keselowski turned into him driving Busch down to the bottom as they flew down the back stretch.
Busch, while celebrating in victory lane, called the incident for what it was, an accident that happened on a congested and tight pit road. Keselowski continued to whine and cry making a complete fool of himself. Busch referred to the actions of Keselowski as “Punk-ass”. I couldn’t agree more. With NASCAR Cup officials allowing Keselowski to continue after the altercation, completing 469 laps, I’d add that NASCAR’s lack of dealing with the on track actions of Keselowski as being “Punk-ass” as well.
The control truck for Fox was all over it with cameras going back and forth to the 2 car just in case the kid ran into someone else. Can’t miss that great television footage, right? Why that’s good stuff for ratings! I’m sure it is, but it’s terrible for the sport. That’s not racing. It’s interesting that the sanctioning body boasts to the heavens how safety aware they are yet turn a cheek to this kind of trash on the track because it’s a rating booster. This just reminded me why I don’t normally watch NASCAR Sports Entertainment.
If you’re a fan of the Big 3, that’s fine by me. I for one am waiting for the wake up call that returns NASCAR’s top division to the legit sport it once was, but as long as the ratings rule the decisions made in the booth and penthouse offices of the sanctioning body, I won’t hold my breath.
Young Modified pilot Cole Powell will be missing the Icebreaker. Matters of family first have pushed the racing into the back seat. Cole posted a very heartfelt update on his website which can be seen here. Our thoughts and prayers of support go out to the Powell family in this trying time… The F1 race in Malaysia was, to put it mildly, a snooze fest. Sometimes real racing is boring though. This weekend finds F1 in the land of sand with the Bahrain Grand Prix going under the lights… Many facilities have opening night this weekend at some point. Let’s all hope for a safe weekend enjoyed by all competitors, track officials and fans… How can anyone claim to be a fan of the Modifieds and part of the media in the Northeast yet NOT cover the Tri-Track Open Modified Series? Anyone? Anybody? Yeah, me either. Can’t be that the Tri-Track organizers are lacking with getting the word out because James Scheafer, the Long Island Mod Maniac, has been spreading the gospel along with the Tri-Track Open Modified Series site. We need more folks on the promotional side of asphalt Modified racing like James and The Racing Guys.
That’s all for this week my friends. Next week brings another classic NERF’ers Corner by Robert Echo.