Vermont Motorsport Magazine Sponor

The Juice

THE JUICE: Time For A Late-Summer Rant (Or Three)

- Justin St. Louis on 26 Aug 2010

These NASCAR Modifieds earn a heck of a lot more money up north than they do down south. So tell me, NASCAR, what gives?PHOTO: These NASCAR Modifieds earn a heck of a lot more money up north than they do down south. So tell me, NASCAR, what gives? (Leif Tillotson photo)

-by Justin St. Louis
VMM Editor

It’s championship week at Thunder Road, so there’s been a lot on my mind. So much so that I can’t figure out which topic to focus on. And there’s other stuff, too, naturally, so here it all is in big ol’ pile of Juice.

That sounded weird. Sorry.

This’ll be random, I assure you. It’ll be maddening for some, delightful for others. It’ll be absolutely meaningless, but serious as a heart attack.

Hopefully, it’ll make you think, too.

--If Dave Pembroke wins the Thunder Road championship tonight, it will be his second Late Model title and third championship overall at the track. Pembroke won the 2007 Late Model “King of the Road” crown and was the 1999 Tiger Sportsman champ. Pembroke, Chuck Beede, and Eric Williams are the only drivers in the modern era (since 1982) to win championships in both divisions.

--If Nick Sweet wins the Thunder Road championship tonight, it will be his first Late Model title and second track championship overall. He was the 2007 Tiger Sportsman title winner. Sweet began his career in the Street Stock division; should he win the Late Model championship, he would join Cris Michaud and Jamie Fisher as a “Crunch Bunch” graduate to become “King of the Road.”

--If Phil Scott wins the Thunder Road championship tonight, it will be his fourth Late Model championship at the track. He previously won titles in 1996, 1998, and 2002. Should Scott win the title, he would be the first diver with four in the division, and would join Jean-Paul Cabana and Chuck Beede as a four-time champion. Only Joey Laquerre has more championships at seven overall.

--It was bad enough that Montel Williams was selling free money on TV. But now Arsenio Hall, too? Can someone dig up Phil Donahue or maybe Ricki Lake?

--Double features at Devil’s Bowl on Sunday should be very interesting. Modified point leader Kenny Tremont is slumping just as Mike Bruno is getting hot, and after two weeks of rainouts everyone is probably going to be a bit antsy. If my calculations are correct, The Bowl is up for an even dozen features including a pair of Pro Stock/Super Street events, which have been fantastic in their limited appearances thus far.

--I think about Bucktona more and more every day.

--I’m starting to hate the nickname “Joey Pole.” It was a fun gimmick for a while, but I’m completely over it.

The guy has been around long enough and is a turning into a good enough racer that the media ought to start using his real name. He’s also not the cute little 14 year-old kid with a Late Model that has to keep changing his birth year on entry blanks anymore.

There are some media outlets that have never referred to him as anything other than “Pole” for five years now. Even the ACT website has it in its official results and point standings. The name “Joey” is fine. Laquerre is in his sixties, and Bobby Allison and Bobby Dragon will always be “Bobby,” but they were never “Bobby Ally” or “Bobby Dragon Wagon” in official results aggregates. Please, for God’s sake, use his real last name. Heck, his own PR representative doesn’t even call him “Pole.” It’s Polewarczyk.

Polewarczyk. Polewarczyk. Polewarczyk. POLE-uh-WAR-zik.

And if you can, please say it with a southern New Hampshire accent. Thanks.

--As close as the Late Model points are at Thunder Road, they’re that close in the Modifieds at Bear Ridge, and the racing is outstanding. I say it a lot, I know, but it really is true. Adam Pierson, I’m convinced, could drive any car he wanted to and beat anyone. At somewhere around 25 or 26 years old, he’s trying for his sixth Bear Ridge track championship, and Thunder Road fans will remember him being successful in his one season on the asphalt, too.

--In eleven races on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, point leader Bobby Santos has three wins, eight top-fives, nine top-tens, and has won $57,534.

In six starts on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, point leader James Civali has two wins, four top-five, five top-tens, and has won a total of $16,835.

Civali is the only driver on the southern tour to break the $10,000 barrier, but his earnings on that series would place him only 17th on the northern money list. In fact, Civali sits 20th in northern points having run eight of the eleven races, and without so much as a top-five finish he has earned $15,288 -- only $1,547 less than his southern title-leading run.

I understand that in general, individual track promoters post the purse and pay the teams competing, but I also understand that NASCAR has a say in how much the tracks pay. The southern cars are identical to the northern cars -- each with engines that cost $20,000 to $40,000 or more -- and team owners spend just as much in the south as they do in the north.

That’s apples to apples. If you want apples to oranges, the American-Canadian Tour is a fraction of the size of NASCAR and doesn’t have an entitlement sponsor like Whelen to help support some of its costs. But in ten races, point leader Brian Hoar has earned $17,475, which is more than Civali down south and would be good enough for 14th on the northern WMT list.

I’m guessing that if the purses were higher, there’d be more support for the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Through the first six events, the average car count is a paltry 19.3 per race, including only 13 southern teams at last week’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Which is in Tennessee. Which is in, um, the south.

So tell me, NASCAR, what gives?

--If I had $8,000, I’d go out and buy myself the Street Stock championship at Thunder Road. Apparently all it takes is money.

When I raced, I won with cars that in total -- TOTAL, including paint -- cost me two grand. A lot of the yahoos in that division now are spending double that on engines alone. Yep, there were a few guys spending a lot on engines when I raced, but I beat ‘em with bone stock, direct-from-the-junkyard engines and tires with 50,000 road miles on them, because that’s all you need. The rest of it is won in the shop and with notebooks and thinking. Not money.

The teams in the division have tried to out-engineer each other and in so doing have out-spent themselves far beyond what is respectable for an entry-level four-cylinder division, and that’s taken a lot of the fun out of it. And that’s an absolute shame.

--Now that he’s won the GOP nod in the race for Lieutenant Governor, can you imagine the campaign Phil Scott would put on in his bid to win the seat in November’s election if he does in fact pull off the “King of the Road” title? I mean, that could seriously make national headlines. Or at least The Colbert Report.

--I love the fact that Airborne Speedway has posted a bounty on Martin Roy. Enjoy your $250 bonus, Patrick Dupree.

--If you’re up for a road trip, head to Autodrome Chadiere in Vallee-Jonction, Que., for Saturday’s ACT Budweiser Showdown 200, pitting the top Canadian teams against the top American teams on a tight, high-banked, multi-groove track. Two things I’m not sure of: 1.) Chaudiere claims itself to be a third-mile, but I don’t buy it. I think it’s a big quarter-mile; 2.) Are there 22 cars or 24? ACT’s website lists both, but Chaduiere’s website lists 22.

Either way it’s an outstanding track, and the fans are as rabid as I’ve ever seen. They cheer, they boo, they yell, they have fun. The beer is cheap and cold, the poutine is cheap and hot, the racing is great, and because it’s Quebec, the, uh, scenery is nice.

***

AROUND THE REGION:

Time to take a look at the Vermont racing scene from the past week...

ACT Late Model Tour: Brian Hoar of Williston was Saturday’s runner-up at Waterford Speedbowl, with Milton’s Brent Dragon third and John Donahue of Graniteville eighth. Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., of Hudson, N.H., was the winner.

ACT Tiger Tour: Jason Bonnett of St. Albans won Saturday’s event at Canaan Fair Speedway over Tony Rossi of Peacham, Hinesburg’s Tom Therrien, Joel Hodgdon of Craftsbury, and Williamstown’s Jimmy Hebert.

Airborne Speedway (Plattsburgh, N.Y.): Saturday’s races were rained out.

Albany-Saratoga Speedway (Malta, N.Y.): Castleton’s Mike Bruno was Friday’s Modified runner-up with Don Mattison of Wells third. Middlebury’s Hunter Bates won the Sportsman feature, and Chris Murray of Fair Haven was eighth in the Renegade race.

Bear Ridge Speedway (Bradford): Chris Donnelly of Orford, N.H., won the Sprint Cars of New England event on Saturday over Dan Douville of Bridgewater, N.H., and Shawn Lawler of Mason, N.H. Rookie Dan Eastman of Thetford Center won the Sportsman Modified race over Gary Siemons of Orford, N.H., and rookie Derek Graham of Woodsville, N.H. Topsham’s Josh Harrington won the Sportsman Coupe race over Chris Carbee of South Ryegate and Melvin Pierson of East Corinth. Bradford’s Tyler Stygles won the Limited Late Model over Troy Comeau of Rumney, N.H., and T.C. Forward of Lyme, N.H. Travis Hull of Graniteville won the Fast Four race over Brandon Lamere of Lebanon, N.H., and White River Junction rookie Josh Connors. Bradford’s Tom Placey won the Hornet feature over rookies Jesse Smith of Topsham and Brad Martin of Thomaston, Conn. Corinth’s Melissa King won the Hornet Queen race over Donna Racine of St. Johnsbury and Marissa Osgood of Bradford.

Canaan Dirt Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Brookfield’s Chris Chambers was sixth in the Sportsman Modified race on Friday with Dan Eastman of Thetford Center eighth and Ryan Dutton of Bradford tenth. Robert Tucker of Topsham was seventh in the Street Stock feature, Josh Sunn of White River Junction was the Mini Stock winner, and Mike Stender of Strafford was fourth in the Bandit feature.

Canaan Fair Speedway (Canaan, N.H.): Sharon’s Kevin Menard was eighth in Saturday’s Pro Stock feature. Mike Parker of Bradford won the Bandit feature with Matt Sonnhalter of East Thetford fourth and Brett Pierce of Montpelier fifth. Joey Laquerre of East Montplier was the Youth Daredevil runner-up with East Thetford’s Brandon and Mariah Gray third and fourth, respectively.

Devil's Bowl Speedway (West Haven): Sunday’s feature races were rained out.

Fonda Speedway (Fonda, N.Y.): Ron Langevin of Londonderry was 20th in Saturday’s Modified feature. Frank Hoard, Jr., of Manchester was sixth in the Sportsman feature, and Bomoseen’s John Scarborough won the 602 Limited Sportsman feature.

Lebanon Valley Speedway (West Lebanon, N.Y.): Bennington’s Hector Stratton finished ninth in Saturday’s Modified race. Cullen Howe of South Londonderry was eighth in the Sportsman race, and Chuck Towlsee of Manchester was eighth in the Pro Stocks.

Modified Racing Series: Ascutney drivers Dwight and Joey Jarvis finished third and ninth, respectively, on Saturday at Seekonk Speedway. Todd Annarummo of Swansea, Mass., was the winner.

Mohawk Int’l Raceway (Akwesasne, N.Y.): Todd Stone of Middlebury was third in Friday’s Modified fetaure.

Monadnock Speedway (Winchester, N.H.): Joe Rogers of Ludlow was the Mini Stock runner-up on Saturday.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Jeff Green finished 24th in Sunday’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway for Vermont-based Latitude 43 Motorsports.

Northeast Mini Stock Tour: East Thetford rookie Chris McKinstry won Saturday’s event at White Mountain Motorsports Park.

Riverside Speedway (Groveton, N.H.): Pete Fecteau of Morrisville was third in Saturday’s Late Model feature with Cody Hodge of Orleans eighth and Paul Schartner, III, of Lyndonville tenth. Joanna Christman on Cabot won the Super Stock feature and daughter Lyndsey Christman won the Angel feature. Howard Switser of West Burke was the Dwarf Car runner-up. In the Youth Daredevils, Tyler Austin of East Calais was fourth in the Veteran division, with Anthony LaCoss second, and St. Johnsbury’s Cody Smith and Kristian Switser fourth and fifth in the Rookie division.

Sprint Cars of New England: On Friday at Canaan Dirt Speedway, Orwell’s Lacey Hanson finished 11th. On Saturday at Bear Ridge Speedway, Si Allen of West Windsor was fifth with Kevin Chaffee of Orange seventh. Winners were Tunk Berry of Ossipee, N.H. (Canaan), and Chris Donnelly of Orford, N.H. (Bear Ridge). Donnelly also clinched the series’ championship.

Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl (Barre): John Donahue of Graniteville won Thursday’s Late Model feature over Jamie Fisher of Shelburne and Mike Bailey of South Barre. Rookies Jason Corliss of Danville and Mike Martin of Craftsbury Common finished 1-2 in the Tiger Sportsman feature with Milton’s Eric Badore third. Billy “Weiner” Hennequin of Morrisville won the Street Stock feature over Mike MacAskill of Williamstown and Danny Doyle of Hancock. Kevin Wheatley of Brookfield was the top Junkyard Warrior over Barre’s Kevin Dodge and Cabot’s Ken Christman.

Twin State Speedway (Claremont, N.H.): Dallas Trombley of Rutland finished sixth in Friday’s Late Model feature, and Earl Moul of Bellows Falls was sixth in the Modified event. Mendon’s Chris Wilk was the Super Street runner-up with Chris Curtis of Baltimore third, Colby Hodgdon of Ascutney sixth, and Dave Davis of White River eighth. Kaitlin Stone of Jacksonville won the Strictly Stock race. Jeremiah Losee of North Springfield was the Wildcat winner with Rob Leitch of Cavendish third and Tyler Lescord of Ascutney fourth. Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier was the Youth Sportsman winner.

White Mountain Motorsports Park (North Woodstock, N.H.): Tyler Cahoon of St. Johnsbury was Saturday’s Late Model runner-up with father Stacy Cahoon sixth, Bernie Lantagne of McIndoe Falls eighth, and Norm Andrews of Northfield ninth.

***

THIS WEEK:

Thursday, Aug. 26
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre -- 6:30pm (Late Model championship finale)

Friday, Aug. 27
Albany-Saratoga Speedway, Malta, N.Y. -- 6:45pm (Regular Event)
Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 7:00pm (Granite State Mini Sprints)
Twin State Speedway, Claremont, N.H. -- 7:30pm (Regular Event)

Saturday, Aug. 28
Airborne Speedway, Plattsburgh, N.Y. -- 6:00pm (Modified Topless Night)
Bear Ridge Speedway, Bradford -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Big Daddy's Speedbowl, Rumney, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Canaan Fair Speedway, Canaan, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Late Model 100)
Monadnock Speedway, Winchester, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)
Riverside Speedway, Groveton, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Street Stock Triple Crown Finale)
White Mountain Motorsports Park, North Woodstock, N.H. -- 6:00pm (Regular Event)

Sunday, Aug. 29
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Que. � 2:00pm (NASCAR Nationwide Series)
Devil's Bowl Speedway, West Haven -- 6:00pm (Double Features)


TOURING SERIES:

ACT Late Model Tour/ACT Castrol Edge Series: Sat., Aug. 28 � Autodrome Chaudiere, Vallee-Jonction, Que. (6:00pm)
Granite State Mini Sprints: Fri., Aug. 27 -- Canaan Dirt Speedway, Canaan, N.H. (7:00pm)
Modified Racing Series: Thu., Aug. 26 -- Thompson Int’l Speedway, Thompson, Conn. (6:00pm)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series: Fri., Aug. 27 -- Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill. (SPEED/8:30pm)
NASCAR Nationwide Series: Sun., Aug. 29 � Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Que. (ESPN2/2:00pm)
Pro All Stars Series: Sat., Aug. 28 -- South Boston Speedway, South Boston, Va. (7:00pm)

IN THEIR OWN WORDS:

"I don’t care what kind of car it is. If it’s got four tires and steering wheel, I’ll drive it." --Nick Sweet

"I want a championship next year, that’s what I want. I’m gonna get it next year. If I run the full season, I’m gonna get it." --Modified Racing Series driver Steve Masse

"I’ve never had a season where we’ve had this number of podium finishes. Never. And I dare say nobody else has, either." --ACT champion Brian Hoar

"It’s crazy to think that however many years ago I was sitting in the stands up here watching my dad trying to make the race and now we’re in victory lane." --Milk Bowl winner Joey Polewarczyk

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