WATERFORD, Conn. – Waterford Speedbowl returned to racing on Saturday evening with a busy NASCAR Whelen All-American Series show on the track. The resumption of the Budweiser Modified Nationals SK-150, held over from rain on Sept. 1, was completed along with twin 30-lap Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model features joining a full card of motorsports.
The $5,000 to win Budweiser Modified Nationals was taken by Todd Ceravolo, driving in substitution of Keith Rocco of Meriden. Anthony Flannery of East Hampton and Dillon Moltz of Waterford shared honors with each winning one of the two Late Model division feature races, while Walt Hovey of Chaplin won the Street Stock event. Jeff Cembruch of Wallingford won the night’s Mini Stock feature, his first of the year and rookie driver Joey Ternullo of Middletown took his first-ever checkered flag in the Legend Cars division.
Ceravolo began the conclusion of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK-150 at the back of the field after taking over for Rocco, who originally started the race back on Sept. 1. Rocco was suspended by the track following an altercation after last Saturday’s race program. Ceravolo’s path to victory included spinning on the track during a lap-55 caution as well as multiple trips to the pit area for adjustments.
Following the lap-55 incident, Ceravolo climbed to eighth for a restart on lap-85 then made steady forward progress thereafter. He positioned himself in third place in the latter stages of the race behind a heated battle for the lead between Justin Gaydosh and Rob Janovic Jr.
Gaydosh held the lead from lap-65 through lap-130 just as things intensified at the front. Ceravolo began looking for a way around division point leader Tyler Chadwick for third position on lap-131, as Janovic ran down Gaydosh. Ceravolo finally had an inside run to complete the move on Chadwick on lap-134 in what turned out to be a key pass.
Just ahead, Janvic began applying heavy pressure to Gaydosh. Janovic looked both in the high and low grooves to make a run on the leader for multiple laps as Ceravolo crept into contention in third. Janovic finally made a strong move to Gaydosh’s outside on lap-141 through turns one and two. The two leaders made contact, sending Janovic hard into the turn two wall. Gaydosh received a penalty for overaggressive driving during the caution flag, handing the lead to Ceravolo.
Ceravolo held on for the final nine lap sprint to the checkered flag, beating back last year’s event winner Woody Pitkat. It was the first win in the Modified Nationals for Ceravolo, the 1997 SK Modified® track champion. One year ago, Ceravolo appeared to have a dominant car in the division’s biggest race of the year, only to run out of fuel on lap-133, enabling Pitkat to the win.
Following the race, Ceravolo was unsure if he had the time to pass both leaders ahead of him.
“I had a really good car, but passing (Janovic and Gaydosh) under green could have been a dog fight. I was being patient with Rob (for second), but knew I was running out of time”. This year, Ceravolo was in the right place at the right time to capitalize. “Justin was blocking….he wrecked a good racecar there. I’ve lost some that way and won some that way, so we’ll take it”.
Rocco was officially credited as the driver of record after starting the race on Sept. 1, while Rowan Pennink was the driver of record for second position. Pitkat subbed Pennink, who was competing in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event in Long Island on Saturday. Division point leaders Tyler Chadwick and Jeff Pearl finished in third and fourth place, respectively to keep their points battle tight. Perry, the early leader, finished fifth.
Twelve caution flags slowed the race, which had three leaders. Perry led the opening 64 laps before Gaydosh moved by his inside on lap-65. Gaydosh moved up methodically after restarting the completion of the race in ninth position. Gaydosh showed the way, comfortably at times, until Janovic ran him down. Those two battled until the lap-141 incident, which gave the lead to Ceravolo. Eleven of the original starters were running at the finish.
Flannery was fast at the drop of the green flag in the first of two 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Bob Valenti Auto Mall Late Model features. The race, which ran without caution, saw Flannery jump out front after beginning the race in the pole starting position. A large early lead buoyed Flannery’s efforts as division championship point leader Dillon Moltz raced into second position.
Moltz cut into Flannery’s lead little-by-little, closing to one car length over the final five laps. Flannery would not be denied, picking up his first victory of the season while Moltz racked up another top finish with second. Bruce Thomas Jr. finished third.
In the second 30-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature race, Jeff Smith and Thomas shared in an entertaining duel for the race lead over the first half of the race. The two started on the front row and raced through lap-15 uninterrupted, with neither driver claiming more than a one half car advantage over the other as they stayed side-by-side.
Moltz marched into third position and tracked down the lead duo. On lap-17, as the leaders approached a lapped car exiting turn two, Thomas was squeezed into the backstretch wall. Moltz scooted past into second position and the race’s only caution flag waved a lap later when Thomas spun after something went awry after his contact with the wall.
Following the restart, Smith and Moltz then ran side-by-side for the top spot, spending the next eight laps battling until Smith slipped off turn four on lap-26, allowing Moltz to power to the lead. Moltz finished the final four laps cleanly to claim his seventh win of the season. Smith and Rich Staskowski completed the podium finishers.
The 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Street Stock feature was a wild one over the second half of the race. Former division champion Ted Dupre led the first 16 laps as several cars battled behind him to contend. Dupre got bounced off the front chute into the infield and gave up the lead, with Josh Galvin landing in the top spot after the exchange.
That was short-lived, however, as Galvin was challenged by another past track champion, Corey Hutchings. The two battled hard over the next four circuits, trading blows before coming together as they began lap-21.
Galvin nearly spun, dropping back as Hutchings pulled away. Hutchings, however, was penalized for overaggressive driving during the incident under the next caution flag on lap-22, giving the lead to Hovey. Hovey got a good restart and won the race going away ahead of a battle for second, taken by Josh Wood in his first Speedbowl start of the season. Mike Caprio Jr. finished third.
Five caution periods slowed the way during the 25-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series feature, won by Cembruch. He started the race trailing Christopher Ivory, but overtook him for the race lead by the time the second yellow flag was shown on lap-5. Cembruch survived a scary moment on a lap-7 restart when he got knocked to the infield following a false start which triggered a wreck behind him.
Cembruch was able to restart the race as the leader, surviving two more restarts and a side-by-side battle with Ray Christian III that lasted several laps. In addition to Christian, Cembruch had division leader Ken Cassidy Jr. breathing down his neck from third position. Cassidy made a last lap effort that fell just one-half car length short at the checkered flag. Christian was third behind Cembruch and Cassidy.
The 20-lap INEX Legend Cars feature was brought to the green flag by Calvin Therrien, but it was Ternullo who leapt into the lead on lap-1 after starting in second. Ternullo built a large lead over the competition behind, which jockeyed for position over the opening laps. Giovanni Giarratana raced to second and ran down Ternullo’s lead by lap-12. Soon after, the top-five cars all ran in tight quarters as lapped traffic became a factor as the race ran without a caution flag through lap-17. Down the back chute, Giarratana had a run on Ternullo but backed off headed into turn three.
Paul Kusheba, in third, drove over Giarratana’s bumper breaking something on his car and putting fluid down onto the track and collecting others into the melee. Ternullo beat back Giarratana on the only restart of the race and went on to his first win in the division, one year after moving up from the Bandolero class at the track. Last year’s champion Dana Dimatteo rallied to claim second at the finish, while Dylan Izzo ran among the leaders over the conclusion and was third.