THE NEW ENGLAND 100
by Dave Meredith
Donnie Lia was fastest with a lap 129. 602 mph in the #4,
Bobby Grigas III in the #09 had the second fastest lap at 129.555. Tony
Hirschman Jr. 129.379 mph. Todd Szegedy 129.256 mph, Matt Hirschman
129.151, Bobby Santos 129.007, Ed Flemke Jr. 128.811, James Civali
128.793, Jerry Marquis 128.724, Ryan Preece 128.524, Ron Yuhas 128.294,
Ted Christopher 128.057, Mike Stefanik127.937, and Richard Savary
Donny Lia, Ted Christopher, and Eddie Flemke Jr. battled to
the checkers. With six laps to go -- in the time-shortened 85-lap New
Hampshire 100 -- Lia was leading when Christopher pushed Flemke past
Lia. Flemke would continue to lead through lap 82 when Lia reclaimed the
lead. Christopher would go three-wide on lap 83 on the front stretch to
challenge for the lead, then went to the outside on lap 84 in turn one
to challenge Lia again. Lia was able to hold Christopher off to win his
fourth race of the season.
The race was cautioned marred, then shortened to 85 laps by
NASCAR. On the scanner during one of the many cautions, they announced
the 10 laps to go. The race went green on lap 79, setting up the 6-lap
race to the checkers.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), those were the best six laps
of the race! This was definitely not one of the best performances of the
Whelen Modified Tour at NHIS. The Mods are normally the best show of the
weekend (in my opinion), but with 8 cautions and two red flag periods,
the usually exciting race was just awful.
However, the WMT drivers are not totally at fault as the
officials were quick to throw the caution flag – like one for a one car
spin in turn two with no cars around him and no debris. This turned into
four wasted laps.
The reason for shortening the race was that the Camping World
200 Busch Series race was up next and they were scheduled for live TV,
therefore, they needed to get started on time.
Ted Christopher of Plainville , CT , led the NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour to the green. Christopher is no stranger to the Magic
Mile’s winners circle -- he had four consecutive wins from July 2005
through September 2006. Reggie Ruggiero leads all drivers at NHIS with
five consecutive wins. Ruggiero of Rocky Hill, CT, completed the
“five-peat” beginning in July of 1992 and ending in 1994.
Jimmy Blewett tried to force the issue with Christopher, and
took the lead into turn one on the 2nd lap. Both drivers swapped the
lead several times during the first two laps. Caution came early for the
#05 of Joe Hartman spinning in turn two.
On the lap 7 restart, Lia took the lead from Christopher with
Blewett trying to take the point. Lia prevailed with he and Christopher
nose to tail, with Christopher trying to out maneuver Lia. The Jericho ,
NY , driver has won three times this season in the #4 Mystic Marina
Blewett leads the second group of cars with Flemke, Matt
Hirschman, and Tony Hirschman in tow. Christopher in second with Flemke
into third on lap 17. The caution flies for the second time today on lap
18 as the #78 of Alex Hoag spins out of turn four.
Green on lap 21 with Lia, Christopher, Jimmy Blewett, Ron Yuhas, and
Flemke the top five. The next caution appears on lap 23 as Bobby Grigas
III in the #09 Triple S Scaffold machine blemished the turn four wall.
His car was done for the day as fluid spilled across the track. Grigas
was strong in practice and qualifying, taking an eighth place spot on
the starting grid. He practiced here in May here during the open
practice for the WMT.
After the lengthy cleanup, we go green on lap 28 with Lia,
TC, Yuhas, Matt Hirschman, Flemke, and Jimmy Blewett leading the field.
Christopher retakes lead in turn 2 on lap 30, but Lia passes him back
before the stripe. Caution again on lap 31.
Civali, who started 16th, is now up to seventh. Civali, who
just missed winning this race last year, is determined to take a win
here. Four cars are sent to the rear for speed related penalties on pit
road. Speeding penalties are uncommon on the WMT, but with Big Brother
NASCAR here at NHIS the speeds were electronically monitored. The
recipients were; Jimmy Blewett, Zach Sylvester, Nevin George, for
speeding onto pit road and Mike Stefanik for speeding off pit road.
The green flies, but just a quickly the caution is put out
again for the #28 of Civali who failed to come up to speed. The #21 of
Savary pulled out of line and hit the #8 of Glen Tyler, which caused the
#06 of Pauch to make contact with the #13 of Fuller. Civali is being
pushed to his stall on pit road – we’re told it’s a broken shaft.
Unfortunately for Ken Bouchard, Glen Tyler and former WMT champion Rick
Fuller, they were done for the day. The race was red flagged for 15
minutes to clean up the mess.
Christopher pits on lap 36, with Ruggiero, Houlihan, Sammons,
Stefanik, Jim Blewett, and Wade Cole. This means Christopher will have
to work his way back to the front from the rear of the field. Restart on
lap 39 with Lia in charge followed by Matt Hirschman, Yuhas, Flemke,
Santos , and Tony Hirschman. Flemke pushed Yuhas high in three, causing
Yuhas to lose a couple spots in the running order.
Lap 43 Lia still leads with Matt Hirschman, Tony Hirschman,
Flemke, Yuhas, Santos, and Preece following. Lia has opened up a
20-car-length advantage over Hirschman. The #28 is officially out with a
broken drive shaft.
At what would have been the halfway mark of 50 laps, Donny
Lia still leads with Tony Hirschman, Matt Hirschman, Flemke, Yuhas,
Szegedy, and Santos . Santos is all over the #2 of Todd Szegedy. Matt
Hirschman is bump-drafting with his dad in the #48 on lap 53.
John Blewett III has slowly moved forward to 11th as of lap
57. Caution lap 63 for Nevin George in the #63. The #58 of Kevin Goodale
gets the “lucky dog.” The previous 24 laps ran under green!
Pitting under the caution were: Tony Hirschman, Zach
Sylvester, Eric Beers, Rob Summers, John Blewett, Jerry Marquis, Dick
Houlihan, and Mike Stefanik. The normally strong car of Stefanik has
been in and out of the pits several times today.
Back to green on lap 67 with Lia out front and Flemke,
Szegedy, M. Hirschman, Christopher, Yuhas, and Santos the running order
till the next caution on lap 70. Jeff Malave in the #17 went around,
collecting Houlihan and Summers. Summers to the pits – he can’t steer
Restart lap 74 with another melee as Hoag hit the inside
front-stretch wall. Sammons, Marquis, and Jimmy Blewett were also
involved. Blewett was done as was Hoag.
Christopher has been on the move back to the front, and on
the lap 79 restart, he makes it three-wide with Lia and Flemke. Flemke
takes lead on lap 81 with help from Christopher. The fans were on their
feet cheering as Lia passed Flemke back for the lead on lap 83 with TC
pushing Lia. Christopher did his best to recapture the lead, but Lia was
just too strong. Flemke finished 3rd, with Matt Hirschman 4th, Todd
Szegedy 5th, Ronnie Silk 6th, Bobby Santos 7th, Ron Yuhas 8th, Charlie
Pasteryak 9th and John Blewett III 10th.
“If we pitted today, I don’t know if we could have got
through like Teddy did. We made our decision and stuck with it. And it
was apparently the right one,” said Donny Lia.
Post-Race Press Conference with Top Three
Eddie Flemke Jr.: “It’s always a pleasure to run here
at NHIS. It is great for me and the team, though we would have liked to
have won. We’re here to entertain the fans too. I didn’t like NASCR
shortening the race, but what are you going to do?”
Ted Christopher: ‘Do you think could have won if they
hadn’t shortened the race?’ “Well, we passed 30-something cars. I would
have had time if NASCAR had put out the red instead of clicking off
yellow laps when they announced ten to go. Now I have to pass seven cars
in six laps instead of ten! We were fast. Two weeks in a row having
passed 30-plus cars and finish second because you didn’t have an
opportunity to complete the race. It sucks!” he concluded. (Last week’s
was called early due to rain showers.)
Donny Lia: “We got off to a great start. We were
thinking about pitting, but I didn’t want to get stuck out back. My guys
gave me an awesome racecar. You know you have to have the whole package
and we have the car, the crew, the driver. I really don’t know what to
say -- it’s our fourth win and the first at Loudon. It means so much to
me. I just want to thank everyone here at New Hampshire International
Speedway -- Bob Bahre and Fred Neergaard -- for having us and making us
feel real good. Some think of us WMT as the forgotten children of
NASCAR, but they didn’t forget about us here!”
‘Did you plan to pit for tires?’ “No we decided early we
wouldn’t pit for tires, unless we needed a right front, we were pretty
balanced. I just had to be consistent and stay out front. That’s all it
is you have to do is stay out front. We made our decision and stuck with
Other drivers and info
Greg Narducci: Bobby Grigas’ crew chief, Greg
Narducci, fell off a golf cart on Thursday night and was flown to
Dartmouth University Medical for treatment. The info I have this morning
is that Narducci is still in intensive care with serious injury to his
face. He’ll be in hospital for 4-5 more days. This is not verified but I
have heard that Tommy Baldwin Jr. will be on the box for Grigas and will
have a tire guy for the Cup #22 Caterpillar Toyota work on pit road with
Grigas. I spoke with Bobby this morning and he said that Greg was doing
better, but it will be long road to recovery for Narducci. “He is so
tough though, we just hope for a full recovery for him,” said a
Bobby Santos, who qualified 13th for the WMT event, also
tried his hand at qualifying in the NASCAR Busch Series. He put the #91
on the starting grid in fourth. He was sixth fastest in morning
Santos finished the WMT event in seventh. The Franklin , MA ,
driver finished 33rd in the Busch Campers World 200 after a spin,
suffering suspension damage to the Riley-D’Hondt Motorsports Toyota.
Unofficial Top 20 Driver Points: Donny Lia 944, Todd Szegedy 883,
Matt Hirschman 881, Jimmy Blewett 817, James Civali 803, Ronnie Silk
799, Ted Christopher 767, Mike Stefanik 745, Eddie Flemke 730, Jamie
Tomaino 713, Zach Sylvester 695, Jerry Marquis 670, Dick Houlihan 666,
Richard Savary* 662, Eric Beers 652, Ron Yuhas 633, Billy Pauch, Jr.*
628, Kevin Goodale 620, John Blewett, III 605, Danny Sammons 600. (*
denotes rookie contender)
Time of Race: 1 hrs. 20 mins, 22 secs. Average Speed: 67.140 mph.
Margin of Victory: .273 seconds
BUD POLE AWARD: Ted Christopher, #36 Al-Lee Installations
FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD: John Blewett, III, #66
Blewett Motorsports Chevrolet
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE: John Blewett, III, #66 Blewett
SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE RACE: Bobby Santos III, #3 Roby's
Propane/Cape Cod Copper Chevrolet
WHELEN ENGINEERING WINNER OF THE RACE: Donny Lia, #4 Mystic
Caution Flags: Laps 2-7; 18-21; 24-28; 31-34; 35-38; 63-67;
70-73; 74-79. Total 8 for 38 laps.
Lap Leaders: Ted Christopher 1-7, Donny Lia 8-20, Ted Christopher
21, Donny Lia 22-27, Ted Christopher 28, Donny Lia 29-80, Eddie Flemke
81-82, Donny Lia 83-85.
Total Laps Led: Donny Lia 76, Ted Christopher 9, Eddie Flemke 2.
7 lead changes involving 3 drivers.
Next Race Twin State Speedway, Claremont NH , July 8, 2007 6:00 PM.
July 1, 2007