Numerous Restarts to Claim
His 7th WMT Win at Stafford Motor Speedway
Todd Szegedy Battles to the Checkers
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headlined the racing Saturday
night and joined the Whelen All-American Weekly Series for a
rain-rescheduled event at Stafford Motor Speedway.
The cautions were numerous (thirteen) and red flags plentiful
(three), but eleven lead changes between five drivers was the official
tally. But in between all of the slow downs, there was some quality
racing, especially over the last 20 laps. The most markedly important
were the last four laps as Christopher in the #36 Al-Lee Installation
Chevrolet and Todd Szegedy in the #2 Wisk/Snuggle Ford made it a real
The fans were on their feet trying to will Szegedy by
Christopher, but to no avail. The fans voiced
their loud displeasure with the winner, Ted Christopher. It was
Christopher’s 7th win here at Jack Arute’s Stafford Motor Speedway on
the Whelen Modified Tour. Christopher currently leads the Whelen
All-American Series SK Modified division standings.
The evening started off with the Whelen Modified Tour time
trials. Five-time WMT champion, Tony Hirschman of Northampton, PA, was
the quickest qualifier with a time of 18.188 seconds which equates to a
speed of 98.966 mph. Hirschman pilots the #48 Kamco Supply Chevy and
captured the 41st Bud Pole award of his career. It was his second Bud
Pole of the season. Hirschman has five WMT wins here at Stafford Motor
Donny Lia in the #4 Mystic Marina Dodge just missed the Bud
Pole as he has a speed of 98.863 mph. The Jericho, NY, driver is
currently the hottest shoe on the Whelen Modified Tour. Lia had five
wins coming in to tonight’s action. Ronnie Silk in the #19 Major Motion
Transportation/Silk Plumbing Chevy was third quickest. The Norwalk, CT,
driver’s speed was 98.793 mph. Todd Szegedy in the #2 Wisk/Snuggle Ford
was fourth quickest, with a time of 98.706 for the Ridgefield, CT,
driver. Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, was fifth fastest with a
speed of 98.663 mph. Christopher had six wins at SMS coming into
Bobby Grigas III in the #09 Triple G Scaffold/Amsoil Racing
Chevy was the 6th fastest qualifier. The Marshfield, MA, driver had a
time of 98.517 mph. Grigas was DQed in the event at Riverhead Raceway
for violation of the NASCAR impoundment rule. Danny Sammons driver of
the #0 Area Auto Racing News/Trans-Clean Corp. Chevrolet was 7th
quickest. The Trenton, NJ, driver’s speed was 98.366 mph. Sammons was
the recipient of the latest Featherlite Most Improved Driver award. Matt
Hirschman in the #59 Bennett’s Property Dodge was 8th quickest with a
speed of 98.307 mph. Bobby Santos III in the #3 Roby’s Propane/Cape Cod
Copper Chevrolet was ninth with a speed of 98.168 mph. The Millis, MA,
driver has one top-five finish and 2 top-ten finishes in four starts
this season. Rounding out the top ten qualifiers is Dick Houlihan of
Bridgewater, MA, in the #46 Crossroads RV Center/ Viveiros Insurance
machine had a speed of 98.114 mph. He is currently 16th in the points.
The rest of the qualifiers are: 11) #21 Richard Savary,
Canton, MA; 12) #94 Eric Beers, Northampton, PA; 13) #90 Renee Dupuis,
Glastonbury, CT; 14) #10 Eddie Flemke Jr., Southington, CT; 15)
#14Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, CT; 16) #12 Jimmy Blewett, Howell, NJ;
17) #28 James Civali, Meriden, CT; 18) #40 Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT;
19) #79 Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, CT; 20) #77 Doug Coby, Milford,
CT; 21) #16 Mike Stefanik, Coventry, RI; 22) #58 Kevin Goodale,
Riverhead, NY; 23) #5 Charlie Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT; 24) #33 Wade Cole,
Riverton, CT; 25) #00 Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, CT; 26) #64 Eric
Berndt, Rocky Hill, CT; 27) #99 Jamie Tomaino, Howell, NJ; 28) #06 Billy
Pauch Jr., Frenchtown, NJ; 29) #8 Glen Tyler, Hampton Bays, NY; 30) #05
Joseph Hartmann, Calverton, NY; 31) #93 Rowan Pennick, Huntingdon
Valley, PA; 32) #9 Jake Marosz, Middletown, NY.
The top ten qualifiers redrew for starting positions.
Starting on the pole will be the #09 of Bobby Grigas III. He will be
followed by #2 Todd Szegedy, #0 Danny Sammons, #4 Donny Lia, #48 Tony
Hirschman, #19 Ronnie Silk, #36 Ted Christopher, #3 Bobby Santos III,
and #46 Dick Houlihan.
James Civali won his first career WMT race in this event here
at Stafford Motor Speedway in 2006, while Tony Hirschman won the Bud
Pole Award in the 2006 New England Dodge Dealers 150.
Szegedy, a former WMT champion, takes the lead in turn one of
lap one and just checked out early on the field. Grigas and Lia battle
for second. Caution lap 7 as the #0 of Sammons spins in turn one. The
#19 of Silk was severely damaged and would visit pit road many times
during the race to make repairs. Flemke in the #10 was also involved as
was the #21 of Savary. The #3 of Bobby Santos was slung back to the
infield with an early exit. “Ole Blue” looked pretty bad. Jamie Tomaino
was on pit road for service as well.
Szegedy continues to lead under caution. On the restart
Szegedy leads as Lia and Christopher battle each other for second. Lia
take lead on lap 15 with Christopher in the #36 on the tail of Lia.
Christopher passes Lia for the lead on lap 19. TC, Lia, Szegedy, Grigas,
Civali, and Matt Hirschman are the top seven cars. Jake Marosz was black
flagged to pit on lap 22. Civali races side-by-side with Grigas as both
swap tire rubs -- Civali moves to 4th on lap 27.
Lap 30 it’s Christopher, Lia, Szegedy, Civali, Grigas, M.
Hirschman, Woody Pitkat, Doug Coby, T. Hirschman, Ruggiero, Stefanik,
and Blewett as the leaders. On lap 30 Christopher’s lead is steady, but
Lia is slowly reeling him in. Jimmy Blewett in the #12 United Crane
Rental spins on lap 35 bringing out the second of the 13 cautions.
Ronnie Silk would receive the free pass. Jerry Marquis Jamie Tomaino,
Ronan Pennick, Danny Sammons, Richard Savary, Jimmy Blewett, Billy Pauch
Jr., and Joe Hartman pitted during the caution. The crews of Sammons,
Silk and Savary all put in extra work to keep their respective cars
Ted Christopher leads Lia, Szegedy, and Civali under caution.
Back to green on lap 39, but caution would fly on lap 40 as Pauch and
Marquis have problems along with several other drivers as fluid was laid
all the way around the track. Pitting under caution on lap 41 were:
Sammons, Dupuis, Blewett, Silk, Tyler, and Wade Cole. On lap 47 the cars
were stopped and event was red flagged for 4 minutes as the track was
finished being cleaned.
Back to green lap 50 with Christopher out front. Todd Szegedy
passes Lia for second as Coby almost hits the turn 3 the wall on lap 52,
but saves it. Two laps later the caution would fly again for the #05 of
Joe Hartman. Pitting under caution were; Civali, Dupuis, Silk, Sammons,
Coby, Hartman, Stefanik, and Tyler. Savary gets the free pass for the
second caution in a row.
Szegedy makes his presence know on the restart as Christopher
leads the field to green on lap 58. Caution would be put out again on
lap 60 for four cars involved in a turn three incident, with Charlie
Pasteryak in the #5 Dawley Auto Center Chevrolet spun. Tomaino, Dupuis
and Hartman were all involved as well. It was the fifth caution of the
Christopher again leads the restart on the 65th circuit, with
Szegedy, Lia, Grigas, M. Hirschman, Woody Pitkat, T. Hirschman,
Ruggiero, Marquis, and Beers following. The event gets its 6th caution
of the night as the #28 Civali spins in turn four and collects the #93
of Rowan Pennick on lap73. The leaders pit except for Lia, Grigas,
Marquis, Eric Berndt, and Jimmy Blewett whom assume the top six
positions at the halfway point. Pitting were: Christopher, Szegedy, T.
Hirschman, Ruggiero, Pitkat, Houlihan, Tomaino, Tyler, Pennick, and
Lia leads lap 78 followed by Grigas, M. Hirschman, Marquis,
Blewett, and Coby. Caution #7 flies on lap 82 and we’re back to green on
lap 86. Bobby Grigas takes lead from Lia, but Lia is still looking. He
goes inside and catches the dirt and almost loses it! Lap 90 it’s
Grigas, Lia, M. Hirschman, Coby, Stefanik, Christopher, and Berndt.
Ronnie Silk spins in turn 4 and caution waves on lap 94.
Grigas still holds the point with Lia, Matt Hirschman, Coby, Stefanik,
and Blewett the top six. Grigas holds the field behind him on the lap 98
restart as M. Hirschman, Lia, Stefanik, Coby and Christopher follow.
Christopher has banged his way through the field and is
currently fifth on lap 101. TC passes Stefanik for fourth on lap 104 and
now sets his sights on Matt Hirschman. The #79 of Woody Pitkat was on
the move till he spun in turn 4 bringing the ninth caution period on lap
107. Restart lap 110, Grigas’ lead is gone as Stefanik sneaks by. On lap
114 TC reclaims the lead and the cautions keep coming as the #58 of
Kevin Goodale spins in turn three on lap 115.
Christopher leads to the 118 restart followed by Stefanik,
Grigas, Szegedy, Coby, Lia, and M. Hirschman. On the restart, Szegedy
gets by Grigas who appears to a have problem. Lap121, yellow yet again!
There was enough yellow displayed tonight to make daylight look dull!
Ruggiero drove over the rear wheel of Eric Berndt who spun causing
Ruggiero to go airborne. Ruggiero was done as he left on the hook, but
Berndt was able to continue.
Pitting under caution were; Berndt, Tomaino, Cole, and
Civali. Restart lap 126, Szegedy passes TC but TC takes the lead back.
Caution number 12 for Wade Cole and Glenn Tyler -- Tyler’s #8 looked
pretty bad -- it had to be carried back on two wreckers. The #09 of
Grigas is in turn two, dead on the track, and was pushed to the pits
with a dead battery. Clean up continues on the track as the laps click
away under caution. The red flag is brought out on lap 135, time 10:45
Back to yellow at 10:48 pm. with the restart on lap 138 –
however the green flag period is too short again. The 13th caution comes
out for the #5 of Charlie Pasteryak in the turn 3 wall. The red is
brought out again to freeze the field for the cleanup, and to leave some
laps to run to the finish. Restart lap 144 as TC and Szegedy battle for
the point. The #36 of Christopher holds off Szegedy for the win. They
are followed across the stripe by Stefanik, Coby, Lia, M. Hirschman,
Marquis, Beers, Blewett and Pitkat.
Post Race Interviews
Ted Christopher in victory lane said, “I thought I missed a
shift, but the clutch was slipping real bad. On the last restart I had
to start in fourth gear. That’s why I got up on the outside. Awesome
race car – I have to thank Brad (LaFontaine) and Eddie Whelen for
letting me drive this thing. The set-up was great and I had a great pit
Restarts? “Yeah, I passed some of those guys the lap before.
Geez, I got to pass them again! It was like, man, a lot of passing, but
I felt like there was a lots of cautions and we still had a pretty good
race. We had a fast car last week, but we had some issues, but we’re
glad to come back to the winners circle here. This car was fast and
plenty of motor in the straight-aways. It’s good get one here!”
Szegedy was asked, “I don’t think there was a square inch of
the racetrack you didn’t use to try to get Ted Christopher, was there?”
Todd replied, “To be honest with you, I think he had a better car than I
did, then he started having clutch problems. I was having really good
restarts. I was real good on the outside, but he was having problems, I
could tell. I think we were a second place car. I just couldn’t get good
run on the outside of him, but he ran me clean. If you run him
(Christopher) clean, he’ll run you clean. He didn’t pinch me anywhere,
it was great race.”
He continued, “I was really strong on every restart. But
Teddy, the motor he’s got in that thing – he’s got power. I could have
blocked him, but there was no sense. He would have gotten by
Mike Stefanik stated, “We didn’t have that much of car left
at the end. I really didn’t have anything for Ted or Todd, so I kind of
sat back and watched the show. I enjoyed it! We caught a few good
breaks, got the lead, stayed out of trouble. I hand my hands full. We
did pit early. I congratulate my team for all their hard work and thanks
to Eric Sanderson and all my sponsors for all they do for us!”
Next up for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is Thompson Motor
Speedway Thursday, August 16.