The Chrome Horn News



August 11, 2007
By Dave Meredith

Christopher Survives 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 battle.
    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 Speedway.
    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 tonight’s event.
    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.

The Race

    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 competitive.
    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 event.
    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 Beers.
    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 pm.
    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 stop.”
    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 eventually.”
    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.


Source:  Dave Meredith/Independent/The Chrome Horn
Posted:  August 12, 2007

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