A MUST REID:
SZEGEDY TAKES NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL
From the final restart on lap 37 to the checkers the top four players ran
nose to tail swapping position, dicing up the action lap after lap, but when
it came down to the final turn, Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT in the
Wisk/Snuggle Ford protected his lead just enough to take down his first NHIS
win, claiming victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New Hampshire 75.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Szegedy who also earned the Bud Pole award,
his third of the season. “I’ve been second in this race a lot of times, I’ve
even been airborne. Half of our accomplishment was getting the pole, but it
is the finish that counts. No, it really hasn’t sunk in yet, but I’m sure it
Ronnie Silk of Norwalk, CT in the Major Motion Transport/Silk
Plumbing Chevrolet shadowed Szegedy across the finish line for second
followed by Donny Lia of Jericho, NY, Bobby Santos, III of Franklin, MA and
Jimmy Blewett of Howell, NJ the top five.
While the beginning of the race was like the weather earlier
in the day, just rather ugly with a stream of what seemed like endless
yellow flag laps, the final half of the event is what the modified fans come
to see and expect at NHIS. Green, fast, bump drafting and numerous lead
changes, yes, the WMT drivers came through and put on a show. Until the
checker flag fell, it was anyone’s race especially in the top four- Szegedy,
Silk, Lia and Santos who put on a respectful give and take clinic as they
continuously swapped spots.
“Boy, I don’t know what was happening, it seems we couldn’t
get two laps in. Finally we got a long green stretch,” said Szegedy. “That’s
what modified racing is. We race hard like this, it’s just a shame we had
all those cautions in the beginning, it put a little damper on it.”
“For some reason, these cars get so tight when they’re out in
the lead,” said Szegedy. “I felt like I was holding people up so when anyone
got a good run on me I let them go. I could see when I got behind them, they
got tight too. When I was behind Ronnie, he had the wheel cranked so hard, I
don’t know how he kept it out of the wall. Yet my car was turning perfect
when I was behind him. So I knew, with ten laps to go, that if I just stayed
on the outside maybe I could hold the guys back because it was so hard to
pass down low, once you got down low you were tight off.”
“It was a really good race battling in the lead draft like
that,” said Silk. “ I’ve never really done that before here, the best I’ve
ever finished is 6th. We had a great car, it was real tight out front, but
it seemed like Todd got real tight when he was out front too. I was just
happy to be in a position to be able, could have, won the race. Todd pulled
down there in the end to protect his position on the last lap and it just
kind of killed my run but that’s what you have to do when you’re leading.
I’m thrilled to finish second.”
Lia was in the hunt and in the lead draft but as he put it,
“We couldn’t really get back to the gas pedal and still drive up off the
corner. We just took what we could get staying in the draft, staying out of
trouble and being there at the end. When Todd pulled down to block Ronnie we
went to the outside, anything can happen at the point, in the end we had a
shot to win even though we didn’t have the car to win.”
The New Hampshire 75 was Lia’s second event of the day having
just gotten out of the Bill Davis Racing Nicolock/Whelen Toyota Truck. Rain
washed out qualifying for the NCTS New Hampshire 200, leaving Lia who was
13th fastest in the final practice, 36th on the starting grid, the final
starting position. His first start in the series, Lia brought the Toyota
home for a 20th place finish and is hopeful there will be more to come. “It
was a learning experience; I was looking to finish, run every lap, you need
those laps, there’s a lot to driving those things,” Lia added, “I’ve got to
thank Bill Davis and Tommy (Baldwin, Jr.) for the opportunity to do this as
well as Nicolock and Whelen for helping us out. It was really a great
Putting it all into perspective, Lia‘s third place finish
clenched the New Hampshire International Speedway track championship, a very
respectable 20th in his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start and is
leading the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points heading into the final events
of the season. Can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t mind having a day like
Bobby Santos III was part of the lead pack and a contender
for the checkers to the end. “The team gave me a good car. I’m just
disappointed with myself, I felt like I could have done a better job there
at the end,” said Santos. “It was fun racing with these guys. The lead group
of guys all raced clean and it was fun to race with them.” Santos who will
be in a Bill Davis ARCA car at Talladega in a couple of weeks was called out
of the media center by Mike Bohler, owner of the number 3 Roby’s
Propane/Cape Cod Copper Chevrolet modified to go run a midget at Seekonk,
“if he wanted.” What do you think the response was? Santos was out of there.
Worth noting- Ron Yuhas of Groton, CT qualified his Vasel
Brothers Construction, AP Marquardt, Zanardi Oil Chevrolet 2nd for the New
Hampshire 75 and was looking forward to the afternoon. His fourth visit to
the Magic Mile, in July, Yuhas qualified 10th and finished 8th. “The car has
actually always done well here, it‘s the same car we take everywhere and for
some reason, the motor just comes to life with a restrictor plate, it just
always runs very, very well. We knew it was a decent lap and knew we’d be in
the top ten.”
“We’re running a limited schedule,“ said Yuhas, “We have one
car, one motor, if we did all that traveling, we’d be fried. Going to Ohio,
come back, have two days to turn the car around, go to Martinsville, come
back, go to Thompson, have two days to turn the car around and come up here
to New Hampshire, it’s just way, way too much.” Yuhas was in the hunt for
the lead before getting unwanted help into the wall on one of the numerous
restarts dashing the hopes for a respectful finish. Not the way the day was
suppose to be for Yuhas, but it will not be the last time Ron’s name gets
print, he will be up front again.
Something special- Of all the things I‘ve missed this season,
I’m pretty excited this did not pass me by, the 7NY Tom Baldwin, Sr. Tribute
Chevrolet. “All my buddies from up here that moved south put this together
in honor of my dad,” explained Tommy Baldwin, Jr. “I think that was really,
really nice and my dad would be proud. This is a good tribute to him, it
brings back a lot of memories and a lot of people have been doing double
takes.“ The 7NY did cause a number of double takes as well as just open
stares of admiration. “This was the first time I saw it,” continued Baldwin,
“they were trying to hide it from me but I had to make the call so they
could run the number. I first heard of it about three weeks ago. It’s a good
honor, to come out and do something like this, it’s pretty cool.”
“We got the car after the first NHIS race,” said Gary Putnam,
former modified crew chief now car chief of the DEI Martin Truex Cup car.
Richard ‘Haskell’ Lavaette, Russell Simpson, Peter Jasper as crew chief, of
course Bono as well as pretty much our whole road crew from the Cup team has
been working on this. We worked on it nights, whatever days we do get off.”
Putnam continued, “A lot of people helped us out including product sponsors,
Moroso, Performance Friction, Burns Collectors, Brown & Miller Racing
Kevin ‘Bono’ Manion, crew chief for Truex, echoed Putnam’s
thoughts. “We kind of all been throwing the idea around,” said Bono. “We
kept hemming and hawing about it and finally decided to order a Troyer- it’s
been a total team effort from all the Bass Pro Team 1 guys, I got a lot of
help from our sponsors, vendors and people in the business to make this
happen financially. It’s been real fun and an honor and privilege to put the
7NY on it. We all knew Tommy’s dad real well and raced with him for a long
time as well as Tommy and been good friends for a long time.”
J.J. Yeley qualified the Tom Baldwin, Sr. Tribute Chevrolet
fifth. “When we talked about building one, there’s a handful of drivers that
come up that will drive anything,“ smiled Bono. “A wheel barrel, tricycle,
anything competition related- Tony Stewart or Ken Schrader. Tony was
originally doing it, he drove the (Curt) Chase modified up here before, but
that kind of fell through with everything, he suggested J.J. and it worked
out. J.J. was thrilled to death and he’s been a pleasure to work with.”
It would have been great to see this one to the end, but
after running fifth and sixth the first half of the event, Yeley was forced
to retire before the checkers fell listing overheating as the official out.
However, Yeley recovered going on to win the next event, the USAC Silver
Crown Series New Hampshire 50.
Stay tuned to The Chrome Horn for any possible updates on the
official NHIS finish.
A special thank you to Fred Neergaard at NHIS and of course Howie Hodge for
making this article possible. And an overdue Hi to PAM.
New Hampshire 75
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
New Hampshire International Speedway
Saturday, September 15
Lap length: 1.058 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1 (1) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 75 laps, 106.391 mph,
2 (7) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 75, $11,200.
3 (3) Donnie Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 75, $8,200.
4 (10) Bobby Santos, III, Franklin, Mass., Chevrolet, 75, $6,500.
5 (17) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 75, $4,700.
6 (8) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 75, $3,750.
7 (4) Tony Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 75,
8 (21) Andrew Seuss, Hampstead, N.H., Chevrolet, 75, $3,100.
9 (22) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Pontiac, 75, $3,600.
10 (15) Robert Grigas, Marshfield, Mass., Chevrolet, 75, $2,850.
11 (26) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, Conn., Chevrolet, 75, $3,250.
12 (11) Rick Fuller, Corbin, Mass., Chevrolet, 75, $2,550.
13 (6) Charlie Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn., Chevrolet, 75, $2,050.
14 (9) Ryan Preece, Kensington, Conn., Chevrolet, 75, $2,425.
15 (28) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 75, $2,400.
16 (18) Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays, NY, Chevrolet, 74, $2,375.
17 (30) Jonathan McKennedy, Somerset, Conn., Dodge, 74, $2,350.
18 (29) Joseph Hartmann, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 74, $2,325.
19 (31) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 74, $2,300.
20 (13) Billy Pauch, Jr., Lawrenceville, N.J., Dodge, 74, $2,291.
21 (34) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 73, $2,250.
22 (20) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 64, clutch, $2,225.
23 (40) Mike Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Dodge, 63, $1,800.
24 (19) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn., Pontiac, 61, $2,180.
25 (16) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 60, engine, $2,150.
26 (24) Eddie Flemke, Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 59, engine, $1,750.
27 (5) J.J. Yeley, Charlotte, N.C., Chevrolet, 51, overheating,
28 (23) Jeff Malave, Manchester, Conn., Chevrolet, 47, $1,750.
29 (39) John Marosz, Middletown, Conn., Chevrolet, 43, oil line, $1,750.
30 (25) Alex Hoag, Corning, N.Y., Chevrolet, 23, accident, $1,750.
31 (38) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $1,750.
32 (27) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $1,750.
33 (33) Ken Bouchard, Fitchburg, Mass., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $1,750.
34 (35) Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, Conn., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $1,750.
35 (2) Ron Yuhas, Groton, Conn., Chevrolet, 22, accident, $1,750.
36 (36) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Ford, 14, ignition, $1,750.
37 (14) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, Mass., Chevrolet, 4, accident, $1,750.
38 (12) Danny Sammons, Hamilton, N.J., Chevrolet, 3, accident, $1,750.
39 (32) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Dodge, 3, accident, $1,750.
Time of Race: 0 hours 44 minutes 45 seconds
Margin of Victory: .202 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: T.Szegedy (128.135 mph, 29.725 seconds)
Caution Flags: 4 for 32 laps.
Lead Changes: 8 among 2 drivers.
Lap Leaders: T.Szegedy 1-21; R.Silk 22-38; T.Szegedy 39-41; R.Silk
44-45; R.Silk 46-50; T.Szegedy 51-65; R.Silk 66-68; T.Szegedy 69-75.
Must Reid/Polly Reid
September 15, 2007