The Chrome Horn - Walter Stubbs


by Walt Stubbs

    It was Modified Mania at Thompson International Speedway Sunday afternoon. This is the third year of the Mania, which replaced the tradition rich Thompson 300. I have to admit, I have taken a liking to the Mania, which brings the modifieds from the three Series (NASCAR Whelen, True Value and ROC) onto the same grounds on the same weekend. With Tropical Storm Hanna hitting the Northeast on Saturday, there was some concern if the program would get in but lo and behold, the Meteorologists actually got one right, predicting Hanna would move out quickly early Sunday morning. With qualifying rained out on Saturday, all three Series went by there current point standings in determining the starting lineups. Unlike the first year of Modified Mania, this year a few of the NASCAR Tour drivers also participated in either the True Value or ROC Series besides the NASCAR Whelen 150. Jimmy Blewett and Ted Christopher actually ran in all three, or in Blewett's case four if you count the Sunoco Modified 50 lap feature. It turned out to be a mixed bag for both Blewett and Christopher as Blewett wound up winning the SK feature, following the win up with a second place run in the ROC 75 lapper. Unfortunately mechanical problems did Blewett in in the True Value and NASCAR Tour features. As for Christopher, he finished fourth in the ROC race, had the True Value race taken from him on the last lap, thanks to David Pinkham coming in contact with him on the last lap, handing the win to Todd Owen. The worst was yet to come as Christopher, who was in command in the Whelen Modified Tour 150, elected to pit on lap 124 for fresh rubber. It was only the third caution of the afternoon and Christopher was the only leader who elected to pit on that sequence, despite having the car to beat. When asked about the decision afterward, Christopher was succinct. "Who knew it was only going to go 11 green flag laps with 30 left? I I could have predicted that, I would have stayed out but I was expecting to have 30, maybe 20 green laps left to race, which is more than enough to go on fresh tires. Then everybody starts banging around. What are you going to do? Stuff happens sometimes."
   Stuff does happen, and with it opportunity knocks. That can be said of Todd Szegedy, who was surprised of Christopher's decision to pit and used it to his advantage. to get his first win of what has been a frustrating season. "I was very surprised Teddy pitted," admitted Szegedy. "We were up in the air whether we were going to pit or not. And from what we heard, the guys who pitted earlier weren't getting back to the front very fast. The first thing I thought during the caution was to fake him (Christopher) out to think I was pitting. Then all of a sudden, he went in. I couldn't believe it. I was fast but I certainly wasn't the fast car out there. Teddy was pulling away from the rest of us so I was shocked that he did pit. If he didn't pit, he had a good shot of winning the race. What did it for me was the restart. Ronnie (Silk) spun the tires twice real hard and I was able to go around him. We'll take it. It's been a tough year so we needed this."
   Szegedy's win ended Ronnie Silk's reign as the King of Thompson, or at least the last two Tour races run there. Silk missed continuing the streak by one, finishing second. Todd just got me on the restart. It was my fault. I spun the tires and it cost us today," said Silk.
   Doug Coby hasn't been a regular on the Whelen Tour since his split with Curt Chase a few years back. Coby has wanted to hook up with another team, but there was no opportunities that presented itself. Thus, Coby has been concentrating on the SK Mods at Stafford and Waterford. An opportunity arose for Coby after James Civalli was dismissed by car owner Don King after the Tour race at Riverhead in early August. Coby, who had raced for King before, was asked if he'd like to share the ride for the remainder of the season with Woody Pitkat. Coby has run strong for King, as he collected another top three finish. "I'm just trying to get top five finishes like today whenever I run. The whole thing with Woody and I driving the car is not me versus Woody. He works on the car, that's his job and Don is like my second father basically and I hang out with him every weekend. When he asked me to drive the car, it wasn't like he thought to make a phone call. I was at his house when it all happened at Riverhead and I spent the whole weekend with him. What I'm trying to accomplish is to either get in the 28 (King's car) but if he decides to do something else, I'm just trying to show anybody else who might be looking for a driver. Give me a good car and I'll take car of the equipment and hopefully good things happen after that. A lot of these guys bring a lot of money to these teams. and it's no secret that I don't have any to bring. There's a lot of teams though that I think would have liked to have two third place finishes in a row with a driver. For somebody, sooner or later that will be enough. I'm content to wait. People forget I have a great SK team that I drive for at Stafford and at Waterford. If that's all I do next year, I'm perfectly content to do that but I still want to race on the tour because that's where my friends are at. When these guys travel and I have to get text messages on how they did, I hate that because wish I was there doing the same thing."
   Two drivers who have logged many miles on the Tour since its inception (or close to it) have been Reggie Ruggiero and Rick Fuller. It was like old times for both as they battled each other and the young guns on the Tour for there first top five finishes of the year for both. It was especially noteworthy for Fuller, who teamed up with Curt Chase for his second round of duty with the 77 team. And for you historians, the first time they hooked up in the early 90's wasn't a bad deal as they captured the Tour Championship in 1993. This year, however, has been a challenge for Fuller and Chase. Luck definitely hasn't been on there side. This past weekend Fuller was honored at Thompson for being a past champion but earlier in the week, he and the rest of the Fuller family lost there Mom. Needless to say, it was an emotional roller coaster for Fuller. Fuller, however, managed to bring the Chase mount in fifth place. "I wish we could have won. To finish in the top five, these guys really needed it; I really needed it. It was the team collectively that needed it. It hasn't been a good reunion for us. It's been terrible. We can't do anything right. We come to the race track and we have a fast car but we have nothing to show for it. Today, we decided not to pit. We were not going to pit and get back in with the time bombs so that when one of them detonates it takes us out. Look at all the good cars that got wrecked today." As for the rest of the season, Fuller only has one thing on his mind. "We want to win. I have nothing to prove to anybody. I just want to win. That's it," said Fuller.
As for Ruggiero, he wished he had just a few more laps. "We were going good at the end. We just needed five more laps," said Ruggiero who plans on making the remaining Tour races with the exception of Chemung.
   THOMPSON NOTES: Matt Hirschman dominated the ROC 75 lapper, looking like he was on cruise control for much of the race. Afterward, Hirschman confirmed that he will be racing for Evernham/Gillette at Loudon, and if all goes according to plan, will be at Dover as well. "We're going to see how Loudon goes. I'm going to do the best that I can. The modified race and Busch race are on separate days so I'm really excited about it because I know it's not going to take away from one effort versus the other. I know what to expect from the modified but the other car is going to be a learning curve for me. Ray's (Evernham) background and roots are with the modifieds so I think he's paying attention to the modifieds. It doesn't come as a surprise that he would be the one to contact me," said Hirschman.... Rowan Pennink had a topsy-turvy day, losing a lap in the early going. However, he got the Lucky Dog and his lap back with 25 to go and wound up ninth. "The track was greasy and it never really came back but fortunately we got by Ferrante to get the Lucky Dog. and it worked out for us. To be a lap down with thirty to go and to finish where we did, is great. We just want to finish the year in the top ten points where we've been for most of the year. It's something to build on for next year," said Pennink... The Tour heads to Loudon this weekend for the second and final time. And yes, word is that SPEED will be airing the race on a tape delay basis. Of course, I remember hearing this before not too long ago. Also, the race at Martinsville is also set to be televised as well. Still can't believe that Wall Township Speedway will be running the annual Turkey Derby after being closed all year. Hopefully, there is still hope that the track can run full time in 2009. More details should be released soon on the Derby format etc in the coming week. Friend and colleague Brian Danko was at Thompson but a slip and fall in the pits sent Danko to the local hospital. Hopefully, all tests were okay and Danko will be back and barking in no time. And Finally This Week's Quote of The Week comes from photographer Howard Hodge, on if he wanted a Diet Pepsi, "What does the can spell when you take out the t?" All views and news can reach me at 2 Constitution Court Unit 501 Hoboken, N.J. 07030......


Source: Walter Stubbs /
Posted:  September 8, 2008

2008 GeeLaw Motorsports/