The Chrome Horn News


NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, New England 100
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
By Dave Meredith

   Chuck Hossfeld of Buffalo, NY, in the #4 Mystic Missile Dodge owned by Bob Garbarino, started at the front of the field and ended there as well when the checkered flag fell. He passed Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, at the wire to win by .001 seconds. The fans were treated to one of the best NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races that we have seen in a couple of years at the “Magic Mile.” Ed Flemke Jr., of Southington, CT, made his 300th consecutive start today and brought the #10 Ron Bouchard/Premier Kitchen Chevy across the stripe in third.
   The victory was Hossfeld’s seventh on the WMT and third at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Hossfeld’s two previous wins came in July 2003 and September 2002. This was Hossfeld’s second win of the season. He won the TSI Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway on May 23rd.
   The Whelen Modifieds usually provide the most exciting racing action on the Magic Mile, and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers, car owners and fans have come to expect unbelievable finishes just like today’s.
   The fans were on their collective feet as they cheered the epic finish. Hossfeld officially led only one lap it was one the pays the most -- the last one!
   Eric Beers overcame a speeding on pit road penalty to finish fourth in the #46. Reggie Ruggiero in the #14 raced to a fifth place finish, while Bobby Santos III in the #98 was sixth.
   Flemke made contact with the #2 of Todd Szegedy in turn 4 while going three-wide in lap traffic on the last lap. Szegedy made contact with the wall and came home in seventh.
   Ryan Preece in the #3 was eighth. Former WMT champion, Jeff Fuller, driving Kevin Manion’s #7NY, secured a top-ten finish coming across the stripe in 9th. Ronnie Silk in the #79 finished tenth.
   The race was fast-paced with only four cautions that slowed action for just 20 laps. The front runners would swap the lead two to three times a lap on every lap early in the contest, but Ted Christopher would lead the most laps and just missed his 9th win here at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Christopher was one of the two top-10 finishers along with Bobby Santos in the #98 Coastal 181 Chevrolet that didn’t pit when the leaders pitted on lap 53. Pitting were Eric Beers, James Civali, Ryan Preece, Todd Szegedy, Chuck Hossfeld, Matt Hirschman, Jimmy Blewett, Rick Fuller, Reggie Ruggiero, Ronnie Silk, Rowan Pennink, Jamie Tomaino, L.W. Miller, Wade Cole and Danny Sammons.
   Running order lap 55 when the green flew: Ted Christopher, Bobby Santos, Robbie Summers, Brian Loftin, James Civali, and Jamie Tomaino. The #46 of Eric Beers was sent to the rear of field along with Glenn Tyler for speeding on pit road. Beers would challenge for the lead twice over the last 20 laps of the event.
   Lap 79, James Civali slowed as he approached pit road with mechanical problems -- overheating.
   Christopher continues to lead the event with Hossfeld, Santos, Flemke, Szegedy and Preece all taking shots at the leader. It wasn’t till the last lap when Hossfeld caught Christopher at the line. Neither of them knew who won the race. It was so close that both teams had to wait for the scoring monitor to change to know the result.
Hossfeld stated, “I don’t remember half of [the last lap] and the half I do remember was too scary to talk about. I’m pumped. I’m just so freaking happy! Either way it would have turned out I would have been happy with the race. We really had a great race. Of course, I’m happy I’m on the other side of that .001!”
   Ted Christopher said, “That’s how it goes sometimes. Sometimes you make the right move -- sometimes you make the wrong move. He had a pretty good run. Our motor is good. You lose by a little, you win by a little. I just really squared the corner off too much instead of really keeping my momentum up.”
   “My car handled well, though it was probably a little snugger that I wanted to be,” he continued. “The tires were not really changing much. You know I’m usually the first one to call for tires. We usually take them early if we’re going change tires. After the halfway point it’s tough to give up track position here to pit.”
   Ed Flemke Jr. added, “It was a pretty spirited battle and everybody was taking as much as they could and giving as much as they could. I joined the fray on the last lap and kind of made it three-wide with the lapped cars there. I just drove down in the bottom there and it wouldn’t stay there. I got into Todd a little bit and sent him back. Todd is one of the few guys that you can race and not expect to get banged around so I kind of feel bad about that. But last lap, you’re getting pushed and shoved and you’ve got to either get in or get out so today we got in.”
   Hossfeld leads the point standings with 855 points, followed by Ted Christopher 819; Todd Szegedy 750; Eric Beers 685; Ed Flemke Jr. 662; Matt Hirschman 643; Rowan Pennink 639; Mike Stefanik 634; Ryan Preece 604 and James Civali 602.
   It appears that Hossfeld is picking up where last year’s champion in the #4 Mystic Missile left off. Donny Lia had six wins on the way to the first championship for car owner Bob Garbarino.

Qualifying & Practice

   The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New England 100 introduced themselves to the re-named New Hampshire Motor Speedway with limited practice due to rain. The starting line-up was set by owner points, past champion provisional, entry date and qualifying draw. Thirty-eight modifieds started the race. Drivers that went home when the rain cancelled the WMT qualifying were Doug Coby, Jon McKennedy, Ken Bouchard, and Kenny Horton Jr.
   Final practice on Saturday morning saw Chuck Hossfeld -- who will start on the pole -- with the fastest time in the #4 Mystic Missile Dodge at 129.366 mph. Eric Beers of Northampton, PA, in the #46 Reynolds Auto Wrecking Chevrolet was second fastest with a speed of 129.235. Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT, in the #36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet was third fastest with a speed of 128.972. Jimmy Blewett in the #19 TS Haulers Inc, Chevrolet was next with a speed of 128.689. Todd Szegedy in the #2 Wisk/Snuggles Ford was fifth with a speed of 128.571mph.
   Eddie Flemke in the #10 Ron Bouchard Auto Stores/Premier Kitchens Chevrolet was fastest in practice on Thursday with a speed of 126.926 mph. Reggie Ruggiero in the #14 Atlantic Sprinkler Ford was second quick at 126.496 mph. Bobby Grigas III in the #09 Triple G Scaffold Chevy was third in practice at 126.103, while Jimmy Blewett in the #19 TS Haulers Inc. Chevy at 128.972 mph and fifth quick was Chuck Hossfeld in the #4 Mystic Missile Chevrolet with a speed of 125.998mph.
   Rain delayed most of the scheduled practice sessions Thursday afternoon, but the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was able to get on the track for about half an hour. During that window, Ed Flemke Jr. registered the fastest time at 30.008 seconds (126.926 mph).

60th Anniversary of the Modifieds

   At each race this season, one of 31 former champions of the Modified Tour will be honored. Last week at Thompson, Jeff Fuller, champion in 1992 was in the spotlight.
   Today, he will be back in a modified, driving for car owner Kevin Manion, who is crew chief on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for driver Martin Truex, pilot of the #1 DEI entry. Manion, who hails from New England, decided to build the car with some friends “for fun”. Originally Kyle Busch had agreed to drive the #7 today, but his Gibbs team asked him not to.
   Today, the Tour will honor past champion Jimmy Spencer, who captured the title in 1986 and 1987 is just one of three NASCAR Modified Tour drivers to capture consecutive titles.
   Spencer was asked by NASCAR’s Jason Christly to explain how he got started in modified racing. Spencer responded, “I had been racing dirt cars in Pennsylvania when NASCAR introduced the weekly racing series. I watched my dad race his whole life and I watched him pass up opportunities to race at Indianapolis to race with family. I wasn’t married at the time I said I want to race and my dad said I think you’re good enough to do it.
   “We started to race the weekly racing series and said we couldn’t do that if you didn’t go to New England and race. I did make a mistake in my first trip to New England. I beat one of my buddies, Bugsy Stevens, and the fan was booing me! I said why are you mad at me? I just kicked one of your hero’s butt, I guess that was why. That was a mistake! From that day on I was booed in New England as bad as a Bodine! That’s not good!”
   Tell us what like to be associated with past champions of the modified tour? “The Modified Series is a series that ran the northeast mainly. They [modifieds] were born and raised in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England, and I got to race some of those guys and they were great racers!” Spencer named Bugsy, Corky Cookman, George Summers, as well as promoters like Don Hoenig, the Arute’s, and Yarrington “were all great guys and were friends to the modifieds. Hoenig has been one of the biggest supporters of the modified racing and the tour.”
   He continued, “Eddie Flemke Sr., and Mr. Bob Bahre who owned Oxford Speedway, made a lot of great friends. The modifieds were a good means for us to race and move south and race what they called ‘big cars.’” Spencer related a story about racing at a track where he was given an award by the fans after being booed a few weeks before. Spencer interpreted boos as an expression of displeasure at something you did, but, he added, “The fans liked you for your talent.”
   He says Kyle Busch his getting the same type of treatment today. “The fans don’t like what he does, but like to watch him race. The fans are what make our sport possible, there no question about that. I’ve never disagreed with them [fans]. That’s your opinion and that what’s great about our sport.” Spencer was asked about the comparison to Kyle and past drivers and Spencer said Bobby Allison was good at “persuading” someone to move. The fans want to be vocal and some of the drivers don’t allow them to be vocal.
   Spencer reminisced about his past competitors including friends that have passed including Richie Evans, Corky Cookman, Tom Pratt and Tommy Druar. “A lot of sad days, but you know the modifieds were a click and still is a click. It is strong click, there a lot of modified guys in that garage area that mean a lot to me.”
   Jimmy given the opportunity would you get in a car today? “First I’d have to lose 25 pounds (chuckle) that’s the first thing. I can still do it. I believe I can still drive a Cup car. I watched the qualifying on Speed TV yesterday I could have put the #21 car in the race.”
   “The reality of it is our sport has really grown. These young kids come along and some punk young kids and I just wished that they respected the veteran drivers. I respected Bobby Allison and Richard Petty as they built a lot of what we race on now. I think our sport is lacking a little respect in the garage area nowadays. Especially for the drivers who have paved the way for these young kids today.”
   Do you think that drivers are too young and don’t have the respect? “No, I think it is a total attitude problem. Their dads should take them out behind the fence adjusting their attitude a little bit. If I was out of line, my dad would sure put me in my place. I put little bit of blame on the parents. That’s one thing my wife and did with our kids was teach them respect. I think our world [racing] is lacking in respect and will until these kids learn that.”
   When asked what was different about the tour today compared to when he raced, he stated, “Rules! Back then there basically no rules, not like we have today. Money, the money is the biggest difference in racing from when I started racing the modified tour. We had to fight to get enough money to race each week and it was hard to get sponsors. Today it’s even harder for the modified owners and drivers to get the money.”

Starting Lineup:

1) #4 Chuck Hossfeld; 2) #36 Ted Christopher; 3) #2 Todd Szegedy; 4) #16 Mike Stefanik; 5) #28 James Civali; 6) #46 Eric Beers; 7) #93 Rowan Pennink; 8) #59 Matt Hirschman; 9) #10 Ed Flemke Jr.; 10) #12 Ken Heagy; 11) #58 Kevin Goodale; 12) #3 Ryan Preece; 13) #09 Bobby Grigas III; 14) #21 Richard Savary; 15) #79 Ronnie Silk; 16) #32 Tom Abele Jr.; 17) #8 Glenn Tyler; 18) #05 Joe Hartmann; 19) #11 Anthony Sesely; 20) #33 Wade Cole; 21) #19 Jimmy Blewett; 22) #98 Bobby Santos; 23) #77 Rick Fuller; 24) #99 Jaime Tomaino; 25) #17 Glen Reen; 26) #06 Billy Pauch Jr.; 27) #90 Renee Dupuis; 28) #0 Danny Sammons; 29) #14 Reggie Ruggiero; 30) #9 Jake Marosz; 31) #00 Dale Quarterly; 32) #26 Gary McDonald; 33) #53 Sean Patterson; 34) #1 Rob Summers; 35) #70 Andy Seuss; 36) #23 Brian Loftin; 37) #38 L.W. Miller; 38) #7 Jeff Fuller.

Finishing Order:

1) #4 Chuck Hossfeld; 2) #36 Ted Christopher; 3) #10 Ed Flemke Jr.; 4) #46 Eric Beers; 5) #14 Reggie Ruggiero; 6) #98 Bobby Santos III; 7) #2Todd Szegedy; 8) #3 Ryan Preece; 9) #7 Jeff Fuller; 10) #79 Ronnie Silk; 11) #23 Brian Loftin; 12) #59 Matt Hirschman; 13) #19 Jimmy Blewett; 14) #77 Rick Fuller; 15) #1 Rob Summers; 16) #93 Rowan Pennink; 17) #58 Kevin Goodale; 18) #70 Andy Seuss; 19) #38 L.W. Miller; 20) #06 Billy Pauch Jr.; 21) #99 Jaime Tomaino; 22) #8 Glenn Tyler; 23) #0 Danny Sammons; 24) #05 Joe Hartmann; 25) #33 Wade Cole; 26) #16 Mike Stefanik; 27) #26 Gary McDonald; 28) #9 Jake Marosz; 29) #28 James Civali; 30) #11 Anthony Sesely; 31) #12 Ken Heagy; 32) #00 Dale Quarterly; 33) #53 Sean Patterson; 34) #90 Renee Dupuis; 35) #17 Glen Reen; 36) #09 Bobby Grigas; 37) #21 Richard Savary; 38) #32 Tom Abele Jr.


Source:  Dave Meredith / BUSCH Sports Scene
Posted:  June 29, 2008

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