18th ANNUAL NEW ENGLAND DODGE DEALERS
by Dave & Hazel Meredith
Between the afternoon practice session and the scheduled qualifying
time, the nasty New England weather continued with more rain showers
following the deluges that hit the state yesterday.
Eric Beers, of Northampton, PA, in the #46 Reynold’s Auto Wrecking
Chevrolet, captured his seventh career pole with a quick time of
18.298 seconds for a speed of 98.371 mph. He bested Todd Szegedy of
Ridgefield, CT, in the #2 Wisk-Snuggle Ford, who had a time of
18.371 for 97.981 mph. Third quick was Matt Hirschman, also of
Northampton, in the #59 Ed Bennett Properties Chevrolet, with a time
of 18.375 and 97.959 mph. Fourth fastest was Jimmy Blewett of
Howell, NJ, in the Major motion Transport/TS Haulers Chevrolet, with
a time of 18.387 and 97.895 mph. Fifth was Ted Christopher of
Plainville, CT, in the #36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet, with a
time of 18.397 for a speed of 97.842 mph.
Rounding out the top ten were: 6) #4 Chuck Hossfeld, Ransomville,
NY, Mystic Missile Dodge; 7) #3 Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT,
Davidson Co./Reynold’s Auto Wrecking Chevrolet; 8) #79 Ronnie Silk,
Norwalk, CT, Hill Enterprises/Coors Light/Sunoco Pontiac; 9) #21
Richard Savary, Canton, MA, Superior Oil/Pine Hill Service
Chevrolet; 10) #09 Bobby Grigas III, Marshfield, MA, Triple-G
Scaffold Services Chevrolet.
Cars that did not qualify were: #32 Tom Abele, Jr., Norwich, CT; #9
Jake Marosz, Middletown, CT; #14 Reggie Ruggiero, Rocky Hill, CT;
#90 Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury, CT; #26 Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma,
NY; and #00 Frank Ruocco, Cheshire, CT who attempted qualifying
after crashing in practice earlier today.
The top eight qualifiers redrew for starting positions. They will
take the green as follows: #79 Ronnie Silk; #4 Chuck Hossfeld; #59
Matt Hirschman; #2 Todd Szegedy; #36 Ted Christopher; #3 Ryan
Preece; #19 Jimmy Blewett; #46 Eric Beers.
Prior to the running of the WMT main event, the Stafford SK
modifieds took to the track for a 40 lap feature. This event was a
qualifying race for the North-South Shootout to be held in Concord,
NC, on November 8th. Doug Coby took the checkers and is now
guaranteed a starting spot in the Shootout.
We finally got to the green flag at 10:15 p.m., an hour after the
scheduled start. Hossfeld jumped to the point on the start and led
the first lap. The yellow was quick to fly on lap two for Charlie
Pasteryak in the #5 Dawley’s auto Center/Sunoco Chevrolet who spun
on the backstretch.
Cautions laps do count in this 150-lap event. Back to green on lap
5 with Hossfeld leading Szegedy, Silk and Preece.
Szegedy get around Hossfeld as they head into turn one and Preece
tucks in behind Hossfeld. The field starts to stretch out in the
next few circuits. By lap 10 almost the whole field is single file.
Szegedy starts to open up the lead on the straights by lap 17, but
Hossfeld stays within striking distance as they hit the turns.
By lap 25 the top 7 cars have broken away from the field by at
least 20 car lengths. Szegedy still holds the point followed by
Hossfeld, Preece, Silk, Christopher, Beers and Savary. The #93 of
Rowan Pennink is black flagged for smoke coming out of it – he must
pit to get it checked out.
The #11 of Anthony Sesely is the next car to get the black flag on
lap 31. The #64 of Eric Berndt also hits the pits for adjustments.
The #1 of Rob Summers pits and gets pushed behind the wall on lap 35
and is out for a power steering problem.
Still green at lap 40 – leaders haven’t changed much except that
Christopher has passed Silk for fourth. Szegedy gets caught behind
lapped traffic and Hossfeld is able to close up to his bumper. The
top three (Szegedy, Hossfeld and Preece) get by the lapped cars, and
Christopher and the rest of the field get caught behind them.
Its 10:35 and we’re already at lap 50, a third of the way through
the race. The top three are a quarter of a track ahead of
Christopher and the rest of the field. Lap 53 – looks like
Christopher blew up in a puff of smoke.
Lap 55 the #17 of Glen Reen slides through the front stretch grass
bringing out just the second caution of the night. The leaders all
head to the pits when they open on lap 57. They all take two right
side tires and make whatever adjustments are needed. The #45 of Eric
Rudolph gets out first, with Hossfeld second, Preece third and
Szegedy fourth. Fifth is Savary then Matt Hirschman, Ed Flemke Jr.
and Jimmy Blewett.
We go back to green on lap 66 and Rudolph pulls ahead of Hossfeld
going into turn one. Quickly back to yellow on lap 67 as Savary
spins in turn four. Rudolph gives up the lead and heads to the pits,
giving the point to Preece followed by Hossfeld and Szegedy.
Back to green once again on lap 71 with Preece getting a push by
Szegedy to get them both ahead of Hossfeld. Unfortunately, the
cautions are now flying heavy as the #05 of Joe Hartmann spins in
turn three (cautions breed cautions!). The #79 of Silk heads to the
pits with rocker arm problems on lap 73.
Lap 76 Savary and Hartmann both head off pit road. We try again to
get going on lap 77, just past the half-way point. Preece leads
Szegedy, Hossfeld and Flemke. Preece and Szegedy stay side-by-side
through the first lap, while the #99 of Jaime Tomaino spins into the
grass on the front stretch. Szegedy took the lead just before the
caution came out.
Another try to return to racing lap 85. Preece gets the jump on
Szegedy and pulls quickly to the front. They are followed by Flemke
and Hossfeld, though Hossfeld makes the pass on lap 87 to move into
third. The two leaders are opening up a 10 car lead on Hossfeld and
Flemke, who are 10 cars ahead of Blewett and Coby.
The leaders continue to pull away and now there’s a big gap between
third and fourth – Hossfeld and Flemke respectively, on lap 95.
Szegedy continues to ride the bumper of Preece.
Caution lap 102 as Bobby Grigas spins into the turn three wall –
possibly something broke on the car. While trying to avoid the
field, Kenny Horton in the #29 also spins.
The young Ryan Preece is running a skilled race against veteran
champion Todd Szegedy. Green lap 109 and Preece again leads Szegedy
through the first two turns. The stay side-by-side however through
the rest of the circuit until Preece clears him in turn two. Blewett
is third and Hossfeld is fourth.
The two leaders are much faster than the field and again open up
more than a ten-car length lead by lap 120.
With 25 laps to go, the field remains the same up front. Preece is
driving a great race with Szegedy staying right on his bumper. Lap
137 Flemke passes Heagy for fifth. Lap 139 the #06 of Billy Pauch
Jr., and #21 Richard Savary tangle coming off turn four and spin
down the frontstretch. It will be a single file restart as there
will be less than ten laps to go. Leaders are Preece, Szegedy,
Blewett, Hossfeld, Flemke and Coby.
Green on lap 145 and Szegedy gets the jump on Preece. Hossfeld
spins between turns one and two. However, Preece goes back to the
lead for the restart. It will be a green-white-checker finish with
two laps to go at the green on lap 148. Single file are Preece,
Szegedy, Blewett and Flemke.
Preece gets a clean start and the 3 leaders are nose to tail. Todd
gets under him going into turn 3 and gets bumped by Preece coming
off turn one – Preece crosses the line first, but gets put to the
end of the lead lap by NASCAR and Blewett inherits the win.
The top ten are Blewett, Flemke, Coby, Hirschman, Beers, Goodale,
Stefanik, Sammons, Carl Pasteryak and Charlie Pasteryak.
This would have been the first WMT win for Ryan Preece, who is just
17 years old. In Victory lane Jimmy Blewett was jubilant, but
disappointed for Preece. “He showed us how to get around here
tonight. It’s unfortunate for him, but I’ll take a win any way I can
Later in the press box interview Blewett said when asked where you
expecting the call in regards to Preece being put back to last car
on the lead lap? “No, honestly I wasn’t. Ryan was just driving his
heart out; I probably would have tried what ever I had to do to go
around on the last lap myself. He sent it in there and got the
call.” Blewett continued, “Like I said before, I hate to win that
way, but I’ll take a win anyway I can get it.” Do you think it
should have been no call? “No, not really. I’ve been reprimanded for
racing incidents. This series is getting strict -- zero tolerance
with anything. I think it’s good for the series and bad for the
series. I feel for Preece, but they (NASCAR) are cutting back on the
stuff people used to get away with. With the people who are here now
[officials] they are making changes. Some for the better. Some are
really not well received,” he concluded.
Personally, Hazel thinks this was a totally unwarranted call by
NASCAR and inconsistent with anything that has come before. “There
have been many occasions when a car is spun both during a race and
on the last lap, and no action has been taken. Maybe we’ll learn
more about why in the ‘official’ press release.”
Dave’s opinion – “While I saw a young driver Preece get set
up by bumper tag from Szegedy in the waning laps, Preece’s slight
contact with Szegedy coming out of turn one spun Szegedy out. Last
season no call would have been made to affect the outcome of the
race. This season it seems director Chad Little and his crew are
tightening the screws on the competitors, to be more professional. I
think the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has had many changes including
the Flash races, reduced prize money and exorbitant cost increases
to compete in this series. Most of the changes have been received
poorly. The professional behavior may have a chance with the racers
if applied uniformly.”
Little’s quest to make the Whelen Modified Tour a more professional
organization is a good idea. But if they are going to enforce rules
with bumping, then Todd Szegedy should have been put to the rear for
rough riding over the last 10 laps as he applied the chrome horn
quite a few times. The use of the chrome horn has been an iconic
part of the modified racing in general since its inception, and is
just part of the racing.
The Whelen Modified Tour will head to Thompson International
Speedway this coming Thursday, August 14th, for the New England
Dodge Dealers-Budweiser 150. It is set to go green at 8:45 p.m. Todd
Szegedy was declared the winner of the 2007 New England Dodge
Dealers 150 presented by Budweiser at Thompson. The event, which
took place on Aug. 16th, was halted after 107 of the scheduled 150
laps due to a multi-car accident involving both John Blewett III and
his younger brother Jimmy. Unfortunately John passed away from his
injuries. Jimmy says he is actually looking forward to going back to
Thompson and hoping to get another win there to honor his brother.
He says that his recent wins have helped him cope with the loss, and
he would like to win at all the tracks that John did.
The 6th annual John Blewett III Memorial North-South Shootout will
be held November 6-8, 2008 at Concord Motorsports Park in Concord,