The Chrome Horn News


NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Stafford Motor Speedway, CarQuest Fall Final

   The CARQUEST Fall Final, Stafford Motor Speedway’s traditional season-ending show, was originally scheduled to be held on September 28. Due to a very rainy weekend, the event was postponed to this weekend, Oct. 10-12, with all three days beautiful New England fall days.
   Sunday’s main events consist of the NASCAR Camping World East 150, the Stafford SK Modifieds 40 laps; the NASCAR Whelen Modified tour 150 and the Late Models 30 laps.
   The Whelen Modified Tour is the 15th of 16 dates on the schedule. Ted Christopher heads into today’s event with a tight 55 point lead over Matt Hirschman. It’s still anyone’s championship to win (or lose). In order to capture the championship Hirschman would have to finish an average of six spots ahead of Christopher in each of the final two events.
   "I'm not putting any pressure on myself," Hirschman said. "After New Hampshire I wasn't satisfied because we didn't have the opportunity to beat him [Christopher] on the track. The only way we're going to have a chance at the championship is to beat him on the race track, and now two races in a row we've done that, so I'm very satisfied with what we did at Martinsville and Chemung." Hirschman captured the checkered at Chemung, leading the entire race. This was his second victory of the season and of his career. He has finished in the top ten in 10 of the last 12 races, including the last seven in a row.
   Even though his lead has shrunk in the season standings, Christopher will head into the Fall Final as the favorite to reach Victory Lane and boost his points lead. He is the track’s all-time winningest driver with more than 100 total victories, including the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler on April 27. Although his points lead is the smallest it's been since he took it from Hossfeld in mid-August, Christopher has finished no worse than 14th with top-10s in the last three outings.
   But there are many more than two drivers to watch in the Fall Final. Chuck Hossfeld finished in the top five at Chemung and has a win at Stafford in 2008. Also, one of Jimmy Blewett’s two wins this year came at Stafford, and Ryan Preece, has had significant success with a pole and 136 laps led.
   Mike Stefanik captured the 2007 Fall Final to extend his series record for wins at Stafford to 19. Stefanik, who has registered wins in 20 of his 23 seasons in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour prior to this year, has yet to reach Victory Lane in 2008.


Mike Stefanik tied the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour record for career pole awards by capturing the Coors Light Pole Award with a fast time of 18.158 seconds (99.130 mph) on Saturday. It was the first pole for Stefanik since Martinsville (VA) Speedway in 2006. He is now tied with Tony Hirschman for the series’ all-time lead with 41 poles, and has extended his own record for pole at Stafford to 15. Stefanik pilots the #16 Diversified Metals/Ace Moldings Pontiac.
   Eric Beers in the #46 Reynold’s Auto Wrecking/Sunoco Chevrolet, was second fastest with a time of 18.168 seconds (99.075 mph). He will start in the third row following the redraw. Rob Summers in the #1 Frasco Fuel/Hook & Ladder Chevrolet was third quick at 18.316 seconds (98.275 mph). He will start the event in fourth.
   Ted Christopher in the #36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet was fastest in morning practice and registered the seventh best lap in time trials at 18.355 seconds (98.066 mph). After the redraw Christopher will start next to Stefanik in the front row.

The Full Field of Starters

1. (16) Mike Stefanik; 2. (36) Ted Christopher, 3. (17) Glen Reen, 4. (46) Eric Beers, 5. (1) Rob Summers, 6. (4) Chuck Hossfeld, 7. (99) Jamie Tomaino, 8. (28) Doug Coby, 9. (0) Danny Sammons, 10. (3) Ryan Preece, 11. (09) Bobby Grigas, 12. (2) Todd Szegedy, 13. (59) Matt Hirschman, 14. (10) Ed Flemke Jr., 15. (19) Jimmy Blewett, 16. (79) Ronnie Silk, 17. (14) Reggie Ruggiero, 18. (64) James Civali, 19. (11) Anthony Sesely, 20. (8) Glenn Tyler, 21. (50) Kevin Goodale, 22. (93) Rowan Pennink, 23. (06) Billy Pauch Jr., 24. (00) Frank Ruocco, 25. (21) Richard Savary, 26. (77) Rick Fuller, 27. (33) Wade Cole, 28. (90) Renee Dupuis, 29. (58) Eric Goodale, 30. (12) Ken Heagy, 31. (05) Joe Hartmann, 32. (32) Tom Abele Jr., 33. (9) Jake Marosz.

The Feature Event

   Mike Stefanik led the field to the green and would lead the first lap with Christopher tucking in behind him by the end of lap one. Leaders at the end of the first ten laps are Stefanik, Christopher Beers, Hossfeld, and Preece. Stefanik and Christopher have opened up a ten car lead over the field. Lap 16 Beers gets squirrelly off turn two but hangs on and loses just one spot to the #4 of Hossfeld.
   Lap 25 and the leaders keep stretching their lead over third place Hossfeld – who is now more than 10 car lengths ahead of fourth place Beers. Preece continues to tail Beers with the #59 of Matt Hirschman in sixth.
   Lap 29 the #00 of Frank Ruocco spins into the front stretch grass but we stay under green. It was a little nerve wracking when he tried to merge back into race traffic, however, but no incidents occurred.
   Lap 50 and we’ve not had a caution yet! Stefanik continues to hold the point and hap opened up a healthy lead over Christopher. Hossfeld is still in third followed by the #3 of Ryan Preece.
   Lap 59 the #58 of Eric Goodale spun into the frontstretch grass (or should I say dirt!) to bring out our first caution of the event. The leaders all head to pit road for right side tires. Only two cars not on the leap stayed out, giving the lead to the #1 of Rob Summers followed by the #99 of Jaime Tomaino. First of the leaders out of the pits was the #3 of Ryan Preece followed by the #4 Chuck Hossfeld. They are followed by Hirschman, #28 Doug Coby, #16 Stefanik, #19 Jimmy Blewett, #46 Beers, and #36 Christopher.
   Restart on lap 66 with Summers holding the point ahead of Preece and Hirschman. Stefanik is trying to duck under Hirschman to take the spot. He takes third just a couple of laps later and is now going for second, which he gets on lap 70. Summers now has Stefanik on his back bumper. Stefanik is trying the high line to get around him but can’t complete the pass.
   Lap 80 and the #0 of Danny Sammons goes for a spin in turn two bring out the second caution of the event. The #1 of the leader, Summers, heads to the pits as he did not pit when the rest of the field did on the previous caution. This gives the lead back to Stefanik with Preece second, Hirschman third and Beers fourth.
   Back to green on lap 83 with Stefanik pulling ahead by the time they come off turn two. Preece tucks in behind and Hirschman in third. The #14 of Reggie Ruggiero abruptly slows on the back stretch causing a traffic jam, but no accidents or cautions. However, on the next lap the yellow flies for the #32 Abele Jr. spinning in turn four. There are currently 21 cars on the lead lap.
   Green on lap 92 with Stefanik again leading the pack. The title contenders are running third (Hirschman) and sixth (Christopher). Preece gets the jump on the outside this time, but Stefanik quickly pulls even by the backstretch, clearing Preece by the next lap. Hirschman is now on the inside of Preece trying to take second. They stay side-by-side for three laps until Hirschman pulls ahead of Preece. The top ten are now single file, with Christopher in seventh.
   Lap 100 and Hirschman is trying to get alongside Stefanik, but cannot make it stick. The entire field is now single file as we pass lap 102. The top four are starting to pull away from the pack and Hirschman is still glued to the bumper of Stefanik. Lap 115 – still no changes up front. Hirschman continued to try to get to the inside of Stefanik with no luck. The #3 of Preece slows dramatically on the backstretch and heads to pit road – no caution. That moves Hossfeld is now third with 15-car lengths back to the #2 of Todd Szegedy in fourth.
   With 25 laps to go, Hirschman is still hanging on the back bumper of Stefanik. This youngster is definitely not trying to “play it safe” going for the points today. He’s giving it all he’s got. The #99 of Jaime Tomaino has been black-flagged as he seems to be smoking and may be dropping fluids.
   Lap 134 Hossfeld moves to the outside of Hirschman, trying for second. They stay side-by-side but the caution flies on the next lap (136) as the #17 of Glen Reen and the #79 of Ronnie Silk get together and spin in turn two.
   If Hirschman has anything for Stefanik, now is his chance on the restart as they will be side-by-side. They’ll both need to be worried about Hossfeld in third however. (And don’t count out Szegedy in fourth.) There are 20 cars on the lead lap.
   Green flies on lap 140 – a ten-lap shootout! Stefanik gets a huge jump on Hirschman and Hossfeld also follows past into second. However, a tire flies off the #28 of Doug Coby as they come off turn four, bringing out the yellow. Since we’re inside ten to go, it will be a single file restart.
   Back to racing on lap 145 – hopefully five to go! Szegedy almost runs into the back of Hossfeld, but everyone stays in line. The #33 of Wade Cole spins in turn two, but keeps going – no caution. The leaders get past him and continue in line – Stefanik, Hirschman, Hossfeld, and Szegedy opening up some room back to fifth place Beers. That would be the finish with Christopher finishing sixth.
   That makes Christopher’s lead over Hirschman only 35 points heading into next week’s finale at Thompson International Speedway in the World Series of Auto Racing. Todd Szegedy will only be 43 points behind Christopher, so don’t count him out yet either!
   Stefanik was quite happy in Victory Lane and humble as always. “We struggled some this year, but just kept plugging away. I’m very happy to get the win, but never expect these things.”
   He continued, “There’re a lot of guys who haven’t won a race this year, I’m glad I can say now I’m not one of them! We needed that pole. I never come into any race track over whelmed with confidence. I know the car was good in qualifying, but our car is so different this week than at the last race, you just never know. Early on, we were definitely too free, but we were able to hold on. Matt was a gentleman to me – a good driver like his Dad. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. He’s making it an exciting finish to the year by closing in on Teddy. I’m not in it (the championship chase) but I’ll be happy to be watching it next week.”
   Matt Hirschman was complimented on how clean the leaders ran. He said, “That’s the only way I’m going to do it for a win. I’m not going to take any cheap shots’ that’s for sure.” I’m disappointed finishing second, because I think I left 10 points on the track by not winning today. As far as next week we’ll have to see what happens, I would love to win the win the championship, but Christopher is tough beat, said Hirschman.
   Hossfeld stated, “I know we had a good car and I thought we might have had a shot at the win, but I just couldn’t get past them. This is a tough series, and they are all great drivers. I’m not really happy with third, but with the luck we’ve had lately, it’s a good finish.”


Source: Hazel Meredith
Posted:  October 12, 2008

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