The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

   6/28/2009

DONNY LIA WINS THE NEW ENGLAND 100
AT NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
by Dave Meredith

    Lia survived a last lap melee among the leaders to win the New England 100. The racing was really intense for the last ten laps as the number of lead changes could not be tracked. He was able take the checkers as utter mayhem developed beside and behind him when Ted Christopher and Todd Szegedy both became acquainted with the front stretch wall as four veteran drivers went for the win in a four-lap shoot out. Ronnie Silk, who was running high in turn four, said he made contact with the eventual winnerís rear bumper that caused Szegedy and Lia to make contact and collected Christopher.
   In his on-track interview after the event ended, Lia stated, "I made my move early. I would rather they get me back at the start-finish line. I made the move and Todd (Szegedy) came all the way from the bottom. I saw him coming so I rolled out early to cross them both up and the next thing I know I had an opportunity to go three-wide down the middle. Whoever it was on the bottom of the track decided to try to move me. I had no place to go with somebody in front of me. I hated that they wrecked coming to the line like that. You have three race cars going for the win and only so much room to fit them all."
   The final four laps alone were worth the price of admission. The top three finishers were very vocal about Ted Christopherís driving style and the carnage that it causes. They were pretty clear about the fact that they are getting tired of the 'win at any cost' racing attitudes. Lia said he thinks racing doesnít have to be as aggressive as itís been lately. He also expressed thanks to the Garbarinoís and the crew for giving him an awesome car to drive.
   The field was taken to the green by Doug Coby as the #3 of Ryan Preece sat on pit road. Coby was passed by the #36 of Ted Christopher and #2 of Todd Szegedy. Caution came early on lap two for Christopher blowing smoke from under the hood and spinning out. The #90 Renee Dupuis, #09 Bobby Grigas, #33 Wade Cole and #98 Gary McDonald were all involved in turn 4. Ted Christopher went down a lap as the #36 team fixed the loose line.
   Todd Szegedy, Doug Coby, Ryan Newman, Rowan Pennink, Lia, Flemke, and Goodale are the top 7 on the lap 7 restart. Lia is on the move and on lap 8 was up to fourth then dropped back to ninth. Ryan Newman showed he could handle a tour mod as he was all over Coby for second. Newman took the lead on lap 13 as he powered underneath both Coby and Szegedy.
   Lap 15 - Szegedy regains the lead in turn four. Newman second, Pennink, Coby, Stefanik, Flemke and Silk. Flemke is falling back while Lia is back in the top seven by lap 20. Lap 21 finds #17 Glen Reen on pit road under green. Szegedy regains lead from Newman on lap 23, while Mike Stefanik in the #16 is on pit road under green. Kasey Kahne is up to sixth by lap 30.
   Ronnie Silk in the #79 has settled in to fifth, while Silk is challenging Lia for the fourth spot. Running order lap 40: Szegedy, Newman, Pennink, Lia, Silk, Kahne, Coby, Flemke, Blewett, Goodale. Stefanik is being posted for the window net down on lap 44. Apparently the net slid back, not down.
   Szegedy leads at the halfway point and crosses the stripe side-by-side with Newman. However, Newman retakes the lead on lap 51 followed by Szegedy, Pennink, Lia, Silk, Kahne and Flemke. Szegedy retakes lead as the field heads into turn 3 on lap 54. Pennink and Lia are engaged in a nose-to-tail battle.
   Caution lap 64 for Ryan Newman in the turn 2 wall. Newman appears to be OK. Andy Seuss did not pit, along with Kevin Goodale, Flemke Pitkat, Savary, Szegedy, Lia, Rudolph, Goodale, and Kahne. Seuss leads under caution.
   The restart was set for lap 71, but was held one more lap to correct the lineup for the restart. Sesely was turned when Erick Rudolph didnít go. Caution #3 on the lap 72 restart. Leaders: Seuss, Eric Goodale, Flemke, Pitkat, Savary, Szegedy, Lia, Kevin Goodale, Pennink, and Silk. After clearing the track the pits opened. Christopher, pitting after getting the free pass to get back on lead the lap.
   Eric Goodale takes the lead as caution flies for Seuss who tried to cross under Goodale to retake lead and turned it into a melee on lap 80. Seuss and Goodale both continued, but Jimmy Blewett and Tim Arre couldnít scatter to avoid the wreck. Red flag at 2:10 p.m. for the incident after the leaders got together. Other drivers involved were Glen Tyler and Eric Beers. Flemke takes the lead as a result of the incident. The red flag lasted seven minutes.
   Running order Flemke, Szegedy, Lia, Pennink, Silk, Coby, Grigas, Ruggiero, Tyler, Christopher, Summers, Savary, Pitkat, Kevin Goodale. Flags go from red to yellow and pit road is open. Restart lap 87 - Lia leads then Silk. Todd Szegedy passes for the lead, while Christopher leads on lap 92.
   Caution for the #14 of Reggie Ruggiero and the field goes back to the last completed lap putting Silk in front for the restart. It's Lia, Christopher, Szegedy, Pennink, Flemke and Coby. Single file restart. Ted Christopher takes the lead by dive bombing the inside on the restart and leads Lia and Szegedy. The leaders get together and Lia gets through for the win while Christopher and Szegedy hit the front stretch wall hard. They both manage to get across the finish line with Christopher ending up fifth and Szegedy eighth.
   Finishing order: 1) Donny Lia, 2) Eddie Flemke Jr., 3) Ronnie Silk, 4) Rowan Pennink, 5) Ted Christopher, 6) Doug Coby, 7) Richard Savary, 8) Todd Szegedy, 9) Woody Pitkat, 10) Glen Tyler, 11) Bobby Grigas, 12) Robbie Summers, 13) Ken Heagy, 14) Reggie Ruggiero, 15) Wade Cole, 16) Eric Beers, 17) Eric Goodale, 18) Kevin Goodale, 19) Glen Reen, 20) Tom Abele, 21) Andy Seuss, 22) Johnny Bush, 23) Mike Stefanik, 24) Ryan Preece, 25) Chris Pasteryak, 26) Jamie Tomaino, 27) Jake Marosz, 28) Jimmy Blewett, 29) Tim Arre, 30) Anthony Sesely, 31) Kasey Kahne, 32) Erick Rudolph, 33) Rob Fuller, 34) Ryan Newman, 35) Jonathon McKennedy, 36) Renee Dupuis, 37) Tommy Farrell, 38) Gary McDonald.

Qualifying

   Doug Coby charged to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Coors Light Pole Award for the New England 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coby, of Milford, Connecticut, drove the #19 Major Motion Transport/Family Auto Center Chevrolet to a front row starting position with a time of 30.003 and speed of 126.497 mph. He was .008 of a second faster than Todd Szegedy in the #2 UNOH/Wisk Snuggle Ford. Szegedy, a former WMT champion from Ridgefield, Connecticut, had a speed of 126.939 mph. Coby's last pole came at Wall Stadium Speedway on June 26, 2004.
   The current Whelen Modified Tour Champion, Ted Christopher, was third quickest in the #36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet with a speed of 126.854 mph. Christopher had won all three previous Coors Light Poles this season. Donny Lia of Jericho, NY, was fourth quickest with a speed of 126.795 mph in the #4 JoJo Energy Drink entry. Lia is also a former WMT champion with car owner Bob Garbarino. Rowan Pennink put the #93 Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner Chevrolet in the fifth starting spot with a speed of 126.686 mph. Pennink hails from Huntingdon Valley, PA. Sprint Cup driver, Ryan Newman, was sixth fastest with a speed of 126.286 mph. Newman is driving the #7 Aggressive Hydraulics Chevrolet. Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT, in the #3 Mizzy Construction/Reynolds Auto Wrecking entry was seventh with a speed of 125.986 mph. Eddie Flemke Jr. was 8th quickest in the #10 Ron Bouchards Autos/Kleer Trimboards Chevrolet. The Southington, CT, driver had a speed of 125.907 mph.
   Kevin Goodale of Riverhead, NY, was ninth quickest in the Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet with a speed of 125.852 mph. Bobby Grigas III qualified tenth in the # 09 Triple G Scaffolds.
   The rest of the starting field: 11) #90 Renee Dupuis 125.736; 12) #71 Rob Fuller 125.707; 13) #16 Mike Stefanik 125.736; 14) #79 Ron Silk 125.657; 15) #46 Eric Beers 125.500 mph; 16) #14 Reggie Ruggiero 125.368; 17) #96 Kasey Kahne 125.351; 18) #12 Jimmy Blewett 125.182; 19) #28 Woody Pitkat 124.989; 20) #11 Anthony Sesely 124.887; 21) #17 Glen Reen 124.875; 22) #1 Rob Summers 124.801; 23) #58 Eric Goodale 124.426; 24) #52 Chris Pasteryak 124.406; 25) #59 Erick Rudolph 124.389; 26) #21 Richard Savary 124.276; 27) # 99 Jamie Tomaino 123.835; 28) #00 Jonathon McKennedy 123.787; 29) #8 Glen Tyler; 30) #70 Andy Seuss 123.438; 31) #0 Tim Arre 123.230; 32) #32 Tom Abele Jr. 122.900; 33) #68 Johnny Bush 122.789; 34) 18 Ken Heagy 120.505; 35) #33 Wade Cole 120.661; 36) #08 Tommy Farrell III 122.611*; 37) #9 Jake Marosz 121.644; 38) #26 Gary McDonald 120.776*. (* Provisional Starters. Did Not Qualify: Fred Vordermeier.)

Ron Silk & Eddie Flemke Jr. Post-Race Comments

   Ron Silk: I am really glad the way the day turned out, we were awful in practice. We went back to what we were running on Thursday. The guys did a really good job the while weekend. We were in contention for the win here at Loudon, but we'll take third I guess."
   Can you tell us about last four laps? Silk replied: "There were four of us with about the same exact car you know, everyone goes for everything on the last lap and it didn't work out for everybody. Just really happy finishing third, wasn't looking forward to the race, didn't think I was going to have a really good car, but at the drop of the green flag the Coors Light modified was pretty darn good."
   Give your take on what was up with the leaders earlier in the race? Silk replied, "I think it was Szegedy and Newman running one-two or whatever order, we were running third or fourth in the next pack behind them. They were a lot better than us and we were a lot better than the group behind us. It was nice to have a real long run at the beginning and middle of the race. I think that's why there wasn't a whole lot of side-by-side racing was everyone got so spread out."
   Asked of Eddie Flemke: Was track greasy at all today? "No, I didn't think so, it was pretty good today. No, I think the track was fine, but there was a whole lot more taking than giving out there today. A typical Loudon finish. It was pretty intense.. I chose to just sit back and watch it happen and it wasn't good! Either you push with them or step you back and today I chose to step back and it paid off. I'm happy - a second place finish is the best we have ever done here.
   Ron was asked his take on what he saw coming out of three and four on the last lap. "Well, you know the #4 (Lia) pulled out the down the backstretch and had a good run on the #36 (Christopher), and the #2 ( Szegedy) had a better run than the #4 did. He bonzai'd by both of them down on the apron, but there's no way you're going to make the corner when you enter it that fast and just came off it three-wide and I had good from the top coming across the track and trying to get under the #4 I just clipped his back bumper coming off four and that's how that whole mess started. I hate it for those guys that hit wall on the last lap. Nothing I could do, I had a good run, I was trying to get to the bottom like they did before and I misjudged by about an inch."
   Flemke interjected, "There's a lot going on, something could be going on in front of them. It's not necessarily that we're misjudging sometime, but sometimes something happens in front of us in an instant and you just don't have the time to react to it and that's how things trigger."
   It was stated that it seemed like Teddy (Christopher) was using the inside to his advantage on the restarts and was he able to get through better? "No," replied Silk. "It's just that he's willing to drive right through the side of the person he's along side of. He doesn't care if he knocks them into to wall, so that's what you're dealing with."
   Flemke went on to give 'his opinion' of what's wrong in racing today. "You are rewarded for doing the wrong thing. If you go in there and knock the guy out of the way and go on for the win - clap, clap, clap - good job, you get the trophy, you get the girl, you get the money. If you lift for the guy, you don't even get a pat on the back. So, we need to change the merit system somehow. You gotta start getting rewarded for doing the right thing"

Donny Lia's Post-Race Comments

   When asked about the last lap crash, Lia stated, "I knew I was racing the #36 and the #2 -- but I don't know who was where, I was focusing." He continued, "The car that was on the bottom - whoever it was - I felt came up the race track and drove into my left front tire and that's when it all happened. I don't know which car that was, but I was trying to hang in the middle there and keep my foot in it. Somebody dive bombed me and came up the track and tried to pull a slide job on me - might have been Teddy (Christopher) - he did that to me two or three times over the last two laps."
   "A few years ago people tried to set people up and pass them. Now it's like you just dive bomb them and let it go right up the race track and let the nerf bar do its job. We need to get away from that because somebody is going to get hurt. I had enough of it and I said, 'you know what, I'm keeping my foot in it, cause how many times can you just roll out of it and let somebody take the spot? It's like a game of chicken and that's just not racing."
   He continued, "It was a fortunate situation for us, unfortunate for those guys - and hopefully they're OK, I don't really even know how it played out."
   "Years ago you had a single nerf bar and if we had that today you'd see a quarter of the wrecks and still see great racing. It's a dangerous sport and somebody is going to get hurt. It wasn't that long ago that someone did get killed." (referring to the loss of John Blewett III)
   Lia concluded by thanking his sponsors, car owner and the track as well as Whelen for assisting the series.
 

Source: Dave Meredith / Busch Sports Scene
Posted: June 28, 2009

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