The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


by Denise DuPont

   With the racing season comes to an end, we hear less and less of the rolling thunder as drivers and race teams alike head to their race shops and the long winter nights.
   So as the team’s are ending their NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing, I would also like to end my 2009 racing coverage of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with some season end notes from some of the Modified Drivers:


   In the end their can only be one champion and Donny Lia came out of nowhere to take the lead and capture the NWMT Championship.

   What was the turning point in your team’s year?
    “NHMS car fire that was a real key event of the season. The hard work then guys put in to get us back going. Back to the race track on Sunday to finish second in that race. That was huge. But the real key to the whole deal was the Spencer race date where I also had a wedding, my sister’s wedding. I was committed to be there first because family comes first. There was no way I was going to make the race at Spencer. It turned out that it was rained out. So we were able to go up there the next day. So that was two deals rights there that were make-it or break it deals, particularly the rain-out. If we missed that deal we definitely would have been out of the Championship”.
   “But it is like anything else in racing, it is 70 to 80% luck, so you need luck on your side. It really feels good to get it done. It is an honor to work with Bob (Garbarino) and everybody on the whole team. It has just been an incredible ride since ’07 and then again in ’09. We won two championships so that says a whole lot about the whole deal. “

   Going down to the last three races was it like a runner getting a last surge of energy at the end?    “Maybe a little bit at Stafford where we got our last win. We definitely took the point win over then. We caught Christopher on a bad day and we increased ourselves by a couple of spots so it was a good race. That was the hugest jump that we had all season. We were able to grab the point lead. Thompson was just about finishing it all out. We went to win the race but missed a little bit with the car. We tried adjusting it during the race but we still did not have the car to drive right to the front and win the race. So I got what I could out of the car without driving over 100%. I knew that if I drove over 100% I might put us in a bad spot. But is the car was good enough to win the race I would have gone out there and tried to win the race. Being that it wasn’t it was smarter for me to just run the car where it was, which actually ended up being fourth. It was close but the guys did a great job. I cannot say it enough. They provide me with unbelievable race cars and that starts right at the shop.

   Lia’s plans for 2010?
    “I do not know yet. I have to iron out some stuff. I have some things at a personal level. So right now next year is a little bit up in the air right now. Hopefully we will get it all worked out shortly.


   During 2009, the #28 NSWMT car of George Brunnhoelzl III had a very dominate presence on the track. The hard work of the team and persistent of their driver allowed them to come to the top and secure the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Championship.

   How does it feel to be on the verge of your first Southern Modified Championship?
   It feels great. You cannot put it into words how awesome it is. NASCAR does a great job with the banquet and putting us up all week, keeping us busy and making us feel like kings.

   Thoughts of running some NWMT races?
   We definitely thought of running some northern tour races. We do not have the budget right now to run the full north tour, nor the full south tour right now. So we are probably going to pick and choose and run a little bit of both.

   If you were given and opportunity to run a full fender car in a series would you hop on that?
   Definitely, I always am looking to further my career in racing. If it is good stuff (equipment) and a successful team then yes we would. If not then we are content with running the modifieds.

   Brunnhoelzl’s plans for 2010?
   Still up in the air right now. I do not know what is going to go on for next year. Hopefully we will be able to secure the sponsorship and funding that we need to do what we did this year.


   Ryan Preece had an excellent 2009 season and held on to a second place in the end.

   Was Preece happy with his 2009 Season?
   “It was just a good season. It was one of those deals where you did everything that you could. I did not win the Championship, but I am very proud of my crew and the whole team. To be able to get that many top fives and top tens and then win a couple of times back to back that was an accomplishment. I am really happy with this year.”

   What was Preece’s biggest accomplishment in 2009?
    “In reviewing my accomplishments, I realized I beat one of my idols, Teddy Christopher. So that was definitely an accomplishment for me. I am definitely happy about that. I fell one position too short. There was not anything that we could do at that race at Thompson. We still would not have won the Championship. So I am just having a good time. “

   Thoughts of NWMT going to Monadnock Speedway?
    “I am excited. I have been there twice. Once in a NEMA Midget and once in a True Value car when I first started modified racing. I was talking to my dad and we might go there for a couple of modified shows (weekly). This will help us just to get some more laps down there and to make some adjustments for the track.”

   Thoughts of NWMT going to Lime Rock ?
    “I am excited about that. I love road course racing. I have never really done it in a professional sense, but I have done a lot of go-cart and stuff. I like it a lot.“

   Preece’s plans for 2010?
    “Plan for next year, a couple of Weekly Modified races and the NWMT. I am not sure what car yet. Right now I do not know what I am going to be in. I am planning on the #3 but I do not know. We have to sit down and talk about what will be going on.”


   Andy Seuss had an excellent 2009 season and held on to a second place in the end.

   Was Seuss happy with his 2009 Season?
    “It has been the best year that I have ever had in racing. Coming down to the end there I started to get down a little bit as the Championship started to get further and further away. But I just said I was going to enjoy myself. You do not get too many opportunities to come to Charlotte in a hotel room and hang out with all these people. And really get to be friends with all our competitors throughout the year.”

   Seuss’s thoughts of his competing with the Rigg’s race team on the Southern Modified Tour?
    “It is a great opportunity and I am loving it. Looking back I am just a kid from Hampstead, New Hampshire that got a great opportunity and I am having a blast. If I ever have a year as half as good as this one, I will be happy about that too. We did not win a Championship but we lost it to a great competitor and a great team. Those guys deserve it. They (Brunnhoelzl team) had a great year.”

   Seuss’s plans for 2010?
   “We will just see what next year brings. Hopefully we will win some races. If we can be second in points again that will be fine. But we are definitely going for the Championship next year.”

   Do you feel that the #47 team is a family oriented team?
    “Every race that you race with a team you grow stronger to each other. I feel like I have been racing with these guys for years. It is still just as fun as something new at the same time. It is a great deal. We all get along so well. Maybe I won’t place myself in certain spots that I did this year. That probably put us out of the Championship Hunt.”

   A summary of Seuss’s 2009 race season..
    “Overall just having a blast and I would not want to do it with any other team. These guys have been great.”
   “Last year team owner David Riggs said it best “If we knew each other before we would have been racing with each other before.” We get along so well. You spend so much time together you get real close. Luckily that has happened for us. We get along so well, there is no conflict and everybody gets along so well. That is what makes it so much fun.”


   A summary of TC’s 2009 race season..
    “It was disappointing not to win the Championship (NWMT).”

   Thoughts on having been selected the most popular NWMT driver for 2009?
    “To have won that two years in a row, I feel real appreciative for that. People like me in the series. They must enjoy my driving technique. That must be why I got the Most Popular Driver award two years in a row after not getting it for years. That is really gratifying. I am appreciative of that and I am thankful to everybody that voted for me.”

   TC’s plans for 2010?
   Going to do the same thing. I do the same thing every year. I will try though to make a couple less mistakes at the end like I did this year for the Championship. It is a luck deal and hopefully my luck changes. I have two or three more races left this season including Turkey Derby. So we will see what happens.”


   In 2009 Chris Pasteryak drove on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) the full year in the Darling owned #52 car. At every race the Pasteryak team came to the track with a pristinely prepared car and the Pasteryak smile to go along with it. “It was a fun year, said Pasteryak as he reflected on 2009. “We did pretty good and we are looking forward to next year.”

   What event caused Chris Pasteryak to migrate to the NWMT division?
    “In fact if Wayne hadn’t called me I really would not have run any modified races this year. Because of him we were able to run whole season, instead of doing it once in a while. As of right now we are a go for next year so it is more of the same.”

   What do you attribute your success in the modifieds to?
    “I have been kind of successful I do not know if I was all that successful. It is not like I have been a super star or anything. Patience plans a big thing in it and willingness to learn.”

   Thoughts on the NWMT racing at Monadnock Speedway for 200 laps?
   “I know how to go around Monadnock so I have one up on the Whelen guys (NWMT). I enjoy going there but it (the track) hates me. Some night there we had almost 200 laps total by the time that you counted the cautions. Actually I am looking forward to it. I think that it may be a fun night.”

   Plans for 2010?
   “Plan on doing the same thing as next year and anything else that may come up between then and now.”

   Thoughts about the NWMT going to Lime Rock?
    “Last time I drove in Lime Rock was in a Legends car in the rain. I ran a Legends car there twice forward on the track. As a driver, I am looking forward to going there. As far as getting the cars ready to go there, they waited just long enough after the last Watkins Glen race that everyone go rid of their road course stuff. So we have to go out and get it all again.”
   “I think if they had stuck with Watkins Glen or maybe gone to Lime Rock when we left Watkins Glen it would have been a good idea. Because everyone would have built up their equipment and had a little bit of a knowledge base and now we have all forgot what we are going to do and what the rules package was for when we went to a road course so it will take some of adjustment. It will be a good weekend to go (July 4th), a weekend that we did not have a race up until this year, so it should hopefully get some exposure and some press out of it and put on a very good race.”

   What about your car owner Wayne Darling and Lime Rock?
   “Wayne was a road racer for a lot of years after running a modified. He drove for a lot of years until the mid to late eighties. So he drove himself so he is excited about it. No matter what car we run in, it should be a good time.”


   2009 was a tough year for Woody Pitkat when it came to weekly SK racing.

   Did Pitkat spread himself too thin in 2009?
    “Maybe I spread myself too thin. Behind the scene I have to do a lot of other work just because of the way the economy is. We are loosing crew each year. It is hard for people to show up at the shop and you have to take over the slack.”

   Pitkat’s thoughts about racing at Lime Rock?
   “I think that running Lime Rock will be pretty cool. I have never raced a road course besides on a video game. I talked to Ryan (Preece) a little bit about it because he ran a car of some type there. I also think Don (King) has run at a road course so he has some equipment that will help us out. I may have to go to school and see what I have to do. It definitely will be exciting going left and right.”

   Pitkat’s plans for 2010?
    “I will have to think what I want to do next year. Obviously I would like to have the modified tour be my primary focus. “.”
   “We just need to get back after winter and regroup and get everybody on the same page and just try to come out better next year. “


   Steve Park was at the Touring Series Banquet to receive awards for his fifth place finish in the series in 2009.

   What were Steve’s thoughts on the combined banquet for the Touring Series?
   “It is great. It is what it is all about. I remember several years ago at a banquet in Nashville for the touring series and modified. Now they moved everything here. It is a lot closer for us that live here down in the North Carolina area. But it is a lot further for a lot of the guys in New England and the west coast but I think being centrally located in the heart of NASCAR where the museum is going is good. If you want to be part of the NASCAR family here is where it is happening. I think a lot of people go a chance to tour the race shops and enjoy their couple of days down here at Charlotte. For you touring divisions you need to have a banquet like this in the Charlotte area. The economy has been affecting every Touring Series right now. “

   Steve’s thoughts on the Modified Touring Division...
    “The Modifieds are struggling to hang on. You look at fifty-four cars and twenty something races down to twelve races and struggling for twenty-five cars. Whelen has to hang on to get through this economy until everything get back to where it was a couple of years ago.”

* * * * * * * *

   Last weekend when NASCAR officially released the 2010 race schedule, rumors stopped and teams switched gears to start their plans and dreams for the New Year.
   So we too will take the time to say “Thank You” to you all for another great year of racing and see you back next year for more fun and excitement.

Source: Denise DuPont /
Posted: November 19, 2009


©2009 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.