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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Featuring the Whelen Modified Tour
by Dave Meredith

The Icebreaker 2010 Weekend featured the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s first event of the year. Bobby Santos III, in his debut in the championship #4 Mystic Missile, won the Coors Light Pole with a speed of 122.163, which also set a new track record. Santos of Franklin, Mass., has winning experience in Super Modifieds, USAC Silver Crown and Midgets, SK and Tour Modifieds. Santos was given the opportunity In the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino after 2009 champ Donny Lia found a full time ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Lia piloted the V4 to the 2009 and 2007 Championships giving Bob Garbarino his first long-awaited and much deserved title.

Santos wasted no time in his new ride by qualifying almost a half-mile an hour faster than Chris Pasteryak of Lisbon, CT, who qualified at 18.470 seconds in the #52 (121.819 mph). He was followed by #6 Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT (18.514/121.530); #16 Mike Stefanik of Coventry, RI (18.596/120.994); and #7 Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, NC (18.603/120.948).

Ryan Preece of Berlin, CT, was sixth in the #3 BRE Racing machine and Doug Coby of Milford, CT, was seventh quickest in the #0 of Ralph Solhem racing, also of Milford. Rounding out the top ten were #36 of Ted Christopher of Plainville, CT; #93 Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, PA; and #54 Eric Berndt of Cromwell, CT, who is also a Thompson regular in the Sunoco Modifieds.

Santos drew the #1 starting spot as the top-ten drew for starting positions. Doug Coby 2nd, Mike Stefanik 3rd, Eric Berndt 4th, Bert Myers 5th, Ted Christopher 6th, Rowan Pennink 7th, Ron Silk 8th, Chris Pasteryak 9th, and Ryan Preece 10th.

The rest of the starting line up: 11) #2 Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield CT; 12) #79 James Civali, Meriden, CT; 13) #46 George Brunnhoelzl III of W. Babylon, NY; 14) #91 Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 15) #14 Jimmy Blewett, Howell, NJ; 16) #10 Eddie Flemke, Rocky Hill, CT; 17) #71 Rob Fuller, Boylston, MA; 18) #90 Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury, CT; 19) #50 Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, NY; 20) #99 Jamie Tomaino, Howell, NJ; 21) #76 Eric Beers, Northampton, PA; 22) #58 Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY; 23) #1 Rob Summers, Vernon, CT; 24) #59 Chuck Hossfeld, Ransomville, NY; 25) #8 Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays, NY; 26) #70 Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH; 27) #51 Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, NY; 28) 39 Rich Pallai, Jr., Yorktown Heights, NY; 29) #98 Erick Rudolph, Ransomville, NY; 30) 28 Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 31) #38 Jake Marosz, Middletown, CT; 32) #68 Johnny Bush, Huntington Station, NY; 33) #18 Ken Heagy, Calverton, NY; 34) # 33 Wade Cole, Riverton, CT; 35) #26 Gary Mc Donald, Ronkonkoma, NY; 36) #05 Joe Hartmann, Calverton, NY; 37) #15 Danny Knoll, Buffalo, NY.

Ralph Solhem (#0) and Doug Coby put together a last minute deal that looks like it might have been a good match for the both of them. Coby qualified the Solhem Chevy 7th, and then drew the second starting position for the Icebreaker 150. Both driver and car owner are from Milford, CT. While the rest of the season is up in the air for both of them, they hope to get a few more races together this season.

As I strolled through the pits at Thompson International Speedway couldn’t help but notice the changes of the drivers and crewmembers. The most noticeable is the addition of James Civali in the Hill Bros., #79 modified. Civali won at South Boston Speedway on the NACAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the Hills, and will be running in both series this season.

Civali has experience on the NK&N Pro Series, he also has run on the WMT with Don King and ran the Perricone Modified for a short time as owner and driver. Civali has had a few run ins with NASCAR over attitude and actions on the track, but he seems to have overcome those youthful issues. The Meriden, CT, driver has no shortage of talent and is a skilled pilot. Civali has four wins on the WMT including the 2007 Icebreaker 150, 2008 Icebreaker Pole and 25 top-ten career finishes. Civali is the current point leader on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour after three races, including a win on April 3rd at South Boston.

George Brunnhoelzl III is the defending NWSMT champion. He had six wins and seven poles along with 27 top-ten finishes in 39 events. He made two NWMT starts in 2002 at Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.

Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, NC in the #7 Ford, has six wins and a record 21 poles on the NWSMT. Myers has competed in all but one NWSMT races. He has finished in the top-ten in each season since 2005, with a second place in the standings for his inaugural season.

Myers is one of the racing stars on the History Channel program “Madhouse” which features racers at the famed Wall Stadium. He has traveled north to compete with the Whelen Modified Tour, but also competed Saturday night in the SK race at Waterford Speedbowl. Unfortunately he was out of the race early suffering with front-end damage after one of the many cautions – 8 in the first six laps! The race was called after 14 laps of the scheduled 35 were completed. There were a total of nine cautions and countless damaged racecars!

Ryan Preece in the #3 Boehler Racing Enterprises (BRE) Chevrolet has earned three wins and four pole awards. Preece was second in the 2009 championship standings to Lia. Preece has two top-ten finishes at TIS on the WMT.

Ted Christopher won the 2009 Icebreaker 150, and has 34 wins on the Whelen Modified Tour, which ranks him fourth on the all-time win list. Christopher has set fast time 21 times in his career and has won three of the last four NWMT events at Thompson. Christopher has nine wins and five poles here at the 5/8th mile speed plant. He has also won three Sunoco Modified championships at TIS.

At 2:55 p.m. the war wagons are being carted to the infield. With a 3:15 p.m. scheduled start time, we are ahead of schedule!

The drivers were introduced in car as NASCAR is trying to expedite the event. It is such a nice day as the weather is in the low sixties and the wind is variable - a great afternoon for racing. The grandstands are almost full and the midway concession stands are very busy.

Green flag flies and the race is on! Coby is slow on the start and in the way; Santos leads with Stefanik in the #16 following. Coby heads to the pits. Burt Myers, the invader from North Carolina, is third in the #7. Lap 6 Santos, Stefanik, Myers, Pennink, Pasteryak, Christopher, Szegedy, and Preece. By lap 9 Santos has opened up a 6 car-length lead with Pennink into third. Lap 15 Preece moves to fourth. Lap 17 Suess is out of the race - overheating, and the #0 is out due to a blown clutch. By lap 19 the leaders are already lapping the slower cars. Lap 20 it’s Santos, Stefanik, Pennink, Preece, TC, Szegedy, Silk, Myers, Pasteryak. Stefanik is closing the gap in lapped traffic on Santos.

Lap 36 - no cautions yet - clean racing and plenty of action in the back of the pack. Lap 38 Preece to third, Pennink to fourth. The #18 is in the pits – it is terminal. TC moves to fourth by lap 41.

At the 1/3 mark on lap 50 Santos continues to lead followed by Stefanik, Preece, and TC. Preece takes a look at Stefanik on lap 52. The #99 of Jaime Tomaino is being black flagged to the pits. Lap 58 Jake Marosz and Chuck Hossfeld get together on the backstretch. Lap 59 under caution and the #90 of Renee Dupuis gets the free pass. The leaders pit and Santos was the first off pit road. TC stayed out, a typical Christopher move that has backfired more than once.

The leaders as we head to the restart on lap 64: Christopher, Stefanik, Preece, Santos, and Beers. The #98 of Erick Rudolph spins on lap 66 in turn two. Glenn Tyler in the #8 gets the free pass on caution #2. Restart lap 69: Steffy and TC battle for the lead with Santos third

Lap 75 – halfway - leaders Stefanik, Christopher, Santos. Lap 81 Stefanik and Preece are nose-to-tail, as Preece looks strong. Santos passes TC for third. On lap 85 the leaders hit lapped traffic and it’s pretty much spread out around the track. Caution #3 is for debris on the track and Woody Pitkat gets the free pass. Stefanik, Preece, Santos, TC, Szegedy, Pennink, Silk, Civali, Pasteryak, Berndt. Lap 90 brings caution #4 as the #90 of Dupuis and #39 of Rich Pallai Jr. get together in turns 1 & 2.

Lap 96 Civali is in the turn 1 wall. TC heads to the pits on caution # 5. Civali is on the hook with right front damage. Ruggiero in the #14 gets the free pass for Civali’s incident. On the lap 101 restart Preece takes the lead from Stefanik, but the green is short-lived as caution flies on the next lap for Silk spinning in turn one to bring out caution #6. Richie Pallai Jr. gets the free pass. The race was going good until lap 58 when the yellow silks started flying!

The leaders take the restart on lap 107 with Preece leading and Santos into second followed by Pennink, Stefanik, Berndt, Pasteryak, and Szegedy. Lap 111 Santos is on the tail of Preece; Santos has a quick look inside on lap 112. Szegedy is starting to make a move. Preece is the leader as caution #7 flies on lap 111. It’s Santos, Pennink, Stefanik, Berndt, Szegedy, and TC. Joe Hartmann gets the free pass. Restart Lap119, Santos takes lead in turn one as he pushes Preece high. The #26 spins on front stretch but no caution. Preece is all over Santos with 22 to go - Santos, Preece, Stefanik, Szegedy, TC. Lap 146 Santos and Preece battle for the win. Santos wins in his first event for the Bob Garbarino team.

Bobby Santos III has parlayed his pole win into a daily double with his second win on the Whelen Modified Tour. It’s his first Icebreaker win.

Ryan Preece: “I had a great car but had to start 10th. My crew gives me a great car wherever I go. This one of the best cars I’ve ever had at Thompson. Me and Bobby - whoever got out front on that restart was just going to take off and was going to be hard to catch. I am really happy to start off the season on a good note.”

What was your first thought when you heard Bobby Santos was going to be in that car this season? “That I’m going to be racing Bobby for the championship! Bobby was my idol as I was growing up.” (They raced quarter midgets together.)

Bobby Santos: “I always come to the track with the expectation of winning, but to be that dominant all weekend was pretty awesome! The race definitely wasn’t easy on the tires - we had to fight for that win. You know it’s going to be tough all year. The competition on the Tour is out of control. You know it’s going to be hard to win a couple wins this year, so I’m happy to get one right know.”

How do you see the three car's in your future? “Ryan - love the kid! He and I grew up racing quarter midgets together. We are going to be battling quite a bit this season.” Did you get into Ryan on that restart? “Actually we never touched on that one. I did get into Rowan on the previous restart and pushed him high. I don’t race that way and I apologized to him. But, Ryan and I never touched. There was no contact and that was really good.” What was your biggest concern the last 20 laps or so? “Yeah, Ryan seemed to have a couple charges at us and then they (his team) were telling me on the radio that he was cooling his tires for five laps then would mount a last charge over the last two laps.”

Mike Stefanik: “Congratulations to Bobby Santos III. He is crafty kid and a joy to race with. It seems like the top five drivers in today’s race are normally the ones who are one at the top. This is usually indicative of the way the season will play out. Usually that’s how it works out - you have room to run. You know that if you have good equipment you can run here. I’m not crying, but that driver of the three car (Ryan Preece), doesn’t have talent that Bobby has and shouldn’t be trying those moves. He pushed me high and gave me the bumper three times to pass me. I’m not going to say anything to him now, but it’s a long season”.

“We as a team are better than last year, but still not up to where we expect to be. We expect a lot of ourselves. Our fans have come to expect plenty from me, and I will give them what they want”.

  Source: Dave Meredith
Posted: April 12, 2010

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