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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Stafford Motor Speedway
Whelen Modified Tour, TSI Harley-Davidson 125

by Hazel Meredith

The Whelen Modified Tour visited Stafford Motor Speedway for their second of four visits in 2010. Bobby Santos, in the #4 Mystic Missile Dodge, would capture the pole for the third straight WMT event of 2010. At the season-opening Ice Breaker at Thompson International Speedway as well as at Stafford’s Spring Sizzler, he set new track records. Tonight, he set the pace with a lap of 18.090 sec. Following close behind was George Brunnhoelzl III in the #59 Ed Bennett Properties Chevrolet with a time of 18.155.

In third was Ron Silk in the #6 T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet with a time of 18.187 sec. Fourth was Rob Summers in the #1 Frasco Fuel Oil/Merrill Electric Chevrolet with a time of 18.218 sec.

Last season, Ted Christopher became the first driver to capture the pole three times in a row to start the season. Santos has now tied that record and will try to beat it at the next WMT event, the Made In America Whelen 200 at Martinsville Speedway.

The top eight qualifiers redrew for starting positions with the #6 of Ron Silk pulling the pole starting spot. Top qualifier, Bobby Santos, starts second, followed by: #59 Chuck Hossfeld; #54 Eric Berndt; #46 George Brunnhoelzl, III; #39 Richie Pallai Jr.; #51 Justin Bonsignore; and #1 Rob Summers.

Feature Events

The weekly divisions took to the track for their features first, beginning with the Dare Stocks. Josh Wood in the #51 led the field to the green for their 15-lap feature. He would jump to the point on the start and gain a several-car-length lead, continuing to pace the field through three caution periods. On lap 13, the #99 of Stephen Daddio would try to get by Wood for the lead, spinning both cars in turn two. Kyle Casagrande in the #7 skated by to take the lead followed by #00 Tony Membrino, Jr., #6 Andrew Hayes and #2 Jeff Jolly.

Next up were the SK Light Modifieds with a 20-lap feature. Harry Wheeler in the #54 paced the field for the start. After much shuffling at the front, with five laps to go, Ted Cain in the #31 would move to the point. The #83 of Thomas Barrett Jr. would pass for the lead, but a multi-car spin would send the field back to the previous lap’s lineup. After another spin and much dirt on the track on the restart, the #31 of Cain would again lead the way. Barrett made several attempts to pass Cain for the lead but could not make it stick. Cain, of Plymouth, CT, would hold on for the checkers. #6 Chad Trombley and # 21 Erica Santos would finish 3rd and 4th.

The SK Modifieds were up next for a 40 lap feature. On the pole is Eric Berndt from Cromwell, CT in the #54, with #70 Brit Andersen on the outside front row. It wouldn’t take too long for the first caution to fly as the #21 of Zach Sylvester got into trouble on the backstretch. As the field came off turn four, the #13 of Ted Christopher would slide across the infield grass. Leading the field is the #90 of Todd Owen who started fourth, followed by #54 Berndt, #25 Sean Foster and #20 Jeff Baral.

After two more cautions Owen continues to lead until caution on lap eight as Eric Berndt, who has been running second, gets spun out in turn two. Jeff Baral in the #20 is definitely a very fast car, who is now in second for the restart. Baral would get by for the lead on lap nine with Mark Bakaj in the #5 moving into second. On the next circuit Bakaj got very loose, almost taking out the entire field! He straightened it out and everyone kept going, but it gave Baral a chance to open up a large lead.

Frank Ruocco in the 91 moves to second followed by #88 Keith Rocco. Making the pass on the outside, Rocco gets by Ruocco as they cross the stripe for lap 20, the half-way point. Rocco sets his sights on Baral, but has a half a straight-away of space to make up. With 13 laps to go, Rocco is gaining 2 to 3 tenths of a second on Baral. He begins to close rapidly on Baral as they come up to ten-to-go. As they head off turn three on lap 30, Rocco dives under Baral and effortlessly takes the lead.

He continued to extend the distance of his lead to capture his tenth checkered flag in 16 starts this year (between Stafford, Thompson and Waterford Speedbowl). It was his third win at Stafford in the SK Modifieds.

Prior to this weekend, he was the leader in the NASCAR National Point Standings. Rocco stated, “The longer we ran, the better the car got.”

Finishing second was #20 Jeff Baral; third #91 Frank Ruocco; and fourth #5 Mark Bakaj.

Second-to-last of the regular divisions are the Limited Late Models in a 20-lap main event. The #42 of Michael Wray led the field to the green, however, he quickly fell to second as the #88 of Duane Provost passed him for the point. By lap seven, Wray would re-take the lead and Provost would drop to fifth. The #32 of Dave Yardley III moves to second with #23 Kevin Gambacorta third.

Wray would make it back to the front and hold on to take the win, however on the last lap the #23 of Gambacorto would spin heading in to turn three and the #19 of Carla Botticello would t-bone the passenger side of Gambacorta. Fortunately, both drivers were OK. #32 Dave Yardley would finish second, followed by #41 Daniel Flannery and #58 Shawn Thibeault.

The final feature before the Tour race is the Late Models. Alan Provost of Monson, MA, in the #23 would pace the field to the start. On the second lap the action got rough as the #94 of Dillon Moltz got spun on the backstretch, the as the field came back to the stripe, the #82 of second place Tony Lafo hit the turn one wall, and the #7 of Keith Rocco got spun coming off turn two. As a result, the #64 of Michael Bennett and the #99 of Scott Cook were both black flagged for rough driving. And we’re not done yet -- the #94 of point leader Dillon Moltz was black flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for slamming into the #7 of Rocco.

Provost would pace the field until the #88 Woody Pitkat would pass for the lead on lap six. On lap ten both the #17 of Jim Peterson and the #87 of Corey Hutchings get by Provost for second and third.

Pitkat had opened up a huge lead, but a caution on lap 20 would erase his gains. On the restart it’s Pitkat, Hutchings, Peterson and #7 Keith Rocco. Another restart on lap 23 and Hutchings gets the jump on Pitkat, but couldn’t hold the spot. With five laps to go, another tangle in turn four between #92 Tom Fearn, #3 Mark St. Hilaire and #23 Alan Provost.

St. Hilaire was involved in yet another tangle in turn four involving several cars -- all drove away, but another caution comes out. The #7 of Keith Rocco is black flagged for over aggression on the race track.

Point leader, Dillon Moltz, has worked his way back up to fifth place for the restart. Pitkat again gets a good start and pulls ahead of the field. Moltz is up to fourth by the backstretch, heading for third. Peterson in the #17 is second as they come to the checkered flag. Michael Bennett finished fourth.

Finally, the Whelen Modified Tour TS Harley-Davidson 125. The field takes the green at 10:00 p.m. After the redraw, pole winner Bobby Santos, will start on the outside front row next to Ron Silk. By the time the leaders hit the backstretch, Santos had pulled ahead of Silk on the outside for the lead. Eric Berndt in the #54 managed to move into second and a few laps later, the lead. He and Santos would play leap frog for the next few laps.

On lap 15 the #38 of Jake Marosz was black flagged for failing to maintain minimum speed.

Bernt began to open up his lead on Santos by about 10 car-lengths by lap 18. They were followed by #59 Chuck Hossfeld and #6 Ron Silk. Rounding out the top-five is the #39 of Richie Pallai Jr.

Ted Christopher in the #36 started ninth and continues to hold in that position, though he is gaining on eighth place #51 Justin Bonsignore. The field is strung out around the track and the leaders are catching the back of the field.

The first caution comes on lap 35 as the #79 of James Civali tags the turn two wall. He is able to drive away and heads to pit road along with many of the mid- to back-of-the-pack cars.

The field restarts on lap 41, but caution quickly comes out again as the #76 of Eric Beers spins into the turn two wall. He also drives away.

Berndt leads them back to the green and Silk moves up the inside into second ahead of Santos. On the next lap the #59 of Hossfeld also moves by into third, pushing Santos back to fourth. Rob Summers in the #1 is fifth and the top five open a gap back to #14 Jimmy Blewett.

Beers is black flagged on lap 60 for failing to maintain minimum speed. the #38 of Jake Marosz is also done for the night with handling problems.

Berndt has opened up a 15 car length lead at the half way point, while Hossfeld keeps trying to get around Silk to no avail. He finally clears him on lap 68 and Santos also sneaks through to third.

At lap 80 the leaders have not changed -- there is a few car lengths between each of the top four. The battle right now is between Silk and Blewett and Blewett is able to get by on the inside, with Summers also passing Silk. they move into fifth, sixth and seven, respectively.

Lap 90, and Berndt’s lead has grown impressively. Hossfeld is still second with Santos in third and Blewett fourth. Christopher continues to hold ninth.

Lap 103 brings caution number three when the #10 of Ed Flemke Jr. bounces off another car in turn four.

Restart lap 108 and Hossfeld gets a huge jump on Berndt and Blewett gets by to second as well. Todd Szegedy in the #2 gets up to fourth.

On lap 111 Hossfeld and Blewett get together as they cross the stripe, spinning Hossfeld to the infield grass. Santos is back in the lead followed by Szegedy, Berndt and Blewett.

Restart on lap 117 with Santos jumping to the lead and Blewett racing past Szegedy for second. Blewett tries to get by Santos as they come back to the line, but can’t make the pass -- not yet anyway.

Lap 119 major wreck in turn three involving the #10 Flemke; #90 Dupuis; #59 Hossfeld; #50 Goodale, as well as a few others. Everyone but Flemke drives away and it will be a two lap, green-white-checker shootout between Santos and Blewett on the restart. Santos takes the lead and Blewett pulls inside to try to pass -- but caution comes back out as #36 Ted Christopher and the #8 of Glenn Tyler tangle on the backstretch.

We’ll try it again for extra laps -- green-white-checker with Santos on point. Restart lap 128 as Santos leads the pack. Blewett dives under Santos as they come off turn two to pull ahead, but as they hit turn three, mayhem breaks out on the backstretch involving the #50 Goodale, #0 Arre, #28 Pitkat, #3 Preece and #54 Berndt.

Third try for green-white-checker! Restart lap 136 -- Santos jumps in turn three and pulls ahead, but Blewett almost gets by. Santos holds him off after almost losing the lead several times to take his second checkered flag in three starts.

Apparently Santos was ordered to pull back as they crossed the stripe since he jumped the restart. If he hadn’t let Blewett pull even with him, he would have been penalized for jumping the start and sent to pit road. He had to “earn” the pass and the win on the last lap.

“It’s pretty awesome! The whole team did a great job. Jimmy taught me a lot at the end - he took me to school on those last few restarts. I had to give that spot back. Jimmy made me take off early but I got it back!”

Jimmy Blewett stated, “Bobby’s a good driver. It’s two races we’ve been up front. It was a great car. Our day will come.”.

  Source: Hazel Meredith
Posted: May 28, 2010

©2010 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.