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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



by Dave Meredith

NASCAR Sprint Cup regular, Ryan Newman, went from capturing the pole to taking the checkers in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour New England 100. He has learned well after previous battles with the WMT regulars where he was freight-trained or wrecked. He showed "Teddy the Tornado" that "Rocket Ryan" is a strong competitor. The fans were treated to an outstanding race today (at least from my point of view). They were on their collective feet as Newman and Christopher crossed the stripe for the checkers.

On lap 99 Christopher passed Newman but Newman dove back under Christopher and held off TC at the line to win his first NWMT race in five attempts.

Pole Qualifying

The Coors Light Pole Award was earned with a speed of 128.402 mph by Ryan Newman driving the
Kevin Manion-owned #7NY Aggressive Hydraulics Menards Chevrolet. This was the second career NWMT pole for the South Bend Indiana driver who pilots the #39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His first pole on the NWMT came in September of 2008 in the New Hampshire 100. Newman also has four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole here at the Magic Mile. Newman, who competed in last yearís New England 100, started 6th and finished 34th after leading 13 laps. He was involved in an accident on lap 64. Newman started 25th in the New England 100 last September and finished sixth in wild last lap scrum.

Newman was joined on the front row by current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point leader, Bobby Santos III, of Franklin, MA. Santos has three wins and 3 pole awards in the first four events of the season. He drives the Bob Garbarino #4 Mystic Missile Dodge. His qualifying speed was 127.907 mph. Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT, in the #2 Wisk Snuggle/UNOH Ford was third fastest with a speed of 127.525 mph. Erick Rudolph of Ransomville, NY, with a speed of 127.402 mph in the #98 HD Segur Ins./Original Pizza Log Chevrolet was fourth. Rob Summers, of Vernon, CT, in the #1 Frasco Fuel Oil/Merrill Electric Chevrolet posted a speed of 126.973 mph which was fast enough for a fifth starting position.

Doug Coby of Milford, CT, driving the Ralph Solhem-owned #0 Cliff Nelson Electric Chevrolet was sixth fastest with a speed of 126.825 mph. Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT, in the #6 TS Hauler/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet started seventh on the grid with a speed of 126.736 mph. Ted Christopher of Plainville CT, in the #36 Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet was eighth with a speed of 126.408. Rob Fuller of Boylston, MA, in the #71 Draco Spring Ford, was ninth with a speed of 126.194 mph, and rounding out the top-ten starters was Jimmy Blewett in the #14 Ling Trucking/Atlantic Sprinkler Ford with a speed of 126.190.

The rest of the starting lineup: 11) 79 James Civali, Meriden, CT; 12) 3 Ryan Preece, Berlin, CT; 13) 16 Mike Stefanik, Coventry, RI; 14) 91 Richard Savary, Canton, MA; 15) 51 Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, NY; 16) 59 Chuck Hossfeld, Ransomville, NY; 17) 10 Ed Flemke Jr., Southington, CT; 18) 93 Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, PA; 19) 70 Andy Seuss, Hampstead, NH; 20) 17 Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA; 21) 46 George Brunnhoelzl III, W. Babylon, NY; 22) 58 Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY; 23) 76 Eric Beers, Northampton, PA; 24) 99 Jamie Tomaino, Howell, NJ; 25) 9 LW Miller, Dushore, PA; 26) 8 Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays, NY; 27) 28 Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 28) 18 Ken Heagy, Calverton, NY; 29) 39 Rich Pallai Jr., Yorktown Heights, NY; 30) 68 Johnny Bush, Huntington Station, NY; 31) Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, NY; 32) 15 Danny Knoll, Jr., Buffalo, NY; 33) 05 Joe Hartman, Calverton, NY; 34) 33 Wade Cole, Riverton, CT; 35) 90 Renee Dupuis, Glastonbury, CT; 36) 38 Jake Marosz, Middletown, CT.

Autograph Alley

The Whelen Modified Tour drivers held an autograph session in The Fan Zone at NHMS with all of the drivers in the race on hand to sign autographs (with the exception of Ryan Newman who was practicing his Sprint Cup car). There were over 200 people in line waiting for the session to begin. Bobby Santos, Ted Christopher, Eric Beers, and Ryan Preece had significant numbers of fans and well wishers. Renee Dupuis was busy with young women wanting to know about racing. It was a great chance for fans to meet the Whelen Modified Tour drivers and collect autographs.

The Race is On

Starting position is usually a big advantage for the top ten starters, as the leader tends to pull away at the start. Drafting is also a big part of racing here at NHMS for the Modifieds. Passing at the Magic Mile is one of the drawing cards for the fans of the open-wheeled speed machines -- it is not unusual to see four or five passes for the lead on a single lap.

Ryan Newman and Bobby Santos led the ground-rumbling Mods through their pace laps as they built heat into the tires and engines in preparation of the start. Richard Savary in the #91 has withdrawn from the event.

The competitor are allowed only 4 additional tires for the event and can only pit for gas or tires on each stop (not both).

Ryan Newman led the first lap with Santos, Rudolph, Szegedy and Coby following in the top-five. The yellows started early with the first caution on lap 3, with Rob Fuller, Mike Stefanik, and Glen Reen involved. Both Stefanik and Fuller went behind the wall. Still under caution on lap six and the 46, 9, 26, and 05 pitted. Stefanik has had a good year so far is not happy with the way the day ended for him.

Restart lap 7 with Newman out front followed by Szegedy, TC, and Santos. Christopher takes the lead as he pushes Newman high in turn four on lap eight. Caution flew again on lap 9 as Erik Rudolph in the 98 spins.

Miller, Civali, Brunnhoelzl and Hartmann pit. Restart lap 12 with Christopher leading and Santos right on his bumper. Christopher is strong in the turns and Santos is strong on the front and back stretches.

A quarter of the way into the event, Christopher continues to lead with Santos second, Szegedy, Silk, Newman following. Blewett in the #14 has moved to seventh. Coby has fallen back to eighth, but is still in contention.

By lap 30 TC had opened a six car-length lead over Santos. Everyone behind TC is in single file looking to possibly draft by. Lap 35 Newman has moved past Santos for second, with Szegedy, Silk, Coby, and Blewett following. Coby is stuck behind LW Miller who is a lap down. Everybody is going to pit on lap 40 for the caution. Coby was the first off pit road, LW Miller was the recipient free pass.

Ken Heagy and James Civali are sent to the rear for crewman over the wall too soon. Eric Goodale is now the leader with Coby second as we await the green. Lap 45 Coby leads with Santos in close to the leader -- Santos passes for the lead on the backstretch. On lap 47 TC tried to pass both Santos and Coby for the lead but couldn't get by.

The three leaders are nose-to-tail as the #46 of George Brunnhoelzl III goes into the safer barrier in turn one. Santos continues to lead as the caution flies and Coby keeps second as a gift from the caution as TC was ready to make the pass. Brunnhoelzl III is headed for the infield care center.

Lap 53 still under caution as the cleanup crew works in apex of turns one and two. Leaders: Santos, Coby, Christopher, Goodale, Szegedy, Preece, Silk, Newman, Bonsignore, Hossfeld. Going green on lap 55 Santos passes Coby for the point with TC dive bombing in turn one moving him to second and Coby back to third.

Christopher passes Santos with Coby and Newman in tow pushing Santos back to fourth. Coby takes lead on lap 61 and caution flies on the next lap just as Christopher passed Coby with Santosís help. This caution was a result of Hossfeld going over Szegedy's rear tire. The lead reverts back to last scored lap, so Coby retains the lead for now, making the leaders Coby, Christopher, Santos, Newman, Preece, Goodale, Silk, Seuss, and Beers.

Christopher again passes Coby for the lead on lap 65, but Santos passes TC at the stripe on lap 66 to take the point. Christopher leap-frogs again to take the lead on lap 70 as Ron Silk challenges the leaders.

Heading to the three-quarters mark, Santos pushes Silk to the lead with Santos gaining second on the assist,. Caution flies on lap 74 with Silk holding on to the lead as Santos had just passed him. Johnny Bush in the #68 hit the turn one wall.

Restart lap 78, Silk leads the field with Newman inside at the line. Newman moves past to take the lead on lap 80. On the next lap, LW Miller gets into the wall to bring out the caution. Miller was not happy with the #70 of Andy Seuss as apparently they got together. Miller came back out under caution and drove over the left rear tire of Seuss.

Lap 87 Santos is pressuring Newman, and Silk is looking rejoin the fray for the lead as he passed TC for third. TC then passed Santos and headed for Newman, passing him on lap 99.

The two battled to the checkers with Newman taking the win. This is the kind of racing that the Mods are famous for here at NHMS -- side-by-side racing, passing and drafting, giving the fans their money's worth. This was one of the classic last-lap battles we have seen many times here at the Magic Mile.

"To have a race slide-jobbing back and forth like we did at the end, that's what fans love to see and I'm glad to be able to put on a show for them. And I thank Teddy for racing me clean there at the end," Newman said. "I'm just glad to get a victory."

Ryan Preece stated, "We had a good day. Maybe this will lead to a string of top-five finishes. We really needed this finish today."

Ted Christopher said, "It was definitely interesting!" Christopher has 10 career wins at NHMS. "I was trying something. We raced together at New Smyrna and I really like running with him. I was trying different lines late in the race."

Shawn Courschesne of the Hartford Courant asked Ted Christopher, Did you make any mistakes on the last few laps?"

"You can always second guess everything you do," Christopher said. "I got into him pretty good at the beginning of the race and I told myself I wasn't going to do that again. I have a lot of respect for him. We've raced together at [New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway] a bunch of times and he's a fun guy to race with. I wasn't going to bump him to get by him at the end."

Said Newman, "I know Teddy is one of the hardest, if not the hardest driver out there when it comes to the Modifieds. He'll run it in hard on you and he's not afraid to use the nerf bars [side-body bars that run the length of the car]. I don't race these cars enough to race them that way. He does, he's raced the short tracks. I don't know if he did it on purpose or not, but when he nerfed me up out the way about eight laps in I didn't appreciate it a whole lot. But in saying that he wouldn't do it in the end, that takes a lot of man."

Newman continued: "Teddy Told Bono (Manion, Ryan's Crew Chief), that he didnít like the way he moved me early in the race and said he wasnít going to that at the end. Newman was asked if he felt vindicated from previous races here? He replied that is wasnít about vindication, it was about the win and prestige for winning in such a prestigious car number, and for Tommy Baldwin Sr. "I remember watching Tom Baldwin Sr. race."

Driver Doug Coby and Ralph Solhem, owner and crew chief of the #0 have the makings of a good team with Coby's experience in the seat and Ralph's expertise in setting up a racecar for the long run. While I'm sure not what happened to Tim Arre who was the scheduled driver for the New Hampshire 100, if Solhem and Coby could arrange a little sponsorship they would be a formidable team. Solhem had Cliff Nelson Electric on the car this weekend. Continued good luck to Doug and Ralph.

Race Notes

The race was slowed by seven cautions for 25 laps. The race still averaged 85 mph, and took 75 minutes to run. The track crew and NASCAR did a good job to expedite the clean ups.

There were 15 official lead changes involving 6 drivers: Ted Christopher led 40 laps, Ryan Newman 28, Bobby Santos 16, Ron Silk 7, Doug Coby 5, Eric Goodale 4. Of course, the actual number of lead changes during the course of the race was close to 50 - unofficially.

Woody Pitkat won the Coca-Cola Move of the Race. He started 27th and finished 9th, improving 18 positions.
The Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award: Glenn Tyler in the #8. Tyler finished 36th at Martinsville and finished 16th today. Improved by 20 positions.
Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award: Justin Bonsignore
Whelen Winner of the Race: Ryan Newman

Top 10 Driver Points: 1) Bobby Santos 900; Ted Christopher 771; Todd Szegedy 756; Mike Stefanik 728; Ryan Preece 719; Justin Bonsignore* 643; Ron Silk 627; Richie Pallai Jr.,* 601; Woody Pitkat 597; James Civali 596.
* Sunoco Rookie of The Year Contender.

Next Event: July 3, 2010 the Whelen Modified Tour heads to the road course at Lime Rock Park, Lakeville, CT.

  Source: Dave Meredith
Posted: June 27, 2010

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