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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



by Polly Reid

Todd Szegedy dominated the Lime Rock 100 and it certainly appeared the Ridgefied, CT driver was unstoppable. Then along came the road course ‘ringer’ with fresh tires. Dale Quarterly of Westfield, MA who had wheeled his way through the pack, timed a clean and swift winning pass with three to go to earn a place in the record books as the winner of the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Lime Rock Park.
Szegedy crossed second with Ron Silk, Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher the top five.

“Today was excellent,” said Quarterly. “John McKenna the crew chief and Wayne Darling the car owner took some time and we tested here a couple of weeks ago and we really sorted the car out. When we came back this week, all’s we really had to do was make sure we had the right brakes on it and all the details were taken care of. I don’t think we made an adjustment all weekend. We had what we had and we made it work.”

With about 20 laps left on the board, Quarterly brought his Furnace and Duct Supply Chevrolet in the pits under caution for fresh tires. “There was no way I was going to beat Szegedy and Teddy Christopher with what I had left,“ admitted Quarterly. “I had used up way too much tire. It was a no brainer, the second the caution came out we were pitting and we knew it.”

McKenna who used to work full time for Quarterly when he raced motorcycles, was the conduit to Quarterly finding himself making his third career modified Tour start. “I haven’t really raced in two years, one race here, one race there, I’m just starting to get going again, so this is the perfect way to start, show that I still have the ability to get up front.” Quarterly’s visit to the media center was brief as he had to get back out to the K&N Pro Series East race that was about to begin- as the crew chief of the Jeff Anton ride. You could say he is back into racing.

The final caution of the race, with seven to go, was the unlucky break for Szegedy. The field closed up for the restart and it was then that Quarterly made serious headway setting his sights on Szegedy and his Wisk/Snuggle Ford. “I wanted to make sure I got good clean restarts and set my own pace,” said Szegedy. “But when you’re up against new tires with seven to go you’re not going to beat ‘em, I don’t care who you are. Dale is a heck of a driver, the good thing is, I beat all the regular drivers, nobody wore me out, we just got beat by tires. The car handled awesome, the crew did a heck of a job setting the car up, the balance was perfect, everything was perfect, but you just can’t keep up with fresh tires like that. All in all I think it was a good race and I think the whole race went well. It was a good day and I hope to see us at more road races.”

When asked about a ’regular’ not winning? “It doesn’t burn me that a Tour regular didn’t win,” said Szegedy. “I mean we got beat last week by a Cup driver. Dale’s been around a long time. You know what’s awesome about Dale? How old is Dale? Forty something? I don’t know, I’m 34, I like seeing those older guys whip the crap out of us kids, us young guys. He can still drive and he proved it today.”

A smile as wide as the Nile, Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT in the Ed Partridge owned T.S. Haulers/ Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet earned a podium finish, maybe a little surprised at how his day turned out considering the Lime Rock 100 was his first road racing experience. “It was a pretty interesting race,” said Silk. “In the beginning I fell back to like 10th, 11th, 12th immediately, I lost brakes, I thought it was going to be a really long day. During that mandatory pit stop for fuel, the brakes cooled off, I took it easy for a few laps and actually started passing some cars then at the end I think Stefanik, his car kind of went away on him and Teddy was having a problem with his transmission, I just had a car good enough to get up there and race with them and I was lucky we were able to beat them. For a guy like me with no experience on anything like this, I’m so happy, I feel like I won the race. I want to thank Lime Rock and NASCAR, I had a lot of fun today.”

Ted Christopher in the Al-Lee Installations Chevrolet at one point a contender for the lead, found himself somewhat struggling, for good reason, as the race went on crossing the line fifth. “The shift was ready to break, it wasn’t going to last another lap or 2. To finish where I did I was pretty happy.”

Flirting with a podium finish, Mike Stefanik in the Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Pontiac had a strong run going, holding onto to second place for a significant amount of time swapping the spot with Christopher until fading to 6th on the final circuits. “After a restart, we’d drive around two, three or four laps, I don’t know why that was, if we didn’t have enough heat in the tires or what, it took like three or four laps for the car to come in and sometimes we would loose a position. I made a driver error coming down off the hill and went from second to fourth, just asking a little too much, driving hard and got a little too wide. Everyone’s running really hard and you’re just trying to get what you can get. Never did lead a lap, thought we were going to be able to, at times I think we were close to Todd then they’d have a caution then I wouldn’t do so hot on the restarts, fall back, claw my way back up. Kind of a back and forth day then at the end the tires just went away. Obviously the 52 and the 3 came in for tires, they looked pretty good going by me.”

Point leader Bobby Santos suffered a couple of setbacks finishing 17th. Contact going into the esses sent the Mystic Missile into a spin and while Santos straightened out and continued, it set the Franklin, MA driver deep into the field. Challenges would continue for Santos when with only a handful of laps to go, a plume of white smoke spewed out, putting an end to his day.

A couple of other tough breaks included Rowan Pennink who started his day fifth and ended 22nd. Erik Rudolph who had the speed, topping the chart the day before, qualifying 3rd, broke a gear early and never had the opportunity to seriously contend, salvaged a hard earned 16th.

Wade Cole of Riverton, CT made an adjustment under yellow during the mandatory pit stop to loosen his Performance Engines/Kendall Oil/Ryan’s Oil Chevrolet up a bit. The adjustment helped Cole close out his Lime Rock weekend 10th, his second top ten of 2010 (Martinsville). Cole’s road racing experience dates back to Watkin’s Glen and a modified test at Lime Rock in 1993 as well as being part of the test last Tuesday. “It’s a blast running on a road course.” And I had to completely agree with Cole when he said, “It’s a beautiful place, the people are great.”

Several drivers agreed on one thing. If you’re going to have a road course event, two on the schedule are needed to make it worth the expense for the car owners. Ted Christopher summed it up best, “When you know you’re going to do it, people will start to get better at it. The cars will be prepared better, as a group, all of us will become better road racers so the show will be better. But you have to have two races. That’s my thought.”

One thing is for sure the historic 1.5 mile road course tucked away in the glorious northwest hills of CT answered a question people had asked for years. Can modifieds race at Lime Rock? The answer is yes.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 3, 2010

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