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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



by Polly Reid

In overtime, a green, white, checker finish, Ryan Newman of South Bend, IN held off the field crossing the line for the checkers in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, making it a sweep for the Kevin Manion owned, Aggressive Hydraulics, Menard’s sponsored modified. Three NWMT starts and three wins for Newman who dominated the second half of the race leading a total of 45 laps including and especially the last one.

Following across for second was Jimmy Blewett in the Ling Trucking/Atlantic Sprinkler sponsored machine with Mike Stefanik third, Doug Coby and Ron Silk the top five.

A comfortable two second lead with ten to go, Newman saw that evaporate when the caution flew with 10 to go. Starting on the outside, Newman pulled away on the restart only to be reigned in for a melee in turn three involving Bobby Santos, Ryan Preece and Glen Reen bringing out the red flag now less than five to go, setting up the green, white, checker shootout.

When the green waved, Doug Coby of Milford, CT in the T.S. Haulers modified who started dead last after engine issues on qualifying day, gave Newman a run for the money on the final restart sailing past the Cup driver. Newman answered and came back making the final move of the day, sealing the deal. “I was way looser than I had been,” said Newman, “on the last run I had punctured a right rear tire and it was leaking down, by the time I got back to the checkered flag it was almost flat. Another lap and we would have really had our hands full.”

“On that start, our car was pretty loose and we were trying to hold our position,” said Newman about the start of his day. While Newman brought the field to green, it was Todd Szegedy and Ryan Preece who stole the show as the duo swapped the lead lap after lap as Newman slipped to third, then fifth. Szegedy had trouble after the pit stop, his day finding the Wisk/Snuggle Ford deep in the finish at 24th while Preece was involved in the last incident finished 20th.

“We had a great race car today, I’ve got to thank Aggressive Hydraulics, Menards, ECR Engines, Bono and all the guys, they did an excellent job. This is the first time we’ve been pretty close coming off of the trailer to what we needed to be coming into the race. We finally have some notes under our belt and I think that made a difference.” “These are Cup guys,” said Newman about his 7 team, “don’t get me wrong, but they’re a bunch of modified racers that came from up here. I’m just proud to be part of the team and it was a great race car the entire weekend.”

“Every time out we get better and better, today was just perfect,” said car owner Kevin Manion. “We had a fresh ECR engine and we’ve had a few races with Ryan now and we’re getting more comfortable.” Manion, like Newman, credits several on his team including well known modified names from the north, Gary Putnam, Russell Simpson as well as Sammy Gonzales and members of the 1 Cup team for the effort they put into making the 7 successful. “Three for three, that’s amazing.” Aggressive Hydraulics owner Paul Johnson was also on hand to see the show.

Running a part time schedule, Blewett of Howell, NJ started the day 12th, lingering in and out of the top ten, the number 14 with Morgantini power under the hood, used pit strategy to gain valuable position, coming in with the leaders just before the half-way mark. “My car was snug just like Mike’s in the beginning of the race. The track seems to be loose when we start off because of the different rubber so we figured the car would come around which it did. All’s we wanted to do was gain a couple of positions on our pit stop which we did, we took two tires, no adjustments, came back out and played tic, tac, toe up to the front. We owe this to all the hard work and dedication these guys put into this whole effort.

“I really tried early on to lead a lap because I wanted the five extra points,“ said Stefanik. “It was really hard to clear two cars, the 2 car could pass the 3 car then the 3 car passed the 2 car, but it was very hard to go by two cars at once, clear both of them in the same corner so we never did get to lead a lap. The car was a little free, we made a few adjustments on the stop and it went to the other side, not way over, but over enough that I wished we had left it alone.”

On the final restart, Stefanik in fifth, gained two spots, those positions enough to bring the Diversified Metals/R.B Enterprises sponsored modified to within two points of the overall lead. While it was announced in the media center that Stefanik was the new points leader, after the dust settled, the Coventry, RI driver is ever so close. “I was looking around me to see how this whole thing was going to shake out,“ said Stefanik about the overtime shootout. “With two laps to go you just don’t know whose going to get a good restart so I just threw all the cards on the table and played whatever came my way. Jimmy had a strong car and got underneath the 12 car which allowed me to gain some position on the bottom. I just went into the last restart with an open mind and we got some breaks. On the previous restart, we didn’t catch any breaks and we backed up from third to fifth.”

“The 4 car and the 36 car have been really stellar all year,,” continued Stefanik. “Both cars have visited victory lane (more than once), we’re still looking for that first win. We really picked our program up, our team has been extremely dedicated, we’re making small adjustments, the car has been really good. We had a great race at Bristol and now here at Loudon, we’re showing that we’re back in the game. We still want that win, we’re still going for it.”

Two races left on the schedule, there is no doubt the title will come down to the season finale at the World Series in Thompson. Stayed tuned.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: September 19, 2010

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