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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



by Polly Reid

With only two short cautions inside the first ten circuits, it was green flag racing to the checkers and an impressive finish by Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman of South Bend, IN who bested the field to take the victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, F. W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

A last lap pass by Todd Szegedy brought the Ridgefield, CT across for second with Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT third, Matt Hirschman and Doug Coby the top five.

His third consecutive win at the Magic Mile in the Kevin Manion owned modified, Newman admitted a caution could have changed things. “I didn’t know what was going to happen if a yellow came out whatever lap it was going to be- it was sure going to changed the complexity of the race. We were loose, but we were the tightest loose of the top three up front there. Fortunately it all worked out for us.”

Setting fast time on Thursday, Newman chose the outside lane for the green with Silk, Szegedy, Bobby Santos and Doug Coby the top five. Andy Petree, expected to make his first NWMT start, suffered damage in the final practice and did not start.

A caution on the first circuit slowed the pace when three cars tangled in turns one and two ending the day for Justin Bonsignore- the field lined up for another try. Newman again taking the outside, lined up with Silk, Santos, Szegedy and Rowan Pennink- only to be reined in again when Andy Seuss spun in turn four.

Once again under way, it was quick to see who were the cars to beat as Newman, Szegedy and Silk set the pace, pulling away from the pack and as the long green run continued, the top trio continued to separate themselves from the rest of the field the circuits clicking off the board - eventually working lap traffic and before the half, they had put a good ten seconds between themselves and Ted Christopher in fourth.

Ryan Preece made his return to the NWMT and had worked his Bustout/Reynolds Auto Wrecking modified up to fourth just past the half mark when suddenly he was down pit row- out with engine issues with 40 to go.

Earlier, engine issues plagued several teams including Patrick Emerling who was out 16 laps in, then Jimmy Blewett with only 26 circuits in the books followed by Dale Quarterly with 29 laps completed and Mike Stefanik with 30- all pushed behind the wall.

25 to go, Silk leading, the green flag still out- only 14 cars remained on the lead lap- with Szegedy and Newman keeping the T.S. Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm Chevrolet in their sights.

But as the laps ticked down and the green continued, Newman turned up the wick and moved low in turn three to nab second from Szegedy on lap 80 and after a brief side by side battle with Silk, made his pass in turns one and two, 16 to go on the scoreboard to secure the lead for the final time- taking the Aggressive Hydraulics/Menards Chevrolet across the line for the win.

“This is really special,” said Manion whose regular job is crew chief for Sprint Cup driver Jamie McMurray. “This whole program we started with Gary, myself and Russell, we won here as a team in the early 90’s when we first started coming up here with Jeff Fuller then Steve Park. As a kid, to come up here and race with the Cup guys, it was really special. We made sure our car looked good because we had a lot of guys watching, it was one of the best races up here so 20 years later to come back here and be part of a team, learning the aspect of owning a car, the expense of getting up here and all the expense that goes on, just trying to get a pit crew together, it’s important to us and it’s special to win and pretty exciting.” Manion noted they brought two modifieds and they will be swapping them out then head to Seekonk on Wednesday, Thompson on Thursday and Riverhead on Saturday with Gary Putnam behind the wheel.

Pulling down his fourth top ten finish with six events to date in 2011, Szegedy was able to capitalize when Silk went high on the last lap, making a smooth pass for a second. “Second to me was kind of a win to me. I mean we beat all the regulars and we’ve had some bad luck here in the last four or five races here, so this was definitely a good run- we had a great car. Towards the end I kind of went in a fuel conservation mode because we didn’t bank on knowing how many green laps we were going so I started backing out of it a little bit.” Referencing Newman’s recent dominance Szegedy offered this, “I think we have some work to do. We have to drive the track a little bit different, set the car up different- you know, he is not unbeatable. He definitely can be beat so we just have to work harder. They got a good car underneath him, he understands the cars now but anyone one is beatable, I don’t care if they’re superman.”

Szegedy in the hunt all day in the Wisk Detergent/A.J. Romano Construction, Mike Smeriglio, III owned Ford led a handful of laps in the first third of the event.

Silk continues to be one to watch this season in the NWMT as the Norwalk, CT driver once again earned a top three, his fourth podium finish in six races. “I was surprised how long it went green, I’m sure everyone was. We had a pretty good car, all my guys did a great job all weekend, we really made about a thousand adjustments since we got here. We got a little bit close to Newman on the last lap there -Eric Beers gave me like a tow to get me within range of him and I really tried to sail down there into turn one on the last lap and I just got up there in the loose stuff and once you get up there you can’t get out. That was how Todd was able to get me on the last lap.” Silk smiling added, “It was a good day, we’ll work a little harder for the next race- maybe that 7 won’t be here for the Indy weekend, maybe we’ll get a break.”

NWMT points leader Rowan Pennink crossed for sixth, Eric Goodale seventh, Ron Yuhas,Jr who started 24th crossed for 8th with Ed Flemke, Jr. and Woody Pitkat the top ten. Ted Christopher faded to 11th the last car on the lead lap.

New Hampshire Motor Speedway got it right when they named Rachel Gilbert the Grand Marshal for the F.W. Webb 100. In April, the 100 year young- yes, 100, celebrated the milestone by driving the track’s pace car around the one mile oval. As the Grand Marshal today, the Laconia, NH resident who came to the Bryar Motorsports Park in the early 60’s, continues to make headlines as she gave the command ‘drivers start your engines.’

From the Magic Mile to the Long Island quarter mile, the NWMT heads to Riverhead Raceway July 30th.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 16, 2011

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