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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



New Hampshire Motor Speedway
by Polly Reid

Swapping the lead for the final 25 laps, it came down to the final circuit. The crowd on their feet, out of turn four with the checkered flag in the air, Mike Stefanik and Ron Silk were side by side, Rowan Pennink went low making it three wide for the win. In a split second, Pennink was forced to back out, Silk and Stefanik continued, crossing the line at nearly the same time. By 3 thousandths of a second, Mike Stefanik of Coventry, RI in the Ed Marceau owned, Canto & Sons Paving/Robert B Our Company sponsored Ford scored the coveted win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Silk locked in second, Doug Coby third, Eric Beers fourth and Todd Szegedy crossed fifth. Pennink held on for sixth.

“When I came out of four, I knew it was going to be tight,” said Stefanik recalling the last lap. “I actually physically sat up in the seat as much as much as I could and kind of like peered over the front of my car and rolled my eyes to the right to see what bumper was ahead. It’s actually funny, you wouldn’t think about doing that but I just wanted to win after such a long hard battle with Ronnie Silk. You hate to give it away, they just don’t come enough. This feeling I have today just never gets old. I’m 54 years old and I still feel like I’m 21.”

The Town Fair Tire 100 marks Stefanik’s 72nd career win, his eighth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, his last coming in August of 2011.

Silk commanded the lead from the green leading the entire first half until the mandatory break that fell at a lap 47 caution. While the likes of Keith Rocco, Ryan Preece, Rowan Pennink, Eric Beers and Ryan Newman swapped out second place, none were able to make a complete pass on Silk and make it stick for a full circuit. Stefanik who took the green ninth, methodically moved forward repeatedly optimizing the draft, move low and complete the pass. By the time the mandatory pit stop was called, Stefanik had secured second.

A right front flat on the Newman modified brought out a yellow on lap 47 where NASCAR officials called the mandatory pit stop. Drivers were able to change tires, fuel and make adjustments under the 5 minute red flag. When the green waved, Stefanik became the dominate threat to Silk’s day. With the final thirty two laps green, the pair would swap the top spot a modified fan pleasing seventeen times.
It was the final circuit that brought the fans to their feet.

“With three to go I made my decision. I didn’t want to make it with one to go because I thought that they would probably pass with one to go- they would want to be leading. I asked my spotter Carol who did a fantastic job, I said what lap is this and she said five to go at the line. I counted two more laps, made the pass on Ronnie and then I was like I have to try and hold this guy off for three laps because I did not want him going back by me for those three laps. His car got tight and that is what allowed me to come up with this plan. He was struggling a little bit in the corner but he had a lot of steam under the hood with that spec motor. I made the move with three to go- luck, whatever; we won it by a fraction.”

“Whenever you get in the lead draft here at New Hampshire, crazy stuff is happening the whole time,” said defending champion Silk in the Ed Partridge owned, Reynolds Auto Wrecking/Schnitzer sponsored Chevrolet. “I don’t know what it looked like from the outside but it was a lot of fun in the car. Mike did an awesome job on the last lap. I got a run on him, I ran him up a little bit and he was able to hang onto to it up in the marbles a little bit and beat me back to the line, congratulations to him and those guys. I was in the spot I wanted to be in on the last lap. I wanted to be in second coming off of turn two. I had the run down the backstretch but I just couldn’t get him. I knew this morning in practice, I was around him a little bit in practice drafting and I knew his car was good.”

The victory for 7 time NWMT champion Stefanik was as much as a win for him as it was for his new team, car owner Ed Marceau and crew chief Brad Lafontaine. “I always admired Brad Lafontaine’s ability to give his drivers fantastic cars. I’m still a student of this game, I study everybody’s car, you just know who is driving a good car, who is struggling. It seems like more often than not, he’s given his drivers what they need to win the race. He’s been around the game a long time, he works hard at it and he’s smart at it. He’s an icon crew chief in this series.”

Point leader Doug Coby of Milford, CT in the Reynolds Auto Wrecking Chevrolet overcame what turned out to be a challenging day for the Wayne Darling crew headed up by crew chief John McKenna. Starting third on the grid, Coby was not able to hold onto the position when the green flew. It would have been easy to think this team would be more than a long shot for the podium when Coby pitted on lap 8.

Then lap 13. Then again on lap 27. After the mandatory pit on lap 47, Coby lined up seventeenth. Making the adjustments early, the strategy paid off. Coby became a contender and was in the thick of things in the final circuit.

“My race was a little different than Ron’s,” explained Coby. “As I’m sure you guys saw me pit like four times. We were just struggling on that Nationwide Series and Cup rubber really bad, sometimes it comes around, sometimes it doesn’t. And I think those guys from 5th or 7th on back, the track really never came into their cars. We just made the right adjustments at the break. I don’t know how it happened but we found ourselves in the top five with ten to go. We tried to make some smart moves and right there at the end when Ron, Mike and Rowan were dicing it up I tried to get a couple of spots and we ended up third. It was a great day for our team.”

Andy Seuss of Hampstead, NH started 15th and crossed the line 7th. Denise DuPont was able to catch up with Andy at the conclusion of the Town Fair Tire 100, her report is below. Donny Lia finished 8th, Zane Zeiner 9th and Woody Pitkat a solid 10th.

Riverhead Raceway is the next stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on July 28th.

The contribution below is by Denise DuPont who caught up with Eric Beers and Andy Seuss in the pits after the race. Thank you Denise.

Eric Beers

Eric Beers has had a strong race car in 2012 and it is only a matter of when the Horwith Freightliner/John Blewett Inc. Ford will have a 2012 win. Beers started the race in eleventh spot and made his way through the field to actually lead the race for a short while. He ran with the leaders the whole race making some daring moves on the outside, some which cost him race spots. “We had a good car right out of the box,” said Beers about the #45. “We drove from twelfth right up to second. We got by Ronnie (Silk) once for the lead and then he got right by us. We were twelfth for the first segment and we were short and got fourth for the second segment. Our second set of tires we not near as good as the first set of tires. We were very loose. The car would drive into the corner and I would turn right through the whole corner. We dropped all the way back to twelfth or thirteenth with twenty laps to go. Then it end up tightening up a little bit. I found a lane where the car would actually work and I started driving the car in a different spot and I drove all the way up to fourth. If we had a little bit more help there I thought we had a real good shot at it. One time we drove up underneath Stefanik for second coming through the corner but the draft killed us and we were back to fifth place.”

“Congratulations to Michael and his team. They had a good run. It was a nice clean race. Hopefully we come back here next year and we do not have to wait for the car to come in until twenty laps to go.”

Andy Seuss

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour has been the primary concentration for New Hampshire native Andy Seuss. On off weekends Seuss has raced where he can with the family owned #70 car. Seuss started the Rockingham Boat/MUA/Summit Signs Chevrolet fifteenth and maneuvered his way to the front.

Seuss finished the race seventh. “I am real happy with my race finish. The car was real loose at the green flag and the guys did some awesome adjustments. We almost thought that it was going to be too much but it did get loose the last few laps. During the last few laps I had a great battle with Szegedy at the end.”

“Just a run with those teams today , guys like - Lia, Szegedy, Pennink, Silk and the money that they spend while we are just doing it as a family operation it is amazing. I have to thank my parents, Lyle and Kathy Patterson, Lee and Pam Vinyl from Vinyl Excavating, and everybody that put into this car or work on the car for this race to make it better. It is great just to be friends with everybody that we race with. And to have a good finish at a track like this.".

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 15, 2012

©2012 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.