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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Bristol Motor Speedway
by Polly Reid

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Southern Modified Tour met at the high banked ‘world’s fastest half-mile’ for their combined event, the UNOH Perfect Storm 150. Ron Silk from Norwalk, CT in the Ed Partridge owned, Calverton Tree Farm/TS Haulers sponsored Chevrolet won the Coors Light pole award and finished off the night crossing the line for a victory, his second of the 2012 season.

Following Silk across the strip was Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece, Justin Bonsignore and Ron Yuhas, Jr.

Leading the 36 combined Tour field to the green, Todd Szegedy in the Mike Smeriglio Ford edged out Silk to become the first leader of the evening on the first circuit, Ted Christopher falling into second and Silk third. The complexion of the race changed immediately on the fourth lap when a solo spin by Ryan Newman on the front stretch, running sixth, forced the entire field behind him to take evasive action.

A massive pile up brought out the red flag, the night suddenly over for Mike Stefanik who posted fastest time in the second practice, Rowan Pennink who was making his way forward along with John Smith, Burt Myers and Tim Brown.

Szegedy, Christopher, Silk, Ryan Preece and Jon McKennedy led the restart with Christopher in the Boehler entry taking over as the new leader on lap thirteen becoming the car to beat. Szegedy kept Christopher within striking distance as the UNOH Perfect Storm continued, Szegedy using a restart strategy taking over the lead on lap 59. It was shortly after that when Christopher coming out of turn two made contact with Ryan Preece running third, Christopher cut down a tire and going around, became the fourth caution of the evening. Preece was able to maintain his position.

At the half way mark, Szegedy led the way down pit row for the mandatory half way break as teams took on tires, fuel and made adjustments on lap 75.

Lining up for the green, Szegedy, Silk, Preece, Bonsignore and Ron Yuhas led the way for the final segment. A red flag and another caution kept Szegedy from completely driving away from the field. It was just after a restart with less than 25 to go that turned up the half mile heat. As Silk was making his move low for a pass, contact with Szegedy was made. The spin sent Szegedy to the rear of the lead lap cars for what turned out to be the final restart of the night, 17 laps to the checkers.

Inheriting the lead, Silk pulled away from the pack as Preece and Bonsignore battled for second. Meanwhile, Szegedy, using the outside groove, blazed his way forward and with nine laps to go, passed Bonsignore for third, then Preece for second with three to go. Closing the gap to Silk leading, Szegedy simply ran out of time. Silk crossed for the win, Szegedy second, Preece, Bonsignore and Yuhas the top five.

“I got a run down the backstretch,” explained Silk about the incident with Szegedy. “I don’t know, I haven’t seen the video but I’m pretty confident in the fact that I got down under him, I had a wheel under him, held my car as low as I could on the racetrack – I was far enough where I wouldn’t lift. I don’t even think he knew I was even there the way he turned down. Todd is a good friend of mine, he is one of the few people I really respect, I understand him being upset and disappointed at the end there, I’ve done things like that too. I think when he sees it, he might have a different opinion.”

Szegedy made an outstanding comeback through the field and if there were a few more laps, there could have possibly been a different outcome. Catching up with Szegedy after the event, there was no masking his disappointment. “I’ve got nothing to prove except to win races,” said Szegedy. “To me, this is a loss because no matter how I came back through the pack, it doesn’t matter, I finished second and that’s the most painful thing. The good thing is, my team gave me a good car, a car that could win.”

The UNOH Perfect Storm win is Silk’s ninth career victory. “It’s awesome,” said the defending champion.

“This and Loudon are definitely the two coolest places to win races. Now being able to say I’ve won at both of them is definitely awesome. It’s an awesome feeling driving up to the roof of that building where victory lane is and now I’ll have the trophy that says Bristol Victory Lane forever.”Silk continued, “We’ve got a good team, we’ve been experimenting with a lot of stuff this year and kind of still are but we have it going in the right direction and Thompson is one of my best tracks, I’ve finished first and second so far there this year so hopefully we can go get another win.”

Winning crew chief Tom Grasso talked about their day that started with an 8:30am practice session. “We started out pretty good, actually we usually don’t come off the trailer here and run all that good. Today, when we rolled off the trailer the car was the best it was all day. We adjusted a bunch of stuff on the car during the two practices and we never really found anything better than when we first rolled out so we switched it all back, run what we came with. It seemed to work, put it on the pole, made a few adjustments for the race- the car was a little free in the first segment, tightened it up some for the second segment, he was still a little free but it worked out ok. The track is demanding and unforgiving on the driver and the race car. You would think it was an easy place to drive because of all the banking but the banking and the speed actually makes it much more difficult. It’s tough on setups, there is a lot of diversity on the setups on the cars here. We just had everything right today.”

Winning at Bristol? “Right up there, one of the biggest. This is just as big as Loudon and this is such a tough track to run on it kind of means a little something extra.”

Car owner Ed Partridge echoed Grasso’s thoughts of winning at Bristol. “It feels great. We’ve been struggling here a little bit. We came with a brand new shock package- I didn’t think we would run as good as we did. Szegedy was coming pretty hard, a little contact with him, Ron tried to back out then they touched and he spun. But overall we had a great finish. Teddy was strong in the beginning, then he had some trouble. Ryan was strong then he faded a little. Bonsignore was coming, there were a lot of guys challenging there at the end. They just for whatever reason had some issues. Szegedy was coming back up as you can see, he caught us in the end.”

Preece in the East West Marine Ford closed out his night third after a brush with Christopher before the half way mark. “Teddy just got real loose and things happen so fast here. I was trying to turn down but I was still trying to go through the corner there – when you check up, you’re already into the guy there. It ruined his day, screwed up our day- we probably would have been really good in that second half if that didn’t happen. I’m happy we ended up third. We’re going to keep going forward and just keep trying to knock off some good finishes.” Damage after the contact with Christopher kept the Flamingo Motorsports team busy during the break. “We tried to get the toe on the front end as close as we could get it. We have an awesome team, everyone behind us and we’re going to look forward to Thompson. We know we have a really good car there- I want to win the pole and the race there for sure.”

George Brunnhoelzl III crossed the line as the first NASCAR Southern Whelen Modified Tour entry taking home an overall sixth place finish. Starting 10th, Brunnhoelzl III was able to escape the carnage of the early pile up on the front stretch going on to take claim his fourth NSWMT win of the season.

“The guys did great, we had a good car. We struggled here for the last three years, we got a little bit better this year but apparently we are still searching.”

Brunnhoelzl III from West Babylon, NY in the Howard Harvey owned, Phoenix Pre-Owned sponsored Chevrolet remained consistent in the first half coming in seventh at the half way break. “We tried to tighten it up a little bit (during the break) and it just wasn’t enough. The track changed from earlier today, I don’t know maybe it was just my car, but it definitely got a little different. Brunnhoelzl III will be the first to tell there were a lot of close calls out there today but his philosophy, especially regarding points, remains the same. “We set out to win every race and hope the points fall where they fall. Winning is always the best way to do anything with the points.” The NASCAR Southern Modified Tour heads to Langley September 1st, Brunnhoelzl III leads the series in points by 52 over Danny Bohn.

Following Brunnhoelzl was Danny Bohn seventh, Ken Heagy eighth, Thomas Stinson ninth and Michael Speeney tenth.

Next up for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the Town Fair Tire 75 at Thompson International Speedway September 9th.

“You lose respect for how fast you’re going until you have to stop” Ron Silk, Bristol Motor Speedway August 22, 2012.

  Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 23, 2012

©2012 GeeLaw Motorsports/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.