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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen All-American Series



presented by G-Oil

Polly Reid

Cutting a tire going for the lead on the first lap would appear to be a recipe for a perfectly long and unrewarding night. Ryan Preece in the Eric Sanderson owned, East West Marine/Diversified Metals Ford lined up second outside pole winner Bobby Santos at the drop of the green and by turn four on the opening circuit found himself pointing in the wrong direction. Preece and the Flamingo Motorsports Team turned the lemon incident into lemonade when at the checkers Preece crossed the line capturing the win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour TSI Harley-Davidson 125 at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Following Preece across the line was Ron Silk second, Rowan Pennink third, Donny Lia fourth and Bobby Santos fifth.

“Man, this car was awesome – through one and two it was so good,” said Preece who thanked his girlfriend Heather in victory lane. “I don’t even know what to say it’s been so long since I’ve been in victory lane here in a Tour modified. Those last ten laps were the longest laps of my life. I was waiting for something to happen and nothing did- I can’t even explain how happy I am right now.”

Bobby Santos led the 27 car field to green with Preece on the outside but by the fourth turn before one circuit was on the board, slight contact cut down a left rear tire on Preece’s car sending the Berlin, CT driver around. Preece was forced to pit and as the field lined up for a complete restart, Preece was at the rear of the field. “It wasn’t intentional,” said Preece about the contact. “When you get in these cars and go real hard, you get on the brakes real hard and the nose just slides- I think that’s what happened. To tell you the truth, I’m happy it happened because we came in, adjusted the car and made it better on the stop- the car was just awesome. I think maybe I should thank Bobby.”

Ron Silk inherited second place and on the restart powered on the outside to become the leader. The fourth caution on lap 29 brought in several cars to pit row including Preece for tires.

Silk continued out front but was challenged first by Jimmy Blewett then Doug Coby. Coby, the winner of this race one year ago made his pass for the lead on lap 47 only to have it disregarded as the yellow waved, a full lap not completed.

The TSI Harley-Davidson 125 riddled with yet more cautions-Silk was suddenly fending off challenges from Todd Szegedy by lap 59. Meanwhile Preece had worked through the field and was now inside the top ten.

On the restart just past half way, it was Silk leading Coby, Blewett, Preece and Szegedy the top five – when suddenly Szegedy, having a solid run, went around in turn two- a right rear flat, another caution.

The red flag was displayed on lap 85 after contact sent Cole Powell into the turn three outside wall- the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender became hung up on the armco barrier.

It was getting to be ‘go time’ and from the lap 92 restart on, it was hard green flag racing with Silk, Coby, Preece, Donny Lia, Pennink, Justin Bonsignore, Mike Stefanik, Bryon Chew and Santos leading the way.

Preece moved into second just before lap 100 and less than ten circuits later made the lemonade. Powering down the frontstretch, Preece moved low under Silk going into turn one emerging the second and final leader of the night on lap 107. Once out front Preece never looked back putting as much distance as possible between himself and the rest of the field.

“It’s just the way things fell, when you have the opportunity, you have to take it,” said Preece about the winning pass. “I got a run on Ronnie and once I committed there was no backing out. He gave me room – this was our night. I’m sure it’ll be someone else’s night the next race but it’s good to get the monkey off the back here – we’ve been working on the cars to get them better here and we finally did- we’re making strides, moving forward.”

“I’m sure it helped that he was on 30 lap newer tires,” said Silk who was the highest that did not pit. “But I don’t know how much of difference it made because his car looked like it was driving pretty good- obviously. We needed to get a good run after the Sizzler, it’s good to get going in the right direction. The car, from lap one to one hundred, it ran really good then from there it slowly got worse, the tires were losing more and more grip. We were the first car to finish that didn’t pit, we had a good race, led a bunch of laps- we’ll build on that.”

“The guys did a great job,” Silk added about the Silk about the Ed Partridge owned, TS Haulers/Calverton Tree Farm. “It’s just disappointing to lead that many laps and come up short but Ryan was really flying there at the end. I want to thank all the guys that work on the car, we needed a good run and we got it.”

Second fastest in practice, Rowan Pennink in the Mark Pennink owned, Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner Chevrolet rolled off the grid ninth. The call for new tires and adjustments was key to Pennink making his podium finish. “I’ve got to thank everyone on this 93 team- we started 9th and back pedaled a little bit. We pitted midway through the race and the guys did an awesome job- the whole 93 team, they fixed this up enough for us to get a top five here. “

“The way the car was handling, it wasn’t much of a decision to decide to pit. We started inside the top ten and fell back from there. When I realized the car wasn’t that great I decided to hang out, make sure I stayed out of trouble and waited for around lap 50 so we could get tires on it and make some changes. The car was a lot better after the pit stop. We couldn’t compete for the win but it was a whole lot better than we were looking.” Pennink’s season to date has been solid. “So far we haven’t finished out of the top five in both series (NWMT and VMRS). I’d like to keep that going for as long as I can – knock on wood we can keep that up.”

Flamingo Motorsports car owner Eric Sanderson was happy to see what could have been a long night turn into a celebration. “I didn’t see what happened, then all of a sudden the guys said ‘flat tire’ and I said ‘oh boy, long night.’ Ryan just has so much talent and Sly, he got the car right there. Ryan was patient and worked his way up then at the end he stretched it out real good. Incredible night, that’s all I can say. The team, you don’t have to rally them, they’re just racers, they want to win. They want to do the best they can and win.”

Crew chief Stan ‘Sly’ Szaban admitted the win had not sunk in yet. “I didn’t expect this. This afternoon we were sitting at the picnic table thinking because it just wasn’t working. We came with a setup we used all last year which worked last year. Today, the car was just terrible in practice. I know it rained a lot and thought the track wouldn’t be in the greatest of condition and decided not to chase the race track, I’d go by my notes and not worry about it. But when Ryan went out there and complained about it and you’re 11th on the practice sheet, you got to be worried about it. I stepped back and thought if I were coming back next week, there is nothing I would change in the car, I felt good about what we had but was confused on why it wasn’t working, it should be running good.”

Because of the location of the team in the pits, Szaban did not witness the incident on the opening circuit. “I thought well, here we go. Going to the back like that, I didn’t like it but it wasn’t the end of the world. We were planning to pit early, around lap thirty. Obliviously we didn’t know when the cautions were going to come out so it kind of worked. It kind of fell our way because if we were leading say at lap 30, how do you pit? Then you come in and get wrecked coming back through the field and you’re like that’s a foolish move. ”Thoughtful, Szaban added, “Ryan- the kid can drive a race car- he’s just good. Tonight was a team effort, we had a good pit stop-it takes every piece of the puzzle to make it happen.”

His sixth NWMT overall win, his second at Stafford, Preece started his night off celebrating a victory in the SK modified division. “It’s definitely a career night.”

Doug Coby finished the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 sixth, JustinBonsignore seventh, Mike Stefanik, Jimmy Blewett and Woody Pitkat the top ten.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action at the Waterford Speedbowl Saturday June 22nd. Preece carries the point lead going to Waterford with 130. Pennink second at 124 with Stefanik third at 118.

Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: June 16, 2013

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