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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park  by Polly Reid

Passing for the lead on the second circuit, Doug Coby of Milford, CT warded off the threats of Woody Pitkat, survived two restarts, made putting real estate between himself and Justin Bonsignore a quest to bring the Mike Smeriglio III owned, Dunleavy’s Repair/HEX Performance sponsored modified across the line for a solid victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park .

Justin Bonsignore crossed the line for second, with Todd Szegedy third, Keith Rocco fourth and Coors Light Pole winner Woody Pitkat fifth.

“This car is on rails here,” said Coby about the LFR Chassis car the team debut at the Icebreaker. “You know I love racing here,” said Coby who thanked the fans for coming out on a Wednesday night for the show. “What a great night for our team, we’ve been fast all day and I’m just happy when we have a fast car that I can manage not to screw it up and put it in victory lane.”

At the green, Pitkat brought the thirty car field around leading the first lap before Coby in the Dunleavy’s Repair/HEX Performance sponsored modified dove low going into turn three, side by side Pitkat and emerged the new leader coming out of turn four. From there, Coby in the MRS III Racing machine dominated the show.

Coby and Pitkat, nose to tail, set the pace for the long green run as the field strung out and settled into a groove that lasted 82 circuits. Because of the extensive run, Coby and Pitkat went to task working lap traffic.

“Everybody kind of ran their race, they gave good room including a lot of guys that typically don’t get lapped,” said Coby about the lap traffic. “They was courteous and that’s all you can hope for when it’s your day and not their day, so I’ll remember it and return the favor if I have to.”

When the first yellow waved on lap 82, thirteen cars remained on the lead lap. Ryan Preece was the recipient of the free pass as the field came down pit row for fresh Hoosiers and adjustments.

Pit stops are always key and at the top of their game, Coby’s crew and Pitkat’s crew answered the call as both cars exited pit row side by side. NASCAR officials gave the nod to Coby as first out and the field lined up for the green.

On the restart, choosing the outside lane, Coby commanded a start that pulled the line bringing Bonsignore, Rocco and and Szegedy suddenly into the mix.

Pitkat settled in line fifth on the restart, falling back to sixth by the time the next and final caution came out on lap 100. Ron Silk, stopped high just out of turn four was towed off as the field gathered again for the final sprint to the checkers.

Coby again selecting the outside lane with Bonsignore on the inside, Rocco, Szegedy and Pitkat the top five, Coby remained strong on the point. Bonsignore moved behind for second with Szegedy moving into third edging out Rocco for the spot while Pitkat slipped to sixth behind Bobby Santos. Pitkat was able to regain the position to end his night with a top five.

Out front, Coby turned an eight car length lead into as much as ten at one point crossing the line with a 1.231 second margin of victory for his 12th career NWMT win, his third at Thompson, second in a row at the famed CT oval- the MRS III Racing team duplicating what they accomplished in the season opening Icebreaker.

“This race track threw us all a curve ball today,” said Coby. “It was lock down tight all day, then not so much in the race. It was the freest this track has ever been since I’ve raced here. I found a little line that worked for me and waited for the caution. We all had to pit, the track was telling us we all had to pit. If I had stayed out I would have been eaten up, there wasn’t even a question.”

“We haven’t had a very good start to the year but they guys never gave up, they kept digging,” said Bonsignore about his M3 Technology modified finishing second. “This is a brand new car last week so we got the bugs worked out, the guys had a killer pit stop – you know, pitting in the back because we are so low on points didn’t really hurt us because we were able to get a clean shot out and got that all important fourth on the restart after the pit stop. This is like a win for us.”

“We over adjusted on the pit stop tonight,” said the Holtsville, NY driver. “But we’ll take second, that’s for sure.”

“The guys nailed the stop as far as I’m concerned. We were just a little too tight at the end up off to run with Doug. He’s got this place figured out this year.”

Bringing out a brand new Spafco Chassis five days ago at Stafford, the team has had a chance to figure the car out. “We debut this car last week and we have things we’re working out on it. Stafford is a tough place but it shows tonight, I’m happy with it- the car didn’t fall off much at all. It’s something to build on going forward.”

Dropping to the back of the field at the start for an unapproved change which Szegedy explained was a thought out decision to make the car right when it was discovered the offset on the rims was wrong, Szegedy was extremely pleased with their finish. “I’ve got to thank the whole team, these guys put a great car underneath me,” said Szegedy. “We’re at a bit of a disadvantage running this motor versus the spec motor, but that just goes to show you how good we got the chassis running. I’ve got to thank Bob Garbarino for putting me in this race car and for Don Barker setting it up.”

Probably the turning point for Szegedy was when Anthony Nocella spun in turn three bringing out the first yellow flag on lap 82. The timing could not have been better for the Ridgefield, CT driver who would have been the next car to go a lap down. “For once, luck is going my way. I got lucky that caution came out and both restarts we had were on the outside. And I drove my butt off. I’m just happy that we had an awesome racecar and we’ve got awesome Hutter horsepower. It’s very impressive how good we’re running against the quality of cars that we’re up against. I’m just driving my heart out- I don’t know what else to say. I’m communicating well with everyone on the race team.” Szegedy gave a shout out to his spotter, Jeff Rocco. “Jeff did a great job spotting for me, he’s been doing a great job, he’s awesome.”

“The chemistry is there,” said Szegedy. “It’s just a matter of catching it and getting it right. We’ll win one of these things before you know it. Tonight was fun, I had fun driving up from the back.”

Coby, Bonsignore, Szegedy, Rocco and Pitkat the top five, Bobby Santos crossed for sixth, Ryan Preece made a rebound from a lap down for seventh, Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito and Ted Christopher rounded out the top ten.

“Tonight,” said Coby the defending NWMT Champion, “this was Phil, Alex and the guys just giving me a great set up. I knew from the beginning that it was solid, it was like, let’s go.”

It’s still early but the math is there- Preece leads the NWMT points with 215, Pitkat stands at 210 while Coby climbs close with 209. Santos follows in fourth with 190 and Szegedy fifth with 183.

The Mr. Rooter 125 will air on NBCSN on Thursday June 18th at 6pm.
Next up for the NWMT is one of two visits this season to Riverhead Raceway Saturday June 27th for the Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: June 11, 2015

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