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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Szegedy Wins First 2015 NHMS Race In The Mystic Missile  by Denise DuPont

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) returned to the ‘Magic Mile’ at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS) to run what they call their ‘Daytona’ race. There were thirty-five teams to qualify and thirty-four that took the green flag. The format was fifty laps, five minute competition yellow and then a green flag to complete the 100 lap race.

The drivers ran a conservative race the first fifty laps shaking out their modifieds to get ready for the nerve wracking second half of the race. The field stopped around lap 52 when the competition yellow flag flew. Doug Coby of Milford, CT. was then leading, followed by Woody Pitkat from Stafford, CT. in second, Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, CT. in third, Donny Lia from Jericho, NY. in fourth and Ron Silk, of Norwalk, CT fifth.

On the mid-race restart, Lia made contact with the leader, Coby, and sent him spinning into Pitkat. The wreck ended Coby’s day. Szegedy inherited the lead followed by Lia in second, Silk in third and Preece for fourth. From there, the top four drafted and put on a typical NHMS modified show by lead swapping over the final 40 laps. Szegedy made the final lead pass on lap 90 and led the rest of the way.

A caution/red flag was thrown on lap 97 which brought up the race intensity a notch. There were three drivers that had been taking their turn with the lead and each one of them wanted the special NHMS modified win. Sitting in their cars drivers planned their final strategies in anticipation of a green, white, checkered finish. Spotters worked to calm down their drivers along with psyching them up for the final shootout. The green flag flew and there were three hard charging laps of racing. In the end, Szegedy brought the Mystic Missile #4 across the finish line by a nose ahead of second place finisher, Lia.

“This win means a lot to our team.” Stated Szegedy about his win. “The first half of the race I was way too tight. We knew we had to free it up but not too much. Halfway through that second half my car was neutral and I knew if I could get to the lead it was going to be tough for them to get around me. I feel we have a lot of great race cars out there now and we are all pretty equal. And this is what it is going to come down to every time we come here.”

“Everyone ran me real clean today. Donny could have drove it in, but he didn’t. I have to thank everybody…the Mystic Missile Team, Bob Garbarino and Don Barker. We all have such a great relationship.”

Donny Lia finished the NH modified race where he started, in second. He ran with the leaders all day long and kept the #8 Sypher Construction/Barrdahl Chevrolet clear of incidents. “We ran our race pretty much as planned, “said Lia.

Lia had the perfect position to describe what unfolded during the wreck that took out leader Doug Coby. “I was just on his bumper hard trying to stay square with him. At the same time I was hit so hard from the back that it took my rear tires off the ground with the engine revving.” Lia said about the race half-way start. “At that point there was nothing that you could do. I continued to try to stay square with Doug and then he got out of shape. And when you are the guy in the middle like that there is nothing that you can do especially on the restart when everybody is accelerating. Luckily I was able to get out of that and still have a good run.”

As the last 10 laps clicked off, Lia was ready for any late race action. “We were just trying to position ourselves for when the red flag came out and we did it. That restart it kind of fell into our hands and put us in a good position. Running fourth and on the outside was really not the place to be. So we knew I had to make the most of it and I did.” In the end Lia pulled a second place finish from his last charge. “I just could not put a good run together through turn one and two. On the last lap I could not get a good run on the top. It was just not as nearly a good enough run, so I could not get any rhythm. All and all it was a really good day for us.”

Bobby Santos scathed major damage early on in the race and survive the last incident. He was on the bottom on the final race restart where every driver knows the odds are against you. But he gave it his all and hung on to finish third. “We had a good run there.” Stated Santos about his podium finish. “I was happy with our run and I did not want to see that last yellow. I think that I was running second then and I was starting to make progress on Todd. I was hoping that would play right out until the end because I thought that it was in our favor. Then we got the yellow and I was in second place which is not the place to be, stuck on the bottom. Luckily I got back up in line in third. We were I needed a couple of laps to get going and then I could make my move. Todd and Donny had a good run on the outside. We will go home with a solid third.’

Patrick Emerling and Ron Silk rounded out the top five. While Ryan Preece finished sixth ahead of Woody Pitkat, Eric Goodale, Keith Rocco and Chase Dowling.

The “Andy Blacksmith 100” presented by Donate Life New England NWMT race will premiere on NBCSN on Thursday, July 23 at 6 p.m. ET.
The NWMT returns to action Saturday, July 25, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200 at Monadnock Speedway.

Notes from New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

What went through your mid as you sat in your car during the last yellow/red flag situation?

Todd Szegedy

“I knew if I could get to the lead and get a good run while driving defensively I was going to win that race,” confessed Szegedy. “When we crossed the line with the white flag going into turn two I said to myself, “Was that actually the white flag or not?’ Then I just drove as hard as I could while protecting the bottom. We put in a new spec engine this weekend and it really paid off.”

Last year ended on an uncertain note. What happened between then and now?

Todd Szegedy
Szegedy spent last year running only part-time on the NWMT for Rob Fuller Motorsports team. He also competed for Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) for owner Kevin Stuart. “My future was uncertain and Rob put me in a car and gave me an opportunity. During the off season I did not know what I was going to do. I drove in the MRS series for Kevin Stuart to keep me active. This deal with the #4 team came very, very late, a couple of weeks before the first race. Then Don Baker got involved and I knew with Don and the great relationship that we have together it would be good move. I do not have to say much and Don knows what I want.”
“I took a victory from the #4 the last time that we run here and now I gave him one so it is a good deal. This win also put them in a category here. If I am not mistaken it places them in the highest winning category here. The amount of guys that have driven this race car is amazing and I am just honored to be a part of the team.”
“I think that everybody has to go through some tough times to appreciate victory, team work and patience. Just when you think times are tough just keep going forward and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep just a good positive attitude.”

What did you see when the caution came out on the mid-race start?

Donny Lia
“We were running third and what occurred on that restart is kind of typical at this place. Everyone kind of got squirrelly and pile in. We just had some cosmetic damage but we pitted to make sure that we did not have any radiator damage or anything. Then we got it back out. And actually we did not lose anything by pitting and getting back out.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: July 19, 2015

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