The Thompson Speedway officially opened the 2008 racing season in
the northeast on April 6 and began the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour Series. For a good part of the day it was misting and
threatening rain. Eddie Flemke Jr brought back fond remembrances of
his father’s Thompson 300 win in 1978 as he elected not to pit when
the leaders did and it paid off handsomely, $7,920, to the second
generation driver. Flemke, who started eighth, was running third and
he inherited the lead on lap 71 when leader Todd Szegedy and
second-place Reggie Ruggiero pitted. Flemke led until lap 92 when
the race was finally red flagged because of extremely heavy mist
that coated the track and made it unsafe. It was also the first win
for Gary Teto, Flemke’s car owner.
A similar situation occurred 30 years ago and involved Flemke’s
father and Bugsy Stevens. Stevens was clearly the fastest car during
the running of the Thompson 300. When rain began falling Stevens was
instructed to pit and handed the lead to Flemke. Flemke gambled that
the rain would prevail and that it did! Chuck Hossfeld, in Bob
Garbarino’s Mystic Missile finished second and was followed by Bob
Grigas, Long Islander Joe Hartmann and rookie Tom Abele. Sixth
through tenth were James Civali who was the Coors Light Pole sitter
and clearly the fastest on the track, Todd Szegedy, Reggie Ruggiero,
Rowan Pennick and Ted Christopher.
There were five caution periods for 53 laps. NASCAR Tour director
Chad Little needed to get a better grip on this situation as it took
way too long to get restart lineups correct. There were 39 Tour
Modifieds on hand and despite the cold weather close to 8,000 fans
turned out for the season opener.
Prior to the race, former champions Frankie Schneider (1952) and
Donny Lia (2007), and the late Richie Evans (nine-time champion)
were honored by NASCAR and series sponsor Whelen Engineering.
The Stafford Motor Speedway opened on April 27 for the season under
sunny skies with qualifying for the annual Spring Sizzler, an event
that has run continuously since 1972 featuring the NASCAR Modifieds.
Thirty five Modifieds were on hand for qualifying for the 200 lap
event that carried a purse of $94,676. In the inaugural event the
late Eddie Flemke, driving the Bobby Judkins No.2x Pinto led until
the closing stages when his engine suffered water pump failure,
forcing him out of the event. Waiting in the wings on Flemke’s
bumper was the late Fred DeSarro who was driving the car they call
“Ole Blu” which was owned by the late Len Boehler. DeSarro inherited
the lead and went on to take the win. Now, some thirty five years
later the same names re-appear, well almost. Seventeen year old Ryan
Preece, who is the grandson of Bobby Judkins drove the 2008 version
of “Ole Blu” which is now owned by Michael Boehler, Len Boehler’s
son, and his mother Janice. Preece, who failed to qualify for the
2007 Sizzler, toured the Stafford half mile in 18.057 seconds,
99.684mph, and earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the Sizzler.
Second fastest was Eric Beers with a time of 18.084 sec. Chuck
Hossfeld, Ted Christopher and Jimmy Blewett rounded out the top five
in qualifying. Following a redraw, Rob Summers and Frank Ruocco
picked front row for Sunday’s race, with Jimmy Blewett and Eric
Beers in the second row.
Ted Christopher got a little closer to the 100 feature win mark as
he won his 98th career win at the nutmeg oval as he won the 200 lap
Spring Sizzler. Christopher pitted after Wade Cole spun on lap 141.
Restarting in 12th spot, Christopher made a determined march to the
front. He broke into the top five by lap 156 after Kevin Goodale
spun. By lap 167 Christopher had moved into second spot, turning up
the heat on leader Eric Beers. Christopher put Beers away on lap 172
and never looked back. Beers ended up in second spot and was
followed by Chuck Hossfeld, Mike Stefanik and James Civali. Sixth
through tenth were Rowan Pennick, Richard Savory, Jamie Tomaino,
Todd Szegedy and Glen Tyler.
Ryan Preece, who became the youngest Coors Light Pole Award winner
on Saturday, led 64 laps in the event but exited the race on lap 91
while in the lead with engine failure.
Numerous cautions, 13 for 71 laps, slowed the event and at one point
the event had to be red flagged. It was on lap180 after Jimmy
Blewett made a hard impact with the SAFER barrier in Turn 1. He
climbed out of the vehicle then expressed displeasure at Matt
Hirschman before taking his mandatory ambulance ride. Blewett's 19
car was briefly airborne and needed the double hook to be removed
from the track.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ended their “Spring Break” on
May 23 when the Whelen Modifieds made their second stop of the
season at Stafford. The Whelen Modified Tour Series almost got
scrubbed as heavy showers caused a nearly 2-1/2 hour delay. The
event, scheduled to go off at 9:00pm actually got the green at
11:30. Chuck Hossfeld, driving the Mystic Missile of Bob Garbarino,
ended a personal four year dry spell as he took the win in the TSI
Harley-Davidson 150 at Stafford. Hossfeld, who was also the Coors
Light Pole sitter, started on the pole of the event and led 39 of
the first 40 laps of the event before giving way to Bob Grigas III.
Grigas and a host of the race front runners pitted on lap 92 under
caution which allowed Matt Hirschman to assume the lead. Hossfeld
beat Hirschman back to the starting line when the event went back to
green on lap 107 and never looked back. Todd Szegedy finished second
and was followed by Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik and Jimmy Blewett.
Eric Beers, Ed Flemke Jr., Ryan Preece, James Civali and rookie
Erick Rudolph rounded out the top 10. During post-race technical
inspection, a probable illegal carburetor part was discovered on the
No.19 that was driven by Blewett. The part in question will be taken
back to the NASCAR Research & Development Center in Concord, N.C.,
for further evaluation. Until an official decision was made only the
first four positions were official.
There were 37 Modifieds on hand and nine caution periods for 46
laps. Prior to the race NASCAR honored seven-time NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour Champion Mike Stefanik as part of the season-long
celebration of 60 years of Modified champions.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series visited the Thompson Speedway
on Thursday night, June 19, with a new format that consisted of a 75
green flag lap event. Ronnie Silk ended a long dry spell for himself
and car owner Roger Hill as he beat out Ted Christopher for the win.
Silk, who previously won at Thompson on September 23, 2007, took the
lead from Ted Christopher on lap 53 and never looked back while en
route to his first win of the season. Bobby Grigas III and Kevin
Goodale ran wheel to wheel for the first 21 laps when they tangled
in turn four. Goodale spun to the infield and was able to restart at
the rear. Grigas ran with Ed Flemke Jr on his bumper until lap 27
when Flemke tapped and spun him in turn four. NASCAR felt the hit
was intentional and put Flemke to the rear. Flemke agreed and went
willingly. Ted Christopher inherited the lead with Silk in second
spot when the field restarted. Christopher survived numerous
restarts as the night wore on and the night got cooler.
Christopher’s luck ran out following the 12th caution. The yellow
flag period dragged for too long resulting in Christopher’s tires
cooling off and losing traction. The resulting restart saw Silk
rocket from his outside row starting spot and taking the lead upon
entering turn one. Christopher managed to hang onto second spot and
was followed at the finish by Mike Stefanik, Chuck Hossfeld and Tony
Ferrante Jr. Sixth through tenth were Todd Szegedy, Matt Hirschman,
Bobby Santos, Kevin Goodale and Ryan Preece.
Earlier in the evening Grigas nabbed his first career Coors Light
Pole Award. The second-year driver turned in a time of 18.751
seconds (119.994). He ended up 21st, one lap down. There were 38
Modifieds on hand. A year ago the Modifieds were 10 stronger. The
competition was top shelf but competitors were not happy with the
format. Despite the fact that the purse for the event was reduced
admission prices remained unchanged. Pit area population was down as
was the grandstand.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to Loudon, NH on
June 28 for their first of two visits for 2008. Rain greeted fans
and competitors who were on hand for qualifying on Thursday. Because
of adverse weather NASCAR was forced to set the starting field of 38
cars based on point standings and the rulebook. There were 42 cars
on hand, which meant that four would go home. Sent packing was Doug
Coby, Jon Mckennedy, Kenny Horton and Kenny Bouchard. Among those in
the field was L.W. Miller who would become the first driver to run a
Spec engine in Whelen Modified Tour competition.
The four Whelen Modified Tour teams that were sent home from New
Hampshire Motor Speedway after qualifying for Saturday's New England
100 was cancelled on Thursday each received tow money from the
track. Track spokesman Fred Neergaard confirmed that each team was
paid $500 by the track.
Chuck Hossfeld led only one lap but it was the one that counted as
won out in a photo finish with Ted Christopher. Christopher, who had
led since lap 69 had a checker on his mind but Hossfeld had other
ideas as he dogged him with no mercy. Ed Flemke Jr finished third
and was followed by Eric Beers and Reggie Ruggerio. Sixth through
tenth were Bobby Santos, Todd Szegedy, Ryan Preece, Jeff Fuller and
Ronnie Silk. Hossfeld pocketed $15,600 for his efforts. Hossfeld and
Christopher kept the crowd on its feet for the final ten laps as
they traded positions at the front numerous times. It was by far one
of the best finishes ever seen at the New Hampshire oval. Hopefully
someone in the O. Bruton Smith empire will recognize the great
potential the division holds. L.W. Miller, who used the new “Spec
Engine” finished 20th.
The victory was the seventh of Hossfeld’s career, his third at New
Hampshire and his second of the season.
The Loudon Modified event had been scheduled to be televised and was
to be shown on the Speed Channel on July 18. Needless to say the
Whelen Modifieds took it on the chin again as the TV coverage was
scrapped. On the positive side Speedway Motorsports upper management
was impressed with the Whelen Modifieds to the point where they
indicated the Mods could possibly get a third date at Loudon if and
when the Indy Cars are added to the track’s schedule.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour moved to the Spencer Speedway in
Williamson, N.Y on July 12 for its sixth race of the 2008 season.
Matt Hirschman reached Victory Lane for the first time in his NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour career after he led 79 laps and won the Mason
Farms 100. Hirschman, who won the second of two 25-lap heat races
earlier in the evening, led four times throughout the 100-lap main
and was the car to beat all night. After Mike Stefanik had moved
through the field and took the lead on lap 89, the veteran was
caught up in an accident coming out of Turn 3 and Hirschman took
back a lead that he would never relinquish. Hirschman’s first
victory came in his 45th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start.
Ronnie Silk was the runner-up to Hirschman in the race which marked
his third top 10 finish in a row. Chuck Hossfeld, who won the first
heat race, came home third, and has yet to finish outside the top
five in six races this year. Jimmy Blewett followed Hossfeld across
the finish line while Stefanik wound up fifth. They were followed in
the top 10 by Glen Reen, Todd Szegedy, Wade Cole, Danny Sammons and
Bobby Grigas III. The finish was the best of Reen’s rookie season.
Hirschman received a paltry $3,700 for his efforts.
Earlier in the evening Williamson native Jan Leaty captured the
Coors Light Pole Award following group qualifying, but suffered a
crash on the first lap of the main and could not continue. From many
reports it appeared that it was the scene of a lot of follow the
leader racing. Nine caution periods kept the competition to a
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ended their mid-summer break as they
moved to the Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway for the Miller Lite 140 on
Saturday, Aug. 2. As part of a season-long celebration of 60 years
of Modified champions, 1994 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist
Wayne Anderson was honored.
Jimmy Blewett registered his third career NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour when he took the checkered flag. Blewett was strong throughout
the evening as he led three times for 80 laps, including the final
46. After qualifying fourth-fastest, Blewett took the win in the
second of two 25-lap heat races that preceded the 140-lap main. He
was then able to parlay his qualifying success into running up front
in the feature. After staring on the outside pole, Blewett led the
first 10 circuits and swapped the lead with pole-sitter Bill Park
twice in the early going. He would take his third and final lead of
the night on a restart on lap 102. For the second race in a row,
Ronnie Silk finished as the runner-up. With four top-10s in a row,
including a win, Silk has moved up to seventh in the season points
standings after a slow start. Making his first NASCAR Whelen
Modified Tour start of the year after he captured the series title a
year ago, Donny Lia finished third and was followed in the top five
by Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece. The fifth place finish was the
best of Preece’s young career. Ken Heagy, Mike Stefanik, Dan
Jivanelli, Glenn Tyler and Eric Beers filled out the top 10. Chuck
Hossfeld came home 18th in the race and suffered his first finish
outside the top five this year, but will retain a 44-point lead over
Christopher in the season standings.
As usual, the Riverhead event was slam-bang with lots of wrecks and
extended caution periods. Of the 147 actually run, 95 were under
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season reached its midway point when
the New England Dodge Dealers 150 was run at the Stafford Motor
Speedway on Friday night,Aug 8. Jimmy Blewett, who was running third
on the final lap got a gift from NASCAR when apparent winner Ryan
Preece was stripped of the victory and placed last on the lead lap.
Preece passed Todd Szegedy for the lead on a lap 86 restart and led
until a lap 149 restart when Szegedy went by him on the green flag
before the last lap confrontation. Szegedy admitted that he roughed
up the leader in order to make the pass. Shortly after taking the
lead Preece gave Szegedy a slight tap as they entered turn one which
caused Szegedy to spin in turn two. Evidently NASCAR director Chad
Little felt that Preece needed to be penalized as he made the call
that stripped him of the win. Ed Flemke ended up in second spot and
was followed by Doug Coby who has, along with Woody Pitkat, replaced
James Civali in the Don King No. 28, Matt Hirschman, Eric Beers,
Kevin Goodale, Mike Stefanik, Danny Sammons, Carl Pasteryak and
Charlie Pasteryak. Chuck Hossfeld finished 15th and holds an 86
point lead over Ted Christopher.
Many tongues were wagging over the last lap incident between Ryan
Preece and Todd Szegedy. Szegedy roughed up Preece to get the lead
as they both apparently over-drove a bit going into the first turn.
When the pair made contact NASCAR Director Chad Little felt that
Preece had deliberately hit Szegedy. After watching a video produced
on the Stafford website it appears that Szegedy was just as much at
fault in the incident. Little, who is getting to be known as the
“Invisible Man” made himself scarce after the call and was
unavailable for comment. Preece and Boehler Racing took a lot of
abuse after the event, which was uncalled for.
There were eight caution laps for 46 laps and seven lead changes
among five drivers. Among those who failed to qualify were Tom
Abele, Jr., Jake Marosz, Reggie Ruggiero, Renee Dupuis, Gary
McDonald and Frank Ruocco, who attempted qualifying after crashing
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour invaded the Thompson Speedway last
week. Rain cancelled qualifying which led to a start based on
current point standings. All 33 cars on hand started the event.
Point leader Chuck Hossfeld led the opening laps before giving way
to Todd Szegedy. An incident on lap 4 involved Eddie Flemke, Ryan
Preece, Glenn Tyler, Kevin Goodale, Ricky Fuller, and Woody Pitkat.
Preece and Tyler got the worst of it as they both suffered
suspension damage. The pack ran single-file as the laps began to
mount. Szegedy continued to lead with Hossfeld and Ted Christopher.
The racing was finally slowed when the second caution flew on lap 42
for a spin by Jimmy Blewett. Blewett’s mount suffered from a broken
panhard bracket mount. During the early stages of the event several
front runners had encountered problems. After losing the top spot to
Christopher, Szegedy encountered mechanical troubles under an early
race caution necessitating a push to pit road and behind the wall.
Szegedy was able to continue several laps down.
Ronnie Silk, who had worked his way to the second spot, found
himself at the spinning end of a confrontation with Eddie Flemke.
The field was able to miss Silk. Flemke received a penalty to the
tail end of the longest line for his actions. During a caution
period at lap 55 a host of cars headed to pit road for service. When
things sorted out, Silk was leading with Bobby Grigas, who
short-pitted, in second. Grigas capitalized on the restart; moving
past Silk and into the lead. Hirschman followed through. Contact
between business partners Flemke and Reggie Ruggiero necessitated
Back under green, Grigas continued to lead Hirschman. Lap-after-lap,
Hirschman dogged Grigas. Early leader, Christopher, faltered while
Stefanik was coming on strong. The veteran started to show his
prowess after the century mark; joining Grigas and Hirschman. Silk
meanwhile was fully recovered from his earlier incident to apply
pressure to Stefanik. A bid for the third spot was slowed when
Christopher, his tires worn, spun to bring out the caution. On the
lap 112 restart, Hirschman took over the lead from Grigas with Silk
following through in second. Bobby Santos was also able to motor by
and into third. Silk’s march to the front was completed when he took
the lead on lap 116. At lap 120, Christopher was back to eighth.
Contact between Hossfeld and Stefanik sent the Mystic Missile
sliding. Both drivers were able to continue, barely missing a beat.
The eleventh caution of the event flew; however, for a spin by Wade
Cole on the other end of the speedway.
A handful of green flag laps led to a ruckus that began after bumper
tag near the front of the pack. Hirschman was the aggressor on the
lap 139 restart taking over the lead from Silk. Santos continued to
run in third followed by a hard-charging Christopher. Silk was not
done as he raced his way back by Hirschman and into the lead. The
front five ran nose to tail as they took the white and checkered
flags. With two laps remaining, Pitkat ended up against the turn
The race went into overtime, with a green, white, checker,
single-file restart at lap 152. An uneventful final two laps gave
Silk his third career win. Hirschman settled for second over Santos
and Christopher and Stefanik.
The Thompson Whelen Modified Tour Series event also served as a
reunion of sorts of racers who made the sport of Modified racing
what it is today. Those on hand included Leo Cleary, Billy Harman,
Ronnie Bouchard, George Summers and George Savory.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Mansfield (Ohio)
Motorsports Park on Aug 23 for the Whelen 150. A strong field of
31cars was on hand. Ted Christopher, who qualified sixth fastest but
drew the No. 1 starting spot in the re-draw to sit on the front row,
never trailed in the 157 lap race that went to a green-white-checker
finish following a late caution. The win was his second of 2008 and
the 29th of his career, which moved him out of a tie with Mike
Ewanitsko on the all-time list.
In the process Christopher became the first driver to lead a NASCAR
Whelen Modified Tour race wire-to-wire since Todd Szegedy did it in
the 2006 Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
Jimmy Blewett (No. 19 United Crane/Ling Trucking Chevrolet) finished
as the runner-up in the race and was followed closely to the line by
Ryan Preece (No. 3 Mizzy Const./Reynold's Auto Wrecking Chevrolet),
Coors Light Pole Award winner Eric Beers (No. 46 Reynold's Auto
Wrecking/Sunoco Chevrolet) and Ronnie Silk (No. 79 Hill
Enterprises/Coors Light/Sunoco Pontiac). Matt Hirschman, Erick
Rudolph, Mike Stefanik, Kevin Goodale and Glen Reen rounded out the
It was a costly night for Chuck Hossfeld who led the point standings
going into the event. After starting 13th Hossfeld went only 57 laps
before being sidelined with a broken axle. Christopher now leads the
point standings by 64 points over Hossfeld. Matt Hirschman sits in
third spot with Mike Stefanik and Ronnie Silk rounding out the top
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to the Thompson on Sept 7
to partake in what was called Modified Mania. Thirty-two Modifieds
were on hand for qualifying which ended up getting rained out. Based
on point standings the field was set.
Preseason favorite Todd Szegedy broke through for his first win of
the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season in the Sunoco Modified
Mania 150. Szegedy, who started sixth, ran inside the top five for
most of the afternoon, took his first lead of the race on Lap 132
and held off numerous charges by Ronnie Silk in the last 22 laps for
his 13th career victory, and third at Thompson. Szegedy and Silk
went non-stop without a tire change. Ted Christopher led the first
125 laps before pitting for tires under caution. Silk, who entered
the event on a two-race winning streak at Thompson, led seven laps
in the race but could not get past Szegedy despite three restarts in
the closing circuits. Doug Coby, who is one of the drivers that
replaced James Civali, came home third in the race, his second such
finish in as many starts this year. Long-time series veterans Reggie
Ruggiero and Rick Fuller rounded out the top five, for their best
finishes of the year.
Ricky Fuller was honored prior to the race as part of NASCAR’s
Celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions. Sunday’s finish was
the 145th top five of his career.
Bobby Santos, Billy Pauch Jr., Matt Hirschman, Rowan Pennink and
Eric Beers rounded out the top 10 finishers in the race.
Despite a 14th place finish, Christopher retained a 63-point lead
over Chuck Hossfeld with 11 races in the books.
There were 8 caution periods for 34 laps. Among those sidelined due
to accidents or mechanical failures were Mike Stefanik, lap142,
accident, Gary McDonald, Renee Dupuis, Glen Reen, lap134, accident,
Jimmy Blewett, lap 131, Ryan Preece, Glenn Tyler, lap 109, accident,
Richard Savary, Ed Flemke, Jr., Eric Berndt, lap 23, accident and
Jamie Tomaino, lap 23 suspension failure.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour converged on the New Hampshire Motor
Speedway on Sept 13 for the New Hampshire 100. Thirty-nine cars were
on hand for qualifying which was held on Thursday. Sprint Cup star
Ryan Newman posted the quickest lap in qualifying at 29.658 seconds
(127.453 mph). Chuck Hossfeld, who won the New England 100 at New
Hampshire on June 28, joined Newman on the front row with a
qualifying effort of 29.745 seconds (127.080 mph). Rounding out the
top five qualifiers were Jimmy Blewett, Eric Beers and Bobby Grigas
III. Series points leader Ted Christopher qualified 12th for
Saturday’s 100-lap race. Ryan Preece and Glen Reen did not go out
for timed laps. Both drivers were given provisionals. Preece, who
drives the mighty No. 3 of the Boehler family had engine trouble and
had to send to Freetown Mass for a back-up. Reen crashed hard at
Thompson and was given the opportunity to drive the Todd Szegedy
back-up car. Sent packing was the No. 00 of Joe Brady which was
driven by Jon McKennedy.
The New Hampshire 100 turned into a wreck fest for the Modifieds
with 18 of the original 38 starters running at the finish. Ted
Christopher, who finished second to Chuck Hossfeld by just .001
seconds in the New England 100 at New Hampshire in June, garnered
his third win of the 2008 season and extended his points lead in the
process. Jimmy Blewett led seven times in the race but had to settle
for a second place finish. Ryan Preece came all the way from a tail
starting position to finish a strong third. Rob Summers ended up
fourth with Danny Sammons, fifth for his best finish of the season.
Rounding out the the top 10 were Matt Hirschman, Erick Rudolph,
Woody Pitkat, Jamie Tomaino and Eric Beers.
Numerous wrecks slowed the event that saw 15 lead changes among 5
drivers. The event started off with a bang when 12 cars were
collected on the front chute at the drop of the green. Ricky
Fuller’s engine had a malfunction and didn’t come up to speed when
Fuller punched the throttle. This incident necessitated a complete
restart. Ryan Newman, Chuck Hossfeld and Jimmy Blewett swapped the
lead on numerouds occasions until the red flag was displayed on lap
62 laps because of extensive damage to the guard rail on the
backstretch caused by an accident that had Anthony Sesely making a
hard hit. Kevin Goodale and Chuck Hossfeld were involved in the most
devastating wreck of the day. Goodale spun out in turn two on lap 52
without a yellow being displayed. Continuing on to turn four he spun
again. Just as he spun Blewett went high and Hossfeld went low as
they were fighting for the lead. Hossfeld cought the spinning
Goodale with his right front tire and almost launched himself.
Because of a TV time commitment to the Craftsman Trucks the Modified
event was put on hold under red at 2:45 for a 3:00pm start for the
trucks. The race resumed at just before 6:00pm and was over by 6:30.
The quote of the day came from Todd Szegedy as he talked to his crew
on the radio. “This is why they treat us like amateurs because we
drive like a bunch of a__h___s”
A tip of the hat to Jerry Gappens, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway
general manager who made the decision not to end the Modified event
until the advertised distance was completed. Gappens went on the
tracks public address system and explained to the crowd that the
Modifieds would return to run the complete distance following the
Truck race. “I don’t want to cheat anybody out of a single lap of
Modified racing," he said”. This was the third race in the last four
for the Modifieds at New Hampshire to be cut short because of
television commitments for one of NASCAR’s national touring series.
On each of the two previous occasions, however, the race was called
official and cut short.
With his win, Christopher now had a 99-point lead over Hirschman in
the season standings with four races to go on the schedule.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to Martinsville VA for
the Made In American Whelen 300 which was be the 13th of 16 races on
the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule.
For many years, the northern contingent has had a stranglehold on
victory lane while southern competitors played second fiddle. Burt
Myers became the first Southern driver to win a Modified tour race
in a NASCAR-sanctioned race at Martinsville since Johnny Bryant in
1985. Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor Myers changed all
that as he powered his way to victory at the historic Virginia oval.
Of the 43 Modifieds on hand, Myers was fourth fastest in time trials
and for the start, redrew the outside pole, starting along side
another southerner, Bobby Hutchens. At the start Myers almost saw
his day end before it started as he tangled with Hutchens at the
initial drop of the green and triggered a massive wreck on the front
stretch. Fortunately for him NASCAR declared the start false and
mandated a complete restart with Hutchens and Myers back on the
front row. Myers led the restart with fastest timetrialer Ryan
Preece in tow. By the fifth go-round Preece had the lead. Preece
pretty much dominated from then on, at least until lap 270 of the
300 lap event when Myers got by him in traffic. Myers led the final
laps to collect the win and the famous Martinsville Speedway
Grandfather Clock trophy. Preece finished second and was credited
with being the first Northern Whelen Modified. Matt Hirschman
finished third and was followed by Reggie Ruggerio and Ted
Christopher. Rounding out the top ten were Todd Szegedy, Woody
Pitkat, Ed Flemke Jr, Rowan Pennick and Brian Loftin.
Eleven of the original 43 starters finished on the lead lap. Sixteen
caution periods for 88 laps slowed the event. Among those were had
problems were outside pole sitter George Brunnhoelzl III who lost an
engine, Hossfeld wrecked, Mike Stefanik lost a driveshaft, Ronnie
Silk wrecked, Jimmy Blewett had his battery short out, Bob Grigas
lost a rear end, Wade Cole lost his steering, Ken Heagy had rear end
trouble, Andy Seuss wrecked, Billy Pauch wrecked as did Rick Fuller
and Glen Reen. Richard Savory had an alternator malfunction and Jake
Myers was disqualified after being found with illegal transmission
gears. Preece was awarded the win.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series attempted to move into the
Stafford Motor Speedway on Sept 28 for the annual Fall Final. With
the forecast calling for heavy rain for Saturday, and Tropical Storm
Kyle, which was predicted to intensify into a hurricane and approach
the New England coastline on Sunday, the Stafford Motor Speedway
announced that it has postponed its CARQUEST Fall Final to the
weekend of October 10, 11, and 12.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series ventured to the Chemung
Speedway in western New York last weekend. The 3/8 mile track,
originally built by the Bodine family drew a sparse field of only 25
cars. The Chemung event with a somewhat reduced purse consisted of
time trials, two 25-lap heats and a 120 lap feature that ended up
finishing under caution. Matt Hirschman, who was the fastest on the
clock, won his qualifying heat and after starting on the pole led
wire to wire to win his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of
the season. Hirschman entered the event 89 points behind Ted
Christopher in the championship chase. With Christopher’s seventh
place finish, Hirschman narrowed the gap to just 55 points with only
the Stafford Fall Final and Thompson World Series weekends
Todd Szegedy dogged Hirschman for most of the event but settled for
a runner-up finish and held up his spot in third in the season
standings. Mike Stefanik finished third. Chuck Hossfeld, Ronnie
Silk, Erick Rudolph, Christopher, Bobby Grigas III, Rowan Pennink
and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top 10 finishers.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series returned to the Stafford
Motor Speedway on Oct 12 to make up the rained out Fall Final. Just
prior to the weekend it was learned that Speedway announcer Deane
Mercier had passed away.
Mike Stefanik led a banner field of Modifieds as he captured the
Coors Lite Pole award as he turned in the fast time in qualifying
for the CARQUEST Fall Final. Stefanik toured the Stafford oval
in18.158 seconds (99.130mph). It was the first pole for Stefanik
since 2006 at the Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. In the process he
tied Tony Hirschman for the series’ all-time lead with 41 career
poles, and extended his own record for poles at Stafford to 15. Eric
Beers was the second-fastest qualifier at 18.168 seconds (99.075
mph) and started in the third row following the redraw. Rob Summers
was third fastest at 18.316 seconds (98.275 mph). Series points
leader Ted Christopher who seventh in time trials when he was
clocked at 18.355 seconds (98.066 mph). After the redraw Christopher
started alongside Stefanik in the front row on Sunday.
Stefanik capped off a dominating weekend by reaching Victory Lane in
the CARQUEST Fall Final for the eighth time in his illustrious
career. Stefanik used the front row starting position to his
advantage as he led 129 of the 150 laps in what was Stafford’s last
race of the year. The win was Stefanik's eighth in the Fall Final,
Stafford 's traditional season-ending race. It was also his 20th
all-time win at track and the 69th in his career overall. All three
totals are NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour records.
Matt Hirschman came home second to Stefanik. With the runner-up
finish, Hirschman now trails series leader Ted Christopher by just
35 points with one race remaining on the schedule. Christopher
finished sixth. Chuck Hossfeld was third, while Todd Szegedy and
Eric Beers rounded out the top five finishers. The rest of the top
10 consisted of Christopher, Rowan Pennink, Anthony Sesely, Glenn
Tyler and Kevin Goodale. It was the best finish of the season for
Sesely and Tyler.
Prior to the race NASCAR legend Bobby Allison was honored for his
1964 and 1965 NASCAR Modified division titles as part of the
celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions.
There were five caution flags for 27 laps. For the most part the
race was wreck free with only a few minor spins.
The Whelen Modified Tour Series concluded its season at the Thompson
Speedway World Series on Oct 19. Ted Christopher held a 35 point
lead over Matt Hirschman going into the final event. Todd Szegedy
sat in third, over 143 points out of the lead. Chuck Hossfeld was
fourth with Stefanik rounding out the top five.
Forty one Modifieds were on hand for time trials which were held on
Saturday. Taking the pole was Eric Beers who also broke the track
record with a fast time of 18.429. Second fastest was young
sensation Ryan Preece in the mighty No. 3 of the Boehler family.
Third was championship contender Matt Hirschman with Jimmy Blewett
and Chuck Hossfeld rounding out the top five. In the re-draw for the
feature start Blewett drew the pole with Mike Stefanik drawing the
outside pole. Preece drew third, Hossfeld, fourth and Ted
Christopher, fifth. Beers drew sixth. Among those in the field was
Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified Champion Keith Rocco who placed
the Joe Brady No.00 solidly in the field in 14th spot. Among those
who didn’t qualify were Reggie Ruggerio and Billy Pauch Jr. Among
those who had problems and had to rely on provisional starting spots
were Todd Szegedy, Ed Flemke Jr, Danny Sammonds and Jamie Tomaino.
Ted Christopher went into Sunday’s World Series with a different
mindset than normal. Known as a hard charger, go for broke driver he
was forced to take a conservative route. With Matt Hirschman
breathing down his neck in the point standings the Plainville CT
driver didn’t want a wreck ruining his chances. For the first half
of the 150 lapper Hirschman and Christopher ran ninth and tenth.
Both appeared to be waiting for the other to have problems. By the
100-lap mark the championship contenders were running fifth and
sixth. On lap 120, while running third, Hirschman began to slow. Two
laps later he was behind the pit wall with engine problems. Once
Christopher got the word from Crew Chief Brad Lafountain Christopher
put the hammer down and went after the victory. Christopher passed
Ron Silk for the lead on lap 134 and was never headed after that.
Chuck Hossfeld ended up in second spot and was followed by Silk,
Doug Coby and Eric Rudolph. There were 11 cautions for 49 laps and
six lead changes among 5 drivers. Hirschman, who re-entered the
event 21 laps down on lap 143 ended up in 25th spot. In addition to
Hirschman the other hard luck story belonged to Ryan Preece. Preece
was running fourth on lap 80 when his right front tire went flat.
Preece pitted under green and lost a lap. The determined youngster
made a determined bid as he ended up 14th, on the lead lap.
Shortly after the checkered flag dropped Matt Hirschman
congratulated the new champ. What he didn’t know was that one of his
car owners, Ed Bennett, was waiting in the pits to tell him he was
fired from his car. Hirschman had split his driving time between
Bennett’s mount and that of Wayne Darling. Hirschman, who had won at
Chemung and had finished second at Stafford in Bennett’s car, was
driving Darling’s car at Thompson.
Final Point Standings:
1 Ted Christopher 2441
2 Matt Hirschman 2314
3 Todd Szegedy 2260
4 Chuck Hossfeld 2251
5 Ronnie Silk 2158
6 Eric Beers 2115
7 Mike Stefanik 2102
8 Rowan Pennink 2016
9 Jimmy Blewett 1969
10 Ryan Preece 1948
That’s about it for another year from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly,
RI, 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. e-mail