Zach Sylvester had a tough day with a good ending at Beech Ridge. He saw a good run in qualifying get erased because of a gear rule infraction. He started at the tail end of the field. He got booted in turn three and went for a slide through the infield and he still managed to finish 10th.
“That’s all we could ask for,” said Sylvester. “We started out the day pretty decent, but come to find out after qualifying we had the wrong gears in the car. It was a mistake on our part and we pretty much needed to change everything that we did to the chassis during the day and go on a prayer for the feature.”
Sylvester’s ride in the feature was a rough one.
“We got bounced around, kicked to the front and kicked to the back. But we stayed in one piece and ended up in the top 10. You can’t ask for more than that.”
The rules infraction that the #15 team made was partially a mistake and partially a misunderstanding, according to Sylvester.
“Last year, I was told that there was no gear rule on a short track and I went with that,” said Sylvester. “We put in a quick change gear that we thought was one ring and pinion, but it was another one. We timed trialed sixth with a ton of gear in the car which was amazing and they checked the gears and as soon as we found out, they found out. It was a mistake on our part.”
In the end, the team overcame their mistake and showed that they could put it behind them for a top 10 finish.
“It was a good rebound for the team,” said Sylvester. “We threw something at it and it worked.”
BEERS GAINS RESPECT FROM THE CHAMP
Tony Hirschman might be quiet, but he wasn’t shy to give credit to the guy that finished behind him after the Beech Ridge race. Hirschman came home in second with Eric Beers in third. After the race, Hirschman, who is the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, had nothing but good things to say about the finishes that Beers has put together lately.
how my car was running. They are great racers. They’ve both won championships and they are two of the best racers out there. Just to finish third to them is an honor. But I want them to finish second and third to me one week.”
TC AND TOMAINO DICE IT UP
Jamie Tomaino won the 1990 NASCAR Modified Tour championship and right now, Ted Christopher is in the catbird’s seat when it comes to chasing the 2005 title. But the two Mod aces weren’t worried about championships as the laps clicked down at Beech Ridge. They were only concerned with which driver would finish in fifth place.
Eventually, Christopher ended up in fifth with Tomaino on his bumper, but it was exciting getting to that point. There was racing, attempted passing and a little bit of blocking. But there was almost no bumping.
“He only touched me once in all of those laps,” said Christopher of his race with Tomaino. “He never bumped me. It was really good racing.”
“If he had kept his groove and stayed down lower, it would have been an even better race,” said Tomaino. “I guess if it’s good racing to him, it’s a compliment because usually he hardly races anyone. He likes to knock them out of the way.
“I thought that I had fifth there right at the end, but he pushed me right where I had no choice but to back out of it. But that’s the way it goes, I’m in one piece tonight and I’m happy.”
Christopher wasn’t going to let Tomaino have the spot without a fight though.
“I ain't giving up friggin’ fifth on the last lap,” said Christopher. “I used him a little, but what are you going to do?”
GEORGE STRUGGLES A BIT AT BEECH RIDGE
Nevin George completely dominated the race at Beech Ridge last season. This year was a different story though. He started on the pole and led a handful of laps early before his car started falling through the field. Eventually, the transmission gave up on his #0 and he finished 25th.
“I don’t even know what to say on these interviews anymore,” said George. “We’ve been chasing the car all year. The whole team has just put 110% into everything. Ralph has been going over everything on the car all week long. The communication is better than any time in the four years that we’ve been together. But we just can’t get it. I don’t know if it’s the tires or what it is. It’s tough. We’ll figure it out and be back.”
LIA HAS LONG NIGHT AT THE RIDGE
Donny Lia finished second to George last season, but like George, he didn’t have a great night at the track this season. Lia got spun in the middle stages of the race over in turn two.
“I was trying to squeeze into a big hole there and not get stuck up top and as I came down, Kenny Barry tried to fill that hole and he wasn’t even close,” said Lia. “He got me in the left rear nerf bar and turned me around.
“I like Kenny, but he really needs to calm down out there. More often then not you see him in a wreck and if you wreck that much, sometimes you need to start looking in the mirror. He had me pinned up and the outside at the Turkey Derby [last season] and I don’t know how I didn’t get totally walled there when he was coming up the
But I was running half pace at the back there after that, just trying to make some laps and we were turning laps quicker than the leaders. That’s a shame.”
The snafu led to Blewett being down three laps by pitting under green, and not just a single lap for bringing out the caution on purpose.
“I didn’t understand that,” said Blewett. “I knew that I was going to lose a lap for bringing the caution out. They told me that on the radio. Then surer than shit, as soon as I get a chance to go into the pits, the green came out. I didn’t understand that because they would go 10 laps under caution when one car spun out and then I bring the caution out and they go right back to green. Sometimes things don’t make sense.”
MARQUIS RIDES MYSTIC MISSILE TO VICTORY
There have been a lot of great drivers in Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile #4 cars over the years. Most of those drivers have won in the famed #4 cars. After Beech Ridge, Jerry Marquis can add his name to that list as well, and he couldn’t be happier about that fact.
NASCAR WHELEN MOD LEFTOVERS: BEECH RIDGE by Mike Twist
Haydt Amazes, Beers Impresses, Mike Christopher Top Tens Them Again and Much More
ROOKIE MAKES UP MAJOR GROUND IN 143 LAPS
Jerry Marquis won the race at Beech Ridge and put in a hard day’s work doing so. But the most impressive drive of the night might have come from a rookie in the race.
Tyler Haydt qualified 14th in his first Beech Ridge appearance, but his day turned bad on the seventh lap when the right front tire went down on his Don King-owned #28.
Haydt went three laps down, but when the race was over at lap 150, he was solidly in the top 10. Somehow, Haydt ended up finishing seventh.
“We got the lucky dog three times and kept plugging away,” said Haydt. “We were three laps down and got back to the top 10. We just kept digging the whole day. The car was real good and we just kept fighting. It kind of fires you up and once you get back on the lead lap, you’re ready to get going.”
And Haydt emphasized that the finish was a team effort.
“This team did awesome. We kept fighting and kept working and we got what we needed.”
Obviously, Haydt took an instant liking to Beech Ridge.
“I like this track a lot,” said Haydt reflecting on his first race there.
“The car started getting tight and it was so good before that,” Blewett said. “I thought that we had a shot at winning. On that last restart when we took off, it rung it right off the rim. I went into turn one and brought the caution out.”
Blewett circled around under caution waiting to pit, but before the green flag came out signaling that it was ok to come down pit road, the other green flag came out instead and the race was back underway.
“For some reason, they never opened pit road until it went green. If you pit under green, you might as well park it.
“I’m really glad to give Bob Garbarino a win this year,” said Marquis. “It gives me great pride and pleasure. I’ve been able to drive for Bob Judkins, Lenny Boehler’s team and now the Mystic Missile.
I don’t know if running around from car to car is such an accomplishment, but it’s nice to have wins in all of those cars. It’s a great traditional to carry on. I used to watch guys win in those cars all the time and I always thought that if I had a car like that, I would do well. Well now I’m doing well.”
Tyler Haydt was all thumbs up after his stellar Beech Ridge performance. (Howie Hodge Photo)
BLEWETT BAFFLED BY PITS BEING CLOSED
Also having a great run affected by a flat tire was John Blewett, III making a start in the #00 Joe Brady-owned car. However, fate was not a kind to Blewett as it was to Haydt.
Blewett was credited with 20th after he went three laps down with a flat late in the race and had no time to make any of the laps up.
“My neighbor there Eric’s been doing well,” said Hirschman. “He was right up there in third and he’s learning fast. He’s going to get some wins there this year. He knows what it takes.”
Beers meanwhile enjoyed his race with Hirschman and winner Jerry Marquis. Now, he just hopes to finish ahead of them, and the rest of the field, a few times.
“I’ve raced with them awhile tonight,” said Beers. “I was running a little different line than they were because of
ANOTHER GOOD NIGHT FOR BEERS
Eric Beers and his #3 “Ole’ Blue” car has been on a tear lately. They have done everything but win a race on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and when it comes to that feat, it’s more of a question of when, and not if, it will happen. Beers was third at Beech Ridge.
“We unloaded the car and we were halfway decent,” said Beers. “We were loose in and a little tight off. These guys changed everything on the car to make it better, but we couldn’t do it and make the car faster. We had to slow down to go better. We ended up pretty much going back to the same set-up that we had and we got loose in on lap three already. The car never changed; it was the same all race. We ran as good as we could. I couldn’t believe that we could stay with those guys.”
And this week brings another chance at a win for the personable driver.
“I’m just happy to get third, we’ll try again at Seekonk and hopefully we’ll be pretty good.”
WHITT RUNS WELL AGAIN
Steve Whitt had another strong run at Beech Ridge. He put together top five finishes at Waterford Speedbowl and New Hampshire International Speedway recently and backed that up with a fourth-place finish at Riverhead.
Jamie Tomaino's #99 (Howie Hodge Photo)
HIRSCHMAN LEAVES MAINE EMPTY HANDED AGAIN
Second place isn’t bad, but Tony Hirschman would have really liked to have finished one spot better at Beech Ridge. Hirschman has visited victory lane in the state of Maine before by winning a Busch North race at Oxford back in 1992, but he has never won a Maine Modified race.
That’s a fact that isn’t lost on him.
“A second is pretty good,” said Hirschman. “We’re on a roll here with a win and two seconds, but it would be nice to win one of these in Maine one of these days. We were second two years ago and last year we were in the top 10. But we did what we could do.”
ETHERIDGE BREAKS INTO TOP 10
Dave Etheridge had his second top 10 finish of the season at Beech Ridge. He finished ninth under the guidance of new chief Brian Schofield.
“I got myself a new crew chief this week and we made some changes,” said Etheridge. “All that I had to do was to drive the car. I didn’t need to do anything but drive. It worked out pretty good. We stayed out of trouble and finished. The car was awesome. I’m pretty happy.”
COBY WISHES RACE WAS JUST A LITTLE BIT SHORTER
For most of the night at Beech Ridge, Doug Coby was in the top 10. He faded late in the race though and ended up 14th.
Steve Whitt's #06. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Whitt thinks that starting near the front helped his cause. He was sixth on the grid for the 150 lap race.
“Here, starting up front really helps,” said Whitt. “We had a good starting spot and made a couple of deals on restarts. A few people let me in and it worked out.”
Whitt has been one of the hottest drivers on the Mod Tour lately and Speed51.com will have story on his recent races coming soon.
Doug Coby takes a moment to relax before the racing starts at Beech Ridge. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Donny Lia's #18 (jim DuPont Photo)
track. He’s just got to calm down and finish races. He’s not going to finish races trying to fill holes that aren’t there. Tonight he spun me out and I guess that’s the way it goes.”
Lia did battle back into the top 10, but got hung out with a handful of laps left in the race and finished 11th at the end of the night.
“There’s no outside here and the #58 was a few laps down,” said Lia. “We were extremely loose, but I tried to get around him on the outside and got hung out up there. I should have tried to stay on the bottom and taken what I could have gotten. That’s just the way it goes.”
CHRISTOPHER HAS MIXED EMOTIONS AFTER RACE
Ted Christopher had things to be happy about and things to be frustrated about after the race. He finished fifth, but didn’t particularly enjoy the 150 laps that it took to get there.
“These are the tracks I hate the worst. There is no grip and you can’t race on these things,” said Christopher. “We were just too tight up off and we couldn’t rotate off the corner.”
But the fifth place finish did help to put him in a better mood after the race.
“To come out and finish fifth after where I started, that’s pretty good,” said Christopher. “The guy behind me in points had a bad night, which we’ve had, so it’s been a pretty good night for us.”
ANOTHER RACE, ANOTHER TOP 10 FOR MIKE CHRISTOPHER
Finishing a few spots behind his twin brother Ted, but smiling about it after the race, was Mike Christopher. The driver of the Hillbilly Racing #79 car came home in the eighth position. The race didn’t start out that well for MC early on, though.
“I spun the thing out early because it was too loose and I was trying too hard,” said Christopher. “It was a Godsend though because we were able to tighten the thing up. We got better, but didn’t have enough time to get it how we needed it. We were good.”
Christopher has been appearing more and more in the top 10 lately and he’s happy about that.
“A top ten is better having things get all ripped apart like some of these guys,” said Christopher. “This program is real great and we are having a lot of fun.”
A SOLID FINISH FOR TOMAINO
Earlier, we talked about the battle that Jamie Tomaino had with Ted Christopher for fifth. The bad news for Tomaino was that he didn’t win that race, but the good news was that finishing sixth wasn’t too shabby either.
Eric Beers (#3) and Tony Hirschman (#48) go wheel to wheel. (Howie Hodge Photo)
John Blewett, III had a strong run, but not a strong finish, in the #00. (Jim DuPont Photo)
“Anytime that you come home in one piece and you’re in the top 10 is a good night,” said Tomaino. “At least I can make ends meet.”
Tomaino came on strong towards the end of the 150-lap race and that was according to plan.
“It’s a tough track to pass at,” Tomaino said about Beech Ridge. “The outside is very, very hard and it roughs up your tires. You need to have patience and you need to keep your car in one piece until the last 25 laps. Then you give them all that you’ve got.”
“We were right up there,” said Coby. “I felt good for about 100 laps. I think that we were one of the only cars that came up through traffic and passed cars. That was good, but I just couldn’t do what I needed to. We went with a set-up that was a little tight and we didn’t get the kind of stagger that we hoped for. We had a very good traffic car and one that would stick to the bottom. We needed everything to go our way for the whole race and for us it only went our way for 100 laps. We got up to fourth, but went back from there.”
Coby was the last car on the lead lap at Beech Ridge and that is something he is used to.
“This is my third race here and I think that I was the last car on the lead lap here for each of those races. I got up to sixth here last year and then the car got loose and we ended up the last car on the lead lap. Tonight it was just the opposite.”
And finishing as the last car on the lead lap also brought another task with it.
“We ended up in tech after the race because they made the last car finishing on the lead lap the wildcard for inspection with the big boys,” said Coby.
Jerry Marquis (#4) takes the lead from Nevin George (#0) early in the race. (Jim DuPont Photo)