“A caution with 10 to go would have made one hell of a race,” said Beers.
A seventh place finish was nothing to be ashamed of, but it wasn’t what Beers had hoped for out of the race either.
“It’s nice to get in the top 10, but we’re capable of a lot more and that’s what we were looking for. We had a good racecar, if we knew that it was going to go straight through, we would have stayed out.”
MARQUIS SLIDES AROUND TO FINISH FOURTH
On the other hand, Jerry Marquis did stay out. It worked out perfectly as he finished fourth.
MOD LEFTOVERS: STAFFORD FALL FINALby Mike Twist
Lack of Cautions Impact Tires and Drivers, Goodale Hits Hard, Charlie Happy and More
NO CAUTIONS, NO HEAT CYCLES
Donny Lia finished second and was the only driver in the top six who pitted for tires during the running of the Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Eric Beers was one of the majority of drivers who pitted at the one-third mark of the race and had no idea that the rest of the event, 95 laps, would go green. Beers made his way up to seventh at the finish, but like everyone except for maybe Lia, just didn’t seem to show the advantage that new rubber should have given him. However, Beers pointed out a very logical reason for this.
“We knew in practice that once you first put on tires, you would slow up a little bit,” said Beers. “But when you heat cycled once, they would go faster. But we never got that heat cycle. We never got a caution to cool them off. We went green from our pit stop until then end. You’ve got to be under caution for a few laps to get them to cool way down.
A late race yellow could have really changed the complexion of the race, especially considering the fact the most of the drivers who had not pitted for tires were slipping and sliding around at the end of the race.
Jerry Marquis. (51 Photo)
“They made the call not to come in [to pit] and right now, that’s one of the best calls that they’ve ever made,” said Marquis of his team. “The guys who were up front stayed there and the guys who put on tires couldn’t make it back up there again. If you had a pit stop, you would have been screwed. You would have started in the back and probably not gone anywhere.”
Marquis admits that he wasn’t really sure that the pit strategy was going to work.
“The guys made the call and I kind of shrugged it off, but it worked. I said that we’d see how things worked out and I was kind of hoping for another caution within 10
Eric Beers talks shop before the start of the Fall Final. (51 Photo)
laps. It never came. But, we got lucky and we need that
luck right now. We need to keep the top fives coming.”
The disadvantage of driving to the finish on used rubber was that Marquis had a challenge in the closing laps just getting his car around the track.
“It was a handful,” said Marquis. “I think that a train would have been easier to handle. We were just hanging on at the end. I was giving it all that I could give it. We were all racing each other on old tires, so it was a handful all the way around.”
TC DISAPPOINTED IN WAY RACE UNFOLDED
Ted Christopher finished fifth in the Fall Final and held on to his point lead over Tony Hirschman with two races to go. However, he wasn’t very impressed with the way that the race unfolded.
TC's #13 runs to the inside of Jamie Tomaino's #99 at Stafford. (Mary Hodge Photo)
“It was a shit race where you sat and rode around and rode around to save your stuff, but there were no cautions,” said Christopher. “So then all of a sudden you’ve got to get going again. We were fast near the end, but we didn’t expect for it to do that. That’s what messed us up.”
Christopher was asked whether or regretted not pitting when most of the field did around lap 50. He said that staying out was a no brainier at the time, but who would have expected there not to be any more cautions?
“It was too early for us to come in,” said Christopher. “That wasn’t our strategy, but maybe it should have been.”
THE BIG ONE STRIKES STAFFORD, GETS GOODALE THE WORST
When Frank Ruocco spun down the front stretch on lap
eight, he managed not to hit anything. He just slid
through the infield grass and motored on.
Unfortunately, the same could not be for Mike Stefanik, Kevin Goodale, Steve Whitt or Eddie Flemke. They were all involved in the aftermath of Ruocco’s spin as they tried to avoid it and stacked up into each other instead.
Goodale got the worst of the incident. His #58 car went completely airborne and suffered heavy front and rear damage. Fortunately, the Long Islander driver was not injured.
“It was a hard hit and the car is wrecked, but I’m all right,” said Goodale. ” “I think that it was Ruocco who got loose up ahead. Everyone slowed down and I was right behind Stefanik, but I guess that not everyone slowed down fast enough. Someone drilled me in the back and I ran into the back of the #16 [Stefanik} and run into the wall.”
Goodale looked over the remains of his ride in the pit area after the race and the early assessment was that it was going to need a lot of TLC to race again.
“It needs a lot of work. It needs a front clip and I haven’t looked at the back yet. The motor has got to come out and the front’s got to come off.”
That won’t keep Goodale from racing in the last two events at Thompson to finish out the season. He’ll just run his other car for those races.
“No, the other car is still complete and ready to go,” said Goodale. “We’ll drop the motor in and go.”
Goodale wasn't the only driver that had their day set back by the big one, we'll see how it caused Eddie Flemke to tumble out of the top 10 in the point standings later on.
GOOD TIME CHARLIE WISHED FOR NEW TIRES, BUT STILL FINISHES SIXTH
Charlie Pasteryak was one of the driver that did not pit for tires. That helped him to finish sixth, but Charlie would have really liked to have tires late in the race. He never expected that he would have to go without from the race staying caution free
“It went green,” said Pasteryak. “What can I say? It hasn’t done that in ages. That was some loose near the end. It was a handful. If there had been a caution, we would have all been sitting ducks.”
Well, Pasteryak wouldn’t have been a sitting duck. He would have pitted no matter what anyone else did.
“We were coming in no matter what because I’m in this for the fun. I’m not looking for a good finish, I want to have a car that is going to go out and pass cars. We were coming in with five to go. It’s about having fun for me. If there was three to go, we probably would have come in.”
Still, Pasteryak found something enjoyable in the long green run.
“It’s was a fun day. That long run was kid of fun because you get to move your line around and see what works. With 25 to go, we were done. I tried putting it on the apron, I tried it up high. We just went slower every lap.”
So overall, the day was enjoyable.
“I had fun and didn’t hit anything. That’s a good day.”
THREE WHEELS EQUAL SECOND PLACE FOR LIA
When Donny Lia finished second in Sunday’s Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway with only three wheels left on his racecar, it was unusual to say the least.
Frank Ruocco (#91) starts to get sideways in front of John Blewett's #66. (Howie Hodge Photo)
The #58 of Goodale was heavily damaged all around at Stafford. (51 Photos)
a good finish. That’s all that I wanted to do. We’ve been through so much lately that this is like winning a race.”
After a string of race plagued with bad luck, incidents with another driver and other circumstances which have kept the #18 team from getting the finishes that they are capable of, Lia is thrilled with this weekend’s end result and thankful to his team for it.
“I’ve got to say a big thanks to my team. We’ve had some problems lately and these guys have worked their asses off. They kept the faith and have done a great job. I especially need to thank my crew chief Kevin [Crowley]. He puts up with a lot of stuff and you’ve got to hand it to him.”
PARK COMES HOME TO RACE AT STAFFORD
Steve Park might actually be from Long Island, but Stafford Motor Speedway is a little piece of real estate in Connecticut that he can also call home. He raced at the track countless time early in his career and was there to cheer his father on even before that.
At the Fall Final, Park was entered in a team car to Ted Christopher that was fielded by Mystique Motorsports.
Park definitely enjoyed coming home.
“I feel good being here,” said Park. “It’s Stafford Motor Speedway, what more can you say? I came here as a kid and sat on the grass to watch my father race. I love coming back to drive a Modified.”
Park dropped out of the race with suspension problems and was credited with the 28th-finishing position.
“I felt the tire come off. It broke and came off. It hit the racecar pretty hard. It bounced right off the hood. That wasn’t good.”
The crazy finish capped off a roller coaster weekend for the team. Lia won the pole for the race, but had to start in the rear of the field after he missed the driver’s meeting on Sunday morning.
“I had to start in the back. I missed the driver’s meeting because I was with the car at the Pit Party signing autographs. Then I realized that there was no other drivers out there except for me. It’s my fault. I should have known when the driver’s meeting was and made sure that I was there.”
Lia worked his way up through the field twice actually. He made steady progress in the early stages of the race before pitting under caution at the one-third mark of the event. Lia’s team had a great pit stop and the #18 was the first car that exited the pits. Little did Lia or his team know at the time, but the rest of the race went green and Lia had to chase his way to the front without the benefit of any caution periods or pit stops by the leaders.
Lia made it up to second place before time ran out.
“I would have never thought that the race would have green so long. With a couple of yellows, we probably would have won the race, but it’s hard to say now. I started in the back and just wanted to get to the end for
Donny Lia (#18) goes spinning after corssing the finish line on three wheels. (Jim DuPont Photo)
FLEMKE SEES GOOD DAY GO BAD IN THE BIG ONE
Kevin Goodale hit hard when the Fall Final saw their version of the Big One on lap eight. Eddie Flemke didn’t hit very hard at all in the incident, but it was still enough to ruin his day. Flemke had to pit for repairs and went several laps down.
Flemke was involved in the wreck when he tried to avoid running into the back of a fellow competitor.
“I had two choices,” said Flemke. “One was to run into the back of Ricky [Fuller] and turn him and the other was to try and be alright. I did that and I just caught him with the right front. The lower A-Frame got bent. I like Ricky and I wouldn’t have done anything to hurt him. You race people like they race you and I know that he would have given me that break, so I tried to give him one and it cost us.”
Flemke’s finish of 24th ended a streak of good finishes and dropped him out of the top 10 in points. He now needs to work his way back up from the 12th position in the standings.
“That dropped us back so that we’re probably 11th or 12th in points now, but that’s not a big deal now. I’m still happy with the way we’ve been running. It’s going to be tough to make up a bunch of points in two races. They have to have a bad day while you have a good day. If it happens it happens, that’s the way our years has been. But at least, we are running well.”
COBY HAS BAD CONNECTION IN HIS #77
Sing along…The transmission is connected to driveshaft, the driveshaft is connected to the rear end…
That bad song parody best describes the day of Doug Coby. The driveshaft on his #77 proved troublesome at Stafford and that cost him 93 laps while his team made repairs.
“I shifted on the second restart and had a bad vibration,” said Coby. “I didn’t know if it was something in the transmission or the rear end, but it ended up being what connects to two things. It sucks. There weren’t a whole lot of cautions today, so we lost a lot of laps in the pits. But it wasn’t the motor or the transmission, so it could have been worse.”
Steve Park. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Lia was running in the second place entering turn three of the final lap when the spindle on his #18 sheared away. Lia kept his foot on the gas and crossed the finish line in a shower of sparks on three wheels. Unable to control the car completely, Lia spun after crossing the finish line but was still able to take the runner-up position.
“I lifted going into the corner when it broke off, but then I realized that I had to get back to the start-finish line without losing many spots. I had to get there and I did what I needed to do.”
The wheel and hub assembly cleared the Stafford catch fence after the incident and landed on a vehicle in the parking lot. It also hit Lia’s racecar before going airborne.
SKs MAKE HEADLINES TOO AT STAFFORD
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wasn’t the only show in town for the Fall Final.
The track’s SK Modified division had a 50-lap feature immediately before the Tour race and there was a lot at stake. Lloyd Agor entered the race just two points ahead of Todd Owen in the battle for the championship and Ted Christopher also had an outside shot at the title as well.
Agor finished the feature in the sixth position, but that was sufficient considering that none of his competition had good days at all.
Owen had transmission problems drop him from the race early and Christopher was parked by race officials after an incident with Willie Hardie.
Finishing up front was Tour driver Jimmy Blewett, who put his T&S Haulers #12 into victory lane.
Kenny Horton crossed the line in second place, but was disqualified when his #19 was light going over the scales.
The offical top five finishers were Blewett, Jeff Baral, Keith Rocco, Hardie and Tom Rogers, Jr.
Doing double duty in the SK and Tour races were Blewett, Christopher, Frank Ruocco, Horton, Zach Sylvester and Jeff Malave.
Donny Lia buckles in his #18 and gets ready to race at Stafford. (51 Photo)
John Blewett, III cheers his brother Jimmy on to victory in the SK Modified feature. (51 Photos)
Doug Coby's team pushes their #77 car. (Howie Hodge Photo)