A top five is a good night for the points. Unfortunately for Hossfeld though, the two drivers that he is chasing in the standings finished first and second.
Hossfeld isn’t going to let that bother him though.
“We just do the best we can, if you start worrying about one particular guy, then the other ones start creeping up. There’s a lot of good competition out there to be honest with you.”
FLEMKE HAS SOMETHING TO SMILE ABOUT
It’s been a tough summer for Eddie Flemke. After his #10 Gary Teto-owned team showed great promise with a third-place run at Jennerstown, they’ve struggled with no top 15 finishes in the past four events.
That slide came to a halt at Stafford. Flemke was strong all race and finished seventh.
“That’s what we needed,” said Flemke. “We needed to get back on track. This team is better than its shown because of our luck has been miserable.”
With Thompson, a place where Flemke sure knows how to get around, up next even better things might be on the horizon for the tight-knit team.
“We’ll be alright, we were better than seventh today, but we needed a good solid finish and that’s what we got, so I’m happy.”
LIA FINALLY GETS SK WIN
Donny Lia hopped into the #47 Wisk/Snuggle SK Modified at Stafford with high hopes to start off the season. Just a few races in, the team destroyed their first car in a practice wreck. They built a replacement, but getting that car up to speed has been a bit of a challenge.
The caution which Hirschman refers to is one came out on lap 114. It led to everyone on the lead lap to come in and pit.
“We used pit strategy and that worked out,” said Hirschman. “We got out first and were driving away from them before it rained.”
After it rained, Hirschman also drove away from them and right into victory lane for the third time this season.
HOSSFELD RECOVERS TO FINISH FIFTH
Chuck Hossfeld led the first 29 laps at Stafford and stayed around the lead pack until the lead lap cars made their pit stops with less than 40 laps to go. Having such a short run to the finish leaves no room for problems during a pit stop. Hossfeld found that out the hard way.
“The guys did a good job and I missed on the set-up a little bit. Everytime that I’ve ever raced here, I’ve been loose at night. We practiced with the car tight and I time trialed with the car tight. I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a little tight in the race too.”
as we started, but the car started to come around. I started to catch Teddy and the #48 [Tony Hirschman], but then we had the caution and it got tight again. It took just about until the checkered flag for the car to do what I wanted it to do. We needed a couple laps.
“I’m very proud of the job that my guys did here. It was an excellent job.”
TC ONLY SATISIFIED WITH A WIN
One finishing position ahead of Marquis, there wasn't much joy.
Ted Christopher might be leading the standings on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, but he’s certainly not points racing. Asked if he was happy with a strong second place run at Stafford, TC had a short and to the point reply.
“Second sucks,” said Christopher. “It’s the first loser.”
STEFANIK RUNS OUT OF TIME
Mike Stefanik might have had the fastest racecar during the New England Dodge Dealers 150, but he was forced to settle for fourth place at the finish. Stefanik got caught behind a tow truck on pit road during his pit stop and lost the lead on that exchange. When he came out, he hunted down the cars that he could but simply ran out of time.
NASCAR WHELEN MOD LEFTOVERS: STAFFORD by Mike Twist
Marquis and Lia Have Their Stafford Fortunes Change, Blewett Strong Again and More
BLEWETT GOOD NO MATTER WHICH CAR HE’S IN
At Stafford, John Blewett once again had a strong run. In that respect, it wasn’t any different than his recent races at Beech Ridge, Seekonk or Riverhead. In all of those events, he’s been fast. He hasn’t always had the best of luck, but he’s been fast.
Those starts all came in Joe Brady’s #00. At Stafford, Blewett finished eighth in his own #66 car. He raced with a pit crew that included cast members from all directions of the garage area.
“I’m proud of these guys,” said Blewett. “This is the first race this year really with everyone together. It’s kid of a ragtag deal. I’ve got a few guys from Sheba Racing, I’ve got a few guys of my own. I’ve got a guy from Donny Lia’s crew and Curt Chase’s crew. It’s our first time together as a group and they worked together really well. I’m proud of them. We only lost one spot in the pits and that was to a car that changed fewer tires than we did.
With that string that he’s put together, Hirschman is only 14 points behind the current championship leader, Ted Christopher. Winning at Stafford definitely helped his cause.
“The main thing is to finish these races,” said Hirschman. “You take what you can, whether it’s a top five, a top 10 or a win. We’ve got some more races coming up later this month and into next month that are big races and long races. There are a lot of cars that will be starting those, so we have to get as many points as we can right now in case we have any problems.”
Hirschman set fast time at Stafford, but did not have a standout car in the early laps of the race.
“It wasn’t as good as I wanted it to be,” said Hirschman. “I was running third or fourth and really comfortable. We kept going and going and I started to think that we might go 150 laps on these tires. Then we got the caution.”
Blewett had a fast car, but was limited with what he could do in traffic.
“We were pretty close, we were consistently running the same times or a little better than the leaders when we broke through traffic. We really didn’t need that caution when my brother [Jimmy] ran out of gas.”
Blewett’s #66 didn’t have many laps on it before Stafford,
Tony Ferrante (L) talks with Howie Brode before Riverhead qualifying. (51 Photo)
“Here at Stafford, you need to have track position and unfortunately, we got blocked in the pits,” said Hossfeld. “We were running second when we pitted. We lost positions to good cars and that was the problem. If we had lost positions to cars in the back, it wouldn’t have been as big of a deal. But we lost spots to Hirschy and Teddy.”
Still, the night wasn’t a total loss for Hossfeld. He passed his way back into the top five.
“We made couple of passes and made it back up to fifth.”
HIRSCHMAN GAINS GROUND IN TITLE FIGHT
In the last six races on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Tony Hirschman has finished first or second five times. His “bad” race during that period was a fourth at Seekonk.
“We did the best that we could,” said Stefanik. “We grabbed two of them [cars in front of Stefanik after the pit stop] before the checkers fell. Hey, it was a good run all the way around I guess.”
Stafford was the second race that Stefanik has driven this year in the #16 Eric Sanderson-owned car and in both events, he has been fast.
“They’ve got good equipment and I’m happy for the opportunity,” said Stefanik. “We’ve got some good guys here and I’ve having fun.”
Mike Stefanik in the #16 car. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Tony Hirschman and his new hardware. (Howie Hodge Photo)
Donny Lia in victory lane. (51 Photo)
Jerry Marquis in the #4. (51 Photo)
but it looks like it might log a few more this week at Thompson Speedway.
“This car is only four races old. It’s got the [North vs. South] Shootout, the Turkey Derby and just a few laps at the Icebreaker on it. This is the fourth race on it and we’ve got some bugs to work out still.”
So what are Blewett’s plans beyond this week’s race?
“I’m going to run this car at Thompson and I’ll probably do a race or two with Joe [Brady]. We’ll see how it goes. He was there to pick me up when I had nothing and I’m not going to leave him high and dry.”
MARQUIS FINALLY HAS A REASON TO CELEBRATE AT STAFFORD
Last season, Jerry Marquis won a race at Stafford. This year, his luck at the track has left something to be desired. His #4 car been a magnet for getting drawn into wrecks during the first two events of the year there and finishes of 27th and 26th were not what the veteran was used to at the Connecticut short track.
John Blewett (#66) races with Jamie Tomaino (#99). (Howie Hodge Photo)
Things turned around this time out though with a third-place finish and not one crumpled body panel.
“We finally got something to be happy about here,” said Marquis. “The guys did an awesome job on the pit stop and everything worked out good for a change here at Stafford.”
The pit stop that Marquis refers to helped the team gain valuable track position near the end. An even better result could have been possible if not for a late race rain delay.
“We only put on two tires,” said Marquis. “We figured we’d be better off making up track position and that was a call that was well made. We were a little snug there
Lately though, Lia has been ratcheting up his finishes at Stafford. He took the biggest step forward Friday night by winning his first SK race.
“It’s a big load off my shoulders,” said Lia of the win. “It feels like a big weight has been lifted off me. I’ve known that I could do it and I’ve known that for awhile, but to finally get it done feels really gratifying.”
To win at Stafford is a big deal for Lia both personally and professionally.
“This place is so tricky. Turns one and two are probably two of the hardest corners anywhere that we race. You don’t know where to be coming off the corner. Those turns can bite you. If you are a little too tight or a little too loose, you’re done. So to get it right means that you figured this place out. That feels good.
“There’s been a lot of hard work and dedication. We’ve had some heartache and a lot of downs, but not a lot of ups. I’ve got a real great group of guys behind me and they just don’t give up. I’m thankful for the opportunity that they’ve given me.
The win at Stafford almost didn’t happen though. Early in the race, it looked like the team’s bad luck would continue when a big wreck took place directly in front of Lia. Dust and smoke blanketed the frontstretch. Somehow, the white #47 drove out of the mess without a scratch.
“We were really good tonight, but we also needed some luck. That wreck was like ‘Days of Thunder’. I was in the middle of it and somehow I got through it. I saw it happen up ahead and slammed on the brakes and missed all these guys wrecking all around me. That really pumped me up. I knew that we had some luck and a great car, so I said, ‘let’s go do this’.”
Despite missing a race because of that practice crash, the #47 team has moved up to fourth in the Stafford points, only two markers behind defending champion Ted Christopher. More importantly, they are enjoying themselves.
“We’re having a good time. It was fun to go out there, be aggressive, and pass cars. We’ve haven’t been able to do that. This really helps us out.”
Before the SK feature, Lia finished ninth in the Tour event. The finish helped to keep Lia in the top five of the Tour point standings, but isn’t exactly what he wanted either.
“It was a good run, but we’re still missing a little bit for the [Tour] races at Stafford,” said Lia. “These guys are tough and it doesn’t take much at all to be just a little bit off.”