MODIFIED TOUR LEFTOVERS: NHIS by Mike Twist, Jeremy Troiano and Matthew Dillner
TC, Loftin, Hirschman, Civali, Marquis, Szegedy & Much More
HIRSCHMAN CONFRONTS CIVALI OVER “UN-CALLED FOR” DRIVING TACTICS
Several members of the media surrounded James Civali on pit road after the 100-lap Modified contest. But writers were not the only ones interested in speaking with the young modified driver. Veteran Modified ace Tony Hirschman waited patiently during several interviews and then approached Civali to give him an earful. The all-time most winning Mod driver at NHIS was not happy with Civali’s driving style and the what he thought was a lack of respect he shown to the defending series champ.
“You see we were running third,” said Hirschman. “The 28 just drove on down underneath me and slammed me right out of the way and knocked me up and I lost 12 to 15 spots. Uncalled for.”
Civali defended himself by pleading to Hirschman that he merely slipped up.
“We were coming back through the field and Hirschy just couldn’t get in the corner,” said Civali about battling Hirschman. “I don’t know if he was loose getting in or what? He was just going in at a slower speed than anybody else. I got a run on him down the straightaway and jumped underneath him. I got free going in. When you get free you can’t hit the brakes because if you hit the brakes too much you just spin out. I just held on to it
the best I could and just washed up into him. There wasn’t much I could do.”
Hirschman did not buy into any of Civali’s excuses or reasoning.
“The kid’s just got brain fade,” explained an irate Hirschman. “He’s just too cocky. What does he think? That I am stupid? I watched his front tires. He just drove straight in there and drove straight up into me. He didn’t even give me a chance! He lies to me and tells me a bunch of excuses instead of telling me what he did. Don’t lie to me! He got loose, he did this or did that… bulls—t. He just drove it down in there. He knew what he was doing. He was just knocking me out of the way.”
Civali continued to talk to reporters after Hirschman confronted him and shrugged off the incident and ensuing confrontation the best he could.
“He was pretty upset,” explained Civali. “I think he would know what happened because his car was handling the same way. He can be upset at me for overdriving it maybe? You are doing everything you can out there. You get a run on someone you know you are faster than and you just take what you can get when you can get it.”
Civali got a third place finish out of it while a very unhappy Hirschman loaded up his racecar with a 10th place finish.
TC PLUGS ALONG TO THIRD, NOT HAPPY WITH CIVALI
Ted Christopher won four straight events at New Hampshire driving the #13 car of Mystique Motorsports, but had to find a new ride when that team was shut down early in 2006 season.
TC ended up with Eddie Whelan’s #36 operation and that team appears to have been getting better and better at NHIS. After all, they finished third this past weekend.
Tony HIrschman (left) confronts James Civali after the race at NHIS. (51 Photo)
“He drove into the side of me. He wants all of the lanes out there and it took me from third to sixth. That’s what he does to everybody out there.
SZEGEDY HAS SPEED, BUT NO LUCK, AT NHIS
Todd Szegedy led 31 laps out of the 100 contested at New Hampshire, but Friday just wasn’t his day to win. He got spun out in the middle of the race and had to fight tooth and nail to get back to fifth at the finish.
He knew that he was the man to beat though and wasn’t shy about sharing that fact after the race.
Ron Yuhas (#6) throws up sparks after an accident at NHIS. (51 photo)
Did Szegedy think that he could make it back into the top five? Without a doubt.
“I was going to drive my butt off to get back there. We got hot at the end. I think that I could have gained some more positions. My body was all screwed up. I had hardly any rear spoiler. That just shows how good this car was. My body was all messed up and I still ran over these guys. We had a good car, but once again we missed it [a win].”
LAST LAP PASS ALMOST PAYS OFF
While Jerry Marquis’ name wasn’t thrown around a lot during the race as a potential “race-winning” car, he surely made it known that he could have won Friday evening’s race.
Over the last 20 laps, Marquis was never outside the top-five. In fact, he was running second to Ted Christopher before John Blewett III began his chase toward the front. Eventually, Marquis found himself second again, this time chasing down Blewett.
“There’s no question that we had the fastest car today,” said Szegedy. “We had the best car and if we didn’t get spun out, we would have won this race. But what can you do? We can’t get through New Hampshire without trouble. One day I will.”
The trouble this time resulted when a line of cars knocked bumpers and Szegedy’s #2 went around.
“Chuck [Hossfeld] just backed up going into turn four,” said Szegedy when asked about his spin I got into him and the guy behind me got into me and we all went spinning around. I didn’t want to get into Chuck. He was just out there riding around and minding his own business.”
Todd Szegedy (#2) was involved in this accident at NHIS. (Ken Spring photo)
A NASCAR official looks over the broken hub that stopped Doug Coby's run. (51 photo)
With a little help from his friends behind him, Marquis used the draft to the best of his abilities and made a last-lap dash to try and get to Blewett. He got to Blewett’s door going into turn three while coming to the checkers, but that was as close as he could get.
“(Blewett) had a run on everyone else and he was able to pull away from the pack,” said Marquis. “We worked at it and we were able to get a run on John there at the very end. I went ahead and went to the outside. I didn’t want to try and go to the inside and try and bonzi him. We’ve got to make this car go to the next race, so we need to
But Christopher won’t be happy until one thing happens.
“Not quite, we didn’t win,” said Christopher. “We did pretty good for the first time with a new car though.”
TC did get to smile though, due to the fact that he qualified on time for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event.
“I qualified for the Cup race, so that’s good.”
He wasn’t smiling about the antics of one of his fellow Mod drivers – James Civali.
Ted Christopher (#36) and James Civali (#28) race at New Hampshire. (Jim DuPont photo)
The car wasn’t ideal by anty means, but it was good enough to take the ninth finishing position.
“It wasn’t bad,” said Beers. “The car went good in the draft, but when I pulled out to pass it was like hitting a brick wall. It was a good car. We were real, real loose at the beginning. They tightened it up and if we had had one more caution near the end to cool the tires, we would have been real good.
“We were running just outside the top five behind Marquis and Stefanik there. Jerry wiggled and I tried to get by them both. I got to the bottom, but I couldn’t get back in line and lost five spots. But to finish ninth with everything still on the car isn’t a bad day.”
Jerry Marquis (#4) worked his way past TC to get into second at NHIS.
take care of it. We got a good, solid finish out of it and that is what we are looking for.”
The draft had Marquis smiling all day.
“You just sit there and dice it out and it’s a lot of fun. You had to make your move, but you didn’t want to make too many moves because you would wind up moving to the back. Its real tough out there, but it fun! . We just tried to go and that is the only thing you can do. You just gotta go.”
HUB HAULTS RUN FOR COBY
Doug Coby didn’t have a chance to improve on an impressive run in the July Modified race at New Hampshire. From the get-go, his race weekend this time seemed doomed.
First, Coby and the Chase team discovered a leak in the rear main seal of their primary power plant. And then after installing the back up engine, one they felt might be an improvement in power, the 77 went nowhere fast.
“It seems we had a broken hub from the start,” said Coby. “The car started vibrating. On lap one or two I could feel that something was wrong. We just couldn’t get off the corners at all and that makes sense because that is when all the load is on the left rear. These guys were just eating us up. It just sucks because we spent all day changing motors. It was pretty much a new motor and had only been used when Tony (Stewart) had run the car (in July). I was kind of excited because I thought we were going to have a good day.”
When Coby felt the vibration, he knew something was wrong and chose to bring the car to a stop on the front stretch causing NASCAR to throw the yellow flag.
Brian Loftin (51 photo)
“We brought out the first caution because I didn’t want to wreck the car. I wanted to see what was wrong with the car. I didn’t know if it was terminal or something or if the rim was bent. I didn’t know. I brought out the caution because I thought it was better than wrecking the car or other cars around me. I didn’t want to pull down pit road because I didn’t want to ruin my guys’ day if it was something that was fixable. It turns out the hub was busted in a bunch of spots. We changed it and lost a bunch of laps.”
DO THE MATH
No, he’s not trying out for a spot in one of the Aaron’s Sales and Leasing commercials along side Michael and Darrell Waltrip. Mike Stefanik said he was “doing the math” and he was just talking about his race.
“The car was a tick tight,” said Stefanik, who finished fourth. “It really hurts the motor when you are a tick tight and nobody went (in the draft) with me. I mean nobody. So I’d drive into the corners hard and dive down low and come out on the straightaway past two guys. But then, those two guys would come back by me on the outside and drag another one or two with them.
“So I started doing the math and it wasn’t working out for
MIke Stefanik (#16) used the low line, but quickly decided against that. (Howie Hodge photo)
me. I was backing up. So I decided if I could ever get back to front, I was never going to go back to the bottom and I didn’t.”
SOUTHERN DRIVER LOVES NHIS
With the introduction of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, fans were hoping to see some of the best from the North and the South get together from time to time. There have been plenty of times that some of the Northern Drivers, including Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld and Jamie Tomaino, have traved to raced down south. But the Southern guys haven’t made too many trips up north.
At least not many other than Brian Loftin.
Loftin made another trip up to New Hampshire on Friday, representing the Southern teams well. Unfortunately, things didn’t go very well for Loftin and his team, but that wasn’t enough to wipe the smile off of his face after the event.
“I love NHIS,” said Loftin, who finished 29th. “I plan to come back next year as much as possible. This is fun here. If you don’t like this, you just don’t like racing.
“I tell all of those (Southern Mod) to come up here. I don’t know why they don’t. This is a lot of fun. Maybe then too, I’d have someone that would draft with me.”
Drafting wasn’t one of Loftin’s strong suits. With qualifying getting rained out, Loftin had to start near the back. And a early, long green-flag run killed Loftin’s shot.
“When the cars start getting spread out, you are only as good as the car around you,” added Loftin. “We needed a caution bad and it never fell. Then, about halfway through the race, the 06 (Steve Whitt) got loose and got into us. I don’t know what it did, but it bent something and the car was vibrating really bad, so we just pulled it in. We were pretty much done.”
BEERS SHORT TRACKS TO A TOP 10
In an age where teams bring their slickest cars and bodies to NHIS, Eric Beers showed up with a short track car. His Ole’ Blue that would have normally run the race was heavily damaged at Martinsville, so the #3 team worked with what they had this weekend.
YUHAS IMPRESSES, BUT DNFs, AGAIN
Ron Yuhas keeps turning in impressive runs with his uniquely green #6 Modified. The problem is that bad luck usually prevents him from being around at the end. For the second time this season, Yuhas saw an almost certain top 10 finish at NHIS turn into a DNF.
“We had another good run going,” said Yuhas. “On the first 50 laps, we were pretty tight. We made a pit stop there when the first yellow came out. We got the car really good and were going towards the front. I think that we were 10th or so when something happened up front. Somebody got crossed up or something and decided to go flying back up a lane. Everyone checked up and I got into it.”
Yuhas doesn’t quite know why he and his team have adapted so well to the Magic Mile in their rookie season.
“We just seemed to find something with the car. It runs really well here, we just get caught up in trouble.”
LITTLE HIRSCHY KEEPS LEARNING SPEEDWAY RACING
Matt Hirschman improved in his second career NASCAR Whelen Mod Series start at the “Magic Mile”. Although he didn’t pull any rabbits out of his hat, he did run a respectful race and came home 13th. While his father was fuming over an on track tussle with James Civali, Matt stood by his #59 car as the happiest Hirschman of the day.
Eric Beers (51 photo)
“We improved from the last time we were here,” said Hirschman. “The last time was the first time and now I think when we come back here next year for the July race we will probably be inside the top 10 instead of just outside. I think we are creeping up on it. You just don’t come to a place like this and run in the top-five in your first time out there. It takes a little time and we are catching up on it.”
And as it’s said “practice makes perfect”. Hirschman knows well that experience is the key to success at mastering New Hampshire International Speedway. The young racer raced with several different drivers during
practice, even sharing some drafting battle/lessons with his old man to speed up his learning curve.
“In practice if you run out there by yourself you are not learning anything. In the race it is rare that you are by yourself. So in practice I just tried to run with as many people as I could and it helped. Just running with cars and the draft are things I am still learning. I kind of think I understand it and can set up a pass but to perfect it only comes with time.”
PIT ROAD PENALTY COSTS SYLVESTER
Zach Sylvester called the racing at New Hampshire “exciting as always.” However, he probably wasn’t too excited when he had to take his #15 from the back to the front to the back and to the front after a pit road penalty during the middle portion of the race.
Matt Hirschman (#59) goes three-wide at New Hampshire. (51 photo)
Zach Sylvester (#15) had some problems on pit road. (Jim DuPont photo)
“The car was really good in the beginning,” said Sylvester. “We stayed in the draft with the front runners and tried to find a spot to just run for a while until we could come in and make some adjustments. Then, we got caught speeding on pit road then. That set us back a little bit.
“I had a feeling I might have done it. I almost stalled the car coming out of the pits. I revved it too high and dropped (the clutch) and I just let it get to high (on RPMs). The spotter came over the radio and said we got a penalty for speeding on pit road. Whatever the case maybe, we had to use our stuff up to get back to the front.
“We’ve really struggled here in the past with different problems, so I’m just happy to get through here with a decent run and the car in one piece.”
Sylvester finished eighth.
FLEMKE’S CAR DOESN’T PLAY NICE WITH OTHERS
Eddie Flemke’s #10 was fast at times during the NHIS race. He led laps and stayed up in the lead pack before falling back to finish seventh. The problem? Flemke’s car just didn’t seem to like racing in a large group.
“We choose not to pit and it was the right move,” said Flemke. “In a pack of three or more cars, it got loose and I don’t like loose here. One on one or by myself it was fine. When it was more than that, it was loose. I know that guys are playing with their roofs – using different roofs and moving them ahead. So we just have to go to work and do that, so the car doesn’t do that. I wouldn’t change a thing about today.
“It was a good day. Anytime that you finish in the top 10 at Loudon is a good day. I wanted to be in the top five, but I’m not upset. We had a seventh-place car today.”
What Flemke wasn’t happy about though was the fact
that Donny Lia’s wounded racecar was allowed to stay on the track for a few laps while smoking badly from a blown engine. Flemke got coolant and oil on his windscreen from running in close proximity to Lia’s #18.
“When a guy is smoking like that for two laps, black flag him. Don’t wait until the thing is melting pistons out of the pipes. He blew up and we checked up. It’s not his fault. There were 10 laps to go and you try to ride it out. If you melt a motor down, so be it. I’ve done that before. But the guys behind don’t know what line to run and their windshields are covered with stuff.”
ENGINE EXPIRES FOR SEUSS’ MOD TOUR DEBUT
Eddie Flemke (#10) (51 photo)
Engine problems cost Andy Seuss. (51 photo)
At New Hampshire, Andy Seuss was in the top 25 for both practice sessions, but started 39th for his Mod Tour debut after qualifying was rained out and the field was set by owner points. At the drop of the green flag, Seuss made forward progress but that was temporary. The engine started acting up and he soon began to lose spots before having to retire on lap 25 with a 39th-place finish.
“The motor was off after lap two,” said Seuss, after climbing from his car. “We just never got up to speed. The valve pulled right through the keeper. We’ll go back home and get it ready for the race at Seekonk. I’m just frustrated. It wasn’t for a lack of effort though. The guys worked really hard and they did a great job. I’m proud to
have Manchester Urology back on the car, I just wish we could have given them a better run. We had the speed there in practice and I was looking forward to mixing it up. I knew we could run in the top-20 or the top-15. I guess we’ll have to wait until next year. I wanted to stay out on the track for my guys, hoping it was a plug wire or something. We stayed out there until we were about to go a lap down, hoping there would be a caution.”
The #70 team hauled their tails out of the track after the twilight race and headed back to their shop to prepare another engine for their car. After a late night and early morning of work, the team got the #70 race-ready and headed to Seekonk. The team had tire problems there and finished 11th.