MODIFIED TOUR LEFTOVERS: STAFFORD by Mike Twist and April Barker
Beers vs. Civali, Bolles, Szegedy, Hirschman and Others
MORE THAN ONE SOURCE OF CONTROVERSY
After the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson, most people were buzzing about the Ted Christopher vs. John Blewett, III incident that decided who won the event. One went on to the win (Christopher) and one was planted against the backstretch wall (Blewett).
But there was another incident that ruffled some feathers as well. Just past the halfway point, James Civali and Eric Beers made contact on the backstretch. Beers slid around backwards and hit the turn three wall hard, while Civali rolled to the infield with terminal damage to his #28 as well.
Beers had a few choice words when he was interviewed over the PA system, as well as when Speed51.com caught up with both drivers after the event.
“We were just riding around out there, waiting to make our pit stop and coming out with the leaders to go for a win,” said Beers. “We had a good racecar. The #28 just ran into us going into the corner. I don’t know if he
missed the brake pedal or what. He drove over us and put us into the fence.”
Civali viewed the wreck as a racing incident and nothing more than that.
“I had a good run on him off turn two and his car was fading pretty quick,” said Civali. “I went to pull out of line on the straightaway. I don’t know if he let out early or if I misjudged, but I climbed up over his left rear. It really just was a racing deal.
Eric Beers (#3) races with Eddie Flemke (#10) early at Thompson. (Jim DuPont Photos)
“When we got together, something happened to my car,” said Civali. “It broke the heims, the trailing arm and the driveshaft. It was pretty nasty.”
“It’s beat up pretty bad,” said Beers. “They are going to have to work like hell to get it ready for Martinsville.”
SZEGEDY HAS BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF LATE RACE FIREWORKS
All eyes were on John Blewett and Ted Christopher after the two cars made contact. In fact, so much attention was focused on those two cars that it was easy to not even notice that the #2 of Todd Szegedy was stopped on the backstretch during the caution.
NICE SAFE RUN NETS SECOND FOR HIRSCHMAN
Tony Hirschman wasn’t spectacular during the Bud 150 at Thompson. Then again, he’s never really had a flashy style on or off the racetrack. What mattered the most though was that Hirschman was sitting in second place when the checkered flag waved at the conclusion of the race.
“I thought we were going to have a chance for the win,” said Szegedy, who inherited the second spot after the contact between Christopher and Blewett. “And then under caution the rear-end broke, and that was it. We were done, eight laps to go.”
Suffering such bad luck was heartbreaking after being so lucky early in the race. Szegedy’s night started off a little rough, but he was lucky enough to avoid any of the major wrecks.
“Right in the beginning some of the guys were a little over-anxious and there was some three-wide racing,” he said. “I got tangled up and someone whacked my front tire, bent the car up. So the car was never really good the whole race, and we just stayed out of the wrecks and got to second and I thought we were gonna have a chance for the win.”
Szegedy made it clear that he wouldn’t have cut TC any slack if he had been able to challenge him for the lead.
“By then I was pretty ticked off. It would have been either a first or a wreck, so I mean I was going to charge hard on Teddy, and it just didn’t work out. We broke, unfortunately.”
Todd Szegedy (#2) runs with winner Ted Christopher (Top), but his race ended too early. (Bottom)
Donny Lia's #18 Modified.
“We’re really happy, I mean, this is only like our third event out. This is our first race at Thompson. I was out here practicing for the Icebreaker at night, and I think I hit some water so I went into the wall and destroyed the car. The guys did a great job rebuilding the car. We missed the Spring Sizzler, and then we came back here for the next race, and we had a motor problem in practice so I couldn’t run the main event again. This is our first main event here this year.
“It felt good in practice. We had a fresh Bob Bruneau motor in today. The guys do a great job. Every time we go out they give me a better car. When we come back next time I’ll think we’ll have a better car.”
Once that happened, it really got bad going into turn three there. He got wrecked pretty bad.”
Beers didn’t buy the possibility that he lifted early – and wasn’t particularly happy that Civali even brought it up.
“I lifted early?” said Beers. “No. I guess that he got a big head after winning a race. It’s ridiculous. We don’t get anything handed to us. Nobody writes a check for us to go racing. I worked for everything that I’ve got, I didn’t get to jump into a car because Mom and Dad have money. There’s no respect out there. He’d just better not race around me for the rest of the year, that’s all I have to say.”
Both cars were heavily damaged.
The #28 team of James Civali looks over their damaged #28.
Tom Bolles' #76
Staying out of trouble was key to finishing well at Thompson.
“We avoided some messes at Stafford and we avoided some messes tonight, so that’s a big part of this whole game. You’ve got to be lucky, and we were lucky for a change, right?”
What’s next for Bolles after Thompson? He still plans on doing just a limited schedule.
“We plan on running pretty much just Stafford and Thompson. We built a new car dealership over the winter and the car business is cranking right now, it’s been really strong. The gas prices going up put a little lull in us, you know. At least they let me run Stafford and Thompson anyway.
SYLVESTER HAS STEADY RUN TO PODIUM FINISH
Zach Sylvester had a long way to go to finish third at Thompson. He started 19th and used a combination of patience and opportunity to find his way to a podium finish.
“I’m very happy,” said Sylvester. “We weren’t as strong in qualifying as we were hoping. We were really good in practice all day. That set us back a little bit because of our track position in the beginning. We had to come in already with only 30 laps down because we already started to pedal. We came in a couple of times, made our adjustments and were there sitting pretty at the end.”
The last few events on the Modified Tour have turned Sylvester’s luck around from a rocky start to the 2006 season.
“Our year definitely started off rough. To come back from that adversity, the guys have done a great job. We’ve finally gotten into a rhythm. Riverhead and Stafford we were good. To finish third today after what I saw in front of me was pretty good. We’ll take it.”
LIA COMES BACK TO FINISH IN TOP 10
Donny Lia started the race on the outside pole and contended for the lead early on. A pit stop problem dropped Lia well out of the top 10, but by the time that the event was finished, Lia had battled back to the ninth position.
“It was a good night, but track position killed us,” said Lia. “We had a car that could run in the top five. We hung in the top three or four early. When we pitted, we were sixth. If we had beaten everyone out, we would have been fine but we had a problem on the stop. We pushed the studs right out of the hub. That held us up
and we had to do the whole thing over again, but those things happen. All in all, it was a good night for us.”
“We had a good car,” said Hirschman. “Practice was good. We won the pole, redrew the pole, ran up front for a bunch of laps. I just tried to take it easy on the car. At one point there I thought we were a fourth or fifth place car, and I just tried to not do anything stupid. Just bring it home. Who knows. We got damaged but we ended up second.”
The damage was as a result of the same incident that sent Blewett into the wall with only nine laps to go.
“We had two rough weeks coming into here. We got wrecked two different times. I just tried to be conservative and bring it home in one piece, and then the
two leaders got into each other and wrecked and I got run over from behind, as you can see. It took the back of my car out of play. But luckily it was near the end of the race, so I was just hanging on the last couple of laps. As you can see I had no back of the car, no spoiler left. I’m just glad to be coming home in second. It could have been a lot worse.”
LAPPED CARS COST MARQUIS
Jerry Marquis ran as high as second at Thompson, but with only a few dozen laps left in the race, he was the victim when lapped cars got together coming out of turn four. Marquis slowed down and got bounced around a little bit, falling back in the pack to an eventual 10th place finish.
“Those lapped cars,” said Marquis. “They need to do something. You just don’t go pulling out in front of cars, especially after two leaders go by and there are others coming right at you. Then he jumped the wheel of another car. What in the world are they thinking?”
But considering Marquis’ bad luck of late, he really was not surprised by the turn of events.
“Why not? It’s just part of our luck this year. We finally had a decent top five run going and that happened. If it’s not one thing, it’s another this year.”
CIVALI LETS STAFFORD WIN SINK IN
In the span between Stafford and Thompson, James Civali got to play the new role of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s most recent winner. It was something that he really enjoyed.
“It’s been good,” said Civali. “It’s been fun. It’s great to just get a win under our belt – not just for me, but the whole team. It feels good.”
BOLLES FINDS WAY TO TOP-FIVE FINISH
Thompson was not kind to Tom Bolles during the season-opening Icebreaker, but it sure was this time around, as the driver of the #76 Modified took home a strong fourth-place finish.
The #48 of Tony Hirschman comes in for service.
Marquis' #4 runs to the outside of lapped traffic.