Civali Makes Right Moves in Rain-Shortened Mansfield Mod Race by Jim Blacroch
Coby Runs Second, Lia Goes Without Power Steering and More
Meriden, Connecticut’s, James Civali is having a dream season aboard Don King’s RaceWorks Chevrolet. On Saturday afternoon the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour invaded the Mansfield Motorsports Park in Central Ohio for the Tour’s inaugural visit to the ultra-modern facility and Civali capitalized by scoring his third victory of the 2007 season.
Donny Lia's #4 at Mansfield.  (NASCAR / Mary Hodge Photo)
Civali’s brother serves as his spotter and it paid great dividends as he relayed to Civali the weather situation, which would ultimately affect the outcome of the race. The message was that the rain was coming, he didn’t know when our how much, but it was on its way. He was right and Civali never brought his machine down pit road, choosing to stay out and hang on to the lead, playing the weather card, that once it did start raining that the race would not be resumed. His choice was the correct one as NASCAR called the race a complete event following 108 laps of competition.

“He (Civali’s brother, Joey Civali, who serves as the team’s
spotter) let me and the crew know that it was going to rain,” began Civali. “He was using his cell phone to check radar and it helped us out today, that’s for sure. We just didn’t know how much and when. So we took a bit of a gamble. The car was pretty good, but we did have 90 laps on the tires.

Civali worked his way from the 10th position to take the lead for the first time on lap 14 from Doug Coby.

Civali then lost the lead to Ronnie Silk before taking the lead back after Silk headed down pit road on lap 57. Civali and Donny Lia then swapped the lead for a couple of
laps before Civali settled in and led until Coby picked up the pace and the challenge on lap 100.

Civali quickly hustled back around Coby and then the heavens opened up with the red flag finally being displayed on lap 108. After a couple of attempts to dry the track it was determined to stop the race 42 laps short of the 150-lap scheduled distance.

“When we were leading the car was really good,” offered Civali following his fourth career triumph. “When Ronnie (Silk) passed me the car got pretty free, loose, but after that it stayed the same. Those were 90 hard laps on the tires. It never really changed the entire run. Too me it looked like Ronnie was getting more free throughout his run and it’s probably the factor the sent him to the pits. It’s a big win for our team. I can’t thank Don King enough for this opportunity to drive this car and the crew does a great job. I can’t forget my brother, who was spotting for me today, he did a great job and helped us make all of the right calls.”

For the third consecutive race, Doug Coby strapped into Curt Chase’s yellow 77 and performed very well.

Coby, who started second, led early and nearly had the lead in time but Civali was able to pass him when the weather developed and ended brought the event to an end.

“I definitely think I had something for him,” deadpanned Coby. “Our car was really good. Curt and the crew gave me a really good car to drive. It was really good and I wish we were going to finish this race. I know I had something for him.”

You could tell by the look on Coby’s face that he meant it, but Coby’s heart was definitely in the right place.
Eric Beers of Northampton, Penn., had a great race at Mansfield, but it wasn’t without some intense moments during the day.

“We rubbed a hole in one of the oil lines during practice,” explained Beers. “It was a pretty big leak. I saw the gauge drop going down the backstretch and shut the engine off before we hurt it.

“Maybe things are starting to go our way. This was our first top-five of the year and I must say it feels pretty good. Thanks to Reynolds Trucking for coming board to help us and all of the guys, they just never give up.”

Mike Stefanik has not had a season that he wants to remember. On Saturday afternoon he qualified 22nd aboard the Flamingo Motorsports Chevrolet and finished 12th. Some news came out of the team at Thompson, when Barry Kuhnel apparently left the team and was not seen at Mansfield.
Rain cut the race at Mansfield short.  (NASCAR / Mary Hodge Photo)
Woody Pitkat, who is also leading the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (Weekly Series) National championship standings, finished third. Current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point leader Donny Lia of Jericho, N.Y., finished fourth with Eric Beers recording his first top-five of the season. Silk, Matt Hirschman, Ted Christopher, Todd Szegedy and Bobby Grigas rounded out the top-ten.

Lia won the Bud Pole Award. To complete the 108 laps only took a brief 39 minutes and 40 seconds with only four caution periods covering 21 laps. The next event for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is the Whelen All-American 300 at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, on Saturday, September 1st.
“You know, I really wanted to win this race for the Chases, but the Blewetts, especially John, were on my mind,” explained Coby. “John won, I think seven times, in this car and I really wanted to get it back to victory lane for that reason and dedicate the win to John. That’s what I was thinking about. We are going to miss him, he was a tremendous asset to the sport and especially this division.”

Coby joined forces with Chase a few weeks ago, returning to a ride that he had success with, including a victory in the ‘Spring Sizzler’ at his home track in Stafford Springs. Since his return he has recorded two top-five finishes in three races (a fourth at Stafford and second at Mansfield – he finished 19th at Thompson), but with only one race remaining with the Chase team Coby will be out of a ride again.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do about a Tour ride,” related Coby. “It’s not like I can just buy a ride or have a sponsor that I can bring that will change the situation I’m in. We did have the family SK that we were running at Waterford, but I don’t have any real firm plans as of right now. I love racing this Tour, but it takes a significant investment right now.

“I think I’ve proved that I can get the job done, now it’s just a matter of finding a place to fit in. I really enjoy running for the Chase team, but without the financial support right now, we just can’t keep going. Maybe something will change. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

On a day when most people seemed to refocus themselves on their own situations, Coby’s focus was in the right direction, but his heart remained in the right place. He was happy to do something he enjoyed, but he also remembered what happened just nine days prior. For any car owner looking to find a driver who has all of the requirements of a big league driver, who can deliver the goods, they don’t need to look any further then Doug Coby.


Donny Lia, who currently leads the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point standings, led one lap and recorded another top-five finish, but it was somewhat of an adventure for Lia.
“We lost the power steering and I was just hanging on at the end,” offered Lia. “We really did have a good car, it was fast early and I thought we would be in good shape until the steering went away.”

Lia won the Bud Pole Award, but then started sixth before finishing fourth.

We just did what we had to do,” Lia continued. “We just need to keep things going in the right direction.  It was definitely a challenging run without the power steering. This was a pretty fast track and definitely a first class facility, but it was demanding, I can tell you that. The guys did a great job in the pits, we won the Pole and all in all, it was a good day for us. We’ll go on to Martinsville and see what happens there.”

Coby (#77) races with the sideways #2 of Todd Szegedy.  (NASAC / Howie Hodge Photo)
Civali (#28) and Coby (#77) battle for the lead.  (NASCAR / Howie Hodge Photo)

James Civali in victory lane.  (NASCAR / Howie Hodge Photo)

“I wish the race would have went the full distance,” stated Stefanik. “We had a real good car towards the end. Sly and all of the guys are working hard right now. We just need to get our confidence back and find our stride. We are definitely running better, unfortunately we don’t have the results to show it.”

27-cars made the tow to Mansfield, with no Southern based teams showing. Jerry Marquis started the race in an Art Barry car that was a backup car of Richard Savary. Only Andy Seuss of Hampstead, N.H., was one of the non-regulars in the field.

It was a hot and very humid day, which seemingly took it’s toll on a huge crowd coming out to watch the event, in addition to the fact that start time of 3:30 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour feature seemed a bit bizarre for a traditional Saturday night short track. The event was televised live on HD Net, which is a high definition network that covers Grand National East and West events.  Several competitors wondered out loud
why the event wasn’t completed in it’s entirety following the Busch East event. Time constraints and television were the primary factors, but the weather did hold off for all 150-laps of the Busch East event.

Martinsville will be a 300-lap event under the lights.

Saturday At Mansfield Motorsports Speedway - Mansfield, OH
Lap length: 0.5 miles (Start position in parentheses)

1. (10) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 108 laps, 81.544 mph, $8,100.
2. (2) Doug Coby, III, Milford, Conn., Pontiac, 108, $3,000.
3. (18) Woody Pitkat, Stafford Springs, Conn., Pontiac, 108, $3,800.
4. (6) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 108, $3,600.
5. (16) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 108, $2,450.
6. (8) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 108, $2,350.
7. (4) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Dodge, 108, $2,400.
8. (12) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 108, $2,275.
9. (3) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 108, $2,125.
10. (7) Bobby Grigas, Marshfield, MA, Chevrolet, 108, $1,550.
11. (11) Tony Hirschman, Jr., Northampton, Penn., Chevrolet, 108, $1,675.
12. (22) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Pontiac, 108, $2,475.
13. (17) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 108, $1,750.
14. (21) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Ford, 108, $1,995.
15. (14) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, Mass., Chevrolet, 108, $1,740.
16. (13) Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, N.J., Dodge, 108, $1,880.
17. (9) Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT, Chevrolet, 108, $1,825.
18. (5) Eddie Flemke, Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 108, $1,900.
19. (24) Joe Hartmann, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 108, $1,325.
20. (15) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 107, $1,600.
21. (23) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 106, $1,575.
22. (25) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 106, $1,550.
23. (19) Glen Tyler, Hampton Bays, N.Y., Chevrolet, 95, $1,225.
24. (20) Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H., Chevrolet, 22, oil pump, $950.
25. (1) Danny Sammons, Trenton, N.J., Chevrolet, 4, engine, $1,490.
26. (26) Jake Marosz, Middletown, Conn., Chevrolet, 3, oil leak, $750.
27. (27) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, Conn., Chevrolet, 2, ignition, $1,250.

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 0 hours 39 minutes 44 seconds Margin of Victory: under caution Fastest Qualifier: D.Lia (117.847 mph, 15.274 seconds) Caution Flags: 4 for 21 laps.
Lead Changes: 7 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: D.Coby,III 1-13; J.Civali 14-19; R.Silk 20-57; J.Civali 58; D.Lia 59; J.Civali 60-100; D.Coby,III 101; J.Civali 102-108.
Standings: 1. D.Lia, 1759; 2. T.Szegedy, 1628; 3. M.Hirschman, 1620; 4. T.Christopher, 1504; 5.  J.Civali, 1491; 6. R.Silk, 1470; 7. M.Stefanik, 1386; 8. J.Tomaino, 1366; 9. J.Blewett, 1334; 10. E.Flemke, 1318.