The Whelen Modified Tour made their lone stop to this tight track for the final of three flash-format races, and it was Ted Christopher scoring the pole through the time trial portion of the event, narrowly edging out Riverhead locals, Bill Park and Howie Brode. After a pair of 25 lap heat races set the remainder of 28 car field, the race would finally begin about an hour behind schedule due to a problem with the lighting in turn one.
Mike Stefanik, the reigning tour Champion, led the first 114 laps of the race, a stretch marked by lots of nose-to-tail racing and caution flags for single car spins. It was one of those spins, one that didn’t draw a caution, that turned the lead over to Christopher on lap 115 when smoke filled the frontstretch.
Stefanik and Christopher battled hard and often side by side over the next 20 laps, with Christopher ghosting against the wall at one point and Stefanik kicking up dust from the infield. When lap traffic started to bottle things up in front of them, Stefanik and Christopher got together again, damaging both of their vehicles out of contention.
Donny Lia would move from third to first and he never looked back, taking the win on lap 144 after the race extended into overtime for a green-white-checker finish. Park finished second, with Ronnie Silk, Justin Bonsignore and James Civali rounding out the top five. Bonsignore, another Riverhead local, had only recently returned behind the wheel after breaking his wrist earlier in the season.
“I had a little something for Donny at the end, but he ran me good a couple of weeks ago here (Riverhead) for the 77 lapper,” said Park after the race. “I’m leading the points here. He was behind me with five laps to go, he never bumped me and I owed him the same courtesy. If I could have gotten him, I would have but I was not going to bump him out of the way to do it.”
NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR
(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (3) Donny Lia, Jericho N.Y., Dodge, 144
2. (7) Bill Park, Manorville N.Y., Chevrolet, 144
3. (15) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk Conn., Chevrolet, 144
4. (11) Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville N.Y., Chevrolet, 144
5. (9) James Civali, Meriden Conn., Chevrolet, 144
6. (21) Danny Sammons, Hamilton N.J., Chevrolet, 144
7. (24) Matt Hirschman, Northampton Penn., Dodge, 144
8. (5) Howie Brode, East Islap N.Y., Chevrolet, 144
9. (26) Jamie Tomaino, Howell N.J., Chevrolet, 144
10. (19) Ryan Preece, Kensington Conn., Chevrolet, 144
11. (1) Michael Stefanik, Coventry R.I., Pontiac, 144
12. (8) Jimmy Blewett, Calverton N.Y., Chevrolet, 143
13. (20) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley Penn., Chevrolet, 143
14. (17) Ed Flemke, Jr, Southington Conn., Chevrolet, 143
15. (4) Ted Christopher, Plainville Conn., Chevrolet, 143
16. (25) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield Conn., Ford, 140
17. (23) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead N.Y., Chevrolet, 140
18. (13) J.R. Bertuccio, Jr, Centereach N.Y., Chevrolet, 138, Nerf bar
19. (14) Eric Beers, Northampton Penn., Chevrolet, 138
20. (10) Dan Jivanelli, Hampton Bays N.Y., Chevrolet, 133, Bumper
21. (6) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook Conn., Dodge, 103, Accident
22. (22) Richard Savary, Canton Mass., Chevrolet, 94, Accident
23. (12) Chuck Steuer, Bohemia N.Y., Chevrolet, 89, Bumper
24. (28) Glenn Tyler, Hampton Bays N.Y., Chevrolet, 84, Accident
25. (2) Anthony Ferrante, Jr, New Hyde Park N.Y., Chevrolet, 83, Accident
26. (16) Wayne Anderson, Yaphink N.Y., Chevrolet, 82, Accident
27. (18) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater Mass., Chevrolet, 69, Accident
28. (27) Wade Cole, Riverton Conn., Chevrolet, 58, Accident
Caution Flags: 7 for 66 laps.
Lap Leaders: Stefanik 1-114, Christopher 115-136, Stefanik 137-138, Lia 139-144.
Total Laps Led: Stefanik 116, Christopher 22, Lia 6. 3 changes involving 3 drivers.
Next Race: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, Friday, Aug. 10