Civali and Company Exceed Expectations at Twin State by Mike Twist
Mod Show Was Predicted to Be a Bust, But Instead Showcased Some Great Racing
Tour competitors weren’t happy about the reduced purse as part of NASCAR’s flash race experiment.  Weekly racers at the track complained about losing their pit spots for one event.  Some members of the media battled with the track over access.  Even Mother Nature cursed the event with a poor weather forecast and nagging low and dark clouds thoughout the day of the race.

All of that was a shame because what fans ended up witnessing was a fun show at a racy little track in New Hampshire – a hidden jewel on a Tour schedule heavy with repeated visits to the same facilities seemingly week-in and week-out (Nine of the sixteen scheduled races during the 2007 season are at either Thompson or Stafford, both in Connecticut).

Before the race began, the buzz in the pits was not really centered around the 26 teams who were at the track, but instead who did not show.  Three competitors who had been to every race this season so far – John Blewett, III; Ron Yuhas and the #79 Hillbilly Racing  team with new driver Woody Pitkat skipped the race.  Tony Hirschman, who
These were your top six runners at one point in the action at Twin State.  It was under green flag conditions too.  How's that for some close racing?  (Mary Hodge Photo)
In the days leading up to Sunday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Twin State Speedway (NH), it didn’t seem like anybody was happy.
boycotted the flash race at Wall earlier this season, was also a no-show.  Rob Summers, Anthony Sesley, Renee Dupuis and Rick Fuller were all nowhere to be found.

While those guys and girls were all missed, it only takes two tough competitors to put on a great race.  At Twin State, those two racers were named James Civali and Matt Hirschman.  The two ran side-by-side for dozens of laps before Civali held off Hirschman at the finish to take the victory.
Both drivers were still in diapers the last time that the Tour visited Twin State and had no history at all of the track other than what they heard second hand.

“I’ve never been here and I don’t even know anyone who had raced here,” said Civali.

“The locals told us that sometimes you can run the identical lap times here and be a groove or two up the track,” said Hirschman.  “They were right.  It was true.”

Very true in fact.

Early in the evening, Ronnie Silk set the pace in qualifying by shattering the track record by nearly a full second.  Silk redrew the second starting spot, which gave Hirschman the pole.  When the green flag waved, Hirschman used that to his advantage by leading the first 15 laps.  From lap 16 until lap 26, it was Silk’s turn to lead the race.

James Civali (#28) kept Matt Hirschman (#59) at bay for most fo the race.  But every so often, Hirschman would poke his nose through to lead.  (Jim DuPont Photo)
Behind both of them though was a patient Civali, who started fourth and was content to maintain a position in the middle of the top five until he looked in his mirror and saw a fierce battle behind him between Donny Lia and Ted Christopher.

“When Teddy and the #4 [Lia] moved up to third and fourth, I knew that they were  going to be fast,” said Civali.  “That is when I started putting the pressure on Ronnie to try and get around him." 
Civali dove under Silk on lap 27 to take the lead.  At that point, Hirschman had slipped back to fifth and it appeared that Lia and TC would be Civali’s closest competitors.  Instead, they might have raced a little bit too hard though.  They both got close to the lead, but never took it.

“I don’t know what happened to those two guys,” said Civali.  “I think that they might have burned their tires up.  I could see that they were racing hard.”

Just before halfway, Hirschman got back into the runner-up slot.  From there forward, he would not be far away from Civali for the rest of the night – even poking his nose past to officially lead lap 72.

Typically, the formation for Civali and Hirschman was the same for each of those laps.  Civali had his #28 King Racing Mod down low on the track and Hirschman was a lane above him.  Usually, the nose of Civali’s car was an inch or two ahead of Hirschman’s.
But neither driver had much breathing room.  They didn’t beat.  They didn’t bang.  They just raced hard.


“At the end, Matt and I were side-by-side,” said Civali.  “We were running away from the rest of the field.  There were a few times when he got a really good run on me and I thought that he would get me.  I was trying as hard as I could.”

“It was a good race,” said Hirschman.  “Side-by-side racing is fun and that is why sometimes I enjoy racing more in other series.  Sometimes, this Tour lacks that.  James and I had a great race, Teddy was in there at times and we had some good battles.

Donny Lia (#4) and Ted Christopher (#36) also raced hard at Twin State....maybe too hard to win.  (Rick Ibsen Photo)
But neither driver had much breathing room.  They didn’t beat.  They didn’t bang.  They just raced hard.

“At the end, Matt and I were side-by-side,” said Civali.  “We were running away from the rest of the field.  There were a few times when he got a really good run on me and I thought that he would get me.  I was trying as hard as I could.”

“It was a good race,” said Hirschman.  “Side-by-side racing is fun and that is why sometimes I enjoy racing more in other series.  Sometimes, this Tour lacks that.  James and I had a great race, Teddy was in there at times and we had some good battles.

The victory was Civali’s second of the season – which now means that only one event has been won by anyone other than himself or Donny Lia.  Civali has been quick in recent races, but lacked any kind of good luck.  The victory now moves him up to third in the standings – giving him a fighting shot at chasing Lia in the points race and boosting his morale.

“That #4 car [of Lia] is going to be hard to beat,” said Civali.  “When you win three in a row,
you’re hard to beat.  I was a little frustrated at Thompson.  We had a flat tire leading and
couldn’t get back through before the rain came.  We were coming through in a hurry at
Loudon when we broke a driveshaft.  That really crushed me.  Then to see Lia win again, it
was hard.  When we came here, I just wanted to run in front of Lia for the points.  You can’t
win the points by wrecking, but you have to finish in front of the guys who are ahead of you. 
You don’t have to win races, but you have to finish ahead of your competition.

“When you are chasing points, a seventh is disappointing.  So when you can’t finish a race,
it is really disappointing.  That is crushing.  I don’t know if that took me out of the points or
not.”

Most drivers publicly claim not to worry about points, but Civali doesn’t hide the fact that
where he ranks in the championship chase is something that is on his mind.

“Oh yeah, I’m thinking about it,” said Civali.  “I’m hoping that the other guys have some bad
luck.  I guess everyone has bad luck and I hope that I’ve had mine with flat tires and broken
driveshafts. Maybe this gets me back into the game.  We’ll see.”

As for the race format at Twin State – with time trials, a pair of 25-lap heat races and a
100-lap feature event, there was plenty of talk from competitors after the race.  Speed51.com
will tell you more about their reactions later on this week.
“I got a nose ahead a few times and we were close.  We were side-by-side and both pulling away.  That’s rare.  We go to Stafford or Thompson and we can’t run side-by-side and be as fast or faster than anyone else."

Right before the end of the race, Hirschman tucked in behind Civali and that’s the way that they finished ahead of Silk, Lia and Christopher.

“We got strung out with 10 to go and we were a little bit quicker on the long runs,” said Civali.  “He was better on a short run, but the race stayed green at the end and that worked out well for us.”

“I couldn’t surge ahead,” said Hirschman.  “Eventually, my car started to get a little slick and I didn’t want to throw away a second-place finish.  I figured that when there was another restart, I could go back at it, but it went green the rest of the way.  Once that we were nose-to-tail, I couldn’t make a pass.  We were both running the same speed.”
NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR-ALLSTATE 100 Results
Twin State Speedway
Claremont, NH
Lap length: 0.333 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (4) James Civali, Meriden, Conn., Chevrolet, 117 laps, 62.644 mph, $4,100.

2. (1) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Dodge, 117, $2,600.

3. (2) Ronnie Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 117, $2,750.

4. (6) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 117, $2,100.

5. (7) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 117, $2,000.

6. (11) Jerry Marquis, Broad Brook, Conn., Chevrolet, 117, $1,900.

7. (3) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Chevrolet, 117, $2,450.

8. (13) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Ford, 117, $1,800.

9. (8) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., Chevrolet, 117, $975.

10. (25) Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 117, $2,350.

11. (24) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Ford, 117, $1,425.

12. (15) Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, NY, Chevrolet, 117, $1,500.

13. (10) Eddie Flemke, Southington, Conn., Chevrolet, 117, $1,200.

14. (5) Ryan Preece, Kensington, CT, Chevrolet, 117, $950.

15. (20) Joseph Hartmann, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 117, $600.

16. (9) Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 117, $1,275.

17. (23) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 117, $925.

18. (19) Richard Savary, Canton, Mass., Chevrolet, 117, $1,200.

19. (22) Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn., Chevrolet, 115, $875.

20. (18) Glen Tyler, Hampton Bays, N.Y., Chevrolet, 113, $425.

21. (26) Jake Marosz, Middletown, Conn., Chevrolet, 113, $400.

22. (14) Zach Sylvester, Lebanon, Conn., Pontiac, 98, $1,050.

23. (21) Bobby Grigas, Marshfield, MA, Chevrolet, 72, accident, $327.

24. (12) Danny Sammons, Trenton, N.J., Chevrolet, 69, power steering, $800.

25. (16) Dick Houlihan, Bridgewater, Mass., Chevrolet, 65, rear end, $800.

26. (17) Billy Pauch, Jr., Frenchtown, N.J., Dodge, 58, nerf bar, $800.         



Time of Race:0 hrs., 37 mins, 19 secs            Average Speed: 62.644 mph Margin of Victory:.47 Seconds


BUD POLE AWARD:  Ronnie Silk, 19 Major Motion /Silk Plumbing & Heating Chevrolet
FEATHERLITE MOST IMPROVED DRIVER AWARD:  James Civali, 28 Ramar-Hall/Liberty Limousine Chevrolet
POWERADE POWER MOVE OF THE RACE:  Jimmy Blewett, 12 T.S. Haulers/ United Crane Chevrolet
SUNOCO ROOKIE OF THE RACE:  Ryan Preece *, 40 F.J.  Hubery, Inc. Chevrolet
WHELEN ENGINEERING WINNER OF THE RACE:  James Civali, 28 Ramar-Hall/Liberty Limousine Chevrolet


Caution Flags:   Laps 37-43; 47-51; 55-59; 68-71; 74-78; 84-88.  6 for 31 laps.

Lap Leaders:     Matt Hirschman 1-15, Ronnie Silk 16-26, James Civali 27-91, Matt Hirschman 92, James Civali 93-117.

Total Laps Led: James Civali 90, Matt Hirschman 16, Ronnie Silk 11.  4 changes involving 3 drivers.

Top 20 Driver Points:      Donny Lia 1104, Matt Hirschman 1051, Todd Szegedy 1025, James Civali 983, Ronnie Silk 964, Jimmy Blewett 951, Ted Christopher 922, Mike Stefanik 891, Eddie Flemke 854, Jamie Tomaino 843, Jerry Marquis 820, Zach Sylvester 792, Richard Savary * 771, Eric Beers 767, Dick Houlihan 754, Kevin Goodale 747, Billy Pauch, Jr. * 713, Danny Sammons 691, Rowan Pennink * 658, Bobby Grigas * 657

Next Race:Riverhead




James Civali in victory lane.  (Howie Hodge Photo)
Matt Hirschman stops by to talk to James Civali about a well-fought race at Twin State.  (Leif Tillotson Photo)