51's Modified Madness Presented by Advance Auto Parts Compiled by Mike Twist
North, South, Dirt and Asphalt...All The Latest From the Mod-ern Racing World
WMT: GETTING READY FOR THE MAGIC MILE
The fifth race on the 2008 schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be held at the "Magic Mile" - New Hampshire Motor Speedway - in Loudon, N.H. The New England 100 will take place on Saturday, June 28.
The June 28 race will be the first of two stops for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire. The Modifieds will return on Sept. 13.
ASA MODS: DILLON RACE UP NEXT
When the ASA / Southern Modified Race Tour rolls into Dillon Motor Speedway next Saturday afternoon, followers of the touring Modified series will see many of the regular faces we have grown used to seeing but there is definitely change on the horizon for the Southern Mods.
We are all accustomed to seeing L. W. Miller, Jason Myers, Frank Fleming, Brian King (King was the winner last year at DMS) and Jay Foley on the entry list and all those names and many more Southern “regulars” will be in action on the 4/10 mile track Saturday night. Josh Nichols, Scott Rigney, 2007 ASA/SMRT “Rookie of the Year”, John Lain, Greg Butcher, Kevin Wilson, Brian Loftin and Ronnie Silk in the “Hillbilly Racing” Pontiac are also entered in the 150 lapper and that list alone promises some great action on the tight DMS asphalt. Toss in 2008 “Rookie” contenders, Rich Kuiken & Dean Ward and the going gets tougher. Sprinkle in possible entries Cal Snyder, Stuart Lycett, Mark Crowe, James Sink and a few more and you have the makings of a Saturday night scramble the likes of which DMS has never seen. Oh! One more interesting fact! The ASA Southern Modified Race Tour has added its second female driver to the roster.
The largest venue that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will visit in 2008, New Hampshire's one-mile oval has served as host for the Modifieds since the facility opened in 1990. In all, there have been 46 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at New Hampshire.
A weekend full of racing at New Hampshire, the NASCAR Camping World Series East will take the green flag on Friday, June 27. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take the track first on Saturday followed by the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will close out the weekend on Sunday, June 29. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will qualify on Thursday, June 26.
Drivers and fans alike look forward to the Modifieds running at New Hampshire. With long straightaways, drafting comes into play, which can result in a number of lead changes. Like the national series at Daytona and Talladega, the Modifieds require a restrictor plate at New Hampshire to curb horsepower.
Donny Lia captured the New England 100 a year ago en route to the series title. His departure to the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series leaves Victory Lane open to the entire field of entries, which is expected to include at least five drivers who have won at the track before.
Susan Harwell has been a fixture on the ASA/SMRT Tour for two seasons but has family commitments next week and will miss the DMS event but Car Owner Roy Walker plans to introduce Florida driver Chelsa Schilling to the SMRT ranks at Dillon this weekend in the car Brandon Ward drove to a fifth place finish at Ace Speedway on May 23rd.
The ASA/ SMRT Modified tour has it all this week. North vs. South (Kuiken, Snyder and Silk are all from North of the Mason - Dixon Line) and the men against the women with Schiling being definitely outnumbered and some of the hottest competition to hit the Dillon Motor Speedway asphalt when the open wheel rockets of the Southern Modified Race Tour hit the track with sub-15 second laps, 15 inch wide Hoosier tires and a sparks flying, “take no prisoners” attitude. There will also be a big on-track fan walk with a chance to meet the drivers and see the cars right on the track before the start of the race. For more information on the Southern Modified Race Tour go to www.southernmodtour.net. To check out the ASA go to www.asa-racing.com.
The ASA Mods are headed to Dillon. (ASA Photo)
MOUNTAIN SPEEDWAY: HIRSCHMAN WINS ON FATHER'S DAY
After being rained out on Saturday and rescheduled for Sunday, tens of past champions and competitors from Evergreen Raceway took part in Mountain Speedway's first annual Evergreen Raceway Reunion. In typical short track racing style, fender rubbing and flying tempers showcased the afternoon. When it was all said and done, Matt Hirschman was victorious in the modified feature, as was Paul Koehler, Jr. in the late model ranks. Chip Wanamaker found victory lane in the street stocks and Scott Adams barely won the thriller main event.
Berwick's Chris Whitenight started from the pole in the 75-lap PA Asphalt Modified Championship Series feature event and paced the field for the first circuit until Billy “The Kid” Pauch took the top spot. Only three laps into the race, Steven Reed worked his way into second with Whitenight, Brian DeFebo and Johnny Bush rounding out the top five.
Being winners in the series earlier this season, Matt Hirschman and Rusty Smith started deep in the field and began to patiently work their way toward the top five. Only eighteen laps in, Hirschman, who started eleventh, blasted by Bush to take fifth.
Matt Hirschman in victory lane at Mountain Speedway. (Jeff Martz Photo)
Donny Lia (L) and Todd Szegedy (R) both won Mod Tour races at NHMS last season.
Green flag racing resumed and Smith was on a charge. The NY native began to blister off his fastest laps of the event and eventually caught and passed DeFebo for the second spot on lap sixty-five. Not long before, Bush slipped back a spot and Kyle Ebersole entered the top five.
Despite the late race charge by Smith, the Northampton, PA native grabbed his second $2500 win of the season in the series. Smith, who started thirteenth, settled for second. DeFebo, Pauch and Ebersole completed the top five.
“It's great to win one this way, on Father's Day” said Hirschman in victory lane. “My dad (Tony Hirschman) and car owners are here today”.
Hirschman explained his three-wide pass for the lead earlier in the event and said “The track officials told us in the driver's meeting today that since we won in the series, we would have to start deep, behind the qualified cars”. It was a setback for the talented driver, but as Hirschman said, “I just had to be a little more aggressive earlier on”.
Pauch, who was the leader on the third lap, received a $100 bonus from Wheels Bar & Grill.
Kyle Ebersole, Brian DeFebo and Johnny Bush were heat race winners.
OPEN SHOWS: MOD MADNESS IS COMING UP
The management at Seekonk Speedway is getting ready for the biggest open competition modified event in the northeast. The website has been updated with entry forms now available, and the full purse rundown, which totals over $31,000. With 3 years under the belt, this race has seen more pitfalls and surprises than some events see in a decade.
In 2005, as the event was in its infancy, we witnessed Donny Lia pick up one of his
biggest wins to that date. After Kirk Alexander and Eric Beers tangled late in the race
while running for the lead, Ted Christopher picked up the lead and held on until the
final yellow with just 2 laps to go in the century grind. Lia set up a pass that still has
people talking, as he snuck under TC off of turn 2 on the final lap to pick up the
Year two saw Christopher lead again for much of the race, when he tangled with
eventual winner Kirk Alexander. Alexander would go on and pick up $10,000 for his
Last years event was postponed due to rain, but did not lack any excitement. In a
homecoming, Vinny Who? picked up arguably the biggest win in his career when he
pocketed a cool 10 grand after winning this event. Vinny has won 6 championships over
his career at Seekonk, but until 2007, had never won a modified race. He picked up 3
last season at “The Action Track of the East.” But had it not been for a late caution that
eliminated Chuck Hossfeld and Jon McKennedy, it may have been a different outcome.
There has always been something that happens to change the outcome of the race. Whether it's a lapped car, hard racing, or just lady luck, you can never count out anything from happening. Hossfeld has finished in the top 5 twice in this event, and ran second before his late race incident cost him last year. A past winner at Seekonk, winning the final WMT event in 2004, he would have to be considered a favorite for this event. TC has lead this event 2 years in a row, and many feels this is an event that owes him. Matt Hirschman came from the back of the field last year, before finishing third. Les Hinckley, Andy Seuss, Eric Beers, Dick Houlihan, and 3 time TVMRS Champion Kirk Alexander are also early favorites for this event.
Also on the card for the 4th annual Open Wheel Wednesday is the NEMA Midgets. Defending event winner “Liquid” Lou Cicconi will have his hands full to defend his crown. Nokie Fornoro is a past winner of this event, as is former NEMA champion Ben Seitz. Looking back in the record books for this event, only Randy Carbral and Ben Seitz have finished in the top 5 more than once. But there are several other drivers to watch out for. Greg Stohr is back running full time, and considers Seekonk to be one of his favorite tracks. Erica Santos picked up her first career NEMA win last season, and has been strong early on. And multi time champ Joey Payne is on another roll, as he has finished in the top 3 in each event so far this season. On a speedway that was originally built for the open wheel midgets, NEMA has never failed to excite, as they run mid 11 second laps around the 1/3 mile.
The upstart NEMA Lite division will round out the card for the July 16th event. In its infancy, car counts for this first year class has grown well over 15 cars. This class was put together as a low cost alternative to beginners in the open wheel midget ranks. In this “Less powerful, low cost” series, new competitors can be introduced into the NEMA family using current NEMA approved chassis, but are limited to either the Ford Focus or the Oldsmobile Quad4 engine.
The general admission for an adult for all of this can be had for just $20.00, with kids 12 and under, FREE. Your tickets can be printed at home, and redeemed at the gates for your convenience. Located just 10 minutes outside of Providence RI, we are easy to get to, with acres of free paved parking. For more information, please visit our website at www.seekonkspeedway.com/
TWIN STATE: RICHARDI WINS IN PRO FOURS, HEINO IN WEEKLY MODS
Twin State Speedway (NH) opened up its ninth week of racing sponsored by Jim's Caps and Trailers, featuring the Pro-4 Modifieds as well.
The first of six caution flags flew when Barry Buchman spun on the backstretch on lap twenty-four. Hirschman moved by DeFebo to take fourth on the restart and set his sights on Whitenight. That was until the caution flew a lap later when Barry Callavini received a flat right front tire.
It was believed that Whitenight was leaking fluid onto the speedway during that period and track officials asked the driver to bring his car pit side for a quick inspection. Due to working on the car in the pit area, Whitenight was forced to restart at the tail end of the field after a stellar top five performance.
Hirschman lined up third for the restart and pulled a daring three-wide maneuver by Reed and Pauch for the lead off of turn two. DeFebo moved to second within the next ten laps. Pauch still held third, with Reed and Busch in the top five.
Problems struck Reed on forty-four laps in when he brought out the caution for a turn three spin. After a great run in the top five, Reed was forced to rejoin the tail end of the pack.
With similar engine rules to the now defunct Pro-Quads, only with much lower weight, larger rubber and better suspension, the Pro-4 Mods really put on a show turning 14.3 second laps on the 1/3 mile oval.
Rob Richardi took the checkered flag in the 12 ahead of Norm Wrenn in the 1M and Dan Meservy piloting the 11A.
Stan Mertz won the limited division feature in the 16 car. The limited division is a race within a race, running lower power but also lower weight.
Arthur Heino Jr. is the man to beat in the modifieds lately, taking another win in his red 27 ride. Heino battled back and forth with Chris Riendeau before flying into the lead on an inside pass with three laps left and taking the checkered flag, his second in a row.
Riendeau finished second. Smith took second.
Modified heat racing sent two cars to the pits in need of some serious repairs. Division rookie Aaron Whipple got tangled up with the back wall, coming away from the ordeal in need of some new front suspension. Calvin Poland did likewise.
Both racers were back together in time to start the feature after their crews worked feverishly to repair the damage. .
Racing returns to the Thrasher Road speedplant Friday night, featuring kids bike races. All kids who show up with a bike will get in to the grandstands free. The L.E.Weed sponsored race night will feature kids bike races on top of the regular weekly slate of racing. All kids who show up with a bike get in to the grandstands for free.
DIRT: BIG BLOCK QUALIFYING POINTS PROVE IMPORTANT EARLY
The Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series is five races old and just 10 points separate the front four drivers in tour standings. Competition is closest at the very top as Dale Planck and Billy Decker are dead-locked for first, with reigning overall Hoosier Tire Mr. DIRTcar Modified Champion Brett Hearn looming just four markers back.
While both Planck and Decker have reached victory lane twice, all-time Advance Series winner Hearn is still in search of his first extra-distance triumph of the 2008 campaign. Yet maybe even more important than winning Big-Block Modified features so far for Planck is his recent success found in the preliminary events.
“Time trials have always been my downfall, so this year I've tried really hard to do better from the outset,” said Planck, who has scored a qualifying heat race win in every event run so far aboard Carey Terrance's RezX Racing no. 77x Grow It Hydroseeding/TEO machine. In search of his first-ever Mr. DIRTcar crown, the second-generation standout from Cortland, New York is also the only driver among the top-10 in points to collect an Integra Shocks Fast Time award.
Refiguring the point standings without calculating any qualifying bonuses, Planck would rank fourth tied with Jimmy Phelps and behind Danny Johnson, with Decker having an eight-point advantage over Hearn. “The way things are it shows that you really have to be on your game all night to stay in the hunt. These bonus points have really helped out after the bad finish (18th) at Virginia but I don't think I can afford another mistake to have a shot at the end.”
“Its easier to be either fast in the beginning or at the end. The hard part is being consistently quick in qualifying and staying that way come feature time. I've been geared towards being up front in time trials to get in a better situation for the heats. Track position means everything nowadays with all the cars being so close. I remember looking at the points last year and wondering how Billy (Decker) was always good in points after some tough luck in the feature. Being fast in every qualifying run kept him in the mix and now the same thing is kinda happening to me which is pretty neat,” added Planck, who has earned an additional 25 points through qualifying while Hearn (13 pts.), Danny Johnson (11), Matt Sheppard, Decker (9) and Justin Haers (9) follow next in the bonus category.
Qualifying procedures for the Advance Auto Parts Super DIRTcar Series follow a double standard in 2008 with heat race inversions after time trials once again shaping the Big-Block Modified starting grid for nearly every tour event. Drivers continue to draw for their order in the 'Integra Shocks Time Trials' at all Advance Series stops and the fast timer selects a second pill to determine how many cars (0, 2, 3 or 4) are inverted to start each preliminary heat race.
The customary pre-race re-draw among top heat race qualifiers will continue to be in effect throughout the summer, with season-ending events ---Syracuse Super DIRT Week Rite Aid 200 and Eastern States 200 at Orange County Fair Speedway--- the only Advance Auto Parts Series stops awarding fast timers with pole-position starts. Top heat race and Dig Safely New York consolation round finishers will fill those fields in the same order as heat points will not be awarded.
“Qualifying is more important than its ever been as it sets you up for the rest of the night,” said Hearn, who leads all qualifiers with 38 Integra Shocks Fast Times posted in the Advance Auto Parts Series events since 1983. The 'Jet' has copped a pair of heat races steering the Madsen Motorsports no. 20 Wentworth Custom Homes/TEO entry, so far being clocked third-best at Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in early May.
“The biggest thing is that you need to get into the draw and get a starting spot up front for the feature. That really showed at Virginia and Rolling Wheels when we timed in the top-10 and had front-five finishes. I still have no explanation for Cayuga County and Fulton. We were among the best in hot laps but timed out of the top-20. I think we still maybe had a second-place car at Fulton but we had to work really hard all night,” added Hearn, who has logged four top-five finishes in the initial five Advance Series shows toward his bid for an unprecedented seventh overall Mr. DIRTcar Big-Block title.
The 'Integra Shocks Fast Time Award' winner collects $100 and five (5) bonus points and the top-three heat race finishers earn additional bonus points as follows: 1st-5 pts, 2nd-3 pts, 3rd-1 pt. A driver can earn a maximum of 10 more points being the fast timer as well as a heat race winner during the 2008 Advance Auto Parts Series.
“Looking at the tightness of the points right now its obvious how important qualifying has become for every big event,” noted Decker, who led all drivers with 10 heat race wins last season buckled into the LJL Racing no. 91 Gypsum Wholesalers-Stadium Int'l-Quality Hardwoods/Bicknell ride. The 1998 Mr. DIRTcar Champion was matched by Tim Fuller a year ago with six Integra Shocks Fast Times. “This whole season can boil down to bonus points the way things are going.”
“Time trials and heats mean so much, they're not uneventful any more as every team is going at 'em full bore with so much at stake. We're still trying to be fast all night, things just haven't gone as good as expected from the start. Hey, we want some bragging rights, too. Its just so tough to have everything go your way every show when everybody else wants the same thing,” Decker figured.
Kirk Alexander has won several times in TVMRS this year and won last year's Seekonk Modified Madness race. Can he do it again?
Pro Four Mods at Twin State.