Mod Mania Spotlight Shines On Several Different Drivers by Mike Twist
Owen, Blewett and Wrenn Are Among Thompson Winners
Todd Owen was the surprised winner at in the True Value Modified Racing Series event at Thompson. (Jim Dupont Photo)
Annarummo spun in turn one. Nine other cars got caught in the mess of trying to avoid Annarummo's spinning #12 and “The Big One” brought out caution number two on the day. Among those involved were Kirk Alexander, Rowan Pennick, Jimmy Blewett, Joe Doucette, Kevin Iarnnarelli, Brian Scofield and Kenny White, Jr.
Steve Masse looped his loose racecar in turn two on lap 34, possibly with some help from another competitor, and brought out the third caution of the race. This caution helped to bring the trio of Ed Dachenhausen, David Pinkham and Ted Christopher to Pasteryak's bumper - which proved to be disastrous four laps after the restart.
Pasteryak was leading and Dachenhausen was looking for the lead going down the front straightway. At the end of the long frontstretch, contact was made and Pasteryak hit the turn one wall hard, almost clearing it and going out of the racetrack. Pasteryak slid to a stop right before turn two with his racecar done for the day and maybe even for good. Dachenhausen's #10x was undamaged in the incident. Pasteryak was not injured.
TVMRS: OWEN LEARNS THAT TO WIN, YOU MUST FIRST SURVIVE
The old racing adage of “to finish first, you must first finish” definitely rang true during the True Value Modified feature at Thompson International Speedway. Two leaders who at various points appeared to have the field covered both found themselves pointed the wrong way instead of taking the checkered flag. Meanwhile, the first driver to take the checkers didn't really win the race.
Chris Pasteryak started on the pole of the TVMRS feature after the starting grid was determined by owner points. After two false starts, he easily put his #15 into the lead through the opening stages of the race. Pasteryak and company had a good race pace going until lap 24, when Dale Evonsion's car slowed on the frontstretch. Rather than pulling into the opening to the pits before turn one, Evonsion attempted to coast around the track and didn't even make it to turn two. That brought out the caution and bunched up the field, leading to a logjam on the restart that started when Vinnie
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour got the biggest headlines during Modified Mania at Thompson International Speedway, but that series didn't have the only race in town by any means. On Sunday, the track hosted over 400 green flag laps of Modified racing - an amazing fete considering Tropical Storm Hanna dumped four and a half inches of rain on the track overnight Saturday night through the wee hours of Sunday morning.
In addition to Todd Szegedy, who won the Modified Tour race, there were five other winners during the day and these are their stories….
Contact between Ed Dauchenhausen and Chris Pasteryak led to Pasteryak wrecking hard and Ted Christopher slipping by in the #20 (Top - Jamie Williams Photo) and Dauchenausen being parked. (Bottom - Jim Dupont Photo)
Bateman's spin brought out a caution and after the restart, Pinkham was pressuring him hard. Going into turn three of the final lap, Pinkham dove under Christopher. Their two cars spun, with Pinkham breaking out of the spin to motor by into the lead. While Christopher was parked on the apron of turn four, Pinkham took the checkered flag as the apparent winner.
His feelings of victory didn't last very long though. On the cool down lap, TC displayed his displeasure towards Pinkham and moments later, TVMRS officials did the same and stripped him of the victory. Pinkham was credited with a finish of 14th as he was placed as the final lead lap finisher.
Running directly behind the incident was Ted Christopher, who gave a commentary on the incident to his crew over the radio during the resulting red flag period.
“I had a freaking bird's eye view of that,” said Christopher. “He [Dachenhausen] just turned [Pasteryak]. He's going to the back for sure for that…and if he doesn't, I'll have to watch my ass around him.”
Then Christopher used one of his signature terms to describe Dachenhausen.
“I guess he just harpooned him,” said Christopher. “He's the new harpoonist!”
TVMRS officials saw things the same way and did more than just move Dachenhausen to the rear. They pulled his scorecard and parked him for the rest of the event due to the incident.
This turn of events put Christopher into a familiar place for him at Thompson - the race lead.
And on the restart, there was something else familiar to the fans - another multi-car wreck in turn one. This time, there were six cars involved including those of Ed Spiers, Brian Schofield and Steve Masse.
Still, Christopher was able to stay out front. David Pinkham tucked in behind him and the two drivers pulled away to a full straightaway lead over third place on back. Over the final 10 scheduled laps, Pinkham tried Christopher low for the lead several times and was unsuccessful. Then Jack Bateman looped his #17 in turn four and that set up a chain of events that may have led Christopher to rethinking whether or not Dachenhausen was the biggest “harpoonist” of the race after all.
Ted Christopher (#20) and David Pinkham (#22) made the last lap an exciting one. (Jim Dupont Photo)
Todd Owen, who crossed the line in second place, was awarded the victory.
“I was lucky today,” said Owen. “I'm just shocked. With Teddy out front, you never know what is going to happen. I thought that there could be fireworks. I saw Pinkham looking, but I saw that Teddy was tough. They got together and I thought that I got through for second place, but I'll take a win instead. I didn't have what the top two drivers had at the end, but I've never been the luckiest driver - so I'll take this one.”
Mike Holdridge, who entered the Thompson race second in the standings, finished second at Thompson and gained ground in the championship battle with Chris Pasteryak.
“I was just one spot further back than I needed to be,” said Holdridge. “I knew that I didn't have the fastest car, but for having a steel-headed motor, we did pretty good.”
Jeff Malave finished third. Rowan Pennick and Jimmy Kuhn rounded out the top five finishers.
The remainder of the top 10 were Peter Jarvis, Shelly Perry, Dwight Jarvis, Kenny White and Kirk Alexander.
SUNOCO MODS: SHOWTIME AND WHOA TIME
They call Jimmy Blewett “Showtime” and the 50-lap (which turned into 51 laps as explained later on) Sunoco Modified race was definitely his show. Although Josh Sylvester paced the race early, Blewett was right on his tail, bumping and thumping, until he took the lead on lap six with an inside pass. From there, Blewett endured a rash of caution periods and held off Bert Marvin to take the victory - his second Sunoco Modified victory at Thompson in a row.
Woody Pitkat (#99) and Tommy Cravenho (#31) tangled while batlting for third in the Sunoco Modified race that won won by Jimmy Blewett. (Jim Dupont Photos)
Blewett credited his crew, and not himself, for the winning performance.
“I've got to hand it to my crew,” said Blewett. “They made a spring adjustment right before the race and that just made the car unbelievable. It made my job easy because the car was just as good on the last lap as the first one.”
Marvin finished second ahead of Woody Pitkat, who helped take the race into an overtime period when he tangled with Tommy Cravenho in a battle for third on lap 49. After some bobbing and weaving for the position by both drivers, Pitkat dove under Cravenho in turn one and both cars spun in turn two. Pitkat then sailed over the top of Cravenho's car, but was able to get his spot back on the restart. Cravenho was done for the day.
As it turned out, Pitkat was essentially done for the day as well. He was penalized to the tail end of the lead lap by track officials.
Kerry Malone, Sylvester and Keith Rocco rounded out the top five finishers out the official top five finishers.
Yellow was definitely the color of the day for the Sunoco Modifieds. The Pitkat/Cravenho incident caused one of 11 different caution periods during the 51 green flag laps that were contested. Cravenho wasn't the only driver who found his way to the bottom of a pigpile either. On the fifth lap, Bobby Grigas was able to look up to find Shelly Perry's #76 parked on top of his racecar. That incident also occurred in turn two. Although there was plenty of damage to various racecars during the feature race, nobody was injured.
RoC MODS: IT'S ALL ABOUT HIRSCHMAN
Usually, Matt Hirschman will go to as many RoC Asphalt Modified Tour races as possible during his free time as a regular on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. At Thompson, the RoC Modified Tour came to him as part of Modified Mania. Hirschman rocketed to the lead early and checked out from the field from there to win the 75-lap main event. Jimmy Blewett, Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher and Billy Pauch, Jr. were the other moonlighting Tour drivers who swept the top five.
Stay tuned for a full race report from the RoC feature on Speed51.com.
PRO FOUR MODIFIEDS: NORM STORMS THE FIELD
Norm Wrenn entered the Thompson Pro Four Modified race having won five times during the 2008 season. He's also been a regular in the track's Pro Stock (Super Late Model) division. So was there any doubt that he would win on Modified Mania day?
If there was, those were erased by the end of the 25-lap feature. Wrenn took home his sixth winner's trophy but it wasn't as easy as anyone might have predicted. Rookie Brian Vincent led the race early and pulled to a strong lead. After a pair of cautions, Jeff Zudiema took over the top spot.
Meanwhile, Wrenn started deep in the pack and made it to third place by the 10th lap. Two laps later, he was up to second and by lap 15 he was leading. From there, the game was over and Wrenn checked out over the last 10 laps. Zuidema, another Thompson regular, finished second with Vincent, Andy Major, and Kevin Iannarelli rounding out the top five.
THOMPSON MODIFIEDS: MARCOTTE GETS A BIG WIN ON A BIG DAY
Modified Mania closed the day with a 25-lap feature for the Thompson Modifieds. R.J. Marcotte took the lead after a three-wide battle on lap one and never gave it up from there despite a flurry of caution periods and restarts.
Winning on a big day of racing meant even more to the driver who has visited victory lane twice now during the 2008 Thompson season.
“It's definitely nice to win when there are a bunch of people here,” said Marcotte. “Especially new people. That helps get your name out there.”
Brian Sullivan, Leo Oliveira, Shane Michalksi and Cam McDermott rounded out the top five finishers.
Norm Wrenn in Pro Four Modified victory lane. (Jamie Williams Photo)