Speed51.com's Leftovers: Mod Tour World Series at Thompson by Mike Twist and Denise DuPont
Putting a Close on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Season
the top three [of the race] probably. It would have added another good finish to our season. It doesn't pay anything, but we would have been the only one this year to finish all the laps. That would have said a lot for everybody including myself. But like I said, that doesn't matter, nobody will remember that anyway.”
What people will remember is the title fight that Hirschman and Ted Christopher had for the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. Hirschman finished second to Christopher for that honor, but still offered a kind word to his adversary after the Thompson finale.
Matt Hirschman (#59) and Ted Christopher (#36) do battle. (Rick Ibsen photo)
BRIDESMAID IN THE RACE, BAD LUCK ON THE SEASON
Chuck Hossfeld finished the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season strong with a runner-up finish in the World Series at Thompson. Unfortunately for him though, a late-season string of bad luck left him with a points finish of fourth - which wasn't exactly what Hossfeld was hoping for.
“We wound up either third or fourth in the championship and my team deserves better than that,” said Hossfeld. “We had a bad run there for four or five races and it just took out of it. Everything is so close, so when you have 16…18 races, you can't give up three or four races. Really what happened was that one car took us out of three races. Without that one car, the championship could have been a whole different story. I'm not happy with where we finished in the points, but I'm happy with where we finished in this race and I'm happy about my team.”
BRIDESMAID IN THE TITLE FIGHT, BAD LUCK IN THE RACE
Meanwhile, Matt Hirschman had a runner-up finish in the championship battle, but a poor showing at Thompson after electrical problems left him mired in the 25th position.
“It is disappointing because more so right now at this point because I fished every lap of the entire season until today,” said Hirschman. “Teddy appeared that he was going to finish well enough any way to win the championship, but we would have finished in
Chuck Hossfeld (#4) was right on Ted Christopher's heels in the battle for the race win at Thompson, but he was a little bit further back in the title fight. (Jim DuPont Photo)
“For Teddy, this (win) was a long time coming,” said Hirschman. “He has the many accomplishments and this goes along with those. He may get more but he should have at least one. The guy is an incredible racer. He races a little smarter than he used to or he would already have a couple of these by now. Congratulations to him. We got beat by one of the best.”
A CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER YEAR…THAT INCLUDES A CHAMPIONSHIP
Ted Christopher already had a season where he posted championship-caliber numbers. In 2005, he took command of the Modified Tour season, but lost the title to Tony Hirschman in the year's final race. That near-miss was still on his mind after winning this year's title.
“Every thing that I did in 2005, we did this year…and we won the championship,” said Christopher. “We won the most races, we led the most laps, had the most top fives and the most top 10s. Now we finished it off by winning the championship.
After all, Coby got the call the run a partial schedule midway through 2008 from car owner Don King and he only made five starts on the year. He made those starts count though, as three of them ended with top five finishes.
“I didn't really have a Tour season, but I had a good time in the races that I did run,” said Coby. “I just come here to have fun and these guys are fun to be around. I like racing here and I gave it all that I had.”
Coby's top five finish at Thompson didn't come easy.
“We had a little miscommunication in the pits,” said Coby. “We pitted second and came out 18th. That didn't ruin our day, but it made us have to use up our tires a little bit more. I knocked some guys around and I got knocked around. Unfortunately, the way that this track is built, you just really have to bounce off somebody to get by them and hope that you don't bounce off them hard enough to wreck. I bounced off Eric
Doug Coby's #28 (Jim DuPont Photo)
“I guess they say you have to lose one to win one. I remember learning bunch that year in 2005. I thought that I drove very smart the whole year this year, not just this race.
Now, Christopher is already looking ahead to next year's title fight.
“We have a real good team. I don't look too far ahead, but I think we'll stay together as a team. This makes it a lot better anything that will help us try to get some sponsorships for next year. I think we have some other people coming on board and that will make it easier when I try to go for the championship next year.”
COBY ENDS HIS YEAR STRONG
Normally, you might say that Doug Coby ended his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season on a high note. The note was in fact high, as Coby placed fourth at the World Series, but whether or not you could call it a season could be cause for debate.
Beers and Chuckie [Hossfeld] and I know that they'd return the favor to me. I just had a good car and I had to do what I did and just not destroy them. That's racing.”
RUDOLPH HAS A CAREER DAY
Erick Rudolph posted his first career top five finish on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at the World Series. The New York teen finished fifth at Thompson.
“This is our best finish ever on the Tour,” said Rudolph. “I really have to thank the guys
because they just kept getting better and better. We were struggling early and I just
didn't like how the car felt. So we came in early and changed a lot. Then we just
stayed out there.”
Rudolph has spent time racing on the NASCAR Tour and in RoC Modified competition
this year - and he hasn't been able to find much of a difference between the two forms
“Both tours have real tough competition. The RoC and the Whelen Tour have their good
guys and their guys who run in the back usually. The only big difference is that the
Whelen Tour has longer races.”
PREECE IS FAST, BUT LUCKLESS
Ryan Preece might have had the fastest car in the season finale for the Modified Tour. But
he also had a flat tire, which cost him two laps in the middle of the race. By the end of the
show, Preece was back on the lead lap but he ran out of time when it came to advancing back towards the front. He finished 14th.
“I was just wearing the car out to make up my lap,” said Preece. “I was trying to just get by them and I thought that I did get by them, but apparently I didn't. There was a lot of beating and banging out there. I don't think that I was impatient at all. I was getting whacked going into the corner, but that's racing and you get that sometimes.”
ANOTHER GOOD DAY AT THOMPSON FOR SILK
There were five Modified Tour races at Thompson this season. Ronnie Silk recorded a podium finish in four of those events.
Ronnie Silk's #79. (Jim Dupont Photo)
Erick Rudolph's #45. (Jim Dupont Photo)
But those hopes went away in a cloud of smoke, as the engine expired just 35 laps into the race.
“We were struggling the whole weekend with the handling. We found something after time trials and over-adjusted. So the car was a little tight early on. I was just riding it out waiting for an adjustment and if we had made it, we would have been real fast towards the end of the race.”
The engine gave no warning to Grigas before it exploded spectacularly.
“The gauges were fine and it just blew up,” said Grigas.
PIT STRATEGY PUTS PITKAT IN FRONT…FOR AWHILE
For 18 laps of the season-ending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson
International Speedway, Woody Pitkat was pacing the field in the lead. Eventually
though, a flat tire set him back to a finish of 18th and left Pitkat wondering how he could
have done anything different enough to spend more time out front.
“Maybe I should have pitted when the other guys did, but I didn't know to because I've
never been there,” said Pitkat. “I haven't even run one full season in one car on the
Tour and you've got guys who have run 20 years here. So you don't know until you
are in that position. I am happy that I did have a chance to lead some laps there and
that was another step forward in my career. So I'm happy, all and all.”
Pitkat's pit strategy did allow him to lead laps though and could have worked out to
propel him to a high finish if the race played out a little differently.
“It could have worked out really good, but when we pitted we only put rear tires on and
without a new right front, it just killed the handling. Then the right front finally just went
down and I had to stop because I couldn't drive it. I didn't want to wreck the car.”
SEUSS WISHES THOMPSON RACE WAS 10 LAPS SHORTER
With less than 10 laps to go, at Thompson, Andy Seuss was sitting solidly in the eighth
position when he was hit from behind on the frontstretch while coming to the green flag.
Seuss spun and was collected by two other cars, leaving him out of the race with a heavily damaged Modified and a finish of 21st.
“We solidly had a top 10 car,” said Seuss. “We ended up running in the top 10 for most of the day, but our luck here is just bad. This is twice now. Last time, we had a top five car and this time we had a top 10 car and we had no luck. Today, it was because of restart games. There were guys behind us not paying attention and that's just part of the deal. But overall, it's not a terrible day. We're still working to get this car where we want it and we ran well with it and learned some things today. There is a lot of bolt-on stuff and bodywork to fix now, but we'll be ready for the next race.”
Woody Pitkat's #88 (Rick Ibsen Photo)
“Thompson has been real good to us this year, except for the Icebreaker [where Silk finished 21st]. The guys did a great job and we had a really good car. We were loose the first run and I kept saying that we had to tight it up. We just went a little bit too far. So third's not too bad.”
Silk and the #79 Modified team will end their season this coming weekend in the North South Shootout at Concord Motorsport Park (NC).
“Hopefully, we'll finish out on a good note and get ready for next year though the winter.”
GRIGAS MADE STRIDES, BUT THEN BLOWS UP, AT THOMPSON
It might have taken him all weekend, but Bobby Grigas and his #09 team had finally put themselves in a position to contend for a top finishing position in the season-ending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson.