The Chrome Horn - Modified News


by Polly Reid

Quoting the words announcer Joe Coss used when Ryan Preece pulled into victory lane at Monadnock Speedway, history was made when the Berlin, CT native that now calls Mooresville, NC home took the checkers in the biggest payday of his modified racing career. Using pit strategy that literally paid off, Preece came from the back of the pack twice and once Preece passed Jon McKennedy on lap 170, he never looked back holding off the field for a convincing Modified Touring Series Winchester 200 win collecting the historic $15,000 payday.

Eric Goodale, Riverhead, NY in the GAF Roofing, Supreme Skylights modified crossed the line for second with Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA in the L.I. Mod Maniac sponsored ride for third, Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, MA fourth and Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT fifth.

“There were a lot of really good cars,” said Preece. “Eric was strong, Matt was strong, Chris, Les, a lot of guys were really good. We changed our strategy, we were only going to pit once then I asked if we had that second set and we didn’t, so we asked Anthony Sesely since he was out if we could buy a set off of him and it turned into a three set race which made it fun.”

Preece, behind the wheel of the T.S. Haulers, Ed Partridge owned modified won his heat race, pulled the pole position after the redraw and was the early front runner of the 200 green flag lap event. Hirschman made his move on lap 26 to become the second leader passing Preece low through turns one and two. Preece answered back challenging Hirschman and regained the lead on lap 41. The first yellow closed up the field on lap 47 and while four cars pitted, the leaders stayed out. Hirschman swapped it out again gaining the lead on lap 49. Two more cautions kept the field close- Hirschman at the point, Preece, Goodale, McKennedy, Pasteryak and Rowan Pennink the top five on lap 70.

A spin on lap 72 lit up pit road with Preece in second, peeling off the line to head to the pits to get four new American Racers.

Hirschman continued to be the car to beat with McKennedy, Goodale, Pennink, Pasteryak and Kirk Alexander the front pack.

Just before the half, the yellow waved- at least ten cars came in for tires including Goodale, McKennedy, Pasteryak and Alexander. Hirschman stayed out remaining on the point while Preece moved up to p2 for the restart with Pennink, Mike Holdridge and Todd Patnode the top five.

A yellow quickly followed for Joe Doucette after it appeared a track bar bracket gave way ending his night. Lined up to do it again, Hirschman and Preece brought down the field for a solid restart but fresh tires prevailed and Preece made his move to become the leader once again at the half way mark.

At the half, Preece led Hirschman, Pennink, Patnode, Holdridge, Scott MacMichael, Pasteryak, McKennedy, Andy Jankowiank and Goodale the top ten.

Hirschman and Pennink pitted on lap 123 along with a few other cars including Patnode and Josh King. Preece leading the restart, Pasteryak on the outside with McKennedy, Goodale and Les Hinckley the top five it was green flag until lap 158. A surprise move, Preece, Goodale, Alexander, Patnode and Jankowiank all pitted. McKennedy inherited the lead with Pasteryak, Hinckley, Hirschman and Pennink the top five. A caution on the restart, Hinckley unexpectedly spun collecting up Pennink, the incident ending Pennink’s night while Preece moved up to sixth. A side by side battle with Goodale moved Preece up again. Thirty-five to go, Preece in third had Hirschman and McKennedy in his sights. Side by side with Hirschman, Preece on the outside on lap 168 nabbed second then two circuits later, Preece moved under McKennedy to become the final leader of the night on lap 170.

Goodale passed for second with twenty-one to go, Hirschman takes over third from McKennedy in the final eight circuits.

The final forty-two laps, fast and green, Preece was not to be denied the historic payday. Goodale, Hirschman, McKennedy, Pasteryak the top five, Mike Holdridge, Andy Jankowiak, Todd Patnode, Scott MacMichael and Eric LeClair crossed for the top ten.

“We bought four sets originally,” explained Preece who will be at Charlotte Motor Speedway next weekend to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. “One for practice, one for the heat and to start the feature then we had two. They were wearing so well, we returned a set. Then in the race, I was telling Matt, it felt like they glazed over and I was thinking, this is going to turn into a two tire stop- I’ve been down this road. We came in on lap 50 or 60 and put four on, burn them up and let everyone chase us then come back in with hopefully 40 or 50 to go and it just really worked out that way. Tires- when you have strategy races like this, it just opens up the game and it makes it fun. I like coming through the field, Matt can tell you I’ve lost a lot of races to him doing it – he’s really good at riding and I’m really good at just going as fast as I possibly can.”

“I think four instead of two,” Goodale said was maybe the missing piece that in the end that could have made the 58 an even bigger threat for the win. “We took four earlier in the race – I would have liked to have had four at the end. I just didn’t have the drive off I needed there at the end to catch Ryan. His car was incredibly fast, I thought my car was really good which it was but he was just that much better. I knew once we cleared traffic I wasn’t going to be able to catch him. I knew once we got into second with twenty to go that we were in trouble. Happy for my team, they worked really hard to get me here, you know, I’ll take the payday, ($7,500 for second) the car is in one piece, we’ll roll it into the trailer and we’ll enjoy an off week for once.”

“I think my car was a little better in the first half of the race than it was in the second,” said Hirschman. “But I think their strategy with the late tires helped them and then that tangle down here in three and four really moved them right up into contention. When I came out after I pitted, I was in the tenth to twelfth range and ran the car pretty hard to get to fourth/fifth where I was- where they got tires even later and were almost instantly fifth and sixth, that really helped them but I can’t complain I had fun, I enjoy racing here, it’s a fun little short track, we’ll take third and see what we can do better next time.”

The twenty-four cars that assembled for the inaugural Modified Touring Series Winchester 200 were a diverse group hailing from eight different states and four series. The tireless efforts over the last six months by Modified Touring Series Director Gary Knight and his experienced team made for a night of unforgettable racing at the fast, high banked quarter mile oval. It was a head scratcher why more teams did not make the trip. Rumors about other series telling ‘their’ drivers not to show were totally unfounded as several drivers positively confirmed that was just not true.

“I posted on Facebook, I’ve got to applaud Gary,” said Preece, “because there are some people that weren’t ever going to support this event that will just say things on social media and it’s a little disappointing. We all came here, we want to race these races and I don’t understand why we didn’t have fifty modifieds here. Why should Gary go out and try to do this again, or anybody for that matter – you know, everybody speaks they want to race for money, well you know what, we just had a money show and we had twenty-four cars. I applaud him, I applaud everyone here because the show moved on, I don’t know what time it is right now, (Preece checks his phone) it’s 8:30- he kept everything going, kept the event going – this is one of the best run races that I’ve been to in a long time.”

“I’ve seen this happen before where the first year of these events aren’t supported,” said Hirschman. “People think we’re not going to get paid, or it’s going to be a circus, but like Ryan just said, the event was run off with no issues, I’m confident we’re going to get paid and I do believe if he has this next year which I hope he does, I think he will see larger numbers because people are going to hear all the good things we’re saying.”

“We’ve got a kid at home and another one on the way,” said Goodale. “I told my wife I was going to take all the travel out of my schedule. This race came up and the minute I saw it was going to be a reality, I called up my crew chief, I called up my father and I said we’re going to go to Monadnock and chase after $15,000. It was a tough sell on my wife to do it but I think she’d be pretty happy after the race here so I have to applaud Gary and his team, they did a great job. I’d have to say, leading up to it, when you read social media, everybody is going to write something bad and there was a lot of questionable things out there but you know what, at the end of the day, we knew it was going to be a 200 lap, green flag race, we’d figure out the particulars when we got there. The race went off without a hitch, it was organized a lot better than I thought it was going to be and like I said, I applaud Gary and his team- I’d be the second or third one up here to say (nodding to Preece and Hirschman) next year, as long as I have an open date, I’d be here to come and support it.”

“This was an event that Gary put together and it ended up being a great show,” Goodale continued. “I ended up driving my butt off trying to catch Ryan there at the end and put a show on – congratulations to Ryan. Matt, I had to work to get past him as well – I’m happy to see all the cars that did show up and I hope if there is a next one, we get a much higher car count.”

It was well documented that Hirschman missed a makeup ROC race to run at Monadnock. Hirschman confessed it was not an easy decision to make but the team voted on Friday to go for the prize and with Hirschman’s talent for being there at the end for the payoff, the Northampton, PA driver and team arrived with confidence. Falling short of the big one, Hirschman’s third place finish paid $5,500. But wait, there is more. A special $500 bonus went to the leader of lap 88 in memory of Jim Boniface. Gary and Angel Jackson from Gary Jackson Heating Services in Keene, NH who were “really, really close to Jim,” wanted to do something special and with the approval of Series Director Gary Knight, came up with the special lap 88 honor. The special bonus brought Hirschman’s hefty earnings to $6,000 for third place.

Knight’s focused passion for putting together the MTS Winchester 200 is driven from a couple of different angles such as a desire to have a tour that is based on old school racing. The other- Knight expressed an urgency to capture the interest of the younger fan to grow the sport.
“It’s a sport and if we don’t put the money back into it, it’s not a sport, we take the competition right out of it,” said Knight. “Tonight, we saw great competition. Was it for the money? I think it was partially for the money but we put the old school back in it. Today, we had Whelen, RoC, VMRS Champions, hometrack heroes, I think these races work. I think we can put a Tour together, if they’ll allow us- I just want my chair in the room. That’s what I told my wife, nobody will give me a chair. They don’t believe in the product. They don’t believe we can do a better job. Maybe tonight they believe we can do a better job.”

“If we can get 18 year old kids here, they’ll watch modified,” Knight continued. “We have to figure a way to help this product out. I’m starting to look at it as not a driver anymore – I’m starting to look at the fans, the age market and I’m witnessing what the statistics tell me which I never believed, it’s an older generation. We’re the last generation following as fans. They should let us try new ideas- maybe together we can figure out how to bring in that younger generation here. I think if you dropped off a school bus of kids here tonight, they would have been excited watching that race. But how do you get the school bus here first? I say, old school racing is new again.”

Knight was openly candid about his post-race thoughts. “I was a little disappointed in the beginning of the day I guess but at the end I wasn’t disappointed. I couldn’t believe what we were witnessing. The passing started in the beginning of the event, nobody was half throttle, they guys were just challenging each other to see who was going to lead this race.”

Taking into account several different series including the independents, Knight was able to come up a rules package that worked to keep the field competitive. “The tire is what won Ryan the race, not the spec motor. That motor works but so does the old 18 degree, the steel head- that was old school racing - I don’t think people have seen it in a long time. The guys were just racing, I couldn’t believe how hard they raced, nobody one was pedaling.”

Matt Hirschman summed it up, “My hats off to MTS, Gary Knight and American Racer for putting up the money to have the race and lure me in here, I enjoyed it. I’d like to win of course, we all would but we had a good race, we raced hard, we had fun.”

Fun it was. When asked, Knight said with conviction, “There will be another.”
Source: Polly Reid /
: May 22, 2016

2007-2016  © GeeLaw Motorsports/RGeePro/Wolf Pack Ventures, Inc.   Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form without written prior consent