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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Ryan Preece Takes the Checkers at the Thompson 125
by Denise DuPont

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT) returned to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (TSMP) on Wednesday, June 14th. There were twenty-eight modifieds in the pits ready to go racing.

Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, MA took the Brady Bunch Racing Chevrolet to the top of the charts during practice. While Ryan Preece from Berlin, Ct found himself forced to the sidelines with a broken drive shaft.

Donny Lia of Riverhead, NY was second in practice with the Bardahl Tommy Baldwin Chevrolet and scored his twenty-second career pole during group qualifying. This was also his fifth Coors Light Pole at TSMP.

Lia lead the field around to start the feature race with Doug Coby of Milford, Ct. at his side. When the initial green flag flew Lia had the lead followed in second by Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY. Coby dropped back to fifth.

There was one red flag and several laps of cautions during the race which collected up some of the field’s strong contenders. The most intense caution occurred on lap 91 and brought out a red flag. The fastest cars in the field were charging forward on new rubber. Hard racing, close quarters, determined racers and contact set up the perfect storm to set up a possible racing incident. Lia, Craig Lutz of Miller Place, NY and Chase Dowling from Roxbury, CT were in the pack charging forward when contact was made. Cars spun, contact was made and flames brought racing to a halt. Also involved in the accident were Max Zachem (#20), Dave Sapienza (#36) Justin Bonsignore (#51) and Rob Summers (#64).

Just shy of lap 100, the race returned green. Rowan Pennink of Huntingdon Valley, PA. led the field to green for the final race laps. Pennink maintained the lead until Preece went under Pennink for the top position on lap 108. From there forward it was clear sailing for Preece to the checkers. This was Preece’s second 2017 victory. Pennink was second, Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass. Third, Coby fourth and Eric Goodale of Riverhead, NY fifth.

"All of my guys work really hard," Preece said at race conclusion. "Our guys live in Long Island, Connecticut, Rhode Island, so it can be hard for them. As long as the car is good and I can drive forward, it's my job to get myself back there. I shouldn't have to depend on them."
“We played a little bit different pit strategy,” Pennink commented. “We pitted a little bit earlier which got us to the front for track position. But he (Ryan Preece) had a really good car. I don’t think we would have beat him even if we played the same pit strategy. We just needed to get the car a little bit better and we would have had a shot. They did a good job.”

Santos pitted for tires on lap 33 and stayed out for the remainder of the race. "Our strategy definitely worked in his favor,” Confessed third place finisher Santos. "We weren't spectacular to start the race but we made a good adjustment and put tires on and we had a good car overall tonight."

The fifth of eighteen schedule NASCAR Whelen Modified tour races is now in the books with Timmy Solomito leading the points chase. Defending champion Coby is ninth and Preece rounds off the top ten in standings. The NWMT will return to racing on Saturday June 24th at Riverhead Raceway for the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac 200.

Notes from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park:

Interviewing various drivers and fans in the grandstands about the Group qualifying process, I found that most are not happy with the new procedure. They find it confusing, hard to follow and adapt to. It may be just because it is new and different, but most agree that the two lap time trial tradition is a hard tradition to get away from.
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: June 16, 2017

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