* New Hampshire Also Key To Modified Title Chase * Ryan Newman To Make Modified Debut At New Hampshire * Pair of Modified Champs To Be Honored * Matt Hirschman Ready For Double Duty * Donny Lia Scheduled For Modified-Truck Double On ...
* New Hampshire Also Key To Modified Title Chase
* Ryan Newman To Make Modified Debut At New Hampshire
* Pair of Modified Champs To Be Honored
* Matt Hirschman Ready For Double Duty
* Donny Lia Scheduled For Modified-Truck Double On Saturday
New Hampshire Also Key To Modified Title Chase
This Sunday the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire will be the first of 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. For the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, with just five races left on the schedule, a good finish by title contenders in the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday will be equally important.
The last time the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cranked it up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the finish was so close that the winner had to be confirmed by video analysis. Chuck Hossfeld edged Ted Christopher by 0.001 seconds to capture the New England 100. As the series returns to Loudon, N.H., for the final time in 2008, it is only fitting that the two are locked in a points battle that could turn one way or the other on Saturday.
Hossfeld used that June win in Loudon to strengthen a lead in the standings the he controlled for half the season. Following his sixth finish of fourth or better to start the season, Hossfeld had a 95-point lead after the Mason Farms 100 at Spencer in July.
Starting with the Miller Lite 140 at Riverhead on Aug. 2, Hossfeld has failed to finish in the top 10 in the last five outings, which has allowed Christopher to turn the tables on his New Hampshire nemesis. As the series returns to Loudon, Christopher now owns a 63-point lead over Hossfeld with just five dates remaining on the 2008 schedule.
Not to be counted out in the chase for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title is Matt Hirschman. A steady stalker through the middle of the season after a slow start, Hirschman is now just 69 points back of Christopher in third place. Although he had to settle for 12th place in the first date at New Hampshire, Saturday's race could be yet another stepping stone toward the top of the standings for Hirschman.
Action for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this week at the "Magic Mile" will begin with practice and qualifying on Thursday. The New Hampshire 100 is set to go green on Saturday at approximately 1 p.m.
The Race: New Hampshire 100
The Place: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 13
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
Track Layout: 1.058-mile oval
Race Purse: $170,245
2007 Winner: Todd Szegedy
2007 Pole: Todd Szegedy
Schedule: Thursday: Practice: 1:15-2:45 p.m., Time Trials: 4:40 p.m., Saturday: Practice: 8:20-8:50 a.m.
Newman To Make Modified Debut At New Hampshire
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman will make his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut this Saturday when he competes in the New Hampshire 100.
Newman, who pilots the No. 12 Alltel Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Penske Racing, is set to drive the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Modified Saturday in Loudon, N.H. The car is owned by Kevin Manion, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
"I've never driven a modified before, so I'm excited to get in the car for the first time on Thursday," Newman said.
Although this will be his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut, Newman is no stranger to open wheel racing. The South Bend, Ind., native drove USAC, Sprint Cars, Midgets and Quarter Midgets in his rise through the racing ranks.
"I'm a racer, and I like to race," Newman said. "This was something I hadn't tried before, but I had always thought about doing it. When the opportunity came my way, I jumped at the chance. I know I am getting in good equipment, so I think its going to be fun, and I'm looking forward to having a shot at the win."
Newman is the latest driver from one of NASCAR's national series to pilot a Modified at New Hampshire. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart both competed in the July 2006 race while JJ Yeley drove in the September 2007 event. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series regular Todd Bodine also drove in the September dates in 2005 and 2006.
The car that Newman will drive on Saturday carries the same number and paint scheme of the late Tom Baldwin, a longtime veteran of NASCAR Modified racing. Jeff Fuller drove the car to a ninth place finish in the June race. Fuller, the 1992 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, had to start at the end of the field (38th) when rain washed out qualifying.
Pair Of Modified Champs To Be Honored Saturday
As part of the season-long celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions, 1988 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist Mike McLaughlin and 2003 winner Todd Szegedy will be honored at the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday, Sept. 13 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
McLaughlin, who was a consistent contender for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour crown in each of the series' first five years of existence, broke through in 1988 for a 155-point margin of victory against Reggie Ruggiero in the final standings. Szegedy, who has been a consistent title contender for most of this decade, was able to capture the 2003 title following a tight battle with Chuck Hossfeld that resulted in a 32-point margin of victory.
Originally from Waterloo, N.Y., McLaughlin was able to compile five wins, 15 top fives and 20 top 10s in 24 starts in 1988 while driving the No. 12 Sherwood Industries car for owner Billy Corazzo. The title campaign was highlighted by wins in Martinsville, Va., Indianapolis, Ind., Oswego, N.Y., Oxford, Maine and Owego, N.Y.
Szegedy is one of four past NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champions that still compete on a full-time basis. The Ridgefield, Conn., native earned the 2003 championship on the strength of four wins, 11 top fives and 14 top 10s in 18 starts when he drove the No. 50 Haynes Materials Ford for owner Don Barker. He made trips to Victory Lane in Lake Erie, Pa., Beech Ridge, Maine, Adirondack, N.Y., and Stafford, Conn., but it was an eighth place finish in the season finale in Thompson, Conn., that clinched the title in a close battle with Hossfeld.
Hirschman Ready for NHMS Double Duty
Matt Hirschman, a contender for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title, will make his NASCAR Camping World Series debut this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in addition to his regular duties in the No. 59 Ed Bennett Properties Modified.
Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., will drive the No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge in the Heluva Good! Fall 125 on Friday evening, which will mark his first start in the NASCAR Camping World Series. He tested the car, which was driven by Kasey Kahne at Iowa Speedway earlier this year, on Aug. 19 at NHMS.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Hirschman said. "Each race is on a different day so I don't think it will be a problem at all and I think it will actually benefit me to get a lot more track time."
Hirschman has seven top 10s in 11 starts this year in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action and is third in the standings, just 69 points behind leader Ted Christopher.
Lia Scheduled For Modified-Truck Double On Saturday
Donny Lia, the reigning NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, will enter his second Modified race of the year this Saturday at New Hampshire and will follow that with his 16th NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race of 2008.
Lia has a win and three top 10s in 15 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts in 2008, all for TRG Motorsports. After recently parting ways with TRG, Lia will pilot the No. 81 Randy Moss Motorsports Chevrolet this Saturday in the Camping World RV Rental 200 Driven by Winnebago Industries.
Before he climbs in the Moss No. 81 truck, however, Lia will make his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start of the season in the New Hampshire 100. Lia registered a third place finish in the Miller Lite 140 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, his home track, on Aug. 2. Lia will drive the No. 96 Modified for H&H Motorsports. It is the Troyer Chassis house car.
In 96 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts, Lia has registered 11 wins, 30 top fives and 43 top 10s.
News & Notes
The Race ... The New Hampshire 100 will be the 12h of 16 races in 2008. This will also be the second and final stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The Procedure ... Starting Positions 1-33 will be set from time trials with an additional five provisional positions rounding out the field.
The Track ... A 1.058-mile track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway supplanted Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway as the largest oval in New England when it opened in 1990.
Race Winners ... There have been 15 different race winners at New Hampshire, led by Tony Hirschman's seven victories, which is one more than Reggie Ruggiero and Mike Stefanik. Chuck Hossfeld captured the first race of the year in June in a photo finish with Ted Christopher.
Pole Winners ... There have been 20 different pole winners at New Hampshire, led by Ted Christopher's and Jan Leaty's seven. Qualifying was rained out for the first race at NHMS in June.
Track Records ... Mike Ewanitsko set the 100-lap race record at 58 minutes, 15 seconds (108.979) in 2000 and established the qualifying record of 28.693 seconds (132.743 mph) in 2001. Ted Christopher owns the track's all-time wins mark with nine victories between the NWMT and NASCAR Camping World Series East.
* Jamie Tomaino will extend his own series record by making his 495th career start.
* Ed Flemke Jr. is expected to extend his record consecutive starts streak to 307.
* With the completion of the New Hampshire 100, the Made In American Whelen 300 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 20 will be the 500th all-time race in NWMT history.
* This race will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by SPEED on Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m.
* The Made In American Whelen 300, which will be contested at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 20, will air on SPEED on Oct. 10 at Noon and Oct. 11 at 3 a.m.
Five Questions: Todd Szegedy
With the win Sunday at Thompson, do you feel like a weight has been lifted?
It was a morale boost for me. I probably doubt myself the hardest out of anybody. When I screw up it really affects me. I see errors in what I do and I'm constantly trying to fix them. It helps me out for next week for sure, and for the rest of the year.
How would you gauge your season to-date?
We've certainly had the car that could have won the last five or six races, it just hadn't happened. We finally got it Sunday. Not to brag, but I think we've got one of the best pit crews and some of the best equipment on the Tour, so I feel like it's up to me to win these races.
What are your thoughts on being honored at New Hampshire this week for your 2003 NWMT championship?
It's pretty cool to be honored there. Last year I won a race there, and it had been one that had eluded me since I had been racing the Tour. It's one of our premier tracks, so it's definitely an honor and it's in front of a huge crowd so it's a good chance for me to bring my sponsors out and get some recognition for myself and my team.
You're still competing for wins and championships, but five years removed from your title, how do you look back on that now?
Time goes by fast. I won the championship in 2003, but it still seems like it was yesterday. I think when I retire and I look back at the statistics and see where I lie. It's definitely an honor to be in there with some of the top drivers. With guys like Steve Park, Jimmy Spencer, Riche Evans, Maynard Troyer--all those guys that are legends--to be part of that is a pretty big deal.
Away from the track, what's your favorite pastime?
I like boating. I also like mountain biking and road biking. My grandparents have a house on Candlewood Lake in Connecticut and I've pretty much spent all my off weekends on the lake just hanging out, boating and fishing. I also enjoy motorcycle riding. We spent a week earlier this summer riding in the Smoky Mountains, and that is something that the wife and I really enjoy.
Up Next: Made In America Whelen 300
The 13th race of the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season will take place at historic Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 20.
For the fourth year in a row the Made In America Whelen 300 will be run as a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Modified and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours. It is the only such event on the schedule.
Since the combination format was introduced in 2005, drivers from the northern circuit have taken the checkered flag in each of the first three events. Ted Christopher captured the inaugural Made In America Whelen 300 while Jimmy Blewett and Donny Lia have won the subsequent races. Just like with the winners of NASCAR's national series races at Martinsville, the race winner's trophy will be the traditional grandfather clock.
The 2008 edition is set to start 43 cars, the largest field of the year. The top 35 starters will be determined through time trails while the final eight slots will be filled through the provisional process.
Prior to the race Red Farmer will be honored as part of NASCAR's celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions. The 1956 NASCAR Modified titlist Farmer is still an active dirt Late Model driver and will attempt to make a race in his home state of Alabama Saturday night after being honored at Martinsville.