Grays Harbor NW Modified Nationals race report 2002-06-15

Reversal of fortune: Chadwick claims top prize at NW Modified Nationals Kellen Chadwick said he hated to see Dennis Silva's bad fortune. Still, the irony of the situation must have amazed Chadwick as he roared past Silva's stricken car to claim...

Reversal of fortune: Chadwick claims top prize at NW Modified Nationals

Kellen Chadwick said he hated to see Dennis Silva's bad fortune. Still, the irony of the situation must have amazed Chadwick as he roared past Silva's stricken car to claim the $5,100 top prize Saturday night in the third annual Northwest Modified Nationals at Grays Harbor Raceway Park.

On Friday night, Chadwick dominated until a mechanical problem dropped him out of contention with three laps to go.

On Saturday night, Silva dominated the 40-lap main event from the pole until a mechanical problem handed the lead to Chadwick with three laps to go.

"I didn't expect that was going to happen," Chadwick said following Saturday's win. "I'm disappointed for (Silva). I didn't want to win that way, but if it happens that way I'll take it."

Silva was able to force a smile. "We threw a rod out the side of the block," the Oregon driver said. "It was very disappointing. That was a tough one to lose, simply because of the amount of money. That would have been five times more than I ever won before."

Silva, who won $500 by claiming the trophy dash, traded the lead early with Jesse Williamson. In short order, Silva was joined at the front by teammate Jon Benedetti.

Following a yellow for Scott Welden's spin, Benedetti battled briefly with Friday's winner Randy McDaniel for second before reclaiming the spot. Benedetti then battled Silva for the lead as the teammates pulled away from the field.

Contact between Duane Cleveland and Tom Glover led to Glover stopping on lap 18, bringing out the yellow. When the race restarted, things changed near the front.

Mark Wauge had moved up from his 12th starting position to third, and on the restart was battling with the leaders. However, he got into the back of Benedetti in turn 1, seemingly ending the night for Benedetti as he was sent to the rear of the field.

After a couple more cautions, Chadwick moved up to battle with Wauge for second. Chadwick took the spot on lap 32, but by that time Silva had opened up a sizable gap. Soon, Chadwick found himself fending off Benedetti, who had quickly stormed back through the field.

With the race seemingly in hand, Silva suffered heartbreak on lap 37 as his engine blew. Chadwick took the lead and held off Wauge, Benedetti, Jeremy Richey, and Cleveland.

Kellen Chadwick noted his car's new engine performed "awesome," and said his car was setup for the long run. "That's why we fell back early," he explained. "We figured the track was going to dry out. The car got better as the race went on."

Still, he acknowledged the car was good enough to challenge Silva. "That 0 car, man, I wasn't going to catch that guy."

Silva said his car was "really good," and he didn't suspect a problem. "We'd had a little oil pressure problem, but it wasn't bad," he noted. "I had no warning."

The incident between Wauge and Benedetti ended up having a large impact on the race's outcome, as the two ended up battling near the front at the end of the race. The two Oregon drivers had different takes on what happened.

"The leader went into the turn slower," Wauge said. "Jon got on the brakes, I got on the brakes and spun him--.I talked with Jon, and we're okay. He understands it was a racing deal."

Benedetti pointed the finger at Wauge. "I'm going to be polite," Benedetti said. "He got into me. We got into turn 1, and he just turned me around. >From that point on it was an entirely new race, and I had to make the best of it."

After being sent to the back, Benedetti found a new groove. "When something like that happens, you put what happened out of your mind and focus on one car at a time," he said. "I was closing seconds a lap on everybody.

"I was forced to find a new line, since everybody was on the bottom. I was leaving it on the high side and hanging on. I had nothing to lose once I was in the back. The car was happy, and I was really coming on."

Regular racing returns to GHRP June 22. Gates open at 5 p.m., with racing around 7.

-ghrp-

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Series Sprint
Teams Williams