LOUDON, NH: Last weekend we make the trip up north for the first ever Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. This race marked the longest distance race in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and also marked another first with the win belonging to Chase Dowling who won the biggest payout as well with $25K to win. We have been saying for a while now that Chase is the real deal and his win was just a matter of time. We also believe that now that he got one, the next will come with much more ease and he may be hard to stop now that he has broken that door open. We have seen a lot of debate back and forth both leading up to the race and after about the distance, the pit stops, built motors versus spec and whenever there is a good show we expect a good debate to follow. Our opinion, it was a great race with really only 20 or so laps three-quarters of the way thru that had the feeling like a caution would be needed to rack them back up. Right out of the gate the battle for the lead was a three-way battle. Justin Bonsignore and Chase Dowling swapped back and forth repeatedly with Ron Silk on their tail the whole time. The three cars working together fighting for lead changes made for a show from the start. The lap money added up quickly for these guys at $100 to the leader for each lap around.
It was very interesting to watch all the teams work out their live pit stop strategy as the spec motors were more limited on the fuel mileage. They had all calculated down to the lap when they would run out of fuel, accounted for caution laps and how hard they had been pushing their cars. There was a competition caution at lap 100 but besides that, the teams had live pit stops for the 250 laps. On top of live pitting was tire strategy as they had many more tire changes with the long mileage as well. All of this kept the whole event interesting. The biggest debate of the week came from the finish. It is Loudon so it seems to be the normal case scenario that it came down to not just the last lap but the last turn on the last lap to determine the winner. We could all see it coming. Bonsignore was leading coming down the backstretch but you knew that Ryan Preece had to give it a shot for the win.
Preece set it up, put his nose in for the bottom lane and at the same time Justin Bonsignore was not about to just give up the bottom lane a drove Ryan down.
Both drivers wanting to win neither gave an inch and as is always the case when two cars try to occupy the same space it did not end well. Between turn three and four on lap 249 sat Ryan Preece and Justin Bonsignore locked together allowing Chase Dowling to take advantage as he was right there with them with Emerling in tow. Chase had been a front-runner all day and at that moment he did not back off at all and was able to earn his first ever NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win. Chase earned every bit of that as his team and Crew Chief Stephen Kopscik had put him up front all day and in striking distance. How epic is it you have your first tour win come at the longest and biggest paying mod race in history. Congrats to Chase and the whole #15 15-40 Connection LFR team.
This big 250 lap event had a lot riding on it as it got some criticism early on from many as most things seem to now a days, from fans, drivers, owners etc. There was some doubt if cars, drivers and motors would hold up well for 250 laps/miles in one shot and if these teams were good enough to figure fuel mileage and multiple live pit stop strategies to keep the show interesting. That 250 laps would be "boring", "not a good race", "people would lose interest or not even show" etc. Well we have to say that it was not only a good race it was a great race all 250 laps. As there was many battles for the lead lap. But there were many battles throughout the field and some of the best battles all day were for the "lucky dog" get your lap back position as this was very important in this race. It was wild to see all the different pit strategy and would would pit together and when. who would help each other out on the track with pushes and drafting or going out of line.
We expected a good race but it was above our expectations. The teams and drivers proved not only could they put on a good show for 250 laps but they could be the "headline division" at a NASCAR Cup track as we feel they should be. They did great not having a wreck fest, not running out of fuel and looking amateurish if a bunch of cars did. Not messing up pit stops or strategies. They put a very professional show with great entertainment. One of the best events of any divisions we feel we have seen at Loudon above NASCAR's top 3 divisions. You can not bet modifieds at Loudon they will out do anything run there. I just wish they would take the restrictor plates of and let them loose! But they will out run and out show Cup cars if that happens so we will probably not see that. It was one of the best Saturday crowds we have seen in awhile up there and that is with not having a Cup race on Sunday and no Xfinity or Trucks, this in itself was impressive along with many more campers than we expected. Great job NHMS and Great job NASCAR Whelen Modifed Tour and teams.
Top ten finishers were as follows: Chase Dowling, Patrick Emerling, Burt Myers, Andy Seuss, Ryan Preece, Justin Bonsignore, Doug Coby, Jon McKennedy, Eric Goodale and Ron Silk. Going into their next event this weekend at the Stafford Fall Final Justin Bonsignore leads the field at 614 points. It puts him 74 points ahead of Chase Dowling and Doug Coby moved into P3 on points at 119 back, Timmy Solomito follows at 120 back and Craig Lutz sits P5 at 147 back.
STAFFORD, CT: This weekend is the final race event of the 2018 season at Stafford Motor Speedway as they hold their 46th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend. In total, they will be holding 8 divisions of racing and will be naming their title winners for the 2018 season. The Fall Final racing events being on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday the feature events will be the Street Stocks, Limited Late Model, Vintage All-Stars and the Ladies Challenge. Prior to the feature events will be qualifying for all divisions. Starting at 2:30 the Whelen Modified Tour will be group qualifying. Following them at 3 P.M. will be the NWSAA and Vintage All Start qualifying heats, racing to follow those events. Last event Ronnie Williams was named the 2018 SK modified Champion in a well deserved championship. Congratulations to him and the entire #50 crew on a awesome job!
On Sunday the day will be kicked off with a Pit Party where everyone is invited down on the track to meet their drivers. The Pit Party is scheduled to start at 11 and will go till 12 PM. Racing will start at 1 PM with SK Modified, Late Models, and the SK Light Feature events. Following them at approximately 3:15 the Whelen Modified Tour will take to the track for their feature event to conclude the 2018 racing season for Stafford Motor Speedway. The pricing for the weekend: General Admission – Adults $40, Kids 6-14 $5, Kids 5 & Under are free. Reserved Seating is $42. Paddock Pricing NASCAR Members are $50 and Non-NASCAR Members $55. The biggest battle will be in the SK Lights as Bryan Narducci and Marcello Rufrano are tied in points and this is the race everyone has been waiting for. This division has been the best of the year with great point battles but also some of the best racing and finishes of any divisions constantly as there is a lot of talent in this field.
The Whelen Tour race should be a great one as well, with Bonsignore having a healthy lead in points he just has to finish P21 or better. We will see if Justin is a points racer or if he wants to take to try and down his first Stafford win. Chase Dowling will be on fire from his Loudon win and needs to win this one, he has many laps at Stafford and runs well here. There are many competitve cars here, Coby and Preece come to mind when ever we talk about Safford wins, but Preece will not be coming to Stafford. Timmy Solomito and Craig Lutz want that win! Matt Swanson would love to ail down a win in Ole Blue. Ron Silk has had many strong runs this year but would not have luck and would come up short at the end. There are many more but we will have to wait until Sunday.
WATERFORD, CT: On Saturday night The New London-Waterford Speedbowl will be holding their regular Saturday night racing event. The racing has been great down on the Bowl and the points are very close in most divisions. Last week we missed the show as we were up at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but it sounds like the show did not disappoint. They ran double SK Lite features with a makeup from one of the many rainouts the ‘Bowl has suffered thru this season. Winner on of the first SK Lite feature was Brett Gonyaw in Larry Goss’ beautifully prepared 88. We know these guys have been digging hard its great to see them park that car in Victory Lane. The second SK Lite race was won by Keith Caruso. Anthony Flannery checked off another win in the Late Models. Andrew Krzeminski was able to nail down his first ever Mini Stock feature win. Adrien Paradis won the Sportsman feature, Rob Richardi Jr won the Pro 4 and Todd Owen took the SK Modified win over Kyle James.
On this week’s race card will be Double 20 lap Legends feature races, Sportsman, Trucks, Mini Stocks, Late Models, SK Lites, and the SK Modifieds to end the night. Grandstands open at 3 PM, qualifying to be at 5:30 with Opening Ceremonies and racing to follow that. Show support for your local short tracks! RG&MT #ModOn #ShortTrackNation