Thirty minutes was all Ryan Newman needed to get to victory lane Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The South Bend, Indiana native and past NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner at NHMS battled with Justin Bonsignore on the final lap, lap 37 of the scheduled 40-lap distance, when the event’s time limit was reached. Bonsignore took the lead into turn one on the final lap, but Newman battled back down the back stretch to pull ahead of Bonsignore and Mike Stefanik to the checkered flag in the first-ever NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour all-star event.
“I didn’t know if (Bonsignore) was going to have someone following him, if he was getting pushed,” said Newman of his last-lap battle with Bonsignore. “I could see somebody showing the nose and the spotter’s talking to me, but it’s hard to process it all at once. Once he slid by, I knew I was going to get some kind of tow off of him, but I didn’t know if I was going to have someone pushing me, shoving me into turn three way faster than I wanted to go or what it was going to be. It turned out good.
“I thought he would be closer coming back to the line because I was so tight that I just held the wheel tight and drove through it in the last corner. Everything kind of lined up right for us.”
The non-points event, which featured past Northern and Southern Modified Tour Champions, Rookie of the Years and more, was scheduled for 40 laps or 30 minutes. A call was made by officials to shorten the race when the 30-minute clock expired, setting up a two-lap battle to the checkered flag.
Newman led on the restart and Bonsignore made one valiant effort on the final lap, but came up short to Newman.
“We locked onto the 7’s (Newman) bumper on that green-white-checkered and we were able to get out in front of Mike,” said Bonsignore. “I haven’t really been in position to win a race here yet, so I figured the best way to not tear up a bunch of cars would be to try to take the lead into turn one. I kind of assumed Newman would get back by me and I tried to throw a block down the back stretch, but he had a good head of steam and we do need to race these cars again tomorrow.”
The All-Star Shootout was a prelude to Saturday’s Sunoco 100, a points-paying NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at NHMS.
“Different format from what I’m always used to up here, but not something I haven’t done in the past with two 20-lap races like that,” said Newman. “Today was kind of a good warmup for us with a new racecar, kind of a shakedown for us for tomorrow’s big race.”
Mike Stefanik, in just his second run behind the wheel of a NASCAR Modified this year, finished third.
“The 44 (Bobby Santos) I was hoping was going to push me and give me one good shot to push me out there, but he couldn’t catch back up,” said Stefanik. “Justin locked onto Ryan and pushed him along. Then the 6 (Ron Silk) got pushed along and I had my blinker on, but nobody was letting me out. Then I got out behind the 6 and they got together on the last lap, so I was able to get the six back.
“It was a lot of fun. I’ve been missing out on this.”
Silk and Santos finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back on track Saturday morning for qualifying for the Sunoco 100 points-paying event, which will take the green flag at 1pm ET Saturday.
– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield
Unofficial Whelen All-Star Shootout Results