Lutz Prevails in Lengthy Tour-type Modified Opener

Craig Lutz didn’t want to wait until Tuesday night to visit New Smyrna Speedway victory lane.  After winning the Tuesday night race during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing one year ago, Lutz did one better on Monday night by winning the Tour-type Modified opener.  The Miller Place, New York native bested a strong field of 40 drivers to claim the 50-lap victory, which didn’t end until early Tuesday morning.


To get the job done, Lutz was forced to hold off some of the best in the business on a handful of late-race restarts, including a green-white-checkered finish with Matt Hirschman, Ron Silk and Doug Coby breathing down his neck.


“I was just hoping it was going to be the last [restart],” Lutz said on the NBC Trackpass broadcast.  “This was the longest 50 laps I’ve ever raced, but it all worked out.  We struggled a little bit in practice, but this is an awesome group.”


Lutz of Miller Place, New York started from the pole after an eight-car invert following qualifying.  He jumped out to the early lead over Patrick Emerling and led the first 14 laps before a red flag for a multi-car accident on the backstretch.  The incident, which started with contact between Ryan Preece and Jon McKennedy, claimed a handful of competitors including Anthony Nocella, Eric Goodale, Tyler Rypkema and Tommy Catalano.


Race of Champions Modified Series champion Patrick Emerling jumped out to the lead for one lap on the ensuing restart before Lutz battled back on the outside to reclaim the lead on Lap 16.  Lutz controlled the majority of the race from that point forward until defending champion Matt Hirschman lined up to his inside for a restart with four laps to go.


Hirschman briefly took over the lead on the restart before receiving directive from race control to give back the spot for jumping the restart.  From there, Lutz reclaimed the spot and survived a trio of restarts with Hirschman to his inside.


“I was told that I beat him to the line.  It’s one of those things that I need to watch a video to form an opinion,” Hirschman said of the restart that he initially took the lead on.  “I can have an opinion, but I may watch a video and think it’s different.  We’ll take a look and analyze the whole race and see what we can do to be better.


“The part about that official call doesn’t concern me at all; it’s more the straight line speed that they out-pull you,” he continued.  “It almost forces you to try to jump a little because he’s still coming with a head of steam.  It’s a difference in engine packages.  It’s pretty tough; they definitely out pull you.  It’s like drag cars and they’re going to win the drag race every day.”


Ron Silk remained inside the top-five throughout the race before finishing third behind Lutz and Hirschman.  Six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby charged from his 21st qualifying position to finish fourth, while 10-time Bowman Gray Stadium champion Burt Myers made a late charge into the top five.


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-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51

-Photo credit: Speed51 / Will Bellamy


Tour-type Modified 50 Unofficial Results

146Craig Lutz1
260Matt Hirschman8
316Ron Silk4
410Doug Coby21
54Burt Myers20
692Anthony Nocella14
76Ryan Preece7
825Brian Robie18
98Chris Finocchario25
1036David Sapienza19
112XJR Bertuccio23
1217KDanny Knoll, Jr.30
1328Buddy Charette17
1407Patrick Emerling2
1558Eric Goodale15
1659Matthew Galko33
1748Marcello Rufrano3
182Chuck Hossfeld5
191Chris Ridsdale26
2055Jeremy Gerstner24
2151Jimmy Blewett11
2250Ronnie Williams12
2321Jim Gavek35
241SBobby Jones27
259Tom Martino, Jr.28
260Zane Zeiner10
2745Timmy Catalano29
2856Amy Catalano32
2954CTyler Catalano31
307NYJon McKennedy6
3132Tyler Rypkema9
3220Eddie McCarthy13
33179Stephen Kopcik16
3417TCTommy Catalano22
3599Tyler Truex34

Lutz Prevails in Lengthy Tour-type Modified Opener