Anthony Nocella has always been known for his intelligence behind the wheel of a Modified. On Sunday afternoon, he showed just how smart a racer he is, saving his equipment and surviving a late-race restart to win the Modified Racing Series Hedges Excavating 100 at Star Speedway.
Nocella started the race in 10th, and steadily worked his way up through traffic. He took over second place just before a caution on Lap 71. He got around leader Kevin Iannarelli on the restart and never looked back. A caution came on lap 95, but Nocella was able to fend off Matt Swanson in the five-lap shootout to score his 15th victory in the series.
“We definitely didn’t want to see that yellow, we had a good lead there, but the car was good all day,” Nocella said in Victory Lane. “I was pretty confident, as long as I didn’t mess up on the restart and be able to clear [Swanson]. I have to thank all my guys for working hard on this thing, getting it ready. We finished it at midnight last night, we almost didn’t come, but we got it done and I have to thank all of them for working hard.”
Swanson had a good car all afternoon as well, turning the fastest lap in practice. He started in 18th, and like Nocella, steadily worked his way to the front over the course of the race. The Lap 95 caution brought him right alongside Nocella, but just couldn’t manage to get Ole Blue around the No. 92, forcing him to settle for second place.
“Yeah, it’s always fun coming back here to Star,” said Swanson. “We got second at the SBM, second here today. We have a little more homework to do, to make sure we can end up where Anthony is the next time we come here, but I just can’t thank Larry Westgate with All Phases enough for making this possible, and my BRE guys for allowing me to come and race these races outside of the Tour. Like I said, we need to do a little more homework, make sure our race car is better next time, and try to end up where Anthony is.”
Tolland, Connecticut’s Ronnie Williams tailed Swanson up through the field to finish third, despite being sent to the rear after being involved in the accident on Lap 70 – a call Williams did not agree with.
“We weren’t really involved in that, I just stopped to avoid the wreck,” Williams explained after the race. “It sucks because we had a fast race car, and I wish we could have contended with Matt and Nocella at the end. But it is what it is. I love this place, it’s definitely become one of my favorite race tracks. Haven’t gotten to victory lane yet, but can’t thank all these guys enough and hope to be back here soon.”
Matt Kimball put in a great result as well, coming from as far back as 14th to finish fourth. The fight for fifth got messy at the line as Ryan Doucette clipped Kevin Iannarelli, sending them both spinning. Iannarelli crossed the line sideways – and in the air – to claim fifth.
Donnie Lashua, Ryan Doucette, Jacob Perry, Max Zachem, and Kurt Vigeant rounded out the top 10.
A full replay of the race will be available soon on Speed51.TV.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51
Modified Racing Series Unofficial Results
Star Speedway (NH) – September 20, 2020