(Editor’s Note: Race fans can watch the SBM 125 in its entirety via an on-demand broadcast on Speed51.com’s Summer Thunder TV. Click here to watch.)
Epping, NH — It was a day late but worth the wait for Swanzey’s Todd Patnode, who claimed the top Tri-Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) honors in the seventh running of the SBM 125 on Sunday, July 29, 2018 at Star. The event was a holdover from the evening prior when heavy and prolonged rains forced the postponement. Under sunny skies on Sunday, Patnode held off Ron Silk of Norwalk, CT, and Matt Hirschman from Northampton, PA, to score the victory. Both Les Hinckley of Windsor Locks, CT, and Tommy Barrett of Millis, MA, turned up-and-down days into top-five finishes.
By virtue of their heat race wins on Saturday night, Richard Savary of Canton, MA, and Russ Hersey, also of Swanzey, NH, brought the field to green for the start of the 125-lapper for the Modifieds. Savary immediately jumped out to a strong lead with Hersey falling back on the outside groove. Savary led Brian Robie of Sunapee, NH, in second followed by Andy Seuss of Salisbury, NC, Chase Dowling of Roxbury, CT, and a fast-moving Hinckley.
Dowling, who had fallen back slightly on the start had regained momentum and was getting racy with Seuss for third. Silk, too, looked to join the action inside the top-five. All the progress that Hinckley had made was erased after contact with Silk sent him spinning to bring out the event’s first caution on lap 9. Silk was relegated to the tail of the field for his involvement.
During the caution, Seuss headed to pit road. Kirk Alexander, also of W. Swanzey, who was struggling in the early going, also went pitside. On the restart, Savary continued to lead Robie, Dowling, Matt Galko of Meriden, CT and Hersey. Back under green, Dowling made quick work of Robie and set his sights on the leader Savary. A single lap later, Dowling was the new leader. Shortly after relinquishing the lead, Savary dropped off the pace. He would retire from the event on lap 14.
Pitkat was also on the move passing Robie for position; taking Matt Galko along for the ride. Dowling now led Pitkat, Galko, Robie, Hersey and Carl Medeiros of Westport, MA. Hirschman had gotten shuffled back in the early going and remained outside of the top-ten in the running order.
Dowling and Pitkat had a two-car breakaway, as the top-ten began to get strung out. The battles however were heating up deeper in the pack with Barrett making his way through the field with Sammy Rameau in tow. Both Hinckley and Silk were making their way back toward the top-ten. Hirschman remained mired in the field.
Hersey spun from fifth position on lap 32 to bring out the caution. On the restart, Galko made a bid for second over Pitkat but had to settled into third. Robie began to back slide; losing positions to Medeiros and Patnode. Silk had worked his way back to seventh position followed by Barrett, and Hinckley.
The top two cars of Dowling and Pitkat edged ahead of a strong battle for third that included Galko, Medeiros and Patnode. Silk, now in sixth, took chase. Medeiros was looking low on Galko with Patnode right on his back bumper. Robie had caught back up to the battle from third on back.
By lap 50, Medeiros got the spot from Galko. Patnode and Silk followed suit. Patnode got a run on Medeiros on lap 52 to take the spot away. Both Medeiros and Galko began to falter. Dowling and Pitkat now had company at the head of the field in Patnode and Silk, who ran nose-to-tail.
The third caution flew on lap 57 for a spin by Mark Bakaj of Lebanon, CT. Under the caution, a long line of cars headed to pit road for service. The only cars remaining on the speedway were Dowling, Silk, Hirschman, George Sherman of Framingham, MA, and non-lead lap car Chris Bolton.
On the restart on lap 57, Hirschman, with track position after the caution, made a bold move on the bottom from third in a bid to take not only second but also the lead from Silk and Dowling respectively. The effort was for naught as the caution flew once again on lap 57 to negate the pass. Cars involved included Scott Adams of Berwick, PA, Calvin Carroll of Johnsonburg, NJ, and Alexander.
Silk stayed up alongside Dowling on the ensuing restart; however, Dowling was able to retain the lead. Using the inside grove, Hirschman was able to get by Silk to take second. Silk fell to fourth behind PItkat when thing settled down. Not content, Silk was able to grab take back the position a single lap later. Silk immediately caught the back bumper of second-running Hirschman.
Contact between Bakaj and Les Rose of Southbridge, MA, necessitated a fifth caution. On the lap 65 restart Hirschman looked stout on the outside groove staying alongside Dowling for the duration of two laps. He was finally able to clear Dowling to take the top spot on lap 68. Silk looked low on Dowling over successive laps; finally edging ahead and into second on lap 72. Medeiros was having a strong run in fourth following by Pitkat in the top five. Hinkley was making a strong recovery; having worked his way back to sixth. Silk dogged Hirschman but despite efforts could not make a move. The running order remained Hirschman, Silk, Dowling, Pitkat, Medeiros and Hinckley.
Contact between Hinckley and Medeiros ended with Medeiros spinning on lap 81 and the caution waving. Hinckley was penalized for over-aggressive driving and sent to the rear. Under yellow, Hirschman, Silk and Dowling headed to pit road for tires. The ensuing restart now found Pitkat, Galko, Alexander, Patnode and Robie inside the top-five.
Pitkat easily got the advantage over Galko on the restart. But a slide through the infield by Alexander brought out the seventh caution on lap 82. This also moved Ron Frees of Brick Township, NJ, inside the top-five. On lap 82, Pitkat got the edge while Galko was able to tuck in behind Pitkat for second. His station did not last long as Patnode was on the move. He claimed second from Galko. He quickly caught Pitkat. Patnode got up alongside the leader Pitkat on lap 87 in turn two and was the new leader by turn four.
Hinckley had recovered nicely to run in fourth. Hirschman was already back to fifth with fresher tires. Silk was sixth. Dowling ran in eighth. On lap 93, Hinckley got by Galko and into third. With the top-three just ahead, the best battle on the field was for fourth with Galko holding the position with furious pressure from Hirschman and Silk. Both were able to get by on lap 98.
Before the caution flew on lap 99, Patnode had a few car lengths advantage over Pitkat, Hinckley, Hirschman, Silk, Galko and now Barrett. The eighth caution waved for a spin by Medeiros. On the restart Patnode held the top spot. Pitkat lost second to Hinckley. Stuck on the outside, Pitkat continued to fall back; losing positions to Silk, Hirschman, Barrett and Dowling.
As the laps began to wind down, the top-five jockeyed for position behind leader Patnode. Silk looked low on Hinckley for second but settled back in line in third. Hirschman stalked in fourth with Barrett and Dowling within striking distance.
Again with 15 laps to go, Silk began to work the bottom side; looking low on Hinckley. This time Silk was able to get alongside; finally taking over second on lap 113. Hirschman was able to use a similar move to relegate Hinckley back to fourth.
Silk had 10 laps to get Patnode, who held a couple of car lengths over Silk. Hirschman was a single car length back. Patnode entered lapped traffic with five to go. Silk bobbled giving Patnode some additional breathing room and allowing Hirschman to gain ground. With two laps to go, Patnode was able to extend his lead. Patnode cruised under the checkers to score the popular win and pocket $6,000. Silk had to settle for second over Hirschman. After an eventful day, Hinckley came home fourth over Barrett. Early leader Dowling had to settle for a sixth-place finish. Pitkat, Galko, Frees, and Robie completed the top ten.
On Saturday night during the rain delay two specialty awards were presented. Norm Perry of Ashaway, RI, owner of the #76 driven by Matt Galko, received the Chuck Montville Car Owner award and a check for $1,060. Andy Seuss accepted the first Bob Webber, Sr. Memorial Sportsmanship Award on behalf of his entire team in an emotional presentation by the Webber Family.
Official Finish Tri-Track Open Modified Series SBM 125, Star Speedway, Epping, NH-July 29, 2018: 1. Todd Patnode, Swanzey, NH; 2. Ron Silk, Norwalk, CT; 3. Matt Hirschman, Northampton, PA; 4. Les Hinckley, Windsor Locks, CT; 5. Tommy Barrett, Millis, MA; 6. Chase Dowling, Oxford, CT; 7. Woody Pitkat, Stafford, CT; 8. Matt Galko, Meriden, CT; 9. Ron Frees, Brick Township, NJ; 10. Brian Robie, Sunapee, NH; 11. Russ Hersey, Swanzey, NH; 12. George Sherman, Framingham, MA; 13. Kirk Alexander, W. Swanzey, NH; 14. Mark Bakaj, Lebanon, CT; 15. Les Rose, Southbridge, MA; 16. Calvin Carroll, Johnsonburg,; 17. Carl Medeiros, Westport, MA; 18. Chris Bolton, Weare, NH; 19. Sam Rameau, Westminster, MA; 20. Scott Adams, Berwick, PA; 21. Andy Seuss, Salisbury, NC; 22. Richard Savary, Canton, MA. DNS-Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, CT; Dale Holdridge, Madison, CT; Jon Keivman, Deerfield Beach, FL; Dana Smith, Sunapee, NH. DNQ-Jeff Gallup, Agawam, MA; Colbey Fournier, Berkley, MA; Josh Cantara, Saco, ME; Bill Dixon, N. Waterboro, ME.
-Tri-Track Open Modified Series Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com