The first half of the Andy Blacksmith 100 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway couldn’t have been more different than the second half. The first half saw the defending champion Doug Coby in control at the end of 50 laps after battling hard with Woody Pitkat. The second half saw the 2003 champion, Todd Szegedy hold off a frantic charge from 2007 and 2009 champion Donny Lia on the final lap.
Coby battle hard for the first half with Woody Pitkat who charged from his 11th starting spot to fight for the lead. The duo swapped the lead back and forth numerous times as they closed in on the halfway break, with Coby prevailing at the yellow flag.
After the break Coby lined up on the outside with Pitkat to his inside. Donny Lia lined up right behind Coby. Coby appeared to spin the tires as Lia was giving him a shove. Coby got sideways and hooked Pitkat in the right rear right at the line to trigger a multi-car crash.
Coby, Pitkat, Ted Christopher, Justin Bonsignore, Jeff Goodale and Bobby Santos were all involved in the crash. Coby, Christopher and Goodale were unable to continue.
“I spun the tires a little on the restart and before I could correct it I got turned from behind,” said Coby.
“I think he spun his tires, but I was on his bumper hard,” explained Lia. “At the same time I was being shoved from the back. My rear tires were off the ground and my engine was reving. I hate to see that happen and I hate to be in the middle of it.”
That handed things over to Szegedy who was seeking his fourth win at the ‘Magic Mile.’ Szegedy restarted in the lead with Lia to his inside.
From there the two of them battled hard up front along with the 2013 champion, Ryan Preece who entered the race still seeking his first win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Preece, Szegedy, Lia and Ron Silk traded the lead seemingly every corner for the second half of the race until Silk got into Preece and shoved him way up the track in turn two. Preece dropped back to sixth and was never able to recover.
Meanwhile, Santos, the 2008 and 2010 champion, was charging back through the field after suffering damage in the halfway crash to become a player once again. He threw his hat into the mix and started to battle with Silk, Lia and Szegedy as the laps wound down.
But a hard crash involving Troy Talman and Rowan Pennink in turn three with six laps to go changed everything.
Szegedy took the outside on the restart, which pinned Santos on the inside. Szegedy used a push from Lia into turn one to drive away from Santos.
Lia followed Szegedy by Santos and tried to close the gap as they came off turn two for the final time. He was able to close in on the back of Szegedy’s ‘Mystic Missile’ no. 4 machine going into turn three. Lia drove deep into the corner and got to Szegedy’s door off the exit of turn four.
The two former champions drag-raced to the start/finish line with Szegedy prevailing over Lia by the length of half of his car.
Lia, Santos, Patrick Emerling and Silk completed the top five.
The win is the fourth at NHMS for Szegedy who didn’t even have a full-time ride just one year ago. That made this one extra special for the 39-year-old driver from Ridgefield, Connecticut.
” It means a lot because my future was uncertain in 2014,” said Szegedy. “I didn’t have a full time ride and Rob Fuller put me in a car, and I think that helped keep me on the map.”
Szegedy joined the Bob Garbarino-owned Mystic Missile team this past off season and so far it’s been a strong combination.
“Over the off-season I really didn’t know what I was doing,” Szegedy said. “This deal came together very late. A lot of people thought I was keeping quiet, not say where I was going to be, who was going to be in the no. 4, but it came together a few weeks before the first race.”
He also explained that the last time he won here in 2013 he beat Donny Lia to the checkered flag. Lia at the time was the driver for Garbarino.
“I took a victory away from the 4 the last time I won here and now I gave them one,” said Szegedy. “It’s a big deal.”
To catch an on-demand replay of our Race Central Live coverage, click here: http://hometracks.nascar.com/nwmt_race-central_NHMS_071815
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Andy Blacksmith 100
New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, New Hampshire
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