The New England Short Track Showdown started with the lowest of lows but ended with the highest of highs for Ronnie Williams, who won the Valenti Modified Racing Series feature event in thrilling fashion at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Williams started 16th but worked his way up to the front by the end of the 50-lap feature. Chase Dowling was the driver to beat throughout the race. However, Williams and Anthony Nocella teamed up in the draft to get around Dowling in the closing laps.
Dowling fell back to fourth, leaving Williams and Nocella to duke it out amongst themselves to see who would visit Victory Lane. Nocella led out of turn two on the final lap, but Williams powered around the outside entering turn three, setting up a drag race to the line and yet another photo finish for the Modifieds at the Magic Mile.
“We work well together,” Williams said after the race. “It definitely paid off there. We were the last two going into the final corner that were going to win the thing, which I was pretty pumped about. Just giving ourselves a chance at the end. You have to be there on the last lap, doesn’t matter how many laps you lead.”
The big story for the No. 25 team coming out of the weekend was their remarkable recovery from engine issues early on to find Victory Lane. Williams blew an engine in the second practice session on Saturday, but the team immediately got to work and had a new engine in the car in time for the final practice sessions Sunday morning.
“It’s unbelievable. I mean, these guys took off right after we did it,” Williams said. “They actually went back, but I stayed up here. I actually snuck into the suites and was watching some of the practice to see where guys were running. I’ve run here three times before in the Tour car, so just seeing different grooves, and it paid off.”
Anthony Nocella also had a good run on Sunday. He started 18th but did not make much progress during the first part of the race. He came in for a chassis adjustment on Lap 23 and the car came alive. Nocella was then able to drive it straight to the front and challenge for the lead.
“We struggled in the middle of the race and about halfway we came down and pitted and we were able to get the thing going real good there,” Nocella said. “We figured it was going to be between us, the 00 [of Dowling] and the 25 [of Williams] at the end and it was; they were both really strong. I think the 00 was a little better than both of us, that’s why the two of us teamed up together. I figured if we could get by him together he may not get us.
“[At the end,] we thought [Williams] was coming low and I didn’t think I had that much room left on the top for him, but he was able to get just enough of a draft on us and get up to the outside. Drag raced him to the finish line, but came up just a couple feet short.”
Jeff Gallup continued his recent streak of success in the Modifieds, bringing his car home third ahead of Chase Dowling and Mike Willis, Jr. Andrew Molleur, Rob Richardi, Dylan Rock, Derek Robie, and CJ Bolton finished the top ten.
Highlights from Sunday’s Modified barnburner at The Magic Mile can be viewed now on the Speed51 Network by clicking here.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51Photos.com
Valenti Modified Racing Series Results
New Hampshire Motor Speedway – June 23, 2019
1 25 Ronnie Williams
2 92 Anthony Nocella
3 4 Jeff Gallup
4 00 Chase Dowling
5 83 Mike Willis, Jr.
6 1 Andrew Molleur
7 12MA Rob Richardi
8 47 Dylan Rock
9 27 Derek Robie
10 63 CJ Bolton
11 25NH Brian Robie
12 17 Donnie Lashua
13 20 Max Zachem
14 09 Brad Vanhouten
15 25CT Anthony Flannery
16 66 Andy Shaw
17 34 Dave Etheridge
18 81 Todd Owen
19 13 Cameron Sontag
20 22 Roy Seidell Jr.
21 19 Andy Shaw
22 27MA Kevin Iannarelli