Mrs. Griffin’s Penny Helps Szegedy Win the Town Fair Tire “66/99”
LAKEVILLE, Conn. (Sept. 17) – One of the duties of a star in any racing championship is the PR meet and greets with VIPs, local movers and shakers, promoters, etc. At Lime Rock Park, fans that buy Fan Hospitality tickets also get a visit from a top driver. As polesitter for the Whelen Modified “66/99” Presented by Town Fair Tire for the second year in a row, Todd Szegedy volunteered to meet those fans at lunch time today, about 90 minutes before the start of the race. After hobnobbing with the fans in the hospitality chalet, as Szegedy was leaving a woman came up to him and handed him a “lucky” penny. “Put this in your pocket for the race,” she advised.
And he did.
Then Szegedy went out and not only won the race, he did so after falling off the road not once but twice, willing himself back to the lead. After the race, Szegedy was asked, “Hey, you didn’t really need that lucky penny, did you?”
“Oh, man, yes I did. I want to thank Mrs. Griffin for that!”, as he dug the penny out of his pocket and showed it to the media. “I’m keepin’ it!”
Wherever you stand on the value of talismans, Szegedy was an absolute animal in his #2 Wisk Detergent/A&J Romano Construction Ford. After leading handily in the first half of the race, a slow pit stop put him down three positions. Then trying too hard saw him slip off the road twice; once in the Downhill and the second time in Big Bend, as he was battling hard with Teddy Christopher on a re-start.
But he knew he had a very good car and was gonna win this race, no matter what.
“I said this morning, I’m not points-racing today – I’m racing to win this thing, come heck or high water,” Sszegedy said post-race. “Man, this feels good.”
Finishing second was another road race ace, Mike Stefanik, who had won full-bodied NASCAR races at Lime Rock when the stock cars raced here. Stefanik came from sixth on the grid and he too had to work his way back to the sharp end of the field at various times. Third in a fine effort was the young Justin Bonsignore, the 24-year-old looking calm and collected all day.
With just a dozen laps to go, the leader was actually Doug Coby, his team having given him a good pit stop late in the race, but on a re-start, Coby made a mistake in West Bend and put it hard in the fence under the Bailey Bridge. After a brief red flag to fix the Armco, it was Stefanik leading Szegedy. But within two laps of the re-start, Szegedy popped a pass going into Big Bend, and then gapped Stefanik the last four laps.
“And boy, I had some more luck, too,” Szegedy said. “The last three laps, the engine was bucking and burbling in the Downhill– I was running out of gas!. But I didn’t tell the crew, I didn’t want them to have to suffer that knowledge. And it all worked out.”
Besides making up for last year – Szegedy had led every lap last year, except for the final four – his win in the Town Fair Tire “66/99” did something else: It moved him to first in points, a scant 12 in front of Ronnie Silk, the points leader coming into Lime Rock who got tangled up in an eight-car real estate dispute in the Lefthander that put him a lap down and earned him a desultory 15th.
Rounding out the top 10 were Richie Pallai, Jr., in fourth, Ted Christopher (he too had to slice his way back to the front twice during the race) in fifth, followed by Rowan Pennink, Erick Rudolph, Eric Beers, Kevin Goodale and in 10th, Patrick Emerling.
The complete box score of the Whelen Modified “66/99” Presented by Town Fair Tire is here, on the NASCAR Home Tracks web pages.
Also on today’s Lime Rock Park card were two SCCA Pro Racing open-wheel championships, the F1600 “Formula F” series and the F2000 series. Each championship held two races today.
In race one for F2000, points leader Remy Audette of France had the measure of 40-year-old Tim Minor and Angel Benitez, and in race two, Chris Livengood beat Audette and Tim Paul.
In F1600, Bill “The World’s Fastest” Valet nipped Art Foster for the win in race one, with Colin Thompson third, while in race two, it was Foster with a last-lap pass for the win, over Ryan Leach and Thompson.
- Rick Roso