LAKEVILLE, Conn. (July 3) - Everyone had been hoping the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was going to put on a good show at Lime Rock Park. There were a lot of unknowns... What about all the drivers with little to no road course experience? Would a big field of snarling, nasty modifieds make it through Big Bend at the start? And what about the first time into the New Uphill? Would they “fit,” so to speak?
As it magnificently turned out, the driving was excellent, the cars handled the Uphill with aplomb, and we ended up with one heckuva good race. Polesitter Todd Szegedy was in command for the entire race. Except for the last four. A decision by Dale Quarterly – a stock car veteran but relatively wet behind the ears in modified – to put on a new set of Hoosiers with 20 laps to go. Quarterly was in third place at the time, and the stop put him way back, but figured – correctly – the new rubber would give him a big advantage.
Quarterly was a rocket ship as he came up through the field, then a late-race caution got him right on Szegedy’s spoiler. On the re-start, Quarterly made shot work of Szegedy, who by this time had 60 laps on his tires. “We shoulda put tires on, but geez, that’s a tough call,” Szegedy said. “Dale’s a road course ringer, he’s good, and he had the grip and I didn’t.”
Ron Silk did a good job all race and finished third, ahead of Ryan Preece and Ted Christopher. When all was said and done, the Whelen Mods looked good on, and raced well at, Lime Rock, and the fans said they want them back in 2011.
The K&N Pro Series stock cars were up next. No questions about a good show – they’ve been doing that here since 1993 – but the series had never used the New Uphill until this weekend.
Yet again, the NASCAR driver contingent did a tremendous driving job. No problems in the Uphill – the quick guys made their cars look pretty agile through there – and there were bunches of lead changes as teams made strategic pitting decisions.
Andrew Ranger started from pole, but he was just one of six different leaders (among four drivers) throughout the 66-lapper. But when it most counted, Ranger took the lead from Cole Whitt with a pass-under-braking going into Big Bend with a handful of laps to go and left Whitt behind. Whitt, meanwhile, had gapped the third-place car of Max Gresham, who had all he could handle from Brett Moffitt and Ryan Truex, last year’s race winner.
Bottom line: The Lime Rock Park NASCAR Doubleheader looks like a winner itself and plans are being put in place to do it again in 2011.
NEXT UP: The mega-sophisticated American Le Mans Series comes to town July 23-24. If you're thinking about coming, you still have a couple weeks to buy tickets at the discounted Advance Purchase pricing.