The internet chatter began it seemed even before the track lights had been turned off following the final NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event of the season on Oct. 14 at Thompson International Speedway.
The three teams that have dominated much of the rumor mill material involved the drivers that finished fourth, fifth and sixth in the Whelen Modified Tour standings in 2012.
Two-time series champion Donny Lia of Jericho, N.Y. drove Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile ride to a fourth place finish in the standings. Todd Szegedy of Ridgfield was fifth in the standings driving for longtime team owner Mike Smerigilio. Eric Beers of Northampton, Pa. was sixth in the standings running for team owner Dave DeLange.
Garbarino said there is no validity to rumors that his team is shutting down. He said he thinks the fact that his team was looking to sell a car may have sparked the rumors.
“I don’t know where they get that from,” Garbarino said when asked about rumors that his team was ceasing operations. “I don’t know where that came from. I had a car for sale. But I usually rotate one a year or every other year, so I’ve talked to some people about that.”
Garbarino said as of this week the team plans to return to competition in 2013 with Lia behind the wheel of their car again.
Szegedy, the 2003 Whelen Modified Tour champion, said that rumors that Smeriglio has already shut down his operation are false, but he said the team could face that possibility if the financial state of the organization doesn’t improve. Szegedy and Smeriglio have run full-time on the series together since 2006.
“Nothing has happened,” Szegedy said. “But the fact is we do need a sponsor, like any team. Basically we need a sponsor to keep going and we’re working on stuff and we’re hoping stuff is going to come up. Obviously I want to keep racing and [crew chief Phil Moran] wants to keep racing and the guys on the team are dedicated to racing. But you can’t expect Mike to keep pulling money out of his pocket. It’s not cheap to go Modified racing. So, as of right now, we’re still in operation, but we’re trying to find sponsors to go racing. Hopefully we find someone.”
Attempts to reach Beers or DeLange were unsuccessful.