Full Circle: Todd Szegedy Back In Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane At New Hampshire Motor Speedway

By Shawn Courchesne

Todd Szegedy celebrates victory Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Todd Szegedy celebrates victory Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

LOUDON, N.H. – On Sept. 21, 2013 Todd Szegedy used a last lap bump to move Donny Lia and his Mystic Missile Racing car out of the lead to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Saturday in Loudon, Szegedy held off Lia on the final lap to give one back to the team he stole one from in 2013.

Szegedy, of Ridgefield, beat Lia at the checkered by half a car length to win the Whelen Modified Tour Andy Blacksmith 100 Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It was Szegedy’s first series victory for the Mystic Missile Racing team and owner Bob Garbarino. Szegedy became the team’s full-time driver after Lia left the team following the 2014 season.
“I took a victory away from the [Mystic Missile] the last time I won here, now I gave them one,” Szegedy said. “That’s a big deal. … I’m just honored to be a part of the team.”

Donny Lia of Jericho, N.Y. was second and Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass. third.

It was the 19th series victory overall for Szegedy and his fourth at NHMS.

It was an emotional full circle sort of day for 39-year old Szegedy. The victory in Loudon in 2013 was Szegedy’s last with the series before Saturday. In 2013 he was in eighth season driving for team owner Mike Smeriglio III and his Smeriglio Racing team.

Few knew on that day in Loudon that Szegedy would only make two more starts for the team before he was released just after the conclusion of the season.

Szegedy, the 2003 series champion, spent last year running part-time on the Whelen Modified Tour for Rob Fuller Motorsports. He also competed for Valenti Modified Racing Series owner Kevin Stuart.

His deal to drive full-time for Garbarino in 2015 came together just a few weeks before the Modified Tour season opener in early April.

Less than two months before the start of the season 2015 season Szegedy was contemplating going to back to Sports Car racing and wondering if he could ever land a quality full-time ride again with the Modified Tour.

“I think everybody needs to go through tough times sometimes to really appreciate victory and appreciate teamwork and patience,” Szegedy said. “Just when you think times are tough and getting bad, you just keep pushing forward and there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You just have to keep a positive attitude. I learned a lot about myself and everyone around me. My girlfriend Melissa is really keeping me strong. It’s pretty amazing the people around you that love you and keep pushing you forward. If it wasn’t for the people around me I wouldn’t be anybody.”

After Saturday’s victory Szegedy jumped from fourth to third in the series standings, 19 points behind leader Ryan Preece of Berlin. Woody Pitkat of Stafford is second in the standings, four points behind Preece. Reigning series champion Doug Coby of Milford, who came into Saturday’s event tied with Preece at the top of the standings, was involved in a crash and finished 30th in the 34-car field and fell to fourth in the standings, 25 points behind Preece.

The was stopped at lap 52 for a halfway competition break with Coby leading, Pitkat in second, Szegedy in third and Lia in fourth.

On the ensuing restart, contact from Lia sent Coby spinning into Pitkat. The wreck ended Coby’s day. Lia said he was pushed into Coby by Preece behind him.

The wreck put Szegedy to the lead with Lia in second, Ron Silk third and Preece fourth. From there, the foursome put on a show of lead swapping over the final 40 laps.

Szegedy passed Silk for the lead on lap 90 and led the rest of the way, though not without dramatics.

A turn four wreck involving Rowan Pennink, Troy Talma, Andy Seuss and Anthony Nocella on lap 94 brought out the red flag with Szegedy leading Santos and Lia in fourth behind Silk.

“I can’t wait to look at my FitBit,” Szegedy said. “At Thompson [Speedway on June 10] that FitBit was 165 beats per minute. I knew it was at that when I was sitting under that red flag condition [Saturday] and I just had to calm myself down. I knew if I could get to the lead and get a good run and drive defensively I was going to win that race.”

On the final restart Lia was able to get by Santos for second. On the final lap Lia made a move under Szegedy into turn three. The two came off turn four side-by-side with Szegedy winning the drag race to the checkered by half a car length.

“I put a good run together between [turns] one and two,” Lia said. “On the last lap, I had to get a good run on Todd and it just wasn’t nearly anywhere near a good enough run to do anything with him.”

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-Andy Blacksmith 100 pres. by Donate Life New England Results
Saturday
At New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Loudon, N.H.
Lap length: 1.058 miles
(Start position in parentheses)

1. (5) Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn., Dodge, 100 laps, 82.926 mph.
2. (2) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Chevrolet, 100.
3. (21) Bobby Santos, Franklin, Mass., Chevrolet, 100.
4. (7) Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, N.Y., Chevrolet, 100.
5. (15) Ron Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
6. (3) Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
7. (11) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
8. (14) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 100.
9. (16) Keith Rocco, Wallingford, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
10. (12) Chase Dowling, Roxbury, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
11. (6) Ryan Newman, South Bend, Ind., Chevrolet, 100.
12. (8) Timmy Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Ford, 100.
13. (22) Brendon Bock, Franklin Square, N.Y., Chevrolet, 100.
14. (27) Max Zachem, Preston, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
15. (26) Dave Sapienza, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 100.
16. (25) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 100.
17. (30) Dave Salzarulo, Enfield, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
18. (34) Wade Cole, Hartland, Conn., Chevrolet, 100.
19. (32) Johnny Bush, Huntington Station, N.Y., Chevrolet, 100.
20. (31) Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, N.Y., Chevrolet, 99.
21. (33) Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 98.
22. (10) Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 97.
23. (35) Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H., Chevrolet, 97.
24. (13) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 93, accident.
25. (24) Troy Talman, Oxford, Mass., Chevrolet, 93, accident.
26. (17) Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass., Chevrolet, 93, accident.
27. (18) Andy Seuss, Hampstead, N.H., Chevrolet, 93, accident.
28. (28) Gary Putnam, Vernon, Conn., Chevrolet, 81, accident.
29. (19) Shawn Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Chevrolet, 81, accident.
30. (1) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Chevrolet, 55, accident.
31. (4) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 55, accident.
32. (20) Jeff Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 55, accident.
33. (9) Steve Masse, Bellingham, Mass., Chevrolet, 52, rear end.
34. (23) Joe Ryan Osborne, Holland, Pa., Pontiac, 12, ignition.

Race Statistics
Time of Race: 1 hour 16 minutes 33 seconds
Margin of Victory: 0.041 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: D.Coby (129.046 mph, 29.515 seconds)
Caution Flags: 5 for 16 laps.
Lead Changes: 29 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: T. Christopher 1-5; D. Lia 6; T. Christopher 7-10; D. Coby 11; T. Christopher 12-16; R. Preece 17-20; T. Szegedy 21; R. Preece 22-30; D. Lia 31; R. Preece 32; D. Lia 33-35; W. Pitkat 36; D. Lia 37; W. Pitkat 38-43; D. Coby 44-54; T. Szegedy 55-64; R. Preece 65-67; D. Lia 68; R. Silk 69; R. Preece 70; R. Silk 71; R. Preece 72-74; R. Silk 75; R. Preece 76-77; R. Silk 78-79; R. Preece 80; R. Silk 81-86; R. Preece 87; R. Silk 88-89; T. Szegedy 90-100.
Standings: 1. R. Preece, 291; 2. W. Pitkat, 287; 3. T. Szegedy, 272; 4. D. Coby, 266; 5. B. Santos, 255; 6. T. Solomito, 245; 7. P. Emerling, 241; 8. E. Goodale, 240; 9. T. Christopher, 220; 10. R. Pennink, 211.

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Comments

  1. NH Mark says:

    Great race! 29 lead changes at the line. Awesome day of racing. Watching the 44 charge back to the front was exciting. The boys did themselves proud. Can’t wait for September.

  2. So yeah… What was everyone saying at the beginning of the year about the car being antiquated and not being able to win with it and being at a disadvantage without the spec engine?

    Thought so…

  3. Dingus, the 4 won with a SPEC at Loudon today.

  4. Today the 4 car had a spec engine for the first time.

  5. I’ll gladly stand corrected there. So then all that crying the old man did was for nothing? Interesting. If you can’t beat em, join em. Right?

  6. love seeing szegs win, guy is a wheelman and a class act!

  7. Dingus, “all that crying the old man did” was proven to be correct and valid. The Mystic Missile ran well with the built motor but had no chance of winning. So the Mystic Missile gets a SPEC motor for the first time at Loudon and wins. That tells you that the “old man” was right, that there is no parity between the built and SPEC motors, and in order to compete and win, the SPEC motor is the only way to go. The “old man” was right.

    Just look over the records, the SPEC motors have taken over in performance and wins, placement, etc.

    By the way, that was a very gutsy move to run a SPEC for the first time at Loudon.

  8. just a fan says:

    bob was trying to get nascar to make a rule change to even the motors up ….but they didn”t because on the dyno they are the same …..but they forgot the 100 pounds less weight advantage ….the lower center of gravity advantage …so now the whole field is on the spec deal ….it was made to be lower cost alternative to the open motor ….which is a joke at 30,000 ….the real story is like all new rules it just costs the racer more money in the end ….all top teams racing right now had at LEAST two built motors already ….at the end of last year a couple of them tried the spec and ran better ….so this off season its like the rumor mill is you can”t win without a spec ….so they all (less 4 car bob ) buy the spec …now all the top cars are winning the races with the spec this year ….so the 4 has to cave in and get one …with 3 open motors now sitting on the garage floor in mystic worth almost nothing in just a half a season …get the point !!!! … DID IT SAVE ANYONE MONEY …maybe one or two new teams ….but cost the rest of the teams ( the whole tour ) BIG TIME…..make a rule that gives one motor an advantage a racer will buy it even if they don”t have the money ….to try to WIN …the only thing in the end that spec did was as just like all the old time race teams said it would and reason they did not want it…was it will cost EVERYONE money ….MAKE EVERYONE”S open motor obsolete and worth nothing ….cost everyone 30,000 …loose everyone at less 40,000 ….( used resale price of 2 open motors before the spec ) …round numbers 70,000 loss going into 2015 season ….more for 4 car bob ….( name change coming for 2016 )….NASCAR … UN-MODIFIED TOUR …THE HOME OF THE NASCAR SPEC MOTOR ..OPEN WHEEL IROC…..bring a big wallet or run tenth with ARE NEW ALTERNATIVE COST SAVING MOTOR… one of 50 OR so open motors going up for sale for pennies on a dollar from 2015 ….

  9. If they didn’t have the competition yellow would the outcome have been different ? Don’t get me wrong I am glad that bobs car won . I would rather they shortened the race then the stupid halfway break . Any pitting should be done under yellow . We all know that restarts are when most of the wrecks happen . JMO

  10. Andy DaRos says:

    Was it the long rumored Hutter built spec motor or was it an RYRE?

  11. Tom Neff says:

    Show some respect, “Dingus,” by not calling a loyal, longtime NASCAR Mod car owner an “old man” !!!… Also, beyond Dingus: The spec engine issue is one more, long overdue reason for New England’s “premier” Modified’s to race under a sanction other than NASCAR…

  12. They are not allowed to refuel when pitting for tires during a yellow. Since the SPEC is a fuel pig, they had to introduce the damn intermission so that the car can get new tires and refuel.

    The question of the competition yellow and the outcome is not of value… that simply can not be answered.

    I would rather they be allowed to refuel when pitting under yellow.

  13. just a fan says:

    100 % right on all you said ….tom …bob has run a modified full time since the 1950’s …seen it all …done it all ….always with the up most respect for anyone and everyone …he is what the word class act came from …wish a better series would happen also but do not see it on the horizon ..

  14. Steve F says:

    Does anyone know how many open motors there were? Or was the whole 34 car field literally just spec motors? If there were any built motors I’d like to see what the highest finish was now that there are no more big $ teams that still run an open.

  15. Just my thoughts... says:

    just a fan, It was great to see Todd Szegedy in victory lane, while you have a right to your opinion on Bob Garbarino, not all will agree with you. Yes, he has been involved with Modified racing for years but then again there are others just as loyal to the Modifieds. I have to disagree with your statements, “always with the up most respect for anyone and everyone” and “he is what the word class act came from”, that is not the Bob Garbarino that I have witnessed through the years. Those involved with Bob through the years will tell you, he can be difficult and at times, comes across that he is above everyone else in the pits. He may be a fixture on the WMT but is certainly not a saint, at times I think he needs to be reminded, he is not better than everyone else. That being said, Congratulations to Todd and the rest of the team, and lets see what Tuesday brings. Again, just my thoughts…

  16. Just my thoughts... says:

    Steve F, Not sure on the numbers from Sat. but did hear that Ryan Newman did not like the spec motor on Fri. and that they were going to put a built motor in for Sat. In the All Star race Newman was 9th and on Sat. he was 11th. Did not see him up front at all as he has been in previous years.

  17. Newman needs that cheater motor they had a few years back,that was a good piece.lol

  18. Looks like Newman isn’t that special at all against the Mod Tour when he runs legal equipment.

  19. bigsmoke says:

    Was it the spec motor that helped the 4 win on Saturday or the illegal carburetor they had??

  20. Just my thoughts… you are correct, there are people that will disagree with saints. Hopefully, those people will see the light. 🙂

    Mr. Garbarino has been correct about the SPEC motor since it was just words off of lips. Now NASCAR has egg on their faces, they are dining on crow.

  21. big smoke… please do tell more about this carburetor.

  22. Just my thoughts... says:

    darealgoodfella, I wrote earlier, lets see what Tuesday brings, I wasn’t going to mention why, but bigsmoke seems to have heard the same thing. I do not know if it is just a rumor or not, guess we will all find out tomorrow.

  23. NASCAR is going to continue to do everything possible to make life more miserable for the 4 car.

  24. Chris D. says:

    Didn’t Szegedy just have a VMRS win taken away for an illegal carb? If the New Hampshire win goes bye bye because of an illegal carb he’s gonna need a therapist.

  25. Just my thoughts... says:

    Is NASCAR really going to “sweep under the rug” the FACT that the carburetor was indeed altered on the 4 car?? Tony Glover as well as others are aware of this, not sure how NASCAR thinks by not addressing it that it will simply go away. We are all aware that Garbarino is considered the “ambassador” of the WMT by some, but did not realize that would give him special treatment. Rules are suppose to be for all teams, so lets hope NASCAR is taking some extra time to decide what to do about it.

  26. Sect.D Row25 says:

    Just my boring thoughts, Didn’t I just address your crying less than a week ago. In another article you start a rumor of Illegal Carb on the 4. Nothing comes of it, ( big freaking surprise ) and now you say it is fact and once again cry favoritism. Cry Wolf much? All your posts are like a Mad Lib. Just change the driver, owner , car number and supposed infraction. Do you expect anyone to believe the claims of a guy that says he never saw a car allowed on track for a shake down with another feature. You think Nascar is taking a little extra time on this one? I have two questions for you. How much for a bag of that stuff you are smoking and can you get me some?

  27. Just my thoughts... says:

    Sect.D Row25, Did you leave your seat to go to the tech area at Loudon after the race on Saturday? I doubt it, but if you do not believe me, possibly, you know someone from one of the other teams that was in tech and they could tell you that YES there was an issue with the carburetor on the 4 car. I am not starting a rumor as you say, I am stating a FACT! You accuse me of hating Preece, now you are probably going to say I hate Szegedy, not true, I believe that the rules should be the same for all drivers and teams. Tony Glover was the one who first noticed it, possibly you could try to give him a call. If you see nothing wrong with NASCAR playing favorites, that is fine, I personally have a problem with it. By the way, if you recall I said Stafford does not usually let drivers go out and shake down cars, if you ask, the answer is no, if you do it without asking you are black flagged and sent to the tower, and that is also FACT, get out of that seat of yours and go to the pits at Stafford and ask some of the teams. I have seen it done at other tracks, just not Stafford. For someone who thinks he knows so much, you appear to know very little. Again, just my thoughts…

  28. Sect.D Row25 says:

    Just my thoughts, ‘Usually’ is not what you said. “Never” is what you said. Everything you post is still there in the archives for all to see. Check for yourself. Now you will see what a “fact’ is. So you have tried to backpedal and lie to save your face but the evidence is forever there to show everyone that you do not even know what you said yourself. Buying a pit pass does not make you any smarter even if you are convinced it does. You should get a seat and get out of the way of the people that belong down there in the pit area. You obviously do not belong down there. Your presence in the pits has proven useless time and time again now. Don’t try to explain racing to me have someone explain it to you. The bottom line now is you just posted a full blown lie which speaks volumes to your character.

  29. Just my thoughts says: “Tony Glover was the one who first noticed it, possibly you could try to give him a call.”

    Hmmm…. Tony Glover first noticed it? Why is Tony Glover doing inspections?

    Doing tech inspections is a few levels below Tony Glover’s pay grade. Why would he be the first to notice something with a carburetor? Something smells really bad here, and it doesn’t look like the carburetor.

    This just gets better and better.

  30. Sect.D Row25 says:

    Last week the 4 LM was tagged on to the back of the limited feature at Stafford for 2 laps, but since you weren’t there to see it I guess it “never’ happened.

  31. Just my thoughts... says:

    If you think that officials from the higher divisions do not go near the WMT tech area, you are mistaken. Who do you think found the problem with Newman’s motor a few years ago? It was officials from a higher division that was at the track, you don’t want to believe me you don’t have to, there are others that know what I am saying is true. Believe what you want, I am certain there will be a few team owners with some questions for Jimmy Wilson.

  32. Race fan says:

    Tony Glover has been at quite a few WMT races this year.

  33. Gerry D says:

    Stafford has allowed several teams to go out and shake down a car, usually during qualifying heats of another division. I’ve seen Preece and TC get courtesy or hardship laps in recent weeks along with Butler.
    According to the ” 2015 Stafford Motor Speedway General Rules”,
    “Courtesy/hardship laps may be granted during the Spring Sizzler and the Fall Final only. Courtesy/hardship laps will not be permitted during Friday night events.”
    Looks like SMS doesn’t always follow their own rule book.

  34. Just my thoughts... says:

    Gerry D , Thank you for the clarification, and no they do not always follow their own rule book, but just ask SectionD Row 25, I don’t know what I am talking about. With the car counts so low I think they have to give this courtesy, something they have NOT done in the past. Race fan, Thank you for your input, darealgoodfella seems to think the WMT is beneath Tony Glover, shows how much he knows! To all the WMT teams, if the 4 team is allowed to have holes in it’s carburetor gasket with no penalty, “boys have at it” I guess you all can, you should be getting the e-mail shortly, must be carburetor tampering is now allowed!

  35. Sect D Row 25 says:

    This is something that has happened forever. It’s stupid to even be talking about it. Forget what any rule says, it has happened forever, not “never” but forever. Gerry D shows up with his act together and presents the actual rule which is nice but somewhere in the rules I bet it says the track can still do whatever they want. Now “J,M,T’s ,in search of any angle he can find to save face, wants to suggest that Gerry’s post somehow vindicates his own original post that Preece was shown favoritism in the Sk 5k because “this” “never” happens. I’m sorry I find it ridiculous. What a non issue to start with and a bunch of wasted time trying to drive it into one guys head.

  36. After seeing how good Eric Beers did in the Boehler car at Seekonk, why isn’t he in that car full time?

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