Back In The Hunt: Todd Szegedy Readies For Full-Time Return To Whelen Modified Tour In 2015

Todd Szegedy (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Todd Szegedy (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

It was an oddity of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings during the 2014 season.

For nearly a decade on the Whelen Modified Tour one couldn’t look near the top of the standings without somewhere running into the name Todd Szegedy.

That changed in 2014 when the Ridgefield driver competed only part-time with the series after parting ways with longtime team owner Mike Smeriglio III after the 2013 season.

Now, after running six events in 2014, including five for Rob Fuller Motorsports, Szegedy – the 2003 series champion – is back full-time. And his return comes in an enviable position.

Szegedy’s return to chasing another Whelen Modified Tour title comes behind the wheel of team owner Bob Garbarino’s iconic Mystic Missile No. 4 car.

Szegedy makes his debut with the Mystic Missile team in Sunday’s Whelen Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Szegedy said. “I’m really looking forward to being at the racetrack. There’s no better feeling than walking through the gates at a racetrack. And then knowing that I’m going to be out there racing. I just want to get out there and start racing and start working with the team and get that chemistry going.”

For Szegedy, who wasn’t sure he would even be racing a Modified of any type in 2015 just a couple months ago, it will mean a busy season overall. He will also be competing in numerous Tour Type Modified events away from the Whelen Modified Tour with Lowell, Mass. team owner Kevin Stuart.

“I wasn’t sure how much racing I was going to do, now, between Kevin Stuart and Bob Garbarino, I’m going to be racing almost 30 races,” Szegedy said. “But there’s no stress. I’m happy about both teams. I’m happy with the people that are involved. We’re just going to go out there and have a good time. I just want to enjoy going to the racetrack and having fun. I think if I can keep that level head we’ll have success. I’m very happy that I’m able to do something that not a lot of people are able to do. It’s certainly a blessing. I’m just lucky to have the people that support me and believe me and our behind me.”

From 2006 to 2012 Szegedy finished in the top-five in the series standings each season. He was sixth in the standings in 2013.

In 187 starts dating back to the 2000 season, Szegedy has 18 career Whelen Modifed Tour victories and 76 top-five finishes. His last victory came in September 2013 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“Obviously I want to win another championship,” Szegedy said. “That is the goal. Once you win one and you get that high, just having that high of winning races in general, you never forget that high. And to win a championship, that’s the ultimate high. That’s why we go racing.”

Szegedy’s return to full-time competition also means a reunion of sorts. Don Barker, a major part of Szegedy’s 2003 championship winning team, will serve as the crew chief for the Mystic Missile in 2015.

“I love getting back together with Don,” Szegedy said. “The first few times I talked to [Garbarino], Don wasn’t even mentioned. It wasn’t until, literally, the final week that Bob decided that he wanted me to race that he had called Don Barker at that point and asked him if he was interested in coming to be the crew chief. And Don asked him who was going to be his driver. And Don told him, ‘If Todd is your driver I’m in.’ That’s a really good feeling. Don and I have a very good relationship. He’s like a second father to me. And he’s really a cool guy to listen to on and off the track. He’s got a ton of passion in racing. Once I knew he was involved, I really got excited. Not to say that anybody else couldn’t get the job done, but the history was have is so great helps remove some of the learning curves of being with a new team.”

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