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Brash move pays off for Szegedy

He passes Lia on final lap for Modified win

  • Todd Szegedy celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    Todd Szegedy celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • A member of Kyle Busch's crew works underneath his number 18 Toyota Camry after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    A member of Kyle Busch's crew works underneath his number 18 Toyota Camry after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

    NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

    (WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

  • Todd Szegedy celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • A member of Kyle Busch's crew works underneath his number 18 Toyota Camry after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)
  • NASCAR races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday, September 21, 2013.<br/><br/>(WILL PARSON / Monitor staff)

LOUDON – Todd Szegedy was quick to apologize following his dramatic win in yesterday’s F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Because with 28 races separating him from his last NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory, the 37-year-old admitted he did just about anything and everything he could to end that drought.

Szegedy edged pole-sitter Ryan Newman to the checkered flag after a bold move late on the final lap that sent Donny Lia from first to an eventual third-place finish. Szegedy headed into turn three on Lia’s back bumper, but dove low in a move that pushed his friend up the racetrack.

Both Szegedy and Newman slid past Lia as he recovered, setting up a two-car drag race to the finish that ended in a narrow win for the No. 2 UNOH/Dunleavy Truck & Trailer Repair Chevrolet. Szegedy, who began the day in 10th place in the series standings, improved to sixth with his second top-two finish of the season.

“I don’t like winning races like that, but I had to win this,” said Szegedy, who last won in 2011 at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park. “I really needed this win. Everyone knows I don’t drive like that. I don’t push guys out of the way to get the victory, but today I needed that victory.”

Szegedy took the lead shortly after the competition caution halfway through the race, but gave way to Lia with less than 20 laps to go. The duo did their best to distance themselves from the field as the laps wound down, but Newman pulled to within two car lengths come the start of the final circuit, putting pressure on Szegedy to make his move before it was too late.

Lia admitted he expected Szegedy would try for the pass at some point during the final lap – knowing full well Newman was closing in from third – but didn’t think his friend would resort to moving him out of the way.

“I stayed in front pretty much knowing that would be the deal on the last lap,” said Lia, who is currently fifth in the series standings. “I thought we’d race that last corner out rather than what he did. I just gave him the benefit of the doubt.”

Unfortunately for Lia, however, Szegedy was determined to get by.

“He just kind of drove up there and knocked us into the marbles,” an obviously frustrated Lia said. “That was it. We were kind of a sitting duck at that point. I led a bunch of laps, thought it was going to be a good finish, and just got used up. You make your bed and then you have to (lie) in it.”

Newman, who competes full time in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and is one of 13 drivers competing in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, said he was satisfied with his weekend in the No. 7 Menards/Wix Filters Chevrolet after qualifying first and finishing second.

Still, the 36-year-old joked his modified experience could have ended a bit better.

“I just wish (Szegedy) would have made his move earlier,” said Newman, who has two Whelen Modified Tour wins at NHMS. “In the end, Todd kind of used up Donny and pushed him up into the fuzz. I had a bird’s-eye view of the whole deal.”

The race featured three yellow flags that lasted 11 laps – including the competition caution at lap 50 – and 23 lead changes among five drivers. Newman led the most laps at 49, followed by Lia (22), Szegedy (21), Santos (six) and Ryan Preece (four).

Preece remains in first place in the series standings with 480 points, followed by Doug Coby – who won the July race at NHMS and finished 13th yesterday – Mike Stefanik, Woody Pitkat and Lia. The series will head back into action Sept. 29 for the CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut.

Szegedy said he won’t waste too much time celebrating his first win in more than two years, but added he certainly won’t forget yesterday’s victory any time soon.

“I know it’s only modified racing, but we put our hearts in it just like the big guys do,” he said. “It’s nice to win. This is why we do it. We don’t come here to finish second or third, we come here to win and it’s nice to win on this type of stage.”

Custer wins 2nd race of rookie season

Professional race-car driving hasn’t been too hard on Cole Custer so far in his rookie season.

The 15-year-old needed just nine races to clinch his first win as a K&N Pro Series East driver early last month, and only three more to follow it up with a second.

The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet survived a hectic race in yesterday’s North American Power 100 at NHMS, earning a gritty win that catapulted him to 10th place in the series standings with two races remaining. He also became the youngest driver to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race in Loudon.

Custer held off runner-up finisher Daniel Suarez after a green-white checkered finish in a race that featured eight cautions for 33 laps. Cale Conley finished third, while Ben Rhodes and Dylan Presnell rounded out the top five.

“The guys brought a great car to the track,” said Custer, a high schooler from Ladera Ranch, Calif., who began the day 12th in the standings. “All the guys did an awesome job because the car was perfect. A lot of our guys are from up here, so it’s really exciting. It’s awesome to win in New Hampshire.”

Like his first win Aug. 2 at Iowa Speedway, Custer began from the pole after an impressive qualifying effort. But unlike that first win, the youngster had to put up with a series of restarts late in the race. Custer wasn’t flustered, however, after a crash on the front stretch on lap 98 forced a green-white checkered finish, pulling away for a convincing victory after nudging aside Suarez heading into turn one.

“I just tried to stay calm the whole time,” said Custer, who became the youngest driver to win at the Magic Mile. “I had to shove him up a little bit and was able to get a run off the corner. We raced pretty clean all day and had a lot of fun out there. This one was a lot more hectic so it feels a lot better. We had to work hard for this, so it feels really good.”

Custer was one of just four drivers to taste the lead in the 100-lap feature, as Suarez (39 laps), Eddie MacDonald (four laps) and Conley (two laps) also led at least one circuit. The K&N Pro Series East will head back to the track Sept. 27 for the Drive Sober 150 at Dover International Speedway, before rounding out the season Oct. 18 at Road Atlanta.

MacDonald bounces back
with ACT victory

Eddie MacDonald didn’t have the best luck during yesterday’s K&N Pro Series East feature.

The 5th annual Bond American/Canadian Tour Invitational some two hours later, however, was a completely different story.

After a hard hit put an abrupt end to the driver’s first race of the day, MacDonald rebounded with a dominant performance in the day’s final event at NHMS by racing from a 13th-row starting spot to his second win of the season.

MacDonald took over the lead with 25 laps remaining, and held on for a comfortable victory over runner-up Wayne Helliwell Jr., and third-place finisher Brian Hoar.

“Earlier was a huge disappointment because we were going for points in the K&N series,” said MacDonald, who was credited with a 23rd-place finish in the event. “That car was really quick, and unfortunately we cut a tire down and lost it. It’s been the highest of highs and lowest of lows today.”

The ACT feature included three cautions – laps are only counted under green – and eight lead changes among five drivers. Travis Sterns, Quinten Welch, Hoar and Helliwell Jr. each led at least one of the race’s 50 laps.

“I love driving at NHMS,” said MacDonald, who has three career wins on the ACT Tour. “These guys are the best in this tour and it’s tough to get by them. We were all pretty equal, so it was tough to figure out a way to get by them. It was a great race for everyone.”

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