NASCAR notebook: Modified driver Coby says fans were ‘robbed’ of a good race finish

  • Ron Silk celebrates after winning the Whelen Modified Tour Eastern Propane & Oil 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Ron Silk celebrates after winning the Whelen Modified Tour Eastern Propane & Oil 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon on Saturday. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Anthony Nocella (92) and J.B. Fortin (34) crash on Saturday during the Whelen Modified Tour Eastern Propane & Oil 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Rich Miyara / NH Sports Photography

  • Henry Moser (left), 9, and Ryder Rose, 8, of Loudon Elementary School got a behind-the-scenes look at Saturday’s NASCAR action and got to hang out with Boston native and Xfinity racer Kaz Grala. Courtesy

  • Henry Moser (right), 9, and Ryder Rose, 8, of Loudon Elementary School got a behind-the-scenes look at Saturday’s NASCAR action and got to hang out with Boston native and Xfinity racer Kaz Grala. Courtesy

Published: 7/20/2019 9:43:05 PM

Ron Silk captured his second win of the Whelen Modified Tour season, but the race winner described the circumstances that ended the race as “disappointing” for fans.

The 100-lap Eastern Propane & Oil 100 was heading for an overtime restart, but NASCAR decided to wave the checkered flag under caution while damage to the outside wall was being repaired in Turn 1, a far more subdued finish than the conclusion of Friday’s All-Star Shootout.

“Listen, I’m happy with it and I’m glad we won, but I would have liked for everyone to get to see the way it would have played out,” said Silk, a three-time winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and 12-time winner on the Modified Tour. “We raced really hard all race. Doug (Coby) was good, Chase (Dowling) was good, so certainly no guarantee I would have won at the end but we were leading at the right time.

“It’s just bummer circumstances we didn’t get to finish here,” he added.

Every year, the modifieds kick off the Saturday tripleheader at NHMS, followed by the Xfinity and K&N races. These open-wheel cars are totally different from the stock cars seen in the latter two series, as well as the Cup cars, which hit the track Sunday for the Foxwoods Resort & Casino 301 (3 p.m., NBCSN).

The modifieds usually race on half-mile tracks, so coming to the 1-miler in Loudon is like visiting a super speedway. The teams are smaller and on tighter budgets than their counterparts in the upper echelons of the sport.

Coby, who finished second and leads the tour standings, was frank in his comments after the race.

“On a day like today I think the modifieds deserve the respect to finish the race,” he said. “I don’t care how long it would have taken them to fix that wall. The schedule should have been changed. Here and Bristol we’ve always been under a time crunch. I guess put us in a time slot where we have some time to do our thing. Just robbed the fans of a good finish.”

Silk, second in the standings, climbed to the lead from fourth on a restart on lap 85. Coby pulled up behind him in second, passing pole winner Jon McKennedy with four laps to go.

The caution flag flew as Bobby Santos III, who owns three of the last four wins in this race, spun out in Turn 4 with three laps to go.

A two-lap overtime was set to go on lap 102, but the restart was cut short when Tyler Rypkema slammed into the wall in Turn 1. The damage to the wall was enough to bring out the red flag, bringing the cars to a stop.

The checkered flag flew shortly after, and NASCAR issued a statement on the race’s conclusion.

“Due to extensive wall repair required after an incident in Turn 1 during the closing laps, and the requirements associated with preparing the track for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race ended under caution in NASCAR Overtime.”

A new experience

New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s first race under the lights on its new Flat Track surface was a monumental success.

Fans packed into the area behind the North East Motor Sports Museum for the Friday Night Dirt Duels and the drivers put on a show on the quarter-mile short track that featured appearances from NASCAR drivers Bubba Wallace, Ryan Newman, Michael McDowell, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Hemric and Corey Lajoie.

With Blaney serving as the grand marshal for the 35-lap U.S Legends Cars International, Chris Transeau took home the victory, beating out Hemric and Lajoie for the $2,000 prize. Seth Carlson grabbed the win in the debut for the USAC Dirt Midget Association’s 30-lap race.

Wallace played the role of photographer, snapping photos of his fellow Cup drivers from the center of the track.

Construction for the new surface began last fall and American Flat Track motorcycles were the first to grace the venue back on June 15 during Laconia Motorcycle Week.

Third car for Bowman

Alex Bowman won’t miss Loudon when he leaves after Sunday’s race.

The 26-year-old driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy lost his primary car after the driveshaft broke during his qualifying run on Friday, forcing the team to unload their backup car, settle for the last pit stall and start Sunday’s race from the last row.

Things got worse on Saturday as Bowman wrecked the backup car during the final practice session for Cup drivers.

He’ll head for his third car of the weekend on Sunday, strapping into teammate Jimmie Johnson’s backup car.

Bowman is not the only driver to bang up his car during practice. He is one of five drivers who will use their backup cars on Sunday. Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and William Byron wrecked their primary rides during practice Friday, and Kyle Larson wrecked in Turn 1 during Saturday’s morning practice session.

Special guests

Two Loudon Elementary School students got a behind-the-scenes look at Saturday’s NASCAR action and got to hang out with Boston native and Xfinity racer Kaz Grala.

Grala took Henry Moser, 9, and Ryder Rose, 8, on a tour around the garage area and then showed them inside his hauler. Later, the two students interviewed Grala about his racing life.

“I really enjoyed being in Kaz’s hauler and seeing the backup car,” Henry said. “I asked him about how he started as a race car driver.”

Grala, 20, got his start racing go-karts at a young age. He’s now in his second Xfinity season, running a part-time schedule in the No. 21 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing. He finished 14th on Saturday.

“It’s impressive what he’s accomplished at a young age,” Henry’s father, Link, said of Grala. “He’s a good inspiration for a young boy.”

After seeing the hauler and garage, Henry and Ryder got to sit in on the driver meeting before the Xfinity race where they were introduced to the entire field of teams. They finished the day in Victory Lane where Chris Bell celebrated his fifth win of the season.

It’s safe to say NASCAR picked up a couple of new fans this weekend.

Lug nuts

Ryan Blaney spun the fastest lap of Saturday’s final Cup series practice at 133.572 mph. Blaney, the son of former Cup driver Dave Blaney, drives the No. 12 Ford Mustang for Team Penske. Blaney has two top-10 finishes in six races in Loudon. His teammate, Brad Keselowski, won Friday’s pole. ... Chase Cabre won the 70-lap K&N Pro Series East race Saturday night to cap the tripleheader. Sam Mayer, Derek Kraus, Max McLaughlin and Tanner Gray rounded out the top five. NASCAR’s development division features some of the strongest young drivers in the country ... Bruins forward Chris Wagner will drive the pace car and lead the field of Cup drivers to the green flag on Sunday.




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