Szegedy Drives to Claremont Win
With Woody Pitkat committed to his regular Stafford Speedway ride, Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, Ct got the call to drive the Dan Stebbins owned Allstates Paving sponsored #52 for the VMRS Claremont 100.
For some reason the Claremont Speedway tends to lead to multiple
caution flags for the Modifieds and Friday 7/8/2016 was no different. With an unprecedented 11 yellows waving, 5 of them coming on lap 62 alone, it was like years ago when Punky Caron and Kirby Monteith were battling for victory.
Polesitter David Schneider of Northport, NY and Todd Patnode of
Richmond,NH brought the field to green with Schneider leading lap one until a spin by Josh King of Vernon,Vt relined the pack for the first of many restarts.
Patnode is starting to gel nicely with his new car and team and he
took command of the race at the drop of green with Todd Szegedy of
Ridgefield,Ct wasting no time charging into second place. The two ran nose to tail as an always hard charging Russ Hersey of Swanzey,NH threaded his way through the pack to take over third place from Schneider on lap 13. Two laps later Szegedy and Hersey worked by race leader Patnode on the inside. Szegedy would lead the remainder of the 100 lap race but would be constanly challenged for the spot.
In victory lane Szegedy said, “Once I was comfortable in the car and felt what the car needed, it was great all day- very well balanced car and a lot of bite in the car, I was amazed,” He added “I was able to
control the race, I felt we started a little to snug in the beginning
and lost a little at the end. My exit was good and if I could protect the bottom I knew it was going to be hard for those guys to
get by me. I knew McKennedy was strong and he did everything he could to get those restarts. He was my toughest competitor tonight, but you know, I’ve loss races like that before so I know what its like, it really sucks”
About the race he said, “I went nice and easy at the beginning and
got away when I needed to, I pushed the envelope when I needed to and I rode when I needed to. That helped me save the car for the end but there were a couple of guys that pressured me. But being the leader is a great position to be in and as long as I didnt make a mistake I felt comfortable we could win this.”
Pole sitter Dave Schneider never ran outside the top 5 all event
long running a conservative pace until with 20 laps to go he raced by
a fading Patnode who lost 3 positions in 2 laps. Schneider now set his sights on Szegedy who had a sizable lead. Schneider’s #19 drove to Szegedy’s back bumper but ran out of laps to over take the leader. His second place finish made the long haul back to Long Island a little easier.
“First I got to thank all my guys, Ray, my dad. Everyone did a
great job, they have done a great job all year. About tonight it was
just hang on and save the tires. My spotter kept telling me save those tires, save those tires, you gotta be there at the end not lap 60. I was trying to be smooth and patient and not over drive the car but I
did the last couple of laps when I got to Todd’s (Szegedy) bumper. I
could get to him real quick but I dont know if I could have gotten
around him, maybe if we had more laps.”
Jon McKennedy has been outstanding all season long and has quickly become a fan favorite where ever he runs and this race was no different. Starting deep in the pack because of his victory last week at the Monadnock Speedway, he methodically worked traffic taking advantage of caution flags in the process. By the halfway mark McKennedy drove to second and looked to be the smoothest car in the field.
Then the complextion of the race changed on lap 62 when Dana Smith of Sunapee, NH did a single car spin off turn 4. The restart now had Szegedy and McKennedy alined wheel to wheel. When the green flew the two ran side by side neither gaining advantage but Scott MacMichael of Newbury,NH and Mike Willis Jr. of Grantham,NH locked bumpers on the back streach to bring out the second yellow of lap 62. A five minute red flag period was needed to clean up the crash site.
Again Szegedy and McKennedy started door to door but as McKennedy put on a serious charge for the lead rookie Dylan Rock of Enfield,NH spun off turn 4 bring out the third caution of lap 62. The fourth and fifth restarts were aborted when McKennedy was charged with jumping the starts and was put to the rear of the field.
According to the race fans in attendance, it wasn’t a popular
decision. Now Patnode lined up beside Szegedy and Szegedy had no
trouble roaring off with the lead while McKennedy was again on a
mission, picking off competitors lap after lap moving into forth place
by lap 75, with still plenty of time, but on lap 78 in an effort to
pass Chris Pasteryak of Jewitt City,Ct the two made contact in turn 2 and Pasteryak spun out of contention. Again McKennedy was deemed too aggressive and put to the rear of the lead cars which lined him up 8th. It only took him 12 laps to come back to third. In the last 10 laps he was only able to gain on Szegedy and Schneider but not able to make a bid to over take the two.
McKennedy was reluctant to interview but did comment, “I had a
really good car, I don’t know, it was kind of a sh*tty call. What are
you going to do with two calls against me.” With the fans cheering he
said, “Yea, I think you guys feel the same way I feel. What are you
going to do? All those restarts were wheel to wheel, within inches.
They say I jumped the start, I don’t know I’d like to see the tapes, as
far as I’m concerned we were the car to beat. I’d like to thank all
the fans for coming out and my crew.”
Todd Patnode ran another impressive race finishing 4th with Mike
Willis Jr.coming back from his lap 62 crash to finish 5th.
Track-Claremont Speedway, Claremont,N.H.-1/3 mile
Race- VMRS Claremont 100
Heat Winners-#19-David Schneider–#24-Todd Patnode
Lap Leaders-lap 1-#19, David Schneider—laps 2-15, #24, Todd
Patnode—laps 16-100, #52, Todd Szegedy
Cautions-11- laps-1, 17×2, 52, 53, 62×5, 78
5-#38-Mike Willis Jr,
9-#50-Carl Medieros Jr.
17-#33-Rob Richardi Jr.
Next Race-Lee USA Speedway, July 22
by Jim Snape
photos by Crystal Snape