Tom Herzig's Trackside: NHMS unveils new format for Full Throttle WeekendBy TOM HERZIG
September 19. 2018 8:52PM
On Track This WeekendLegion Speedway: Friday, 7 p.m.
Claremont: Friday, 7 p.m.
NHMS: Saturday, 12:15 p.m.
Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.
Monadnock: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Hudson: Sunday 1 p.m.
THE ERA of a single NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series event per year at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, rather than the accustomed two, takes a new turn Saturday with the three-race format of Full Throttle Weekend.
The centerpiece of the bid to establish a new fall weekend tradition on the Magic Mile is the Whelen Modified Tour Musket 250. The race will be the longest and richest race in asphalt Modified history with $25,000 going to the winner and $25,000 in lap leader money on the line as part of a $181,000 purse.
The first event of the day is a 100-lap event for the Canadian NASCAR Pinty’s Series, followed by the Apple Barrel 125 for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. The Musket 250 is expected to go off at approximately 3:30 p.m.
The Modifieds have delivered time and again at NHMS with non-stop action lap after lap, multiple lead changes and close finishes. How that will be affected by the length of the race this time around remains to be seen.
The Musket 250 will be run in two segments. A break is scheduled at or near the conclusion of lap 100 when teams will be allowed to add fuel and change four tires, though not at the same time. The maximum tire allotment overall is 20 tires.
The favorite to win the inaugural Musket 250 is current Whelen Modified Tour leader Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, N.Y., who has been dominant this season winning eight of 14 races. He has his first ever WMT championship all but locked up.
Among the other likely contenders are Doug Coby, winner of the WMT crown in each of the past four years, Bobby Santos III, the winner of the last three events at NHMS, Chase Dowling, Timmy Solomito, Jon McKennedy, Patrick Emerling, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece.
Preece will make the trip from Richmond Raceway after competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Go Bowling 250 to hop into the Gary Putnam No.77 Modified that Ryan Newman drove at NHMS in July.
The Musket 250 will require live pit stops, perhaps even under green, during which spots can be lost or gained. Pit crew performance will have an impact.
Damian Tinio, of the Tinio Trucking Corp No.44 team that Santos drives for, said that in addition to having a new motor, a new transmission and essentially a “new everything” for the race, the team has a pit crew that has put in a lot of practice.
“We came in 12th and got out sixth in the last race at Loudon,” Tinio said. “We know our fuel mileage and we have confidence in Bobby and our crew chief, Dan Gamache, but we’re unsure, like everybody, how the race will play out.”
“I don’t see the race won by just your engine, but you need to have a new one or a freshened one to be there at the end,” Santos said. “It’s the same ol’ race track, but it is going to be different. Every race is different even when the distance is the same.”
“The pit stops are going to be a big part of it,” Santos predicted. “There’s the possibility of green flag stops. There’s maybe an 80- to 90-lap fuel window. There are going to be parts of the race where there’s no reason to run hard. Only the leader is getting bonus money. We’ve run well at Loudon. In general, it’s a lot of fun. This is a very big race. It would mean a lot to be there at the end.”
It’s Championship Night at Star Speedway. Titles in all divisions will be decided. Dave Helliwell of Salem leads Matt Seavey of Auburn by 25 points in the Autism Awareness 350 Supers. Dan Sweeney of Barrington has a 12-point advantage over Jason Dick of Georgetown, Mass., in the Brickyard Roadrunners title chase.
At Bear Ridge, the Sportsman Modifieds are on for the 100-lap Newport Chevrolet Crate Motor Nationals.
The inaugural $10,000 Sportsman Modified 200 on the dirt at Devil’s Bowl was won by the incomparable Brett Hearn (910 career wins). Hearn, normally a DIRTcar Big-Block Modified competitor, started on the pole, but had to pit and come back through the field from 27th. Adam Pierson, the multi-time Bear Ridge champion, finished second.
Devin O’Connor of Madison, Conn., held up under pressure from Todd Stone to win the Granite State Pro Stock Series John Hoyt Memorial 100 at Monadnock. The final 96 laps stayed green. Mike O’Sullivan finished third. It’s Championship Night at the Winchester oval this Saturday with the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites as added attractions.
Emerson Cayer of Contoocook won the North East Mini Stock Tour 100 at Claremont. Local favorite Kodi Sabins was second. In Super Street action, Ryan Bell of Acworth won for the first time this season.
Eddie MacDonald won the NAPA Auto Parts Blue and Gold 25th Anniversary Celebration 250 at White Mountain Motorsports Park. The biggest race in the track’s history drew a stellar field of Late Models.
MacDonald earned $10,000 by finishing six car-lengths ahead of runner-up Jimmy Hebert at the wheel of the Grimm Construction/ Exit Realty/Hancock Electric No. 17. Scott Payea, Joey Polewarczyk Jr. and Jason Corliss finished third-fourth-fifth.
Quinny Welch of Lancaster, the 2018 White Mountain Champion, placed eighth behind Nick Sweet and Canadian Jonathan Bouvrette.
The previous night, Ben Rowe and Joey Polewarczyk Jr. ran first-second in the Pro All Star Series 150.
Tom Herzig’s column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Union Leader. Email him at email@example.com.