Dandy for Andy
Szegedy Victorious in Hectic Modified Race
In a thrilling fight to the finish, Todd Szegedy edged Donny Lia at the Granite Stripe to win Saturday's Andy Blacksmith 100 presented by Donate Life New England. The .041 margin of victory was the closest Whelen Modified Tour finish since 2012.
The team celebrated in Sunoco Victory Lane with custom made beanie hats, honoring the late "Greg and Morning Buzz" radio personality the race was named after. Blacksmith passed away three weeks ago awaiting a heart transplant after a five-year long battle.
"There is a fine line at Loudon to win these races and I knew if we could it get it right we could win no matter how strong the other racers were," said Szegedy, now a four-time Magic Mile winner. "It makes it special to win given the circumstances surrounding this one."
"On behalf of our buddy, Andy, and all of us that honor his life, we are so proud to be a part of this here today," said Greg Kretschmar, host of the "Morning Buzz". "What a great day. Congratulations to Todd; I know this would have meant the world to Andy."
Bobby Santos, the race's defending champion, Patrick Emerling and Ron Silk round out the top-five finishers.
The race was halted at the halfway mark for a competition caution. A massive pileup on the ensuing restart collected more than 10 cars on the frontstretch, ending the days of several drivers competing for the win, including Friday's All-Star Shootout winner Woody Pitkat, two-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby and five-time NHMS winner Ted Christopher. The accident was caused when Lia's front bumper clipped race leader Coby, sending him spinning out into traffic.
The race was a battle from there, and after a late caution with eight laps to go, there were a half dozen cars still in contention. The final two turns came down to Lia and Szegedy.
"The restart fell into our hands, sitting in fourth on outside is the place to be," said Lia. "I couldn't put a really good run together in turns one and two on the last lap. It wasn't near a good enough run. All I all a really good day and the run my team needed today a good shot in the arm."
For Santos, the third-place finish was his best finish since the season-opener at Thompson.
"I was happy to fall in line in third and just needed a couple laps to regroup and make a run at those two guys," Santos said. "It took me a while to get back to their bumper, but I came back with a solid third."
It was the 19th career win for Szegedy and his first since winning the 2013 September race. Szegedy ran a part-time schedule in 2014 before signing on with the Mystic Missile Racing team for this season.
"Just when you think times are tough and getting bad, keep pushing forward, said Szegedy, "there is light at the end of the tunnel."