Tight racing is nothing new when it comes to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And Saturday's F.W. Webb 100 certainly fit the bill, as Todd Szegedy used a pass in Turn 3 on the final lap to steal the win from Donny Lia and take the checkered flag for his first win of the season.
Szegedy used an aggressive dive to the inside to move past Lia, a two-time NHMS winner, who had led the race over the final eight laps before Szegedy's gamble.
"That last lap, Donnie threw a pretty good block on me. I sent it in and drove it as hard as I could. I tried not to hit him, but I knew we were gonna hit," said Szegedy. "People know that isn't the way I race, but I really wanted the win. I don't like knocking guys out of the way to get the win; I have had at happen to me, but this is modified racing and that is what you gotta do."
The victory was the third of his career at the Magic Mile for the native of Ridgefield, Conn. Szegedy started the race in fourth, behind pole-sitter Ryan Newman and Lia, who fell to third. Bobby Santos and Patrick Emerling round out the top-five.
The win ended a 28-race winless drought for Szegedy, whose last win came on Sept. 17, 2011 at Lime Rock Park.
"It's been a long time, so this feels good," said Szegedy.
Newman, who is on the pole for Sunday's SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, stayed up front all afternoon, through the 50-lap mandatory break and right up until the final lap, but couldn't find a way to stick his nose into the fight.
"I had a bird's eye view of Todd and Donny going for it in Turn 3," said Newman, a four-time mod winner at the Magic Mile. "I wish they had done that in Turn 1, that would have given me a better chance."
Lia was less than pleased with Szegedy's aggressive approach, but was able to take solace in his sixth-career podium finish at NHMS.
"Thought we would drag race to the finish, but he drove up there and he knocked me into the marbles and I was a sitting duck," said Lia. "It was still a good day, I'm proud of that."
Points leader Ryan Preece finished 12th, only the third time all season he placed outside the top 10.
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