WINCHESTER, N.H. (WWLP) - You can add winner to the list of Ryan Preece's accomplishments on the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The 21 year old from Berlin, Connecticut set a new track record in Saturday afternoon qualifying at the Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire. Preece then backed up his 3rd pole in 3 tour races with his 1st victory of the season, leading all 175 laps with little pressure or challenge from the rest of the 27 car field in the Whitcomb 200. Preece was driving the #16 Flamingo Motorsports Ford driven for a number of seasons on the tour by Wilbraham native Mike Stefanik. Preece not only has Stefanik's former ride but he also has his Monadnock speed record. Preece's 12.315 seconds record in qualifying toppled the existing mark of 12.390 set by Stefanik on May 22nd, 1988. Stefanik did finish 7th driving car #66. Spring Sizzler winner Doug Coby was 2nd, Todd Szegedy 3rd, Justin Bonsignore 4th, and defending tour champ Ron Silk was 5th. Silk emerged from The Dog with a 1 point lead over Coby and just 4 ahead points ahead of Preece. Ryan's performance mirrored Todd Szegedy's 2011 tour victory at Monadnock, where he too started from the pole and led all laps. Saturday's race lasted just over an hour including 10 cautions for 60 laps and 2 red flags. Preece made climbing the fence at the start/finish line part of his post-race celebration, a move perfected by Sprint Cup Champ Tony Stewart several seasons back. Ryan was joined on the fence by Monadnock Sportsmen Modified Driver Joey Kendall.
New England modified star Jerry Marquis from Broad Brook, Connecticut returned to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for his 1st start since the 2007 tour season finale. Marquis won the tour championship in 2000 and has been a past champion at Monadnock as well as the former Riverside Park Speedway. On Saturday Marquis drove Ralph Solhem's #0 Chevrolet, a car memorable to Riverside fans from when Ed Kennedy was behind the wheel on Saturday nights. Jerry time trialed 15th and was credited with a 23rd place finish completing 134 laps. Marquis, who will be 56 this year, said this was a 1 race deal and he "didn't know if he wanted to chase it anymore like I did." Marquis told 22News, "I'm enjoying my home life with my kids. I've got grandchildren now and more on the way. I don't miss it like I thought I would miss it when I first decided to retire." According to Marquis his wife "was devastated" when he decided to call it quits, but as he explained, "I'm here to have some fun." As for that was then this is now, Marquis said he found out in practice that "Monadnock Speedway got a lot rougher since the last time I was here in '94." Marquis also remembered going to race against fields of 50 or 60 cars, where qualifying for the race was an accomplishment in itself.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour raced at Monadnock on the eve of Mother's Day. NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series ran Darlington, South Carolina on Saturday night as well. The mod tour's rain date would normally be the next day, but if the show had rained out at Monadnock it would not have been made up on the special day for moms. Track announcer Dave Sutherland offered his annual reminder to make sure you have something for mom on Sunday, suggesting that one could use going out for a paper on Sunday morning as an appropriate cover story for obtaining a last minute gift. In Monadnock's Victory Lane Sportsmen Modified Winner Brian Chapin of Three Rivers Massachusetts included his wife in the list of sponsors and others receiving special thank you's. Chapin told the crowd while running down his list and with plenty of emotion, "...My wife for giving me money!"