Aug. 29, 2005

By Brian Danko


WATERFORD, CT---------Jerry Marquis of Broadbrook, CT struggled so much early in the season, many wondered if he and new car owner, Bob Garbarino would gel before it was too late.
 

Those questions have been answered as Marquis won his second race of the year and the 18th of his career when he held off Doug Coby to win the Big Y Supermarkets 150 at the Waterford Speedway in Connecticut.
 

Suddenly, Marquis who was in the mid 20's in points after the first couple events is now fourth in points, just 86 behind Tony Hirschman, who was involved in a multi car accident just before the mid way through the race.

"We're looking at the points, we capitalized tonight but we need to win a few more races. Were thankful for what we got tonight." An elated Marquis stated.
 

Marquis, who has raced for more than 32 years finally got a victory at the Waterford Speedbowl, earning at win at every track in his home state that the modified tour competes on. The only track he hasn’t won on is Lime Rock, a twisting road course in the northwest corner of the state where he has run several Busch North events.
 

Marquis was awarded a tour win here at Waterford back several years ago when Mike Christopher was disqualified following a post race inspection.

The win was also extra special for car owner, Bob Garbarino, who lives just down the road a bit in Mystic, CT as he could post a win at his 'hometrack'.
 

"We stepped it up tonight.” Jerry said, “Bob lives just down the street. I have driven pro stocks here before but had never won so this is special for all of us with the Mystic Missile."
 

The win didn't come easy. Marquis took over the lead from John Blewett, III, when he was black flagged by NASCAR for leaking fluid. He then lost the lead to Doug Coby on lap 67 but then secured it back for good on lap 84 before holding off Coby over the final 12 laps following a caution.
 

"The car was awesome all night. It took a while for the tires to come back." Marquis said following a red flag accident on lap 61.
 

"The tires picked up a lot of sand and it took a while for them."
 

Marquis, after losing the lead to Coby, then hunted him down and set him up for the pass for the lead.
 

"I tried over and over to set him up. I then did an over and under move. There was some bumping and banging but that is what short track racing is all about."
 

Last week at the Thompson International Speedway, Coby was set to pick up his first career win but he and Marquis got together but Coby said tonight's 'rubbing' was just racing.
 

Coby, whose team picked up sponsorship from Mansfield Paper for the Waterford event, was thrilled with the second place finish.
 

"I am excited to have finished second. We had a lot of people from Mansfield Paper here tonight, so it's good to get a good finish for them."
 

Coby, who has slipped a bit in the points the past couple weeks has been in contention for several wins and he knows that soon, those doors will open for him.
 

"I just need to be around and things will happen. Part of the reason for some poor qualifying starting spots have been because of me and not time trialing well. We had a good effort tonight (10th.) All I know is that the closer you get, the hungrier you get and you want to kick that door down."

The Big Y Supermarkets got off to an auspicious start when the caution flew on the first lap when Waterford regular, Dennis Gada, couldn’t get going on the start and stopped on the track.
 

On lap 11, John Blewett passed Matt Hirschman for the lead but on lap 20, NASCAR officials black flagged him for leaking fluid and that handed the lead over to former modified champion, Jerry Marquis.
 

On the 28th circuit, Ted Christopher went around off turn four and continued with Marquis leading Hirschman.

Several cars spun on lap 39 and that slowed the field and sent Christopher and others to the pit area.
 

Donnie Lia and Eric Beers got into it on lap 46 as Lia hit Beers and sent the Northampton, PA headed for the turn two wall but he stopped just before making contact with the barriers.
 

On lap 48, Chuck Hossfeld was helped into spinning out, bringing out yet another caution as Tony Hirschman moved into the fourth spot.
 

As the field went back to green, a multi car wreck occurred on lap 55 on the backstretch and that led to a red flag situation.
 

It sent point’s leader, Tony Hirschman to the pits with suspension problems and that allowed Christopher to close ground in the chase for the championship.
 

On lap 61, several more cars tangled for yet another caution.

On lap 67, Doug Coby ducked under Marquis for the lead with Donnie Lia in third and Eddie Flemke, Jr. running fourth.
 

On the 84th circuit, after several looks under Coby, Marquis was able to sneak under him off turn four and grab the lead in turn one.
 

By the 93rd circuit, the top three of Marquis, Coby and Lia had a quarter lap lead over the fourth place machine of Flemke.
 

Ted Christopher recovered from his spin early in the event and got by Eric Beers for the sixth spot on lap 100.
 

After a caution on lap 106 closed the field, Marquis slowly extended his lead over Coby and had a six car length lead on lap 130 but a flat tire on lap 138 on Mike Christopher’s car brought out the final caution and closed the field for one final time.
 

Tony Hirschman returned to the track on lap 140 with the hopes of gaining a couple of positions.
 

Doug Coby tried to get a couple of runs of Marquis and was glued to the rear bumper of his machine but couldn’t muster the speed to grab the lead and the win and settled for second with Lia third and Flemke fourth.

“It was a while for the tires to come in but the car was great all night.” Marquis said talking with the many media members covering the 13th modified tour event of the year. The win for Marquis earned the Garbarino team $7,250.
 

For Coby it was another lesson in the learning curve on the modified tour. Coby knew he was better on the restarts than Marquis but leading is the place to be, especially at a tight track like Waterford.

“He (Marquis) was better as the laps went by. I wish the race ended under a green/white/checkered finish. Jerry wasn’t so good on the restarts and I figured that might have been my best shot. I thought about the outside but then figured I might lose second to Donnie Lia.”
 

So as the modifieds head south this weekend to the Martinsville Speedway, all of a sudden, a points battle is brewing with Hirschman holding a slim 13 point margin over T.C. with Chuck Hossfeld third, 81 points back and Jerry Marquis fourth just 86 markers off the pace.
 

MOD TOUR NOTES

Donnie Lia was third in the Huntington Honda Chevrolet was happy with the third but it was a far cry from his dominating performance here in May when he won the event.
 

"We needed this finish,” said the Long Island driver, "We got to the front quickly but the top three of us were pretty even the whole night."

Lia, who has two tour wins in 2005 with the other one at his home track of Riverhead Raceway.
 

"I want to congratulate Jerry and his whole crew on this win. They did a great job."
 

When Lia was asked about the many cautions, Lia replied; "I am not surprised by it. We have been tearing up a lot of equipment lately and with a tight track Waterford, it's expected."


Eddie Flemke, Jr. rebounded with another strong top five finish as he came home in the fourth spot while Rookie of the Year contender and ROY points leaders, Tyler Haydt was fifth, his first top five but third top ten finish of the season.
 

The modified competitors as a whole, should be ashamed and embarrassed at their performance at the Waterford Speedbowl with the many needless cautions and accidents caused by over aggressive restarts and plain unprofessional moves, especially some, so early in the race.
 

Tony Hirschman continued his top Bud Pole qualifying effort, as the four-time series champion recorded his sixth pole of year. With six races left, Tony is odds on favorite to win the overall Bud Pole award. Eric Beers and Donnie Lia are tied for second with two poles apiece.

 

Matt Hirschman had another strong top five qualifying and for the first time in his career led a modified tour race. He led a total of 10 laps in the race.

 

Only 30 cars showed up for the final short track race of the year. The rest are on half-mile tracks of larger.

 

The crowd for Waterford was considerable considering that the Bristol night race was in action against the tour.

 

The Big Y supermarkets 150 was the second of two modified tour events at the one-third mile Waterford Speedbowl.

 

The Speedbowl was a charter member of the NASCAR Whelen modified tour in 1985 with Rick Donnelly winning the first event and Ray Miller capturing the second event in 1985.

 

The posted purse for the Big Y 150 was $75,135.

 

The next event on the NASCAR modified tour is the most talked about race of the year, the Made in America 300 at the Martinsville Speedway on Saturday night, September 3rd.

 

It was also revealed that the modified race would be taped for television. Now, it would be nice if television was available for the New Hampshire race, when the cameras and the personnel are already at the track.

BRIAN DANKO'S COLUMN CAN BE FOUND EACH WEEK IN AREA AUTO RACING NEWS.  FOR THE MOST IN AUTO RACING NEWS SUBSCRIBE BY CLICKING ON THE LINK BELOW.