Aug. 29, 2005
By Brian Danko
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
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
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
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."
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.