Column By: STEPHEN DURHAM / RPW – LOUDON, NH – The inaugural Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will be a race many drivers will remember whether it was because of the bad or the good. For Chase Dowling, it will be a special one being it was his first Whelen Modified tour race win in his very young career.
Dowling would set fast time for qualifying on Friday with tour points leader Justin Bonsignore to his outside to bring the field to green. It took only several laps for a wreck to happen as it happened on lap 8 which collected Jeff Rocco, Matt Swanson, and Calvin Carroll end their day very early.
Once the green was back out, it was Bonsignore, Dowling, and Ron Silk with a three car break away from the field and would swap positions throughout the race to get fresh air when out front. A caution would come out on lap 97 and would be the lap 100 break for the field to come down and add fuel and any adjustments needed.
When the ground pounders went back to green flag racing, it found some new faces up front, Bobby Santo III and Ryan Preece duking it out for the lead with Ron Silk also trying to get the advantage. A caution would come out on lap 117 because of fluid on the track. This would set up for a long green flag run till lap 218 for rear end fluid on the track from Santos, ending his day just short.
During that long green flag run, drivers had to encounter something they rarely had to do and that was green flag pit stops. Some drivers dealt with issues such as speeding. One driver in particular to have gotten caught speeding were Doug Coby of the 2 Mayhew machine. He would fall behind by 1 lap but get the wave around eventually with the late caution putting him back into contention.
Bonsignore would bring the field back to green and Ryan Preece would eventually take the lead back on lap 232 when another caution would come out from a hard wreck up in turn 1 with 14 of Blake Barney and the 75 of Chris Pasteryak, but drivers were okay.
The final 10 laps of the Musket 250 were setting up to be one to be remembered. Bonsignore would continue to lead before Preece would jump to the inside and take the lead back with 5 laps to go but not for long. With 2 to go, Bonsignore would come back and lead at the white flag. Down the backstretch Preece would begin to look inside and Justin Bonsignore would block all the way down to the apron before Preece would make contact and go through the grass and bring himself and Bonsignore into the turn 3 and 4 wall.
On the inside to sneak by without making contact was Patrick Emerling in the 07 and even further inside on the apron was Chase Dowling in the 15. Dowling would grab the lead after the mayhem in 3 and 4 and drag race Emerling to the finish line to pick up his first career Whelen Modified tour win!
Afterwards, Dowling said afterwards “It really has sunk in yet, I think we were on a completely different strategy than everybody else.” Dowling was surprised when his spotter came over the radio to tell him only 7 cars were on the lead lap after the long green flag run.
“We were going down the backstretch and had Patrick in front of me, saw Ryan go down to the apron and make wheel contact, knew they’d go up from here and stayed on the bottom of Patrick and held him off on the straightaway,” was Dowling’s thoughts on the last lap.
Back in July this year, Dowling was just edged out by Santos, but this win feels quite special to the Roxbury, Connecticut driver.
Finishing in second, just shy of the win was Patrick Emerling. Emerling was happy with the car and thought he had the winning strategy. On the last lap he went to stay high in 3 and 4 and saw the leaders begin to wreck and didn’t know what would happen and then Dowling snuck in underneath him to grab the lead.
Bringing it home third was the first timer there at the Magic Mile of Burt Myers in the 11 Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer modified. Myers loved coming to the speedway even though it has taken so long for him to get up this way as he races weekly at the famed Bowman Gray Stadium and won the 2018 modified championship there as well.
Myers has said he would love to race there at New Hampshire Motor Speedway weekly, “for a forty-two year old to come to here and I don’t mean to sound like kid on Christmas, butthe first time makes me feel almost giddy.” Myers even said he’d go out and do another 250 laps, but Chase Dowling was happy already with the first 250 and come home as the inaugural Musket 250 winner.
Ryan Preece who was hoping to bring home the beautiful Musket trophy came home in fifth. Preece felt confident he had the race in his hands based on the strategy the team played. Preece’s thoughts on the last lap wreck were “its New Hampshire.”