Story By: KRISTEN LESTOCK / NHMS – LOUDON, NH – After 250 hard fought laps and numerous lead changes, of course the Whelen Modified race came down to the final turn of the final lap to determine a winner in a wild finish to the Musket 250.
When the dust had settled, Chase Dowling sped across the Granite Stripe to win the longest race in series history. The pole sitter Dowling takes home $25,000 plus $100 for every lap he led through the afternoon; quite a haul for the young driver who captured his first ever Modified victory. He nearly took home the checkered flag at NHMS in July, losing the summer race by .014 seconds.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Dowling. “This race is a lot different than earlier in the year. You’re leading one moment and then you pit out and you don’t know where you are when you come out; you just had to be patient.”
Patience was in short supply at the end of the race. With five laps to go, Patrick Emerling gave a huge push to Ryan Preece, launching him back into the lead spot, but that was short lived after Emerling gave another push, this time to Justin Bonsignore, putting Preece in second. In a last lap pass attempt, Preece’s front right tire tangled with Bonsignore’s left rear, causing them to wreck in turns three and four, clearing the path for Dowling to take the checkered flag.
“It’s New Hampshire, just trying to win,” said Preece, who restarted his battered race car and forced it across the finish to ensure a fifth place finish. “Ended up getting the big run, I pulled down, saw grass, checked up, saw a hole and ended up on his left rear nerf bar. I was trying to get off it, but you can’t get off. It’s not the way I wanted to end, and I’m sure it’s not the way he [Dowling] wanted to win, but at the end of the day it is what it is.”
Emerling finished second and avoided the chaos of the last turn. “We didn’t have the best car, but we had an awesome strategy, and it worked in our favor,” said Emerling. “Anything can happen in the last corner.”
The Musket 250 tested drivers to their limits. Never before has a Modified race gone 250 laps, and never before have these drivers been required to make green flag pit stops. Those who were successful clearly enjoyed the challenge.
“I could do this every weekend,” said Burt Myers, third place finisher. “I’ve heard friends tell me Modifieds are the best race of the weekend, and I believe it. It was a blast, but I could do another 250 if you wanted to.”