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LOUDON, N.H. -- Todd Szegedy didn't want to wait any longer.
The Ridgefield, Conn., driver dove underneath Donny Lia for the lead heading into Turn 3 of the white-flag lap and emerged with the victory Saturday afternoon in the F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In the process, he ended a career-long 28-race winless streak on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman made a late bid for the lead coming out of Turn 4 on the final lap but settled for second. Lia, Bobby Santos and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five.
Mike Stefanik finished sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Ron Silk, Woody Pitkat and Ed Flemke Jr.
Ryan Preece finished 12th but was able to extend his points lead over Doug Coby to 41 (480-439) with two races remaining. Coby, the defending tour champion, finished 13th.
It was a frantic pace at the front in the first half of the race as the lead changed hands 15 times in the first 48 laps between the polesitter Newman, Preece and Santos. After the midway break Szegedy and Lia emerged as the frontrunners. The duo swapped the lead six times down the stretch, including Szegedy’s decisive pass between Turns 3 & 4 coming to the checkers.
The F.W. Webb 100 triumph was the 18th of Szegedy’s career and his third at the “Magic Mile.”
“It’s been tough. It’s been a struggle with racing on and off the track for me, so there’s a lot of emotion,” Szegedy said of ending the drought. “When you have a couple bad years it wears on you.
“It’s just nice to win. It’s why we do it. I don’t come here to run second or third, I come here to win, and when you don’t win it puts a lot of wear on you.”
Following the race Szegedy acknowledged the contact he made with Lia to make the last-lap pass, but the desire to end that winless drought provided the motivation to do whatever it took.
“I sent it in and drove it in as hard as I could,” Szegedy said. “I tried not to hit him, but I knew that we were going to hit.
“I don’t knock guys out of the way to get victories, but I needed this one really bad.”
Often the leader on the white flag lap at New Hampshire is in a precarious position. Lia found himself there on Saturday, knowing that he’d have to endure a hard charge from Szegedy on Lap 100.
“I stayed out front knowing that if I stayed out front, that was pretty much going to be the deal on the last lap,” Lia said. “I thought we’d just race that last corner out rather than doing what he [Szegedy] did, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.
“You live and learn. I just won’t give that benefit of the doubt again, no matter who it is.”
The race, which aired live on Fox Sports 2, featured 23 lead changes among five drivers and was slowed by just three cautions.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track Sunday, Sept. 29 for the CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
RESULTS | RACE CENTRAL LIVE RECAP | AUDIO: POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH RACE WINNER TODD SZEGEDY | AUDIO: POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH SECOND-PLACE RYAN NEWMAN | AUDIO: POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH THIRD-PLACE DONNY LIA
Todd Szegedy takes the checkered flag in front of Ryan Newman to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Saturday. Getty Images for NASCAR