LOUDON, N.H. — One final corner and $25,000 on the line.
While Justin Bonsignore and Ryan Preece made contact and crashed racing for the lead in turn three on the final lap of the inaugural Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Chase Dowling slid by both of them to score his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win.
In July, it was Dowling came off turn four in position to win at the ‘Magic Mile,’ but lost the dash to the checkered by just .014 seconds to Bobby Santos III. This time, Dowling edged Patrick Emerling by 0.056 seconds, moments before the yellow flew for the rest of the field.
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“It’s in me, it just doesn’t really sink in yet,” Dowling said of his emotions after winning. “I’m through the roof. It was a pretty crazy race overall. I think it was just one of those things where I was waiting for it to happen. It finally happened.”
RACING-REFERENCE: Musket 250 Race Results
Dowling’s road to the victory was definitely not an easy one. He started from the pole and led 54 laps, but over the course of the 250-lap distance, Dowling was shuffled in and out of the top five.
Teams pitted more than once under the green flag, something that Dowling had never dealt with in his career. He pitted for the final time on lap 220, and came out in fifth for the restart.
After a caution with 14 laps to go bunched the field up, Dowling found himself fourth heading down the backstretch on the final lap. When Bonsignore and Preece made contact, Dowling cut to the bottom, slid past Emerling and beat him back to the finish line.
RACING-REFERENCE: Chase Dowling’s Career Stats
“There were a lot of up and down moments,” Dowling said. “You were leading one moment, then pitting and not knowing where you are out there. We just had to put ourself in position to win.”
Emerling also slid by without damage, too.
In his first trip north to New Hampshire, nine-time Bowman Gray Stadium modified division champion Burt Myers escaped the final corner and finished third. Andy Seuss finished fourth, while Preece limped across the line following the crash to finish in fifth driving for Gary Putnam.
Bonsignore was sixth, followed by Doug Coby, Jon McKennedy, Eric Goodale and Ron Silk.
The lead changed 30 times among five different drivers including three times in the final five laps. Bonsignore’s Whelen Modified Tour championship lead was cut to 74 points over Dowling with two races remaining on the championship points schedule.
The Musket 250 aired live via a stream on FansChoice.TV, and will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 27 at 7 p.m.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Stafford Motor Speedway for the NAPA Fall Final 150 on Sunday, September 30.