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Steve Park returns to Victory Lane in the Whelen Modified Battle at the Beach

Wednesday February 20, 2013


Steve Park scores the victory in the Whelen Modified Battle at the Beach.
Photo by Yvonne Leonard

Steve Park is one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR racing and it largely stems from his success in the Modifieds. Tuesday night that popularity was once again evident when, similar to Kyle Larson on Monday night, Park spun the leader of the race on the last lap to take home the win in the second feature race of the UNOH Battle at the Beach. Park started the race in the 30th position and only led the lap that counts to take home his first Modified Tour victory since 1996 when he won the season finale at Thompson International Speedway. Chasing Park to the line was Eric Goodale. Lifelong Modified standout Ted Christopher came home in third ahead of 2012 season champ Doug Coby. Patrick Emerling rounded out the top five.

The Modifieds get ready to rumble. Eventual winner Steve Park can be seen in turn three as the front row enters turn one.
Photo by Yvonne Leonard

The race was a caution laden affair with 17 yellow flags that slowed the action for 89 of the 150 lap distance. The longest green flag run was nine laps which happened twice between laps 79 and 99. Todd Szegedy was the dominant car of the race by far but, on a lap 123 restart he had a right front suspension failure. The caution flag came out during that restart and under that caution period Szegedy realized he had a problem and headed to the pits, retiring from the event. When the No. 2 of Szegedy headed to the pits, winningest active Modified driver Mike Stefanik grabbed the lead and held onto it until the final circuit. The last restart of the race took place on lap 149. Park had battled his way through the carnage all night long to restart on the outside of Stefanik. The leader pulled away and Park battled with Goodale for most of the lap before slotting in second. Coming through turn one and two Goodale was right on Park’s rear bumper as Park drove close to Stefanik. Video evidence appeared to show Goodale pushing Park into Stefanik who then spun at the exit of turn two, allowing Park to go high and emerge ahead of Goodale who had to slow and go to the low side to get around the former leader. Park was clear of Goodale by enough that he was not pressured through three and four and came back to score the win.

Steve Park in the No. 20 slicing his way through the field.
Photo by Yvonne Leonard

The event’s scariest moment was on lap 117 when Danny Bohn and Ryan Preece got together coming to the flag stand the lap after a restart. The two drivers touched rear wheels which caused both of them to veer toward the outside wall. When Bohn’s car contacted the wall his right front climbed the fence and put his car up on its side. Preece’s car powered into the side/roof of Bohn’s ride which resulted in the car cart wheeling up onto its nose before landing on its lid and sliding across the start/finish line before catching on fire. The Daytona International Speedway safety crew got to Bohn in a matter of seconds that seemed like an eternity and extinguished the flames quickly as they extracted Bohn from the wreckage. Bohn was able to walk to the ambulance and was treated and released with no major injuries. The unfortunate thing for Bohn is he is a very small budget team and that was his only car. He very well may not be able to race this coming season thanks to the mishap.

Brandon Ward brings out one of the 17 cautions that flew during the race.
Photo by Yvonne Leonard

In another incident earlier in the event, Matt Hirschman’s night came to an end during a caution inducing incident that took place on lap 108. Hirschman’s car was part of a group of cars that became entangled in turns one and two. The rest of the cars pulled away while Hirschman’s remained in the middle of the turns. After the accident, Hirschman was taken to the care center where it was discovered he had a broken left wrist. His was the only reported injury among the drivers of the cars that were involved in the myriad of caution inducing mishaps during the race.

Steve Park cools down after taking the checkered flag in the Whelen Modified Battle at the Beach.
Photo by Yvonne Leonard

In his post race interview, Park was visibly excited and truly appreciative of the fact that, after competing at the Daytona International Speedway in several different vehicles, he was finally able to take home a trophy from the famous racing venue. Park maintained that he did not intentionally run into Stefanik and that he was pushed by Goodale. When Goodale was queried about making contact with Park, he maintained that Park was already turning Stefanik and he got into him attempting to drive through him and pass both of them for the win. Stefanik was interviewed by Ray Dunlap from SPEED after the event and was none too pleased with the way things transpired. Stefanik is a lifelong Modified driver who felt that the way Park gained the lead was B#@%&*t. The television shot of him stewing on the tailgate of his truck before Dunlap asked him about the incident spoke more volumes than any words he could have spoken.

The victory is Park’s 17th career Whelen Modified win. He led one lap. Szegedy led 126 laps while Stefanik was on point for 24. The race took one hour, 35 minutes and 28 seconds to complete. The average speed was 38.610 mph and the margin of victory was .281 seconds.

Daytona International Speedway

Whelen Modifieds – Battle at the Beach

Race Results – 2/19/2013

1) Steve Park
2) Erick Goodale
3) Ted Christopher
4) Doug Coby
5) Patrick Emmerling
6) Justin Bonsignore
7) Brian Loftin
8) Cole Powell
9) Ken Heagy
10) Dalton Baldwin
11) Ron Silk
12) Woody Pitkat
13) Mike Stefanik
14) JR Bertuccio
15) Burt Myers
16) Kyle Larson
17) Gary Fountain Sr.
18) Bryan Dauzat
19) Luke Fleming
20) Jason Myers
21) Todd Szegedy
22) Jeremy Gerstner
23) Donny Lia
24) Bobby Santos
25) Danny Bohn
26) Ryan Preece
27) John Smith
28) Matt Hirschman
29) Jamie Tomaino
30) Brandon Ward
31) Andy Seuss
32) Dave Brigati
33) Jimmy Zacharias

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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.


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