LAKEVILLE, Conn. -- It was under a perfect Friday sky that practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Doubleheader at Lime Rock Park took place, the dulcet tones of thundering V8 engines
filling the valley with that unique sound of unrestricted big-block motors. The K&N Pro Series put a very healthy 28 cars on the track, while the “first-timers” – the Whelen Modified drivers – were putting on an equally good show with 24 cars.
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As most folks know, the mods have never run at Lime Rock, but there was also a “first” for the K&N stockers: In the nearly 20 years that NASCAR’s AA-level stock car series has run at Lime Rock – Busch,
Camping World, now K&N – they’ve always raced the classic track configuration. This year, NASCAR mandated K&N use the same layout as the Whelen Modifieds; new Uphill with classic West Bend.
For qualifying, the Mods were first up to bat. The cars went out in groups of five or six, starting with the slowest cars in practice to the quickest. Each driver had 4 minutes to put up his or her best lap on Lime Rock’s 1.5-mile, 7-turn road course.
Not unexpectedly, the eventual polesitter came from the last group out. It was a 4-minute dogfight as three drivers were at some point the quickest, but in the end the fastest lap was put up by a driver with roadracing in his background, albeit 14 years ago: Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, Conn. His :53.099 edged fellow home-stater Ted Christopher’s :53.220 for pole. (Christopher is second in the Whelen Modified Tour points standings comeing into Lime Rock.) Young Erick Rudolph of New York, who had been second-quick in the two practice sessions, wound up third on the grid, alongside Mike Stefanik.
Rowan Pennink, Dale Quarterly, Ryan Preece, Ron Silk, Chuck Hossfield and points leader Bobby Santos III rounded out the top 10.
Then came the K&N Pro Series East army of cars. Same drill as the Mods, but the stock car boys got 6 minutes rather than 4. With the same drill as the Mods – slower cars first, fastest last – five groups hit the track in quick succession. When the final checker flew, the winner of six road course races in NASCAR Touring series action, Andrew Ranger, took the pole for Saturday K&N 100.
Ranger, from Roxton Pond, Quebec, laid down a fast lap of :55.253 seconds driving his Waste Management Recycling Chevy. The pole is Ranger’s first in the K&N Pro Series East – in just his fourth series start – after he earned two championships in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1.
Californian Cole Whitt will start alongside Ranger, thanks to his :55.289 in the Red Bull Toyota. Many time winner Matt Kobyluck and his Mohegan Sun Chevy qualified third, with Sergio Pena and his Revolution Racing Chevy fourth. Rounding out the top 10 are: last year’s race winner Ryan Truex, followed by Brett Moffitt, Kevin Swindell (son of Sammy), Ruben Rovelo, Miguel Paludo and Julian Albarracin.
If you haven’t bought a ticket for Saturday’s races, come on up to Lime Rock tomorrow! There’s even the Salisbury Rotary Fireworks at the track at 9:00 p.m.