(September 11, 2021): John McClelland of Martinsville, NJ has been racing a Modified at New Egypt Speedway for 13 years. He has come close on many occasions, has been a top five point driver several times, but had never visited victory lane in a Modified. That all changed Saturday night on First Responders night as the veteran racer broke thru in a big way, taking the lead on lap 8, then surviving a restart challenge from Mike Butler with 4 laps remaining to record his first Vahlco Wheels Modified triumph.
Mike Gular of Boyertown, PA clinched the track championship in his first full season of racing at the central Jersey track by finishing 4th for the third straight week. Gular only won a single feature this season on April 17th, but that propelled him to finish in the top 3 in eight straight events resulting in the 2021 Modified championship.
Wade Hendrickson grabbed the lead at the start of the 30 lap event trailed by DJ Hunt and David Burns. Hendrickson immediately began to open up a comfortable lead as Dakota Kessler moved into third. McClelland, who started 6th, had entered the top five after the opening lap and immediately used the outside groove to march toward the front. “Johnny Mac” began picking off a position a lap and found himself second by lap 5 and closing quickly on the leader. On lap 8 he caught Hendrickson and after a “slider” in turn 4 he was the leader of lap 8. McClelland was hooked up and just drove away from the competition as Modified rookie DJ Hunt raced in second. Mike Butler took over third at halfway and began pressuring Hunt when the caution came out with 20 laps in the books. McClelland drove away on the restart as Butler charged by Hunt for second, bringing Rick Laubach and Mike Gular with him. Brandon Grosso also used this restart to charge forward and enter the top 5. With just four laps remaining Frank Venezia slowed on the front straightaway with a broken RR suspension, setting up a final challenge for McClelland. When the green waved Mike Butler threw his car under the leader as they raced side by side for a lap. Butler looked to have completed the pass the following lap in turn 1, only to watch “Johnny Mac” drive back around him in turn 2 and drive away to his first ever Modified win. Laubach got by Butler to finish second with Butler settling for third. Mike Gular crossed the line fourth to clinch his first ever championship, and Brandon Grosso rounded out the top 5.