For the briefest moment, it appeared as if Anthony Nocella might score his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory.
The Woburn, Massachusetts native had maintained a position inside the top-five all night after qualifying third before disaster struck in the form of lapped traffic.
With less than 35 laps to go, leader Justin Bonsignore came up on a slower Wade Cole. At that point, Cole was multiple laps down and appeared to give Bonsignore the outside line heading into Turn 3. When the two reached the corner, however, Cole’s car pushed up the racetrack, leaving the inside open for Matt Hirschman, running second at the time.
Hirschman attempted to dive underneath both drivers. Cole checked up and spun, leaving Nocella with nowhere to go. Within seconds, Nocella’s No. 92 was facing the wrong direction on the racetrack.
He ultimately finished 20th.
“I don’t even know why he [Cole] was on the track,” Nocella told Short Track Scene. “We lapped him two times in five laps. Kinda sucks for us… I got up to third and I was riding there for a while.”
“Sailed it in on the bottom, ran it up into the fourth groove, bounced off Justin, and then hooked a left and came right across me and Matt.”
Bonsignore, the eventual winner, didn’t know what exactly Cole was doing.
“I don’t really know what happened,” Bonsignore said. “We lapped him like three times in a couple laps, and he was in a different spot every time. I was like ‘Okay, he’s gonna hold the bottom,’ and the next thing I know, he just ran me up the track.”
“It sucks for Anthony, because he comes here once in a while, has a great run going, and he gets spun out.”
Hirschman certainly agreed with that sentiment.
“It’s a shame that the 92 got taken out in that,” the third-place finisher said after the race. “Kind of an innocent bystander.”
“If the lapped car stays down, I’ll follow Justin around, but when he went up like that, I had no choice but to try and go on the bottom.”
Visibility, or lack thereof, may have been the reason Cole moved up the racetrack.
“Spraying water all over my windshield,” said Cole of the incident. “I’d been trying [to get to pit road] for about 15 laps. Every time I tried to move up, guys were going way outside of me. Couldn’t get off the track.”
For Nocella, however, that likely provides little consolation.
“I think we had a car good enough to drive by the two of them [Bonsignore and Hirschman]”, he said. “I was taking my time, and that’s when we reeled them back in.”
That first Tour victory will have to wait for Anthony Nocella.