NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Schedule Blends Tradition With Innovation In 2007
* New Tracks: Twin State, Wall Township and Mansfield Speedways Added to 2007 Slate
* New Format: Qualifying Races Scheduled at Wall Township, Twin State and Riverhead
* Saturdays at NHIS: Open Wheel Excitement on Two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Weekends
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Dec. 14, 2006) -- Long-time racing traditions share space on the calendar with new events, as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is set for a strong 2007 season.
The schedule begins with Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway's annual "Icebreaker" event on Sun., April 15. The Icebreaker is the first of 16 championship points races planned in 2007. Another New England racing custom, the "Spring Sizzler" at Stafford Motor Speedway, in Stafford Springs, Conn., is set for Sun., April 29.
Following the Spring Sizzler at Stafford, three of the next six events will feature a new three-part "Flash" format. Those events include a trip to Wall Township (N.J.) Speedway on Sun., May 6, for what is being touted as "Thunder at the Shore," and a mid-summer Sunday afternoon event at Twin State Speedway, in Claremont, N.H., on July 8. With this event, Twin State returns to the schedule for the first time since 1985. The third of these three special events will be held at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, on Sat., Aug. 4.
The "Flash" events will include twin qualifying races -- one for the even-numbered drivers in the point standings and one for odd-numbered drivers in the standings -- in place of traditional time trials. The top finishers from each qualifying race will transfer into a feature event, in which the main prize money and championship points will be awarded. Starting positions for the feature events will be based on finishing positions of the qualifying races, with the drivers from the faster of the two races lined up on the inside row.
The qualifying races and feature events at Wall and Twin State will be 50 laps each, while the "Flash" event at Riverhead is scheduled to include twin 60-lap qualifying races and a 70-lap feature event.
"The 2007 Whelen Modified Tour schedule will bring new excitement and generate new interest in what is already one of NASCAR's most popular and historic touring series," said George Silbermann, NASCAR's managing director of racing operations. "The teams and drivers on the Whelen Modified Tour produce some of the best racing in our entire sport and this schedule is designed to showcase what NASCAR Modified racing is all about -- incredible racing with incredible machines.
"Long-time fans and new fans alike will find plenty of opportunities to see the Whelen Modified Tour at its very best."
A top executive from Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering, title sponsor of the Tour since 2005, echoed Silbermann's sentiments.
"I can't tell you how pleased we are to be part of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour during this exciting time," said Phil Kurze, vice president of motorsports for Whelen Engineering. "The 2007 schedule presents the Whelen Modified Tour to fans in new and exciting ways, while also respecting and continuing many of the longstanding traditions that make Modified racing unique."
Other 2007 schedule highlights include:
* In between these innovative "Flash" events, the Whelen Modified Tour makes return visits to Stafford on Fri., May 25, and Thompson on Thurs., June 21, along with the first of two stops at the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS), in Loudon, N.H., on Sat., June 30.
* Both events at NHIS will be held in conjunction with the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, offering up-and-coming Modified drivers the opportunity to showcase their skills before NASCAR NEXTEL Cup teams and sponsors -- and providing an exciting open-wheel racing experience for NHIS fans on Saturday afternoons.
* After the final "Flash" event at Riverhead, the schedule continues Fri., Aug. 10, at Stafford, and Thurs., Aug. 16, at Thompson, before heading to another new venue: Mansfield (Ohio) Motorsports Speedway on Sat., Aug. 25.
* The Mansfield event will be held in conjunction with the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series in an exciting Saturday afternoon NASCAR doubleheader at one of the nation's premier state-of-the-art short tracks.
* The Whelen Modified Tour travels to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Labor Day weekend, for a combination event that includes the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for a third consecutive year.
* The schedule concludes with return visits to Thompson on Sun., Sept. 9; NHIS on Sat., Sept. 15; Stafford on Sun., Sept. 30; and the traditional season finale at Thompson, on Sun., Oct. 14.
The Whelen Modified Tour features lightweight, open-wheeled racing machines that have been part of NASCAR since its first season in 1948. Throughout its storied history, the NASCAR Modified division has proven to be a tremendous training and developmental program for future stars. Todd Bodine, the 2006 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, began his career in the Modified division along with his racing brothers, Geoff and Brett Bodine. Drivers Jimmy Spencer, Mike McLaughlin and Steve Park also began their careers in the Modifieds, along with NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series crew chiefs Greg Zipadelli and Tommy Baldwin Jr.
In 2006, Mike Stefanik made history by winning his seventh Whelen Modified Tour championship. Combined with his two previous NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series titles, Stefanik's accomplishment tied him with another Modified legend and nine-time NASCAR champion, Richie Evans, as NASCAR's all-time championship leader.