NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Martinsville * Modified Tours Return To Martinsville Speedway * Tour Tidbits: Lia on the Move Modified Tours Return To Martinsville Speedway The NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified...
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Martinsville
* Modified Tours Return To Martinsville Speedway
* Tour Tidbits: Lia on the Move
Modified Tours Return To Martinsville Speedway
The NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours will get together for a combination race for the fifth year in a row with the Made In America Whelen 300 this Sunday, Sept. 27, in one of the nation's most storied racing venues, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
With few exceptions, Martinsville has been on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule since its beginning in 1985. Now in the 25th season of competition, the Whelen Modifieds return to the southern Virginia 'paperclip' for the 34th time this weekend.
For the fifth year in a row, the Whelen Modified Tour will be joined at Martinsville by their counterparts below the Mason-Dixon Line, the Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
Since the Whelen Southern Modified Tour was established in 2005, the annual combination race in Martinsville has been a date to circle on the calendar for all competitors. Not just because of the opportunity to race at one of NASCAR's historic tracks, but maybe more importantly for the competition on the track.
Through the first four years, the Whelen Modified Tour has held the majority of the bragging rights. Ted Christopher won the inaugural combination event in 2005 with Jimmy Blewett (2006) and Donny Lia (2007) following suit.
Last year's race appeared to provide the Whelen Southern Modified Tour with its first Martinsville champion as Burt Myers celebrated in Victory Lane. It was announced the following Monday, however, that Myers was disqualified for post-race technical violations and second-place Ryan Preece was named the overall race winner. While he had not been at center stage in Victory Lane at Martinsville, Preece was already technically a winner as he was the highest-finishing Whelen Modified Tour driver in the race.
Preece had a dominant car at Martinsville last year. Just beginning his senior year of high school at the time, Preece earned the 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light and then went on to lead a race-high 265 laps before Myers got past him on Lap 271.
In addition to being bestowed the traditional Martinsville Grandfather Clock, Preece also took home a special plaque that day as winner of the 500th race in Whelen Modified Tour history.
As the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours return to Martinsville in 2009, Preece and Myers figure to be among the many drivers who can contend for the checkered flag. The entry list includes six drivers who have reached Victory Lane at the track before.
This year's Martinsville event will have a different format from the last two years. The Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tour's combination race will be 200 laps with a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Limited Sportsman event rounding out the Made In America Whelen 300 weekend.
Whelen Modified action will begin at the track on Saturday with practice and qualifying. The race on Sunday is set to go green at 1:30 p.m.
The Race: Made In America Whelen 300
The Place: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway
The Date: Sunday, September 27
The Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
The Distance: 200 laps / 105.2 miles
Race Purse: $131,427
Saturday: Practice 10 - 12 p.m., Qualifying 2:30 p.m.
Raceday Notes The Race ... The Made In America Whelen 300 will be the 10th of 13 races on the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, and the second of two combination races with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
The Procedure ... Starting positions 1-37 will be set from time trials. The remaining six will be filled through the provisional process. The race is 200 laps (105.2 miles).
The Track ... Martinsville is a .526-mile "paperclip" oval with flat straightaways and 12-degree banking in the turns. The track originally opened in 1947 and has held 32 NWMT races.
Tour Tidbits: Lia on the Move
Lia Reeling in Christopher ... After following wins at Bristol Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway with a runner-up effort last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Donny Lia is now up to second in the championship standings. Lia will enter this week's race at Martinsville Speedway - where he won in his last appearance - now trailing points leader Ted Christopher by just 48 points. Lia leapfrogged Todd Szegedy at New Hampshire to move into second place.
Preece Recovers at New Hampshire ... An 18th-place finish at Thompson seems to have only temporarily damaged the title hopes of Ryan Preece as he made a strong comeback with a third-place effort Saturday at New Hampshire. In 10 races, the third-year driver has finished outside the top 10 just twice, and the defending Martinsville winner will return to contend for another Grandfather Clock trailing Christopher by 74 points and Lia by just 26.
Szegedy's Streak Ends, Slips in Points ... Arguably the most consistent competitor in the last calendar year, Szegedy brought a streak of 13-straight top-10 finishes to New Hampshire last week. The law of averages finally caught up with the team, however, as he had to settle for a 29th-place finish after being involved in an accident on Lap 84. As a result, Szegedy slipped from second to fourth in points.
Christopher Still in the Driver's Seat ... While he hasn't reached Victory Lane since the second race of the season, defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Christopher is still the man everyone else is chasing. Christopher's only finish outside the top 10 in 2009 was at Riverhead Raceway, and in addition to his two wins he has registered four runner-up finishes, making it difficult for any of the other contenders to make up ground.
Newman Ends Moonlight on a Positive Note ... NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman ended his three-race Whelen Modified Tour moonlight on a positive note Saturday at New Hampshire. After recording DNFs at New Hampshire in June and Bristol Motor Speedway in August, Newman led eight laps in the New Hampshire 100 and crossed the line eighth. He drove the No. 7ny Modified for car owner Kevin Manion, Sprint Cup Series crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. The car is painted as a tribute to the late Tom Baldwin Sr., a two-time Whelen Modified winner at Martinsville.