Series round eight Thompson II preview

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Thompson Preece On A Roll Heading To Thompson 25 Seasons Running: Fullers Excel At Thompson Home Tracks: Rocco Leads At Thompson Preece On A Roll Heading To Thompson The 2009 NASCAR Whelen ...

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Thompson

Preece On A Roll Heading To Thompson
25 Seasons Running: Fullers Excel At Thompson
Home Tracks: Rocco Leads At Thompson

Preece On A Roll Heading To Thompson

The 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season has reached its halfway point, and as the Tour heads to Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway this week, Ryan Preece is perhaps the hottest driver on the circuit.

Preece, from Berlin, Conn., has won the last two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races and is now just 27 points out of the championship lead thanks to top-10 efforts in six of the season's seven events.

The last two weeks have been a constant emotional high for Preece, who recorded his first career win last year at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, but never got to celebrate in Victory Lane as Burt Myers was there originally, before being disqualified. His triumph at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Aug. 1 was the first time he got to pull into Victory Lane, and symbolically, it felt like his first win.

Last Friday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, Preece then got the first win of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career at his home track.

Preece had a stout car the last handful of races at Stafford, but the cards didn't line up for a victory. The long wait ended in the Town Fair Tire 150 when he led the final 47 laps to take the checkered flag.

"I've always wanted to win here, and I finally got it," said an elated Preece following the win.

Both wins have been hard-earned for Preece. In the previous week's win, he had to fend off a host of Riverhead regulars to get to the finish line first, and Friday's win at Stafford featured a similar storyline as he had to outlast the winningest driver in the track's storied history: Ted Christopher.

Christopher had led the first two-thirds of the race after starting first on the redraw, but after a restart, Preece was able to get past the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion on Lap 104 and hold off some hard charges from Christopher for the win.

As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour now heads to Thompson for the Budweiser 150 presented by New England Dodge Dealers on Thursday, Aug. 13, Preece will have to turn the page quickly. The Tour is currently halfway through its busiest part of the 2009 schedule with four events in the span of 19 days. Fortunately for Preece and the No. 3 team, momentum is clearly on their side, for the time being.

"The month of August seems to be a real good month for me, and hopefully my luck will stay like this," Preece said.

The 18-year-old driver knows that things can turn around quickly in auto racing, so he's not going to get too caught up in the team's current run.

"Who knows, I could be wrecking next week, so I'm living in the moment, and things are real great right now," Preece said.

While he has traditionally been a front-runner at Stafford, Preece has yet to find much success at Connecticut's biggest oval. In 10 career starts at Thompson, the third-year driver has an average finish of 15 with four top 10s. A fourth- place finish there in the season opener - the best of his career - should be encouraging.

While the season is only halfway over, it may be too early to hedge bets on the championship, but the consistency that Preece's team has exhibited to this point indicates that they could be a legitimate title contender.

Preece and the rest of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors will get the action going on race day at Thompson with practice at 2 p.m. Time trials are set for 5:30 p.m. and the 150-lap race is scheduled to go green at approximately 8:45 p.m.

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Fast Facts

The Race: Budweiser 150 presented by New England Dodge Dealers
The Place: Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway

The Date: Thursday, August 13
The Time: 8:45 p.m. ET

The Distance: 150 laps / 93.75 miles
Race Purse: $84,168

2008 Winner: Ron Silk
2008 Polesitter: None-rain

Event Schedule:
Practice 2 - 3 p.m.; Tire Scuff 5:15 p.m.; Qualifying 5:30 p.m.

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News & Notes

The Race ... The Budweiser 150 presented by New England Dodge Dealers will be the eighth of 14 races on the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule and the second of three stops for the series to Thompson International Speedway.

The Procedure ... Starting positions 1-30 will be set from time trials. The remaining five will be filled through the provisional process. The race is 150 laps (93.75 miles).

The Track ... A .625-mile banked oval that opened in 1940, Thompson was the first asphalt track in the nation, and the largest in New England until New Hampshire Motor Speedway opened in 1990.

Race Winners ... There have been 29 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik's 14 victories. Ron Silk is the defending winner of this race and Ted Christopher was victorious in the season's first race, the Icebreaker.

Pole Winners ... There have been 36 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Jeff Fuller's 13. Christopher earned the Coors Light Pole Award for the Icebreaker. Eric Beers set the Thompson qualifying record in last year's World Series at 18.429 seconds (122.080 mph).

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25 Seasons Running: Fullers Excel At TIS

As the 25th season of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is celebrated in 2009, events and individuals who have carried the series from its historic first season in 1985 to the present day will be recognized. Highlighted in the following paragraphs is the success that local racers Jeff and Rick Fuller found at their home track, Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.

From nearby Boylston, Mass., the Fullers cut their teeth in racing at the .625-mile high banks of Thompson, and excelled there throughout their NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour careers.

Jeff, the 1992 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, compiled 10 wins and 13 poles in his career at Thompson. His win total ranks second only to Mike Stefanik's 14 and his 13 poles are more than any other driver. Jeff's performances at Thompson were critical to his 1992 title campaign as he won three of the five events.

Rick earned track titles at Thompson in the Late Model division in 1982 and the Modified division in 1985 before launching his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career. As a Tour driver, the 1993 champion compiled eight wins and a pair of Coors Light Pole Awards at Thompson.

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Tour Tidbits

Christopher Regains Points Lead ... Todd Szegedy ended Ted Christopher's stranglehold on the points lead following the Riverhead 175, but it only lasted for one race. Christopher's runner-up effort last time out at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, combined with Szegedy's 10th-place finish, resulted in Christopher moving back to the top of the points. Szegedy will enter this week's race trailing by just 14 points.

Tight at the Top ... With the season at the halfway point, less than 100 points separate first through fourth in the standings. Ryan Preece is 27 points back from Christopher in third and 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Donny Lia is 92 points out in fourth.

Winning Notes ... With consecutive wins at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway and Stafford, Preece became the second driver this year to win back-to-back races and the 20th driver in the 25-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to accomplish the feat. Christopher is the other driver to earn back-to-back wins this year. The last time two or more drivers earned two-consecutive wins in the same season was 2005 with Christopher and Tony Hirschman. Also of note, Jimmy Blewett was a back-to-back winner at Riverhead and Stafford in 2008, like Preece.

Pasteryak Ties Career Best ... An up-and-down season for Chris Pasteryak was highlighted by a third-place effort last Friday at Stafford. The podium finish tied his previous career-best effort, also recorded at Stafford in 2006.

First Pole for Berndt ... Eric Berndt earned the first Coors Light Pole Award of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career last Friday at Stafford. The pole came in the 30th career start for the veteran part-time competitor.

Civali Set to Return ... Four-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race winner James Civali will attempt to make his first start in more than a year at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 19. Hillbilly Racing has announced that they currently plan to field a second car for Civali for the UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol and subsequent dates at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway. He will race the No. 97 Modified as a teammate to Ron Silk, who pilots Hillbilly's regular entry, the No. 79. Civali, the 2006 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco Rookie of the Year, last made a start at Riverhead on Aug. 2, 2008.

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Home Tracks: Rocco Leads At Thompson

The national title campaign of Keith Rocco in 2009 has been strengthened by his weekly efforts at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.

Thompson runs six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions as part of its 'Thursday Night Thompson Thunder' program. In the headline division - the Sunoco Modifieds - Rocco currently has a 12-point lead thanks to three wins.

Rocco's performance at Thompson along with his Friday night efforts at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway and Saturday night runs at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl had him atop the NWAAS national top 500 for seven straight weeks.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers Woody Pitkat, Jimmy Blewett, Ted Christopher and Rowan Pennink currently rank second through fifth in the Sunoco Modified standings behind Rocco.

As of racing through Aug. 6, here are the other Thompson division leaders:

Super Late Model: Derek Ramstrom
Late Model: Jeff Zuidema
Thompson Modified: Brian Sullivan
Limited Sportsmen: Larry Barnett
Mini Stock: Scott Michalski

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Up Next: UNOH Perfect Storm At Bristol

Following the Budweiser 150 presented by New England Dodge Dealers on Thursday at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make its inaugural visit to Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

The UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol will be the first appearance in the 25-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at "The World's Fastest Half Mile." The 150-lap race will be a combination event with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, which will also be making its Bristol debut.

Action for the UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol will begin with practice on Tuesday, Aug. 18. Race day will feature two morning practices and afternoon qualifying. The race is set to go green at 6:15 p.m.

The UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol will be carried by SPEED channel on a 45-minute tape delay starting at 7 p.m. The event will be followed by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, which is slated to take the green at 8:30 p.m.

This will be the first of two combination races for the two Tours in 2009. They have run similar events at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway since 2005, and will do so again this year on Sept. 27. Teams from each Tour will compete for a combined purse structure, but will earn points for their respective season standings.

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Jeff Fuller , Brian Sullivan , Todd Szegedy , Ted Christopher , Burt Myers , Donny Lia , Derek Ramstrom , Eric Beers , Ron Silk , Woody Pitkat , Ryan Preece , Rowan Pennink