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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Spencer * Whelen Modifieds Return To Northern New York * Hossfeld Set To Rejoin Tour at Spencer * 25 Seasons Running: Williamson's Jan Leaty Whelen Modifieds Return To Northern New York For the ...

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Spencer

* Whelen Modifieds Return To Northern New York
* Hossfeld Set To Rejoin Tour at Spencer
* 25 Seasons Running: Williamson's Jan Leaty

Whelen Modifieds Return To Northern New York

For the second year in a row, and just the sixth time overall, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will head to Spencer Speedway on Saturday, July 11 in Williamson, N.Y., for the Spencer Speedway 155.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour first ran at Spencer in the Tour's inaugural season of 1985, a race won by George Kent. Matt Hirschman reached Victory Lane at Spencer last year in the first race at the flat half-mile oval in more than a decade.

Hirschman will not be in Williamson on Saturday to defend his race win, but last year's runner-up - Ron Silk - looks forward to returning in 2009.

"We had a good run at Spencer last year," Silk said. "The car was good the whole day, and hopefully we can improve one spot this year and see if we can get a win out of it."

Silk, who also competes part-time in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and sees a variety of race tracks down south, likes the challenge of a different venue like Spencer.

"It's a pretty cool little track. You can tell it's got some age on it, but it's a lot of fun," Silk said. "It is a little bit more challenging to drive than some of the other tracks because it is real flat."

In addition to Silk, drivers such as Eric Beers, Erick Rudolph and Chuck Hossfeld have logged many laps at Spencer in various series through the years and should be considered favorites to contend for the checkers. Hossfeld, who ran full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour a year ago, is slated to make his 2009 debut in this race.

The Spencer Speedway 155 will be the first of three races in the Empire State in 2009 along with dates at Riverhead Raceway and Chemung Speedrome. All three will be qualifying-format races.

This year's race at Spencer will feature a slightly different format than that of 2008. Last year there were two 25-lap heat races and a 100-lap main while this year more emphasis will be given to the main as it has been extended to 125 circuits and the qualifiers will be 15 laps.

Action on the track will begin with practice at 5:30 p.m. and the main is set to go green at approximately 9 p.m.

The Race: Spencer Speedway 155
The Place: Spencer Speedway, Williamson, N.Y.

The Date: Saturday, July 11
The Time: 9 p.m. ET

The Distance: 125 laps / 62.5 miles

2008 Winner: Matt Hirschman
2008 Polesitter: Jan Leaty

Event Schedule:
Practice: 5:30-6 p.m., Time Trials: 7:30 p.m., Qualifying Races: 8 p.m.

Hossfeld Set To Rejoin Tour At Spencer

A full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitor in 2008, Upstate New York's Chuck Hossfeld is set to make his first Tour appearance this year in the Spencer Speedway 155.

Not only will this be the Ransomville, N.Y., native's 2009 debut, but it will also be his first foray as a car owner in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as he will bring his own No. 22 Jerry Gradl Motors Chevrolet to the half-mile oval.

"I'm excited about racing against the best of the best in my own car," Hossfeld said. "That will be kind of cool."

Hossfeld, who will have Kenny Troyer on board as crew chief at Spencer, earned two wins and finished fourth in the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings in the No. 4 'Mystic Missile,' a ride that is now piloted by Donny Lia.

Hossfeld began 2009 by campaigning his No. 22 at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway during Speedweeks and has run a limited schedule since. He's competed three times this year at Dunn Tire Raceway Park in Lancaster, N.Y., and has earned two wins.

Aside from his three outings at DTRP, Hossfeld's only other start since Speedweeks was at Spencer on June 19 when he finished second to Mike Leaty in the Race of Champions event. In that race he bested a host of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers - past and present - including Erick Rudolph, Matt Hirschman, Jan Leaty and Eric Beers.

That outing at Spencer, combined with his upcoming NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season debut, has Hossfeld's anticipation level high.

"This being my first [NASCAR] race as an owner/driver is kind of exciting," Hossfeld said. "I've raced my car a lot, but the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is what I consider the best Modified racing in the country, and it is pretty exciting and challenging to take your own car and hope for good results."

Hossfeld has found plenty of good results throughout his career in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour car. In 111 starts, Hossfeld has compiled eight poles, seven wins and 64 top 10s.

Familiarity should also provide a level of comfort for Hossfeld in his owner/driver debut. He's turned many laps at Spencer throughout the years, and as the 1999 points champion there, he likes how the track races.

"Spencer is a cool track because its got long straight-aways and tight turns, and actually the straight-aways are tight there too, so you get side-by-side racing there," Hossfeld said. "Its challenging and exciting."

Hossfeld is taking a wait-and-see approach to the rest of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, but in addition to the Spencer Speedway 155, he also has plans to enter the fall race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, a track where he has triumphed three times during his career.

News & Notes

The Race ... The Spencer Speedway 155 will be the fifth of 14 races on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 2009 schedule and the first of three races in New York State.

The Procedure ... The fastest odd cars from time trials will compete in the first qualifying heat race and the fastest even cars in the second. The top 12 cars from the first heat will transfer to the feature and line up on the inside while the top 11 from the second heat will comprise the outside row of the main. The main can feature up to 28 cars with five provisionals filling out the field.

The Track ... Spencer Speedway is a half-mile flat asphalt oval that originally opened in 1955. Spencer has played host to five NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races all-time, including the Tour's inaugural season of 1985.

Race Winners ... The previous five NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Spencer have produced five different winners. George Kent was the inaugural race's winner in 1985 and Matt Hirschman reached Victory Lane there a year ago. Jeff Fuller, Mike McLaughlin and Mike Ewanitsko have also won at the track.

Pole Winners ... There have been three different pole winners in five previous events at Spencer. Jan Leaty and Jimmy Spencer have two apiece and Steve Park earned one. Leaty was the pole winner last year.

Lia To Miss Spencer

Donny Lia, who is third in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points, will not be in attendance for the Spencer Speedway 155.

Winner of New England 100 on June 27 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Lia will miss the race to attend the wedding of his sister, Danielle.

Lia returned to the No. 4 Modified team this year after he competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2008. The wedding date was originally scheduled for this weekend since it is an open date for the Truck Series.

'Mystic Missile' car owner Bob Garbarino has yet to decide what direction the team will take this week, but gave his full support to Lia's decision.

Tour Tidbits

Riverhead Details ... The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's 2009 event at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway will feature a slightly different format than in years past. The Riverhead 175 will see 16 cars locked into the 150-lap main this year from time trials. Starters 17-23 will transfer from a 25-lap qualifying race and the final five starters will get into the field on provisionals. Last year's main was 140 laps and the first 23 starters transferred from two different 25-lap qualifying races, with the usual five provisionals.

TV for the Tour ... Announced recently, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will have two of its premier races air on SPEED. The UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol, a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour on August 19, will air same-day on a 45-minute delay. Also announced, the New Hampshire 100 that will be contested on September 19 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, will air on SPEED on October 15 at 3 p.m.

Lia Back in Victory Lane in 'Mystic Missile' ... After a one-year hiatus in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Donny Lia is back competing in the No. 4 'Mystic Missile' Modified in 2009, the team with which he captured the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. Last time out at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the New England 100, Lia returned the No. 4 Dodge and owner Bob Garbarino to Victory Lane for the first time since their title campaign. Coincidentally, Lia also won the New England 100 in 2007 en route to the Tour crown. Through four races, Lia is third in the season standings, 72 points behind Ted Christopher.

Newman's Bad Luck Continues ... NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standout Ryan Newman made his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last September. While he was able to earn the Coors Light Pole Award and lead 28 laps, Newman ended up with a cut tire and later got caught in a lap traffic accident and had to settle for a 20th place finish. Last time out in the New England 100 Newman once again looked the part of a contender as he raced up front with Todd Szegedy the first half of the race and led two times for 13 laps. A spin on Lap 64 ended his day prematurely once again, and resulted in a finish of 34th. He'll give it another shot at Bristol in August.

25 Seasons Running: Williamson's Jan Leaty

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 highlighted. The following features a standout Modified driver from Williamson, N.Y., and Spencer Speedway: Jan Leaty.

Leaty, who was a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour frontrunner in the 1990s, last competed full-time in 1999 when he finished 11th in points. His connection to the Tour dates back to the beginning, however, as he competed in the inaugural race at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 1985.

Leaty came home 20th in that first race 25 years ago, and went on to finish 18th in the standings running a part-time schedule. His first of nine career trips to Victory Lane came at Jennerstown, Pa., on June 28, 1987.

While he had competed in numerous races up until that point, Leaty's first full NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour campaign did not come until 1992, but he proved he could contend as he registered a ninth place finish in the standings. Leaty built on that the following season with a third place finish in the championship chase.

The 1996 season proved to be Leaty's most successful as he registered three wins and 11 top 10s and finished fourth in the season standings.

Always a premier qualifier, Leaty has 27 career Coors Light Pole Awards, a total that ranks fourth in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history behind Mike Stefanik, Tony Hirschman and Jeff Fuller.

After a four-year absence from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Leaty entered the 2008 race at Spencer and promptly earned his 27th career pole award. His return to the Tour at his home track ended prematurely, however, with an accident in the first lap of the 100-lap feature.

Home Tracks: Family Affair At Spencer

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing at Spencer Speedway in Williamson, N.Y., has a family atmosphere, whether you're in the stands or in the infield.

Among the four divisions that make up Spencer's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regular Friday night program, there are a host of families that have produced multiple drivers.

In Spencer's premier division - the Weekly Modifieds - there are four families currently competing, headed by the Catalano's. Past track champion Buck Catalano is currently third in points while his brother Dave's wife, Amy, is atop the standings after she earned her first Weekly Modified feature win last Saturday. Amy's husband, Dave, is a former competitor at Spencer, as is Buck's son, Patsy, who is also a former track champion. A further connection includes the Montgomery family. Amy Catalano was a Montgomery, and her father is the head of the safety crew at Spencer while her brother is a former track champion driver.

The Weekly Modified division also boasts ties with three other families; Ricky and Dick Kluth, Phil and Chris Wehrheim and the Lewis family of Daryl Sr., Daryl Jr. and Andy. Defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New York State Champion Tony Hanbury, a part-time competitor at Spencer, is also the son-in-law of Daryl Lewis Sr.

Spencer's divisions also include family ties with the Bradshaw's in the Scorpion and Weekly Modifieds and the Butler's in the Super Sixes, of which Keith Jr. currently leads in points.

Up Next: Riverhead 175

Venerable Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway will welcome the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for the 25th season in a row with the Riverhead 175 on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Riverhead has played host to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since its inaugural season of 1985. There have been 20 different winners in 47 all-time races at the quarter-mile bullring, led by Mike Ewanitsko's 11. Jimmy Blewett earned his first career win at Riverhead last year.

The sixth race of the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season will also mark the second of three qualifying format races. This year's format will feature traditional two-lap time trials in which the fastest 16 cars will secure a spot in the main. One 25-lap qualifying heat race and provisionals will fill out the rest of the 28-car field for the 150-lap main.

Action at Riverhead will begin with practice at 2 p.m. followed by time trials at 4:30 p.m. The last-chance heat race is slated for 6 p.m. and green flag on the main is set to drop at approximately 8:30 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Steve Park , Jeff Fuller , Jimmy Spencer , Chris Wehrheim , Mike McLaughlin , Chuck Hossfeld , Todd Szegedy , Ted Christopher , Donny Lia , Erick Rudolph , Eric Beers , Ron Silk
Teams Williams