NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Stafford Consistent Szegedy Leads Tour To Stafford *Preece Gets First Trip To Victory Lane *25 Seasons Running: Stefanik's Stafford Consistent Szegedy Leads Tour To Stafford As the NASCAR Whelen ...
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Stafford
Consistent Szegedy Leads Tour To Stafford *Preece Gets First Trip To Victory Lane *25 Seasons Running: Stefanik's Stafford
Consistent Szegedy Leads Tour To Stafford
As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour moves on to Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway for the Town Fair Tire 150 on Friday, Aug. 7, someone other than Ted Christopher is atop the standings for the first time in a long time.
The 10th top-10 finish in a row for Todd Szegedy was enough to move past Christopher in the points standings following last Saturday's Riverhead 175.
While Szegedy has yet to reach Victory Lane in 2009, he is the only driver to have finished in the top-10 in each of the season's six races to-date. After battling back from being a lap down early on in last week's race at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, his eighth-place effort, combined with misfortune for Christopher, changed the top of the season points standings.
Christopher, the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, had been atop the standings for 12 consecutive races dating back to last year, and had a 10-race top-10 streak of his own entering Riverhead.
Through the first half of the Riverhead 175, Christopher battled eventual race winner Ryan Preece for the lead lap-after-lap, but trouble came on Lap 83 with a cut tire, and just after he crossed the line on Lap 84 contact was made with the wall entering Turn 1, which ended his day.
With two wins to start his title defense, and another pair of top-fives, Christopher seemed to be on cruise control. A 10th place effort at Spencer Speedway on July 12 combined with Szegedy's runner-up finish helped to close the gap and the DNF at Riverhead was enough to move Szegedy into the lead.
While Christopher was grabbing headlines through the first quarter of the season, Szegedy was quietly recording solid finishes. A fifth in the season-opener at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway was followed by second and third place efforts in consecutive outings at Stafford. The two tangled on the last lap at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the fourth race of the year, but miraculously Szegedy was able to skid across the finish line in eighth. Another runner-up at Spencer then got him within striking distance.
Szegedy is no stranger to consistency, and although he's yet to cross the line first this year, he's also no stranger to winning - a combination that can make him a viable contender for his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title.
In 2003 Szegedy captured his first championship by leading the Tour with four wins. Although Chuck Hossfeld had one more top-10 that season, Szegedy's consistency through the 18-race schedule provided a 32-point spread in the final standings. In 116 career starts Szegedy has 13 wins and 73 top 10s.
As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Stafford this week, Szegedy will have a little history on his side to keep his points position. While Christopher is the winningest driver in Stafford history, Szegedy has turned in three winning efforts at the half-mile, and has eight top-fives in his last 11 starts there.
The Race: Town Fair Tire 150
The Place: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, August 7
The Time: 9:15 p.m. ET
The Distance: 150 laps/75 miles
Race Purse: $82,880
2008 Winner: Jimmy Blewett
2008 Polesitter: Eric Beers
Event Schedule: Practice 2 - 3:30 p.m.; Tire Scuff 5 p.m.; Qualifying 5:15 p.m.
News & Notes The Race ... The Town Fair Tire 150 will mark the midway point of the 14-race 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. This will also be the third of four stops for the Tour at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
The Procedure ... Starting positions 1-26 will be set from time trials. The remaining five will be filled through the provisional process. The race is 150 laps (75 miles).
The Track ... A half-mile flat oval, Stafford Motor Speedway began as a horse-racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding auto races following WW II. Stafford became a NASCAR track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967.
Race Winners ... There have been 28 different race winners at Stafford, led by Mike Stefanik's 20 victories. Ted Christopher had the longest win streak in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford with four-straight victories from Sept. 30, 2001 to Aug. 23, 2002. Christopher won the first race of the year at Stafford, the Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST on April 26 and Jimmy Blewett was triumphant in the May 22 race, the TSI Harley-Davidson Classic.
Pole Winners ... There have been 34 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik's 15. Christopher captured the Coors Light Pole Award in both of the previous 2009 dates.
Preece Gets First Trip To Victory Lane
Last Saturday's triumph at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway may have been Ryan Preece's second career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win on paper, but it was his first chance to celebrate in Victory Lane.
Preece, an 18-year-old recent high school graduate from Berlin, Conn., is now in his third season as a full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitor. After getting a feel for the Tour in 2007 with his family-owned team, Preece's sophomore campaign produced seven top 10s and two poles while driving for BRE Racing in the No. 3.
The 2008 season for Preece was highlighted by the team's performance at Martinsville. His second 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light of the season set the stage for a dominant run in the Made In America Whelen 300 combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Preece led 265 laps in the race, but Southern Tour driver Burt Myers got past him on Lap 271 and went on to take the checkered flag while Preece crossed the finish line second.
Although he finished second, Preece was credited with a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win as the highest finishing driver from that Tour in the combination race, but it was Myers that got to celebrate in Victory Lane that day. However, Myers was eventually penalized for post-race technical infractions and Preece was informed in the days following that he would be credited with the overall race win as well.
So, while he already had one of the most-cherished trophies in all of motorsports already at home - the Martinsville Grandfather clock - it was no wonder why Preece could be heard to say on multiple occasions after leading all 150 laps at Riverhead, "So this is what it feels like to win a Tour race," as he was doused with water bottles and perpetually congratulated.
25 Seasons Running: Stefanik's Stafford
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 follow paragraphs is the domination that Mike Stefanik has exhibited through the years at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
Ted Christopher may be the winningest driver in Stafford history when taking into account wins across multiple series, but no driver has even come close to the domination that Stefanik has exhibited in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action at the historic half mile.
There have been 92 races in the now 25-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford, and Stefanik has won 20, or roughly two out of every nine. Christopher is second on the wins list with nine.
Wins at Stafford did not come immediately for Stefanik. He finished fifth in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's first race there on April 14, 1985 and recorded a top-five again in 1986 and 1987 before breaking through in the win column after the Tour's hiatus from the track in 1988. May 7, 1989 was the first episode of many to come for the multi-time champion to celebrate in Stafford's Victory Lane. Evidently he liked it enough that he went right back there in the next race, which marked the first of four times that he has won consecutive races there.
Stefanik took two of the four races in 1990, as he did in 1998, but undoubtedly his greatest stranglehold on the competition at Stafford was in 1997 when he won the first three races of the year there before finally getting knocked off the throne in the CARQUEST 300.
The dominance was at its height in the mid-to-late 1990's when he won nine of 15 races in a four-year span.
The most recent of Stefanik's 20 triumphs at Stafford took place in last year's CARQUEST Fall Final where he earned the Coors Light Pole Award in addition to the victory. That pole brought his career total at Stafford to 15, which is more than double the next driver on the list, Reggie Ruggiero with seven.
Preece Covers the Field ... It was Ryan Preece's day at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway this past Saturday, Aug. 1. The third-year driver earned his third career 21 Means 21 Pole Award presented by Coors Light in afternoon qualifying and then led the 150-lap main wire-to-wire for the second win of his career. Preece was challenged for the lead on seven restarts, but held his line each time and wound up with the checkered flag.
Riverhead Regulars Represent ... In a number of ways, Riverhead Raceway is a unique annual stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Tour race usually attracts a contingent of Riverhead's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified division drivers, and on Saturday they made their presence known. Chuck Steuer, Howie Brode and Bill Park were three of the five fastest cars in practice and qualifying and by the time the checkered flag flew on the 150-lap main, Dave Brigati, Brode and Justin Bonsignore had finished in positions 2-4 with Park just outside the top 10.
Reen Has Career Day ... Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco Rookie of the Year Glen Reen had the best run of his young career on Saturday at Riverhead with a fifth-place effort. His previous career best was sixth on two occasions, most recently in last year's August date at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway. Reen finished 18th in the season standings as a rookie, but is currently in 12th as a sophomore.
Pennink Continues to Climb ... The third full season for Rowan Pennink in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour continues to get better. After finishing 17th in the standings as a rookie and eighth a year ago, Pennink is now up to fifth in the current season's points thanks to his fifth top-10 effort in six starts this year. His 10th-place finish on Saturday at Riverhead was preceded by consecutive fourth-place efforts at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Spencer Speedway, the best finishes of his career.
Beers Breaks Slump ... Prior to his sixth-place run at Riverhead, Eric Beers had finished outside the top 10 in the five prior races this season. His Riverhead performance also netted the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award after he moved up 20 positions from the initial green flag.
Home Tracks: Stafford Motor Speedway
Despite frequent curveballs from Mother Nature, Stafford Motor Speedway's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series has got in 10 races so far in 2009.
Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Ted Christopher is currently leading Stafford's SK Modified division with 432 points. The winningest driver in track history has three wins and nine top 10s in 10 starts. Keith Rocco has a division-leading four wins and is third in points behind Jeff Malave.
In the competitive Late Model division, defending champion Ryan Posocco is once again out front in the standings with 426 points thanks to three wins and nine top 10s. Dillon Moltz is in third with a division-high four wins behind second place Jim Peterson.
As of racing through July 24, here are the other Stafford division leaders:
SK Light Modified: Michael Gervais Jr.
Limited Late Model: Andrew Durand
DARE Stock: Cliff Saunders
Up Next: Budweiser 150 at Thompson
Following the Town Fair Tire 150 on Friday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make the second stop of the year at nearby Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway for the Budwesier 150 presented by New England Dodge Dealers.
The Thompson date will be the third leg of the busiest portion of the 2009 schedule that will see the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour run four races in the span of 19 days. That stretch started at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on Aug. 1 and will conclude after Stafford and Thompson at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 19.
The Budweiser 150 will be the 108th all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson. Now in its 25th season, the Tour has held more races at Thompson than at any other track. Stafford is second on the list with 93, including this week's event.
Ted Christopher was the show in the season's first race at Thompson - the Icebreaker - on April 5. The defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion earned both the Coors Light Pole Award and a trip to Victory Lane in the event. He also won last year's season finale at Thompson to bring in a two-race win streak at the .625-mile oval.
Ron Silk, who has recorded all three of his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins at Thompson, will look to reach Victory Lane for the first time in 2009. He is the defending champion of the Budweiser 150 and finished sixth in the first race of 2009.