Jon McKennedy takes lead late to win Whelen Modified Tour opener
Veteran modified racer passes Chase Dowling with 10 laps to grab his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win.
Although all eyes were on Doug Coby as he began his march for a fifth consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship, it was Jon McKennedy who celebrated in Victory Lane after the season opener Saturday at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
McKennedy, whose previous best Tour finish was fifth last year at Stafford Motor Speedway, was able to pass Chase Dowling late and hold off a hard-charging Jimmy Blewett for the win.
“It feels great, I feel like this is way overdue,” McKennedy said. “Over the years, I was never really able to put 100 percent effort into the Tour. When Tommy called me, I just knew it was going to be a great deal. I’ve won races from Florida to Canada. It feels good to finally get the monkey off my back.”
McKennedy is no stranger to winning modified races in his native New England, but his first NASCAR tour win came in his 34th start. Myrtle Beach Speedway has a reputation with old asphalt of using up tires quickly and it showed throughout the race.
The Chelmsford, Massachusetts, driver started from the outside pole and fell back through the field saving his tires for later in the race.
Following a pit stop for tires during the final caution of the event, McKennedy came back through the 27-car field and challenged Dowling for the lead in Turn 2 on Lap 139.
Veteran NASCAR car owner Tommy Baldwin owns the modified driven by McKennedy and he was quick to thank the third generation racer for providing him such a story race car for the race.
“Tommy gave me a great opportunity to run this car, and I’m glad I could make the most of it,” McKennedy said. “We’re really off to a good start together. It’s great to be in good equipment and have some great knowledge behind us.”
Blewett, driving for defending Whelen Modified Tour champion car owner Ed Partridge, finished second and almost brought home the win for the team as he filled in for this race while Ryan Preece competed in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Auto Club Speedway.
“I can’t thank Eddie and his wife Connie enough, I’m just happy to be able to come out here and help them,” Blewett said. “This is a car that Eddie and my grandfather own together. We came here in the dark, with no notes. But we got ourselves pointed in the right direction fairly quickly today.”
Matt Hirschman started from the pole and led a race-high 77 laps and finished third with Dowling fourth. Justin Bonsignore led 26 laps and finished fifth.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Dave Sapienza, Eric Goodale, Calvin Carroll, Craig Lutz and Rob Summers.
The Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen will air on NBCSN on Wednesday, March 21, at 6 p.m. ET. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the annual Icebreaker 150 on April 8.
|Fin||St||#||Driver||Sponsor / Owner||Car||Laps||Status||Led|
|1||2||7||Jon McKennedy||Accell Construction Inc. (Tommy Baldwin)||Chevrolet||150||running||12|
|2||10||6||Jimmy Blewett||TS Hauler (Ed Partridge)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|3||1||60||Matt Hirschman||Pee Dee Motorsports (Roy Hall)||Chevrolet||150||running||77|
|4||7||15||Chase Dowling||15-40 Connection (Rob Fuller)||Chevrolet||150||running||9|
|5||6||51||Justin Bonsignore||Phoenix Communications Inc. (Kenneth Massa)||Chevrolet||150||running||26|
|6||8||36||Dave Sapienza||Sapienza Enterprise (Judy Thilberg)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|7||11||58||Eric Goodale||GAF Roofing (Edgar Goodale)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|8||22||25||Calvin Carroll||Power with Prestige / Cruising w / Betty (Joe Carroll)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|9||19||46||Craig Lutz||Riverhead Building Supply (Russell Goodale)||Chevrolet||150||running||6|
|10||4||64||Rob Summers||Hoosier Tire East / Fast Track (Mike Murphy)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|11||16||14||Blake Barney *||Atlantic Sprinkler (Richard Barney)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|12||5||16||Timmy Solomito||Starrett Racing (Eric Sanderson)||Ford||150||running||0|
|13||12||97||Andy Seuss||O.B. Builders (Byran Dauzat)||Chevrolet||150||running||1|
|14||9||2||Doug Coby||Mayhew Tools (Mike Smeriglio III)||Chevrolet||150||running||1|
|15||18||77||Gary Putnam||Curb Records (Mike Curb)||Chevrolet||150||running||6|
|16||13||1||Burt Myers||Citrusafe / Dunleavy Truck & Trailer (Eddie Harvey)||Ford||150||running||5|
|17||26||26||Gary McDonald||Lakeland Landscape / TRC Electric (Sean McDonald)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|18||14||75||Chris Pasteryak||Dawley's Auto (Charles Pasteryak)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|19||24||99||Jamie Tomaino||Atlantic Sprinkler / PSR (Cheryl Tomaino)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|20||27||23||Joe DeGracia *||PJ DeGracia Contracting (Paul Degracia)||Chevrolet||150||running||0|
|21||15||21||Ronnie Williams||Gershow Recycling / Empower Financial (Joseph Bertuccio)||Chevrolet||149||running||0|
|22||23||40||Frank Fleming||Lewisville Motors / Smith Trucking (Gina Fleming)||Chevrolet||148||running||0|
|23||3||22||Kyle Bonsignore||Snap-On Tools (Kyle Bonsignore)||Chevrolet||148||running||7|
|24||21||33||Wade Cole||Perf. Engines / Kendall Oil (Wade Cole)||Chevrolet||141||running||0|
|25||25||01||Melissa Fifield||Crowells Towing (Kenneth Fifield)||Chevrolet||141||running||0|
|26||20||18||Ken Heagy||Buoy One Seafood (Robert Pollifrone)||Chevrolet||120||tire||0|
|27||17||82||Woody Pitkat||Horton Avenue Materials (Danny Watts Jr.)||Chevrolet||115||running||0|
Derek Kraus spoils Kevin Harvick's California homecoming
Hailie Deegan: More barriers can be broken in post-Danica era - video