Martinsville preview

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Martinsville * NWMT Reaches Milestone With 500th Race At Martinsville * Modified Champ Red Farmer To Be Honored * Five Questions: Reggie Ruggiero NWMT Reaches Milestone With 500th Race At ...

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Martinsville

* NWMT Reaches Milestone With 500th Race At Martinsville
* Modified Champ Red Farmer To Be Honored
* Five Questions: Reggie Ruggiero

NWMT Reaches Milestone With 500th Race At Martinsville

The 500th race in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history will take place at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this Saturday, Sept. 20 when the Made In America Whelen 300 goes green at 3:30 p.m.

In its first 499 races, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has visited 35 tracks in 12 different states, and it will reach the milestone 500th event at Martinsville, one of the series' most storied venues.

"We couldn't think of a more appropriate place for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to celebrate its 500th race," Martinsville President Clay Campbell said. "We've raced Modifieds here since day one. Our very first race here was a Modified race."

Since its formation in 1985, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has held 31 races at Martinsville, with each winner taking home the coveted grandfather clock along the way.

The Made In America Whelen 300, in its current combination format with cars from both the NASCAR Whelen Modified and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours, began in 2005. Current NASCAR Whelen Modified points leader Ted Christopher captured the inaugural event and has finished second in the two races since.

"Two years ago the race got shortened by rain and I was the only one with four fresh tires, running second. Last year the kill button on the steering wheel kept shorting the motor out, and I had a good shot of winning then, too," Christopher said. "The last three years we've had a really good car to run at Martinsville."

Jimmy Blewett, the 2006 Made In America Whelen 300 winner, should also be a contender Saturday. After a runner-up finish to Christopher last week at New Hampshire, Blewett is up to eighth in the season standings.

The 2008 edition of the Made In America Whelen 300 will feature a 43-car starting grid and will be run in two segments with a 10-minute break at or near Lap 150.


The Race: Made In America Whelen 300
The Place: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway

The Date: Saturday, Sept. 20
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

Track Layout: 0.526-mile oval
Race Purse: $137,420

2007 Winner: Donny Lia
2007 Pole: Donny Lia

Schedule: Saturday, Practice: 9:30-11:00 a.m., Time Trials: 12:30 p.m.


Modified Champ Red Farmer To Be Honored At Martinsville

As part of the season-long celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions, 1956 NASCAR Modified titlist Red Farmer will be honored at the Made In America Whelen 300 on Saturday, Sept. 20 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Farmer, a member of the famed "Alabama Gang," captured the 1956 NASCAR Modified championship by a 118-point margin against Sam DiRusso. Named one of "NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers" in 1998, Farmer has had a checkered racing career that, now in his mid-70s, still continues today.

A resident of Hueytown, Ala., Farmer still competes on a part-time basis in dirt Late Models at Talladega Short Track and other regional venues. He's even wheeled against some of today's brightest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stars each of the last four years in Tony Stewart's Prelude to the Dream race at Eldora Speedway.

Originally from Hialeah, Fla., Farmer started his racing career in 1946. In addition to his 1956 NASCAR Modified championship, Farmer won three-consecutive NASCAR Nationwide Series (then known as Late Model Sportsman) titles from 1969-71. Farmer also made 36 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (then known as Grand National) starts from 1953-75.

Always a favorite at the track, Farmer was named the NASCAR Modified Most Popular Driver in 1968 and was a four-time winner of the award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

In addition to honoring Farmer's 1956 Modified title and career accomplishments, NASCAR will also recognize a pair of champions that are no longer with us; Eddie Crouse and Joe Weatherly.

Crouse, who made a name for himself at South Boston Speedway, earned back-to-back NASCAR Modified national titles in 1962 and 1963.

Weatherly, who gained fame as a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, earned his first NASCAR title in the Modified division in 1953.


News & Notes

The Race ... The Made In America Whelen 300 is the 13th race on the 2008 schedule for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and the 500th race in the series' history. It will be the only appearance for the series at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway this year.

The Procedure ... This is a combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Starting Positions 1-35 will be set from time trials. The final eight positions in the starting field of 43 cars will be determined by the provisional process. The race will be contested in two segments with a 10-minute break at or near the conclusion of Lap 150.

The Track ... Martinsville is a 0.526-mile "paper clip" track with flat straight-aways and 12-degree banking in the turns. The track originally opened in 1947 and has held 31 NWMT races.

Race Winners ... There have been 13 different race winners at Martinsville, led by four apiece from Mike Ewanitsko, Jeff Fuller, Reggie Ruggiero and Mike Stefanik.

Pole Winners ... There have been 19 different pole winners at Martinsville, led by four apiece from Fuller, Jan Leaty and Stefanik.

Track Records ... Greg Sacks set the qualifying record at Martinsville with a lap of 18.746 seconds (101.014 mph) on March 23, 1986.

Number Changes

Due to number conflicts with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, five cars will sport different digits Saturday in Martinsville.

* No. 7, Glen Reen ... normally No. 17
* No. 11, Reggie Ruggiero ... normally No. 14
* No 86, Ted Christopher ... normally No. 36
* No. 88, Woody Pitkat ... normally No. 28
* No. 90, Bobby Santos ... normally No. 98

Owner standings in the respective series were used to resolve number conflicts. In the case of Ted Christopher and L.W. Miller, who both run the No. 36, Miller had the right to keep his regular number as the defending NWSMT champion.

TV Update

* The Made In America Whelen 300, which will be contested at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Sept. 20, will air on SPEED on Oct. 10 at Noon and Oct. 11 at 3 a.m.

* Last week's New Hampshire 100 will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by SPEED on Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m.


* The Made In America Whelen 300 at Martinsville will be the 500th all-time race in NWMT history.

* A race win or a pole for Mike Stefanik would be Martinsville records ... He is currently tied for the NWMT wins lead at the track with three other drivers with four, and shares the pole lead with two other competitors, also at four.

* Ted Christopher's next win would place him in a tie with Jeff Fuller for fourth on the NWMT all-time wins list at 31.

* Jamie Tomaino will extend his own series record by making his 496th career start.

* Ed Flemke Jr. is expected to extend his record consecutive starts streak to 308.


New Hampshire Notebook

Christopher Extends Lead With NHMS Win ... Current season points leader Ted Christopher got a boost in the standings with his third win of the year in the New Hampshire 100 last Saturday ... The win also extended his NHMS track record for wins to 10.

Hirschman Moves Into Second ... Following his eighth top-10 finish in the last 10 races, Matt Hirschman moved past Chuck Hossfeld into second in the season standings ... Hirschman is now just 99 points behind leader Ted Christopher, his highest ranking of the year.

Curtain Call ... The race, which started at 1 p.m., was red flagged with 62 laps complete at 2:19 p.m. to repair a guardrail on the backstretch that was damaged by the car of Anthony Sesely ... Rather than make the race official at that point, the decision was made to complete all 100 laps and action resumed at 5:52 p.m. after the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race concluded.

Lia Pilots Summer's Car To Fourth-Place Finish ... Reigning NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Champion Donny Lia made his second start of the year at NHMS on Saturday, driving the No. 96 Modified for H&H Motorsports ... The car went behind the wall with just 31 laps complete due to overheating ... During the previously-mentioned red flag, Rob Summers had to leave the track for a prior racing commitment, so Lia hopped in his No. 1 car to finish the race ... At the time of the red flag, Summers was scored in 11th place, but Lia moved the car up to fourth place in the final 38 laps. Summers did not have a top-10 finish to his own credit in four previous starts in 2008.

Mixed Results For Newman ... NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman's foray into Modified racing produced mixed results. In his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut, Newman was the fastest in practice and captured the pole on Thursday. During Saturday's race Newman led twice for 28 laps but blew a tire near the midway point. Then in the evening session, he was involved in an accident and had to settle for a 20th-place finish, 14 laps down.


Hirschman Has Successful Weekend At New Hampshire

In a long day of racing, Matt Hirschman collected a pair of top 10s last Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Scheduled to make his NASCAR Camping World Series debut on Friday, the Heluva Good! Fall 125 was postponed to Saturday at 10 a.m. Hirschman posted a fourth-place finish in his first full-bodied race car experience driving the No. 9 Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge.

At 1 p.m. Hirschman then jumped into his usual No. 59 Ed Bennett Properties ride and drove to a sixth-place finish in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour's New Hampshire 100.

With the sixth-place finish in his second venture Saturday, Hirschman moved into second place in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season standings, just 99 points behind leader Ted Christopher. Hirschman, of Northampton, Pa., has registered top-10 finishes in eight of his last 10 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour career starts.

As with last week, Hirschman plans to run both series again this weekend. The NASCAR Camping World Series East will be at Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Friday, while the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will compete at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Saturday.


Five Questions: Reggie Ruggiero

This Saturday will be the 500th race in NWMT history. As a competitor in the series since its beginning, what does a milestone like that mean to you?

I've raced the Tour since 1985 when it started. To have 500 races with the Tour, it's very important, especially going to Martinsville because that's the premier Modified track of the south.

You've got 44 career wins to your credit, second-most all-time. Is there one that stands out in your memory?

Yes, there is. The race at Pocono in 1988, I started like 50th and won the race. That really stands out.

You've got four wins and 10 other top-10 finishes in your career at Martinsville. Is that one of your favorite tracks?

It is one of my favorite tracks. I've raced there for a long time. I'm looking forward to winning there this Saturday because I promised my owner a grandfather clock. I've got four of them before, so I want to get one for my new car owner [Dick Barney].

What have you done with all of those grandfather clocks?

I've got two of them. One went to a car owner and one went to a sponsor. I just had the one from my first win in 1987 fixed. It's 21 years old and I just had to have it repaired, so it's still ticking.

You and fellow NWMT competitor Ed Flemke Jr. own Raceworks. What does your business consist of?

We build Modified race cars for the Tour, for SK teams, for any type of open-wheeled Modified racing. We also do Late Model cars and Pro Stock cars. We do a lot of motorcycles, custom hot rods, antique muscle cars, so we work in all phases of automotive specialty work.


Up Next: CARQUEST Fall Final

The fourth and final trip to Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway in 2008 will take place on Sunday, Sept. 28. The CARQUEST Fall Final, the track's traditional season-ending show, will see the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour go green at 2 p.m.

The 150-lap race will be the 14th of 16 dates on the 2008 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. In the first three trips for the series to Stafford this year, Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld and Jimmy Blewett have registered victories.

Mike Stefanik captured the 2007 Fall Final to extend his series record for wins at Stafford to 19. Stefanik, who has registered wins in 20 of his 23 seasons in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, has yet to reach Victory Lane in 2008.

The two-day show will feature practice and qualifying on Saturday with the race on Sunday. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be joined at Stafford for the weekend by the NASCAR Camping World Series East.

As part of NASCAR's celebration of 60 Years of Modified Champions, two-time (1964-65) winner Bobby Allison will be honored in pre-race ceremonies.

-credit: nascar

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jeff Fuller , Chuck Hossfeld , L.W. Miller , Jamie Tomaino , Rob Summers , Bobby Allison , Greg Sacks , Ted Christopher , Donny Lia , Glen Reen , Red Farmer , Woody Pitkat , Bobby Santos