NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Bristol Historic Bristol Debut Up Next For Modified Tours The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is a touring series steeped in history. This year marks the 25th season of the Tour, and its debut at ...
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes - Bristol
Historic Bristol Debut Up Next For Modified Tours
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is a touring series steeped in history. This year marks the 25th season of the Tour, and its debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee this week is yet another landmark event.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is primarily a New England-based circuit, but the Tour does have a rich history of venturing south. Virginia has held 44 all-time races, and the Tour has gone as far south as North Carolina on three occasions, but the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 will be its inaugural foray to the Volunteer State.
In a format first introduced at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 2005, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be joined at the "World's Fastest Half- Mile" by the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for a combination race. The two Tours will run for one checkered flag and one purse, but will chase points for their respective championship standings.
In those championship standings, the races are tight. With half the season in the rearview mirror and the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 the beginning of the stretch run, just 16 points separate Ted Christopher from Todd Szegedy atop the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings. Ryan Preece, perhaps the hottest driver in the Tour with consecutive wins entering Bristol, is also lurking a mere 11 points behind Szegedy.
In the Southern Modified Tour, the points race is far from decided as well. Including Bristol, nine races remain, which is plenty of time for second-place Andy Seuss to chop into the 66-point lead of George Brunnhoelzl III and defending champion Brian Loftin sits 94 markers a back.
While the starting grid will feature a host of contenders for the first NASCAR Modified checkered flag in Bristol's history, Christopher could be considered the odds-on favorite in the inaugural event. Not only is he the reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion and current points leader, but he also ventured across the Mason-Dixon Line to win two of the first three races of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour's 2009 season.
Quick to adapt and always eager to master a new track, Christopher unofficially shattered Bristol's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying record while turning laps in a February test of the high concrete banks. It was just the kind of white-knuckle ride Christopher was hoping for.
"It's crazy. It's intense," said Christopher. "I've never been anywhere you can drive without lifting [the throttle]."
Despite speeds and adrenaline levels being higher than normal, Christopher didn't anticipate the race would be run completely wide-open.
"We will have to have some give-and-take," Christopher said. "I think it's going to be a very technical race."
The inaugural UNOH Perfect Storm 150 is set to go green Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. The SPEED television broadcast of the race will begin on tape delay at 7 p.m. The race will be followed by the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' O'Reilly 200 presented by Valvoline.
The Race: UNOH Perfect Storm 150
The Place: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, August 19
The Time: 6:15 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: SPEED, 7 p.m.
The Distance: 150 laps / 79.95 miles
Race Purse: $91,575
Tuesday: Practice 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.;
Wednesday: Practice 8 - 9:50 a.m., 11 - 11:50 a.m., Qualifying 2:50 p.m.
The Race ... The UNHO Perfect Storm 150 will be the eighth of 14 races on the 2009 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. It is the first trip to Bristol Motor Speedway in the Tour's 25-year history, and the first of two combination races in 2009 with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
The Procedure ... Starting positions 1-30 will be set from time trials. The remaining six will be filled through the provisional process. The race is 150 laps (79.95 miles).
The Track ... A .533-mile, high-banked concrete oval, Bristol is known as the "World's Fastest Half-Mile." The track opened in 1961 as an even half-mile with 22 degrees of banking in the turns.
Tour Tidbits: Season-To-Date
Hot Start for 'TC' ... Ted Christopher started the 2009 season like he left off in his 2008 championship campaign: in Victory Lane. He earned the win in the season's first two races and entered the record books for his qualifying efforts. In the 24 previous seasons of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, no driver had started the season with consecutive Coors Light Pole Awards. Christopher actually earned the first three of the year, and became just the seventh driver in Tour history to earn three or more in a row.
Rudolph is Youngest Winner ... At Spencer Speedway on July 11, Erick Rudolph became the youngest race winner in the 25 years of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing. Rudolph, at 17 years, 6 months, 3 days, eclipsed the previous mark set by Ryan Preece last year. Preece was 17 years, 10 months, 25 days when he won at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The win for Rudolph came in his 14th career start.
Consistent Szegedy a Title Contender ... While he has yet to reach Victory Lane in 2009, Todd Szegedy has been in championship form from the first green flag of the season. Szegedy is the only driver to record a top 10 in each of the season's first seven races, and he has top fives in four of those outings. Szegedy briefly ended Christopher's possession of the points perch following the sixth race of the year at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, a streak that stretched back nearly a year, and he enters this week's even at Bristol just 16 points back.
Preece Heats Up ... Perhaps the surprise of the first half of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season has been the premier performance of Preece, who graduated high school just a few months back. Like defending champion and current points leader Christopher, Preece has recorded two wins, five top fives and six top 10s in the first seven races; numbers that have him just 27 points out of first. He enters Bristol coming off of consecutive wins at Riverhead and Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, the second and third of his young career.
Lia's Return a Success ... After spending last year competing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, 2007 Whelen Modified Tour Champion Donny Lia is currently fourth in the standings with five top 10s and a win in one of the season's premier events at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.