Former Rookie of the Year Returns to the O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series Chad Wheeler, the 2001 O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Rookie of the Year, returns to the NCRA modified series tonight at Tulsa Speedway with high expectations. "We plan on ...
Former Rookie of the Year Returns to the O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series
Chad Wheeler, the 2001 O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Rookie of the Year, returns to the NCRA modified series tonight at Tulsa Speedway with high expectations.
"We plan on running the entire 2005 season," he said, "and our goal is to win the NCRA modified championship."
At the tender age of 17, Wheeler was the top modified newcomer in 2001 but has only run a handful of NCRA modified races since then. He was the modified track champion in 2002 at Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee. The next two years he ran at Muskogee and also competed in selected special events. During that time, Wheeler racked up nearly 30 A feature wins at different tracks.
Last year he ran the NCRA modified series season opener at 81 Speedway in Wichita, Kan., but only finished 13th in the B feature.
"We struggled with our set up last year but changed to a Jason Hughes chassis in August," Wheeler said. "The new chassis created a major turnaround in our season."
Since then Wheeler has finished well in several major events. In December he was sixth out of 130 cars in McAllen, Texas. This year he recorded an 11th-place finish out of 120 cars in Louisiana and worked his way from the C feature to finish fourth among 140 drivers at Texas Motor Speedway.
Now almost 21, Wheeler is returning to the NCRA because of the competition and the people.
"Whenever I walk into the pits, C. Ray (Hall, NCRA president) and Chris (Smith, NCRA steward) will always shake my hand and say, 'We're glad to see you here; what can we do for you?'" Wheeler said.
As for the competition he adds, "there are 10-15 drivers who could win on any given night."
Wheeler will be piloting a Hughes Racing Chassis machine with a BMS power plant. His other primary sponsors are Wheeler Metals and Lincoln Electric.