Whelen Motorsports

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Stafford

NWMT • April 23, 2013

· Tour Set To Headline 42nd Annual Spring Sizzler
· Coby Returns To Where Title Campaign Started

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 22, 2013) – Even though Stafford Motor Speedway is 75 miles from Doug Coby’s hometown, but during his 2012 championship season Coby might as well have called it “Home Sweet Home.”

Coby, from Milford, Conn., launched his title campaign in earnest with a victory in last year’s CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler at the Connecticut oval, then strengthened it with wins in two of the remaining three races there on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. Without those three Stafford checkered flags, who knows how Coby’s season would have gone.

The tour’s record book for Stafford is dominated with accomplishments from Ted Christopher and Mike Stefanik, but Coby is positioning himself as the present-day master of the historic half mile. Including those three wins from last year, Coby has seven-straight top-10 finishes at Stafford and has led laps in six of his last 10 Whelen Modified Tour races there.

While the Spring Sizzler will be just the second of 14 races on the 2013 schedule, the importance of winning it should not be understated when thinking about the season championship. Including Coby a year ago, eight Sizzler winners have gone on to earn the Whelen Modified Tour title, including four of the previous eight seasons. The driver that stands in Victory Lane this time around will have to feel optimistic about their championship hopes moving forward.

Coby will look to keep his run going by becoming the fifth different driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to earn back-to-back Spring Sizzlers win this coming Sunday in Stafford’s 42nd edition of the famed event.

RACE: CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler
PLACE: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
DATE: Sunday, April 28
TIME: 3:15 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .5-mile, banked asphalt oval
2012 WINNER: Doug Coby
2012 POLESITTER: Ryan Preece
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday, April 27 - Practice 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Qualifying 2:30 p.m.; Sunday, April 28 - Driver Autograph Session 11 a.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Scott Running, 860-684-2783, scottrunning@staffordspeedway.com
TRACK TWITTER: @StaffordSpeedwy

The Race: The 42nd Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler will be the second race on the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule and the first of four events this season at Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Procedure: The starting field is 33 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (75 miles) and the race tire change rule is two tires, any position.

The Track: A half-mile, slightly-banked oval, Stafford originated as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding automobile races following World War II. Stafford became a NASCAR track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967.

Race Winners: There have been 31 different race winners at Stafford all-time, led by Mike Stefanik’s 20 victories. Doug Coby is the defending winner of the Spring Sizzler, the first of his three victories at the track in 2013. Ted Christopher has won this event a record five times.

Pole Winners: There have been 40 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Ryan Preece set fast time for this event a year ago, and in the process also set the tour’s track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph).

Christopher the Spring Sizzler’s Top Performer: A winner of 118 feature races at Stafford Motor Speedway during his decorated career, Ted Christopher is also the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s leader in victories during the prestigious Spring Sizzler event with five. Christopher was the tour’s Spring Sizzler winner in back-to-back seasons in 2002 and 2003, then captured the checkers three times in a row from 2008-10. His Sizzler win total is one ahead of Mike Stefanik, who owns the overall Whelen Modified Tour wins record at Stafford with 20. Of Christopher’s 118 total wins at the track, 12 have come in tour events.

Stefanik Looks to End Stafford Drought: While he has those record-setting 20 Stafford wins on his résumé, the last time Stefanik stood in Victory Lane at the historic half mile was the 2008 Fall Final, a span of 17 races. The winner of this year’s opener at Thompson International Speedway, Stefanik feasted at Stafford earlier in his career, including a stretch of 11 wins in 21 starts from 1993-2001. Since that 2001 Fall Final triumph, however, Stefanik has recorded just three wins in 41 starts. He’s still remained remarkably consistent during that period though, with 31 top-10 finishes.

Pitkat Poised for First Win: Veteran driver Woody Pitkat has been close to a first career Whelen Modified Tour win for a few years now, and Stafford might just be his best bet to seal the deal. A winner of 64 features at Stafford in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, Pitkat had top 10s in each of his four tour starts there a year ago. In the Fall Final he tied an overall career-best with a runner-up finish after leading a race-high 128 laps. Since teaming with Hillbilly Racing late in 2012, Pitkat has averaged a top-10 finish across five starts.

Stafford Triple Crown: CARQUEST is already the perennial sponsor of Stafford’s season-opening and season-closing weekends, and now the auto parts chain has teamed with the track to launch a bonus plan for the Whelen Modified Tour events at the track this year called the CARQUEST Triple Crown. If a driver wins all three tour races that CARQUEST will sponsor this year – including the Spring Sizzler, the August CARQUEST 150 and the Fall Final – they’ll receive a $25,000 bonus. A driver has won three Whelen Modified Tour races in a season at Stafford on six occasions, including Doug Coby a year ago, however no driver has ever swept all four of the season’s events there.

HOME TRACKS: Stafford Stacked In SK Mod Division
Already one of the most competitive divisions anywhere in the nation, Stafford Motor Speedway’s SK Modifieds figure to be even stronger in 2013. With the addition of Doug Coby and Rowan Pennink, the track’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I SK Mods will now include six NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers on a weekly basis this year in addition to traditional Stafford competitors Eric Berndt, seven-time track champ Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat and 2011 track titlist Ryan Preece. Add to that a number of others that have run with the tour through the years like Dan Avery, Tom Bolles, Glen Reen and two-time track champion Keith Rocco and the Stafford SK Modifieds will be a premier division to watch in the coming season.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour opened its 2013 campaign with the Icebreaker on April 14 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway. Here are some highlights:
· Mike Stefanik was the story of opening weekend as he sat on the pole and then took home the checkered flag. Stefanik’s third career Icebreaker win also extended his previously-held marks for overall all-time wins (73) and wins at Thompson (15).
· Rowan Pennink led a race-high 79 laps and finished as the runner-up while Ryan Preece paced the field for 61 laps and came home third.
· The race marked the 12th year in a row that the tour had opened the season as part of Icebreaker weekend.

NEXT TIME OUT: Monadnock
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to action on Saturday, May 11 at Monadnock Speedway in rural Winchester, N.H. In eight all-time tour races at the quarter-mile, there have been eight-different winners. Ryan Preece captured the pole a year ago and went wire-to-wire for the victory.