Whelen Motorsports

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Stafford

NWMT • July 30, 2013

• CARQUEST 150 Is Third Of Four Trips For Tour To Stafford
• Pennink Staying In Points Race, Looks For First Stafford Win

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 29, 2013) – Rowan Pennink has his work cut out for him, but he's hanging in there.

Aside from the one race where he was tied for the points lead, Pennink has set firmly in second place in championship standings throughout the first half of the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. And despite the many headlines that points leader Ryan Preece has garnered, Pennink remains in contention.

After consecutive finishes outside the top 10 at Riverhead Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the fifth and sixth events on the schedule, Pennink slipped a season-high 44 tallies behind Preece – essentially a full race's worth of points. But a third-place finish last week at Monadnock Speedway stabilized the brief slide.

As the Whelen Modified Tour begins the schedule's second half in a return to Stafford Motor Speedway this week for the CARQUEST 150, Pennink will look to make ground on two fronts: in the points and in the win column.

A contender to win on most weeks, it has been 42 races since Pennink captured his first Whelen Modified Tour checkered flag at Riverhead during the 2010 season. As one of his best tracks, Stafford will provide the Huntingdon Valley, Pa., driver with a good opportunity to end the drought as well as gain on Preece.

In his last 11 starts at the Stafford half mile, Pennink has posted six top-fives, including a pair of runner-up finishes. In the first two Whelen Modified Tour races at Stafford this season he's finished fifth and third, respectively.

If he is able to accomplish either a win or a points gain – or both – this week, Pennink will have to beat Preece at a track where he already has seven total Modified wins this season. But if Pennink has showed us anything in the season's first half, it's that he's not yet ready to yield.

PLACE: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
DATE: Friday, Aug. 2
TIME: 9:15 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .5-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval
2012 WINNER: Doug Coby
2012 POLESITTER: Ryan Preece
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 2:30-3:30 p.m., Qualifying 6 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 7:30 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Scott Running, 860-684-2783, scottrunning@staffordspeedway.com
TRACK TWITTER: @StaffordSpeedwy

The Race: The 23rd Annual CARQUEST 150 will be the eighth race on the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule and the third of four events this season at Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 31 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 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 three 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 CARQUEST 150 while. Bobby Santos and Ryan Preece have won this season's first races at Stafford.

Pole Winners: There have been 40 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik's 17. Ryan Preece holds the tour's track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph). Bobby Santos set fast time for this event a year ago, as well as the first two Stafford events this year.

Preece Exhibiting Championship-Worthy Consistency: If he's not winning, he's in contention. Season points leader Ryan Preece has finished in the top five in each of the first seven events, highlighted by three victories. His fifth-place effort last week at Monadnock was – remarkably – his worst finish of the season. This week he'll bring a 42-point lead in the standings to Stafford Motor Speedway, where he was victorious in the last NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at the track on June 14, and where he has six triumphs this year in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified action.

North/South Weekend Plans: Three weeks after a trio of NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers came to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to compete in the northern tour event. This week could see the northerners return the favor. If all goes well on Friday in the CARQUEST 150 at Stafford, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers Woody Pitkat, Cole Powell and Preece will head to Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., to compete in Saturday's Kevin Powell Motorsports 199 in Whelen Southern Modified Tour action. Pitkat and Powell will attempt to do the north-south double in the same race cars while Preece will compete at Bowman Gray in his family-owned Modified instead of the No. 16 he drives in the northern tour.

Chew Making Strides: Formerly a long-time competitor in fendered stock cars of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Bryon Chew is now in his third season in the open-wheeled Whelen Modified Tour. In his first 31 career Modified starts Chew recorded three top-10 finishes, but he's doubled that total in just the last four outings. Last week at Monadnock Speedway he ran with the leaders the entire evening and finished fourth for his best showing in 35 career starts. He's also improved from 21st to 13th in the season standings during those last four races.

Trio of Drivers Lead at Stafford: Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Bobby Santos (5), Ted Christopher (3) and Doug Coby (3) have combined to win 11 of the last 14 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races contested at Stafford. The only three drivers outside of that trio for a checkered flag were Preece, Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy. Conversely, in 2008-09 prior to the current run, six different drivers were victorious across eight events.

CARQUEST Bonus Plan: The 23rd Annual CARQUEST 150 will be the second leg of a three-race CARQUEST promotion for Whelen Modified Tour races at Stafford this year where, if the same driver wins all three races, they'll take home a $25,000 bonus. Bobby Santos was victorious in the first leg – the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler – on April 28.

HOME TRACKS: Preece Leads at Stafford, Rocco Tops State Standings
In a hotly-contested weekly points battle, Ryan Preece brings a slim six-point lead on Woody Pitkat in the SK Modified standings at Stafford Motor Speedway into this weekend's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at the historic half mile. Even though he has yet to reach Victory Lane in SK Mod action this season, Pitkat has been able to stay close to Preece despite the latter's six season wins. In the Whelen All-American Series Connecticut state standings Preece and Pitkat rank fourth and fifth, respectively, behind leaders Keith Rocco, Todd Ceravolo and Ted Christopher. In the overall national standings Rocco (third), Preece (sixth) and Ceravolo (eighth) all rank in the top 10.

LAST TIME OUT: Monadnock
The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season reached the midway point with the Town Fair Tire Whitcomb 200 at Monadnock Speedway on July 27 in rural Winchester, N.H. Here are some highlights:
Justin Bonsignore took the lead on Lap 17 and held off multiple challenges for his first win of the season, and third of his career.
Doug Coby followed his win in the previous outing with a runner-up effort at Monadnock, which marked the second year in a row he finished second at the Granite State bullring.
Rowan Pennink was penalized to the rear to start the race, but rallied to finish on the podium.
Eric Goodale captured his first career Coors Light Pole Award prior to the event.

Following the CARQUEST 150, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Thompson (Conn.) Speedway for the second of three races at the .625-mile oval this season with the Budweiser King of Beers 150 on Thursday, Aug. 15. Donny Lia is the defending race winner while Mike Stefanik was victorious in the season's first Thompson event.