Whelen Motorsports

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Thompson

NWMT • August 13, 2013

• Second Of Three Thompson Events Up Next With Bud 150
• Coby’s Midseason Surge Tightens Title Picture

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2013) – Although it was way too early to count him out of the championship picture at the time, when Doug Coby was unable to compete with a race car destroyed in qualifying earlier this season at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, it was fair to say that his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title defense had sprung a leak.

The leak has been plugged, the sinking ship righted.

Coby, from Milford, Conn., has driven to Victory Lane twice with an additional runner-up finish in the three races since his qualifying calamity at Riverhead. He ranked fifth in the standings and was 53 points back of leader Ryan Preece following Riverhead, but as the Whelen Modified Tour heads to Thompson (Conn.) Speedway this Thursday for the Budweiser King of Beers 150, Coby now sits second, 25 back of Preece.

Like New Hampshire and Stafford Motor Speedways – where his two victories have come during the surge – Coby is a proven winner at Thompson. He was victorious in both the Northern Thompson 125 and the non-points UNOH Showdown in September 2011.

Recent runs at Thompson also point toward Coby continuing his charge in the standings. In 10 points races at Thompson since 2010 with the No. 52 Darling Racing Team, Coby has posted an average finish of seventh with three podiums.

To continue to make up ground, Coby will once again have to beat Preece on the track, which figures to be easier said than done. Although he has yet to reach Thompson Victory Lane in Whelen Modified Tour action, Preece has recorded one podium finish after another in recent seasons at the .625-mile oval, including the last three visits there.

With two of the final six events on the calendar, Thompson will once again go a long way toward deciding the 2013 championship, and we’ll see who gets the upper hand on Thursday.

RACE: Budweiser King of Beers 150
PLACE: Thompson (Conn.) Speedway
DATE: Thursday, Aug. 15
TIME: 8:30 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .625-mile, high-banked asphalt oval
2012 WINNER: Donny Lia
2012 POLESITTER: Mike Stefanik
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 2:30-3:30 p.m., Qualifying 5:30 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 7 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Russ Dowd, 860-923-2280, pitcrew@thompsonspeedway.com
TRACK TWITTER: @ThompsonSpeedwy

The Race: The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be the second of three events this year for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson Speedway and the only event under the lights at the famed northeastern Connecticut oval.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field for the Icebreaker is 35 cars, including provisionals. The first 30 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 (93.75 miles) and the tire change rule is three tires, any position.

The Track: A .625-mile high-banked oval that opened in 1940, Thompson was the first entirely asphalt track in the nation, and was the largest in New England for five decades. Thompson has played host to 121 Whelen Modified Tour races all-time, more than any other track, and is one of two facilities to welcome the tour in each of its 29 years of competition.

Race Winners: There have been 32 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 14 victories. Donny Lia won this event last year while Mike Stefanik was victorious in this year’s Icebreaker.

Pole Winners: There have been 41 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Tony Hirschman’s 13. Mike Stefanik earned the pole for this race last year – as well as this year’s Icebreaker – and Bobby Santos set the tour’s track qualifying record at 18.237 seconds (123.376 mph) on April 10, 2011.

Christopher One Win Behind Stefanik: Ted Christopher enters the Budweiser King of Beers 150 one win shy of matching Mike Stefanik for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour all-time wins lead at Thompson Speedway. Christopher has won 13 times at “Big T” since 2000, including a span of seven triumphs in nine races there from 2008-11. Christopher did win the non-points UNOH Showdown at Thompson last September, but is on a current seven-race drought at the track. His overall winless drought has extended to 23 races, the second-longest of his storied career.

Preece Still Looking for Thompson Tour Win: One driver conspicuously absent from the Whelen Modified Tour’s all-time wins list at Thompson is Ryan Preece. The owner of eight career tour wins, Preece has yet to break through at Thompson despite four poles and a whole host of top finishes in 23 starts there. In fact, Preece has been on the podium seven times in the last 12 Whelen Modified events at the track. Despite the lack of a tour win there, Preece is a proven winner at Thompson, where he captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship a year ago with 10 victories.

Recent Thompson Winners Were Streak Breakers: If Christopher, Preece and others are looking to break winless droughts at Thompson, then the recent history is encouraging. Stefanik won this year’s season-opener at Thompson to end a career-long 28-race drought there while three of last year’s four victors – Ron Silk, Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos – all ended double-digit droughts at the track.

HOME TRACKS: Rocco In Tight Thompson Battle
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action at Thompson Speedway has suffered the wrath of Mother Nature in 2013 as just seven feature races have been run during a season that has seen six rainouts, including the last three weeks in a row. Despite the weather issues, Keith Rocco is in a tight points battle for the track championship out of the Sunoco Modified division with four other contenders. Rocco, a three-time champion at Thompson, has nabbed four victories and compiled 312 points. Defending track titlist Ryan Preece has one checkered flag and 306 points to sit in a tie for second in the season standings with Woody Pitkat and Kerry Malone. Todd Ceravolo ranks fifth in points, just 12 tallies behind his son-in-law Rocco.

The most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race was held on Aug. 2 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. Here are some highlights from the CARQUEST 150:
• Reigning tour champion Doug Coby continued his mid-season surge with a dominant victory in the CARQUEST 150 as he lapped all but six of the other 25 cars in the field en route to his ninth career triumph. It was his fifth career Stafford tour win, and fourth in the last two seasons.
• Donny Lia (second) and Ted Christopher (third) joined Coby on the podium. It was the best finish of the season to-date for Lia.
• Prior to the race Bobby Santos earned his third Coors Light Pole Award in a row at Stafford, and sixth at the track. It was his 11th career pole overall.
• Points leader Ryan Preece cut a tire two laps shy of the checkered flag and was credited with a 16th-place finish. The result ended streaks of top-fives (9) and lead-lap finishes (13).

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will head to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the fifth annual Titan Roof 150 combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The first four editions have all been won by northern tour representatives as Donny Lia (2009), Ryan Newman (2010, `11) and Ron Silk (2012) have driven to Victory Lane at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile.” The Titan Roof 150 will be carried live on Fox Sports 2, which as of Aug. 17, will be the channel currently known as Fuel TV.