Whelen Motorsports

NASCAR Whelen Modified/Whelen Southern Modified Tour News & Notes: Bristol

NWMT • August 19, 2013

• Fifth Annual TitanRoof150 Combination Event
• Brunnhoelzl, Preece Lead Tours To "World's Fastest Half Mile"

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2013) – On the backstretch of their respective 2013 schedules, the NASCAR Whelen Modified and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tours will descend upon Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the fifth annual TitanRoof 150 combination race on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Considered by many of the competitors as a wild card event, the annual trek to Bristol figures to have title implications as the respective tours get closer to crowning a champion. Ryan Preece brings a 16-point lead in the Whelen Modified Tour standings to the "World's Fastest Half Mile" following nine of 14 dates while George Brunnhoelzl III will start the second half of the 12-race Whelen Southern Modified Tour slate with a 21-point advantage.

Preece, a member of the 2013-14 NASCAR Next driver lineup, will be looking for his first victory on the Bristol high banks just as much as he'll be trying to halt a two-race skid that has seen his championship lead dramatically reduced. A three-time winner so far this season, Preece recorded top-five finishes in each of the first seven events where he compiled a 42-point advantage, but it's become much more interesting following incidents in the closing laps in each of the last two outings.

On Preece's heels is reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby. Fifty-three points behind Preece four races ago, Coby has since recorded a pair of wins and two additional top-five finishes to firmly establish his title defense effort.

Meanwhile in Whelen Southern Modified Tour action, Brunnhoelzl has been up to his old tricks. A champion in three of the previous four seasons, Brunnhoelzl looks poised for another title run with three victories in six races so far this season.

Bristol has been a venue for Brunnhoelzl to build championship credentials as well. En route to his 2009 and 2012 crowns, the native Long Islander was the highest-finishing Whelen Southern Modified Tour competitor in the combo event.

Although five other drivers remain within a race's worth of points from Brunnhoelzl in the championship standings, Kyle Ebersole has provided the closest competition so far this season. After he ranked sixth in points as a rookie a year ago, Ebersole has finished in the top five in four of six races.

RACE: TitanRoof 150
PLACE: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
DATE: Wednesday, Aug. 21
TIME: 6 p.m. ET
TELEVISION: Live on Fox Sports 2
TRACK LAYOUT: .533-mile, high-banked concrete oval
2012 WINNER: Ron Silk (NWMT and overall) / George Brunnhoelzl III (NWSMT)
2012 POLESITTER: Ron Silk (NWMT and overall) / Ryan Newman (NWSMT)
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 8:30-9:50 a.m., Final Practice 11-11:50 a.m., Driver Autograph Session 1:45-2:15 p.m., Qualifying 2:45 p.m.
EVENT HASHTAGS: #TitanRoof150, #ItsBristolBaby

The Race: The TitanRoof 150 will be the 10th of 14 races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, the seventh of 12 events for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, and the lone combination points race for the two tours this year.

The Procedure: The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 30 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining six spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (79.97 miles). The race will have a midway break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75 and the tire change rule is four tires, any position.

The Track: Nicknamed the "World's Fastest Half Mile," Bristol Motor Speedway is a high-banked concrete oval. The track opened in 1961 as an even half-mile with 22 degrees of banking in the turns. It now features progressive banking approaching 30 degrees through the corners and a distance of .533 miles.

Race Winners: Donny Lia was victorious in the first UNOH Perfect Storm 150 in 2009 while Ryan Newman took the checkered flag in 2010 and 2011, with Ron Silk the victor last year. The highest-finishing NWSMT drivers in the first four Bristol races, which are credited with a win in that tour, were George Brunnhoelzl III (twice), James Civali and Frank Fleming.

Pole Winners: Qualifying was rained out for the inaugural event, but Justin Bonsignore took the Coors Light Pole Award in 2010 with a fast lap of 14.835 seconds (129.334 mph), which remains the record. Bobby Santos was the overall pole winner in 2011 and Silk in 2012. James Civali, Tim Brown and Brunnhoelzl have been the highest-qualifying NWSMT drivers.

First Race on Fox Sports 2: Following the launch of Fox Sports 1 with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as the first live sporting event for the network, the TitanRoof 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway will be the first live NASCAR race on Fox Sports 2. To see if your cable or satellite provider carries Fox Sports 2, which was previously known as Fuel TV, please go to the following link and click on the "Find It Now On Your TV" graphic: http://hmtk.co/1bMqNF0. The TitanRoof 150 broadcast will begin on a slight tape delay on Wednesday.

Bucket List Event for Battle Winner Park: Stating that it is on his bucket list of places to race a Modified, Steve Park is set to compete in the TitanRoof 150 at Bristol. Park, who was victorious in the inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona International Speedway in February in his return to the open wheel division, was a 16-time winner early on in his racing career in a Whelen Modified before going on to have success in NASCAR's top ranks. He'll compete with the same team he won Daytona with – Mike Smeriglio Racing – while fellow Long Island native and current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. will serve as his crew chief.

Christopher Seeks Elusive Bristol Win: Perhaps no driver has been more dominant in the previous four editions of the TitanRoof 150 at the "World's Fastest Half Mile" than Ted Christopher, but he's yet to have anything to show for it. Christopher finished second to Donny Lia in 2009's inaugural event after leading a race-high 110 circuits, then had to settle for an 18th-place result in 2010 when he again led the most laps – 80 – but suffered a late-race engine failure. Christopher did not participate in the 2011 race, but came back in 2012 to lead 46 more laps before getting wrecked out on Lap 105. Despite participating in only three of the four races in the event's history, he is still the laps led leader there with 236, 107 more than two-time winner Ryan Newman. Christopher, who ranks third in Whelen Modified Tour history with 42 career wins, has been victorious at 12-different tracks during his career.

South Still Searching for Combo Victory: Wednesday's race will mark the 11th head-to-head, points-paying combination race between the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours. Through the first four editions of the TitanRoof 150 at Bristol, and the six combo races between the two tours at Martinsville Speedway from 2005-10, the southern contingent is still seeking its first victory over its northern counterparts. James Civali has the highest finish of a designated southern driver through the first four Bristol races when he crossed the line third overall in 2010 and was credited with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory for his efforts.

Two-Time Winner Newman Up and Down at Bristol: A four-time winner overall in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman came out victorious in the 2010 and 2011 events at Bristol. Conversely, in the 2009 and 2012 races he finished 37th and 19th overall, respectively. In his only previous Modified appearance this year, Newman finished fifth at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, which is where his other two career triumphs have been earned.

Other Drivers to Watch: A total of four drivers have earned top-10 finishes for their respective tours across each of the previous four Bristol combo races. From the northern-based tour, Eric Goodale has top-10 finishes in all four Bristol trips while Todd Szegedy has actually finished top five among his fellow Whelen Modified Tour competitors each time. On the southern side, Jason Myers and Andy Seuss have both recorded top-10 finishes all four years among the Whelen Southern Modified Tour entrants.

HOME TRACKS: Finchum Leads Volunteer State
It's been a breakthrough season for Chad Finchum. As of the latest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standings released on Aug. 13, Finchum was tops in Tennessee state points. Competing at Kingsport Speedway, Finchum had recorded five wins, 13 top fives and 18 top 10s in 19 starts for 635 points. Zeke Shell and Daniel Pope ranked second and third with 579 and 569 points, respectively. On Aug. 16, Finchum finished first and second in twin 50-lap features to clinch Kingsport's season track championship.

The most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race was held at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway on Aug. 15. Here are some highlights from the Budweiser King of Beers 150:
• Bobby Santos won the day as he drove the No. 44 Chevrolet to the fastest lap in practice and qualifying, then went on to lead 135 laps en route to the victory. It was the 10th career win for Santos, and 12th career pole.
• The winner of the Bud 150 the previous season, Donny Lia crossed the line second to tie his season-best finish while Eric Goodale was third for the second-best finish of his career.
• Points leader Ryan Preece was caught up in a late-race accident and finished 13th.

The most recent NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race was held at Bowman Gray Stadium on Aug. 3 in Winston-Salem, N.C. Here are some highlights from the Kevin Powell Motorsports 199:
• Less than 24 hours after competing in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event in Stafford, Conn., Ryan Preece trekked south to capture his first checkered flag in Whelen Southern Modified Tour action.
• Preece also recorded his first Coors Light Pole Award in southern tour competition prior to the event.
• Multi-time Stadium track champion Burt Myers finished as the runner-up while Cole Powell tied his southern tour career-best finish in third place.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway for the Green Earth Technologies 200 on Saturday, Sept. 14. It will be the second and final event of the season at the Long Island quarter-mile after Ryan Preece drove to Victory Lane at the bullring on June 27.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will head to Langley Speedway for the Newport News Shipbuilding/Bayport Credit Union 150 on Saturday, Aug. 31. This will be the fourth consecutive year the track in Hampton, Va., will play host an event. Jason Myers is the defending race winner.