Will this be the week for Rowan Pennink?
The more times he finishes second, the more often that question gets
asked. And perhaps with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heading to
Monadnock Speedway for the season's fourth race, the answer will be, "Yes."
Pennink has finished as the race runner-up in each of the first three
events in 2011. While that has helped him forge a 51-point lead in the
season standings, it has also led to the inevitable question. The
Monadnock 200 may pose the best opportunity in the still-young season
for Pennink to break through for the checkers.
Pennink's one Whelen Modified Tour win came on a quarter-mile track -
Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway - a year ago, the same size as Monadnock. While
the similarities between the two tracks pretty much end there, Pennink
has perhaps more experience at Monadnock than the vast majority of
drivers in the field, and has been a consistent top-10 finisher in his
starts there in other racing series. The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., driver
finished 13th in the Whelen Modified Tour's return to the track last year.
Should Pennink find Victory Lane at Monadnock, he will continue the
trend as there has been a different winner in each of the first six
Whelen Modified Tour events at Monadnock. Mike Stefanik, Jamie Tomaino
and last year's winner Ted Christopher will also have a shot at becoming
the track's first multi-time victor.
*Silk Steps Up:* After finishing a career-best fourth in the 2010 final
standings, Ron Silk is up to second after three races this season. He
finished third in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
on May 1 and followed that with his first career win in the Whelen
Modified Tour's return to the track on May 27. He's led a Tour-high 165
laps and is 51 points behind Pennink.
*Preece Steps Aside:* Ryan Preece, who is 10th in the season standings
after three races, will not be at Monadnock this week and his
participation in the balance of the season is undetermined. He parted
ways with the No. 11 team that joined the Whelen Modified Tour this
year. Preece acknowledged the possibility he could run select races in
his family-owned No. 40 that he drove as a rookie in 2007.
*First of Four in NH:* The Monadnock 200 will be the first of four races
for the Whelen Modified Tour in the state of New Hampshire in 2011, the
most since 1998 when there were five. Monadnock, in Winchester, has one
date this year while New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon has three.
In 1998 there were four races in Loudon and one at Lee USA Speedway.
*Schedule Speeds Up:* After contesting three races in the previous 11
weeks, the balance of the 16-race Whelen Modified Tour schedule will be
compacted into the next 17 weeks between now and the season finale at
Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Oct. 16.
*Home Tracks: Patnode Leads The Way*
NWAAS_30Seasons_logo_150A member of the NASCAR Whelen All-American
Series, Monadnock Speedway sanctions six divisions of racing on Saturday
In the headline division - the Modifieds - Kirk Alexander the reigning
track champion. Due to weather, the Modifieds have run only four times
so far this year, and that includes double features on June 18.
Alexander and Todd Patnode have won two races apiece, and Patnode has an
unofficial lead of four points on Alexander following last week's races.
2011 NWMT SMS2 Ron Silk VL 450
Ron Silk went wire-to-wire for the Stafford victory. Getty Images for NASCAR
*Last Time Out: Silk Steals Stafford Show*
At a place where he has historically struggled, Ron Silk left no doubt that he had solved his Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway bugaboo when he dominated the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 on May 27. Silk, who had an average finish of 18th in 24 career starts at the half mile, took home the Coors Light Pole Award and proceeded to lead all 125 laps en route to his fifth career victory in the second of four races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford in 2011. Rowan Pennink notched his third runner-up finish in a row while Bobby Santos, Ted Christopher and Erick Rudolph rounded out the top five.
*Up Next: Budweiser 150*
The second of four races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 2011 will be next on the schedule with the Budweiser 150 on Thursday, June 30.
While racing this time of year at Thompson is historically not uncommon for the Whelen Modified Tour, this is the first event at the .625-mile track in the month of June since 2008. The August race date of recent seasons has moved to June this year.
The 2011 season opened at Thompson with the annual Icebreaker on April
10 and Ted Christopher earned yet another victory at the track where he
has become increasingly dominant in recent seasons. He's won six of the
last eight races there, and 12 total during a career that has seen him
rack up nearly 100 total triumphs at Thompson across all racing series.
Rowan Pennink, Mike Stefanik, Ryan Preece and Justin Bonsignore brought
home the top five in the Icebreaker.
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