ROXBURY, Conn. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
The 2015 Rookie of the Year battle on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was one of the best in the past decade.
Among the stout field of rookies was Chase Dowling, a former competitor at the Stafford Motor Speedway.He scored one in the NASCAR Whelen All American Series competition in 2014 and went into this season looking for success with NASCAR’s “big boys” of the modified ranks, behind the wheel of the No. 9 Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair Chevrolet.
“The team and I had a great season as far as I am concerned,” Dowling told Race Chaser Online. “We executed all the goals we wanted to achieve this year, got a bunch of top ten finishes and won Rookie of the Year.”
Dowling was the youngest driver that ran full-time in NASCAR’s oldest touring series this season at just 17 years old.
Despite being at a seeming disadvantage due to his age, Dowling had veteran Jamie Tomaino, who has over 500 starts on the Whelen Modified Tour, to mentor and guide him along the road this season.
“The season started off very rough having electrical and mechanical failures. I would never have thought we would end the year 9th in points and Rookie of the Year. Our team as a whole turned the season around and racked up some good finishes after the first three races didn’t go as planned. Jamie Tomaino and the whole JT Motorsports team gave me the opportunity in the tour and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Dowling started in kid karts at his local dirt and asphalt tracks before progressing to full-sized go-karts when his age allowed. During his tenure in the karting divisions, Dowling earned four World Karting Association National wins and scored multiple divisional and local championships.
However, his biggest accomplishments came down in the southern region, most notably a championship in the Summer Shootout Series for Legend cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2012.
Dowling then took a huge step in his racing career in 2013, competing full-time at Stafford in their SK Lite Modified division. During his time there, he grabbed Rookie of the Year honors in the division and grabbed seven other feature wins en route to a runner-up finish in the championship standings.
If that was not enough to prove his talent, Dowling made the jump into the SK Modifieds in 2014 — a division that sees prestigious names in the field every week, including Ted Christopher and Ryan Preece.
Dowling notched Rookie of the Year honors and also collected his first-career win in just his fourth start, making him the youngest driver to win a SK Modified feature at Stafford.
The jump to the tour for Dowling had a large part to do with his past success at Stafford, along with some sponsors that helped him rise up to the top.
“It seems like I was just in the SK Light and we kept moving up through the ranks because my sponsors were behind me backing me and I was successful in the SK Modified and SK Light. As a team, we thought it would be the right thing to do and move up to the tour. S&S Paving backed basically my entire racing career and I couldn’t be racing to this day if it wasn’t for them.”
In fifteen starts, Dowling collected eight top-ten finishes and one top-five — a third at Riverhead in August.
Though Dowling is coming off his Rookie of the Year campaign, he said the 2016 plans are still up in the air at this point.
“It was definitely a challenge this year, and racing with the best of the best shows you if your off a little bit or don’t hit the setup perfect there is ten other guys that will be perfect. It makes the tour hard to compete in. Right now, we don’t have a lot of plans in the making for 2016. We are still trying to find rides and sort our deals out with [potential] race teams.”
Dowling will officially collect the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Honors on Dec. 12 during the NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Awards at the Charlotte Convention Center and NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for the Tri Track Open Modified Series, managed by Dick Williams and the ‘Long Island Mod Maniac,’ James Schaefer.
Email Kyle at: email@example.com
Follow on Twitter: @Kouza34
Email Race Chaser Online: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow RCO on Twitter: @RaceChaserNews