NWMT: Zachem Reflects on Successful Rookie Season With NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour

Kyle Souza Asphalt Modifieds, Featured, New England, Northeast, Touring Series 0 Comments

PRESTON, Conn. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —

For Preston, Conn. native Max Zachem, the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season was a success.

Zachem was running in the front with the best of the best on the Tour during many races, and though his finishes sometimes didn’t show it in the final tally, he had a solid car everywhere the tour visited this year.

“Originally we were only running a partial schedule, and we ended up running every race this year,”  Zachem told Race Chaser Online on Tuesday. “We had some sponsors come on board mid-summer which carried us through.”

As with any rookie on the tour, it’s a challenge to get used to the grueling battles that go on during the races. The drivers at the top of the class have been running for multiple seasons and this year’s overall championship fight came down to the wire at Thompson, with a tie entering the final event between Doug Coby and Ryan Preece.

“This season was a fun learning experience, but a challenging one for sure. Being a smaller team on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, we knew the uphill battle and challenges would be difficult. We worked hard and never gave up.”

In 2015, Zachem collected one top-10 finish in fifteen starts — a fourth place finish at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in May — that currently stands as his best career finish in NASCAR’s oldest touring series.

“We had some races [where] we made mistakes, but that’s [what can happen with] a rookie race team [competing] against many veteran race teams,” he added. “That Waterford race; we didn’t make any mistakes and it showed.”

Zachem had competed in three prior NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events before this 2015 season. Two of the races were at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and the third came at Stafford Motor Speedway. In 2013, Zachem started in eighth and finished sixth at the Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing at Thompson, which was his best Tour finish until this year.

For the most part, however, his modified experience had mainly come in the Valenti Modified Racing Series (VMRS) behind the wheel of a family-owned ride. In 2014, Zachem ended his time on the VMRS after what he called a “disagreement with series officials,” despite showing vast improvement in the modified class.

Zachem made the jump to the Tour in 2015 and immediately saw the differences between the two divisions.However, he wasn’t about to back down from the challenge.

“Racing styles are so much different between the two series. On the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour you take the race and break it down to two separate races with the pit stop compared to the Valenti Modified Racing Series running the same set of tires all race long.”

During the season, Zachem was a part of a hotly-contested Rookie of the Year battle primarily between three drivers. Riverhead, N.Y. native Jeff Goodale ended up coming in third with 92 points, while Zachem finished second with 101 points. Those two drivers ultimately trailed the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honoree, Chase Dowling.

“I think it was a successful season, especially since again, we were one of the few teams not planning on running the full season,” Zachem admitted. “We had a shot to go for Rookie of the Year, but we came up short. Congrats to Chase for winning it.”

As with every team across the Whelen Modified Tour, Zachem said that his sponsors and his team keep him going each and every week — both financially and with the work in the shop.

“We are currently out looking for sponsors and marketing partners for next year, trying to raise our program to the next level. The competition on the NWMT is second to none so we need to step up our program to contend for the title.”

“I have to thank my entire race team for all their hard work from the race shop to the race track. Trowbridge Transport, Dunleavy’s, Lu-Mac’s Package Store, Broad Brook Heating & Cooling, CLN/BB, Top Run Inspection, New England Race Fuels, Fail Safe Ladder Testing, and so many more involved with my race team this year.”

For more information on Max Zachem, visit his website at www.maxzachemotorsports.com.


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: kylesouza34@gmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @Kouza34

Email Race Chaser Online: news@racechaseronline.com

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