NWMT: Thursday Marks 125th All-Time Tour Event At Thompson

RaceChaser Staff Asphalt Modifieds, Featured, NASCAR, Northeast 0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – By Jason Cunningham, NASCAR — Getty Images for NASCAR photo — Thursday’s Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be yet another milestone marker on the historical timeline of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

Thompson, which played host to the inaugural Whelen Modified Tour event on March 21, 1985, will welcome the mighty mods for the 125th time on Wednesday. The relationship between tour and track is so deep that the event total of 125 is more than double that of any other facility except fellow Nutmeg State oval Stafford Motor Speedway, which has held 113.

The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be the Whelen Modified Tour’s first trip to Thompson since the 2014 season-opener in April when Justin Bonsignore powered to Victory Lane. The tour champion will also be crowned at the .625-mile oval for the 15th time in the last 16 years with the season-finale World Series 150 on Oct. 19.

After traditionally running on a Thursday, this year’s Bud 150 has switched to Wednesday, which makes for a tight turnaround for the competitors following last Friday’s Call Before You Dig 811 150 at Stafford. The month of August will be busy in general. With the running of next week’s Bush’s Beans 150 at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway, the tour will compete three times in a 13-day span.

The Bud 150 is expected to attract one of the higher car counts of the 2014 season. Twenty-seven entries were already received a week in advance of the race date.

Fast Facts

The Race:  The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be the 125th all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, and the second of three events this year 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 124 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 now 30 years of competition.

Race Winners: There have been 33 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories. Bobby Santos is the defending Bud 150 winner and Justin Bonsignore was victorious in the first event there this year.

Pole Winners:  There have been 42 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Tony Hirschman’s 13. Santos earned the pole for this race last year and he also maintains the tour’s track qualifying record at 18.237 seconds (123.376 mph), set on April 10, 2011.

Thompson Race Notes

Big Names Looking for First 2014 Win:  Some pretty big NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour names have yet to put a tally in the win column more than halfway through the 2014 season. The first eight races were won by five different drivers, led by Bobby Santos with three, but the list of those looking for a victory is pretty distinguished. Past champions Ted Christopher, Donny Lia, Ryan Preece and Ron Silk top the group without a checkered flag. Christopher has 13 all-time triumphs at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, but is in the midst of the second-longest winless drought of his distinguished career.

Different Faces in Thompson Victory Lane:  Since a four-race winning streak posted by Christopher in 2010-11, nine of the last 11 Whelen Modified Tour events at Thompson have featured a different driver in Victory Lane. During that span only Justin Bonsignore and Santos have won twice at “Big T”. The recent run of parity stands out across the history of the tour at the .625-mile speedway, where five different drivers have won at least four races in a row, and there have been 13 instances of drivers winning back-to-back races.

Pitkat Rebounds With First Win:  The last time the Whelen Modified Tour visited Thompson, Woody Pitkat captured his first career Coors Light Pole Award, led 55 laps, and finished second to Bonsignore. Following top 10s in the first four races, he finished in the 20s in the next three, but rebounded in a big way last week at Stafford Motor Speedway with his first career tour victory. Pitkat and the No. 88 Buzz Chew Chevrolet team will look to their previous success at Thompson, and last week’ breakthrough win, to carry momentum into the Budweiser King of Beers 150.

Coby Keeps Plugging Away in Title Bid:  Other drivers may have more wins, but Doug Coby just keeps methodically plugging away at what could be a second tour crown. Coby enters this week with a slim eight-point advantage in the standings, but with four podiums and an average finish of fourth through seven races, he’s proved to be the championship favorite through the first half of the season. A winner at Thompson in 2011, he’s finished third in the last two events there.

Gittin’s NASCAR Ties:  For the second year in a row, Thompson will bring in Formula Drift star Vaughn Gittin Jr. to provide demonstrations on Budweiser King of Beers 150 race night. While he has competed in drifting competitions and put on exhibitions many times on race tracks, Gittin now has NASCAR racing experience. The Maryland native competed in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1 race last Sunday at Circuit de Trois-Rivieres, a temporary street course in Quebec, and finished 14th.

Home Tracks: Preece Out Front

Ryan Preece has the inside track to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship this year at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Through four of eight Sunoco Modified division race dates, Preece has compiled 240 points, 20 ahead of defending track champ Keith Rocco. Preece, the 2012 Thompson titlist, has won three times this year to Rocco’s one. The Sunoco Modifieds will run a 30-lap, double-points feature on Thursday along with four other NWAAS divisions.

Last Time Out:  Stafford

The eighth race of the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season took place on Aug. 8 at Stafford Motor Speedway. Here are some highlights from the Call Before You Dig 811 150:

• Woody Pitkat turned in a dominating performance en route to his first career victory, which came at his hometown track where he grew up racing. The win came in Pitkat’s 86th career tour start.
• Ron Silk crossed the line second for his best finish of the season while Donny Lia was third for his second podium of 2014.
• Bobby Santos earned his 15th career pole prior to the event and finished 12th.

Next Time Out:  Bristol

The NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours will convene for the sixth annual Bush’s Beans 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, Aug. 20. Tennessee’s famed “World’s Fastest Half Mile” has played host to the combination race each year since 2009. Mike Stefanik was victorious a year ago and Ryan Newman is the event’s only two-time winner.

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