DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Buoyed by the intense on-track competition and an ascending television and online following, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is riding high into the 2016 season.
When Doug Coby emerged from the closest championship battle in 31 years of Whelen Modified Tour competition last fall at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, it punctuated one of the most prosperous seasons in the tour’s history. The 2015 success stories are already bearing fruit for 2016.
Upstate New York’s Oswego Speedway and Southeastern Massachusetts’ Seekonk Speedway will welcome the Whelen Modified Tour back to their markets for the first time in decades. Likewise, a host of drivers have expressed or announced intent to either join or rejoin tour competition, while others are looking to increase their frequency of participation from 2015.
Here’s a look back at the 2015 competition, sponsorship and consumption highlights:
- Coby, Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat entered the season finale separated by just four points in the closest championship competition since the Whelen Modified Tour was born in 1985.
- The championship was tight from start to finish. The only time the margin between first and second place reached double figures was on the final day of the season.
- The final championship margin of 11 points for Coby over Preece was tied for the third-closest in tour history. Coby also edged Preece by 11 in 2012.
- Coby became just the third driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to earn three career titles.
- With championship podium finishes in each of the past four seasons, Preece parlayed his Whelen Modified Tour success to a full-time NASCAR XFINITY Series ride for 2016.
- The 15 championship events featured an average car count of 31.2, up from 26.5 in 2014. It was the highest average since 31.6 in 2010.
- Those 15 events featured an average of 6.5 lead changes, the second-highest mark this decade.
- Hoosier Tire, the official tire supplier of the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours, increased their commitment by adding three new contingency awards per race that did not exist in previous seasons.
- Between the Hoosier Tire Lap Leader Award, Hoosier Tire Fastest Lap Award and Hoosier Tire Most Improved Driver Award, 13 different drivers earned 45 of the new awards.
- With 11 different contingency awards up for grabs each race, a total of 165 were handed out during the campaign.
- In NBCSN’s first season as the official television partner of NASCAR’s regional touring series, the network televised a combined 14 events between the Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours in 2015.
- The 14 telecasts provided triple the exposure of the open wheel divisions from 2014.
- The expanded coverage resulted in a 41-percent increase in unique viewers over the previous season.
- NASCAR’s regional touring and weekly series’ official website, NASCARHomeTracks.com, earned a 10-percent increase in unique visitors and an eight-percent bump in page views in 2015 compared to the previous season.
- Modified fans once again showed that they’re among the best consumers of news in the sport as the Whelen Modified Tour’s home page was the most viewed series page in 2015 on NASCARHomeTracks.com.
- Outside of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing from New Smyrna Speedway in February, the Whelen Modified Tour also produced the three most followed events during the remainder of the year from the site’s Race Central Live coverage.
NASCAR unveiled the 2016 schedule in mid-December. With the addition of Oswego and Seekonk, the slate features 17 points events, the most dates since 2005. The Whelen Modified Tour campaign will begin on April 10 at Thompson as the headlining event of the 42nd Annual Icebreaker weekend.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com