After a thrilling finish to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 21, anticipation for the inaugural Musket 250 flew off the charts. Not only did anticipation grow for fans of the Mighty Modifieds, but it also grew for many drivers. One of the drivers most excited to return to the Magic Mile this weekend is one of the tour’s rising stars, Chase Dowling.
Dowling enters Saturday’s Musket 250 after coming up just .014 seconds short of a victory in July. The finish earned the 20-year-old driver a lot of praise from many NASCAR Cup and XFINITY Series personalities, while seemingly cementing that his first win on the Tour was just a matter of time away.
Despite being disappointed in the final outcome, Dowling was confident with how he drove those last few laps and believes that he would do it the same way if he’s put in a similar situation at the end of Saturday’s race.
“Loudon is a track where position is key at the end of the race. We tried getting the run we could, and we just came up a little short last time,” Dowling stated.
Entering Full Throttle Fall Weekend, Dowling will be taking back the same car that came within .014 seconds of victory back in the summer. This time though, he knows things are going to be a lot different.
“We’re bringing back the same car that we ran there in July,” Dowling told Speed51.com. “It was pretty fast all day. We just got to see if we can put it all together. It’s a long race, 250 laps; there’s going to be a lot of strategy for the crew chiefs. Everyone is just kind of open to what’s going to happen. No one really has a plan yet since this race has never been done before.”
Distance is an obvious difference this coming Saturday, but so is the overall race strategy. With just one mid-race break at Lap 100 scheduled, green flag pitstops are a possibility if yellow flags do not fall within a full fuel run. It’s a new wrinkle to a new type of racing that Dowling and many on the Whelen Modified Tour have never experienced.
“It’s going to be a lot different than those 100-lap races where you had the break at halfway and a 50-lap dash to the end. It’s going to be a little more strung out than in the past if it stays green. It’s going to be about where those yellows fall, so we might have a different finish than what we had before.”
The 250-lap distance will also tax the endurance of the Tour drivers, who are used to a maximum of 100 miles at the “Magic Mile” or 200 laps on the shorter tracks. But given Dowling’s time and dedication in the LFR shop, he’s not too concerned about going the distance.
“If working 16 hours a day counts, then that’s about it. That’s probably a little exaggerated, but if I had time to go to the gym I would. But there’s no time to do that. Just got to rest up before the race and stay hydrated, along with doing my usual thing. It’s not like running 300 laps at Riverhead; that’s a little different. At Loudon you can cool down on the long straightaways. It’s going to be more of a mental game, keeping your focus for 250 laps, staying up on the wheel and not making a mistake.”
Poised and serious the majority of the time at the track and in the shop, Dowling has made no bones that should he get that anticipated first win this Saturday, it would be a tremendous achievement.
“It’d be pretty cool, the biggest race in Modified history, with the biggest purse and one the biggest track,” Dowling stated. “Plus we’re still looking for our first win, we want to get that checked off. We’ve had strong runs this year. There’s no reason we can’t pull it off. We’ll see what happens. We just need to do our best together as a team, work hard as best we can and see how it goes.”
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Rick Ibsen