On the eve of their first race as an organization, the Modified Touring Series prepares for the final countdown to the green flag of Saturday’s Winchester 200 at New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway. Since the announcement of the series’ creation back in December 2015 there have been many questions as to how the series will go about putting itself on the map. The first move was the announcement a $15,000-to-win show to bring in the drivers, and in turn the fans.
“We received an email from a fan out of Canada they’re going to the racetrack, we got one coming from Virginia, we got them coming from everywhere,” series director Gary Knight told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “To me that’s what’s important, we’re hearing from the fans. The fans like what they’re seeing and what they’re hearing.”
One of the biggest questions remaining leading into the inaugural race is driver/team turnout. While most racers have been committed since the race was announced, others have had question marks. Some have had to step away, such as Todd Szegedy and car owner Kevin Stuart who’s No. 85 Modified had received major damage the previous Saturday in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Despite the uncertainty, Knight is confident with the level of participation expected and is thankful to those drivers ready to throw their name in.
“I’m pleased, you’d like to have more and more, but at the end of the day we’ll see what we get. Some things are out of your control. The people that support us, those are the ones to be happy with.”
One question that has been answered in pre-race testing is that of tires with American Racer providing the inventory for the weekend in a region known for running Hoosier rubber in Tour-Type Modified racing.
“We’re very happy. All the teams have performed very well on it. The times are good, the wear is good, haven’t heard one bad thing from one team,” said Knight of the tests.
The feedback from 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ryan Preece reflected Knight’s confidence.
“I liked them, they’re consistent. It’s a different tire, but as far as setup wise, we didn’t have to change too much except for some characteristics that Hoosier has versus American Racer. They’re both good tires and they both get the job done.”
For Preece, the race comes at an opportune time with the NASCAR XFINTY Series off for the weekend. Preece will conclude a three track weekend that includes SK Modified racing at Thompson Wednesday and Stafford Friday. It’s a rare chance for Preece to go to Monadnock, a track that he’s come to enjoy.
“Won the Tour race in 2012, got the track record last year. I love that place. I went there as a young kid when we were starting out. I’ve always liked it.”
Only time will tell how Saturday’s 200-lap race will turn out. There are many variables with the focus for the series and Knight’s primary focus is having the series conduct themselves in a way that builds a future for the fledgling MTS.
“Right now there’s a lot of people watching to see how we perform and how we handle ourselves. We are under a magnifying glass as far as that goes. We’re gaining some credibility there. When we came out, we didn’t have any. We’ll look forward, we have a blank piece of paper on desk right after it and we’ll start working on something else.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com State Editor (CT, MA, LI) Twitter – @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen