When Gary Knight announced the creation of the Modified Touring Series in December 2015, it came with the statement that the time and effort would be taken to make it a series that would be different from others. After much time and effort, Knight along with his wife and series co-founder Alichia, have revealed the unique championship format that the series will use to crown its inaugural champion.
The championship format is joined to the previously announced 10-race schedule and draws inspiration from NASCAR’s Playoff system used since 2014. The championship format will be sponsored by Sunoco Race Fuels and will be known as the “Sunoco Quest for the Cup.”
Speed51.com powered by JEGS spoke with the Knights who broke down the format and rules.
The season as a whole will be 10 races in length and drivers must compete in the first six events to be considered championship eligible. Each race will award race winners 40 points, declining by one with each position; 39 for second, 38 for third, etc. Drivers also receive two bonus points per win in addition to the 40 regular points.
The first five races of the season – Monadnock (NH) on April 22, Waterford (CT) on May 6, Stafford (CT) on June 2, Seekonk (MA) on June 10, and Riverhead (NY) on June 17 – will determine who qualifies for the Sunoco Quest for the Cup.
Full-time race winners from the first five races automatically advance to the Quest with any number of bonus points earned. After race winners, full-time drivers with the highest amount of points will be taken until the Quest field is at 12.
Races six through nine will determine who competes for the overall series championship during the final race of the season.
Beginning at race six, the 12 championship eligible drivers will have their points upped to 300, with bonus points for race winners being retained.
The Quest for the Cup begins during the sixth race of the season at Monadnock July 1, with no eliminations, just a chance to build points.
Quest drivers that win race six or seven are locked in for the season-ending championship race. After race number seven at Stafford on July 21, the two lowest teams in points with no wins in the Quest for the Cup are eliminated.
Any driver who has not been eliminated and wins race eight at Monadnock on August 19 will advance. After race eight, the four lowest remaining drivers in points with no wins in the Quest races are eliminated.
The rule for a new championship eligible race winner is still the same for race nine at Waterford on September 9. After race nine, the lowest remaining driver in points without a Quest win is eliminated.
That will leave a field of five drivers remaining for the championship race at Monadnock Speedway on September 16. From there, the formula is simple: the highest finisher wins the 2017 Modified Touring Series championship.
This type of idea was first presented to race tracks when the MTS began searching for race dates, and all facilities on the schedule were open to the idea.
“We proposed this from the beginning and the tracks felt like something new was good. We felt we got a good response back from the facilities about it,” Gary Knight said.
The biggest goal MTS has is not just to stand apart from other series in New England but to offer more drivers a chance at a title, while also keeping fans engaged.
“Everybody we talked to is really excited about it, it’s something different. We based it on NASCAR’s championship Chase; we based it off that, but it’s never been done in the Short Track setting,” Alichia Knight explained. “My goal is to keep the fans involved every race as well as the teams and the drivers. Everybody has an equal opportunity to actually go somewhere in this format. If somebody has a lucky night, perfect. And with the points system close as it is, no one is going to run away halfway through the season.”
The MTS also announced that Sunoco, who will be the fuel supplier and sponsor of the Quest for the Cup, will also sponsor a redraw at each event where the top-10 qualifiers will gather on the frontstretch before each feature and draw fuel cans with a number on the bottom that represents a top ten starting spot.
The MTS also previously announced that EXIT Reality will be the title sponsor of the MTS while American Racer will be the tire supplier.
The MTS expects to announce additional rules and sponsorships before the season begins on April 22. Stay tuned to Speed51.com for updates on the first championship season for the Modified Touring Series.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen