Daytona Beach, FL– The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has yet to complete two-thirds of its 2015 schedule, but the developing championship chase has already become the dominant storyline.
Entering Wednesday’s Budweiser King of Beers 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, only four points separate championship leader Ryan Preece and second place Woody Pitkat. With six races remaining, reigning titlist Doug Coby and 2003 champion Todd Szegedy are also within range at 17 and 34 points out, respectively.
The competition for the crown has been magnified since, on a race-to-race basis, these drivers are going head-to-head for checkered flags as well as the championship. All four are finding that opportunities to separate from, or gain ground on, each other are hard to come by.
Eight of the nine events have been won by Preece, Pitkat, Coby and Szegedy, and they’ve had to fend each other off to get to Victory Lane. Of the 27 podium places across the nine races, 19 are owned by those four.
Preece, Coby and Pitkat filled the top three positions last week at Stafford Motor Speedway. Only by virtue of his bonus points for the win and laps led was Preece able to regain the points lead from Pitkat, who was three ahead entering the race.
The scene now shifts to Thompson, where all of the contenders but Pitkat have career wins. With runner-up finishes in two of his last five Thompson races, Pitkat may be primed for a breakthrough victory – and another change atop the standings.
RACE: Budweiser King of Beers 150
PLACE: Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park
DATE: Wednesday, Aug. 12
TIME: 9 p.m. ET (approx.)
WEBCAST: Live on FansChoice.tv
TRACK LAYOUT: .625-mile, high-banked asphalt oval
2014 POLESITTER: Donny Lia
2014 WINNER: Justin Bonsignore
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 4-5 p.m., Qualifying 7 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 8 p.m.
TRACK CONTACTS: Theresa Condict and Russ Dowd, 860-923-2280, [email protected]
TRACK TWITTER: @ThompsonSpdwy
EVENT HASHTAG: #Bud150
The Race: The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be the 10th of 15 points races on the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, and the third of four events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the official entry blank 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 is an impound event with three change tires allowed.
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 128 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 31 years of competition.
Race Winners: There have been 34 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories. Doug Coby won each of the first two events there this year.
Pole Winners: There have been 43 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Tony Hirschman’s 13. Bobby Santos maintains the tour’s track qualifying record at 18.237 seconds (123.376 mph), set on April 10, 2011.
Budweiser King of Beers 150 Notes
Coby Halfway to Thompson Sweep: Following victories in the Icebreaker 150 and Mr. Rooter 125, Doug Coby is halfway to a season sweep of events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. If he can double that with wins this week in the Budweiser King of Beers 150 and the season finale Sunoco World Series 150, he would become the first Whelen Modified Tour driver to record a sweep at “Big T” since Mike Stefanik won all four races there in 1998. Steve Park, who also took the checkered flag in all four 1996 events, is the only other competitor to accomplish the feat. Through the years, Thompson has traditionally held races in June and August in addition to the staple April and October events. Of those four, the August race is the only one that Coby has yet to win.
Bonsignore Becoming Elite at Thompson: Justin Bonsignore nearly accomplished the elusive Thompson sweep a year ago, but he hasn’t always succeeded at the Connecticut oval. The Long Islander’s first 14 Thompson starts netted just five top-10s, but in the last five races he’s arguably been the driver-to-beat with finishes of first, first, fifth, 27th and second – a mid-race incident in this year’s Icebreaker 150 being the only blemish.
Past Thompson Winners Look to End Droughts: The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will provide an opportunity for a number of past Thompson winners to end extended winless droughts. Thirteen-time Thompson tour victor Ted Christopher saw his drought extend to 50 races last week at Stafford Motor Speedway while Donny Lia (22), Rowan Pennink (21) and Ron Silk (36) – with a combined eight Thompson wins – also bring winless streaks greater than 20 races into the event. Four-time Thompson winner Bobby Santos’ drought also sits at 16 races entering the week.
Christopher Reunites With Lafontaine: Christopher is set to slide into the seat of the No. 22 Our Motorsports Chevrolet for the Budweiser King of Beers 150 as well as for next week’s Bush’s Beans 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The move will reunite Christopher with crew chief Brad Lafontaine, who led the most successful stretch of his Whelen Modified Tour career. The two combined to win 18 races together – including eight at Thompson –with the former No. 36 team during a stretch from 2006-11 that was highlighted by the Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2008.
FansChoice.tv to Cover the Action: The Budweiser King of Beers 150 will be the first Whelen Modified Tour event on FansChoice.tv in 2015. The webcast will feature live video of on-track activity on raceday, including NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action, with commentary from Victory Lane Radio.
Home Tracks: Pitkat Out Front
Woody Pitkat’s 2015 success is not limited to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, as he also maintains the points lead in Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s Sunoco Modified division in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. Pitkat has posted 247 points through four events while Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco are tied for second with 221. The defending track champion Preece won the division’s first two events of the year while Cam McDermott and Eric Berndt have since visited Victory Lane at “Big T.”
-NASCAR IMC Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com photo