DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Nine races down. Eight races to go. And finally, at least as far as everybody not named Doug Coby is concerned, the door to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship has cracked open just a bit as the tour heads into the Budweiser King of Beers 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut on Wednesday night.
A fuel pump issue in the late stages of Friday night’s Stafford 150 robbed Coby of what would have been a third victory this season at the track, a certain stranglehold atop the standings and momentum heading into the 2016 stretch run. Justin Bonsignore leapt two spots in the standings to second following Stafford, just 20 points behind Coby. Bonsignore has three career wins at Thompson.
Jimmy Blewett’s surprising win at Stafford moved him up to fourth, 35 points behind Coby. Just ahead of him in the standings, Timmy Solomito’s excellent breakthrough season has him in title contention, too, with three wins this season — including one in the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson to kick off the season.
It’s fitting, then, that the Whelen Modified Tour rolls into the track that has hosted more races than any other facility in history under the lights of primetime. With 35 different winners in 131 previous events at Thompson, the championship field might truly be wide open.
Race: Budweiser King of Beers 150
Place: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Thompson, Connecticut
When: Wednesday, Aug. 10
Time: 8:45 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: NBCSN, Friday, Aug. 26, 8 p.m. ET
Track Layout: .625-mile banked asphalt oval
2015 Winner: Doug Coby
2015 Pole Sitter: Patrick Emerling
EVENT SCHEDULE: Wednesday, August 10 – Garage opens: 1 p.m.; Practice: 4-5 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 6:15 p.m.; Qualifying: 7 p.m.; Budweiser King of Beers 150: 8 p.m.
EVENT HASHTAG: #Bud150
The Race: The Budweiser King of Beers 150 is the 10th of 17 championship points events in the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. It is the third of four events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this year.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the official entry blank is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 31 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 (93.8 miles) and the tire change rule is three tires, any position.
The Track: A .625-mile high-banked oval that opened in 1940, Thompson was the first entirely asphalt track in the nation and the largest in New England for five decades. Thompson has played host to 131 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 previous 31 years of competition.
Race Winners: There have been 35 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories.
Pole Winners: There have been 44 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:
Consistency On Tour: Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, New York, is the only driver currently in the top four in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings without a win, but his consistency this season has driven his championship hopes. Bonsignore’s six top-five finishes are the most of any driver this season, and he has three top fives in his last four races. Bonsignore, who has three career wins at Thompson, has three podium finishes in 2016, including a third in the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson.
History Honored: New England racing icons Mario Fiore and Ron Bouchard, who both passed away earlier this year, will be honored as part of the Budweiser King of Beers 150. Fiore, a member of the New England Racing Hall of Fame, was a longtime car owner for Reggie Ruggeiro and a Whelen Modified Tour championship owner with Jerry Marquis in 2000. Bouchard won 37 career races at Thompson, including the 1978 Modified title at the track. Along with the on-track tributes being paid, award-winning author Bones Bourcier will be on hand for a signing of his book about Bouchard’s racing life.
Welcome Back: Jimmy Blewett’s win at Stafford in the tour’s most recent event was the sixth win of his career and his first since 2009. Three of the career wins for the driver nicknamed “Showtime” have come at Stafford, and last weekend’s win moved him into fourth in the current standings in his first season with car owner Bob Garbarino’s Mystic Missile.
Winning: Doug Coby and Timmy Solomito are the only Whelen Modified Tour drivers with multiple wins this season, with three wins apiece. Ron Silk, Bobby Santos III and Blewett won the other events on the schedule. Santos also won the non-points Whelen All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month, and he is the defending winner of the Budweiser King of Beers 150.
NASCAR Home Tracks: SK Modifieds on tap Wednesday
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour won’t be the only open-wheeled division on the card Wednesday night at Thompson. The track’s premier division, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco Modifieds will also be in action. Keith Rocco, who is currently second in the national standings and has eight consecutive Connecticut state titles, leads the division over NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ryan Preece.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/Rick Ibsen