DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It’s early, but the pairing of Rowan Pennink and Boehler Racing Enterprises is providing positive returns.
Pennink left behind his family’s team in the offseason for an opportunity to drive the iconic No. 3 modified for BRE. Through two races the new venture appears to have rejuvenated both.
Following a ninth-place finish in their maiden voyage together at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park to open the season, Pennink piloted “Ole Blue” to a third-place finish last time out in the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
It was Pennink’s first podium since the 2014 season finale, and the first for BRE since Aug. 2013 at Stafford.
The team will now attempt to build on the early momentum with a trip to reach Victory Lane this Saturday at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in the New England Cycle Center 161. Pennink has a career top-10 average finish at the Speedbowl and will look to parlay other past bullring success into BRE’s first win since 2009.
RACE: New England Cycle Center 161
PLACE: New London-Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl
DATE: Saturday, May 14
TIME: 9 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .375-mile, banked asphalt oval
2015 WINNER: Ryan Preece
2015 POLESITTER: Donny Lia
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 2:30-3:15 p.m., Final Practice 3:55-4:35 p.m., Qualifying 6:30 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 7:45 p.m.
TRACK TWITTER: @speedbowlnews
EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG: #NECC161
The Race: The New England Cycle Center 161 will be the third race on the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule and the lone trip to New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
The Procedure: The starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 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 161 laps (60.375 miles).
The Track: A .375-mile banked oval, New London-Waterford Speedbowl opened for auto racing in 1951. A NASCAR Whelen All-American Series-sanctioned facility, the Speedbowl contests weekly racing on Saturday nights, and has previously held 21 Whelen Modified Tour events.
Race Winners: There have been 16 different race winners in 21 all-time events at the Speedbowl, led by five different drivers with two victories. Five active drivers have won at the track: Donny Lia (2), Ted Christopher (1), Doug Coby (1), Ryan Preece (2) and Bobby Santos (1).
Pole Winners: There have been 13 different pole winners at the Speedbowl, led by Tony Hirschman’s four. Jerry Marquis set the qualifying record in 2006 at 13.618 seconds (99.133 mph).
New England Cycle Center 161 Notes
Tomaino’s 600th Start: Jamie Tomaino is set to make his 600th career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start Saturday at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. The New Jersey veteran will become the first non-NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to reach that milestone with one national or regional touring series. Tomaino enters the weekend with 146 more starts than any other driver in tour history. He has attempted to qualify for all 604 previous events since 1985.
Potential History for Coby: This Saturday Doug Coby has an opportunity to match Mike Stefanik’s all-time Whelen Modified Tour record for consecutive poles with six. Coby captured the last three Coors Light Pole Awards of his 2015 championship season and is 2-for-2 so far this year. Coby has yet to earn a pole at Waterford in his career. The closest he has come was in 2013 when he qualified second. Stefanik set the mark with poles in the first six events of the 1993 season.
Coby v. Preece on Pause: Coby and Ryan Preece have waged epic battles in recent seasons at Waterford, but the rivalry will be on hold this year with Preece competing Saturday in the NASCAR XFINITY Series event at Dover International Speedway. Preece won at Waterford in 2015 and 2013 with Coby the runner-up in both instances. In 2012 Coby came out on top after he outdueled Preece on a restart inside of 15 laps to go. The only other driver to win at Waterford in the current era was Bobby Santos two years ago.
Lia Looks for Victory Lane: Donny Lia has won the Coors Light Pole Award at Waterford in each of the two previous Whelen Modified Tour events at the track, but hasn’t been able to parlay the front row starting position into an eventual trip to Victory Lane. Lia’s six bullring victories on the tour, including two at the Speedbowl, is tops among all entrants for Saturday night’s event. His past success there could provide the perfect recipe for his first win with the No. 8 team.
Capital Improvements: Whelen Modified Tour teams will notice a host of updates to the Speedbowl grounds this week following the track’s ongoing capital improvements. This past offseason the track replaced the retaining walls through the turns, installed new catch fencing and added a new entrance to the racing surface near Turn 2. The major facility renovations are expected to resume at the completion of this competition season as well.
What’s in a Name: Since the Whelen Modified Tour returned to Waterford in 2012, the Speedbowl has utilized the event as an annual tribute to NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans. The late modified legend campaigned the iconic orange No. 61 modified for the bulk of his career, and the race plays off of those digits with a distance of 161 laps. This year New England Cycle Center has joined the event as a first-time sponsor.
Home Tracks: Rocco Rolls to Opening Victory
Reigning NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion Keith Rocco opened his title defense with a victory this past Sunday in the 35-lap SK Modified division feature at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. The five-time track titlist also won the late model feature and has swept both the SK and late model races in the track’s season-opening Budweiser Blast-Off weekend for five straight seasons.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release