DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bristol Motor Speedway remains one of the most unique tracks in NASCAR and just as the NASCAR Sprint Cup and NASCAR XFINITY Series teams and fans look forward to the scheduled stops at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, so, too, do those in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ranks.
Adding even more intrigue to the Bush’s Beans 150 on Wednesday night at Bristol is the fact it’s the annual combination race, which will pit both the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour teams against each other.
The midweek race on the high-banked half-mile is something of a wild card on the schedule, just as restrictor plate races are for the national series. Drivers like Frank Fleming and J.R. Bertuccio have joined alongside names like Ryan Newman, Mike Stefanik and Ryan Preece to win Modified races at Bristol.
Making the 150-lap race both unpredictable and one that can either enhance or destroy championship aspirations.
Over the last two races, Doug Coby of Milford, Connecticut, has seen his lead atop the Whelen Modified Tour standings be whittled down to just 15 points over Justin Bonsignore, the Holtsville, New York, driver who won the Tour’s most recent stop at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park. Timmy Solomito of Islip, New York, is third, just 20 points behind Bonsignore. None of the top three drivers in the standings has ever won at Bristol.
On the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, the championship title is shaping up as a dogfight between the three drivers who have accounted for all of the wins through the season’s first six starts.
Burt Myers, of Walnut Cove, North Carolina, has three wins this season and leads defending series champion Andy Seuss by 17 points. Multi-time series champion George Brunnhoelzl III is another eight points back in third. Between them, the three have four Bristol wins on their career resumes, with Seuss having won the event last season.
RACE: Bush’s Beans 150
PLACE: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
WHEN: Wednesday, Aug. 17
TIME: 6:05 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .533-mile banked concrete oval
2015 WINNER: Ryan Preece (North); Andy Seuss (South)
2015 POLE WINNER: Woody Pitkat
EVENT SCHEDULE: Wednesday, August 17 – Practice: 10:30-11:25 a.m., 12:30-1:15 p.m.; Qualifying: 3 p.m.; Driver Autograph Session: 4:45 p.m.; Bush’s Beans 150: 6:05 p.m.
EVENT HASHTAG: #BushsBeans150
The Procedure: The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 30 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining six spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (79.95 miles). The race will have a five-minute midway break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75 and the tire change rule is four tires, any position.
The Race: The Bush’s Beans 150 is the 11th of 17 championship points events in the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season. The race is also the seventh of 11 events on the 2016 Whelen Southern Modified Tour schedule. It is the only stop for either tour at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Track: Nicknamed the “World’s Fastest Half Mile,” Bristol Motor Speedway is a high-banked concrete oval. The track opened in 1961 as an even half-mile with 22 degrees of banking in the turns. It now features progressive banking approaching 30 degrees through the corners and a distance of .533 miles.
Race Winners: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman has two wins at Bristol and is the only driver with multiple-wins in the seven-year history of the event, while George Brunnhoelzl III has two wins among southern drivers. Donny Lia won the inaugural event in 2009. All seven overall event wins have gone to northern competitors.
Pole Winners: There have been six different pole winners in seven races at Bristol. Justin Bonsignore has two career poles at the track, while Woody Pitkat set the track qualifying record of 130.940 mph in this race last year.
Bush’s Beans 150 Notes:
Summer Stride: Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, New York, has hit his mid-season form after winning the Budweiser King of Beers 150, the most recent event on the northen tour, at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Bonsignore’s seven top-five finishes are the most of any driver this season. He has four top fives in his last five races to sit within 15 points of championship leader Doug Coby with seven races remaining. Bonsignore is the only driver with multiple career poles at Bristol, with two.
Myers Rolling: Multi-time Bowman Gray Stadium Modified champion Burt Myers has been the model of consistency this season on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Myers has three wins through six races and has yet to finish outside the top five in any of his starts. The 2010 series champion, has two wins this season at Caraway Speedway and another at his home track of Bowman Gray and only has one finish worse than third through the first two-thirds of the year. Myers has one win and four top fives in his seven career starts at Bristol.
Four-Time: Four-time Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III has 27 career wins, including two this season at Concord (N.C.) Speedway and South Boston (Va.) Speedway. He finished fourth at Bristol in 2013 to kick off his championship charge that season, using that effort to kick off a stretch of six straight top fives to close out the season with the title. Brunnhoelzl has one career win at Bristol, which came at the end of four consecutive wins during the 2012 season that helped him earn the championship title that year.
Needing Better Luck: Whelen Modified Tour point leader Doug Coby has 20 career wins across five different tracks, but the three-time series champion has never won at Bristol. Now would be a good time to turn his fortunes around at the track. After seeing his point lead cut virtually in half over the last two races, the three-time winner in 2016 would like to pad his cushion for the season’s stretch run. Bristol, though, will be a challenge, as Coby has just one top-10 finish and an average finishing position of 13.8, with his worst finish being 22nd a year ago, in his five career starts at Bristol.
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. On the Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Myers has three wins, Brunnhoelzl has two and Andy Seuss has one — and all three drivers sit inside the top three in the series standings.
New Crew Chief: LFR Chassis will be back in action in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Bristol Motor Speedway, as Todd Szegedy and Rob Fuller Motorsports team up for the Bush’s Beans 150. Tony Eury, Jr. will make his crew chief debut in the Modified Tour this week.
-NASCAR Home Tracks Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com