The stars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make their way to the Empire State this Saturday to take part in the prestigious Classic Weekend at Oswego Speedway. While racing at “The Steel Palace” is a unique venue for many drivers on the tour, the weekend will be extra special for one of New York’s own.
Tyler Rypkema of Owego, New York will be making his NASCAR Whelen Modified debut at the Labor Day weekend event, racing against many of the best Modified drivers in the country.
“I’m really excited. This is something we wanted to do for a couple of years now. We’ve taken some races off from the Race of Champions this year and this happened to work out well for us,” Rypkema told Speed51.com. “Jimmy Wilson from the tour has wanted us to come run for a while and we finally have a good opportunity. Jimmy has been a big help in getting us ready to go. He sent a couple of NASCAR officials up to our shop to help us go through the car and make sure we are as ready as we can be. They sealed the motor and carburetor, made sure we had the right safety equipment. That was a huge help in getting us there.”
For Rypkema, getting to run with the stars of the Whelen Modified Tour at Oswego is a dream come true.
“I remember being a kid and watching the Modifieds race at Oswego and I wanted to do that,” he said. “That was a dream of mine. Then when I was 13 we went to the first Bristol race and that was awesome. I thought those guys were so badass and now I get to be a part of the field with those guys.”
Rypkema is a former winner on the Race of Champions Modified Series and is also credited with a win at New Smyrna Speedway during Speedweeks in 2017, his biggest win to date.
Being a regular competitor with the Race of Champions for the past few seasons has given him experience at the 5/8-mile oval. His stats at Oswego are impressive, boasting two top-five finishes and a heat race win. He also has a number of top 10 finishes at Oswego. Although he has found success in the Modified ranks, his goals for his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut are pretty simple.
“I just want to log laps, learn some stuff and finish on the lead lap,” Rypkema explained. “These guys are the best and I know racing with them will be tough. My crew guys are pretty inexperienced with live pit stops, but we are going to do the best we can. Basically finishing on the lead lap is what we are aiming for.”
Follow updates on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the rest of the Classic Weekend festivities on Speed51.com throughout the weekend.
-Story by Evan Canfield, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos