Whelen Modified News & Notes: Stafford

Whelen Modified News & Notes: Stafford

Three-Way Battle Returns To Stafford

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Doug Coby-Woody Pitkat-Ryan Preece battle has played out across the northeast the last two years, but nowhere has it been more magnified than at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway – the venue for Sunday’s NAPA Fall Final 150.

The trio has won 11 of the previous 15 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at the historic half-mile, including the last six in a row. Coby claimed five of those checkered flags from 2012-14, but Pitkat (two) and Preece (three) have won the last five in a row while Preece garnered a fourth win in the midst of Coby’s run.

In the tour’s last visit to Stafford in August, Preece, Coby and Pitkat finished 1-2-3, which was a microcosm of the season-long championship battle between the three. All three have taken their turn atop the standings – the only drivers to do so this year – and the margin between first and second has never reached double digits.

Following last week’s fireworks at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where Coby bumped Preece from the race and championship lead with contact on the last lap of the event, Pitkat returns to his hometown track with an eight-point edge on Preece atop the standings. Coby’s max-points New Hampshire victory, combined with Preece’s 19th place finish after the contact, gained Coby 14 points on the day. He remained in third, but is now just 11 points behind the leader instead of the 25-tally hole he had prior to New Hampshire.

The situation is reminiscent of the 2009 season when the Whelen Modified Tour went into Fall Final weekend with Ted Christopher leading Donny Lia by one and Preece by 12. Lia took the Fall Final 150 checkered flag and went on to celebrate the championship three weeks later in the finale at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

Stafford’s final weekend is no stranger to close championship chases in recent seasons. Including that 2009 battle and the current season, four of the last seven years the margin between first and second has been eight points or less entering the Fall Final 150.

Pitkat and Preece will want to continue their recent success at Stafford because the season finale at Thompson looms as an advantage for Coby. He’s led 289 of 425 laps en route to max-points victories in each of the three races there this year.

Fast Facts:
The Race:
  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will headline Stafford Motor Speedway’s 43rd Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend with the last of its four trips to the historic half mile in 2015. The NAPA Fall Final 150 will be the 14th of 15 events on the schedule.

The Procedure:  The maximum starting field per the official entry blank is 33 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 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 (75 miles) and is an impound race with three change tires allowed for the event.

The Track:  A half-mile, slightly-banked oval, Stafford originated as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding automobile races following World War II. Stafford became a NASCAR-sanctioned track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967. Stafford’s 117 Whelen Modified Tour races are second all-time.

Race Winners:  There have been 32 different race winners at Stafford all-time, led by Mike Stefanik’s 20 victories. Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece have combined to win the last five events at the track.

Pole Winners:  There have been 43 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Ryan Preece holds the tour’s track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph), set during the 2012 Spring Sizzler.


NAPA Fall Final 150 Notes:
Williams Set for Tour Debut:
  Stafford Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series standout Ronnie Williams is set to make his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour debut in the NAPA Fall Final 150. Williams, whose first tour start will come four days prior to his 19th birthday, has racked up six SK Modified feature wins at Stafford this year to tie Rowan Pennink for the division lead. He will pilot a modified owned by tour veteran and fellow Stafford weekly competitor Ted Christopher in the NAPA Fall Final 150.

Preece’s Busy Schedule Continues:  Following last Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Ryan Preece made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut the following day at the same track and finished 32nd after he started 37th. In addition to chasing two modified championships, he has a pair of other ventures on the horizon as he will compete in this Friday’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Dover International Speedway as well as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour event on Oct. 8 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Emerling’s Step-Up Season:  Patrick Emerling is well on the way to his best record in five years on the Whelen Modified Tour. With two races remaining he already has two more top-10 finishes than his previous career high, and last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway his runner-up finish to Doug Coby was his best finish in 67 career starts. Emerling earned his first career Coors Light Pole Award in the Whelen Modified Tour’s last visit to Stafford in August, and duplicated that the following week at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. He currently sits fifth in points.

Home Tracks:  Pennink Poised for First Title
Rowan Pennink brings a 12-point lead in the SK Modified division standings into NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend in an attempt to secure his first career Stafford Motor Speedway track championship. Pennink has posted six wins and 18 top 10s in 21 starts to lead Ryan Preece, who ranks second with three triumphs with 19 top 10s. The 2011 track titlist Preece has finished as the championship runner-up by a mere two points in each of the two previous seasons.

Southern Modified News & Notes: Hickory

Southern Modified News & Notes: Hickory

Tour Returns To Track For First Time Since 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The penultimate event on the 2015 schedule will be held this Saturday as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returns to Hickory Motor Speedway for the first time since 2011 for the MTP Tire 150.   

One driver who is looking forward to returning to the track is four-time Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III. Brunnhoelzl has rebounded from a tough start to the season with three straight podium finishes to get back in contention for a potential fifth championship.

Brunnhoelzl won at Hickory in 2011 when he took the lead from Zach Brewer with two laps to go in the race. The West Babylon, New York, native will be the only driver in the field this weekend that has won a NASCAR-sanctioned modified race at the historic track.

Veterans Frank Fleming, Burt Myers and Jason Myers are the only drivers currently entered to have started both previous races held at the .363-mile track. The Myers brothers enter the race in contention for the 2015 championship, 10 points behind leader Andy Seuss with Brunnhoelzl 13 points back.

Burt Myers, who won his lone NWSMT championship in 2010, is the only driver to finish in the top 10 in both previous races at HMS. The Walnut Cove, North Carolina, driver finished third in 2006 and eighth in 2011. 

Seuss goes after his second straight win and third this season at Hickory after scoring the checkered flag last time out at South Boston Speedway two weeks ago. Seuss finished sixth at HMS in his lone start at the track in 2006. 


The Race: The MTP Tire 150 will be the 10th of 11 races of the 2015 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship season. This is the tour’s third visit to the historic oval, and first since 2011.

The Procedure: The starting field is 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials while the remaining three starting spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (54.45 miles) and teams have an opportunity to pit and change one tire during the event.

The Track: Hickory is a .363-mile high-banked asphalt oval located in Hickory, North Carolina, that features NASCAR Whelen All-American Series-sanctioned events on Saturday nights throughout the racing season, headlined by the late model division. The track is a .363-mile paved oval with 14 degrees of banking in Turns 1 & 2 and 12 degrees in Turns 3 & 4. The straightaways have eight degrees of banking.

The Records: Patrick Emerling holds the qualifying record of 92.119 mph on April 2, 2011; Junior Miller holds the race record set on Sept. 30, 2006, 82.548 mph, 39 minutes 15 seconds. The race in 2006 was caution free.

Jason Myers Ready for Hickory: After finishing seventh at South Boston Speedway, Jason Myers will look to rebound this week at Hickory Motor Speedway. Myers has recorded one top-10 finish in two previous starts at the track. Although he enters this weekend tied in the championship standings with older brother, Burt, he’s in third place as Burt owns the tiebreaker with his win at Langley Speedway in April.  

Measmer Honors Mother With Paint Scheme: Bobby Measmer Jr. has enjoyed a recent run of success as the Concord, North Carolina, driver is coming off of his career-best finish of third and his first Coors Light Pole Award at South Boston on Sept. 19th. He has painted his No. 14 modified pink to honor his mother who is battling breast cancer. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Famous Names: Some famous names that have driven at the track include the late Ralph Earnhardt, who won a total of five track championships, while NASCAR Hall of Fame members Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson also own track titles. Fellow Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett also called the track home early in his career. A total of 10 already or soon-to-be inductees in the NASCAR Hall of Fame won races at the track.

Home Tracks: Piercy Scores Track Championship
University of North Carolina at Charlotte Engineering student Matt Piercy was able to outlast fellow second generation driver Landon Huffman to win the Hickory Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship in Late Model Stocks two weeks ago. Piercy topped Huffman, who is the son of former NASCAR Goody’s Dash Series champion Robert Huffman, by just eight points.

Wild Cards Looking For Championship Form

Wild Cards Looking For Championship Form

Wins Put Tovar, Peralta Into Mexico Series Desafio

MEXICO CITY — Over the next two months, the NASCAR Mexico Series will determine its 2015 champion.

The Desafío 2015 will begin Sunday at El Dorado Speedway in Chihuahua and culminate on Sunday, Nov. 22 at Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas.

The championship field has been narrowed down to 12 drivers: The top 10 in points after the 10 regular-season races and two wild cars.

Those wild card drivers earned their spots in the Desafío 2015 by virtue of winning races: teammates Rodrigo Peralta and Santiago Tovar.

Both drivers burst onto the scene in 2013 – Peralta won the series championship in the first season of the Desafío, while Tovar earned rookie of the year honors.

Peralta, driver of the No. 24 Alcatel One Touch/Sanirent Toyota for Denisse Guaida, is looking to become just the third driver to win multiple series titles since the series began in 2004.

Jorge Goeters won the championship in 2005 prior to the series coming under the NASCAR banner and won the NASCAR championship in 2012. German Quiroga won three straight titles from 2009-11.

Peralta missed the playoffs in 2014 – finishing 18th overall – and scored two top fives and six top 10s in the first 10 races this season.

He scored an early season win on May 17 at Nuevo Autodromo de Queretaro, a .750-mile oval in Queretaro. He led a race-high 82 laps, including the final 12 after taking the lead from Ruben Pardo. Peralta also had a run of four straight top 10 finishes before concluding the regular-season with a 14th-place finish at San Luis Potosi.

Likewise, his teammate Tovar has shown flashes of ability to turn his wild-card entry into an ace of the championship.

Tovar followed up his rookie campaign with a pair of pole positions in 2014. This year, the driver of the No. 23 Alcatel One Touch/Cinemex Ford for car owner Allan Van Rankin scored his first win on June 14 at Oval Aguascalientes in Aguascalientes.

Tovar had four top five finishes, which helped him overcome a slow start to the season in which he finished outside the top 20 in the first three races – twice due to mechanical issues.

With five races to decide the championship, the field is wide open.




Santiago Tovar, the 2013 NASCAR Mexico Series rookie of the year, is chasing his first series championship. OCESA

NASCAR: The Mystifying Eclipse of Clint Bowyer

Bowyer's stepping  back to a top ride for 2017.

Bowyer’s stepping back to a top ride for 2017.

On Sunday, we witnessed an intense blood moon eclipse, but another rare cosmic event occurred before sundown during the Sprint Cup Race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), is as cosmic as drivers come and is always ready with an uncanny quip for the media. Alas, on Sunday, Bowyer finished a lackluster 26th in the Sylvania 300 and his 2015 Sprint Cup quest will likely end next week at the Dover International Speedway, as he is currently 39 points out of the final cutoff spot, almost an entire race worth of points.

Two weeks ago, during the final regular season race at Richmond International Raceway, Bowyer, on the cusp of barely qualifying for the Chase, proclaimed “I am looking forward to the races after (Richmond). You don’t just want to back your way into the Chase and then not perform and be the first one out. I want to go some rounds and have some fun in it and make some noise.”

Instead for MWR, the company’s epitaph will end with a “checkered” history, but not the kind most organizations seek. Back on August 19th, MWR officials announced that the organization and Bowyer had mutually agreed to sever their relationship following the completion of the 2015 racing season and that MWR would completely shut down and not field any teams in 2016, resulting in the layoff of over 200 employees.

The hemorrhaging continued this past week, as NASCAR penalized the #15 MWR team twenty-five driver and owner points, plus crew chief Billy Scott was to be suspended three races, fined $75,000 and placed on probation for six months, subject to an appeal hearing next Wednesday. Bowyer’s car was found to have illegal track bar components, the result of a pre-race inspection at Chicagoland Speedway last week.

Stewart is retiring fro active driving after the 2016 season.

Stewart is retiring fro active driving after the 2016 season.

Now, with two forgettable races in the Chase, Clint Bowyer should undoubtedly turn his attention to securing his 2016 ride. Unfortunately for Bowyer, virtually every decent seat is already taken for next year, resulting in a small universe of feasible alternatives on which to speculate. We are already into the 2015 season’s twilight, with “silly season” precedent dictating that major NASCAR driver moves be generally announced no later than August, and often sooner. So, Bowyer’s prospects, while perhaps fading fast, include:

  1. Furniture Row Racing held a press conference on Sunday prior to the start of the Sylvania 300, officially announcing that FRR will switch from fielding Chevrolets to Toyotas next season. FRR general manager Joe Garone stated “The added resources and technical support that Toyota will provide, along with having a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, definitely increases the growth potential for our team. The track record of Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing speaks for itself.”

Speculation is that Barnie Visser, team principal, would like to add a second team, having achieved a big milestone this year with Martin Truex, Jr. qualifying for the Chase. If Bowyer can bring his sponsors, he seeds some of the investment necessary for FRR to jump start a second team. Additionally, with FRR’s switch to Toyota power, there is a surplus of MWR talent with Toyota engineering experience currently looking for employment. Finally, Truex Jr. and Bowyer were former teammates at MWR. Perhaps Bowyer has been holding out for the door to swing open at FRR, given the shift to Toyota power was the first shoe that needed to drop.

  1. HScott Motorsports currently fields two drivers, but one of those drivers is Justin Allgaier of the #51 Brandt Chevrolet, who has yet to be re-signed for the 2016 season. Although a deal has been suggested as being in the works, the availability of Bowyer is an option that HSM team principal Harry Scott must be considering given his expressed desire to progress to a larger, more successful Cup organization.

Bowyer is a proven talent, having amassed eight wins and 58 top-five finishes at NASCAR’s highest level of competition. Additionally, he has qualified for the Chase six times in his career and finished second in the final points standings back in 2012. Bowyer’s proven capability for HScott Motorsports offers a clear opportunity to benchmark the performance of his two car team and determine what gaps exist for a smaller team aspiring to rise up the ranks.

  1. Stewart-Haas Racing, although having qualified two of its four drivers for the Chase, could certainly benefit from Bowyer’s experience and talent, given the lingering struggles at the remaining two teams this year. Having now scheduled a Wednesday team press conference, SHR is expected to announce that Tony Stewart will retire at the end of 2016, opening up a seat for 2017 at one of NASCAR’s most iconic teams. As SHR has a stall full of celebrity drivers with strong personas, Bowyer’s levity would complement the outspoken nature of SHR’s current drivers and principals. Less significant is that Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were teammates for two years at Richard Childress Racing back in 2010.

Bowyer would still be left to find a “placeholder” ride for 2016; however, Kurt Busch took a similar road to Stewart-Haas when he joined Furniture Row Racing for a short deal prior to joining SHR. Back in 2010, Kasey Kahne also took a similar road to Hendrick Motorsports, when he signed a one-year bridge deal to drive for the now defunct Red Bull Racing while he awaited the conclusion of Mark Martin’s final season at Hendrick. With the web of customers (including Stewart-Haas, Chip Ganassi Racing, and HScott Motorsports) that buy Hendrick powerplants, Bowyer’s ability to find a one-year bridge deal should not be misjudged.

In spite of his current trials, Bowyer remains a homegrown, charismatic driver who appeals to many fans. Like the blood moon eclipse, a proven talent like Bowyer, coming with loyal sponsorship is a rare event. If, as expected, Tony Stewart hangs up his helmet after 2016, the stargazing signs point to a combination of #2 and #3 above, with Bowyer taking the one-year bridge deal to secure his long-term future at SHR.

By Ron Bottano. Follow on Twitter: @rbottano and @motorsportsunplugged

PIT BOX: Championship Settings

PIT BOX: Championship Settings

Titles On Line For K&N Pro East at Dover, Whelen Euro at Zolder


• The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East heads to Dover (Del.) International Speedway on Friday to crown its 2015 champion. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate William Byron sits atop the standings with a 13-point lead over HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks teammate Scott Heckert (510-497) headed into the Driver Sober 125. NASCAR Next member Austin Hill, sits in third with 496 points and has won the last two races at the Monster Mile.
• Following a win last Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby is back in the title hunt. He trails Woody Pitkat by just 11 points heading into the 43rd Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway. Pitkat won the year’s first visit to Stafford – his hometown track – in April while Ryan Preece (eight points behind Pitkat) took the checkered flag in June and August return visits.
• The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is back in action Saturday at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway Saturday for the Hickory 150. With only two races left, defending champion Any Seuss leads brothers Burt and Jason Myers by 10 points, and four-time champion George Brunnhoelzl III by 12.
• The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will crown its 2015 champion at Belgium’s Circuit Zolder on Friday and Saturday. Two-time series champion Ander Vilarino holds a 35-point lead headed into the finale over Nicolo Rocca. Each of the final two races count for double points.
• The NASCAR Mexico Series heads to El Dorado Speedway on Sunday for the Coca-Cola Zero 240 to open up the Desafio – the series’ five-race playoff. Irwin Vences and Ruben Rovelo lead the way on the strength of their three regular-season wins apiece, while NASCAR Next driver Ruben Garcia will start the postseason in third.


Race: Drive Sober 125 presented by the Delaware Office of Highway Safety at Dover (Del.) International Speedway
Date: Friday, Oct. 2, 5 p.m. ET
Telecast: NBCSN, Thursday, October 8 at 4 p.m. ET
Twitter: #DriveSober125, #KNEast, @MonsterMile

Race: Hickory 150 at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway
Date: Saturday, Oct. 3, 8 p.m. ET (approx.)
Twitter: #Hickory150, #NWSMT, @hickoryspeedway

Race: NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final 150 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
Date: Sunday, Oct. 4, 3:15 p.m. ET (approx.)
Telecast: Saturday, Oct. 10, 4 p.m. ET, NBCSN
Twitter: #NAPAFallFinal, #NWMT, @StaffordSpeedwy

Race: American Festival Circuit Zolder NASCAR Finals at Circuit Zolder
Date: Friday-Saturday, Oct. 3-4
Twitter: #Zolder, #NWES, @CircuitZolder

Time Event

Thursday October 1st

09:00 Paddock opens for teams’ installation (location in pit-boxes)
15:30 All cars ready in pit-lane for parade departure 
17:00 – 19:00 Parade, technical inspections and Autograph session in Downtown Hasselt (drivers in racing suits)

Friday October 2nd

08:30 – 10:30 Technical Inspections (in teams’ pit-boxes)
09:30 – 11:00 Drivers Registration (Race Secretariat – Race Control Center)
11:00 – 11:55 Private Practice (55 min) – (for all series, payable at the track secretariat Control Tower)
13:00 – 13:30 Mandatory Driver / Crew-chief / Spotter Briefing (Briefing room)
14:05 – 14:35 ELITE 1 Practice (30 min)
14:40 – 15:10 ELITE 2 Practice (30 min)
16:45 – 17:15 ELITE 1 Final Practice (30 min)
17:20 – 17:50 ELITE 2 Final Practice (30 min)

Saturday October 3rd

09:15 – 10:15 Technical & tires Inspections (in teams’ pit-boxes)
10:15 – 10:23 ELITE 1 Qualifying
10:27 – 10:32 ELITE 1 Superpole (Top 12 of ELITE 1 Qualifying)
10:37 – 10:45 ELITE 2 Qualifying
10:49 – 10:54 ELITE 2 Superpole (Top 12 of ELITE 2 Qualifying)
11:15 – 11:45 Tires Registration Sheet 2 return (Technical building)
12:55 Pre-grid opens (cars must park in pit-lane in front of their pit-box)
13:00 Green at Pitlane all cars go to the grid (1 lap only)
13:05 – 13:20 Grid Walk (ELITE 1&2 drivers’ autograph session on the grid)
13:20 Drivers Introduction (ELITE 1 & 2)
13:29 USA National Anthem followed by Belgian National Anthem
13:32 Drivers in their cars
13:35 Show Pompom girls on the grid
13:37 Track evacuation (except 1 crew member per car)
13:38 Introduction Grand Marshall
13:39 “Drivers Start your engines” by race Grand Marshall
13:40 Green Flag ELITE 1 Race 1 (16 laps – 64.18 km) – 1 Pace Lap
16:50 Pre-grid opens (cars must park in pit-lane in front of their pit-box)
16:52 USA National Anthem followed by Belgian National Anthem
16:55 Drivers in their cars
17:00 Green at Pitlane all cars go to the grid (1 lap only)
17:05 Show Pompom girls on the grid
17:07 Track evacuation (except 1 crew member per car)
17:08 Introduction Grand Marshall
17:09 “Drivers Start your engines” by race Grand Marshall
17:10 Green Flag ELITE 2 Race 1 (16 laps – 64.18 km) – 1 Pace Lap

Sunday October 4th

09:00 – 09:45 Technical & tires Inspections (all cars under parc fermé in pit-lane in front of their pit-box)
09:00 – 09:45 Pit Walk (ELITE 1&2 Drivers autograph session – in front of each team Pit-box)
11:05 Pre-grid opens
11:07 USA National Anthem followed by Belgian National Anthem
11:10 Drivers in their cars
11:15 Green at Pitlane all cars go to the grid (1 lap only)
11:20 Show Pompom girls on the grid
11:22 Track evacuation (except 1 crew member per car)
11:23 Introduction Grand Marshall
11:24 “Drivers Start your engines” by race Grand Marshall
11:25 Green Flag ELITE 2 Race 2 (16 laps – 64.18 km) – 1 Pace Lap
15:55 Pre-grid opens (cars must park in pit-lane in front of their pit-box)
15:00 Green at Pitlane all cars go to the grid (1 lap only)
15:05 – 15:35 Grid Walk (ELITE 1&2 drivers’ autograph session on the grid)
15:10 ELITE 2 Season prize giving on the podium
15:35 Drivers Introduction (ELITE 1 & 2)
15:44 USA National Anthem followed by Belgian National Anthem
15:47 Drivers in their cars
15:50 Show Pompom girls on the grid
15:52 Track evacuation (except 1 crew member per car)
15:53 Introduction Grand Marshall
15:54 “Drivers Start your engines” by race Grand Marshall
15:55 Green Flag ELITE 1 Race 2 (16 laps – 64.18 km) – 1 Pace Lap
16:30 ELITE 1 Season prize giving on podium.
17:00 Season ending Cocktail at the NWES suite.

Race: Coca-Cola Zero 240 at El Dorado Speedway
Date: Sunday, Oct. 4
Twitter: #CocaColaZero240, #NMS, @NASCARMxOficial


Race Central Live: Zolder

The historic Circuit Zolder in Belgium will host this weekend the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Finals in the contest of the first edition of the Circuit Zolder American Festival. Double points will be awarded for each race and titles and trophies will be decided on October 3 and 4.


Pope Leaving US Too Early For Kevin Harvick Miracle

It's now do or die at Dover for Kevin Harvick.

It’s now do or die at Dover for Kevin Harvick.

Saving souls is what the Pope is supposed to do, it’s his job. On the other hand, saving fuel when you either have to place yourself in the top 5 or win has apparently never been in Kevin Harvick’s job description.

No one should have any doubt that Kevin Harvick can drive, he’s one of Sprint Cup’s preeminent wheelmen. So how is it that he burns up the New Hampshire track all day and then runs out of fuel 3 laps from the end to hand the victory to Matt Kenseth?

Who knows? He knew that saving fuel and taking a 3rd or 4th at New Hampshire would put him in a less dire position going to Dover than he now finds himself. Now, he has to win at Dover next week. No insurance.

He is now 23 points outside of 12th place in the standings and overcoming that may require divine intervention. May I suggest the “Pope Toaster”? From now until Dover I would make good use of this must have device.

All levity aside, we all want to see these drivers go as hard as they can, but they have to finish to be in the hunt. Harvick didn’t get the memo. It’s mystifying that Harvick was the odds on favorite to win his second chase, based on his early season performances, but as Kyle Petty said: “They went from favorite to total chaos.”

Everyone should have one these! The Pope Toaster.

Everyone should have one these! The Pope Toaster.

Everyone, except Harvick and perhaps his crew chief, Rodney Childers, knew that was the situation. Now was not the time to roll the dice. The radio communication between the two was sparse, if not non-existent, at a time when ‘Save fuel, save fuel’ should have been the message blowing up the radio.

Harvick didn’t save fuel at a rate that would make up the 3 miles he was short and had very little to say to his crew chief during the later stages of the race. He was able to keep the Joe Gibbs Racing cars at bay, but spent far too much petroleum capital to make it stick. In fact, that was JGR’s strategy.

Kenseth was instructed to ‘run him out of gas’ and that’s exactly what Matt Kenseth did, thus locking himself into the next round of the Chase.

Last weekend at Chicagoland Harvick finished 42nd after not stopping to change an obviously damaged rear tire due to a controversial contact with Jimmie Johnson. This weekend should have been his win or a finish high enough to make Dover less daunting weekend.

Unfortunately it’s now a fact that Harvick is desperate, perhaps too desperate to listen to those around him and those charged with his strategy. It wouldn’t be the first time that Harvick has ignored warnings or put the clamps down on his crew.

If he can’t win next weekend, then you can safely say that the pressure really did get to him. Johnson, Kenseth, Busch and Edwards aren’t playing the game the way Harvick is, they are being strategic, which is how the Chase has to be played.

Kevin Harvick is undoubtedly one of the best drivers in NASCAR, a true wheelman. However in terms of strategy, maybe he should stop trying to occupy both the car seat and the pit-box.

But, there are still plenty of Papal toasters available. Perhaps Dover will be his pop-up miracle.

Coby Escapes With Whelen Mod Win At NHMS

Coby Escapes With Whelen Mod Win At NHMS

Bumps Leader Preece On Last Lap, Gets Back In Title Hunt

See video

LOUDON, N.H. – Doug Coby bumped Ryan Preece out of the race lead in Turn 1 after taking the white flag and drove away from New Hampshire Motor Speedway Saturday evening with the F.W. Webb 100 trophy in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour action.

The contact brought out the yellow and checkered flags for Coby after Preece collected a number of other cars in the aftermath. Preece was scored in 19th at the time the caution came out.

The result was a big boost to the title defense hopes of the driver from Milford, Connecticut, who is back in the game with two races remaining on the schedule. Twenty-five tallies behind Preece entering the event, Coby moved to within 11 of new championship leader Woody Pitkat at 529-518 while Preece slipped to second at 521.

Coby was in control for the majority of the event, but Preece moved to the lead on the Lap 100 restart after the eighth of nine cautions in the event. As they exited Turn 1 of the final lap, Coby got into the back bumper of Preece, sending him up the track.

Patrick Emerling ended up second for his best finish in 67 career starts. Bobby Santos was scored in third followed by Justin Bonsignore and Ron Silk.

Donny Lia, Jeff Goodale, Chase Dowling, Dave Sapienza and Pitkat brought home the top 10.

The F.W. Webb 100, the 600th race in Whelen Modified Tour history, featured 16 lead changes among four drivers. It will air on NBCSN on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. ET.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action Sunday, Oct. 4 at Stafford Motor Speedway for the NAPA Fall Final 150.


Doug Coby (2) leads Bobby Santos (44) and Woody Pitkat (38) at NHMS. Getty Images for NASCAR

Coby Sweeps 2015 New Hampshire Poles

Coby Sweeps 2015 New Hampshire Poles

On Point For Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100

LOUDON, N.H. – Doug Coby earned a season sweep of Coors Light Pole Awards at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when he took the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s top qualifying honors for the F.W. Webb 100.

Coby, of Milford, Connecticut, posted a fast lap of 29.130 seconds (130.752 mph) to notch his eighth career pole overall and third at the 1.058-mile oval. It was his fourth Coors Light Pole of the 2015 season, which includes the Whelen Modified Tour’s first trip to NHMS in July.

Bobby Santos qualified outside pole with a quick circuit of 29.249 (130.220) while Woody Pitkat was third-fastest at 29.256 (130.189).

Timmy Solomito, Justin Bonsignore, Ryan Newman, Anthony Nocella, Andy Seuss and Chase Dowling brought home the top 10 in the 34 car field.

Championship points leader Ryan Preece qualified 17th at 29.616 (128.606) after he led all cars in the morning practice session. He brings a one-point lead in the standings to NHMS over Pitkat while Coby is 25 back in third.

The F.W. Webb 100 will go green on Saturday at approximately 3:30 p.m. following the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ UNOH 175. The F.W. Webb 100 will be telecast on NBCSN on Oct. 1 at 7 p.m.


Purvis, Thomas, Brown & Kirby Earn Titles

Purvis, Thomas, Brown & Kirby Earn Titles

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II-V Champions

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Friday was a special day for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competitors Kyle Purvis, Patrick Thomas, Grant Brown and Jack Kirby.

Those four drivers were officially notified they are all now NASCAR champions.

After a season worth of racing and a week of waiting, the final results were released for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II-V championship standings. 

Each champion has a unique story.

Purvis won the Division II title by just two points – one position on the race track. Thomas overcame numerous issues to jump seven positions in the Division III standings in the final week, 14-year-old Brown had to wait until school was out to take his call from Daytona that he had won Division IV, and Kirby claimed his Division V national championship in his first full year of racing.

Each champion paved their own way to the top and punched their ticket to Charlotte, North Carolina.

The champions and the top five in each division will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards at the NASCAR Hall of Fame / Charlotte Convention Center on Friday, Dec. 11.


In addition, the UNOH Youth Achievement Award national title was awarded Friday to Cayden Lapcevich. The 15-year-old driver races at Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ontario. The award, in its second year of existence, recognizes the top drivers 17-and-under in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. 

“NASCAR would like to congratulate Kyle Purvis, Patrick Thomas, Grant Brown, Jack Kirby and Cayden Lapcevich on their outstanding championship seasons,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of regional and touring series. “We are proud to recognize the achievements of the drivers at every level of our NASCAR Whelen All-American Series – their hard work and dedication and success while racing in our grassroots level in NASCAR is the foundation of our sport.”

 “We had a great season and we finished in the top three in every race this year and it was a great season,” Lapcevich said. “It’s a great honor to win the UNOH Youth Achievement Award.”


For Purvis, the call couldn’t have come quick enough. 

His battle with Rocky Warner from Utica-Rome (New York) Speedway was the closest battle of any championship this season. Purvis, who races Modifieds at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway, won by two points in the final standings for his first NASCAR national championship.

“We knew Rocky had a great year and we knew it was going to be close but it felt really great when I got the call from Daytona,” said Purvis, who races at Ohio’s Columbus Motor Speedway. “Our consistency throughout the season paid off for us in the end and I can’t thank everyone who helped me enough. I can’t wait to get to Charlotte and represent Columbus and everyone here in Ohio. I appreciate everything the track does to give us a great place to race.” 

While Purvis’ battle was the closest in the four divisions, no one had to overcome as much as Thomas did racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway on the final night of the season.

Thomas won both races last Saturday night in the Sportsman Division to give him 11 wins in 15 starts on the season to edge Elko (Minnesota) Speedway’s Brent Kane by 10 points in the final standings (513-503).

“We knew it was going to be close so we tried to take the pressure off of ourselves and just go out and race and have fun and win both races,” Thomas said. “These are two wins we will remember for a long time after the night we had in the race.”

Getting those last two starts was crucial for Thomas.

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II-V drivers are ranked by their best 14 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.

Thomas started 16th in the opener and was collected in a Lap 5 accident. His crew was able to get the car repaired and he worked his way through the field and passed for the lead with two laps to go and pick up the win. The second race was a little more uneventful as the Oviedo, Florida, resident picked up the second win that he needed.

“After sitting in eighth-place the week before we knew it would take some wins and luck to be there at the end,” Thomas added. “This is our first year racing under NASCAR as a team and this is a great feeling and we are looking forward to celebrating in Charlotte.”

Brown, driving in the Power Stock Division, gave Elko a national champion edging last year’s division winner, A.J. Sanders Jr. who competes at North Carolina’s Bowman Gray Stadium, by six points (470-464).

“This championship really means something special as we had to overcome a lot of adversity early in the season,” said Brown, a third-generation driver. “I just want to thank my parents and everyone who worked all year to help us be in position to win the title.”

While it won’t be the first time Brown has visited North Carolina, this trip to Charlotte will be special.

“We went to Charlotte Motor Speedway for a race one year and that was fun,” Brown said. “This trip is really going to be special because this time we get to go celebrate winning a NASCAR championship and that is something that’s super cool for everyone.”

Kirby, from Pryor, Oklahoma didn’t grow up racing, in fact, this was just his first full year behind the wheel of a race car, but that didn’t stop him from winning the Division V championship. Kirby finished the year in the Pure Stock Division with seven wins and 19 top-10 finishes in as many starts to outdistance Elko’s Justin Schelitzche by 36 points – the largest final standings margin in any division. 

“Last year I just jumped in a friend’s car to give it a try and liked it and decided to get a car and try it full-time,” Kirby added. “We’re blessed and happy to get this championship. To beat some of the guys in this division to win it really means something special.”

Kirby was especially happy in recording seven wins throughout the season as Oklahoma’s Salina Highbanks Speedway set their starting lineup by points, which meant Kirby often started at the rear of the field – most of time with at least 20-24 cars.

“We also finished with 17 top-fives and that really is gratifying to be able to race through the field each week and contend for wins,” Kirby said.

Canadian Lapcevich won four times in the Super Stock Division at Sunset and finished 12th in the Division II national standings. The 15-year-old also made his debut this season in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, where his dad is a long-time driver.

Last year’s UNOH Youth Achievement Award winner Dillon Bassett moved up from Late Models to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and recorded his first career K&N Pro win earlier this season at Motordrome Speedway in Pennsylvania.

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 57 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

Cayden Lapcevich (right) talks with his dad Jeff before a race at Sunset Speedway. Cayden was named the UNOH Youth Achievement Award winner for the 2015 NASCAR Whelen-All American Series season. Photo courtesy of Thompson Photography

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