Category Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

The 42nd Annual Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Heralds in the New England Racing Season

This week’s early spring snow makes the name of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park’s (TSMP) season-opening event more appropriate than ever this year. The 42nd Annual Icebreaker on April 9th-10th will bring the racing season into full swing as twelve divisions of racing take to the track over two action-packed days, headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (NWMT).

Defending NWMT champion, Doug Coby and the No. 2 Mike Smeriglio III Racing Team, have proven a powerful combination over the last couple of years, securing the championship in both 2014 and 2015 and sweeping all four events at TSMP last season. That’s not to say there hasn’t been some fierce competition for them from drivers like Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece, as the championship last season came down to a tight battle at the last race of the season, Thompson’s Sunoco World Series. With Ryan Preece running a full season in the NASCAR XFINITY series this season, he will be forced to run a limited schedule in the #6 NWMT car. This will provide the opportunity for other strong drivers in the field, like Justin Bonsignore, Timmy Solomito, Donny Lia and Ron Silk, to contend for the title.

The North East Street Stock Tour (NESST) will be opening their second season on Saturday afternoon of the Icebreaker with a 20 lap feature. The NESST race, presented by RAD Auto Machine, kicks off a ten-event championship season which also ends at Thompson’s 5/8-mile oval in October. The defending champion, Joe Arena, will face stiff competition from other championship-winning drivers, including Chris “Moose” Douton and Steve Kenneway.

Also, opening their season on Saturday will be the New England Pro 4 Modifieds and the NEMA Lites, both with 20 lap features. With a twenty plus car field anticipated for the NEMA Lites, there is sure to be some exciting battles in this race. The winningest driver at Thompson, with twelve victories, is Randy Cabral returning in his family-owned #35 Lites car. Also present will be the winner of both NEMA Lites races at Thompson last year, Scott Bigelow, and last year’s NEMA Lites Champion, Anthony “The Tornado” Payne.

Saturday afternoon’s races will also include the Lite Modified and Truck divisions.

The Vintage Outlaws, a vintage modified racing series, will race both Saturday and Sunday, offering a look back at some of the cars that used to run at Thompson throughout the 76-year history of the track.

On the schedule for Sunday, for the first time since 2012 is the Pro All Star Series (PASS). They will be running their first PASS North Super Late Model race of the season on Sunday afternoon, which will also serve as race three of the PASS National Championship Series. Following the Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Speedway on March 26, former Thompson Speedway track champion Derek Ramstrom will enter the Icebreaker weekend leading the National points standings by two points over Ben Rowe and Mike Hopkins.

Also on the schedule for Sunday afternoon are Thompson’s four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) divisions, the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks. The Sunoco Modified field is shaping up to be more competitive than ever, with the defending champion Woody Pitkat going up against 4-time Thompson champion, Keith Rocco. He will also be running against reigning Stafford Speedway SK modified champion, Rowan Pennink who will be returning to Thompson for the first time since 2010.

The Late Model division last season saw rookie, Brian Tagg, take his first championship in another tight points battle. He was not the only one to see success last season. Jeff Rocco, who won 4 times in 2015, will also be a favorite for the 2016 crown. Six-time champion, Rick Gentes, will also be looking to get back on top with a switch to a new engine package this season.

The Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman are always a strong division at Thompson and with over 30 drivers on the roster, should provide some good two and three-wide action at the Icebreaker. Returning veterans Scott Sundeen and Larry Barnett will both be ones to watch this season. Scott Sundeen won the title the past two seasons bringing him up to four championships total, and tying him with Larry Barnett’s title wins. Corey Hutchings has also been dominant in the division winning half of the last two years’ races, but has a history of bad luck at the Icebreaker. He will be looking to turn that around this weekend with a strong finish in the first event of the season. This will be the first of three races in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Triple Crown Championship for the Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman.

The Mini Stocks will also be competing in their first O’Reilly Auto Parts Triple Crown Championship race at the Icebreaker. First-time champion Dave Trudeau will be looking to defend his hard-earned title. There will be some fresh faces in the division this season, which will mix with seasoned veterans to make for an interesting field. Doug Curry, who showed strong potential in his two races at TSMP last season, will be coming to Thompson full time in 2016 aiming for the championship. Eric Bourgeois, last year’s inaugural Triple Crown champion, will also be back in his #87 car.

Sunday’s events will conclude with the feature event, the 150 lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at around 3:30 PM.

The Icebreaker kicks off the season this weekend, April 9-10. A practice day is scheduled for Friday, April 8. For more information on Thompson Speedway news and events, visit, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Youtube.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Thompson

      Season Gets Green Flag With Icebreaker 150

  • 2016 Championship: Take Coby or the Field?


indexDAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2016) – Doug Coby has captured three of the last four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships. During that period has won one out of every four races.

When laying out the odds for 2016 championship contenders, his dominance begs the question: Do you take Coby or the field?

Ryan Preece has been Coby’s chief competitor during that run. He won the 2012 title and was runner-up to Coby the other three seasons. But Preece is running full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season and his Whelen Modified Tour participation will be limited to non-conflicting dates.

On the surface, the loss of that head-to-head championship match-up would appear to widen the gap for Coby. It also provides an opportunity for others to step up.

Based on his 2014 performance, Justin Bonsignore has the potential to lead the pack of contenders. He was in the championship mix until the next-to-last race of that season and finished third. For a 2016 title run he would have to avoid another frustrating first half that plagued him a year ago.

After two seasons getting used to running on the Whelen Modified Tour, Timmy Solomito also appears ready to challenge. He finished 2015 strong with two podium finishes, but will need to prove he can win races to hang with Coby.

A trio of past champions also hopes to get back in the mix. Two-time titlist Donny Lia averaged a top-five finish across the last six events of 2015 while Bobby Santos’ team is reenergized following a switch in chassis and engines. Ron Silk has joined a new team with aspirations of running all 17 events, and they already have a win together from Speedweeks.

Is Eric Goodale ready to contend? Will Rowan Pennink return to winning form? Can Jimmy Blewett knock off the rust and run up front right away? These and many more questions will start to be answered this weekend as the season gets underway with the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.


RACE:  Icebreaker 150

PLACE:  Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park

DATE:  Sunday, April 10

TIME:  3:30 p.m. ET (approx.)

WEBCAST:  Live on

TRACK LAYOUT:  .625-mile, high-banked asphalt oval

2015 POLESITTER / WINNER:  Doug Coby

EVENT SCHEDULE:  Saturday – Practice 12-12:45 p.m., Final Practice 1:25-2:10 p.m., Qualifying 4 p.m., Sunday – Pit Party (Driver Autograph Session) 11-11:50 a.m.

TRACK CONTACTS:  Theresa Condict, 860-923-2280,

TRACK TWITTER:  @ThompsonSpdwy

EVENT HASHTAG:  #Icebreaker2016

Fast Facts

The Race:  The 32nd season of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition will commence with headlining event of 42nd Annual Icebreaker weekend. The Icebreaker 150 will be the first of four events in 2016 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

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 (93.75 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 130 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 34 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories. Doug Coby swept all four events there last year.

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.

Icebreaker 150 Notes

For Openers:  Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will play host to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opener for the 15th consecutive season and the 20th time overall. The last track other than Thompson to hold the Whelen Modified Tour opener was Virginia’s South Boston Speedway in 2001. The tour has opened at eight different venues since its inaugural 1985 campaign.

Coby’s Quest:  Doug Coby matched history a year ago when he became just the third driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to sweep a season of events at Thompson. In this week’s Icebreaker 150 he’ll have an opportunity to go where none have gone before. Coby is one of six drivers that have won four straight tour races at “Big T,” but no one has ever extended the streak to five. He’ll also look to become the first driver to win four consecutive overall races since Mike Stefanik in 1997.

Same Face, Different Place:  Each Whelen Modified Tour offseason traditionally features a musical chairs-like scenario of ride swapping. The 2015-16 winter months were no different. The following are the notable changes: Chase Dowling moved from the Tomaino Motorsports No. 9 to the Berkley Auto Racing No. 9; Rowan Pennink switched from his own No. 93 to the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3; Woody Pitkat moved from the Buzz Chew Racing No. 88 to the Kevin Stuart Motorsports No. 85; Ron Silk changed from the Rob Fuller Motorsports No. 15 to the Watts Motorsports No. 82; Todd Szegedy moved from the Mystic Missile Racing No. 4 back to the RFM No. 15. Idle in recent seasons, Jimmy Blewett (Mystic Missile Racing No. 4) and Rob Summers (KLM Racing No. 64) have also returned to the tour to fill vacant seats.

Rookie Race:  Following a deep competition for Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2015, this season’s class is taking shape. After both tested the tour waters with a handful of events last year, Craig Lutz and Matt Swanson will take their programs full-time in 2016 to compete for the rookie crown. New Jersey newcomer Andrew Krause has also thrown his name into the mix and will run the full schedule while Nick Salva has a tentative slate of seven events.

Last Race for “The Voice”:  This week’s Icebreaker will mark the last event for the voice of Thompson, Russ Dowd, who is retiring after serving as the track’s public address announcer for more than three decades. Dowd, who has also served as general manager and director of operations at Thompson through the years, has been behind the mic for all 130 previous Whelen Modified Tour races at “Big T” since 1985.

 Home Tracks: Pitkat Reigning Champ

Woody Pitkat will enter the 42nd Annual Icebreaker weekend as the defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Pitkat averaged a podium finish across eight Sunoco Modified division features in the No. 6 Chevrolet owned by Stan Mertz to take down his second Thompson title last year with a 15-point margin of victory in the final standings over Ryan Preece. Pitkat will be fighting against recent history in an attempt to earn back-to-back titles in 2016. The last driver to accomplish the feat at Thompson was Roger Godin in 1999-2000.

Thompson 2016 to Cover Thompson Opener

42nd Annual Icebreaker Headlined by Whelen Modified Tour


IMG_4221_2728DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 5, 2016) – The ceremonial opening weekend of NASCAR racing in New England is fast approaching, and fans across the globe will be able to catch the action live.

NASCAR and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park announced today that will stream Sunday’s short-track action from the 42nd Annual Icebreaker, headlined by the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s season-opening Icebreaker 150.

The webcast will begin on Sunday with pre-race ceremonies at 12:15 p.m. The on-track action is set to commence with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco Modified division’s 30-lap feature at 12:35 p.m. The Icebreaker 150 will conclude the program with green flag at approximately 3:30 p.m.

The famed northeast Connecticut oval will open its 76th season with 12 divisions in competition across Saturday and Sunday. For more event and ticket information, please visit