New Pairings Set With Whelen Modified Tour Ready To Roll
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Each off season brings change to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and a handful of familiar names are gearing up for the coming 2016 season with different teams.
When the 32nd season of Whelen Modified Tour competition stars next weekend at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, one-fifth of the drivers in the starting lineup will be with different teams. Chase Dowling, Rowan Pennink, Woody Pitkat, Ron Silk and Todd Szegedy have all changed rides from 2015 to 2016 while Rob Summers will rejoin the tour for the first time since 2010.
And announced Wednesday, Jimmy Blewett is also back following a two-year absence.
Dowling, who earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in 2015 with Tomaino Motorsports, has joined Berkley Auto Racing for the coming season. The Roxbury, Connecticut, native, now 18, recorded eight top 10s in 15 races as a rookie. He’ll continue to race the No. 9 with his new team, owned by Bob Katon.
Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania’s Pennink has moved on from his own team and into the seat of the famed “Ole Blue” No. 3 of Boehler Racing Enterprises for a full-time run in 2016. He recorded two wins and 58 top 10s in 124 starts across nine seasons in the No. 93.
A championship contender in 2015 with Buzz Chew Racing, Pitkat landed on his feet with Kevin Stuart Motorsports for the coming season after the Chew team decided to switch to dirt racing closer to its upstate New York home base. A nine-year Whelen Modified Tour veteran from Stafford, Connecticut, Pitkat recorded all three of his wins and each of his four poles in the two previous seasons with Chew. The Stuart team will be new to the tour this season, and current plans are to compete in 11 of the 17 events on the schedule.
The 2011 Whelen Modified Tour titlist, Silk made seven starts last year including five with Rob Fuller Motorsports. This year he will take over for driver/owner Danny Watts Jr. in the No. 82. A nine-time winner on the tour, Silk already drove the Watts 82 to Victory Lane once this year when he won the tour-type modified opener at New Smyrna (Florida) Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The team currently plans to run the full slate of events.
In this game of musical chairs, Szegedy is the only driver to land in a seat he previously occupied. After a full season in the Mystic Missile Racing No. 4 last year, the 2003 tour champ wanted to reduce his schedule in 2016, and he will do just that with a return to Rob Fuller Motorsports. Szegedy, with 19 wins in 202 career races, posted an average finish of 15th in five starts in the RFM No. 15 two years ago.
Summers’ case is different from the previously mentioned drivers. Aside from a spot start in 2013, the Manchester, Connecticut, driver hasn’t competed on the Whelen Modified Tour since 2010. His last full-time season was 2006. He will return to a full slate in 2016, however, as he joined KLM Motorsports to drive the No. 64. Summers has 27 top 10s in 132 career tour races.
The vacancy left by Szegedy in the “Mystic Missile” No. 4 was the last piece of the puzzle put into place this offseason. Blewett was considering returning to the tour with his own No. 76 with which he last competed in 2013. Instead he landed a big opportunity with a team that has won three tour titles since 2007. The Howell, New Jersey, native has five wins and 36 top 10s in 105 starts since 2001.
The 17-race NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season will commence with the Icebreaker 150 on Sunday, April 10 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. For 42nd Annual Icebreaker weekend ticket and event information, please click HERE.