Tag Archives: Race of Champions

Silly Season Drivers Settle In

New Pairings Set With Whelen Modified Tour Ready To Roll

By Jason Cunningham, NASCAR
April 1, 2016

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.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR ROSTER

IMG_0794 (2)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, IMG_3906_4200Connecticut, 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.

TIMG_8471he 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.

Another Addition of Andy J on the Road

Quick life update before I go to sleep: Ok…So I won’t be running for 2kwik on the Race of Champions tour. Ricky has a desire to instead participate in the Tri Track Series along with some other New England events of which I am excited to participate with him in. So racing for Ricky in New England is the good news since I will get to race a few extra races out there with him and Steve. The flip side to this is that I will now be racing my car on the Race of Champions tour  so that the resources granted to me by Ricky and Steve are not over extended.

With a 16 race schedule on the ROC this will sadly cut into my Southern venture ability as we will need to save laps on my one and only Dodge motor that I have for this year.. This does not mean I wont be down at all, just not as much. Our team was very humbled and extremely impressed by the “Southern Hospitality” that we experienced while racing with Randy Myers and all the gentleman with the Smart Tour as well as the guys over at Bowman Gray. We want to be able to support both groups as much as we can as well as our wonderful fan following that we have down south. So, with that said, we will be at the Bowman Gray opener….the day before the Chemung ROC event. The challenge now being that we’re going to do this with the same car. We are going to swap rear ends, shocks and everything else after we make the overnight trip back into NY after the event Saturday night at Bowman Gray. I said I will be there and friendly forecast pending, we will.

 In the hear and now, we aren’t really close to being ready for next week at Mahoning. We still don’t have a motor and various other parts that we’re still waiting on. Karl Hehr and Trey Hoddick were kind enough to loan me Karl’s second motor to use until mine returns. For that I thank them. So here we go. Race season is 10 days away, stay tuned. As always, I thank all of you for your love and support of my racing efforts.

When I can’t figure out why I do all this it always comes back to all the supporters on here and at the track pushing me along on the long days and longer nights. Thank you!

-Andy J

Austin Kochenash has sights set on Race of Champions Tour win at Mahoning Valley Speedway season opener

(LEHIGHTON, Pa. 3-30-16) When the green flag drops on the season opening Ferris Mowers Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series Fueled by Sunoco “Break-the-Ice 75” feature on April 9 at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway, fans will be treated to a wide-open field of amazing talent that will be lined-up, all with the main focus of collecting the $2800 top prize.

Of those drivers look for 20-year old Austin Kochenash to be among the likely favorites and for good reason. In just a five year span of racing a Modified, “Kid Kochenash” has risen to the ranks of probable winner each and every time he rolls out onto the demanding quarter mile oval.

Kochenash’s talents aren’t just limited to Mahoning Valley either where he has 22 career wins, 17 in a Late Model plus a championship. He also has five Modified victories at Evergreen Raceway.

And now he stands the chance to win a Race of Champions Asphalt Tour race and with this being at his home track, the Mahoning opener could very well be it.

“I was excited when they first announced that the RoC would be coming here because we are able to race an event like this so close to home and at a track that I’m really familiar with,” said Kochenash, who drives the Performance Driveline/M & T Repair/Fastenal of Lehighton/Circle 1 Designs No. 66 Troyer with power coming from Boardwick Racing Engines.

“A lot of the (RoC) Tour guys may have the advantage when we are in New York at most of those tracks but here at Mahoning I feel we definitely have a good shot at the win. We ran well in the extra distance races here last year and that’s where I seem to be at my best. It will come down to if you have the luck.”

Kochenash is coming off a great season that saw him loose a very tight point battle to champion Earl Paules. He clicked off three wins including a 100 lapper and finished all but one point race inside the top ten. He also came close to a victory in the marquee season ending Octobesfast 150 before being scooped up in a late race skirmish.

For two years, 2013-14, he was part of the Race of Champions Asphalt Tour where he was named Rookie of the Year and had a best point finish of third. Same goes for his best race finish.

Although he been close to a win on numerous occasions when he traveled the Tour, now that it’s on his home turf he feels poised to bring his first RoC checkered flag back to his nearby Danielsville home.

“We’ve been close at other tracks too but I feel that this race is our best opportunity to get that first RoC Tour victory. I have been racing here since I was a kid and there is no doubt I know this track better than any others that we go to,” said Kochenash.

As the race draws near the list of Modified teams continues to grow and that number is expected to exceed 40 come race day. Kochenash knows the job of winning won’t come easy but he is ready to put is expertise of racing at Mahoning to good use.

“75 laps could click off here in a hurry so getting a good starting spot will be important. If you’re set-up right then you won’t see a lot of tire fall off. You’ll pretty much have to jump out right from the green. I think starting anywhere beyond 12th will be tough to win that day,” admitted Kochenash.

“When I won Opening Night a couple of years ago that was the same thing. It was only 50 laps and you had to hammer down right from the start.”

Mahoning Valley is known for its two-wide racing and Kochenash stated that lane choice will be pivotal.

“If there’s someone on the outside that will drag you back then it’s best to get to the bottom in a hurry and wait it out. With the inside you always have the opportunity to drive underneath for the pass which works well here but for this race you’ll have to make that decision quick.”

The matchup among the weekly regulars is tough enough and then you add in a host of New Jersey aces plus all of the RoC Tour drivers and Break-The-Ice-75 has the components of one amazing must see race.

“There are going to be a lot of great teams rolling in here and you certainly can’t count any of them out. They’ll adapt and the fans are going to be in for a good entertaining race. If you have the right setup you should be able to run all 75 laps hard from start to finish,” said Kochenash.

On Opening Day 2016 will see race teams enter the pits starting at 11:00 a.m. followed by Modified inspection at 11:30 a.m. Sign-in takes place from 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. Heat racing will begin at 4:00 p.m. Also on the card will be Late Models, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks.

For additional information please log onto www.mahoning-speedway.com or on Facebook at Mahoning Valley Speedway. Likewise with the Race of Champions at www.rocmodifiedseries.com