BY SOUZA MEDIA/KYLE SOUZA
SEEKONK, Mass. — Veteran Modified racer Jon McKennedy is planning to make a push for the Tri Track Open Modified Series championship in 2021. The former series champion (2014) took a few years away from full-time competition, but seems to have found the right combination to make a comeback and chase his second title.
As part of a deal with Tim and Cheryl Lepine, McKennedy plans to run all six Tri Track events, at three different New England short-tracks. He also is scheduled to compete in multiple other open modified races with the same team, and continue his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour tenure with Tommy Baldwin in search of the title. McKennedy is no stranger to competition at Monadnock Speedway, Star Speedway and Seekonk Speedway — the three tracks Tri Track will visit in 2021 — and feels the combination should be strong right from the drop of the first green flag.
“These are short tracks, finesse style tracks that I have a lot of laps on,” McKennedy said. “Between the Modifieds and the ISMA Supermodified laps there, I think we have a good chance to win the race at all of them. They are good tracks for me.”
On top of his Tri Track title, McKennedy is a four-time Modified Racing Series champion and also has one ISMA SuperModified title and multiple series wins on that circuit. He certainly has proven that he knows how to get the job done behind the wheel of a variety of different cars. In the history of Tri Track — formulated in 2014 — McKennedy has one career win — the prestigious SBM at Star Speedway in 2014. However, over 10 career Tri Track starts, McKennedy finished top five in nearly half of them.
Tim and Cheryl Lepine, the owners of Middlesex Interiors Inc., based out of Dracut, Massachusetts, are McKennedy’s major partners in his Tri Track effort for 2021. McKennedy is also planning to run select Open Modified events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and Stafford Motor Speedway with the team as they look to become a major force.
“It just felt like it was a good time to do it, there are a lot of open shows planned this year,” McKennedy said. “Tim and Cheryl were interested in doing something with a Modified and it just kind of all worked out. With Tommy (Baldwin) being so busy with the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, he couldn’t commit to a bunch of the open shows. I thought this was a good time to get an open car and pick and choose the races we want.”
McKennedy and the team will bring a new LFR car to competition for the six Tri Track events, with some help from Rob Fuller.
“Rob and I talked the last few months and I thought it was time for a little bit of a change,” McKennedy said. “His cars have proven to be dominant. We were able to put a good deal together and I look forward to running this new car and getting some wins.”
In four races during the 2020 season, more than 70 different drivers showed up to the track for competition in the Tri Track Open Modified Series. The series results included four different winners and Matt Hirschman sealing his fifth championship. McKennedy (2014) and Ronnie Williams (2019) are the only two drivers to take Hirschman off the top of the championship pedestal.
“It’s a great opportunity to race the Modifieds, there is some really good competition with Tri Track,” McKennedy said. “It’s a good series. All of the Tri Track guys have done a really good job over the last couple of years to make it what it is today. The Whelen Modified Tour is a lot… the Tri Track Series is a good option to run. Tri Track is some of the best racing as far as open competition.”
Tri Track Open Modified Series officials confirmed six dates for the 2021 season on Tuesday, including two stops at Monadnock (May 1 & August 14), two at Star (May 22 & July 24) and two at Seekonk (June 30 & October 23). All events will have a total purse of greater than $30,000.
For more information on the Tri Track Open Modified Series, visit TriTrackModifieds.com and follow the series on social media. For more information on Souza Media, visit kylesouza.com and Souza Media on Facebook.
PHOTO: Tom Morris Photography