Category Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Statistical Advance: Stafford

Analyzing The NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 At Stafford Motor Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 20, 2016) – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is set to headline Stafford Motor Speedway’s 45th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler weekend. Below is a statistical look at the performance of selected drivers at the famed Connecticut oval in advance of Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 200:

NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 Setup:

  • Timmy Solomito will look to become the first driver to win the Icebreaker 150 and NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 back-to-back to start a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season since Ted Christopher in 2009.
  • Stafford native Woody Pitkat is the defending winner of this race. Five different NWMT drivers have earned consecutive victories in the event. The latest was Bobby Santos in 2013-14.
  • Two-time defending tour titlist Doug Coby brings a four race poles streak to Stafford. Ryan Preece also earned four consecutive in 2011-12, as did Mike McLaughlin in 1989. Mike Stefanik is the only driver in NWMT history to record more than four straight poles when he began the 1993 season with six in a row.
  • Christopher, the active NWMT wins leader at Stafford with 12, will vie for his 200th career top-10 finish.
  • There are 34 cars on the entry list for 33 starting positions, per the official entry blank. The last time there were 34 or more entries for a NWMT race at Stafford was the 2010 Spring Sizzler (36). The last time more than 33 started a race there was the 2008 Sizzler (35).

 At Stafford Motor Speedway:

History

  • The Stafford Springs Agricultural Park opened in 1870. The track was originally used for horse racing, which gave way to automobiles after World War II.
  • Stafford Motor Speedway became a NASCAR-sanctioned track in 1959 and was paved in 1967.
  • Stafford is one of nine tracks that have been a part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program in each of its 35 years of competition.
  • The track welcomed the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 29 times from 1987-2008. NASCAR’s top developmental series will return to Stafford this June 17.
  • The inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford was held on April 14, 1985. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans won the 80-lap race as part of the 14th Annual Spring Sizzler weekend.

 Notebook

  • The NWMT has held 118 races at Stafford since 1985, a total second only to the 131 events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
  • Stafford has held multiple races in 31 of the tour’s 32 seasons. The lone exception was 1988.
  • There have been 32 different race winners at Stafford, led by Mike Stefanik’s 20 victories.
  • There have been 43 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Ryan Preece set the track qualifying record in the 2012 Spring Sizzler.
  • No driver has started all previous 118 races at Stafford. Jamie Tomaino has missed only one – the track’s inaugural race.
  • There have been seven races won in wire-to-wire fashion at Stafford, the last by Ron Silk in 2011.
  • Ryan Preece was the youngest Stafford race winner at 18 years, 9 months and 14 days in 2009.
  • Ted Christopher was the oldest Stafford victor at 53 years, 3 months and 28 days in 2011.
  • The NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 entry list features 10 drivers that have previously won at the track: Christopher (12), Doug Coby (7), Bobby Santos (6), Preece (5), Donny Lia and Todd Szegedy (4), Jimmy Blewett and Woody Pitkat (2), Silk and Tomaino (1).

 Stafford Motor Speedway Data

Race #:  2 of 17 overall, 1 of 4 at Stafford

Track Layout:  .5-mile asphalt oval

Race Length:  200 laps (100 miles)

Banking/Turns 1 & 2:  9 degrees

Banking/Turns 3 & 4:  7.5 degrees

 

Qualifying/Race Data

2015 Race Winner:  Woody Pitkat, Chevrolet, 67.773 mph, 1 hr. 28 mins. 35 secs.

2015 Pole Winner:  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 100.223 mph, 17.960 secs.

Qualifying Record:  Ryan Preece, Ford, 100.424 mph, 17.924 secs., 4/29/12

  Active Category Leaders at Stafford: Wins

  1. Ted Christopher … 12
  2. Doug Coby … 7
  3. Bobby Santos … 6

Poles

  1. Bobby Santos … 9
  2. Donny Lia … 8
  3. Ted Christopher … 4

Doug Coby … 4

Ryan Preece … 4

Top Fives

  1. Ted Christopher … 30
  2. Todd Szegedy … 23
  3. Doug Coby … 15

Donny Lia … 15

  Top 10s

  1. Jamie Tomaino … 55
  2. Ted Christopher … 52

3. Todd Szegedy … 31   Laps Led

  1. Ted Christopher … 2,085
  2. Todd Szegedy … 844
  3. Doug Coby … 831

Laps Completed

  1. Jamie Tomaino … 16,863
  2. Ted Christopher … 13,088
  3. Todd Szegedy … 8,167

  Starts

  1. Jamie Tomaino … 117
  2. Ted Christopher … 92
  3. Wade Cole … 57

 Select Driver Highlights:

Jimmy Blewett (No. 4 Starrett Dodge)

  • Has five wins, three poles and 37 top 10s in 107 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts.
  • Finished eighth in the season opener at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in his first appearance with Mystic Missile Racing.
  • Has two wins (Aug. 2008, May 2009), a pole (Sept. 2012), 15 top 10s and an average finish of 14th in 30 career NWMT starts at Stafford Motor Speedway.

 Justin Bonsignore (No. 51 M3 Technology Chevrolet)

  • Has eight wins, five poles and 52 top 10s in 89 career starts.
  • Finished third in the Thompson opener with nine laps led.
  • Has two poles (Oct. 2010, `11), 12 top 10s, an average finish of 13th and a best result of second (April 2013, June 2014) in 24 career NWMT starts at Stafford.

 George Brunnhoelzl III (No. 28 Dunleavy’s Repair/Composite Technologies Chevrolet)

  • Has a record four championships and 27 victories in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action. Also has 25 poles and 85 top 10s in 107 career starts in the division.
  • Ranks second in the 2016 NWSMT standings on the strength of two wins in four starts.
  • Has a pole (Riverhead Raceway 2010) and four top 10s in 16 career NWMT races.
  • Recorded an average finish of 15th with a best result of ninth (May) in four NWMT races at Stafford in 2010.

 Ted Christopher (No. 00 Dunleavy’s Repair/Jerry & Jerry Chevrolet)

  • The 2008 NWMT champion has 42 wins, 24 poles and 199 top 10s in 361 career starts. His 42 wins rank third all-time and his 24 poles are eighth.
  • This will be his first start of 2016. Did not participate in the Thompson opener.
  • Has 12 wins, four poles, 52 top 10s, an average finish of 13th and 2,085 laps led in 92 career NWMT Stafford starts.
  • Has a record five NWMT Spring Sizzler wins, and an additional triumph in 1988 when SK Modifieds headlined.
  • Is a nine-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Stafford out of the SK Modified division, where his 101 triumphs are more than double second place on the division wins list. Has a record 122 overall career victories at the track entering this week’s events.
  • Is looking to end a 55-race winless drought. It’s the second-longest such streak in his NWMT career. His first win came in his 94th race. His Stafford SK Modified drought also extends to June 27, 2014.

 Doug Coby (No. 2 Dunleavy’s Repair/A&J Romano Construction Chevrolet)

  • The 2012, `14 and `15 NWMT champion has 17 wins, 11 poles and 91 top 10s in 173 career starts.
  • Finished fourth in the Thompson opener to end his three-race win streak.
  • Has seven wins, four poles, 25 top 10s and an average finish of 12th in 44 career NWMT starts at Stafford.
  • Won the Spring Sizzler in 2006 and `12.
  • Has 18 career NWAAS victories at Stafford, including five in SK Modifieds.

 Chase Dowling (No. 9 S&S Asphalt Paving/Dunleavy’s Repair Chevrolet)

  • The 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year has eight top 10s in 16 career starts with a best finish of third (Riverhead 2015).
  • Recorded an average finish of 15th across his first four races at Stafford last year, including a sixth-place effort in the Fall Final.
  • Has eight career NWAAS victories at Stafford, including one in SK Modifieds.

 Patrick Emerling (No. 07 Buffalo Auto Auction Chevrolet)

  • Has two poles and 25 top 10s in 70 career starts with a best finish of second (New Hampshire Motor Speedway 2015).
  • Finished 14th in the Thompson opener.
  • Has a pole (Aug. 2015), five top 10s, an average finish of 16th and a best run of fifth (Sept. 2014) in 20 Stafford starts.

 Eric Goodale (No. 58 GAF Roofing/Supreme Skylights Chevrolet)

  • Has a win (Riverhead 2014), a pole (Monadnock Speedway 2013) and 45 top 10s in 102 career starts.
  • Maintains the NWMT’s active starts streak lead, now at 100 races.
  • Finished seventh at Thompson in the opener.
  • Has eight top 10s, an average finish of 14.5 and a best result of fourth (April 2015) in 29 career Stafford races.

 Donny Lia (No. 8 Sypher Construction/Bardahl Chevrolet)

  • The 2007 and `09 NWMT champion has 17 wins, 21 poles and 88 top 10s in 170 career starts.
  • Finished sixth in the Thompson opener. Has averaged a top-five finish in his last seven races.
  • Has four wins, eight poles, 27 top 10s and an average finish of 11th in 44 career Stafford appearances.

 Rowan Pennink (No. 3 Cape Cod Copper/Canto Paving Chevrolet)

  • Has two wins and 59 top 10s in 125 career races.
  • Finished ninth in the Thompson opener in his first race with Boehler Racing Enterprises.
  • Has 20 top 10s, an average finish of 10th and a best result of second (April, May 2011) in 33 career NWMT starts at Stafford.
  • Earned six wins in Stafford’s SK Modifieds last year to capture his first NWAAS track championship. Has 12 career triumphs in the division.

 Woody Pitkat (No. 85 Stuart’s Automotive/Dunleavy’s Repair Chevrolet)

  • Has three wins, four poles and 56 top 10s in 107 career starts.
  • Finished 10th in the opener at Thompson in his first NWMT start with Kevin Stuart Motorsports.
  • Has two wins (Aug. 2015, April 2015), 18 top 10s and an average finish of 12.5 in 30 Stafford NWMT races.
  • Has 27 career wins in Stafford’s SK Modified division, where he won the track championship in 2013. His 74 overall career feature wins at the track rank second all-time behind Ted Christopher.

Ryan Preece (No. 6 TS Haulers/Riverhead Raceway Chevrolet)

  • The 2013 NWMT champion has 15 wins, 14 poles, 41 podiums, 56 top fives and 79 top 10s in 124 career starts.
  • Finished second in the Thompson opener with a race-high 91 laps led.
  • Has five wins, four poles, 20 top 10s and an average finish of 11th in 34 NWMT Stafford races.
  • Earned the 2011 NWAAS Stafford track title in SK Modifieds. Has 25 career wins in the division.
  • Will head to Stafford from Richmond International Raceway where he will compete Saturday in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. Will have to start the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 from the rear (driver change).

 Bobby Santos (No. 44 Tinio Corp./Dan Kelley/Curb Records Chevrolet)

  • The 2010 NWMT champion has 13 wins, 16 poles and 58 top 10s in 108 career events.
  • Finished 13th in the opener at Thompson.
  • The active leader with nine poles at Stafford, where he has six wins, 17 top 10s and an average finish of 11th in 28 races.
  • Won the Spring Sizzler in 2011, `13 and `14. Only Christopher (5) and Mike Stefanik (4) have more NWMT victories in the event. Rick Fuller also has three.

 Ron Silk (No. 82 Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet)

  • The 2011 NWMT champion has nine wins, nine poles and 87 top 10s in 146 career starts.
  • Finished fifth in the opener at Thompson in his NWMT debut for Danny Watts. The pair won their first NWAAS feature together at New Smyrna Speedway in February.
  • Has a win (May 2011), two poles (May 2010, `11), 19 top 10s and an average finish of 14th in 37 career NWMT races at Stafford.

 Timmy Solomito (No. 16 Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Ford)

  • The 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year has a win (Thompson 2016), a pole (Riverhead 2013) and 18 top 10s in 36 career starts.
  • Breakthrough first NWMT victory came in the opener at Thompson.
  • Has four top 10s, an average finish of 12th with a best run of third (June, Oct. 2015) in 10 career Stafford races.

 Todd Szegedy (No. 15 15-40 Connection Chevrolet)

  • The 2003 NWMT champion has 19 wins, 10 poles and 126 top 10s in 202 career starts.
  • This will be his first start of 2016. Did not participate in the Thompson opener.
  • Has four wins, two poles, 31 top 10s and an average finish of 9.5 in 52 career NWMT starts at Stafford.

 Other Driver Notes

  • This will be Jamie Tomaino’s 599th career start. He is the tour’s all-time record holder in the category.
  • Nick Salva and Walter Sutcliffe Jr. will attempt to make their tour debuts in this event.
  • Brendon Bock made his NWMT debut in this race last year and recorded his lone top-10 finish to-date.

 Up To Speed:

  • This is the 32nd season of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing. The inaugural race was contested March 31, 1985 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
  • The 2015 schedule features 17 points races at nine different tracks across four states.
  • Timmy Solomito earned his first career victory in the 2016 season opener at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
  • Following the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 the NWMT will return to action on May 14 with the New England Cycle Center 161 at New London-Waterford Speedbowl.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Stafford

  • Whelen Mods Headline 45th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler Weekend
  • Solomito Hitting His Stride

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 19, 2016) – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour provides a difficult challenge to any newcomer hoping for immediate success. Veterans rule the roost, and have for a long time.

Timmy Solomito has experienced growing pains in his first few seasons like most drivers new to the tour. The tracks are unfamiliar. The competition is as stout as it is deep.

As the Whelen Modified Tour heads to Stafford Motor Speedway for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 200, the 24-year-old may be hitting his stride after three seasons of learning the ropes.

The second-generation Long Island racer had an average finish of 22nd through his first five races before showing his potential with a pole and a podium at his home track, Riverhead Raceway, in his sixth start. There were good runs early on, but consistent top finishes are a challenge for all competitors.

A 21st was followed by a fifth, followed by an 11th.

Solomito’s third season on the tour marked a turning point. Although his average finish only improved by one position from 2014 to 2015, there were fewer lower results and more top finishes. Solomito finished third in the last two races of the season, the first back-to-back podiums of his career.

The culmination of Solomito’s growth came in the 2016 opener. He drove away from 15-time winner Ryan Preece and into Victory Lane for the first time in his career on April 10 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

The focus now shifts to the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200. Solomito finished third in two of four trips to the historic half-mile last year. He will look to become the first driver since Ted Christopher in 2009 to record the Icebreaker-Spring Sizzler sweep.

RACE:  NAPA Spring Sizzler 200

PLACE:  Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway

DATE:  Sunday, April 24

TIME:  3:15 p.m. ET (approx.)

TRACK LAYOUT:  .5-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval

2015 WINNER:  Woody Pitkat

2015 POLESITTER:  Ryan Preece

EVENT SCHEDULE:  Saturday – Practice 10:45-11:20 a.m., Final Practice 12-12:45 p.m., Qualifying 2:30 p.m., Sunday – NAPA Pit Party Driver Autograph Session 11-11:50 a.m.

TRACK CONTACT:  Scott Running, 860-684-2783, scottrunning@staffordspeedway.com

TRACK TWITTER:  @StaffordSpeedwy

EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG:  #Sizzler2016

NASCAR CONTACT:  Jason Cunningham, 704-201-6658, jcunningham@nascar.com, Twitter: @NASCAR_NE

 

Fast Facts:

The Race:  The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will headline Stafford Motor Speedway’s 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler Weekend, the first of four trips to the historic half mile in 2016. The NAPA Spring Sizzler will be the second of 17 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 200 laps (100 miles) and 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 118 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. Stafford native Woody Pitkat is the defending winner of this race.

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 Spring Sizzler 200 Notes:

Rule of Four:  Fifteen of the last 16 checkered flags at Stafford Motor Speedway have been captured among a select group of four drivers. Doug Coby (6), Woody Pitkat (2), Ryan Preece (4) and Bobby Santos (3) have owned Victory Lane at Stafford since the beginning of 2012. Santos’ success extends further back to when he also won three of four in 2010-11.

 He’s Back:  After missing the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the first time since 1996, Ted Christopher will be back in a Whelen Modified Tour car at his home track this weekend. Christopher has transitioned to a part-time competitor this year, but kept the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” on his schedule. The nine-time weekly track titlist at Stafford has participated in every Whelen Modified Tour Spring Sizzler race since 1994. Christopher has 12 tour wins overall at the track, including a record five in the Spring Sizzler.

 Brunnhoelzl Looks for Second Gen Win:  George Brunnhoelzl III will look to join his father on the list of all-time Whelen Modified Tour winners at Stafford this weekend. The four-time NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion will head north for the first time with his No. 28 Chevrolet that has won two of four southern two races this year. His father, George Brunnhoelzl Jr., won a 200-lap Whelen Modified Tour race at Stafford on Labor Day in 1986. The younger Brunnhoelzl made four starts at Stafford in 2010 with the No. 46 and recorded an average finish of 15th.

 Welcome Aboard:  Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 will see the Whelen Modified Tour debuts of Nick Salva and Walter Sutcliffe Jr. Salva recorded four feature wins last year in Stafford’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Light Modified division and plans to contend for top rookie honors in SK Modifieds in 2016. He also has plans for seven Whelen Modified Tour appearances. Sutcliffe has an assorted stock car background, including the former NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division and more recently American-Canadian Tour late models. He ran an ACT car in last fall’s Thompson World Series.

 Extra Distance:  At 100 miles, Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 is the longest of the four trips to Stafford this year and the lengthiest short-track event on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule. The next race at the historic half-mile in June will be 125 laps while the August and October events are 150. The longest events of the season overall are at New Hampshire Motor Speedway where the tour runs 105.8 miles.

 Home Tracks:  SK Mods to Run 45 for 45

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified division will run a 45-lap feature on Sunday as a nod to this year’s NAPA Spring Sizzler being the 45th edition of Stafford Motor Speedway’s season-opening weekend. The headlining weekly division traditionally contests 40-lap features. Rowan Pennink is the defending SK Modified champion after he scored six wins, 17 top fives and 19 top 10s in 22 starts a year ago.

Timmy Solomito Now a Winner at Every Level

The Solomito family has been a part of racing on Long Island for  decades. The latest generation of Solomito racers, brothers Jerry, Shawn and Timmy have been regulars at the Riverhead Raceway for years. They have raced Legends, Chargers and Modifieds  at the 1/4 mile oval at the end of Long Island all with great support from family and friends.

IMG_8603_5759 (2)
A win in the INEX Legends feature at Riverhead.

Timmy  has always been a fan favorite at Riverhead,  many seasons ago he acquired the nickname “The Natural” as a smooth driver when he ran his legends. The nickname stuck as he won races in the Legends, Chargers and Modifieds  in family owned cars and driving for people like Wayne Anderson and the legendary red #15 modified.

Several years ago Timmy got a chance to see what modified racing was like at the highest levels. Ed Whelan who owned Ted Christopher’s tour modified gave Timmy a chance to drive the teams second car. A solid run at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park was only spoiled by a broken

IMG_5922
Timmy in the #66 Charger

oil line. That day Timmy showed the racing world he could wheel a race car at the bullrings and the larger, faster tracks.

Last weekend  Timmy Solomito won the biggest race of his career with the season opening NASCAR WMT Icebreaker 150 the  Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Timmy’s power move past Ryan Preece to take the lead for good late in the race cemented his first NASCAR WMT win.

Timmy has joined the long list of Long Island drivers that have ventured off the island and a shorter list that have won races at Thompson.  Drivers like  Charlie Jarzombek, Mike Ewanitsko, Steve Park and Greg Sacks left Long Island and found great success in the modifieds and beyond. A win at Thompson means you can compete with and beat the big boys.

Jul212012_0523
Getting ready to shake down the #1 Charlie Jarzombek Vega at Riverhead.

Charlie Jarzombek was an Icebreaker winner  30 years ago and now Timmy can claim that same title . Ironically several times Timmy has been asked to drive the  legendary #1 Vega restored by Charlies bother Rickey.  Amazingly with little track time in the cars  Timmy was always able to turn laps that would put him in the field of today’s race cars. One year he was turning times not far off the fastest modifieds racing that night made even more impressive by the fact that brake fluid was leaking into the cockpit making it tough to keep his feet on the petals.

When Sundays Icebreaker 150  started the front row of the race consisted  Xfinty regular Ryan Preece and last years champion Doug Coby, both heavy favorites to win that day. Timmy started  further back n 13th place and had to work his way forward. As he said we picked them off one by one then a great pit stop late in the race helped put Timmy near the front and put him in a position for the win.

IMG_0151
Timmy being pushed, out of fuel to victory lane after his Icebreaker win.

After the race Timmy spoke to the media on what it was like to win the Icebreaker. In typical  fashion Timmy humbly thanked the  team owner, crew, sponsors and every person who helped put him into a position to win. Last year was not the year they had hoped for but he never felt his job was in jeopardy. He credited a talk with Mike Stefanik during the week that helped him on his restarts which he admitted was not his strong point.

When asked what it meant to him to join the great Long Island drivers who have won races at Thompson Timmy said it was huge, everyone knows where it is on the  map. You always want to race and win at Thompson, plus to win your first one there is incredible.

One of the most amazing parts of Sundays victory was the fact Timmy’s car started sputtering right after he crossed the finish line. By the time he got to the back stretch the engine shut off and he was out of gas. On the radio he kept telling his crew “I think I’m out of gas”. One more lap or one more caution and the outcome of the race might have been much different. Timmy’s  comment about running out of fuel after the race “Someone must have been watching over us today.”

I got to share a golf cart ride back to the pits long after  all he interviews were over and it was time to go home. It was pretty clear that his win was something he dreamed about a long time and the smile on his face was not going away any time soon. His last comment to me as we rode behind the empty grandstands back to pits the was I hope they give me the day off on Monday but it was back to work on Monday morning.

Timmy will try and back up the season opening win at next weekends Spring Sizzler at The Stafford Motor Speedway in Stafford Springs Ct.