Canaan, NH. – When the Valenti Modified Racing Series heads to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Thompson, Connecticut, this weekend,, the 2015 series championship will be decided with a pair of Connecticut drivers vying for the title.
Woody Pitkat, of Stafford Springs, a two-time winner this season, holds a slim four-point lead (450-443) over Chris Pasteryak, of Jewett City, going into the series season finale.
Pitkat trailed Pasteryak by 21-points until last weekends race at Lee, New Hampshire where Pitkat finished second and Pasteryak 16th. Pasteryak has been to victory lane five times this season but has yet to win at Thompson.
Pitkat hopes to win his first VMRS title for long-time competitor, car owner, Peter Kulessa and his crew. The team is no stranger to championships having been the crew that backboned Kirk Alexander to three titles. Kulessa seeks his first title trophy as car owner.
Pasteryak is a 10-time series race winner and a two-time series champion.
Todd Patnode, of Swanzey, NH, currently third in the standings has entered the Thompson finale. Patnode has a 10-point lead over Norm Wrenn, of Nashua, NH. (396-386). Wrenn is competing in his last race after a long successful career that started in 1983.
Former series winners at Thompson also entering the Saturday race include Ted Christopher, of Plainville, CT, and Rowan Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, PA.
Andy Jankowiak of Buffalo, NY, Eric Berndt, of Cromwell, CT, and Ryan Preece, of Berlin, CT, will join VMRS regulars, Todd Szegedy, of Ridgefield, CT, Jon McKennedy, of E. Chelmsford, MA, Dave Schneider of Northport, NY, and Dylan Kopec, of Palmer, MA.
Qualifying heats on Friday October 16 will begin at 5:00 PM with the 50-lap feature scheduled for Saturday evening October 17.
Analyzing The Sunoco World Series 150 At Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 14, 2015) – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will draw the 2015 season to a close and crown a champion with the Sunoco World Series 150 on Sunday at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Below is a statistical look at the performance of the tour and selected drivers at the track:
Sunoco World Series 150 Setup:
Doug Coby and Ryan Preece enter the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season finale tied atop the championship standings while Woody Pitkat ranks third, just four points back. Coby will vie for his third title (2012, `14) and Preece his second (2013) while Pitkat is in search of his first.
Coby has won the first three events this year at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Only two drivers have swept a season at Thompson (Steve Park-1996, Mike Stefanik-1998). Coby has four career points wins at the track.
Coby has led 340 of 425 (80%) laps contested this year at Thompson.
Preece is the defending winner of the Sunoco World Series 150, his only previous victory at the track. Pitkat has captured two of the last six Thompson poles, but has yet to win there.
Three drivers entered for the Sunoco World Series 150 have previously won the traditional season finale event: Ted Christopher (4), Preece (1) and Bobby Santos (2).
Christopher is the only driver in NWMT history to clinch the title by winning the season finale, which he did in the 2008 Thompson World Series. Mike Stefanik won the season finale in his 1991 and `97 championship campaigns, but he had already clinched the title prior to the final race.
At Thompson Speedway:
Opened on May 26, 1940 as the largest and first entirely-asphalt track in New England at the time.
An inaugural member track of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, now in its 34th season. Ryan Preece is the defending track champion out of the track’s headlining Sunoco Modified division.
Held NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in 1951, 1969 and 1970, and 27 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East events from 1988-2009.
Held the inaugural NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event on March 31, 1985, a race won by the late NASCAR Hall of Famer Richie Evans.
Thompson has played host to 129 NWMT races, the most in the tour’s 31 seasons.
There have been 34 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories.
There have been 44 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Tony Hirschman’s 13.
Jamie Tomaino is the only driver that has participated in all 129 previous NWMT Thompson races.
There have only been three races won in wire-to-wire fashion at Thompson, the last by Rick Fuller in 1997.
Bobby Santos was the youngest Thompson race winner at 22 years, 11 days in 2007.
Stefanik was the oldest Thompson victor at 54 years, 10 months, 25 days in 2013.
Race: #15 of 15 overall, #4 of 4 at Thompson
Track Layout: .625-mile asphalt oval
Banking/Turns: 26 degrees
Race Length: 150 laps (93.75 miles)
2014 Race Winner: Ryan Preece
2014 Pole Winner: Woody Pitkat
Qualifying Record: Bobby Santos, Dodge, 18.237 seconds, 123.376 mph, April 10, 2011
Has eight wins, five poles and 50 top 10s in 87 career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts.
Ranks 11th in points with seven top 10s in 14 races, highlighted by wins in both Riverhead Raceway events.
Has three wins, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 14th in 20 career starts at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Ted Christopher (No. 22 Canto Paving/Ferguson Waterworks Chevrolet)
The 2008 NWMT champion has 42 wins, 24 poles and 198 top 10s in 360 career starts. His 42 wins rank third all-time and his 24 poles are eighth.
Is looking to end a 54-race winless drought. It’s the second-longest such streak in his career. His first win came in his 94th race.
Sits 13th in points with six top 10s in 12 starts. Did not participate in two events.
Has 13 wins, seven poles, 48 top 10s and an average finish of 13th in 88 career NWMT Thompson starts. Also won the non-points UNOH Showdown in 2012.
Has a record four Sunoco World Series 150 wins, including three in a row from 2008-10.
Is a five-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Thompson out of the Sunoco Modified division. Has 98 overall career victories at the track entering this week’s events.
Doug Coby (No. 2 Dunleavy’s Repair/HEX Performance Chevrolet)
The 2012 and 2014 NWMT champion has 16 wins, nine poles and 89 top 10s in 171 career starts.
Has already set career-highs with six wins and 10 top fives. Is tied with Ryan Preece for the championship lead, and will attempt to become the first back-to-back champion since Tony Hirschman in 2004-05.
Won from the pole the last two times out at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Stafford Motor Speedway.
Has led 731 laps this year, which currently ranks seventh in NWMT single-season history. Could rise as high as fifth if he leads 146 of 150 this week.
Has four wins, a pole, 25 top 10s and an average finish of 11th in 45 career Thompson NWMT starts. Also won the inaugural non-points UNOH Showdown in 2011.
Has won the Thompson Icebreaker and Stafford Spring Sizzler and Fall Final, leaving the Thompson World Series as the only one of the four traditional Connecticut season-opening or season-closing events not yet on his resume.
The 2014 Sunoco Rookie of the Year has a pole and 16 top 10s in 34 career starts with a best finish of third at Riverhead in September 2013 and twice at Stafford this year (June, Oct.).
Ranks sixth in points with eight top 10s through 14 events.
In nine Thompson starts he’s posted seven top 10s with an average finish of 11th and a best result of fourth in the 2014 Icebreaker.
Todd Szegedy (No. 4 Montanari Fuel Dodge)
The 2003 NWMT champion has 19 wins, 10 poles and 125 top 10s in 201 career starts.
Sits fourth in points with 10 top 10s in 14 outings in his first season with Mystic Missile Racing, highlighted by a July victory at NHMS.
Has three wins, three poles, 26 top 10s and an average finish of 13th in 48 career NWMT starts at Thompson.
Other Driver Notes:
Ray Graham Jr. and Kyle Soper will attempt to make their NWMT debut in this event while John Beatty Jr. will look to make his first season appearance.
Not only will Jamie Tomaino continue his run of participating in every single NWMT event at Thompson, but he’ll also compete in every race on the schedule for the sixth straight season. He’s started 596 of the 601 events in tour history.
James Civali won the 2007 Thompson Icebreaker. He has nine top 10s and nine DNFs in 22 career starts there.
Up To Speed:
This is the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s 30th Anniversary season. The inaugural race was contested March 31, 1985 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The 2015 schedule features 15 points races at seven different tracks across four states.
Doug Coby opened up his title defense with a win from the pole in the Thompson Icebreaker 150 on April 12.
Woody Pitkat earned the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 victory on April 26 at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Ryan Preece emerged victorious at New London-Waterford Speedbowl in the Mr. Rooter 161 on May 30.
Preece made it two-in-a-row with a victory in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 on June 5 at Stafford.
Coby won at Thompson for the second consecutive outing with the Mr. Rooter 125 victory on June 10.
The Riverhead Hoosier Tire East 200 was postponed one day by rain, then dominated in victory by Justin Bonsignore.
Todd Szegedy won the Andy Blacksmith 100 presented by Donate Life New England on July 18 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Coby notched the first bullring win of his career on July 25 when he reached Victory Lane at Monadnock Speedway in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 200.
Preece made it two-in-a-row at Stafford when he won the Call Before You Dig 150 on Aug. 7.
Coby moved to three-for-three in 2015 at Thompson when he won the Budweiser King of Beers 150 on Aug. 12.
Preece notched his first Bristol victory when he won the rain-delayed and abbreviated Bush’s Beans 150 on Aug. 19.
Bonsignore turned in the 2015 Riverhead sweep as he won the Riverhead 200 on Aug. 29.
Coby won from the pole at NHMS on Sept. 26.
Coby made it back-to-back wins from the pole with another triumph at Stafford on Oct. 4.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 13, 2015) – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will enter uncharted territory this weekend at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as just four points separate the top three drivers in the standings with only the season finale Sunoco World Series 150 left to determine a champion.
In what will nearly be a NASCAR regional touring series version of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ “Championship 4” finale, the highest finisher on Sunday among the trio of Doug Coby, Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat may very well capture the crown.
Coby and Preece enter Thompson tied at 565 points while Pitkat sits third at 561. Bonus points for laps led (one for a lap led, one additional for most led) and for winning (three) the race could certainly come into play, as they have all season, but with such a miniscule points spread, track position will be the primary focus.
Since official race reports started including updated season points in 2000, the closest the championship margin has been entering the final Whelen Modified Tour race was eight points in that 2000 season. Likewise, the record for the closest final championship margin may be in jeopardy. The mark currently stands at three points from 1995 when Tony Hirschman edged Steve Park for the title.
The three have a history this year of running together in races, which may even bring tiebreakers into the discussion when factoring laps led bonus points. In that instance Coby has six victories on the season and thus owns all tiebreakers while Preece’s four wins would give him a tiebreaker over Pitkat, who has one checkered flag.
The following is statistical information on how the three contenders have performed this year, and what each could accomplish if they are able to celebrate Sunday at Thompson.
Tale of the Tape
TSMP SEASON AVG. FIN.
TSMP CAREER AVG. FIN.
What’s on the Line
The 2012 and 2014 NWMT champion.
Could become just the third driver in NWMT history to earn three or more championships, joining Mike Stefanik (seven) and Tony Hirschman (five).
Could become the first NWMT driver to earn back-to-back championships since Hirschman in 2004-05, and just the fourth in tour history to accomplish the feat (Hirschman-twice, Stefanik-twice, Jimmy Spencer-once).
Could earn a second championship for Mike Smeriglio III Racing, following the first last year.
Could join Stefanik (1998) and Steve Park (1996) as the only drivers in NWMT history to earn a season sweep of events at Thompson.
Could become the seventh different driver to win seven or more races in a season, and the first since Ted Christopher in 2005. A seventh race win would place him in a tie with four other drivers for fifth place on the single-season wins list.
Could attain career victories in all four traditional season-opening and season-closing events in Connecticut. Already has wins in the Thompson Icebreaker and Stafford Spring Sizzler and Fall Final.
The 2013 NWMT champion.
Could become just the sixth driver in NWMT history to earn multiple championships.
Could earn a second championship for TS Haulers Racing and owner Ed Partridge. The previous was in 2011 with driver Ron Silk.
Could set a career-high with a fifth win on the season, which would make him the 10th different driver in NWMT history to record five or more single season victories.
Could become the first driver to win the Sunoco World Series 150 in back-to-back seasons since Ted Christopher in 2009-10.
Previous best career championship finish is ninth (three times).
Could become the 18th different driver in NWMT history to earn a championship.
Could become the first driver not leading the points entering the finale to go on to win the championship since Tony Hirschman in 2005.
Could earn the first NASCAR championship for Buzz Chew Motorsports.
Could match his career-best with a second victory on the season, which would also be the first of his career at Thompson.
RACE: Sunoco World Series 150
PLACE: Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park
DATE: Sunday, Oct. 18
TIME: 3:45 p.m. ET (approx.)
TELECAST: Thursday, Oct. 22, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN
TRACK LAYOUT: .625-mile, high-banked asphalt oval
2014 POLESITTER: Woody Pitkat
2014 WINNER: Ryan Preece
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 4-5 p.m., Qualifying 7 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 8 p.m.
If photographs or graphics are needed for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, please contact Jason Cunningham.
The Race: The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule will settle its 2015 championship with the season finale Sunoco World Series 150, the last of four events this year at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the official entry blank is 32 cars, including provisionals. The first 27 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 was the largest in New England for five decades. Thompson has played host to 129 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 31 years of competition.
Race Winners: There have been 34 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories. Doug Coby won each of the three events there this 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.
Sunoco World Series 150 Notes
Tour Finales at Thompson: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will play host to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season finale for the 16th time in the last 17 years, and the 22nd time in 31 seasons of tour competition. The first time the .625-mile oval held the season-ender was 1989, and the tradition began in earnest in 1992 with only three exceptions since.
Other Key Points Battles: The championship battle between Doug Coby, Ryan Preece and Woody Pitkat is getting all of the attention, and deservedly so, but there are a host of positions still up for grabs for the final season standings. Patrick Emerling (476), Timmy Solomito (473) and Eric Goodale (465) will contend for fifth place while Chase Dowling (446), Bobby Santos (439) and Justin Bonsignore (435) will vie for top-10 finishes. The competition for 15th is also important as the top 15 enter next season in the contingency bonus plan, and Dave Sapienza (357) and Jeff Goodale (353) will compete for that spot as Rowan Pennink (364) will drop out of the 15th spot since he is not expected to participate this week.
Dowling Clinched, Third Place Still Unsettled: Dowling has already clinched the 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, but there is still business to be settled for the first-year driver group. Sunoco provides a post-season monetary award to the top three eligible finishers in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings, and third place is very much in contention as Jeff Goodale (83) currently holds the position by just four points over Sapienza (79). Although there are 13 rookies entered for the Sunoco World Series 150, which could allow for a significant points swing, Max Zachem is seemingly secure in second place with 94 points.
Rocco Returns With the No. 57: Keith Rocco will return to Whelen Modified Tour action this week with a familiar car number as he will pilot the No. 57 for car owner Mark Pane. Rocco has made 29 tour starts since 2008 with nine different car owners, but the Pane 57 is one of the more recognizable to Connecticut modified fans as it was the same team he competed with on a weekly basis in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action for a number of years. Rocco has one previous Whelen Modified Tour start in Pane’s No. 57, the 2011 Thompson World Series.
Beatty Returns, Graham and Soper Debut: There are three fresh faces on the entry list for this year’s Sunoco World Series 150 in John Beatty Jr., Ray Graham Jr. and Kyle Soper. Beatty is set to make his first appearance of the season after seven starts across the 2013-14 seasons, including four at Thompson, while Graham and Soper will look to make their Whelen Modified Tour debuts. Graham has a primary background in supermodifieds while Soper posted 20 top 10s in 21 features with seven podiums as a rookie in Riverhead Raceway’s modified division this year.
Home Tracks: Pitkat Out Front
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour isn’t the only championship that Woody Pitkat is chasing Sunday as he is also in contention for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track title at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Unlike needing to come from behind on the tour, Pitkat enters the Sunoco Modified division season finale with 14-point lead on Keith Rocco with Ryan Preece four more tallies back in third. Pitkat has one previous Thompson title from 2006, the year he won the NASCAR Region IV title.