While the regular competitors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will tell you that they enjoy racing against the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Ryan Newman, you can bet that they’d also be more than happy to defeat him, something they were not able to do a year ago.
Newman went 3-for-3 overall in his Whelen Modified Tour moonlight in 2010, including a sweep of the two races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The veteran of many forms of auto racing from South Bend, Ind., posted an average finish of 21st in his first three Modified races at NHMS, but he and the No. 7 Aggressive Hydraulics/Menards Chevrolet team led by Kevin ‘Bono’ Manion had it all figured out last year.
Hoping to lead the charge to dethrone Newman at the ‘Magic Mile’ is Ted Christopher. With 10 total triumphs overall at NHMS, and two wins in five races so far this year, he looks to be up to the challenge.
"My goal this year is to definitely do well there and make sure Ryan Newman doesn't win," Christopher told the Motor Racing Network in a recent radio interview. "I like racing with him. We both race really, really hard."
In 42 Whelen Modified Tour starts in Loudon, Christopher has posted 24 top-10 finishes, including five wins. He’s finished in the top five in four of the last six races at the 1.058-mile oval, but hasn’t won since the September, 2008 event.
If Christopher can’t put an end to Newman’s reign, Ron Silk looks to be the next best bet. Silk has a win and four top fives to his credit in 2011 to sit second in points. He was victorious in the September, 2009 NHMS race and has finished in the top five in each of his last four starts in Loudon.
First of three at NHMS: For the first time since 1999, there will be three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races in the same season at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In addition to the two regular stops as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race weekends, the Whelen Modified Tour will also have an August date this year on IZOD IndyCar weekend.
Petree to attempt first start: Current ESPN motorsports analyst and former Sprint Cup Series championship crew chief Andy Petree will attempt to make his Whelen Modified Tour debut in the F.W. Webb 100. He attempted to make the field for the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in 2010, but did not qualify. Petree has five NASCAR Nationwide Series and seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts to his credit.
Earn the pole, win the race: The three previous races entering Loudon have seen the pole winner wind up in Victory Lane. That was also the case in the two races at NHMS last year when Ryan Newman won from the pole both times. That’s not to say the races have been devoid of lead changes, however. Ted Christopher’s win last time out saw four different drivers lead the race and the two events Newman won featured 13-different drivers run at the front.
“NASCAR Night” at Lowell: The third annual “NASCAR Night” at the Lowell Spinners game is slated for Wednesday, July 13. Whelen Modified Tour drivers that are slated to be on hand this year are Woody Pitkat and Andy Seuss. Seuss’ No. 70 Modified will also be on display. The Tour drivers will be joined at LeLacheur Park in Lowell, Mass. – home of the Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate – by representatives from the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
The Race: The F.W. Webb 100 will be the sixth of 16 races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2011 and the first of three stops at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The Procedure: The starting field is 38 cars, including provisionals. The first 33 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 100 laps (105.2 miles).
The Track: NHMS, a 1.058-mile slightly-banked asphalt oval, is the largest track the Whelen Modified Tour races at. NHMS has played host to the Whelen Modified Tour 52 times previously, the most of any facility outside of Connecticut.
Race Winners: There have been 17 different race winners at NHMS, led by Tony Hirschman’s seven victories. Mike Stefanik is the active wins leader with five. Ryan Newman swept the two events at NHMS in 2010.
Pole Winners: There have been 22 different pole winners at NHMS, led by Jan Leaty’s six. Ted Christopher is the active poles leader with five. Mike Ewanitsko holds the qualifying record at 28.693 seconds (132.743 mph), set in 2001. Newman earned both poles a year ago.
Home Tracks: Patnode In The Lead
The competition for the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New Hampshire state title is led by Todd Patnode through the latest standings posted on July 6.
Patnode, from Monadnock Speedway, earned 138 points in the Modified division on the strength of a pair of wins and top-10 finishes in all four of his starts. He led fellow Monadnock competitor Kirk Alexander by just two tallies, however.
Monadnock, located in Winchester, runs six divisions on Saturday nights throughout the race season. The other Whelen All-American Series track in the Granite State, Lee USA Speedway, contests five divisions on Friday nights.
Last Time Out: Christopher Puts On A Show
Ted Christopher was sent to the rear of the field at the start of the race from his pole position after missing the driver’s meeting, and then had to come through the field again after trying to avoid an accident on Lap 66, but it didn’t stop the Plainville, Conn., driver from picking up his fourth-consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway.
Christopher pitted for a third time on Lap 121 and knifed through the field after restarting outside the top 15. He made the decisive pass of Ron Silk on Lap 142 and survived a sprint to the finish for the victory.
Silk held on for second and point leader Rowan Pennink enjoyed another consistent run with a third-place finish. Bobby Santos and Eric Berndt completed the top five.
Up Next: Lighthouse Mission 200
The lone trip to the state of New York in 2011 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take place on Saturday, July 30 with the Lighthouse Mission 200 presented by Baldwin Automotive at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island.
The Whelen Modified Tour has contested races in Riverhead in each of its first 26 years of competition. This year’s event will mark the 50th all-time running of the Tour at the quarter-mile bullring. The first race there took place on July 10, 1985 and was won by Jimmy Spencer.
Rowan Pennink is the defending winner of the Lighthouse Mission 200, which includes a 25-lap qualifying race and a 175-lap feature. There have not been back-to-back winners at Riverhead since Mike Stefanik swept both races in 2001.
Action will begin on the track for the Whelen Modified Tour on raceday with practice at 2 p.m. Qualifying is slated for 4:45 p.m., followed by the qualifying race at 6:30 p.m., and the feature at 8:30 p.m.