Will this be the week for Rowan Pennink?
The more times he finishes second, the more often that question gets asked. And perhaps with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heading to Monadnock Speedway for the season's fourth race, the answer will be, "Yes."
Pennink has finished as the race runner-up in each of the first three events in 2011. While that has helped him forge a 51-point lead in the season standings, it has also led to the inevitable question. The Monadnock 200 may pose the best opportunity in the still-young season for Pennink to break through for the checkers.
Pennink's one Whelen Modified Tour win came on a quarter-mile track - Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway - a year ago, the same size as Monadnock. While the similarities between the two tracks pretty much end there, Pennink has perhaps more experience at Monadnock than the vast majority of drivers in the field, and has been a consistent top-10 finisher in his starts there in other racing series. The Huntingdon Valley, Pa., driver finished 13th in the Whelen Modified Tour's return to the track last year.
Should Pennink find Victory Lane at Monadnock, he will continue the trend as there has been a different winner in each of the first six Whelen Modified Tour events at Monadnock. Mike Stefanik, Jamie Tomaino and last year's winner Ted Christopher will also have a shot at becoming the track's first multi-time victor.
Silk Steps Up: After finishing a career-best fourth in the 2010 final standings, Ron Silk is up to second after three races this season. He finished third in the Spring Sizzler at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on May 1 and followed that with his first career win in the Whelen Modified Tour's return to the track on May 27. He's led a Tour-high 165 laps and is 51 points behind Pennink.
Preece Steps Aside: Ryan Preece, who is 10th in the season standings after three races, will not be at Monadnock this week and his participation in the balance of the season is undetermined. He parted ways with the No. 11 team that joined the Whelen Modified Tour this year. Preece acknowledged the possibility he could run select races in his family-owned No. 40 that he drove as a rookie in 2007.
First of Four in NH: The Monadnock 200 will be the first of four races for the Whelen Modified Tour in the state of New Hampshire in 2011, the most since 1998 when there were five. Monadnock, in Winchester, has one date this year while New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon has three. In 1998 there were four races in Loudon and one at Lee USA Speedway.
Home Tracks: Patnode Leads the Way
A member of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, Monadnock Speedway sanctions six divisions of racing on Saturday nights.
In the headline division - the Modifieds - Kirk Alexander the reigning track champion. Due to weather, the Modifieds have run only four times so far this year, and that includes double features on June 18. Alexander and Todd Patnode have won two races apiece, and Patnode has an unofficial lead of four points on Alexander following last week's races.
Last Time Out: Silk Steals Stafford Show
At a place where he has historically struggled, Ron Silk left no doubt that he had solved his Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway bugaboo when he dominated the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 on May 27.
Silk, who had an average finish of 18th in 24 career starts at the half mile, took home the Coors Light Pole Award and proceeded to lead all 125 laps en route to his fifth career victory in the second of four races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford in 2011.
Rowan Pennink notched his third runner-up finish in a row while Bobby Santos, Ted Christopher and Erick
Rudolph rounded out the top five.
Up Next: Budweiser 150
The second of four races for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway in 2011 will be next on the schedule with the Budweiser 150 on Thursday, June 30.
While racing this time of year at Thompson is historically not uncommon for the Whelen Modified Tour, this is the first event at the .625-mile track in the month of June since 2008. The August race date of recent seasons has moved to June this year.
The 2011 season opened at Thompson with the annual Icebreaker on April 10 and Ted Christopher earned yet another victory at the track where he has become increasingly dominant in recent seasons. He's won six of the last eight races there, and 12 total during a career that has seen him rack up nearly 100 total triumphs at Thompson across all racing series.
Rowan Pennink, Mike Stefanik, Ryan Preece and Justin Bonsignore brought home the top five in the Icebreaker.