The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour - with a wide-open championship picture - will return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the third and final time in 2011 for the New Hampshire 100 on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Following his third win of the season last Saturday at Lime Rock Park, Todd Szegedy ended Ron Silk's six-race run atop the season standings and will take a slim 12-point lead to Race No. 14 of the 16-race 2011 season.
While he's now in front of the field, and has a combined nine career wins at the three remaining tracks on the schedule, Szegedy is far from being considered in the proverbial driver's seat. Silk has been a consistent top finisher throughout the season and third place Rowan Pennink ended a month-long drought at Lime Rock to climb back into contention.
Szegedy certainly has positioned himself and the No. 2 Mike Smeriglio Racing team for title contention. Starting with the win at New Hampshire in July that he inherited with the disqualification of Ryan Newman, Szegedy has finished on the podium in six of eight races. The 2003 Tour titlist was third in the Whelen Modified Tour's return to Loudon in the August race that was won by Mike Stefanik.
Despite Szegedy's torrid two-months, Silk is still a strong contender for his first Whelen Modified Tour championship. He has finishes of second and 11th in the first two NHMS events and won the New Hampshire 100 in 2009.
Pennink, who led the season standings following the first six events of the year, is 93 tallies back of Szegedy. Although he has not had as much success at NHMS this year as he fellow contenders with finishes of f in July and 16th in August, Pennink's hopes are boosted by the fact that he has an average finish of fourth in six events this year at the two Connecticut tracks that will conclude the season: Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson International Speedway.
The race weekend will get underway for the top championship contenders and the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour field at New Hampshire with practice and qualifying on Thursday, Sept. 22. The New Hampshire 100 will go green on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 12:45 p.m.
Santos to run Evans paint scheme: In cooperation with the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Mystic Missile Racing and Tommy Baldwin Racing have combined forces to put Bobby Santos and the No. 4 Dodge in a paint scheme to replicate that of legendary Modified driver and recent Hall selectee Richie Evans. Evans campaigned the famous No. 61 with a primary color of orange with black and white trim. The tribute will mean that the famed No. 4 'Mystic Missile' Modified - owned by Bob Garbarino - will be colored something other than its traditional yellow for the first time since 1986.
TBR to also run tribute paint schemes: The two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams of Tommy Baldwin Racing will run Modified tribute paint schemes Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The No. 36 driven by Dave Blaney will have an orange Richie Evans Hall of Fame paint scheme similar to that of Garbarino's No. 4 Modified and the No. 35 driven by Steve Park will feature the look of the 'Ole Blue' No. 3 of Boehler Racing Enterprises, the famed longtime NASCAR Modified program.
Zeiner returns, debut for Hemric: After a six-year absence, Zane Zeiner will make his return to Whelen Modified Tour competition in the No. 25 of Gary Cretty this week at NHMS. Zeiner made 17 Tour starts from 1997-2005 with a best finish of fifth at Nazareth Speedway in 2001.
TV time: The New Hampshire 100 will be the final of two events for the Whelen Modified Tour in 2011 that will air on SPEED. The New Hampshire broadcast will begin on a 15-minute delay at 1 p.m., preceding the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.
Last Time Out: Lime Rock
Todd Szegedy battled back after losing the lead during on a pit stop and then making a pair of off-track excursions to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified 66/99 presented by Town Fair Tire at Lime Rock Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.
It was a sweet win for the Ridgefield, Conn., driver - who led all but the last four laps before being relegated to second in last year's inaugural tour visit to the 1.5-mile, eight-turn road course. With his victory on Saturday, he took over the lead in the championship standings.
Mike Stefanik finished second followed by Justin Bonsignore, Richie Pallai Jr., and Ted Christopher. Rowan Pennink, Erick Rudolph, Eric Beers, Kevin Goodale and Patrick Emerling rounded out the top 10.
Up Next: Stafford
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will help bring the competition season to a close at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway as the headline event in the CARQUEST Fall Final Oct. 1-2.
The Fall Final will be the fourth and final event of the year at the Stafford half mile for the Whelen Modified Tour. Bobby Santos, Ron Silk and Ted Christopher were victorious in the three previous events. Santos is also the defending winner of the Fall Final.
Action in the 39th Annual CARQEST Fall Final will begin for the Whelen Modified Tour with practice and qualifying on Saturday, Oct. 1. The race is scheduled to go green on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 3:15 p.m.