For the first time in the seven-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, a points event will be held north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway will welcome the tour as part of its special event this Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11, for the running of the Southern Thompson 125 and the UNOH Showdown.
The southern competitors will race in a 125-lap event and their counterparts in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will also hold a 125-lap event on the same day. After each divisional race is completed, the top drivers from each tour will square off in a 50-lap sprint for the cash in the first-of-its kind event at the track known for hosting some of the best races in the history of NASCAR's modified division. The 50-lap Showdown is an exhibition, non-points-paying event.
One southern regular looking forward to going is defending tour champion Burt Myers. Myers competed at Thompson twice in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races in 2010 with a pair of 14th-place finishes and that race experience at the track should be helpful according to the defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion.
"I'm hoping maybe we have an advantage because we have somewhat of a basic knowledge of what kind of setup its going to take," Myers said. "We're looking forward to it."
In addition to his pair of starts at Thompson, Myers has also competed with the Whelen Modified competitors in four events at Martinsville and three starts in the combination event at Bristol Motor Speedway. But Myers hopes to use his experience at Thompson to his advantage.
"It's really unique, it's really a fun track to race on and I liked it from the get-go," Myers said. "The first time I came up for the Icebreaker last year I qualified fifth. We're brining that same car back and we're going to have a fresh motor, so that combined with some of the notes we were able to take in from the two times we ran there, hopefully we'll have some success."
While Myers has experience, another southern regular who enters this weekend's events on a roll and with a lot of experience at Thompson is Andy Seuss.
Seuss has won at Caraway Speedway on Aug. 26, and last Saturday at Langley Speedway. The Hampstead, N.H., driver also has 24 starts on the Whelen Modified Tour with seven starts and one top-10.
"We are looking forward to going to Thompson and hopefully we can keep this winning streak going," Seuss said from Victory Lane at Langley. "Eddie (Harvey) has given me a great car to drive and I know I am going to have a great car to drive in the race."
Among other southern division competitors who have made starts at Thompson include L.W. Miller who has 13 starts highlighted by one top-five finish in 2002.
THOMPSON INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
Here is a quick 'By the Numbers' look at Thompson International Speedway.
5 - The number of NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour drivers who have made starts at Thompson in their career. (George Brunnhoelzl III, Frank Fleming, L.W. Miller, Burt Myers and Andy Seuss).
13 - The number of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races Ted Christopher has won at Thompson since 2000. Christopher also competes part-time in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour and has won twice in 2011 down south (South Boston and Caraway).
3 - The total number of races to be held on Sunday, Sept. 11. Two 125-lap races for each modified division and the 50-lap head-to-head challenge between the two divisions.
UNOH steps up again: The University of Northwest Ohio will sponsor the races at Thompson and this will be the second of three modified events the school is scheduled to sponsor in 2011. The university also sponsored the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 combination event at Bristol Motor Speedway in August and is scheduled to be entitlement sponsors of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour's season-ending UNHO Southern Showdown 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 13.
National Champion To Compete: Keith Rocco, the 2010 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, is entered for the Southern Thompson 125 in a car fielded by Hill Enterprises for the special events at Thompson. Rocco, who has two Thompson track titles in the Sunoco Modified division and is closing in on a third, will drive the No. 79 Pontiac that was driven by James Civali on the tour last year before the team decided to compete in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour full-time this season.
The Races: The Southern Thompson 125 will mark the first appearance for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour at Thompson International Speedway and the state of Connecticut. The UNOH Showdown is an exhibition race.
The Procedures: The starting field for the Southern Thompson 125 is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 25 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 125 laps (78.125 miles). The top 12 cars from both the Southern Thompson 125 and Northern Thompson 125 and transfer to the UNOH Showdown, which will see its 36-car field filled out by provisionals. The UNOH Showdown will be 50 green flag laps (31.25 miles).
The Track: Thompson International Speedway was built by John Hoenig in 1938 and has held races at the track for more than 70 years. Still owned by the Hoenig family, the track became known as the 'Indianapolis of the East' and holds NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing events every Thursday night. Thompson has also played host to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour a total of 114 times.
Last Time Out: Seuss Earns Langley Victory
Andy Seuss held off the field in a 14-lap dash to the checkered flag to win the Newport News Shipbuilding 150 in NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action on Saturday at Langley Speedway.
It was the second straight tour victory for Seuss, out of Hampstead, N.H. He won in his last outing on Aug. 26 at North Carolina's Caraway Speedway. It also was his 10th career win in the Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
Seuss started from the outside pole position and fell back early, but he battled back to take the lead on Lap 129 and led the rest of the way. A debris caution on Lap 132 set up a sprint to the finish that he was able to manage in his No. 11 Phoenix Pre-Owned/Triad Auto Sales Chevrolet.
John Smith crossed the line in second followed by Thomas Stinson - who led a race-high 89 laps - in third. Polesitter and defending tour champion Burt Myers finished fourth while Jason Myers finished in the fifth position.
Tim Brown, George Brunnhoelzl III, Frank Fleming, L.W. Miller and Jonathan Kievman rounded out the top 10.
Up Next: The Caraway 150
The next event for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will be the UNOH Showdown Southern Thompson 125 at the Thompson (Conn.) Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 11. This will be the inaugural visit for the series in Connecticut and will be part of a combination weekend with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Each division will have a 125-lap feature event followed by a 50-lap all-star race pitting competitors from each tour.