Story By: NASCAR – LOUDON, NH – After a hiatus of nearly one month, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hits its biggest stage of the season on Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The modified tour has raced at the 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, New Hampshire, 72 times since the facility first welcomed it in 1990.
As of late, though, the man to beat at the premier stop on the circuit has been Bobby Santos III. Santos has won five of the last seven contests at New Hampshire, including each of the last two, and will make his season debut in the No. 44 car this weekend to defend his winning streak.
Meanwhile, as the circuit holds its seventh race of the 14-race schedule, the fight for the championship points lead remains scorching hot. Patrick Emerling holds the top spot in the standings by a slim three-point margin over defending champion Justin Bonsignore while Tommy Catalano sits third 36 points back. Six-time titlist Doug Coby, the series’ lone multi-time winner in 2021, is tied for fourth with Woody Pitkat at 41 points back despite missing the action on June 12 at Oswego Speedway.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
While Santos, the 2010 series champion, carries his wicked streak into Saturday, he won’t be the only part-time addition making a splash in Saturday’s party.
NASCAR Cup Series regulars Ryan Newman and Ryan Preece will join the fun Saturday, highlighting yet another stout entry list for the Whelen 100.
Newman is a two-time winner at the “Magic Mile,” winning both modified events there in 2010, and will drive the No. 53 car for owner Mike Curb. The 2002 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year and 2014 series runner-up has a strong track record in New Hampshire with two wins, nine top fives and 11 top 10s in 20 starts. Newman already has one modified start under his belt this year in the season opener at Martinsville Speedway, though that was ended prematurely due to an engine failure.
Preece, meanwhile, will jump into the No. 6 car in hopes for his first triumph at New Hampshire.
In 24 starts there, Preece has racked up seven top fives and 12 top 10s, coming closest to claiming his first N.H. victory in 2017. That day, he led 54 laps, but Santos got the best of him late and led the final two laps en route to the win. Preece has started four of the six races on the tour this season and finished second in his last outing at Oswego Speedway.
Back in the world of modified regulars, Coby enters on the heels of a June 20 victory at Riverhead Raceway ahead of the series’ hiatus. Coby is a four-time winner at the “Magic Mile” and has accrued 13 top fives and 20 top 10s to go along with that four-pack of victories.
Points-leader Emerling claimed his first win of the season on April 30 at Stafford Motor Speedway but is still looking for his first New Hampshire win in his 21st start, despite racking up six top fives and nine top 10s. Emerling will also pull double duty on Saturday as he hops behind the wheel of the No. 23 Chevrolet for Our Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race later Saturday afternoon.
Bonsignore, meanwhile, is a 2016 winner at New Hampshire and claimed the May 29 win at Jennerstown Speedway earlier this season. Second in points, Bonsignore carries that past win, eight top fives and 12 top 10s into this weekend’s contest.
Don’t rule out Pitkat, either. In 27 starts, Pitkat has one win (2014), two top fives and 13 top 10s at New Hampshire. However, Pitkat has struggled to relocate his magic there lately, finishing inside the top 10 just once in the past eight Loudon races.
Entering third in points, Catalano, 23, has made just five New Hampshire starts and has yet to find steady success, earning just one top-10 finish so far with a ninth-place effort in the first of two New Hampshire races in 2019. His last two starts have included a driveshaft failure in 2019 and a crash DNF one year ago.
RACEDAY SCHEDULE: Saturday, June 19 — Garage opens: 6:30 a.m.; Practice: 9:45-10:45 a.m.; Qualifying: 11:30 a.m.; Race: 12:45 p.m.
CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the Whelen 100 is limited to 28 starters including provisionals. The field will be set by qualifying (1-22) and provisional process per the entry blank (23-28) for the Whelen 100. In the event that qualifying as stated on the entry blank does not take place for any unforeseen circumstance, the field will be set in accordance with the 2021 NASCAR Touring Series Rule Book.
QUALIFYING: Two consecutive qualifying laps. Faster lap determines qualifying position. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on the vehicle after the vehicle has taken the green flag at the start-finish line. NASCAR reserves the right to have more than one vehicle engage in qualifying runs at the same time.
The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire allotment available for this event is twelve (12) tires per team. All tires used for qualifying and the race must be purchased at the track and scanned by Hoosier, unless otherwise approved in advance by the Series Director. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. All qualifying tires must remain in impound until released by NASCAR Officials. The remaining tire allotment may be used for practice and/or change tires during the event.
The tire change rule is four (4) tires, any position.
QUALIFYING AND SPECIAL AWARDS
$400 Phil Kurze Halfway Leader Award presented by Josten’s per event award to the race leader at the halfway point of the event, regardless if the race is running under green or yellow.
$600 Hoosier Tire “Lap Leader” per event award to the eligible car owner whose driver leads the most laps in each event. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event.
$500 Hoosier Tire “Hard Charger” per event award to the highest finishing eligible driver who advances the most positions during the course of the race. In the case of a tie, the highest finishing driver will receive the award.
$500 Hoosier Tire “Most Improved” per event award to the eligible new team/organization whose driver improves the most positions during the course of the race. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event. If money is not awarded during this event, funds will roll over to the next event and will continue to roll over until an eligible new team/organization claims the money.
$1,000 Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole per event award to the driver with the fastest qualifying time eligible to participate under the Manufacturers’ Prize Money Conditions.
$550 Sunoco Spec Fuel award divided: 1st-$300 5th-$150 10th-$100.
$3,500 Whelen Engineering “Winner of the Race” award to the winning driver.
Whelen Non-Starter award will be paid to the first 15 competitors throughout the season who pass inspection, practice, attempt to qualify but fail to make the feature event.