Modified Race Preview: Stafford

Stafford

The 46th annual Spring Sizzler 200 also marks the longest race of the season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which will force teams to think twice when it comes to strategy on pit road. (Photo: Getty Images)

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For the first time since 2009, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will head to a track coming off the heels of a win by Ole Blue and the iconic Boelher family No. 3. 

Rowan Pennink captured the victory in the Icebreaker 150 at Connecticut's Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on April 9, helping return the iconic team to Victory Lane for the first time since Ryan Preece won in the car in 2009. Pennink led 109 of the 150 laps at Thompson in route to his win and also led 38 laps in the season-opening race at Myrtle Beach Speedway back on March 18.

2017-sizzler-logoHis two consecutive top 10 finishes have him sitting second in the championship standings heading into Sunday's NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Connecticut's Stafford Motor Speedway.

Interestingly enough, Preece's 2009 win came at Stafford and was the second of back-to-back wins in the No. 3. He had also won at New York's Riverhead Raceway the week before.

Pennink, who is four points behind Myrtle Beach race winner Timmy Solomito in the championship standings, has 12 career top-five finishes at Stafford on the Whelen Modified Tour. He finished third in the Spring Sizzler last year. He also has 18 career features in SK Modified Division, the track's top NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division, and is the two-time defending division champion.

He'll have plenty of competition to drink the milk in Victory Lane on Sunday. Four-time champion Doug Coby is looking to bounce back after two rough races to start the season. He has three career Spring Sizzler events, including last season’s dominant performance behind the wheel of his No. 2. In total, he has five career wins at the half-mile oval and has also won the last five Coors Light Pole awards at Stafford. 

Solomito comes into the weekend hoping for a third straight top-two finish to start the season, while Ted Christopher returns behind the wheel of the famed No. 00 that the late Joe Brady made famous. 

The 46th annual Spring Sizzler 200 also marks the longest race of the season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which will force teams to think twice when it comes to strategy on pit road. 

Fast Facts

The Race: This marks the third race of the 17-race schedule for the 2017 season. It will be the first of three appearances at the half-mile Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Procedure:
The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 33 cars, including provisional. The first 27 cars in the starting field will be determined through the qualifying process, with six provisional positions available. The race is scheduled for 200 laps (100 miles). 

The Track: Stafford Motor Speedway has held 122 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races in its history, with the first coming in 1985, won by Richie Evans. 

Race Winners: There have been 32 different race winners at Stafford, including Mike Stefanik, who leads all drivers with 20 career wins. Four-time and defending series champion Doug Coby scored the victory in the Spring Sizzler last season. 

Pole Winners: There have been 43 different Coors Light Pole Award winners at Stafford, led by Mike Stefanik’s 17. Currently, Ryan Preece holds the one-lap track qualifying record with a time of 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph), which was set back at the 2012 NAPA Spring Sizzler. 

Race Notes

Szegedy Back at Stafford: The 2003 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion is back full-time this season and he will certainly welcome his return to Stafford. Last season, Szegedy finished second in the Spring Sizzler, but didn’t compete in the other three events. In his career, he has visited Victory Lane four times and finished inside the top five in nearly half of his 53 career starts there. 

TC Back With Brady Bunch: For the first time since last May, Ted Christopher is returning to the seat of the famed Brady Bunch No. 00 at Stafford. The former 12-time Stafford winner has finished inside the top 10 in 56% of his starts at the half-mile oval and also is a six-time winner of the Spring Sizzler. Christopher has over 100 career feature wins over all divisions at Stafford, making him the all-time wins leader at the track. 

Quick Start For Solomito: After a victory in the season-opening event at Myrtle Beach Speedway, Timmy Solomito finished second in the Icebreaker at Thompson. Coming into the Sizzler, Solomito is looking to start the season with three consecutive finishes inside the top two behind the wheel of his No. 16 Starrett Tools Ford and extend his championship points lead. 

Pitkat Returns Home: Behind the wheel of the Goodie Motorsports' No. 46, Woody Pitkat will return home to Stafford Motor Speedway this weekend. Pitkat, who has one SK Modified championship and one NWMT win at Stafford, has also won two Late Model titles at the half-mile. His more than 50 career Stafford Whelen All American Series victories show that he knows his way around. 

NASCAR Coast to Coast
Each Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET) exclusively at MRN.com, hosts Kyle Rickey and Buddy Long update you on all the news from NASCAR Modified, K&N Pro Series East and West Series, along with interviews with the drivers.

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NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

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