Modified Race Preview: Thompson

Modifieds

The Thompson 125 will be the second of four appearances at Thompson for the 2017 season, with the others coming on August 9 and October 15. (Photo: Getty Images)

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As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hits the quarter mark in the 2017 championship chase, Timmy Solomito is showing the way in a stout field of competition. Solomito won the season-opening event at South Carolina's Myrtle Beach Speedway and also scored the victory in the last series event at Langley Speedway on May 13, winning the first two southern races on the newly unified schedule.

Solomito has shown a knack for multiple different style race tracks in his career, winning at the bullrings of Monadnock Speedway in New Hampshire and hos home track of Riverhead Raceway all the way to the high-banks of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, where the series visits on Wednesday evening for the third annual Thompson 125. Solomito won the prestigious Icebreaker at the start of last season -- his first career series win.

He has finished inside the top five in four of his last six races at Thompson and has won the last two Coors Light Pole Awards at the 0.625-mile oval. 

Following in Solomito's successful footsteps, Rowan Pennink is looking to keep his Thompson momentum rolling on Wednesday, night coming off a victory in the Icebreaker back in April -- his first series win since 2013. The win broke a dry spell that dated back to 2009 for the Boelher Racing team and Pennink has finished inside the top 10 in all four of the races this season, returning Ole Blue to successful glory. Pennink will enter the Thompson 125 just nine points from Solomito in the championship standings as the summer stretch gets underway. 

Wednesday's 125 lap main event is the shortest of the four appearances on the high-banks this season and has been known for producing some intense pit strategy from teams in the past. Last season, Max Zachem pitted early in the race and stayed out late when all others came down pit road and nearly scored his first series win. Wednesday's race is also the first of two races in a 10-day stretch, with the return to Riverhead coming on June 24 before the series has a few weeks off. 

Fast Facts

The Race: The fifth race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season will be contested on the high-banks of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The Thompson 125 will be the second of four appearances at Thompson for the 2017 season, with the others coming on August 9 and October 15. 

The Procedure:
The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 30 positions in the field will be determined by the group qualifying process, while there will also be six provisional spots available. The race is scheduled for 125 laps (78.125 miles). 

The Track: The 0.625-mile banked asphalt oval opened back in 1940 as the only asphalt track in the country. The track has held 135 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races in its history – the most of any facility on the current schedule.

Race Winners: There have been 35 different tour drivers that have rolled into Thompson’s victory lane. Mike Stefanik leads all drivers with 15 career wins, while Ted Christopher leads all active drivers with 13 career wins at Thompson. Doug Coby, Justin Bonsignore and Bobby Santos III are second on the list of all active drivers with five wins each.

Pole Winners: There are 46 drivers who have a Coors Light Pole Award at Thompson. Doug Coby and Ted Christopher are tied and lead all active drivers with seven career poles on the high-banks.

Race Notes

Second Shot For Coby: Back in Icebreaker 150 at Thompson on April 9, Doug Coby qualified third, but didn't make it past lap one. Contact sent his No. 2 Mayhew Tools/Dunleavy/AJ Romano Const. Chevrolet into the outside wall under the caution on lap one of the race, and Coby didn't have a chance to show his speed. Coming off a 15th place finish at Langley, Coby sits 51 points from points leader Timmy Solomito and if he is looking to capture a record fourth-straight tour championship, he must get back on track. Coby has five wins at Thompson and also has seven career Coors Light Pole awards, leading all active drivers. He swept all four races at the 0.625-mile oval back in 2015. 

Christopher Back In Action:
Former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Ted Christopher is back on the series full-time for the remainder of the season. Over the break, Christopher teamed with Danny Watts to sit behind the wheel of the No. 82 Horton Avenue Materials Chevrolet for the rest of the 17-race points schedule. Christopher is no stranger to Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane, collecting 42 career victories in his 364 career series starts. His last series victory came in the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford in 2011. 

Four Races, Three Winners: In the first four races of the Whelen Modified Tour season, three different winners have visited Victory Lane. Solomito leads the charge as the only driver with two wins. Pennink returned Ole Blue to Victory Lane at the Icebreaker and Ryan Preece scored glory at Stafford Motor Speedway's Spring Sizzler in his return full-time to the series. Heading into the Thompson 125, plenty of names that sit at the front of the point standings are looking for their first win of the season. Justin Bonsignore has five career Thompson wins to his credit and has a best finish of fifth this season. Max Zachem was leading this event last season coming to the white flag, but finished second. Zachem is still searching his first career NWMT win. 

Zachem Primed For Victory: It's no secret that Max Zachem has been close to winning a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event. Last time out at Langley, Zachem restarted on the outside of the front row with just a few laps to go, but finished fourth. In the Thompson 125 last year, Zachem found himself leading the race coming to the white flag because of some intense pit strategy by the team. Even though he was on older tires, Zachem was able to lead the race all the way until turn one on the final lap, where Bobby Santos passed him and went on to score the win. In the Icebreaker in April, Zachem finished third and has finished inside the top 10 in three of the last four Thompson events. 

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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