It was a story from 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby on the day he won his first title that illustrated almost perfectly the way many around the series looked at the five years of Chad Little’s reign as the series’ director.
Still basking in the immediate glow of just capturing his first Tour title on Oct. 15 at Thompson International Speedway, Coby stood in the press box regaling media members on hand with story after story.
At one point Coby, in talking about just how under the radar his crew chief John McKenna likes to remain, Coby, accidentally, painted the perfect portrait of Little.
“We were going through tech, this was yesterday, and Chad Little looks at me and goes, ‘Who’s your crew chief?’ and he was two feet away from me and I pointed to him and said ‘He’s right there’”
On Tuesday NASCAR announced that Little would be leaving his post as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director to take the same position with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Little won’t get a chance to say goodbye in person to the teams and competitors of the series he has led since 2008, but that probably won’t be a problem for many of them. Few around the series will be shedding any tears for his departure.
Before his arrival as the Whelen Modified Tour series director many around the Whelen Modified Tour were suspect of Little, a former Sprint Cup Series regular embarking on a management career in NASCAR. Few thought he had a heart for Modified racing, but rather was just a guy looking to climb the management ladder.
And over five years Little did little to warm to those around the series. In the end Little moves on to oversee one of NASCAR’s three national touring divisions after leaving a legacy of disconnect on a series in far worse shape now than it was when he arrived as its leader.
Little was named Whelen Modified Tour series director in Feb. 2008 replacing longtime series director Ed Cox.
During his time Little was often criticized by those around the series as being disconnected from teams involved. Some drivers criticized him for being invisible at events. In 2012 Little was criticized by many in the series for his push to get teams to use a NASCAR approved spec motor. Even going back to 2009 series veterans often criticized Little for the way he treated them like numbers in an accounting log.
But more than the personal disconnect with the series he ran, Little’s legacy will be more remembered for the numbers on paper.
Over five years in charge, Little did little to grow the series, in fact, some would say he left the series in the worst shape the division has been since its inception in 1985.
In 2007 the Whelen Modified Tour attracted an average of 37.6 cars to events on the schedule. The number fell every year under Little’s reign. In 2012 the series had an average of 27.9 cars show up at its 14 events.
The average starting field for the division in 2007 was 33.7 and in 2012 it was 27.9. Yes, the same 27.9 that was the average for cars showing up to events. In 2007 the series sent cars home from nine of 16 events on the schedule. In 2012 everybody that showed up to a Whelen Modified Tour event made the show
And, unfortunately for the series, all signs point to those average numbers only dropping more in 2013.
The running joke around the Whelen Modified Tour for five years has been that Little had trouble remembering the names of people involved with the series. This much is certain, few are going to want to remember Little’s name as it pertains to what he did in his five years with the Whelen Modified Tour.
The Whelen Modified Tour Numbers Under Chad Little, who began as series director prior to the 2008 season. (Statistics compiled by RaceDayCT through information from Racing Reference)
Average Starting Field: 33.75
Average cars attempting to qualify: 37.68
Number of events cars did not qualify: 9 of 16
Average Starting Field: 33.37
Average cars attempting to qualify: 35.87
Number of events cars did not qualify 7 of 16
Average Starting Field: 33.84
Average cars attempting to qualify: 34.84
Number of events cars did not qualify: 4 of 13
Average Starting Field: 31.78
Average cars attempting to qualify: 32.78
Number of events cars did not qualify: 3 of 14
Average Starting Field: 28.68
Average cars attempting to qualify: 29.06
Number of events cars did not qualify: 3 of 16
Average Starting Field: 27.92
Average cars attempting to qualify: 27.92
Number of events cars did not qualify: 0 of 14