Top Whelen Modified Tour Waterford Finishers Laugh Off Series Doomsday Theorists

The whispers of the doomsday theorists abound on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour of late. The negativity even plastered the walls of a bathroom at the Waterford Speedbowl on Saturday, part of a spreading chorus declaring almost sure nearing of end times for the series.

(Photo: NASCAR)

The recent decision to lower the total purse for the July 14 Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and NASCAR’s decision to have a halfway break during the race has fired up vitriol filled rhetoric directed at NASCAR and New Hampshire Motor Speedway management.

Saturday someone posted a page on the wall of the Speedbowl bathroom with “Whelen Modified Tour Getting Screwed By NASCAR” typed at the top of a list of odd arguments.

Multiple crew members on teams grumbled even before Saturday that the purse change and halfway break are the first step in killing the series off.

Though despite all the muttering of sure demise of the series, the top three finishers of Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 161 were having a hard time seeing why they would have to prepare for the division’s funeral.

Race winner Doug Coby wasn’t worried much about the changes coming.

“Whether you agree with the reasons changes or made or not, they are changes and you can’t knock them down until they’re completed, but I can tell you that if it’s not a good race at Loudon there’s going to be a lot of people talking, probably negatively about it,” said Coby, the series points leader. “I kind of just sit back and let things unfold. The last five or six years of my life I realized there’s things you can control and can’t control. I can control myself and things that my team does, but I can’t control the decisions NASCAR makes. We want to race on a NASCAR series and we want to race at Loudon, so I’m going to take a 5-minute break at lap 50 and go get an ice cream if I can. If that’s what they want to do, that’s what they want to do and nobody really has the right to say it’s right or wrong because, even if it’s a bad race, it’s not necessarily the wrong decision, they’re trying something different.”

Twenty-four cars showed up to the race at Waterford. Stagnant and declining car counts have been another reason some have said the division is dying. Ryan Preece, who finished third on Saturday, and Justin Bonsignore, who finished second, didn’t see the problems with having fewer cars at events. Only one team in the top-22 in the standings before Saturday skipped the race at Waterford.

Saturday’s event saw highly competitive action through most of the race throughout the top-15 spots on the track and also featured a feisty battle for victory at the end between Coby and Preece.

“It just goes to show that we might not have a great car count like some people do, like 44 cars, but we can still put a hell of a show on,” Preece said. “You don’t need 44 cars to do that.”

Said Bonsignore: “We’re losing some of the cars that were maybe 10th to 15th and maybe perhaps some of the slower guys. But there’s still 15 guys here that could probably win on any given night. The field is so close, and it’s just really hard racing. Sometimes you don’t need some of the guys that come here and they just cause cautions. … We’re putting on good green flag racing. We still have great racing here on the Tour. It’s far from dead.”

Despite cutting the race purse by 17 percent, the event on July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway will still mark the highest paying event of the 14 the division has scheduled this year.

“Nobody has to pay Modified drivers or teams to go to a track,” Coby said. “That’s the important thing to remember is that people can say everybody should win this much money at Loudon or go to a race like they had at Star [Speedway] or all those open shows should be out there, or that the Stafford [Motor Speedway] 125 [lap event] should pay more than it does. People can say whatever they want, the bottom line is, every one of us has a choice whether you walk into the pits that day. I have a choice as the point leader that if I don’t agree with what they’re doing at Loudon I can not show up, I can go sit in my pool that day. I will be there because I want to race on the series and I want to represent my team and my family and go out there and have a good time at Loudon. I don’t care what their rules are, they can run a 35-lap feature and I’ll still go and run it. I think everybody has answers in their own heads and there’s just not a lot of ways to get things implemented. It is what it is.”

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