NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Team Owner Ed Whelan: “I’m Done, I’m Not Coming Back.”

Less than four years ago NASCAR celebrated Ed Whelan as its Whelen Modified Tour championship winning team owner.

Ted Christopher (left) and car owner Ed Whelan

Wednesday Whelan told NASCAR goodbye.

Whelan said Wednesday that he is shutting down his Whelen Modified Tour team and selling the equipment he has.

Whelen had fielded a team for Ted Christopher, the 2008 series champion and the division’s third winningest driver of all-time.

“I’m done,” Whelan said. “I’m not coming back due to the purses going where they’re going, the car counts going where they’re going, the rules changes going where they’re going …

“My deciding factor was the spec motor performance at New Hampshire [Motor Speedway Saturday]. The division is going in a place where I don’t want to continue spending more money. I don’t want to be spending $4,000 to win $2,8000.”

Some owners in the series have accused NASCAR of manipulating the rules in the series to push teams to use a Robert Yates Racing Engine spec motor instead of traditionally built motors.

Ron Silk’s Ed Partridge owned team used the spec motor for this past weekend’s Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Silk blitzed the field in qualifying and ran first or second the entire event. He lost by three-thousandsts of a second to Mike Stefanik at the finish.

“Why not try to sell my motors now while they’re still worth something,” Whelan said.

Whelan said the costs of running the series have too far outdistanced the return in purses to make it worth running any longer.

“I love the sport,” Whelan said. “I love Modifieds. Unfortunately I’m not going to spend the money that it takes to race competitively in this division. Ten years ago you could win a race at New Hampshire and win $25,000, now you win a race there and you win $10,000.

“Unfortunately, where NASCAR is taking it, I choose not to be part of that. I feel bad for Teddy and the crew. Teddy will have a ride next week. We spent $4,000 to go to [the Waterford Speedbowl for the Mr. Rooter 161 on June 23]. We finished ninth and I got a check for $600. How much longer can you continue being involved in something like that? Why is the car count the way it is? The purses are just ridiculous. It just came to the point where the cost of doing it became a bigger burden compared to the passion I have for the sport.”

The 54-year old Christopher has 18 victories and 48 top-five finishes in 92 starts for Whelan dating back to the 2006 season.

Last August, after a bad weekend of competition at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Whelan shut the team down. The team missed the 10th and 11th events of the season, at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Delaware (Ontario) Speedway, before reuniting to close out the season.

So far this year, through six of the scheduled 14 events, the team had one top-five finish and three top-10’s and no victories and sits 11th in the series standings. Christopher was 29th of 34 cars in Saturday’s Town Fair Tire 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway after being involved in an accident.

Christopher has 42 career Whelen Modified Tour victories, two behind second place all-time Reggie Ruggiero, who has 44. Seven-time series champion Mike Stefanik, who won Saturday at NHMS, is the division’s all-time leader in victories with 72.

After Christopher’s previous Modified Tour team, Mystique Motorsports, was shut down suddenly early in the 2006 season because of legal issues involving team owner Jim Galante, Christopher connected with Whelan for the fourth event of the season and went on to finish third in the standings.

After finishing fifth in their first full season together in 2007, the team reached the pinnacle by winning the series champion in 2008. It was the first, and still only, series title, for Christopher. The team had back-to-back third place finishes in the standings in 2009 and 2010.

Christopher said he expects to compete in the next Whelen Modified Tour event, July 28 at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, for car owner Wayne Anderson. Christopher has been competing semi-regularly this year at Riverhead weekly for Anderson.

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