With Title Contenders Falling Aplenty, Riverhead Event Brings Wild Swings To Whelen Modified Tour Standings

If the engraving company contracted by NASCAR predicts the future based on the developing trends of the most immediate past, they can start preparing the mockup stamp for Ryan Preece on the 2013 Whelen Modified Tour championship trophy.

Five races into a 14-race season, it might still be too early to be throwing out such declarations, but when the 2013 season ends there’s a good chance people will be looking back to Riverhead Raceway on Saturday as the night a Preece championship was most solidified.

After winning his third consecutive Whelen Modified Tour event Saturday at Riverhead, Preece left the track with nearly a race on the field in the standings and left numerous drivers watching their championship hopes float away into the nearby waters of Long Island Sound.

Going into Riverhead, 10 drivers were with within 45 points of Preece at the top of the standings. The maximum amount of points a driver can earn in an event is 48.

After Riverhead, only two drivers were left who could say they weren’t staring down a 50-point or more deficit with the leader.

Preece now has a 32-point lead over Rowan Pennink, who is second in the standings. Seven-time series champion Mike Stefanik is third in the standings, 35 points behind.

After that, Justin Bonsignore is fourth in the standings, 50 points behind Preece.

The most radical change after Riverhead came from the virtual disappearance from championship contention of two drivers considered strong title contenders in the preseason.

Reigning series champion Doug Coby came into the race third in the standings, 20 points off the lead. The Milford driver crashed in qualifying, couldn’t secure a ride for the event and had to settle for NASCAR recording him as the last place finisher in a race he didn’t start. Coby earned 16 points for a 28th place finish, dropping him to fifth in the standings, 53 points behind Preece.

Bobby Santos III, the 2010 series champion, skipped the race to instead run a USAC Midget event in Colorado. It dropped Santos from 24 points out of the lead in fifth place in the standings to 73 points behind in 10th place.

Riverhead pole-winner Ron Silk of Norwalk, the 2011 series champion, came into Riverhead 30 points off the lead in seventh place. Despite gaining a spot in the standings to sixth place, he left 54 points behind after an accident relegated him to a 20th place finish.

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