Setting The Scene: Whelen Modified Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 At Stafford Speedway

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Doug Coby (Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Doug Coby (Photo: Tim Bradbury/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Doug Coby will look to match a feat that only one other driver has accomplished in 30 previous years of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition when he takes the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 green flag Sunday at Stafford Motor Speedway.

Ted Christopher stands alone as the only driver to win the first two races of a Whelen Modified Tour season. Following his 2008 crown, Christopher captured the Icebreaker 150 checkered flag at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park to open the title defense in 2009 and followed that with a win in the Spring Sizzler 200.

Anything sound familiar here?

Coby, the reigning champion, launched his title defense on April 12 with a victory in the Thompson Icebreaker 150. He’ll now endeavor to duplicate Christopher’s effort.

It will be the second item on a full list of challenges ahead for Coby as part of a tour characterized by a decade of even competition at the top. The biggest of those trials is to become the first back-to-back champion since 2004-05, but a crown repeat will come one step at a time.

Coby, of Milford, Connecticut, certainly has a proven record of success in this event. His first career Whelen Modified Tour victory came in the 2006 Spring Sizzler, and a second triumph in the famed 200-lap event followed in 2012.

RACE: NAPA Spring Sizzler 200
PLACE: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
DATE: Sunday, April 26
TIME: 3:15 p.m. ET (approx.)
TRACK LAYOUT: .5-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval
2014 WINNER: Bobby Santos
2014 POLESITTER: Tommy Barrett Jr.
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday – Practice 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Qualifying 2:30 p.m., Sunday – Driver Autograph Session 11-11:50 a.m.
TRACK TWITTER: @StaffordSpeedwy

Fast Facts
The Race: The NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 will be the second of 15 points races during the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s 30th Anniversary season, and the first of four events at Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 33 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 200 laps (100 miles) and the tire change rule for the race is three tires, any position.

The Track: A half-mile, slightly-banked oval, Stafford originated as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding automobile races following World War II. Stafford became a NASCAR-sanctioned track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967. Stafford’s 114 Whelen Modified Tour races are second all-time.

Race Winners: There have been 32 different race winners at Stafford all-time, led by Mike Stefanik’s 20 victories. Bobby Santos is the two-time defending winner of the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 while Ted Christopher has the most Whelen Modified Tour triumphs in the event with five.

Pole Winners: There have been 42 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Ryan Preece holds the tour’s track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph). Bobby Santos has earned six of the last eight Stafford poles.

Stafford Race Notes
Santos Looks to Match Christopher’s Mark: Bobby Santos has won the two previous editions of the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200, which marked the seventh time that a driver has registered back-to-back victories in the event since 1985. Only one driver, however, has won “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” three consecutive times: Ted Christopher from 2008-10. A fourth NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 win would also tie Santos with Mike Stefanik for second on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins list in the event, trailing only Christopher’s five.

New Team Debuts: The season-opening Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park provided the first opportunity for a number of drivers to hit the track with their new teams in Whelen Modified Tour competition. Although they previously competed together in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour action, Ryan Preece’s first northern tour race with TS Haulers Racing resulted in a fifth-place finish. Timmy Solomito, Preece’s successor at Flamingo Motorsports, followed in sixth while Ron Silk debuted in ninth place with Rob Fuller Motorsports. Todd Szegedy’s anticipated first ride with Mystic Missile Racing ended in 10th.

Let’s Go Racing: At the beginning of the week there were 35 entries for the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200. If all 35 compete, it would be the largest starting field for a Stafford race since there were 35 in the 2008 Sizzler. The 2015 opener at Thompson also attracted 35 cars, which was the most for any Whelen Modified Tour stand-alone event since the same number took the green flag in the 2010 fall race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Home Tracks: Christopher Reigns at Stafford
The competition is so deep in Stafford Motor Speedway’s SK Modified division that there hasn’t been a driver earn back-to-back NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track titles since Ted Christopher in 2000-01. Christopher is now in a position to end that drought himself as the reigning champion. Already far and away the winningest driver in Stafford history, Christopher captured a record ninth crown in 2014. To repeat, he’ll likely once again have to hold off Ryan Preece, who came up short of the Stafford crown by a single position on the track in each of the two previous seasons.

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