Thompson Road Course Test Could Be Tough Squeeze For Many Whelen Modified Tour Teams

Rowan Pennink said his team will likely miss the upcoming Whelen Modified Tour road course test at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park  (Photo: Stafford Motor Speedway)

Rowan Pennink said his team will likely miss the upcoming Whelen Modified Tour road course test at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (Photo: Stafford Motor Speedway)

STAFFORD – On Thursday teams of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour were invited to participate in a test on the 1.7-mile road course at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, though just how many teams will decide to participate remains to be seen.

The timing of the event, on June 12, seems to be the biggest issue some are pointing to with the test.

The Whelen Modified Tour begins a stretch Saturday of three events in 12 days. The division races in the Mr. Rooter 161 Saturday at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, then returns to action in the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 June 5 at Stafford Motor Speedway. The stretch of events closes with the Mr. Rooter 125 on the oval at Thompson on June 10.

The Whelen Modified Tour last ran a road course event at Lime Rock Park in 2011. The road course at Thompson opened in 2014. The facility offers a 1.7 mile circuit that also can be optionally converted to a 1.5-mile configuration.

Whelen Modified Tour regular Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, N.Y. said his M3 Racing team will not be participating in the test.

“Bad timing,” Bonsignore said. “It’s just too busy of a schedule. We only have two cars and we’re committed to making sure we run good at the races. It’s not an easy turnaround. I would be shocked to see if they get a lot of cars. I would love to do it. I want to be the first guy on the track, but it’s not going to be feasible.

“Hopefully they could do another one later in the year where we could all have some time to get ready. All of our stuff has been sitting around for a few years. You’d have to have someone go through everything and make sure you’ve still got everything. Transmissions need to be looked and it’s a week or so to switch a car around. It’s kind of unfortunate.”

The Whelen Modified Tour has a short history competing on road courses with eight events since the series’ inception in 1985. The division ran at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International six times from 1996 to 2000 and at Lime Rock Park in Salisbury in 2010 and 2011.

Ryan Preece, the 2013 Whelen Modified Tour champion, said he is still looking into the feasibility of making the test. Preece drives for the Ed Partridge owned TS Haulers team, but said he might go to the test with a family owned card. Preece and his TS Haulers team are scheduled to run in an Open Modified event at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. on June 13.

“I want to get to Thompson, but it’s going to be tough,” Preece said. “The timing is tough with the race there two days before and [an Open Modified event] the day after.”

Ted Christopher, the 2008 Whelen Modified Tour champion from Plainville, initially said Thursday he would likely miss the test, but said Friday he was looking into adding the test to his schedule. Christopher won the last two Whelen Modified Tour events at Watkins Glen in 1999 and 2000.

“The more I think about it, I think I’m going to try to get there,” Christopher said. “I’m lucky that a lot of my stuff is still in place from the Lime Rock races. I’m talking to my [transmission] guy.”

Whelen Modified Tour regular Rowan Pennink said his team probably won’t participate in the test at Thompson

“It’s a pretty tight stretch there with all the racing,” Pennink said. “I can’t imagine with everything going on that we’ll be able to make it there.

“Ever since we had to get all the equipment to run Lime Rock, it kind of didn’t make sense that they stopped sending us to road courses. I enjoy running them. But if they start making us run them again, at least maybe run two a year and continue having them for years to come so we’re not stuck with all this equipment again. We bought a bunch of stuff five years ago to run road courses and it’s been sitting around for five years. Half of it probably people have sold and now they would have to get it again.”

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