Setting The Scene: Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150 At Thompson Speedway

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Doug Coby begins his quest for an unprecedented third consecutive Whelen Modified Tour championship Sunday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Doug Coby begins his quest for an unprecedented third consecutive Whelen Modified Tour championship Sunday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Doug Coby has captured three of the last four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships. During that period has won one out of every four races.

When laying out the odds for 2016 championship contenders, his dominance begs the question: Do you take Coby or the field?

Ryan Preece has been Coby’s chief competitor during that run. He won the 2012 title and was runner-up to Coby the other three seasons. But Preece is running full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season and his Whelen Modified Tour participation will be limited to non-conflicting dates.

On the surface, the loss of that head-to-head championship match-up would appear to widen the gap for Coby. It also provides an opportunity for others to step up.

Based on his 2014 performance, Justin Bonsignore has the potential to lead the pack of contenders. He was in the championship mix until the next-to-last race of that season and finished third. For a 2016 title run he would have to avoid another frustrating first half that plagued him a year ago.

After two seasons getting used to running on the Whelen Modified Tour, Timmy Solomito also appears ready to challenge. He finished 2015 strong with two podium finishes, but will need to prove he can win races to hang with Coby.

A trio of past champions also hopes to get back in the mix. Two-time titlist Donny Lia averaged a top-five finish across the last six events of 2015 while Bobby Santos’ team is reenergized following a switch in chassis and engines. Ron Silk has joined a new team with aspirations of running all 17 events, and they already have a win together from Speedweeks.

Is Eric Goodale ready to contend? Will Rowan Pennink return to winning form? Can Jimmy Blewett knock off the rust and run up front right away? These and many more questions will start to be answered this weekend as the season gets underway with the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

RACE: Icebreaker 150
PLACE: Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park
DATE: Sunday, April 10
TIME: 3:30 p.m. ET (approx.)
WEBCAST: Live on
TRACK LAYOUT: .625-mile, high-banked asphalt oval
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday – Practice 12-12:45 p.m., Final Practice 1:25-2:10 p.m., Qualifying 4 p.m., Sunday – Pit Party (Driver Autograph Session) 11-11:50 a.m.
TRACK TWITTER: @ThompsonSpdwy
EVENT HASHTAG: #Icebreaker2016

Fast Facts
The Race: The 32nd season of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition will commence with headlining event of 42nd Annual Icebreaker weekend. The Icebreaker 150 will be the first of four events in 2016 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the official entry blank is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 31 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 150 laps (93.75 miles) and the tire change rule is three tires, any position.

The Track: A .625-mile high-banked oval that opened in 1940, Thompson was the first entirely asphalt track in the nation and the largest in New England for five decades. Thompson has played host to 130 Whelen Modified Tour races all-time, more than any other track, and is one of two facilities to welcome the tour in each of its previous 31 years of competition.

Race Winners: There have been 34 different race winners at Thompson, led by Mike Stefanik’s 15 victories. Doug Coby swept all four events there last year.

Pole Winners: There have been 44 different pole winners at Thompson, led by Tony Hirschman’s 13. Bobby Santos maintains the tour’s track qualifying record at 18.237 seconds (123.376 mph), set on April 10, 2011.

Icebreaker 150 Notes
For Openers: Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park will play host to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season opener for the 15th consecutive season and the 20th time overall. The last track other than Thompson to hold the Whelen Modified Tour opener was Virginia’s South Boston Speedway in 2001. The tour has opened at eight different venues since its inaugural 1985 campaign.

Coby’s Quest: Doug Coby matched history a year ago when he became just the third driver in Whelen Modified Tour history to sweep a season of events at Thompson. In this week’s Icebreaker 150 he’ll have an opportunity to go where none have gone before. Coby is one of six drivers that have won four straight tour races at “Big T,” but no one has ever extended the streak to five. He’ll also look to become the first driver to win four consecutive overall races since Mike Stefanik in 1997.

Same Face, Different Place: Each Whelen Modified Tour offseason traditionally features a musical chairs-like scenario of ride swapping. The 2015-16 winter months were no different. The following are the notable changes: Chase Dowling moved from the Tomaino Motorsports No. 9 to the Berkley Auto Racing No. 9; Rowan Pennink switched from his own No. 93 to the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3; Woody Pitkat moved from the Buzz Chew Racing No. 88 to the Kevin Stuart Motorsports No. 85; Ron Silk changed from the Rob Fuller Motorsports No. 15 to the Watts Motorsports No. 82; Todd Szegedy moved from the Mystic Missile Racing No. 4 back to the RFM No. 15. Idle in recent seasons, Jimmy Blewett (Mystic Missile Racing No. 4) and Rob Summers (KLM Racing No. 64) have also returned to the tour to fill vacant seats.

Rookie Race: Following a deep competition for Sunoco Rookie of the Year in 2015, this season’s class is taking shape. After both tested the tour waters with a handful of events last year, Craig Lutz and Matt Swanson will take their programs full-time in 2016 to compete for the rookie crown. New Jersey newcomer Andrew Krause has also thrown his name into the mix and will run the full schedule while Nick Salva has a tentative slate of seven events.

Last Race for “The Voice”: This week’s Icebreaker will mark the last event for the voice of Thompson, Russ Dowd, who is retiring after serving as the track’s public address announcer for more than three decades. Dowd, who has also served as general manager and director of operations at Thompson through the years, has been behind the mic for all 130 previous Whelen Modified Tour races at “Big T” since 1985.

Home Tracks: Pitkat Reigning Champ
Woody Pitkat will enter the 42nd Annual Icebreaker weekend as the defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Pitkat averaged a podium finish across eight Sunoco Modified division features in the No. 6 Chevrolet owned by Stan Mertz to take down his second Thompson title last year with a 15-point margin of victory in the final standings over Ryan Preece. Pitkat will be fighting against recent history in an attempt to earn back-to-back titles in 2016. The last driver to accomplish the feat at Thompson was Roger Godin in 1999-2000.


  1. Chris D. says

    The RoC race sceduled for saturday at Mahoning Valley has been postponed due to the forecast for temps in the 30’s, Thompson would be wise to do the same.

  2. Temps predicted to be in the 30s on Sunday. TIS should consider postponing.

  3. darealgoodfella says

    Windchill around 30º, actual forecast high temperature of 38º, 15 mph winds out to the northwest.

    Supposed to snow or rain in the morning.

    It’s gonna be miserable.

    This should be postponed.

  4. The Icebreaker is the first CT short track race and i’m sure Thompson realizes that they might have to battle cold weather every year, just like Wall Stadium realizes they have to battle November weather for the Turkey Derby. There is hardly any sign of a washout and people are suggesting to postpone because of a little cold? Your opinions arent necessary.

  5. They are not going to cancel they want the $$$$$$$$$

  6. darealgoodfella says

    This is not an opinion. There is snow in the forecast for Saturday night/Sunday morning. If not snow, it will be rain. Wind out of the north, where the cold air comes from, at > 10 MPH throughout the day, gusting to > 20 MPH. Windchill temperatures will be in the upper 20s to low 30s. The little kiddies will be whining all day that they are cold. Many parents will not take their kids to spend a day out in these conditions. Many people aren’t going to go. This is not a little cold. This is not an opinion.

  7. darealgoodfella, the conditions you just described match just about every Patriots home game for the second half of the season or every night game at Fenway park for the first 5 weeks of the season.

  8. Not to mention the weather for the last 25 Icebreaker / World Series weekends run. I’ve changed a transmission in the pits at Thompson with 3″ of snow on the ground on Saturday night. Still ran on Sunday. Suck it up people. Wear warm clothes and bring hand warmers. They won’t cancel unless they have no other choice – ie can’t get the track dry. Heck, they’re even bringing in Air Titan to make sure they have every chance to get it in.

  9. To rich for my blood says

    I’m not going to pay 48$ to freeze, so that’s me plus two others. I’m thinking of skipping Thompson altogether this year, their ticket prices are horrendous and I’m sick of the “slide job”, cut throat passes that are made in every mod race.

  10. So how does football and baseball equate to racing? Just watched the noon weather, showers tomorrow, rain and or snow Saturday afternoon and overnight, snow up to 3″ in Northern CT. Where is Thompson, Northern CT. I don’t know about anyone else but I sure would not want to tow a race car home in 3″ of snow, doesn’t seem to safe to me. Never mind the swamp in the infield and when cars with big wide untreaded tires hit the water and wet grass (maybe snow covered grass) they generally don’t loose speed. Can you say driver safety?

    Parking anywhere off the hard surface will result in a fleet of tow trucks standing by to get the cars, campers and haulers out of the mud. So you spend money to camp, the gate and then for a tow truck!I will say it again it is all about the $$$$$$$$$ and as the saying goes, it is all fun and games until someone gets hurt and expensive toys get destroyed.

  11. darealgoodfella says

    Yeah, the rain/snow/freeze/thaw will turn the parking areas into giant mud bogs. The entertainment will be in the parking lots. Even on good weather days it’s a muddy mess. CT is forecast to get 1-3″ of snow through Saturday evening into Sunday morning. Might need to plow before the Titans can do any good.

    This is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.

    Around the time of the popular and crowded pit party on Sunday, the sustained winds will be 14 MPH out of the northwest with gusts up to 25 MPH, and a windchill of 26º.

    It’s gonna be brutal in the stands.

  12. Fast Eddie says

    Call me crazy, but for me a cold windy day at the races is still better than a good day anywhere else!
    It doesn’t have to be warm or sunny, as long as it’s dry!

  13. I can understand people complaining about the prices and maybe even the nature of the track/racers. But this is a 3 season sport and everybody involved knows that. Which means a little bit of cold, mud, and water will repel some people. In turn, those people will act stubborn, complain on the internet, then miss out on one of the most anticipated racing events in New England. Everybody has a choice. It just seems weird to me seeing people gripe about it on the internet.

  14. Glad nobody is coming, wont have to deal with drunks and smokers in the stands.. going to bring two tarps, so that takes care of the wind.. Plan on wearing multiple layers.. Have an AWD so the mud shouldn’t pose an issue.. and leaving will be a piece of cake.. Yup.. I’ll be there.. Party in turn four..

  15. Hey Tom:
    Let me explain, I live 100 miles from the track, I’m 70 years old (I get a whole two bucks off) and I really don’t want to sit at the track for 9 hours in 20 to 30 degree temps while race after race runs under caution due to limited traction provided by a cold green track. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way. So let me sum it up, a four hour round trip, lots of cold and wind and lots of caution laps, I think I’ll pass.

    Did I mention no TC?


  16. Joe Lajoie says

    Looks like Dareal had never been to Riverside when they used to start in March or the Turkey Derby.

  17. darealgoodfella says

    If racing is on, I’ll probably be there. But I think many people will stay away because of the weather.

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