True Blue: Rowan Pennink Returns Iconic Whelen Mod Tour Ride To Victory Lane At Thompson Icebreaker

Rowan Pennink celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150 Sunday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – On the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour the Boehler Racing Enterprises car is a rolling piece of visual history of Modified racing.

Iconic is the term most often used to describe the car, long dubbed Ole Blue. The late Lenny Boehler, a legendary mastermind of Modified racing built his No. 3 Ole Blue team to fabled status and his son Michael Boehler has long kept the team rolling.

Sunday Rowan Pennink drove the historic ride back to the front in Whelen Modified Tour action.

Pennink used a lap 148 pass of Bobby Santos III to take over the lead and go on to victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway.

It was the first Whelen Modified Tour victory in a points event for the team since Ryan Preece won with the car on Aug. 7, 2009 at Stafford Motor Speedway. Ted Christopher won in an exhibition Whelen Modified Tour event with the car at Thompson Speedway on Sept. 9, 2012.

Pennink, of Huntingdon Valley, Pa., was named the driver for the team before the start of the 2016 season. His best finish last year was a second at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. on July 24.

The 2017 season marks the 60th year for the team in competition.

“Obviously one of the most historical teams that still runs the Tour,” Pennink said. “The group of guys that are on this [No. 3] team, even before I drove for them, I was always good friends with them because they were always a great group of guys. I got the opportunity to work with them and I’ve seen the [No. 3] car go around with a bunch of other drivers before and I knew that thing had the potential to win. We should have had some wins last year.

“To have a win at Thompson is unbelievable for this [No. 3] team, especially with the 60th anniversary of this car’s first race and back up in New England and we won it. I couldn’t be happier for the whole BRE team.”

It was the third career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Pennink and his first the series season finale at Thompson in 2013. He finished seventh in the season opening series event this year at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway on March 18.

Timmy Solomito of Islip, N.Y. was second and Max Zachem of Preston third.

Pennink started fourth and led 109 laps.

“I knew we had a good car after practice, but the way the thing got out front there, I had to hold it back,” Pennink said. “We got ourselves a comfortable lead and just ran the pace we needed to run. When they put [new] tires on that thing it was one of the best cars I’ve ever driven in my life in the final laps there. Hats off to all the guys on this team. … Those guys put their heart and soul into this car. I couldn’t have done it without a great group of guys like them.”

Timmy Solomito of Islip, N.Y. was second and Max Zachem of Preston third.

Pennink relinquished the lead on lap 126 to head to the pits under caution. He was sitting seventh when the race restarted on lap 133 and he quickly followed Santos toward the front, moving to fourth with a lap of the restart.

On lap 134 Santos went by Eric Goodale for second with Pennink following to third. A lap later Santos went by Ron Silk for the lead in turn four. Half a lap later Pennink made a three-wide move under both Silk and Santos to go to the lead, but the move was negated by a caution flag flying.

The race restarted on lap 145 with Pennink making a quick move to get by Santo for the lead in turn two, but again his move to the lead was negated by a caution flag.

“It’s always tough when you have a really good restart like that in the closing laps and then it gets called back,” Pennink said. “You’d hate to lose one like that and that’s kind of what I was thinking.”

On the final restart on lap 148 Santos controlled the pace through turns one and two, but Pennink tucked behind off turn two and then used a low move down the backstretch and into turn three.

“I was thinking ‘I need to get another really good start so I can win this thing.’” Pennink said. “I didn’t get as good a start, [Santos] was really slowing down the pace coming to the green [for the restart]. But I was able to get a good enough one where I was able to sneak in behind him getting into [turn] one and I got a really good run and got right underneath him down the backstretch right away.”

Pennink, Santos and Solomito fought through turn four with contact among them. Pennink came off turn four nearly getting sideways before wrangling his car back in coming onto the frontstretch.

“I don’t know if it was Bobby or Timmy who got into me, but I got a little squirrely,” Pennink said. “But with fresh tires on there it just wiggled a little bit. I was just hoping I had enough to keep them behind me and we did.”

Solomito was happy to walk away with a runner-up finish after winning the season opener at Myrtle Beach.

“I just wanted to keep it straight,” Solomito said of the late race skirmish near the front. “Don’t bang the wheels off it, there were only a couple laps to go, just finish the race. That was our biggest thing last year, we had a fast car at all of the races we just didn’t finish all of them. So far we’ve had good cars at the both races and it’s good to finish both races on the podium.”

Solomito holds a four point lead over Pennink at the top of the series standings. 


  1. A very popular win, and I expect he will be a favorite to win at Stafford. Anyone get a good look at what happened to Coby on lap 1?

  2. The flux capacitor probably malfunctioned. They better re-think that option for Stafford.

  3. Liz Cherokee says

    Ole Blue Curaçao was by far the fastest car car today and deservedly won the race.

    On top of that, Melissa had another fine top 25 finish!

    How do I combine the two? Easy, I’m having a few Blue Lagoons tonight!

  4. darealgoodfella says

    I called it!

  5. You certainly did! What happened to Coby and Preece?I didn’t see them make contact.

  6. darealgoodfella says

    I didn’t see the actual deeds that did in Coby and Preece. Coby said the car behind him did not back off once the yellow was called and drove into him and hooked him into the wall. I just saw the 2 trying to make a right turn through the backstretch wall. Didn’t see what happened to Preece, he was off track for a long time. He was pretty fast when he finally got back on the track. Probably would have been a contender if not for the incident.

    The start of the race was marred by a car not going and backing up the field. Chase Dowling (started 2P) didn’t get going. That carried through and ultimately resulted in the mess on the first lap.

    Max Zachem can drive. The 44 is back folks, looked very good. Silk looked good too.

    Congratulations to the 3 team. They hit the unicorn setup. That car was a sight to behold, and Pennink drove very well.

  7. One of the worst officiated race I’ve seen in years. There is way to much down time under caution just driving along. 2 red long stoppages to Aline the field. They don’t make turn 3 to start the race because of a crash and then they run 12 caution laps to start the race and can’t figure the lineup. And why does it take 3 to 4 laps to open pit road. To me it seems like NASCAR is making it up as they go. If anyone has answers please let me know what’s going on because no one in the crowd does since they are all yelling lets go like myself. Great win by the 3. Must make all the chassis builders feel bad since the 3 car was home made.

  8. old observer says

    Worried he was stinking up the show while he was cruising comfortably out front for 100+ laps but sure made it exiting at the end.

  9. Ask jeffrey Jeffrey will know!

  10. D. Trickle says

    Ron silk had the best car, but obviously things can happen to change an outcome. Nice to see different winners for the first few races

  11. Old blue alive aww do well

  12. Agree with Franky. It is very frustrating as a fan when so many laps are run under yellow, and not see a good reason for it. Why can’t they figure out the running order? Add why does it take so long to open pit lane? At least they finally had the sense to throw the red flag (twice), otherwise the race would have ended under caution, and there would have been many unhappy paying customers. The whole race felt like a comedy of errors.
    Tough luck for the 82, looked like he was going to win if it stayed green. And the 44 just got pushed around at the end, but brought it home in one piece instead of wrecking. Impressive run by the 20; passed a lot of cars and was there are the end to grab third.

  13. Thanks for the compliment frank
    As you know I am a very great man who has done a lot for the local tracks

    As for the Ole blue car
    That car moves fast because of the Troyer frame
    I am building a dare stock
    Just. Checked my account I am flush with cash. Good2bme. I made my money investing as you know

  14. Pit row is open when they get the call from the tow truck drivers
    That’s a fact

  15. Melisa had another top 25
    How many cars where there
    Running 19.8
    There a 6 cars that go fast
    Rest are in the way

  16. Jeff Eilenberger says

    What does everyone think about not counting yellow flag laps with less than 50, maybe 25 laps to go?

  17. Fast Eddie says

    Hey Jeff, great idea, for at least the last 25! Especially if it’s going to take 5-6 laps or more to get the lineup right.

  18. darealgoodfella says

    I’d rather they get pit road open immediately, make the yellow flag periods as short as possible. Make the yellow flag periods as short as possible throughout the ENTIRE race.

    Not counting yellow laps can make these closing laps go on forever. Keep the laps clicking, put pressure on the drivers, track crew and race controller to get it done.

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