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

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

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

Rowan Pennink has plenty of motivation on his side as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads back to New England for the second race of the season.

The Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, driver missed the season-opener at Myrtle Beach Speedway because of offseason back surgery. Now, with Pennink healed up and ready to get on the track, he couldn’t be heading to a much better venue to get back behind the wheel.

Pennink and his No. 3 Cape Cod Copper/USNE Inc. Chevrolet for Boehler (BRE) Racing are returning to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the Icebreaker 150, one year after capturing the checkered flag in the New England racing opener while BRE celebrated its 60th season of competition.

“We had a really good Icebreaker, winning the race, and then the rest of the races at Thompson last year we had some really good cars,” Pennink said. “The No. 3 team always gives me a good car to drive when we go to Thompson. It makes me even more excited to get back behind the wheel.”

In 2015, after finishing the season 18th in the point standings, Pennink was looking for a ride that would help return him to the winner’s circle. In the offseason, he teamed with Mike Boehler and the iconic No. 3 team — a former championship stable and one of the most recognized numbers in NASCAR modified history.

In 2016, in just their eighth race together, the combination finished second at Monadnock Speedway en route to an 11th place finish in the point standings. Fast-forward to the 2017 season and Pennink is winning for the first time since 2013 and entering the season-finale — right back at Thompson — in mathematical contention for the championship.

“It takes a little bit of time for me to get used to running their home-built car, and it also takes some time for them to figure out how I like the car to handle,” Pennink said. “Last year, we were able to make some pretty good strides with a lot of things. We hope to continue that this year.”

And for team owner Mike Boehler, the tradition of the race team dates back well before his time in racing. Names like the late Ted Christopher, Wayne Anderson, Tony Hirschman and Bugsy Stevens are just a few of the drivers who have been at the controls in the team’s history.

“The competition is definitely tougher, so we are trying to get everything right to keep up with the big teams,” Boehler said. “We need a lot of luck in order to run up front. We are going to get organized and get a little bit better with the time we had off. Hopefully we can pick right up where we left off last year.”

For Pennink, the opportunity to drive “Ole Blue” has been once in a lifetime. Entering his third season, the history behind the iconic ride pushes him to strive for greatness.

Rowan Pennink drove the famed No. 3 Ole Blue back to Victory Lane last year at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the Icebreaker 150. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)
“They are a team with a lot of history behind them, and I’m honored to be able to get behind the wheel with all of the other drivers that have driven it since the Tour started,” Pennink said. “I just want to get back behind the wheel and see if we can’t bring the No. 3 team more success.”

Even though he missed Myrtle Beach, Pennink is still optimistic that he will be able to crawl his way back into the fight for the championship. Last year, Ryan Preece missed two Whelen Modified Tour races and still entered the finale with a chance at capturing the crown.

“It definitely makes it a lot tougher, but we just have to focus really hard on making every race count and staying out of trouble. If we finish all of the races and make all of the finishes at least top-10, I think there is a chance we could still be there in the points towards the end of the year.”

And by the sounds of it, Pennink isn’t going to do anything differently when the green flag drops at Thompson on Sunday. The offseason injury isn’t going to slow him down.

“I’m going to go out there and race like I always do. If something happens with my back, I will deal with that as it comes,” Pennink said. “Hopefully the doctor fixed me up good and it was just an injury that has kinda been with me for a while.”


Tradition: For many years, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park has proven to be the venue for the New England racing kick-off. And this year, with the 44th annual running, the season will once again get underway in Connecticut. The Division I Sunoco Modifieds will be joined by Late Model, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action. The weekend will also include the Pro All Star (Super Late Model) Series, NEMA Lites, Exit Realty 375 Sportsman Challenge, Lite Modified, Exit Realty ProTruck Challenge and the Valenti Modified Racing Series throughout the two-day show.

Stellar Field: The entry list for Sunday’s Icebreaker 150 has some of the top modified names from up and down the East Coast. With over 35 names on the list, it will be tough to pick a favorite. Former NASCAR Modified champions in the group include Burt Myers, Doug Coby, Ryan Preece, Bobby Santos, Andy Seuss and Ron Silk.

Jon McKennedy A Winner: Coming off a victory in the Performance Plus 150 at Myrtle Beach, Jon McKennedy is heading to Thompson with Tommy Baldwin for the first time. McKennedy had a breakthrough performance at Myrtle Beach, capturing his first tour triumph in his 34th career start. In his career at Thompson, McKennedy has a best finish of sixth, which came last season.

Dowling Oh-So-Close: When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour visited Thompson in October, Chase Dowling scored his first career pole award and finished second in the Sunoco World Series 150. He led laps in the 2018 opener with a fourth-place finish, and he is heading back to the track looking to begin a consistent stretch towards a run at the title. In his 12 starts at Thompson, Dowling has just two top-10 finishes, but he will look to add another to his resume in the Icebreaker 150.

Ryan Preece Returns: Preece missed the season-opener at Myrtle Beach, but don’t let that make you think he doesn’t have a shot at the championship. The Berlin, Connecticut, driver missed two races last season and still entered the final race in mathematical contention to win the title. After Jimmy Blewett wheeled the No. 6 to a second-place finish in the opener while Preece was in California running in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Preece will return behind the wheel at Thompson. He is hoping to help car owner Ed Partridge win a second straight owner’s championship — and he is heading for Thompson having won two of the last four races on the high-banks.

Up Next: Following the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the track for the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 29.


  1. Stellar field for NWMT. Wondering about the other divisions. Would like to get more info on Pro All Star Super Late Models. What is a super Late Model? Would like to see them at Stafford, I think that’s the way the track should lean if they ever do replace the X-Y-G platform. No granite State Pro Stocks mentioned. Wonder if the Pro All Star cars are similar. Weather still iffy for weekend hope they get the show in. Good luck to all the competitors.

  2. NWMT Tim Solomito for the win. Sunoco mods Woody for the win Owens a close second can’t find roster for LM and Sportsman and don’t care for ministocks you need a wall clock for lap times. Hot pick for tour Coby nothing more to say the guys good just about everywhere.

  3. Race dude. says

    Going out on a limb Woody to win both NWMT and Sunoco mods top 5 NWMT Woody Dowling Pennick Preece Coby

  4. Too bad there isn’t a fantasy league for NWMT. That would be cool. What do you think Shawn

  5. darealgoodfella says

    Ryan Preece with his Dad as Crew Chief. Crazy to bet against that.

  6. Can someone please fill me in on the pro all star super late models. What kind of chassis are they? What do they run for motors ? ECT.

  7. WeldingWonders says

    Preece, Pennink, Solomito, McKennedy, Emerly, Dowing, Goodale, Bonsignor, Santos, Coby. All A listers that could win. Then there’s Sapienza, Lutz,Pitkat,Pasteryak,Blewett and more I’m sure that if the stars were aligned could surprise. A truly outstanding field of cars.
    We all know the feeling when recovering. The physical part is one thing but mentally you’re sensitive as well. Adding up Pennink’s recovery, it’s his and the 3’s first race and the quirkiness of the home built car a win is unlikely. Pitkat forever a nostalgic fan favorite but his goal is more likely a top 10. Loaded for bear. Coby, Dowling, Santos, McKennedy and Solomito. My pick, Steady Eddy Justin Bonsignor busts through with the win and a mild surprise lie Pennink last year.
    National weather service is reporting that Friday is a bust. Snow and rain predicted so practice is unlikely. Saturday cloudy and 38. Sunday sunny and a high of 43. It’s not called the Icebreaker for nothing. Long johns recommended for maximum comfort.
    Thanks Race 413 for including the ugly step child Mini’s with a bit of mockery that no doubt is popular here. But they pay their pits fees like everyone else, they attract fans that help fill the stands and are helping to put on the show with what no doubt will be tight competition. Budget your time accordingly and it will provide you with a good opportunity for a lavatory break and a chance to get some refreshments.

  8. darealgoodfella says

    Well, I’m having yet another deja vu all over again.

    We start the seasons out saying there are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO many cars that can win, any car can win any race, but at the end of the season, two maybe three cars owned the lion’s share of the wins, with a couple other cars getting a win here and there.

  9. darealgoodfella says

    So Doug (aka: WeldingWonders, Sybil, Auggie Doggie, …), will you be in the pits at Thompson this weekend so you can see what cars are running what engine? What chassis? What lug nuts? What flux capacitor? Color of the carburetor?

  10. dareal,I know that Jeff Preece is listed as crew chief but it’s really Ryan calling the shots.They also have a good spotter.You are right about two or three teams consistently doing well.It is difficult as hell to compete on this tour.That said I think there are more than two or three top notch teams.We also discount the luck thats involved in trying to escape unscathed.I always chuckle when I remember Rowan’s “scary guys”comment from Bristol a couple of years ago

  11. The Super Late Models are essentially what have been called Pro Stocks in New England for decades. They have been called Super Late Models in all other parts of the country for quite some time and PASS switched from calling their cars Pro Stocks to Super Late Models when they started a second tour that ran races in the South. They have several different engine\weight combinations. Some teams have engines similar to the NASCAR Truck and Xfinity series so their cars will have to weigh on the heavier end of the scale. Other teams run the GM 604 for Ford crate engines and those cars will be on the lighter end. Plus there are a couple combinations in the middle of those 2. You can’t really go by the PASS entry lists to know exactly which cars will be there for a race. They seem to start taking entries well in advance of an event. So if someone wrecks their car or blows an engine one week(like some guys did at a race at Hickory last weekend) they may not get the car fixed to run the next week. On the other hand there are a bunch of drivers who may not be running for season points who may not fill out an entry blank in advance and just show up that weekend race anyway.

  12. Clean seeep for Woody: Tour, SK and Late Model

  13. darealgoodfella says

    art, I agree with you 100% about the unscathed bit. As I was writing the previous post, I was thinking it is really all about who can survive unscathed. Seems like some cars are more lucky than others, or have the better flux capacitor to get them away from traffic and trouble. Like gardening is 5% planting, 5% harvesting, and 90% weeding, winning at racing is like 99% staying out of trouble.

  14. darealgoodfella says

    Doug is busy creating a new email and screen name… stay tuned. Look for Penelope to show up.

    art, I’ve been to most of the Bristol races the last few years, and it is scary watching those races. Things happen very fast. It has to be one of the toughest places to stay away from trouble, trouble comes looking for everybody. Nobody is more equal than anybody else. The big names get in trouble all by themselves.

  15. WeldingWonders says

    Weather update. Deteriorating forecast for Saturday. “A chance of snow before 1pm, then a chance of rain between 1pm and 2pm. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 39. Chance of precipitation is 40%.”
    Sunday still mostly sunny.

  16. WeldingWonders says

    10 engine options in the Pro All Star Super Late Model rules. Sounds too complicated when engine rules are complex enough.

  17. darealgoodfella says

    Doug (aka: WeldingWonders, Sybil, etc.), will you be in the pits at Thompson? The line is very short, never more than a few seconds on line. Then you can see what cars are running what engine, ball joints, , hood pins, carburetor, chassis, flux capacitor, wheel bearing grease, etc. You can see all the shiny new parts. Stuff you’ve never seen before.

  18. WeldingWonders says

    JMB if you’re still around I’d like to ask a question or two. Those engine choices seem mind boggling. Are the drivers happy. Are they satisfied it all ends up in competitive racing? Is there one combination most teams gravitate toward?

  19. It ends up working out since most of the schedule outside of Thompson is on 1/4 to 3/8 mile tracks. I don’t think all the teams have funding like they used to 15 years ago, so the crates probably help many teams since they can’t afford the open engines. The full bodied cars have found a way to have weight breaks\weight penalties work for a while. When they used to have the “Oxford Open” races back in the 70’s and 80’s they found a way to have NASCAR Busch Series\Late Model Sportsman cars run against ASA style Camaros with it working out pretty even. That was probably a lot harder formula to figure out than what PASS and other Super Late Model Series do today.

  20. JMB thank you for the information you’ve provided, much appreciated

  21. Sort of like the Stafford open modifieds. How do you successfully tech all the different types. Stafford tech crew has a hard enough time inspecting motors where the parts have sms stamped right in them. Wonder how PASS does it

  22. Viva race fan says

    16 and Goodale should be a fun watch.

  23. WeldingWonders says

    Thanks JMB.

  24. WeldingWonders says

    National weather service update.
    Friday 70% chance of snow or rain. 1 to 2 inches of snow possible.
    Saturday 40% chance of snow and rain possible and a high of 40 degrees.
    Sunday continues to be sparkling and chilly with a high of 44.
    Over 100 NWMT, VMRS and Sunoco Modifieds anticipated in attendance for the weekend events that may get compressed to Sunday. Be well rested for a long day on Sunday and don’t forget the long johns for maximum comfort.

  25. darealgoodfella says

    Looks like Saturday will not have much if any action on the track, so Sunday will be busy!!!! Get there early folks!!! And dress warm, this is New England after all. Those cool temps and dry air will make the motors sound great, hope the track can handle the power.

    Doug (aka: WeldingWonders, Sybil, et al.), the concessions in the pits have very short lines.

  26. The weather forecast for Saturday is all over the place depending on which source you are looking at. Some are saying a definite chance of 2 to 4 inches of snow. Others are saying there is only a 10% of getting any type of precipitation at all.(and if there was any it would be at like 1AM)

  27. darealgoodfella says

    The 10 mph wind out of the NNW will be a factor.

    Dress appropriately.

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