Super Sub: Matt Swanson Second Filling In For Rowan Pennink At Whelen Mod Tour Bud 150 At Thompson

Matt Swanson with the No. 3 Whelen Modified Tour ride Wednesday at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – At about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday night, Matt Swanson was prepared to drive his family owned No. 89 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ride in the Bud King of Beers 150 at Thompson Speedway.

And just as he closed the back door on his family’s hauler he found out he’d instead be driving a car legendary in the history of Modified racing.

With Boehler Racing Enterprises driver Rowan Pennink welcoming his first child early Wednesday morning, it was Swanson tabbed to fill in for Pennink in the team’s iconic Ole Blue No. 3 ride.

And the 18-year old Swanson made the most of the opportunity, rolling to a career best second place finish in the Whelen Modified Tour Bud King of Beers 150 Wednesday at Thompson Speedway.

“I actually was at SPAFCO [Tuesday night] getting my own family car set up,” Swanson said. “My father called me just as I was shutting the door on the trailer and said ‘Rowan’s girlfriend is having a baby, the [Boehler Racing Enterprises team] called, do you want to drive [for them]?’ I said ‘Absolutely’. That car’s always a rocket ship here. It’s a rocket ship everywhere they go. I was very humbled to be the one that got the call. There are a lot of other drivers they could call. … They called me and I’m so thankful. … The opportunity to drive such a famous Modified, it makes me feel very good to be able to do that. I’m happy that I could put a good finish in for them.”

Pennink and his girlfriend Nicole Kirstin welcome their daughter Jordan at about 3 a.m. Wednesday.

“It was awesome working with the Boehler guys,” Swanson said. “They welcomed me with open arms and I can’t thank them all enough.

Before Wednesday Swanson’s best career finish in 43 career Whelen Modified Tour starts was a third place at Thompson on June 15, 2016. He came into Wednesday night’s event with four career top-five finishes, including a fifth place in the Icebreaker 150 at Thompson on April 8.

“It didn’t really settle in how excited I was and how awesome of a ride this was until I walked into the [Boehler Racing Enterprises] shop this morning and just saw all the memorabilia hanging on the walls, the [No. 3] cars, all the Boehler family headlines in the newspapers and just the list of names that have driven that car,” Swanson said. “It really didn’t settle in until I walked in the door. Now that I’m standing here, I got out of the car and I saw that famous [No.] 3 sitting there and it’s awesome.”

Just about 24 hours after he found out he would be driving the car, Swanson was holding off the challenges of five-time series champion Doug Coby in the closing laps at Thompson.

It proved a matter of one extreme to the other for Swanson. On Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway a mechanical failure in qualifying for his team to withdraw from the Starrett 150.

“That was awesome to see him up there,” series points leader abd Bud King of Beers 150 winner Justin Bonsignore said. “Matt’s a great driver. He’s got great equipment. … He’s come a long way since he’s been a rookie. This is a really good boost for him, unfortunate it’s just a one race deal. And congrats to Rowan on his baby today, him and his girlfriend. It’s awesome for Matt. … He needed a confidence booster. He didn’t even get to race last week. I’m really happy for him and his father and his whole family. They’re good good people.”


  1. Swanson should be on the phone with LFR now. Put that kid in a good car and he will shine.

  2. He got up high in the marbles and lost a ton of places, and it was awesome watching him roar back.

    Great job!!!!

  3. Give a good driver a great crew chief and it’s amazing what can happen.

  4. Swanson was the show tonight. He’s an acquaintance, so I’m not unbiased. But, man, that kid drove a hell of a race. I was so impressed watching him come up through the field after he drifted up into the marbles. Really proud of him. He’s come a long way from that kid who went spastic on the track at Star one night. 🙂

  5. Great job Matt, very impressive run!

  6. Congratulations to Rowan Pennink and his significant other on their life changing but completely rewarding addition to their family.

  7. I’d like to see Matt full time in the 3. He put on such a great show, drove to the front multiple times and he raced his competitors with respect. Something the regular driver of the 3 rarely ever does

  8. Swanson should fill in for Preece when Preece has xfinity duty. Needs a good crew chief since Preece is pretty much his own crew chief.

  9. Walter Maguire says

    Matt should drive the 3 asap. Rowan doesn’t have the talent (but he does have the money) for this ride.

  10. If it wasn’t for the Pennink family the 3 would not be racing at least not full time, so a Big Thank You to the Pennink family for helping to keep the 3 on the WMT.

    Matt did a great job in the 3 and showed he can wheel a car.

    Changing to LFR would be nice, but you still need a complete package. Chassis, Crew Chief, Pit Crew and Driver.

    Filling in for Ryan would be nice, but that would have had to happen with Stafford to keep the 6 in the points race. Ryan will be missing Bristol, Riverhead and Stafford again.

  11. knucklesmahoney says

    This just clearly shows you have to get with the right people who know how to set up a car. The kid did great, but in his own car he really goes nowhere, and neither is Les Hinckley in the 21. Making him look like a second tier driver every time he gets in that car, yet in the 06 he charges to front. Same chassis, same driver two totally different results.

  12. Joe Lajoie says

    Eddie Partridge said not too long ago that he is no longer running for any kind of owner’s championship. He will keep the team going for Ryan and only Ryan as his driver.

  13. Knuckles, well said. Even when Rowan ran his own operation, he had all the best equipment, but never performed. He needed a top crew chief. Now he’s with Greg Fournier and the results are there.

    Folks, there aren’t many top notch crew chiefs. We keep saying that there’s 15 cars that can win on any night, but the stats show there’s about 3-4 cars that end up hogging the wins. That correlates with the expertise of the crew chiefs.

  14. Hillary 2028 says

    15 cars that can win on any given night? Keep smoking that good stuff.

  15. Good ol boy says

    So Kenny Barry, dareal says you are not a good crew chief. Maybe he could cc a car and there will be 4 cars capable of winning. Loser.

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