Beneficiary: Chase Dowling Wins Whelen Mod Tour Thriller In Musket 250 At NHMS

Chase Dowling celebrates his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in Saturday’s Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

LOUDON, N.H. – The theater that is last lap drama for the Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is part of NASCAR legend.

But when it was announced that the Whelen Modified Tour would run a 250-lap event at the inaugural Full Throttle Weekend at NHMS, many wondered if extending the distance of the race 150 laps beyond the norm for the division at the track would sap away the drama.

The answer came Saturday in the inaugural Musket 250.

No matter the distance, the drama remained.

In an epic closing lap it was Chase Dowling avoiding the first and second place cars wrecking in front of him through the final corners to win the Whelen Modified Tour Musket 250 at NHMS.

It was the first career Whelen Modified Tour victory for the 20-year old Dowling, of Roxbury, who was making his 55th career start on Saturday. Before Saturday’s event, Dowling had five second place finishes over the previous 14 Whelen Modified Tour events dating back to the final race of 2017.

Dowling works full-time for LFR and his Rob Fuller Motorsports team.

“You go through a frustrating patch,” Dowling said. “I work on these cars full-time in the shop. You make this your life and you’re working to do this stuff. I was pretty fortunate to have someone like [team owner Rob Fuller] that I can work for and drive the race cars on the weekends. You get back to the shop and you grind through the weeks and you have bad runs and you have good runs and you finish second second second and people ask you all the time ‘When are you going to win?’ When you finally do it you get relieved a little bit.”

Patrick Emerling, of Orchard Park, N.Y., was second and Burt Myers of Walnut Cove, N.C. was third.

Dowling collected $25,000 in purse money for the victory and another $5,400 in bonus money for leading 54 laps of the event. Emerling earned $10,000 for second place.

The victory proved to be sweet redemption for Dowling, who finished second by inches to Bobby Santos III in the most recent Whelen Modified Tour event at NHMS on July 21.

But with a half lap left, it hardly looked like Dowling was breaking his winless streak. Series points leader Justin Bonsignore looked on his way to victory until the closing moments of the final lap.

With Ryan Preece closing on him heading into turn three, Bonsignore went low to block a possible run under him. Preece nearly put his car into the grass in effort to get even lower. From there Preece’s right front climbed over the left rear of Bonsignore, sending both cars heading to the wall.

Dowling, who was running fourth behind Emerling going into the corner, went low under Emerling and avoided the fray through turns three and four. From there Dowling had to defend a low run from Emerling off of the final corner in a drag race to the checkered.

“Just a normal last lap at New Hampshire,” Bonsignore said. “[Preece] had a run and we had to block the bottom. You want to be in the lead these last few years here. I went to the bottom, blocked the bottom, I didn’t give him an option. He drove through me. He was doing what he had to do to win the race and it didn’t work out for either of us unfortunately.

“It’s been the last three or four years here where the leader just blocks and it works out for them. Unfortunately today I guess the second place car learned that if you just keep driving through them until they’re completely gone. It’s just a product of New Hampshire. I don’t blame Ryan at all. I would have done the same thing. It’s just unfortunate it didn’t work out for either of us.”

Asked what happened on the last lap Preece said: “Loudon.”

“Him leading, he’s going to put me in the grass and if he was in second I would have put him in the grass,” Preece said. “It’s just, you never want to say that because at the end of the day two race cars got pretty much killed, but who knows if I’m ever going to have a shot to win the Musket 250 ever again.

“… Him and I know that we’re never going to wreck each other intentionally. That was one of those deals where there was a lot of give and take the entire race and when there’s one corner left and you have a huge run you’re not really going to give much, you’re going to take a lot. It’s racing. You don’t want to say it’s racing, but today that was racing.”

Said Dowling: “I saw Ryan, he was going off on the bottom. I saw dust rolling, that’s how he low he was. I knew it wasn’t going to end well. I saw Patrick stay up high and I said ‘They’re probably going to wreck.’ And then they did. You don’t have time to think, just react. I thought they were going to wreck so I went low. The car turned really good down there.”

With only six cars on the lead lap late, Preece, of Berlin, ended up fifth after limping across the start/finish line after the wreck. Bonsignore, of Holtsville, N.Y., was sixth, the first car a lap down in the final order.


  1. A win is a win is a win ,especially your first doesn’t matter how you get it congratulations to Chase and the whole LFR team ,best of luck at Fall Final and I understand there may be a young teammate from SKL

  2. Seriously does Dowling ever seem like he made a blunder. Never says the controversial thing in victory lane or an interview. Takes what he can get on the track and knows what his car is capable of. The kid is the ice man.
    So here we have Preece, our only local hero with national exposure. We all love the guy for all the right reasons. And JB. Great guy, great team and his only fault just a little too dominant this year.
    There’s no loser here really. Preece is the king for now, JB the guy that is near impossible to beat locally and Chase got the win that eluded him so so long. And the top 5 included guys that no one thought would finish so well.4

  3. Doug I disagree, Preece has zero respect for anyone on the track. He is running a partial schedule, and wrecks the points leader on the last lap. Big no no in my book. Not to mention, Gary Putnam’s car is now destroyed!

  4. I watched the race on fanschoicetv – the first half of the race was really good, a lot of passing going on. The second half not so much… the only reason for the exciting finish was due to the late caution. Next years race should be 150 laps – no one in the stands so I’m guessing there will be no next year?

  5. They probably had close to the same amount of people in the stands as a normal Saturday during a Cup weekend. You did not actually realize how many people were there until you were in the stampede of people leaving and walking to the parking lot. Remember the track holds at least 5 times as many fans as places like Thompson and Oxford.

  6. sour grapes of wreckers says

    guy up front admits to blocking.. guy in second says he drove thru him.. new Hampshire is a vwery wide track.. don’t care what anyone says that’s NOT racing .. glad I am not paying the bills even with all the wins preece and bonsignore have .. lucky they didn’t wreck the unfortunate other… joke

  7. Steve, there was over 15,000 people at the race and that was way over the amount the track expected. Hard to tell there were so many people as the track allowed people to sit anywhere they wanted and they also had quite a few fans in the infield watching.

  8. Dareal,

    That LFR house car is a turd huh?

  9. Steve,there were a lot of people there not just in the grandstands.Some stand by the fence others were in the infield as NHMS allowed access for this event. There were a ton more campers than I thought there would be and traffic leaving as well. Bring back the ACT late models for 2019 in place of the Pinty cars. Great event overall!!!

  10. Tommy T, it was a gift, otherwise 3rd place again.

  11. That is “Last Lap Racing at Loudon”, folks. It’s been that way for… EVER! That adds to the suspense. Two lead cars go into the last lap, which, if any, will prevail, will either or both survive? The first place car is all about defense, the second place car is the first place loser. Whaddya think is gonna happen?

    Overall, it was a great race, a great event. Silk was good early on, wish he would have made it to the end of the show. The green flag pit stops were awesome!!!!!!!! This series still needs that epic event, to replace the Thompson 300.

    That debris caution to put the 2 back on the lead lap was so nice.

  12. So Steve, you sat at home watching the race on TV and made the assumption that because you had a couple glimpses of empty seats in the stands, that there was no one there. Well, as Judge Judy would say ” you weren’t there, you don’t know. There was actually a very good crowd (15,000 or more) spread all throughout the front and turn 1 grandstands. The entire event went off like clockwork. Next year, it would nice if they would leave the taxi cabs at home. Those two races were basically over after the first 10 laps. What would be great next year would be an 80 lap VMRS race, a 100 lap Tri-Track race and then the Whelen Modified 250. Extreme Modified Madness.

  13. Charles Martin says

    Congrats to Chase and Rob Fuller, they have been knocking on the door to that first win all season. If not for Bonsignore having a career year, we would be talking championship.

    Typical Preece those last 10 laps, trying to be a hero. If he has so much talent why can’t he pass anyone clean without wrecking them? He about fenced Coby to get to second and then takes out the 51. From where I was sitting it looked like he dove down onto the apron, locked up the brakes, and went up the track and over the 51’s LR. Justin took the high road on that interview, you can bet if the roles were reversed Cryin Ryan would have been calling him a hack again. On another note, darn lucky Coby didn’t get hurt on that last lap crash. That was some hard hit.

  14. Bob I so agree but I know NHMS wont do it, I would like 250 WMT, 50 VMRS POINTS RACE, 50 ROC POINTS RACE, 50 lap ISMA and add a 30 lap sk type race, all mods

  15. Bob Npt,
    Running the VMRS and Tri Track on the same day at Loudon with the WMT would make zero sense. They have some of the exact teams\drivers so they would cut into each other’s fields. Maybe have PASS instead of Pinty’s.(PASS would get a decent field this time of the year since Oxford and Beech Ridge are done for weekly racing by then). Plus they would have more a Northern New England fan base than Pinty’s and the currend K&N. But I have a feeling NASCAR wants this to be a weekend for their own series so none of the suggestions will happen.

  16. JMB I think NHMS put this together to make up for loss of CUP weekend, only WMT was gonna draw this type crowd to a non BIG 3 series race so no matter what NASCAR wants its up to the track to schedule and pay who they want to race. and the NO PASS series was boring as hell at the icebreaker, so what makes u think would be exciting on a 1 mile track?

  17. Ron silk had the best car all day in my opinion. Strategy killed most teams. Great run for Myers! I wanted to see a team win that needed the 25k rather then a Preece or Fuller.

  18. What self respecting modifed fan wouldn’t want to see a modified luv-in. But disrespecting the Late Model fans of which there are many in the Northeast seems to be missing an opportunity.

  19. I have to say, no matter who is your favorite driver, no matter what “chassis” camp you think is the best, what impressed me most yesterday were the crew cheifs. Other than the Santos rear end issues and accidents, the front runners, including some notable lapped front runners, had very reliable mounts. For a 250 lap race, the longest on the schedule for quite some time, was a testament to crew cheifs, teams, and owners. For the most part, most all of them hung in and put on a good show, no matter how it ended.

  20. wmass01013,
    They had a Granite State Pro Stock Race at Loudon in July that came down to a last lap finish between 2 guys who are essentially PASS drivers compared to the rest of the field. You can’t really judge a series by 1 race at 1 track. They brought the VMRS into Oxford for the 250 weekend a couple times recently. And the last time they were up there most of the fans thought the Mod race stunk and they did not even race for most of the 100 laps.
    Instead of trying to have 3 essentially identical types of Modifeds running on the same track on the same day, it would likely be be better to attempt to get more of those cars from other series to run the 250 lap WMT race. The field was supposed to be 38 cars, but only 31 showed up. If you could find a way for them to somehow work together and not schedule on top of each other on the same weekends at different tracks, you could have something similar to what the Race of Champions used to like on the old 3/4 mile layout at Pocono.
    Also, I swear I am not trying to be a killjoy, but ISMA would not work. They actually 1 short ISMA exhibition race with 4 to 6 cars at Loudon during the early 90’s as part of the pre-race for the Busch Series(I think the year before Cup started running there)Between the teams, officials, and track I am pretty sure they decided against running a full points race at Loudon in the future. Supermodifeds are now too fast for 1 mile tracks. For years they ran the western Supers at the Copper Classic at Phoenix. But it got to the point the cars were so fast there they would have some really scary wrecks or the cars would have major mechanical issues leading to tons of caution laps. I am pretty sure one season the pole speed at Phoenix for the Supers was faster than the cars that qualifed at the back part of the Indycar race there the same year. And that was over 20 years ago.

  21. The K&N race would have been much better if they had 30 plus cars or so. Plus remember, it’s the restrictor plates that make the mighty modifieds so competitive at Loudon.

  22. The ISMA Series realize the cars are too fast to safely run there. At a track like Oswego there almost 30 mph faster than the tour mods. As for RP being the only driver with national exposure, I would have to disagree. That would have to go to BS III. Those who don’t follow Nascar closely aren’t aware of RP. But almost everyone who follows racing west of newengland, know who BS III is. Not because he’s a better driver. But because of all the different series he competes in. Plus, almost all of those series have TV coverage. I hope RP gets to stay running at the higher level, but we all know how much of a mess that can be. Talent? We don’t need no stinking talent. We need MONEY$$$$ 🙁

  23. Jmb. I was there at the supers “exposition” that you refer to. As memory serves me (suspect at best) it was part of a “tripleheader” in May, in the early 90’s, before Bahre had secured a cup date. Again, if memory serves, the supers put on a 10-15 lap “exposition”. More akin to “hot laps”. And that was before nh had that extra “1/2” groove in the inside corners. Fans, officials at the end of that exposition all concurred (off the record i might add) that yes, in competion, the supers were too fast for that place, at the time this was run. It was breathtaking to say the least, and they were not wven mixing it up! So i guess my issue is, even it it could happen with today’s improvements in technology and safety,
    Would it be a race more like the open wheel Indy cars that have been run sporadically at nhis in the past? Not sure supers would be a good show there, if thats the case. Jmo

  24. Sorry daidiot,but setting fast time and running 3rd on last lap of 250 , hard work puts you in that position , it’s to bad a part timer comes in and takes out someone running for points. Haven’t heard troyer 1 2 3 from dabozo since first race of year back then it was the chassis , ever since its been another reason for winning

  25. wmas01013, there were 33 cars on the original roster. Not 38. Just saying. Not that anyone cares.

  26. It was a good show with a good crowd. I think we have the start of a great tradition at Loudon.

  27. James Scott, I agree. Once the word gets out, this will be an event. NHMS and NWMT should be very pleased.

    The NWMT can headline a major event. NASCAR, are you paying attention?

  28. Preece is a HACK trying to beat Justin by one spot after being wrecked he pulls in front of the 2 car and wrecks him then continues down the track to cross the start finish line so he can beat Justin glad everyone booed him lost a lot of respect for him

  29. My takeaway after camping this weekend:
    – I was impressed with the number of fellow campers. The stands may not have been packed, but there was a great crowd. Many didn’t watch every event, lots of Canadians seemed only interested in the Pinty’s race, and most of the Pinty’s and K&N haulers, along with some campers, had left by midway in the mod race. This is similar to multi-class road racing weekends I’ve attended. Everyone has a reason for buying a ticket…
    – It didn’t seem that crowded until the WMT race ended. Lots of folks exiting at once gave a better sense at numbers. May of the food and merch vendors sold out of certain items very early. This hints that crowds were far better than expected.
    – The open infield and pit access included with a weekend ticket was GREAT! It reminded me of access afforded to IMSA, NHRA, and Indycar fans. NASCAR needs to make access work across other series.
    – Yes, supers are faster, but the WMT race had plenty of action, lead changes, and midfield battles that I’ve never seen at a Super Mod race. I think Indycar could bring some of the same battles, with more speed and fan appeal, to NHMS.
    – I absolutely LOVED Preece’s effort getting his trashed race car across the stripe. I just thought that was cool…

    I’ll be back next year!

  30. One more thing… Were we the only ones laughing all day at the giant tiger butt facing the main grandstand?

  31. Should handicap non Whelen modifieds, VMS and or RoC pay highest paying VMS finisher what they would get to win there own big race. That could increase the car count if what you want is 10 more cars on the track. Add trucks to program would increase attendance more than Pinty or K /N. Just a thought.

  32. All the folks that said this was a big deal were right. I’m looking forward to a comment from the guy who in my view is the best racing fan here and that is Fast Eddie.
    I watched the race on Fans Choice. Had NASCAR’s live timing and updates on separate screens clicking back and forth. I’m not apologizing for that. The first thing I would suggest is don’t make it so easy to enjoy the race and be informed and not spend a dime supporting it.
    If there was 10 or 15 thousand fans there who wouldn’t be happy about that. But the images seen on TV were people spread out and sketchy interest. Which is not to say that is true but it looked that way and like Bristol or Myrtle Beach or whatever how is that a good thing?
    Coming up the NWMT has Stafford and Thompson. Two well attended and exciting events that generate consistent good results and anticipation that seems taken for granted.
    My question. Why is there such interest in races that show empty stadiums that look like loser events rightly or wrongly when we have the gold standard locally?

  33. “My question. Why is there such interest in races that show empty stadiums that look like loser events rightly or wrongly when we have the gold standard locally?”

    Those in the know have to spread the word. Packed full is not where the real spectator fun is…

    Road races, IMSA, PWC, TransAm… all have empty stands when they run Watkins Glen, Daytona, or any other track with arena style seating around an oval, yet there are tons of people in attendance. Nobody that attends these races expects or wants to sit in a grandstand seat for the entire event. It’s great to move around, watch from different vantage points and absorb the experience. The same is true for NHRA national events. You buy a seat, but there are plenty of alternate experiences, and you’re encouraged to check them out.

    I stopped going to Cup races long ago because I got really tired of cramming into less space than an Air Cheapo regional jet economy seat,in 95F full sun, between sweaty drunk guys and a bored kid kicking the back of my seat.

    This weekend, I totally enjoyed watching different racing, practices, qualifying… from very different vantage points. From a fan experience standpoint, giving fans the choice between seats in the stands, grassy areas to sit or stand, the infield, garages, etc… maybe just what NASCAR needs to rebuild a fan base.

  34. So far no one has provided better detailed race day experience observations then Barry so thank you for the insights.
    If you can have total comfort, room to stretch out. Access to rest facilities, food and entertainment and see a great race who wouldn’t appreciate that.
    If the attendance goals were met and it appears from the folks that attended they were then it sounds like everyone was happy. Money was made since that after all is the goal and we can expect Musket 2.0 next year.
    Thanks Barry.

  35. So this was a strategy race for sure. I want to give a shout out to Stephen Kopcik. I have never heard of this guy but I was at the race and the 15 car was on his own during the long runs and pitted one time when the others stayed out and went a extra 20 laps leading more laps and keeping that car in contention. That was a fantastic race he called. I simply went online and looked for the crew chiefs name and wanted him to be aware that he did a great job! I love it when the crew plays a role in the race. Thank you for the Loudon track staff for putting on this race. I attend the cup races and never watched a mod race. What a race!

  36. If 15k fans is better than anticipated then they should keep the same format as this year… just hope they cut the laps by at least 50 laps. i was pleasantly surprised with the tire performance… made the show that much better. If they want to draw more cars then I would think paying less lap money and putting the money in the purse further down the line would help…? I also think having the race live online was a good move this year – but if they want fans like me to attend the race next year, do not have a live broadcast next year. JMO

  37. Thanks Doug, you’re too kind! Overall, I thought is was a great event. It would have been better with bigger fields for K&N and Pinty’s, but the racing was o.k. The Modifieds were AWESOME!! It was great seeing them in a long race with live pit stops! Plenty of racing battles everywhere on the track. At one point mid-race there were fours distinct groups having their own “race within a race”. You knew the “dive underneath vs. block” move was coming, regardless of who was up front at the time. It’s standard Loudon last lap racing! I also felt bad for Coby; he had nowhere to go.
    Good crowd turnout; I was stuck in non-race traffic a couple of times on the way & arrived later than I wanted to. I tried to buy a t-shirt on the way out and was told they sold almost all of them on Friday.
    As cool as it would be to see, ISMA is just too fast for that track. I was also there during the exhibition years ago. I was down at ground level with my kids. My five-year old literally came off the ground when they came by! Fortunately I had his hand! I remember hearing about the G-forces causing problems with the drivers, which was a major primary deciding factor.

  38. As much as I enjoy watching all the WMT teams, maybe next year they could work out scheduling to not conflict with the ROC. Perhaps Hirschman, Hossfeld, Beers, Leaty, and/or other ROC teams would come to NH. Kudos to the Emerling and Catalano teams for running both events! Also, nice to see Burt Meyers have a good run! Nice to see Jamie Tomaino and Blake Barney there. I thought maybe a couple more Riverhead or Wall teams might head north.

  39. Congrats to Chase for the win, but really Ryan? Nothing like driving over someone. Wasn’t just a nerf bar rub. Guess you forgot there are no fenders on these cars.

  40. Keep the race 250 laps. The teams know what to expect now. Add another 200 or 250 lap race in the spring, and see what happens. The mods need a few long distance endurance races on the schedule. If they manage to bring in 15000 spectators I’d call it a good race.

  41. How do you draw other cars outside the NASCAR Modified Tour?
    The open motor sure seemed to work in the 77 car.
    Pay a bonus to the first 3 non tour regulars? (less than 2 starts in the year)
    Financially How did the last 15 cars make out?

  42. What car was Matt Hirschman driving?

  43. darealgoodfella says:

    What car was Matt Hirschman driving?

    he was driving his red number 60 to a victory on Sunday about 440 miles due West at the 30th annual US Open at Lancaster Speedway. it’s a shame that both big races were the same weekend.

  44. It was reported that a couple other drivers who’s names I’ve forgotten we’re planning on running New Hampshire, and Lancaster. Don’t know why Hirshman didn’t attempt to.

  45. What did the Lancaster race pay to win? Must have been a higher profile race than NH.

  46. Lancaster, a 125 lap RoC race on a ½ mile track with 20 cars was a bigger event than the Musket 250 at Loudon?

    Really? MH has run only 5 RoC events this year.

    Tommy Catalano and Patrick Emerling ran Lancaster and the Musket 250.

  47. Was it a longer trip for PeeDee to travel to NH rather than Oswego?

    Maybe the Open paid more than the Musket?

    More experience at Lancaster than NH, better opportunity to win?

    He father did really well at NH, great coach for him.

    Maybe next time we will see him there.

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