Whelen Mod Tour NAPA Spring Sizzler 150 Could Make Or Break 2021 Championship Aspirations


(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Craig Lutz celebrate his first Whelen Modified Tour victory at the NAPA Fall Final 150 at Stafford Speedway in 2019 (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

Justin Bonsignore has proven — twice — you can win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship without winning at Stafford Motor Speedway. Include Doug Coby’s title run in 2017, three of the past four champions lifted the trophy at the end of the year without visiting Stafford’s Victory Lane.

But how important is running well, and winning, at the historic half-mile to championship hopes?

Based on past history, very.

Consider, over the past 15 years, the worst finish in the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler of an eventual champion was eighth, by Bonsignore in 2018.

The average finish of the eventual tour champion in the 54 races at Stafford since 2006? 5.6. Only seven times, in that period, has the season’s champion finished outside the top 10 in a race at Stafford.

History will be put to the test Friday, as the postponed Spring Sizzler moves to a night race.

The 49th running of the event will go green at 8:30 p.m. ET. Fans can watch the race live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, and a limited number of grandstand tickets are available.

The postponement has added an incentive for fans – and an added obstacle for tour regulars: Former tour champion and current NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece has entered the event.

Preece has eight wins and 18 top fives in 39 starts at Stafford, including the 2017 and ’18 Spring Sizzler. He led 110 laps in the season opener at Virginia’s Martinsville Speedway on April 8 before finishing 12th.

For Bonsignore, who finished second at Martinsville to kick off his title defense, another strong run at Stafford would go a long way toward setting him up in his chase for championship No. 3. A win would be even better.

“We have been getting closer and closer every time we go there,” Bonsignore said. “I was really happy with the way 2019 went, and optimistic going into 2020, but then COVID hit and by the time we went back there, we were mostly points racing, but were still a top three car.

“If we could pull it off in the Spring Sizzler, it would make all of the pains there go away.”

The Spring Sizzler is one of three events at Stafford this year, with the tour returning Aug. 6 for the GAF Roofing 150 Pres. by Riverhead Building Supply and then finishing the season on Sept. 25 for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final.

Ironically, it’s the August race that has been the outlier for the eventual champions in seasons past:

  • Coby had fuel issues in 2016 and finished 20th; he won the other three Stafford races that year.
  • Preece had a flat tire and finished 16th in his 2013 championship campaign.
  • Bobby Santos III had engine issues and finished 23rd in 2010. He had two wins and a second in the other three starts.
  • Ted Christopher finished 28th after mechanical issues in 2008. He had a win, a third and a sixth in his other Stafford races that season en route to his first title.

The average finish of the eventual tour champion in the Spring Sizzler since 2006? 3

That bodes well for a couple drivers looking to break up Coby and Bonsignore’s reign.

Craig Lutz, who leads all tour regulars with a best average finish of 8.3, including his first career win in 2018, will drive the Russell Goodale-owned No. 46 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet.

Eric Goodale, another past Stafford winner, opened the season in Victory Lane at Martinsville. He returns to a track where he’s had an up-and-down history. Since 2016, he has six top fives – including the 2017 win in the Fall Final. But he has six finishes of 19th or worse, including a 22nd last year after winning the Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award.

Max McLaughlin was fourth in his tour debut in that race, and he followed up with a fourth at Martinsville.

In his last five Stafford starts, Silk has a pair of wins, a third, a fifth and a sixth. He won the only tour race at Stafford last year.

And then there’s Coby.

The Milford, Connecticut, driver is a 12-time winner at his home track – tied for second all-time.

While he has an average finish of 10.2 for his career, since winning the Spring Sizzler in 2012, Coby has an average finish of 4.4. He added Spring Sizzler wins in 2016 and ’19, and he was runner-up in 2014 and ’17.

“It’s the Spring Sizzler,” Coby said. “It’s one of the biggest races that you mark on your calendar to help kick-off the season. With it being our first New England race of the year, the history of the Sizzler, and the list of drivers who have won that race, I’m excited to go back there.”

Comments

  1. Justin Bonsignor continues to be under appreciated as a driver based on tepid recent polling results.. He and the 51 team have been good for a long time. Much of that time in the shadow of Preece and Coby. In 2017 JB didn’t win a race and came in third mainly by consistency.. Currently he’s on long top finish streak. The 51 seems to always finish races.
    Sure, sure this is a NASCAR press release, hype is the goal and mentioning the biggest names is how you accomplish that. However the odds that Preece, as much as I love him can drop into NWMT races and win are very low. The other teams are doing this full time. their crews laser focused on the one thing so just seeing the 6 competitive is the most reasonable expectation. Coby is still Coby but the 10 team is not the 2 team plus the championship is not a high priority this year with Coby’s eye’s filled with SRX stars.
    Since 2017 six drivers have won 10 races with Preece at 3, Coby at 2, Silk 2 then one each for Goodale, Kyle Bonsignor and Eric Goodale. Looks like the 85 should be the only real favorite. Otherwise Stafford is known for producing surprises on occasion so why not now.
    Uncharacteristically the 51 has been mediocre at Stafford although they do have a couple poles since 2018. A third last year, a 2nd in 2019. He doesn’t need to win but if you believe Stafford can produce a surprise the 51 will likely be it.

  2. Please get acquainted with the list of previous NWMT champions, names like: Stefanik, Spencer, Evans, Santos, Christopher, Tony Hirschman Jr., Jerry Marquis. These guys were likable. I’ve met several of them, and spent plenty of time with a few of them. These guys are known and admired for who they are, and happened to win championships.

    JBon and Kobe are simply not likable, they are not in the class listed above.

  3. Weather Forecast:

    Friday: A chance of showers, mainly between 9am and 3pm. Partly sunny, with a high near 63. Breezy, with a west wind 13 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 38 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%.

    Friday Night: A chance of rain showers, mixing with snow after 1am, then gradually ending. Patchy fog between 1am and 3am. Otherwise, mostly cloudy, with a low around 32. Breezy, with a west wind 15 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.

    That’s anything but sizzlin’.

    Saturday and Sunday look pretty good. 🌞

  4. I’m thinking Rodney Dangerfield.

    JBon ain’t getting much respect, nor does Kobe.

    Let’s take a look at the Twitter account of Dug Kobe, the header states, “I want a blue check.”

    Per Twitter, “The blue verified badge on Twitter lets people know that an account of public interest is authentic. To receive the blue badge, your account must be authentic, notable, and active.”

    So Dug Kobe is a 6x champ, Smigs shuts down and Kobe couldn’t get a job with another owner. Most other drivers would have owners lining up with offers, many opportunities. Kobe had to start his own operation. Kobe knows he needs Moran to make him look good, and no owner would take that on.

    Twitter says that in order to get a blue check, the account must be authentic, notable, and active.

    Is it authentic? Authentic what?

    Is it active? I’d say no because there just isn’t much, if any, original content of value. Looks to be mostly retweets.

    Is it notable? No. No value in the account at all.

    Demanding a Twitter blue check is just a desperate cry for validation and approval seeking.

  5. wmass01013 says

    HEY genius Tony Hirschman Jr, is Kyle Busch’s Spotter NOT A WMT FORMER CHAMPION

  6. wmass01013,
    Actually Tony Hirschman III is Kyle Busch’s spotter. Tony Hirschman Jr. is a five-time Whelen Modified Tour champion.

  7. wmass01013 says

    OK SORRY stand CORECTED

  8. wmass01013, you were correct when you addressed me as “genius”.

  9. Race time weather forecast…

    Air Temperature: 45º

    Wind Chill Temperature: 35º, if you are lucky.

    Winds: >20 mph from the WNW.

    Gusts: >40 MPH from the WNW.

    Slight chance of rain later on, better start the race early.

    Wear tight fitting goggles to protect against wind borne sand, dirt and other debris. Wear a mask to protect against wind borne sand, dirt and other debris. 😷 🦠

  10. Another part of the weather forecast are the warnings of power outages, downed trees, downed utility wires and poles. It’s gonna be windy.

    Get the generator ready. I had to fire up the generator for a few hours just a couple weeks ago.

  11. What is the official start time of the Sizzler? There has to be one since it is being streamed.

    I’m seeing 8:30 PM and 9 PM from multiple sources, like TrackPass, Stafford, …

    🥶 🥶 🥶 🥶 🥶 🥶 🥶 🥶

  12. Darealgoodfella,
    I see approximately 8:30 on the Stafford Speedway schedule.

  13. darealgoodfella wrote, “Slight chance of rain later on, better start the race early.”

    Hey Doug, I was right again.

    😝😝😝😝😝

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