Let’s Play Two: Time For A Change For The Whelen Modified Tour At NHMS

(The article below is a RaceDayCT column – The views expressed in this column are solely the opinion of the writer)

It’s time to change things up for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It’s become evident in recent years that the standard 100-lap feature format for the series has become stale.

Last week’s Whelen Modified Tour Whelen 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway showed off what has become all too familiar of a show. Lots of fairly pedestrian and gentlemanly swapping of the lead out front much of the day, great ending, standard formula.

It’s no knock on the series, or the talent of the drivers in the shows. The drivers and crew chiefs are just working in the parameters of the event and recently those parameters have seemed to create a recipe that has become all too predictable.

Barring major issues, this seems to have become the standard tale of the show for the Whelen Modified Tour in Loudon. Two drivers control the show early. There’s often a long green flag run during the first two thirds of the event and those two drivers typically spend time swapping the lead back and forth, seemingly almost without defense, as if both know there’s no reason to fight or do something stupid on say lap 42. At some point after the halfway point the mass pit stop happens. Then the field shakes out with 2-5 drivers showing dominance at the front. Then comes the late caution and the maniac last lap where someone gets booted or run over or junked on the last lap.

It’s not to say the event overall is bad. It’s still an amazing show, but the formula has become stale.

So this is our proposal. It’s a plan that we think will not only bring more excitement back to the races but will also return the series to having two events each season at the facility, albeit two events on the same day.

What we want to see is two 40-lap features on the Saturday of the Cup Series weekend in Loudon. One 40-lap feature before the Xfinity Series event and one 40-lap feature after the Xfinity Series event.

A sprint format will take away the game of the formula approach of waiting until the last 10 laps of a 100-lap event to actually race. It will also take away the concern of having some type of red flag issue and getting a race shortened because of the TV window for the Xfinity Series.

Have one qualifying session for the first event and then set the field for the second event by inverting the top-15.

Yes, we know the immediate protest will be that it’s not a fair to teams that wreck in the first event and don’t have the means to have a backup ready or can’t get their car fixed for the second event.

Our answer to that would be, don’t wreck your car or make sure you have a good backup plan in case you do. It’s not as if teams can’t prepare for the day properl well in advance.

As far as the angle of track management and their reservations, one could surmise the track would not want to pay to full purses for the events. Easy fix. Take the purse that is set right now for 100-lap events and split it up 50-50 for the two events. What’s wrong with that? Doesn’t cost the track anything more to put on the event right?

With little hope of a second event for the series returning to the facility anytime soon, the time has come for a change for the Whelen Modified Tour in Loudon. What’s better than one Whelen Modified Tour race in a day at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? Obviously two.


  1. DUMB.

    It’s the best race of the weekend and season for the tour. Don’t change what isn’t broken. Every tour race that isn’t a bull ring like Riverhead or Wall Stadium has the first 50-75% as follow the leader and drivers being gentlemen. Almost every series that is longer distance is that way. The 100 lapper brought strategy into it with the 51 and 85 risking fuel mileage. You take that aspect out doing two 40 lappers.

    First year the MRS did a 50 lapper, Silk and Pitkat swapped the lead for 40 laps until Pitkat had an issue. Shorter distance didn’t change much.

  2. Sharpie Fan says

    The race this year was ho-hum until the last 10 laps. Maybe it was because Coby and Santos both weren’t up to par?
    I remember way back the Tour races at Loudon were the most exciting race of the weekend. You were on the edge of the seat the whole race. The Cup guys would be on the roofs of their haulers and RVs to watch the show. I don’t remember how many laps those races were but it seemed like they were over quick.

  3. I’m kinda thinking I like the way it is. What’s wrong with trying to be strategic on how to make it to the end to have a shot? What’s wrong with watching the artistry of guys swapping the leads and drafting through the field lap after lap, and showing why they are true professionals so they can be there at the end? What’s wrong with the marathon of the pressure on crew chiefs, trying to figure out if and when they bring their driver in, and praying to god it’s the right time? What’s wrong with the whole uniqueness of this event?
    The only thing I see wrong, is nascar can’t read a watch. Really? Start the modifieds an hour earlier. Tv issues disappear. It’s not like nascar is really concerned with making modifieds a star at nh. They know they are the best show there. But, that’s the conundrum for them. I say, leave it alone. It ain’t broke IMO. It’s nh for the mods. And nascar hates it.

  4. It’s probably a good idea Shawn has his finger on the pulse of the fan base I’m just shocked really. Loudon consistently gets the most attention and hype leading up to it and there rarely are negative reactions after the race. I know I was blown away by the ending and never gave what lead up to it a whole lot of thought as far as how good it was. It’s just seemed normal while waiting for the fire works at the end you knew were coming.

  5. I Was There!! I Don’t Know What They Are Talking About? The Greatest Finish Since “Mighty Mike” Beat “Silkey”! Don’t Change A Thing! I Liked The Fact They Did Not Throw Caution At Halfway! I Am Not A Fan Of Schedule Yellow Flags! Justin Ran Out Of Fuel. Strategy Is Part Of It!! All Us Fans Were Standing With Are Fists In The Air. IT WAS GREAT!! When “Preece Lighting” Won!

  6. One major problem with this idea. I believe the drivers will run too conservatively in the first race to avoid wrecking their cars, making the first race less exciting anyway. The first race will be the same follow the leader race. Drivers will race for 15th place to get track position for the second race.

    This issue is not limited to the WMT. Every series that runs long races has the same thing happen. Ride around until you have to make your move. As others stated. The longer race is about strategy. Making sure you are there at the end. I know a lot of people don’t care for stage racing, but it IS effective in building suspense mid race. Maybe WMT should consider stage racing? 20, 20, 40? Points for top 10 in stage 1 and 2. I don’t know the answer to this question. I don’t think shorter races in the same day will make enough difference.

  7. I can almost go along with this, but prefer to stay with the long race, and make it a little longer, say 125 laps to force a refueling and careful tire strategy (or allow a couple more tires). 100 laps is just not enough at Loudon. Most of us make a long trek of several hours (both ways), and one of these 100 lappers can be over in a little over an hour. But it is true, the first 75 laps are to see who will survive, then it’s a sprint.

    As far as stages go, I still don’t see the need to stop the race at the end of each stage. Just keep racing and award the points or whatever for leading at the end of the stages. No stopping the race. Let stoppages be due to legit cautions, but hang a few of theses carrots through out the race to hopefully break up the pacing segment. Make it some bonus points and/or perhaps 🤔 financial. Perhaps divide up the purse so the winner of Stage 1 gets 20%, Stage 2 gets 20%, and the winner of Stage 3 gets 60% and the official win. This could disrupt the racers that hang back and pace until go time.

    That’s the point of the lucky dog, to get the lapped cars to try to race back onto the lead lap, it’s a race in the race incentive.

  8. Shawn stated the following;

    “As far as the angle of track management and their reservations, one could surmise the track would not want to pay to full purses for the events. Easy fix. Take the purse that is set right now for 100-lap events and split it up 50-50 for the two events. What’s wrong with that? Doesn’t cost the track anything more to put on the event right?”

    If you split the purse 50% for the first 50 and 50% for the second 50 that just may work.

    Maybe add a bonus if a driver wins both segments? Say 5k? Talk about creating excitement. These guys will be driving their asses off for that.

    What do you think Shawn?

  9. Jimmy King says

    How about four 25 lap races with half-way “competition” cautions in each? Instead of a single lucky dog give all lapped cars their laps back every caution. Alternate every 25 lap race running the track forwards than backwards. Let’s really “create” some excitement. 100 laps of modifieds at NHIS isn’t enough; let’s really manipulate the racing like the national series. Let’s have a playoff system for the championship while we’re at it.

  10. If you award points for each individual event, maybe add bonus points say 10-20 to any driver that wins both events. These guys will come loaded for bear if you did that along with the bonus 💰.

  11. Earl,
    I think a bonus for winning both events would be a popular thing.

  12. Jimmy King,
    The column doesn’t suggest anything manipulative or adding “gimmicks” to a race. Simply states two shorter features would be better than the single 100 lap feature. Which part of having two points paying races is a gimmick? Also, it’s been 14 years since the name of the track was changed from New Hampshire International Speedway to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Interestingly, being stuck in the past and wanting everything to stay just the same is part of what I think is hurting things. I understand most Modified fans like to think 90 percent of the tickets sold on Saturday are for people going there to solely watch the Modifieds. News flash: That’s just a myth that unfortunately grows further from the truth with each passing year. Trust me, the track didn’t drop the September event because they were selling too many tickets. The race went away because fans weren’t showing up. I was in the infield at the halfway point of the Xfinity Series race Saturday and there wasn’t any noticeable difference in the crowd size then compared to what was in those same seats for the Modified Tour event.

  13. Earl,
    Absolutely you award points for each event. This is two totally sepearate events on the schedule, they just happen to take place on the same day.

  14. Jimmy King says

    NHIS used to have 2 Cup races a year where tickets were scarce. That was with more grandstands BTW. Splitting a 100 lap race into 2 races with an inverted start, all cars starting the second race on the same lap, all teams allowed to presumably change tires and make adjustments to their cars(therefore taking any in-race strategy out of play), and paying points for both races is absolutely manipulating a 100 lap race. It is creating a two “stage” race with an exceptionally long competition yellow. How has all of NASCAR’s changes to create excitement to the national series worked out? NHIS is down to 1 Cup race, grandstands have been removed, and tickets are being given away. Maybe I am a crusty old fan who doesn’t like change but I know several like me who used to fill NHIS twice a year who wouldn’t go back all expenses paid. Any type of race in its purest form is quite simple, the race is a certain distance and the team that figures out how to get there first is the winner. Other formats corrupt this very basic concept. A race with several cautions? Figure it out. Long green flag run? Figure it out. Lose a lap? Figure it out. Every lap means something; no mulligans. I don’t agree but if 100 laps is too long than run 50 laps period. At least it would be an actual race.

  15. Jimmy King,
    Do you also still stand outside your Blockbuster waiting to rent some movies to watch on your VCR? Times change.

  16. Jimmy King says

    Put it up for your next poll. It will be interesting to see the results. No reason to insult me though, just because I don’t agree with your column. Too much of that these days.

  17. Edward C says

    Hi Shawn,
    I love the idea. If not at Loudon, how about the season ending race at Thompson at the World Series. I have gone to Thompson every for last 13 years. I often leave early because it’s follow the leader. Something should be done to build excitement.

  18. James Scott says

    I think adding 25 laps would be good. Adding another race would cost these guys to much. The thing to do would be poll the owners and drivers. Loudon would be magical under the lights especially for the Mods oh well different subject for a different day

  19. Shawn wrote, “Absolutely you award points for each event. This is two totally separate events on the schedule, they just happen to take place on the same day.”

    Shawn, if the purse is split 50/50 between the two “events”, the start of the second “race” is inverted from the results of the first “race”, then the two “events” are not totally separate. It’s still looking like a 100 lapper with an xfinity race during the looooong competition caution. ⚠️ ⛔️ Giving out points for each segment like they are standalone events is just giving away lots of points that day.

    I maintain that the given race (make it 125 laps) should have carrots 🥕 at 40-40-125 laps. Not bonuses, but a portion of the total race points and purse. 👛 👜. I’ll suggest 25% – 25% – 50% of the event purse and points awarded at those gates. The winner at the end gets the trophy and perhaps a bonus. This would put an end to those that pace back in the top 10, saving their stuff for go time.

    I absolutely agree with you that the Loudon races play out the same almost every time. The first 75 laps are a gamble to see who survives, what idiots take themselves and others out, when to refuel and put on fresh tires, etc., all leading up to the final sprint to the 🏆 🏁. Quite often, several contenders are taken out in the early 75, and that sadly has value, for it determines who will be competing for the 🏆 🏁.

    We need to distribute the purse throughout the race. This would eliminate the in-race posturing of getting ready for the all-or-nothing spring race at the end. This will force cars to race to two other gates within the race, effectively making the one race a concatenation of three (or for) sprints.

    Sometimes that long green can be rather boring and appear like a huge waste of racing gasoline and rubber, but it doesn’t happen that often. Idiocy usually happens more often. It does cause stress to those that understand that there will be a gamble on taking tires and/or gasoline. JBon sputtered at the end on fumes. To me, I knew that was a factor and it was exciting. To most others, they had no clue.

    Many years ago, I think a Loudon race went wire-to-wire, or maybe only had one meaningless caution very early, and Mike Stefanik won. It was thrilling wondering if the tires would last and who would make it on gas, or if there was a late caution, would they take on tires, gas, or try to make two pit stops on the one yellow. The common fan does not know or understand any of that is possible or in play.

    About the only incentive going on throughout the race nowadays is the bonus for leading the most laps, and because parity sucks, that bonus goes to the same 2 or 3 cars. I don’t think the “race” for leading the most laps bonus is ever close. That backs up my point to incentivize inter-race gates rather heavily to force competing early in the race.

    But then, if the general racing public were to be educated in all that is going on would go a long way to make them understand that even a long green is exciting because the implications it presents to a potential late caution flag and the pit stop.

  20. Jimmy King,

    Not trying to insult you, just trying to illustrate that you’re living in the past. The fact that you still refer to the track as “NHIS” speaks volumes to that fact. Evolution is part of growth. Change happens.

    As far as putting a poll on this site, that wouldn’t actually be a fair representation of the matter entirely. This a website heavily trafficked by Whelen Modified Tour fans. The results would obviously be skewed. If I put up a poll asking who is your favorite driver, Ryan Preece or Chris Beuscher I’d be willing to bet Ryan Preece wins by a landslide on this site. Does that mean it’s a fair representation of the popularity of each of them across the realm of motorsports? Absolutely not. This is isn’t a matter about making or keeping the current fan base happy, but rather about growing the ticket base at NHMS. In that regard it’s a topic that’s about attracting new fans, which the series is not doing, as indicated by the stagnant or dropping ticket sales at most venues.

    In a global sense, the series is not growing. The car count average this season is on pace to be the worst in the history of the series. In 2021 there are only four short track operators (Stafford, Riverhead, Lancaster and Oswego) that were even interested in bringing the series into their tracks. At the same time, other Tour Type Modified efforts are growing, as indicated by car counts for the Tri-Track Open Modified Series and the Open 80 events at Stafford Speedway. That’s not a good sign. New Hampshire Motor Speedway dropped one event and was very close to dropping the series altogether. The fact is, status quo is not growing the series.

    You can believe all the myths about how the majority of the crowd at NHMS on Saturday was there to see the Modified Tour. That’s not true. It’s not even close to true. All you need to do is look at the attendance in 2018, 2019 and 2020 for the Musket events to realize the Whelen Modified Tour doesn’t really draw as well as a lot of people think in Loudon. Trust me, the event wasn’t dropped because of overwhelming ticket sales. And the July event was very close to being dropped too. If it’s indicative that ticket sales aren’t financially supporting the purse the race will be gone. If you continue to do the same thing every year and it doesn’t promote growth, and actually gets less and less support each year, then change has to happen.

  21. James Scott,
    How would turning one 100-lap feature into two 40-lap features costs more? Same amount of tires, same amount of fuel, same amount of travel. As far as lights, that’s not going to happen anytime soon so it’s not even an option to be raised.

  22. Jimmy King says

    I completely believe that NASCAR 15-20 years ago through today has continuously changed the racing in every way possible in the national series to make it more exciting and to attract new fans. All they have done is turned off their old time fans. The declining attendance is undeniable. As much as we hate to admit it racing is a niche sport. I believe they should focus on getting their old fans back…not this dream that they are going to gain new fans with oftentimes confusing race formats, especially for the newbie fan. And since when have any of the polls been some type of science based research? All they are is a way of spurring discussion about racing. No harm done in asking the modified fans which they would prefer: twin 50’s or the 100 lapper. We fans are your biggest customers.

  23. James Scott says

    Shawn turning it into two 40 lappers would not cost more but adding more laps does. Maybe people should continue to push the lights issue. The track Sunday after the cup race with lights on in the infield was real nice.

  24. The Atomic Punk says

    Change? Yes. Start with replacing the well funded with race car drivers.

  25. James Scott,
    Technically they could put lights up tomorrow. They just can’t use them. Because of an agreement Bob Bahre made with local communities when he was building the track, they can’t have night events. SMI management has tried to find a way out of that agreement for over a decade. It’s not happening anytime soon.

  26. My recap of the race.
    -race opens with Swanson taken out ending his day.
    -lap 16- Preece, Bonsignor as Suess attempts a dive bomb move that fails
    -lap 20 Williams in the 99 to third a bit of a surprise. 6,51, 99, 70 in a freight train.
    -lap 26- 51,6,99,70,58,7ny,44,2 nose to tail
    -lap 33-51,6,70
    -lap 41-7ny passes 70 for third. 6,51,7ny, 70 all pretty close. 7ny fastest car at that point
    -lap 45-Coby out
    -half way-51 big separation on the 6 and Preece out of shape almost touches the wall
    -35 to go-Santos to 5th is it go time the crowd wonders
    -27 to go caution comes out and everything changes. Bonsignor doesn’t pit will he have enough gas???
    -restart with 18 to go-51,82,85,44,6
    -14 to go-85,6,51. 7ny passes Santos then Santos slides up into the 7ny sending him up the track getting the position back
    -12 to go-6,85,51,7ny,44
    -8 to go Rypkema brings out the caution

    The point of this article is that if the people aren’t coming to see the race what do you lose by changing the format hoping to create more excitement. There’s no disagreeing with that.
    The article called the race formula and having enjoyed every minute of it had to watch it again to see if it was true. I just disagree. Don’t think any part of it was formula. You can start with Preece being a factor the entire race. That’s new at least in NWMT races. The 51 and 6 did swap places a few times but for a relatively short period of time. Wondering when the pit stop would happen, if Bonsignor would have enough gas, seeing Santos uncharacteristically nerf the 7ny. There was the long run and the 51 did pull away but even that was exciting knowing it would all change with a caution. And it did big time as Silk in the backup car suddenly appears and Santos positioned perfectly to strike for the win didn’t have the juice at least this day. Then the ending, a wheel hop at speed that could have been a disaster but no wreck and the guy doing the hopping stays in the hunt for the win but luck is on Preece’s side, he has a run and the rest is history. Preece may be a big name but make no mistake this was an upset his last NWMT win being in Hampton June 2018. A couple hands full of races in the interim but excepting the last race at Oswego mostly mediocre performances
    My view there’s no downside to changing the format but the fan issue is not about the race specifically. It’s about the venue, the fan base aging out and the racing just not holding the cache it once did in the entertainment spectrum.

  27. Shawn, to your point about lights… I read a couple years ago that there were attempts/thoughts to use the facility as a concert venue, which would be night time concerts, and it was kiboshed because it would require lighting and the noise factor. They are serious about not doing loud and bright night time events at the NHMS facility.

  28. Change is bad how bout the years you could fuel and take tires at the same time
    And the wins that happen when a driver never pitted where are those tires.

  29. Change is bad there on rock tires and have a gas hog spec motor

  30. GARY C DAVIS says


  31. Tri – Track is in POWER now in the NORTH EAST….Nascar is on the run and done , very few even care…. I hope Tri-Track gets races at Thompson & Stafford and Lee , They can EASILY EXPAND the schedule to 10 to 14 Races a Year ….. We LOVE the Green Flag Laps, We Love HEAT RACES ,,, !!! Please TRI – TRACK ,,, Strike while the IRON IS HOT !!! send nascar packing with all their fees, fees , Upfront purses…Overpriced yellow flag laps counting,single file racing ,, Good bye ,,, We will be fine we have TRI-TRACK . NH Mods, and OUTLAW MODs and OPEN SHOWS to attend anyway….Stafford giving the BOOT to nascar was THE BOOT HEARD AROUND THE NORTH EAST… BIGGEST story of the YEAR !!! nascar is out of Stafford is the death knell for them….No Thompson races where they once had 4 A YEAR !!!!

  32. Lengthen the race. Run 2 short stages, then a long stage that would require a pit stop.

  33. 🌈🦄2020 says

    If you think 100 is long and boring, just wait until the 300 at the world series. 😴

  34. Fast Eddie says

    I like the 100 lap race and would like to see it go to 125, reminiscent of the “Twin 125” events from years ago. However… IF there were to be a change, I would suggest twin 50’s and run it like the PASS/ACT Open earlier in the year. No restrictor plates; drivers thought it was about the same, still having to slow a little more for the corners, but I thought it was cool! Despite braking a little sooner going in, they were faster down the straights and had more power coming off and for passing. Green flag laps but with hot pitting so the pit crews’ expertise matters. Have equal points for both halves with bonus points for finishing in the top five in both events. Split the $$ between the two 40/60, to give extra incentive for the second one for everybody. Despite the short field, i thought the Open show in April was one of the better Modified races I’ve seen at NHMS.

  35. Not sure I am a fan of the change. Now as a modified fan you are forced to stay all day and sit through a long xfinity race to see the mods. On the other hand, people who just go to see the xfinity race may stay for the mods letting traffic lighten up. Perhaps the Mods make a few fans. That may be a positive. Maybe the change draws a few more cars as the need for live pit stops decreases significantly. Perhaps we get a few tri trackers to give NH a shot. The TV window is a good point only now you might be dealing with a darkness issue so I would consider that a wash. Atleast the race is currently run during a time when we have some of our longest days. I could see the fans getting restless as the xfinity race goes long and they still do all the victory lane stuff. I wish they didnt cut 20 laps what is wrong with twin 50’s or 60-40. I will take a wait attitude and see how it shakes out but I can see some positives and negatives with the changes.

  36. Then save your money and don’t go 2020!

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