Checking Out: Kevin Stuart Motorsports Shutting Down NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Team




Team owner Kevin Stuart with his No. 85 car in 2017 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

On Sept. 25 at Stafford Speedway Kevin Stuart Motorsports with driver Ron Silk celebrated a third place finish in the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings.

Less than three weeks later the team is gone from the series.

Team owner Kevin Stuart has decided to shut his Whelen Modified Tour team.

“I have no more cars,” Stuart told RaceDayCT. “Sold them. Sold the truck and trailer. Basically right now I’m done.”

Stuart, a longtime stalwart supporter of Modified racing, has fielded cars in recent years for not only Silk but also Woody Pitkat and Todd Szegedy in competition with both the Whelen Modified Tour and before that with the Modified Racing Series.

“There’s just way too much traveling,” Stuart said of the changing face of the Whelen Modifed Tour in recent years. For what they’re paying us it’s not worth it. Sometimes I feel like I’m paying for other series’ with NASCAR to operate with what I’m paying them. You look at some of these dirt payoffs. Guys get $100,000 or $50,000 for one night racing. I just don’t think it’s feasible at this time to continue doing it. I’m really busy with my work and stuff.”

Stuart has run full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour with Silk since 2019.

“I’d like to thank everybody with my team that stuck with us through the last two or three years,” Stuart said. “I can’t thank them all enough for helping us and all they do.”

Silk announced in late August that he was leaving the team to run for Haydt-Yannone Racing full-time in 2022.

“I had plenty of people who called me about driving the car, people who were going to bring money, but it just doesn’t work anymore,” Stuart said. “I just don’t want to do that anymore.”

Stuart said he is not ruling out putting together a smaller operation with a focus on running regional Tour Type Open Modified events.

“I’ll probably end up helping somebody, I just don’t know exactly what I’m going to do right now,” Stuart said. “We’ll have to see where things go.”

Silk had two victories, five top-five finishes and eight top-10’s over 14 races in 2021 for Stuart.

Silk connected with Stuart in 2017 to run the last three races of the Whelen Modified Tour season. In 2018 the team ran nine of 16 Whelen Modified Tour events together with three top-five finishes and five top-10’s.

The team went full-time together on 2019 and in the second event of the season – at South Boston (Va.) Speedway – Silk brought Kevin Stuart Motorsports its first Whelen Modified Tour victory. The team also recorded victories that year in the July event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the August event at Stafford Speedway. Silk ended up third in the series standings in 2019.

Despite only running eight of nine events in 2020, the team ended up fifth in the series standings with two victories, five top-five’s and seven top-10’s.

Kevin Stuart Motorsports is the third top-15 team in recent weeks to shut down or confirm plans to discontinue running full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2022.

Twelve teams started all 14 events on the Whelen Modified Tour in 2021.

Team owner Russell Goodale shut down his No. 46 team after nine races in 2021, leaving driver Craig Lutz looking for a new ride for 2022. In three full-time seasons with Lutz driving the Goodale owned team finished fifth (2018), fourth (2019) and fourth (2020) in the Whelen Modified Tour standings.

Eddie Harvey announced after the conclusion of the season that Doug Dunleavy would be taking over ownership of his No. 1 team with driver Woody Pitkat. All indications are that Dunleavy will not run full-time with the Whelen Modified Tour in 2022, if at all.

There is a likely chance that Doug Coby Racing could cease operations. Six-time series champion Doug Coby launched the team prior to the 2020 season. He finished third in the series standings in 2020 and fifth in 2022.

Team owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. said this past weekend that he will make a decision on how many events his team will run in 2022 after he sees the Whelen Modified Tour schedule for next year. Baldwin ran full-time this season with Jon McKennedy, who finished eighth in the series standings. McKenney will move to a newly formed team for 2022. Baldwin will have Michael Christopher Jr. in his seat for whatever Whelen Modified Tour events he runs.

Tommy Catalano ran the first 11 events of the season for his family owned team, but skipped the final three events of the 2021 season. It’s unclear what the future holds on the Whelen Modified Tour for that team.

Team owner Kevin Stuart leaves victory lane with the winner’s trophy after Ron Silk’s victory with the Modified Racing Series in 2018 at the New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Kevin Stuart looks on during a test at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2016 (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

Comments

  1. Thanks for supporting the series as long as you could. When it just doesnt make sense financially you have to move on. Its a shame to see another owner leave the series. Hopefully we can see him run an open tour type schedule in the future. You can piece together a pretty good regional schedule picking and choosing races between Whelen, tri track, MRS and the open tour type events. Honestly you could probably run every week if you wanted to. The travel wont break you which sounds like the biggest issue with most of these teams.

  2. And there it is, they keep falling like dominos……..

    Who’s next?

  3. Bill Realist says

    I have seen this before. The once great Busch north series. Most of you guys didn’t care because it wasn’t modifieds. Now nascar is coming for you. Maybe too late maybe not. Depends on what stafford and tri track do from here

  4. What Tour plans for 2022, if any, does Bob Katon have? He’s been a Tour stalwart for years, and I believe he had teamed up with Stuart in recent seasons(?).

  5. SADCAR priced themselves out with the IRON FIST wouldn’t adjust their fees, the rest is History. We all saw it coming, Turned their backs on their OLDEST DIVISION and now a Mass Exodus out of the TOUR on to OPEN SHOWS and OUTLAW SHOWS & TRI – TRACK & MRS & FAST 5 SERIES.. They burned the Owners & Drivers too many times & now it’s crumbling , Teams are dropping as fast as the Leaves on MY maple & Oak Trees…. WE tried to reason with SADCAR and they gave us the IRON FIST again. . NONE of US are surprised, we have been second or third class in their eyes too long, just wanted track licence fees from Drivers, Owners, Crew, Pit members, Upfront Purses, Fees , from Tracks etc… It’s kinda SAD for those of us who Loved the Tour and all the History that went along with it …Daytona doesn’t care about Modifieds…

  6. Stick a fork in the WMT..no track in their right mind will have a show.Music to my ears.Dont let the door hit you in the ass on the way out WMT.

  7. john meserve says

    Seems more and more likely NASCAR is pushing the drivers and the tracks to the open comp format. I think NASCAR is blowing this big time!!

  8. In the spring I put together a schedule of all the tour modified races from all the tracks and sanctioning groups and the total came to over 30. It just struck me at the time how loaded and diverse it was compared to when the NWMT was the mainstay of modified racing. Then it all played out and I’d think most would agree this past season that still has a couple notes to play was pretty darned terrific.
    Some have already weighed in on Stafford’s Sizzler move with strongly negative reactions. My view is it’s more of an “it takes a village” type of deal and there’s no way a weaker NWMT is good for tour modified fans in general.
    This isn’t really news the sale of the Stuart cars was already known. Doesn’t seem like that big a deal to me the 85 team was a full time team with championship caliber aspirations only briefly. The main value of this article is the snap shot provided of what teams have been lost or have one foot out the door. Not easy to read for those of us that think a viable NWMT is a good thing but the Hell Hounds that love nipping at the heals of the tour seem to enjoy it. The question is, is there anything positive to look forward to for 2022 with regard to the NWMT?
    The problem with the arguments against the tour is it stresses the points aspect and full time teams. It’s fair because it’s what the tour has always been about but that aspect is fading as open events gain strength.
    In 2021 Preece raced in half the events, Hirschman in three, Ronnie Williams in 6, Hossfeld in 8, Kyle Soper 5, Santos in 4, Krause in 7 and Ole Blue in 5.………..you get the idea. The Hell Hounds say see, they’re not running full time for points and the tour is dying. I say a lot of those races had great drawing power because big name part timers were dropping in and combining their star power with the regulars made for some terrific racing. True the car counts were not that strong but if you have a race with Bonsignor, Coby, Silk, Hirschman, Emerling, Santos and others how is that not compelling regardless of where Fifield might finish?
    The argument is that the NWMT events are too spread out and involve too much travel. Fine then work with that. You’re already becoming open races. Stop stressing the points and go with the flow. That being big up front purses, easy entry and stellar fields for each event encouraging locals to enter like we see at Riverhead.
    I don’t know if it’s any kind of barometer but in our little Pick-ems always have more energy when it comes to NWMT events.
    I would think needling the tour to make changes to get more current should be more popular then hoping to see them fade to irrelevance. I want to put together a comprehensive schedule next spring as good as 2021 and I can’t do it if the NWMT isn’t there to do their part.

  9. “There’s just way too much traveling,” Stuart said of the changing face of the Whelen Modifed Tour in recent years.”

    Hey NASCAR… Do you get it?????

    The Southern Tour, those guys refused to travel across the street. Yet the northern Tour gets scheduled to travel numerous times far and wide, well outside the traditional northeast.

  10. No matter where you stand with regards to the tour, the whole thing stinks. Yes, I realize I voted “0” tour events for conn in 2022.
    But it’s not what I wanted, or advocated for. It was just the response to an opinion, where it looked like something “bad” (depending on your side of the debate) was really starting to steamroll.
    I think as a business model for tracks, particularly coming out of a pandemic environment where nobody really knows (knew) what would be open or not in 2020-2021, it has led to this “perfect storm” of change. It is hard for even the “tour stalwart tracks” IMO, to take that huge gamble.
    As Doug has pointed out, now streaming and subsequent streaming rights, a factor.
    Throw in that the tour now needs to go farther and farther out for shows, the “compensation “ at any tour event now becomes less for the competitors.
    Been to the store lately? Had anything done? Gassed up your vehicle? Man oh man, things are expensive! So how can these teams stay viable? Sure, a few, “rich mans “ hobby, as we have heard before.
    Enter, the terrific tri- track shows. A “tour/sanction, if you will. An alternative for fans, owners, drivers. Now nascar, not the only viable, premiere series in town. The MRS, still not dead, and a lot of us had a fork in them. Might they resurge?
    Opens. Ok, honestly, a satisfying “fix” for my modified lust. But really, at the end of the day, I like a tour, or an organized series with point fund incentives, ect. I think the fields stay stronger, even during a drivers “off runs,” to keep their point status in tact, or stay competitive, over a “season”. For me, I feel there is more “continuity” in the competitors that will continually show up to these events to support a series as well. I just like that “feel” over the opens.
    I am not a fan of the tour being lost up here, if it indeed comes to that. I think this series certainly sets the bar, even though there are less and less top teams. I think a lot of knowledge comes from that tour, (and vice versa) that filters down through all series as well.
    I for one, do not want the tour to go. Stafford certainly has fired a shot across the bow with this news. But with owners leaving, the apparent lack of New England dates (I know, it’s early in silly season to accurately predict) it does not look good. I think the only way it’s saved in new England, is that nascar needs to “bend” a little bit. Unfortunately for the tour supporters, we know nascars apparent track record on being user friendly. It appears to be not very good, or “inflexible”, to say the least. Just sad news for modified owners and fans, IMO. If it indeed goes, I’m blaming nascar, and not the tracks. (Not that that makes any difference what I think about that at the end of the day, won’t matter at that point) Many tracks up here have supported nascar for years. Perfect storm year in a negative way this year, with this news. It will be interesting to see how nascar spins this season for sure. See where it shakes out. Just an opinion.

  11. Another team shutting down. Such a shame, as they were a competitive team.

  12. wmass01013 says

    I love how everyone thinks because Tri Track had 1 Race at Stafford with 54 cars at the END of a pandemic yr means that ALLL FUTURE non NASCAR races will have 50 plus cars, didnt quite WORK at Thompson this yr did it?????, Willl Bennett/Darling go beyond 6 races,, DONT forget the new heat race rules for Tri Track, MRS is alive but dont forget some issues that seem to crop up there! YES OPEN SHOWS SOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH BETTER Everyone is giddy including SHAWN, but you are NOT JUST losing WMT TEAMS BUT TEAMS in general, but hey the check is in the mail right!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Mike Stone says

    When will Nascar wake up? The MRS was started because Claremont decided to go to SK engine rules. The weekly competitors had both time and money invested in their motor programs. Riverside fell at the end of 99. Monadnock cut the Modifieds in favor of Prostocks in 93. Not everyone is interested in traveling all over hell and back to race. Modifieds are a Northern tradition. If I am correct, Bill France was from Massachusetts. More power to MRS and the Open Mod Series. Nascar has forgotten their oldest and best series!

  14. Wmass01013,

    You come across like someone who is angry and disappointed to see a bad trend continuing with the series so you’re going to channel that anger – we see the ALL CAPS VENOM – into having a tantrum and spewing your seething wrath on everybody else.

    I hardly think “everyone” thinks all non-NASCAR Tour Type Open events will attract 50-plus cars based on what happened in the Tri-Track event last year at Stafford. I actually don’t see very many people at all who have said anything like that.

    I don’t think anyone is giddy to see a good team with good people going away. I’m definitely not giddy. And if you think my response to another commenter here somehow represents me being giddy, you’re trying too hard. I responded here to a person who tried to spread disinformation to help sugarcoat reality. Sorry, but if you come on here and start bragging about how great the Whelen Modified Tour banquet is and you use insults about a short track event sponsorship to try to say the Whelen Modified Tour teams have a better chance at attracting sponsors, well yeah I’m going to respond with real facts to point out that the sugarcoated BS is just that. I’m not about to apologize for that. But yes, do keep on telling us about how great that Whelen Modified Tour banquet is and how all the teams on the series are having to turn down sponsorship because there’s too many companies begging to be on their cars.

  15. For once, and I am gagging saying this, but I agree with dareals post.

  16. wmass01013, do us all a favor and air your grievances with NASCAR, not us. Just admit it, they are the central issue here. And if I was TTOMS, Stafford Opens, MRS or Thompson Outlaws, I would be more that happy to take advantage of NASCAR’s stupidity by amending the rules and welcome the competitors with open arms.

    You can’t see the forrest through the trees!

  17. wmass01013 says

    Ok i willl write all in non caps to not offend or show anger, i am not angry, you keep spouting off that the race and point fund payouts by Nascar are Fake or something, the check is in the mail?, I didnt know you owned a WMT team and are waiting for a point fund payout Shawn, as far as the spin and win again you know he was talking about Rocco Last Weekend at Thompson, you know the Tech factors at Open or Tri track shows are not nearly the same as Nascar, i have stated before all tracks can choose the path they desire for races, i dont think it worked too well for Thompson this yr but i know Give them time its only first fulll year with 12-15 cars and 25 for the 300, Maybe Stafford 2022 Spring Sizzler will be SRX like with a huge crowd and great racing, everytime a track or team says no more WMT, its Nascar’s fault, they don’t care about Modifieds, they don’t pay as much as Opens????? really?? Do i think everything Nascar does is great? Hell no but all this blah blah about it being better without Nascar, Ok

    Earl i didn’t know only Your Opinions matter, what Nascar Stupidity? they charge fees, sure i agree they are high, the travel? hey if u want a 14 or more race schedule and if tracks not in Ct want a race, no we cant do that, too far away, 40 plus mods show up at New Smyrna last yr for Speed weeks yet NASCAR oooo caps, schedules a WMT race and oh my god the travel to Fla, no way!!!!
    Steve says
    Last years Tri Track event was the biggest modified field they have had in a long time. No reason why this event is even bigger that that – Hopefully it will be Heats, Consi, Non-qualifier race and 80 green laps – has to pay at least 15k to win… yeah ok

    Rich says
    Doug Stafford had 50 cars last fall for a open event, yes it was a Tri Track partner race but the 50 cars went because its Stafford, TriTrack has never seen those counts before or since. The first open last yr a weekend race was 37 cars, that was with a no spec motor rule. Now that Specs are allowed and the Sizzler is a weekend event it will be close to the 50 car count of last fall.

  18. Earl wrote, “For once, and I am gagging saying this, but I agree with dareals post.”

    Earl, you posted that same thing several times. Definitely not the first time.

    😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝😝

  19. wmass writes;

    “Earl i didn’t know only Your Opinions matter”.

    Now there is the pot trying to call the kettle black!
    You certainly have no problem pushing your opinions on readers of this site.

  20. Again money is the problem. These shows need to pay $100,000 to win and need to be limited to 30 starter who are franchised with a good tv deal.

  21. Mr. Wilson, you realize this conversation is about Modified racing?

  22. Walter A Fike says

    Will the last team in the Whelan modified series turn off the lites shesssss what a mess

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