Whelen Modified Tour Richmond Notebook: Ryan Newman To Make Return To Series Friday

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Ryan Newman (Photo: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

The Rocket Man is coming.

Ryan Newman, an 18-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, is returning to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this week for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 at Richmond Raceway (6:25 p.m. ET on FloRacing).

The 2008 Daytona 500 winner has made 30 previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts and scored four wins, two each at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway.

However, Friday’s race will be his debut with the new SS Racing team that is co-owned by veteran racer Hermie Sadler and Virginia Senator Bill Stanley. Newman will pilot the No. 39 car, which is being maintained by Phil Stefanelli of PSR Products. Neal Cantor will act as crew chief for the team.

This will hardly be Newman’s first rodeo at Richmond. Over his lengthy NASCAR Cup Series career, he has made 39 starts at the 0.75-mile, D-shaped oval. In those starts, he scored one victory in 2003 as well as eight top-five and 20 top-10 finishes.

He also competed in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s return to Richmond last September, driving the No. 53 for Mike Curb. He led six laps during that race, ultimately finishing fourth.

That race at Richmond last year was one of three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts for Newman last season, and it was also his best finish of the season with the Tour.

Without a NASCAR Cup Series opportunity this season following his departure from RFK Racing, Newman previously stated he planned to focus more on grassroots racing this year in his free time.

While it’s currently unknown how many NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts Newman will make this season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him compete in several more events later this year.

Santos joins Richmond field in pursuit of victory

Anytime Bobby Santos III shows up at a race track, he should be considered a contender to win.

That’s no different this week at Richmond, where the 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion is making his first start of the season with the Tour.

Though he rarely makes more than a handful of starts each season, Santos always bring his best when he competes with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

In 153 series starts since 2001, Santos has earned 19 victories. He hasn’t run the full series schedule since 2016 and has only contested the entire Tour schedule four times during his career. One of those seasons was the aforementioned 2010 campaign, when he piloted the famous Mystic Missile No. 4 owned by Robert Garbarino to four victories and the series championship.

He’ll be piloting the No. 44 for the Tinio family Friday at Richmond, the same No. 44 he has driven to 11 of his 19 series victories during his impressive career.

Santos hasn’t visited victory lane since the 2020 season, when, while driving as a teammate to Tour veteran Dave Sapienza, he led the final 10 laps at New Hampshire. Last year he made four starts in the Tinio No. 44, but only managed a best finish of sixth at New York’s Oswego Speedway.

Likely unsatisfied with his efforts last year, Santos should be considered a serious contender when the green flag waves Friday evening.

Can Eric Goodale rise to the occasion?

Prior to last September’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at Richmond, Eric Goodale had never laid eyes on the popular Virginia short track.

The native of Riverhead, New York, a winner of four Tour races during his career, has no problem admitting he was caught a little off guard at how quickly he wore out his tires during the race last season. The result was an 13th-place finish, hardly an ideal result for the 36-year-old.

“Last year was the first time I have ever been there. Never even seen a Cup race or anything there. So it was a totally new experience for me,” Goodale told FloRacing this week. “It was definitely different from thinking I knew what I was getting into watching racing on TV. It was certainly a different experience than what I was expecting.”

While Goodale struggled last year at Richmond, he has enjoyed success in the past at the larger venues on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule. In fact, of his four series victories, three have come on tracks a half-mile in size or larger.

“You need a little bit more finesse in your driving,” Goodale said about racing at larger tracks like Richmond. “It’s not such hard on the gas, hard on the break like I grew up learning at Riverhead Raceway. You were either or full on the gas to get off the corner or smashing on the brake to get your car slowed down to make the corner.

“It’s just a lot of foot work and finesse with the steering wheel that you really need to pay attention to when you go to these bigger tracks. If you’re just a little harder on the brakes at corner entry, that can kill two or three tenths off your lap. If you’re a little too hard on the gas with a track like Richmond and you’re burning the rubber up off the rear tires, you get 20, 25, 30 laps into a run and you are hanging on out there.”

After his experience last year at Richmond, Goodale believes he and his GAF Roofing team have a setup prepared that will help them contend for a victory after 150 laps Friday night.

“Ultimately I think we’ve got a good plan to go back there and be very competitive and compete for a win,” Goodale said.


  • Donny Lia makes his return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this weekend driving the Ole Blue No. 3 for Boehler Racing Enterprises. It’s one of an expected six starts Lia will make for the team this year.
  • Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore enters Friday’s race at Richmond on the back foot after a mechanical issue forced him out of the opener in February at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. He led eight laps last year at Richmond and will look to get back on the winning track during the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150.
  • Max McLaughlin makes his return to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Friday in Mike Curb’s No. 77. It’ll be a busy weekend for the 22-year-old, who is also scheduled to race a big-block modified Saturday at Orange County Fair Speedway, a 0.625-mile dirt track in Middletown, New York.


  1. Stuart A Fearn says

    This is shaping up to be a hell of a race! Don’t forget to tune into Flo Friday night, early at 630

  2. So good to see Newman driving again! His remaining in the Cup Series so long was the primary reason I remained so faithful to watching cup each week. Plus, he appreciated the mods enough to drive them whenever they had a race at a cup track. I would love to see him at a mod event anywhere with any organization, be it NWMT, Tri-Track, in the way Bobby Labonte runs. I would expect better results, though I am biased.

  3. Hope he’s not cheating again

  4. Nerfbarsmurf says

    Even with the improved show from the Next Gen cup cars. I expect the groundpounders to put on the best race of the weekend at Richmond! I got three Drivers representing Wall Stadium. I’m sure for most of you your drivers may be at the Ice Breaker. Anyway racing season is finally here up north!

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