Team Folding Leaves Reigning Champ Jon McKennedy Off The Whelen Modified Tour

Jon McKennedy celebrates winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship last October at Martinsville Speedway (Photo: Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

The reigning driver’s champion on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is apparently out of the series as of this morning. 

Jon McKennedy announced through social media late Tuesday night that his race team – owned by Tim and Sheryll Lepine – is folding. 

Reached early Wednesday morning, McKennedy said he did not want to comment any further than what was posted on social media at this time.

McKennedy sits fifth in the Whelen Modified Tour standings after six of 19 events this year. 

McKennedy won the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship. It was a unique season for the series in which the driver’s championship and owner’s championship were split. Tommy Baldwin Jr., with drivers Doug Coby, Jimmy Blewett and Mike Christopher Jr. splitting time with the team, won the 2023 Whelen Modified Tour owner’s championship. 

McKennedy had been driving for Baldwin prior to the 2022 season on the Whelen Modified Tour. The pair parted ways and McKennedy announced in Oct. 2021 that he would drive on the Whelen Modified Tour for a new team owned by the Lepine family

McKennedy had one win, seven top-five’s and 13 top-10’s in 2022 on the Whelen Modified Tour on the way to the series championship last year. 

The 2022 Whelen Modified Tour season went to the final race with the driver’s championship up for grabs between McKennedy, Justin Bonsignore, Ron Silk and Eric Goodale. McKennedy’s 12th place finish in a wildly dramatic event for all the title contenders clinched the series title by six points over Silk. Eric Goodale ended up third in the driver’s standings, nine points behind McKennedy. 

A Facebook post on McKennedy’s athlete page late Tuesday read: “Due to unforeseen circumstances the 79 team is closing its doors. Just want to thank my car owners Tim and Sheryll Lepine, my crew and Middlesex Interiors for everything.” 

McKennedy started off the 2023 season with a 24th place finish in the season opening event at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway on Feb. 11, but has had top-10 finishes in each series event since then and had a string of three consecutive podium finishes. He was ninth at Richmond Raceway (March 31), second at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. (May 6), third at Riverhead (N.Y) Raceway (May 21), second at Lee USA in Lee, N.H. (May 27) and seventh at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway (June 10). He was 33 points behind standings leader Ron Silk with 13 events remaining this season.

McKennedy has 97 Whelen Modified Tour starts dating back to 2006. He has two career victories, 26 top-fives and 53 top-10’s and four pole awards. McKennedy was one of 12 drivers who had started all six Whelen Modified Tour events in 2023.

Away from the Whelen Modified Tour, McKennedy won the Tour Type Modified feature at the Northeast Classic at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on April 15. It was the second consecutive win in the event for the team. McKennedy was also sixth in the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Speedway on May 13. 


  1. This stinks to hear, a big loss for the tour to lose a full time front runner. Hopefully he can land in another seat for the remaining events. Does this also mean the no more super as well?

  2. Jon is my favorite driver- Tonight is going to be my friends first ever modified race/ race in general he ever attended and it will be at my favorite track- Thompson Speeday. Unfortunatley, there will be no 79 bummer. Just my luck with trying to bring new people/friends to racetracks. I wonder if the Casella’s 25 team would field the 2nd car for Jon in the future.

  3. Perhaps Jon should approach the 01 team and ask to be the driver, and bring some crew to work on the car. The car appears to have all the best parts, just needs a knowledgeable crew to set it up and a driver to drive it. Perhaps Missy would like to be an owner and leave running the car and driving to Jon.

    Looks like TBR has a very strong option for the 7NY when needed.

  4. Tell you what, it’s a bummer for sure but it got McKennedy a championship. Championships are a forever type things. No shoulda-woulda-coulda you’re in the record books as a champ forever. And say what you will about the tour they beat a few really good teams in the process in a season long, race by race slug fest.

  5. Fast Eddie says

    Completely agree Tyler, I’ve seen him win in every Modified series he’s run in, and he has at least 1 championship in each as well. Also an ISMA champion and dominate in the NESS races he ran for Supers. ANd I like your idea, the Cassella team has had two cars out for multiple events, hopefully he gets some seat time somewhere, talented driver that knows how to set up cars as well.

  6. Well this is certainly disappointing. There were only 5 or 6 cars on the tour that compete for the win regularly. Now there is one less. Definitely sad news.for competitiveness of Whelen tour races going forward. Any idea why the team decided to fold a third of the way through the season. I am thinking the economics of running the tour isn’t a money making venture or at best a break even venture even for a championship winning car. Some good points though, Jon McKennedy did secure a championship with this team and they cant take that accomplishment away from them.

  7. David Fisher says

    Ole Blue?

  8. That really sucks for Jon. Just goes to show how unsure life can be. Hopefully he lands a ride that allows him to remain a competitive fixture on the tour. This is also a hit for the tour, where car counts have been on a steady decline in recent times. The loss of a top tier team is a major hit.

  9. When was the last time a tour race was held and cars were sent home having not qualified for a 26 car field?

  10. Suitcase Jake says

    What…?? they had a rough night at Stafford …. Maybe things got heated after the race ??.. Money was not the issue , of that I am sure… Time will tell…Always a favorite of mine as you guys have heard many many times… He will land somewhere… Same owner / sponsor for the Super so i guess we won’t see Jon at Thompson …. Too bad they had what I thought was a solid team all around… story will unfold….as they always do… He’s too talented a Driver to be on the sidelines for long…See what happens…as they say….This was a Shocker for sure….

  11. Lapped Traffic says

    He’ll land on his feet and his phone is probably ringing off the hook with offers. He needs the right team, and unfortunately they tried and the 79 team just wasn’t heading in the right direction.

  12. David Fisher,
    Boehler Racing Enterprises has two drivers (Jake Johnson and Bryan Narducci) already slated to run the final 13 events of the season.

  13. Lapped Traffic,
    I’m in no way knocking Jon’s talent or ability to drive a Modified, there’s no doubt he can get it done behind the wheel, I’m just curious what fantasy world of Northeast Modified racing you’re currently exisiting in where there are apparently loads of quality team owners looking to fill seats in their cars?

  14. Too bad the Tinio 44 doesn’t run more races. Now that Santos is living in Indiana that could be another team interested in Jon. But I doubt it.

  15. Driver X says

    What if he asks Tom Rodgers to rent a car for at least Riverhead. Its a possibility cause I know Tommy usually helpspeople in a pinch like that.

  16. Now that the shock is wearing off thoughts may turn to why. Combing through every little kernel of information on the Lepines, McKennedy and the team that’s public there’s no dots to connect that end in this announcement. One thing does seem highly likely is that McKennedy was blindsided by this.
    The “falling out” speculation in the mix but not the most likely reason in my view. A short term business money crunch, personal issues that require a priority reset stat that has nothing at all to do with the team all possibilities.
    The Lepine’s support for McKennedy started with the Supers so this in more then ending a short three year tour modified stint. It’s a whole team with people, a lot of great equipment, plans for the season all gone seemingly over night. That’s a lot of disruption and I’m hoping the last thing it is, is a falling out.
    Dozens of well wishers saying or implying some equally great opportunity will come up for McKennedy. That’s our job as fans to be wonderfully deluded in the face of the brutal realities we full well know. There will be more wins for sure for the guy. The greatest likelihood is that they’ll be in his roots the Supers. Maybe some spot duty in the MMTTS or various opens with success illusive. As for a similar NWMT unicorn of an opportunity coming up sure he could do a full Ron Silk. More likely it will end in a Dowling or a Solomito or if he’s really lucky a Coby.

  17. Simone de Beauvoir says

    Perhaps Jon should approach the daRealBicylceTeam team and ask to be the rider, and bring some crew to work on the bike. The bike appears to have all the best parts, just needs a knowledgeable crew to set it up and a rider to ride it. Perhaps daRealGenius would like to be an owner and leave running the car and driving to Jon.

  18. FYI, Santos has been living in Indiana for many, many years. Perhaps decades.

  19. Lapped Traffic says

    Shawn – I think it is few and far between with good teams out there and it may not be at Riverhead where you see him, but you’ll see him again this year! May be back in the 79 if they can work things out… He’s a race car driver, he’ll be racing soon! JMO

  20. I find it interesting, a couple days since this bomb dropped and still no mention of it on the Nascar Roots mod tour page

  21. Lapped Traffic says

    Any word on McKennedy getting back behind the wheel?

  22. Lapped Traffic,
    Doesn’t sound like anything is coming together as of today.

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