Second Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup To Be Decided At Claremont

The second edition of the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup ends this Saturday night at Claremont Motorsports Park with the running of the Clash at Claremont 150 (8:30 p.m. ET on FloRacing).

The program, created by JDV Productions’ owner Josh Vanada to provide additional incentives to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and local teams to compete in events at Claremont, Lee USA Speedway and Monadnock Speedway, will pay out more than $8,000 Saturday evening.

The series within the series has been well received by drivers and teams the last two years and Vanada has been thrilled with the response to the program thus far, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t tweaks that can be made to further improve it.

RELATED: Entry list for Saturday’s Clash at Claremont 150

“I think it exceeded my expectations in year one and I think we’ve continued the momentum of drawing in the local racers into the field for the Tour,” Vanada said. “I think it has been enormously successful. One of the things I want to look at in the future is how we are distributing the funds. We might look at distributing them a little bit more evenly throughout the field.

“I think it’s done exactly what we set out to do, which was draw in local teams. I think it’s also ignited a pretty passionate modified fan base in New Hampshire.”

Saturday’s race at Claremont is only the fourth race in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history at the facility, which opened in 1947 as a dirt track. The series first visited in 1985, then again in 2007 before returning last year.

Bring able to bring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour back to Claremont, which is located a short 11-mile drive from one of Whelen Engineering’s home bases in Charlestown, New Hampshire, has been one of the most enjoyable parts of the entire program for Vanada.

“For me, it’s probably one of the highlights,” Vanada said. “The comments we get from people, whether it’s at the race track or notes they send us…the Modified Tour, NASCAR’s oldest division and the premier modified asphalt touring series in the United States, comes to their short track and they get to watch the best modified drivers in the country duel it out at their home track.

“I find that incredibly fulfilling. It brings joy to them and they get to see the Tour in their backyard when they hadn’t done that in 15 years.”

Entering Saturday’s race at Claremont, Doug Coby leads the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup standings with 87 points. Jon McKennedy is officially second with 84 points, but he will not be in the field for Saturday’s race.

That means Matt Hirschman, the defending Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup champion, is Coby’s closest pursuer with 83 points entering Saturday’s event.

Vanada believes of the two, the odds are in Hirschman’s favor simply because the driver of the No. 60 PeeDee Motorsports Modified has more experience at Claremont than Coby.

“I’m going to say Hirschman and the reason is I think Hirschman has got more laps around Claremont than Doug has,” Vanada said. “Matt has competed more regularly in open competition and had gone there prior to us bring the Tour back.

“With that being a unique race track and having essentially two completely different corners, I think experience is going to pay off in the end.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Vanada said they’re already researching ways to improve what has thus far been a successful program.

“I think we’ve proved the concept,” Vanada said. “We’re looking forward to seeing how we can improve that and bring in some additional money thanks to our partnership with Whelen to the Modified Tour and help to bring what I consider to be the premier asphalt modified touring series in the country to short tracks in New Hampshire.”

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