Dissecting The State Of The Whelen Modified Tour – Part Five 

RaceDayCT has recently spoken with a number of the biggest names involved with the series to get their opinions on the state and health of the division and specifically look at some of the issue that most especially plagued the series last season.

We asked a specific list of six questions to each of the following people: 

  • NASCAR managing director of weekly and touring series’ Joey Dennewitz
  • Reigning and two-time series champion Ron Silk 
  • Six-time series champion Doug Coby
  • Three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore 
  • 17-year series veteran and eight-time series winner Matt Hirschman
  • 10-year series veteran Dave Sapienza
  • Championship winning car owner Tyler Haydt
  • Championship winning car owner Ken Massa
  • Championship winning car owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. 
  • Former team owner, crew chief and current chassis builder and team consultant Rob Fuller

Part Five Question: Do you think the 2024 schedule is better than the 2023 schedule? 

Tyler Haydt – “It was at Oswego [Speedway on Sept. 2, 2023] when I met with [Whelen Modified Tour series director Jimmy Wilson]. We were in the middle of all these races then. I was like: ‘This is going to be no good for me man. I’ve got kids with soccer games and I’m just one guy. All these guys that come with us to help have kids, they’ve got other things to do and we’re having a race every week, week after week after week after week. We’re all working people.’ I think they listened and I think they did a better job. I don’t know if they did it on purposes or if it happened on accident or how it happened, but I do think it’s better this year for sure with a little bit less races and a little more spread.”

Tommy Baldwin Jr. – “Sometimes it’s about, be careful what you wish for. We got in a position where a lot of people wanted to go to different places and [Wilson] went ahead and got us some different places in different states and people complained that we were in different places in different states. I think they did a good job with the schedule keeping the Martinsville’s and the Richmond’s and the New Smyrna’s, the one’s that get a lot of attention. Unfortunately there was some really good race tracks we raced at like Lee [USA Speedway] and Langley [Speedway] and Wall Stadium that got taken off.”

Dave Sapienza – “Yes. It’s shorter. That’s better right now. Back in the day when there was 17, 18, 19 Tour races, you didn’t have as much going on in society and you didn’t have this cost of living that we have now. It wasn’t as crazy. Right now everything is crazy. The cost of everything nowadays is just astronomical.”

Rob Fuller – “100 percent. Going back to Thompson [Speedway for the Icebreaker] is huge. Getting back to Stafford [Speedway] would be huge, but I think there’s ego’s in the way in that one. But to get back to where the Modifieds belong is huge. I don’t think we need [Langley Speedway], I don’t think we need to go to [Jennerstown Speedway].”

Ron Silk – “I think we all had the same complaints. It was too many races and it was too many races stacked right on top of each other. I think this year’s schedule is much better. There’s very few back-to-back weekends. I think [Jimmy Wilson] and everybody in NASCAR did everything could to give us some spacing between the races, which certainly helps. We’re traveling pretty far to these races and I know those are the races where the tracks want us and we need to get where the tracks want to have us. But to turn around and go from Virginia and the next week you’re going to upstate NY, stuff like that, that was a for everybody to deal with. So I think they made a major improvement there.”

Ken Massa – “I do. Sometimes it helps a guy like me, who has full-time help, but it hurts the other guys and that’s another thing that hurt the count.”

Joey Dennewitz – “I would imagine that is like asking which one of your kids is better. I would say that, listening to teams and fans and sponsors and other stakeholders in the sport is the job of NASCAR and is a never-ending pursuit. Just like safety is no destination, a perfect schedule is not a destination either. I don’t care if it’s talking about the NASCAR Cup Series or Formula One or the Whelen Modified Tour. The schedule will always be evolving. The perfect schedule does not exist. I believe that what we’ve done is improvement, but I would believe that next year will be another improvement. That being said, I don’t think I can say one is better than the other. I think it’s just always an evolving conversation.”

Doug Coby – “I think the balance for the 2024 schedule is a lot better than it was in 2023. I had pretty strong opinions about 2023 and some of the places that we went and more so the timing of the schedule. I wasn’t thrilled that we had a ton of travel races for the Connecticut and Long Island based teams basically from Labor Day onward. Kids are back in school, people have other commitments that come up in the fall. It always really worked when we got our traveling out of the way in the spring or with summer events. I thought there was a little bit of lack of a lack of balance in the travel schedule in 2023 and I think that’s been improved for 2024. You can’t fix everything in one season, but I think the changes that were made to the schedule creates a little bit better balance there.”

Part Two – In a general sense, how do you view the health of the series overall?

Part Three – Do the current series participation numbers worry you?

Part Four – Do you think the series needs to look at an even shorter schedule to help participation numbers grow? 

Part Six- Last year there seemed to be quite a drastic fall off in performance level from the top few teams to the other teams that ultimately ended up in the top-10 of the series standings. What are your thoughts on parity within the series? 

Part Seven – The ladder of Modified racing used to be that if you were a driver who was competitive in something such as an SK Modified the goal was ultimately to get to the Whelen Modified Tour. Now it seems the Modified Tour doesn’t hold that same place on the pedestal for many like it used to for a lot of guys coming up. Why do you think that is and how do you change that, or do you think it’s something that can’t be changed at this point? 


  1. Get the pathological psychotic egomaniacs in a room, get a good bottle or two of bourbon, and make them put Thompson and Stafford back in the schedule, the typical nine or so races, and make them all one day shows.

    Then have a few travel races for spicing things up.

  2. Smooth Operator 32 says

    Someone please get these guys a box of tissues! Heaven forbid they have to travel more than 100 miles to race on consecutive weekends.
    Cut the size of your entourages and down to 4-5 guys and race!

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