The 35th season of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition begins on Saturday at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Drivers will head to South Carolina to begin the championship points schedule for the third consecutive season, and in the prior two, tire conservation has been key to success at the gritty .538-mile oval.
The Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen begins a 17-race calendar that will see the series stay south and head to South Boston Speedway on March 30.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Justin Bonsignore better have his best foot forward when the Whelen Modified Tour season begins on Saturday. With stout competition throughout the field, and multiple drivers improving their program over the off-season, it’s going to be difficult for Bonsignore to match the success he had last year.
In 16 races, the Holtsville, New York, driver won eight times and finished inside the top 10 in all but one. His average finish of 3.4 in the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet helped him clinch the championship one race early — and part of his 2018 success was on display in the opener at Myrtle Beach. In his first race with a new crew chief and new car, Bonsignore qualified sixth, led 26 laps and opened his eventual first championship season with a top-five finish. With the same crew chief, same sponsor and same team behind him, Bonsignore is poised to begin another title run.
But he is far from the only challenger.Doug Coby, a five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, is seeking a sixth title as he looks to add to his long list of accolades. Coby took the No. 2 Mayhew Tools Chevrolet down south to New Smyrna’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing to get back into high-gear, and he picked up the victory on the first of five nights. With crew chief Phil Moran back on his side, and Mayhew returning as primary sponsor, Coby is hoping the 2019 season ends with a return to title form. He will look to turn around some Myrtle Beach misfortune in the opener — as over the last two years, Coby opened the season outside the top-10.
Timmy Solomito, who won five races in 2017, but failed to visit Victory Lane last year, looks to create some more South Carolina magic. He won the first Whelen Modified Tour event at Myrtle Beach in 2017 with the same Eric Sanderson-owned team he enters 2019 driving for. After a busy offseason, including a visit to New Smyrna in February to knock the dust off the car, Solomito is hoping to get things rolling on the right foot.
Although those three drivers may be among the top challengers, the rest of the field isn’t going to be behind them. An offseason of updates has names like Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson, Craig Lutz, Dave Sapienza and 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Tommy Catalano looking to pounce on their opportunity.
Matt Hirschman, who won the pole for last year’s Myrtle Beach event, is among a long list of entries for the opener.
Thanks to an agreement with FansChoice.TV, race fans across the country can watch the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen, and the entire 17-race Whelen Modified Tour slate via a live stream on FansChoice.TV.
PLACE: Myrtle Beach Speedway, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
DATE: Saturday, March 16
TIME: 5:30 p.m. (approx.)
LAYOUT: .538-mile paved oval
2018 WINNER: Jon McKennedy
2018 POLE: Matt Hirschman
Saturday: Garage Opens: 8 a.m.,Final Practice: 12:15-1:30 p.m., Group Qualifying: 3 p.m.,Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen: 5:30 p.m.
CREW CHIEF HANDOUT
The starting field for the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen is 30 starters, including provisional positions. The first 24 drivers will secure starting positions based on the group qualifying session. The remaining six positions will be awarded through the provisional process.
NASCAR group qualifying is in place for this event. Qualifying order will be determined by each vehicle’s fastest single lap from the official practice sessions. The number of groups will be determined by NASCAR. Each group qualifying session will be five (5) minutes in duration and the fastest single lap speed of each vehicle will determine the first 24 starting positions. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on a vehicle after the vehicle enters the track to begin the session. Vehicles may not return to the track or make any further qualifying laps unless directed to do so by a NASCAR Official or in the event of a caution. If a vehicle returns to pit road, the qualifying attempt is complete. Once a vehicle’s qualifying attempt is complete, they must proceed directly to the designated impound area. Vehicles will be impounded after qualifying/inspection. Vehicles must qualify on race set up.
The Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen will be 150 laps (80.7 miles). The maximum tire allotment available for this event is eleven (11) tires per team. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. The remaining tire allotment may be used for practice and/or change tires during the event. The tire change rule is four (4) tires, any position.
DRIVER OWNER CREW CHIEF
- Matt Swanson Jan Boehler Greg Fournier
- Kyle Ebersole Bob Ebersole Bob Ebersole
- Sam Rameau Randy Rameau Daniel Stebbins
- Jon McKennedy Tommy Baldwin Tommy Baldwin
- Patrick Emerling Jennifer Emerling Jan Leaty
- Blake Barney Richard Barney Robert Barney
- Timmy Solomito Eric Sanderson Stanley Szaban
- Ken Heagy Robert Pollifrone Greg Gorman
- Jimmy Blewett Joseph Bertuccio Stoch Botoua
- Kyle Bonsignore Kyle Bonsignore Bobby Poley
- Calvin Carroll Joe Carroll Joe Carroll
- Gary McDonald Sean McDonald Chad McDonald
- Wade Cole Wade Cole Brian Crunden
- Dave Sapienza Judy Thilberg Tommy Grasso
- Frank Fleming Frank Fleming Talmage Thomas
- Timmy Catalano Amy Catalano Dave Catalano
- Craig Lutz Russell Goodale Douglas Ogiejko
- Justin Bonsignore Kenneth Massa Ryan Stone
- Tommy Catalano Amy Catalano Dave Catalano
- Jeremy Gerstner Dawn Gerstner Grady Jeffreys Jr.
- Eric Goodale Edgar Goodale Jason Shephard
- Matt Hirschman Roy Hall Matt Hirschman
- Rob Summers Mike Murphy Steve Lemay
- Chris Pasteryak Charles Pasteryak Keith McDermott
- Gary Putnam Mike Curb Teddy Musgrave Jr.
- Walter Sutcliffe, Jr. Steven Sutcliffe TBA
- Woody Pitkat Danny Watts Jr. Jarod Zeltmann
- Ron Silk Kevin Stuart Kenny Stuart
- Anthony Nocella Anthony Nocella Steve Murphy
- Andy Seuss Bryan Dauzat Todd Cooper
- Jamie Tomaino Cheryl Tomaino Cheryl Tomaino
- Burt Myers Eddie Harvey Eddie Harvey
- Melissa Fifield Kenneth Fifield Kenneth Fifield
- Doug Coby Mike Smeriglio III Phil Moran
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