With just five races remaining in the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season, the battle for the championship is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. The top three drivers are separated by just three points, while the top five are separated by just 14, and Saturday’s visit to historic Oswego Speedway will play a key role in deciding the title.
At the top of the standings, Ryan Preece leads by two points over Doug Coby as the tour heads to upstate New York for the Toyota Mod Classic 150. Preece missed a race at Virginia’s Langley Speedway, but has put together three wins and seven straight top five finishes since his return to competition and looks to be the driver to beat heading for the stretch run.
However, Preece is set to miss another race at New Hampshire on Sept. 23 to compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Kentucky for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Coby, who won last time out at Seekonk, has himself second as he seeks a fourth straight title behind the wheel of the No. 2 Mayhew Tools Chevrolet. Rowan Pennink has returned Boelher Racing to the top of the standings this season with one victory and he sits just three points from the lead with his best shot to win a crown in his career. Timmy Solomito is still within striking distance in fourth, just 11 points out. Justin Bonsignore rounds out the top five.
|Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s|
|Place:||Oswego Speedway, Oswego, New York|
|When:||Saturday September 3|
|Time:||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Track Layout:||.625-mile asphalt oval|
|2016 Winner:||Doug Coby|
|2016 Polesitter:||Bobby Santos|
|Event Schedule:||Garage Opens: 11 a.m., Practice: 2:20 & 3:40, Quals: 6 p.m., Race: 7:30 p.m.|
The Race: The Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s is the 12th of 16 races on the 2017 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship schedule. It is the first and only appearance at Oswego this season.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field per the entry blank is 30 cars, including provisionals. The first 24 positions will be awarded through the group qualifying process, while six provisionals will also be available. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (93.8 miles).
The Track: A .625-mile asphalt oval, Oswego Speedway has operated continuously since its opening in 1951, when a .375-mile dirt oval was built out of an existing track for horses. It was paved a year later, and in 1961 it was exapnded to its current size. Considered by many to be the “Indy of the East,” or “Steel Palace,” the track’s Supermodifieds have seen Indianapolis 500 winners Gordon Johncock and Mario Andretti compete.
Race Winners: There have been six different winners in the previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Oswego, led by Tony Hirschman’s three victories. Brian Ross won the first two races at the track, which were both held in 1988. Doug Coby is the defending winner of the Oswego 150.
Pole Winners: Six different drivers have won the pole at Oswego, while Mike McLaughlin won the pole four times there. Last season, Bobby Santos captured his first Oswego Speedway pole and broke the track record with a time of 126.029 mph.
Toyota Mod Classic 150 Notes:
Coby Back Rolling: It was a tough start to the season for Milford, Connecticut driver Doug Coby, but he seems to have things back on the right track. The 38-year-old rolled into Seekonk last weekend coming off three straight runner-up finishes and then scored the victory at the third-mile Massachusetts oval. Heading for Oswego, a track where he is the defending winner, Coby has plenty of confidence. The four-time and reigning series champion has himself right back in the thick of the championship fight with just five races to go.
Winning: In the first 11 races of the 2017 season, six different drivers have rolled into Victory Lane. The last three races have seen three different winners. Ryan Preece has four wins, while Timmy Solomito has three. Bobby Santos, Doug Coby, Rowan Pennink and Patrick Emerling all have one win this season.
Looking For Two Straight Wins: Coby isn’t the only driver who is racing at Oswego coming off a victory in their last Whelen Modified Tour start. Orchard Park, New York, driver Patrick Emerling turned in a dominating performance in his win at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 16. Emerling, who is running a limited schedule, is looking to make it two straight wins on the tour.
Hirschman Is Back: Matt Hirschman returned to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition last weekend at Seekonk and was fast right off the trailer with his No. 60. Hirschman won the Coors Light Pole award for the Seekonk 150 and was at the point of the race in the early stages. Although he ended up finishing seventh after a spin, Hirschman led 62 laps and was in contention for the victory. He will continue with the series on Saturday at Oswego a place where he does not have a start on the Whelen Modified Tour, but has experience in other modified touring series.
Bonsignore Searching: Although Justin Bonsignore sits fifth in the championship standings, he has yet to visit Victory Lane so far in 2017. Last season, Bonsignore won four races with his No. 51 team and was in contention for the title because of it. This season, even though he has struggled at times, his consistent finishes inside the top 10 have allowed him to be in position to make a run at his first championship. In the last four races, Bonsignore has three top 10 finishes, including a season-best third at Bristol.