MODIFIED TOUR CHAMPION TO BE CROWNED AT THOMPSON
Santos Holds Upper
Hand Headed Into Season Finale
the 17th time in the 26-year history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified
Tour, Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway will be the site of
the Tour’s season finale, and for the third year in a row the Sunoco
World Series of Speedway racing will determine the Tour champion.
Just 37 points will separate leader Bobby Santos from second-place
Mike Stefanik as the Whelen Modified Tour makes its third and final
stop of the year at Thompson. Santos was the victor in the Tour’s
season-opening race at the .625-mile speedway in April, and has
maintained the points lead following 11 of the 12 races since.
In the two previous seasons, the driver with the lead coming into
the World Series has held serve. Ted Christopher carried a 35-point
lead on Matt Hirschman and wound up in Victory Lane to clinch his
first Whelen Modified Tour championship in 2008. A year ago, Donny
Lia possessed a 26-point advantage on Ryan Preece and, although
Preece finished second in the race, Lia’s fourth-place effort was
more than enough to clinch his second crown in three years.
This time around it is Stefanik who will attempt to overcome a
deficit that Hirschman and Preece could not. The seven-time Whelen
Modified Tour champion has a record 14 career wins at Thompson, but
hasn’t pulled into Victory Lane at the legendary Connecticut oval
since the 2006 Icebreaker, a span of 19 races. He has just five
top-five finishes during that stretch as well, but two of those have
come in the first two races there this year: a third in the opener
and a fifth in the August race.
Like Hirschman and Preece before him, Stefanik will also need the
points leader to go against recent history and stumble in the World
Series. Both Christopher and Lia recorded top fives, and if Santos
duplicated that this year then he will be crowned the 2010 champion.
Entering Thompson, Santos has three ways in which he can control his
own destiny for what would be his first Whelen Modified Tour title
and the third in the last four years for Mystic Missile Racing
following Lia’s triumphs in 2007 and 2009. It will not matter what
Stefanik does if Santos finishes fifth without leading a lap (2,185
points), finishes sixth with a lap lead (2,185 points) or finishes
seventh with the most laps lead (2,186 points). The most points
Stefanik could accumulate in the race would be 2,183 if he won and
led the most laps.
Still mathematically alive in the 2010 championship chase are Ron
Silk and Christopher, the two-time defending World Series winner.
Their uphill climb is decidedly steeper than that of Stefanik as
Silk trails by 99 points and Christopher is 113 tallies out. With
lap leader bonus points figured in, Silk can finish no worse than
fourth while Christopher’s only hope is to win, and both would need
the other three title contenders to experience significantly sour
The championship picture was considerably more cloudy heading into
the CARQUEST Fall Final at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on Oct.
3, but Santos’ tour-high fourth win of the year provided him with
additional breathing room for the World Series. The Franklin, Mass.,
native led Stefanik by a mere seven points prior to the event, but a
late push for the checkered flag combined with Stefanik’s
fifth-place finish increased the lead by 30 points.
Following Stafford, Santos had a simplistic goal when he looked
ahead to the Thompson finale, one that Christopher employed for his
first title two years ago.
“We’ve just got to go win Thompson,” Santos said. “That’s the plan,
and whatever happens, happens.”
Action will begin in the Sunoco World Series for the Whelen Modified
Tour on Saturday, Oct. 16 with practice at 11 a.m., followed by
qualifying at 2:30 p.m. The 150-lap finale is set to go green on
Sunday, Oct. 17 at approximately 3:30 p.m.
For ticket information, please visit Thompson’s official Web site
Source: Jason Cunningham / NASCAR