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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



Fuller, Park To Join UNOH Showdown Field

In addition to the current NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tour teams that will head to Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway for the inaugural UNOH Showdown, a pair of former Modified standouts will also be on hand.

Jeff Fuller, 1992 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, and two-time runner-up Steve Park are set to return to Thompson for the special event. Both will enter the Southern Thompson 125 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour race and contend for a position in the UNOH Showdown. Fuller will be in the No. 66 owned by Ed Marceau while Park will pilot the No. 20 of multi-time Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway champion Bill Park, which will mark the first time in his career that he has raced for his uncle.

Both Fuller and Park have established legacies at the .625-mile speedway that were earned prior to moving south to participate in the top levels of NASCAR racing. Fuller ranks third on the Whelen Modified Tour wins list at Thompson with 10 triumphs, including a run in 1991-92 where he took the checkered flag in seven of nine races. Park won six Tour races at Thompson, including four in a row in 1995-96.

Fuller, originally from nearby Auburn, Mass., last raced a Modified at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2008 and his appearance prior to that was in the 2003 Thompson 300, where he finished third. Fuller recorded 31 wins and 144 top 10s as a full-time Whelen Modified Tour competitor from 1985-94 and has a total of 240 previous starts.

Fuller is a little cautious about expectations for the weekend because of his long layoff. Returning to the seat in familiar surroundings and under the guidance of Brad Lafontaine, who was his crew chief when he earned the 1992 crown, will help him accommodate.

“I think [Thompson] would be the best place for me to make my return because we do have some wins there,” Fuller said. “From what I understand, the track really hasn’t changed. Maybe a few little things here and there have changed, but hopefully if you can still pass and run basically the same, I’m hoping that it’s going to come to me quickly.”

Park, originally from East Northport, N.Y., last entered a Whelen Modified Tour event at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway in 2005 and his last start at Thompson was marked by a win in 1996. He recorded 86 top-10 finishes as a full-time competitor from 1988-96 and has a total of 187 Tour starts.

“For us, coming up with the Modifieds in the Northeast, Thompson was always the pinnacle race track,” Park said. “This gives the New England fans an opportunity to not only see the talent in the Northeast that they see week-in and week-out, but some of the guys that are coming from the Southern Modified Tour.”

Park had interest in returning to Thompson for the UNOH Showdown from the time it was announced and is excited to take part.

“Getting guys like Jeff Fuller back here at Thompson where he has won a lot of races, and myself to come back up here … we didn’t have to have our arm twisted to do this,” Park Said. “As soon as we heard about this, we wanted to figure out how we could be a part of it.”

Not only is this an event that Fuller wanted to support and participate in, he’s excited about the format that will bring both Modified Tours to Connecticut and pit them head-to-head.

“I really do think that Don [Hoenig] deserves kudos for doing this,” Fuller said. “I think it is going to be a really, really good show.”

The weekend will begin with practice and qualifying for the NASCAR Whelen Modified and Whelen Southern Modified Tours on Saturday, Sept. 10. The Southern Thompson 125 will go green on Sunday, Sept. 11 at 12:45 p.m., followed by the Northern Thompson 125 at 2:30 p.m. The 50-lap exhibition UNOH Showdown that will feature the top finishers from both 125s is set to take the green flag at 5:30 p.m. All of Sunday’s racing action will be streamed live at www.nascarhometracks.com by NASCAR Home Tracks Radio. For event and ticked information, please visit Thompson’s official website, www.thompsonspeedway.com.

  Source: Jason Cunningham / NASCAR
Posted: September 8. 2011

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