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Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes: Stafford

Preece Eyes Championship At Home Track
By Jason Cunningham, NASCAR
September 23, 2013 - 4:15pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With a commanding 41-point lead in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship standings, Ryan Preece will head to Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway for this week’s CARQUEST Fall Final with a chance to clinch his first title.

Even though there is one more event on the schedule following the CARQUEST Fall Final 150, the 2013 championship trophy will be on hand at Stafford. If Preece can distance himself from second-place Doug Coby enough that he wouldn’t need to take the green flag in the season finale on Oct. 20 at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway, then the trophy will be his at Stafford.

With that sizeable 41-point cushion entering the events at Stafford on Sept. 28-29, Preece can clinch a race early by gaining seven tallies on Coby in the Fall Final. Since he owns the points tiebreaker by virtue of his tour-high four wins earned so far this year, Preece’s magic number for Stafford is a 48-point lead.

Under the point-per-position system that NASCAR uses, that would mean that Preece could clinch by finishing seven positions ahead of the defending champion Coby in the final running order, or perhaps less with potential laps led bonuses.

If Preece were to take the Fall Final checkered flag – he won the Whelen Modified Tour’s June event at Stafford – then Coby would have to finish fourth or better to push his title defense to the Thompson finale.

Should Preece widen the gap to 48 points or more at Stafford, he would be the first driver to clinch a Whelen Modified Tour championship with one race to go since Donny Lia did it in 2007.

It will be a busy day of chasing championships for Preece on Sunday at Stafford. Prior to the Whelen Modified Tour’s CARQUEST Fall Final 150, he’ll also vie for the track title in Stafford’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series SK Modified division.

RACE: CARQUEST Fall Final 150
PLACE: Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway
DATE: Sunday, Sept. 29
TIME: 3:15 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .5-mile, semi-banked asphalt oval
2012 WINNER: Bobby Santos
2012 POLESITTER: Jimmy Blewett
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday – Practice 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m., Qualifying 2:30 p.m., Sunday – Driver Autograph Session 11 a.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Scott Running, 860-684-2783, scottrunning@staffordspeedway.com
TRACK TWITTER: @StaffordSpeedwy
EVENT TWITTER HASHTAG: #CARQUESTFallFinal
NASCAR CONTACT: Jason Cunningham, 704-201-6658, jcunningham@nascar.com, Twitter: @NASCAR_NE

EVENT SCHEDULE & ENTRY LIST

FAST FACTS:
The Race:
  The 41st Annual CARQUEST Fall Final 150 will be the 13th race on the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule and the last of four events this season at Stafford Motor Speedway.

The Procedure:  The maximum starting field is 33 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 150 laps (75 miles) and the race tire change rule is three tires, any position.

The Track:  A half-mile, slightly-banked oval, Stafford originated as a horse racing track in the 1870s. After seven decades as a horse track, the dirt oval started holding automobile races following World War II. Stafford became a NASCAR track in 1959 and was paved for the first time in 1967.

Race Winners:  There have been 31 different race winners at Stafford all-time, led by Mike Stefanik’s 20 victories. Bobby Santos is the defending winner of the CARQUEST Fall Final 150 while Santos, Ryan Preece and Doug Coby have won this season’s first three races at Stafford.

Pole Winners:  There have been 40 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Ryan Preece holds the tour’s track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph). Bobby Santos has been the pole winner in all three Stafford events this year.

STAFFORD RACE NOTES:
Stefanik is Fall Final’s Greatest Winner:
  Ted Christopher may be the king of the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring,” but Mike Stefanik is undoubtedly the master of the Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway. Among the 26 previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Fall Final events, Stefanik has captured the checkered flag eight times. The first came in 1990, the latest in 2008, and twice he won the event in back-to-back seasons. Stefanik has a record 20 total Whelen Modified Tour wins at the historic half mile, eight more than Christopher.

Six Active Drivers Have Winning Fall Final Credentials:  In addition to Stefanik’s eight triumphs in the Fall Final, five other active drivers have found Victory Lane in the prestigious event. Ted Christopher (2001, 2011) and Bobby Santos (2010, 2012) are multi-time winners while Donny Lia (2009), Todd Szegedy (2006) and Jamie Tomaino (1986) have also each registered a victory.

Szegedy Ends Drought, Makes Big Points Gain:  A lost season by his high standards was almost completely turned around when Todd Szegedy drove to Victory Lane last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Szegedy headed to Loudon 10th in points and on a career-long 28-race winless drought, but an aggressive last-lap move on Donny Lia resulted in a victory two years in the making. As a result, Szegedy jumped to sixth in the standings with two races remaining. He’s finished in the top five in the final points in each of the previous seven seasons.

HOME TRACKS: Pitkat, Preece Vie for Stafford Title
The Stafford Motor Speedway track championship will go down to the last feature race of the season as Woody Pitkat and Ryan Preece wage one final battle as part of CARQUEST Fall Final weekend on Sept. 29. Pitkat brings a four-point lead on Preece into the finale of the SK Modified division, the headlining classification of Stafford’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program. Preece has a division-best eight wins this season and is chasing his second Stafford track championship while Pitkat – with two victories in 2013 – is looking for his first SK Modified title.

LAST TIME OUT: New Hampshire
The previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event was held on Sept. 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H. Here are some highlights from the F.W. Webb 100:
• Todd Szegedy emerged from a three-way, last-lap battle with Donny Lia and Ryan Newman to capture the F.W. Webb 100 checkered flag. It was the 18th win of Szegedy’s career overall, and third in Loudon.
• Newman – the polesitter – wound up second and Lia crossed the line third.
• Championship leaders Ryan Preece and Doug Coby finished 12th and 13th, respectively.
• The race featured 23 lead changes among five drivers.

NEXT TIME OUT: Thompson
Following the CARQUEST Fall Final 150, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Thompson (Conn.) Speedway for the last of three races at the .625-mile oval this season with the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart on Sunday, Oct. 20. Bobby Santos is the defending race winner while Mike Stefanik and Santos were victorious in this season’s first two Thompson events.