In his first full-time season driving for Goodie Motorsports, Craig Lutz has been turning heads in the garage area.
With one race left on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, the Miller Place, New York, driver sits fifth in the championship standings with three top five finishes in the first 15 races.
After years of driving in his family team, Lutz switched to the Goodie operation halfway through last season, scoring one pole award and a best finish of seventh. After an offseason filled with anticipation, the team decided to head south to Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway for the annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing in order to get some more track time before the Whelen Modified Tour season took the green in South Carolina.
RACING-REFERENCE: 2018 Stats For Craig Lutz
“It was a dream come true to drive for a team like them,” Lutz said. “We started the season off strong, and I think it was a huge benefit for us to go down to Florida and continue to gel together and work as a team. We had a couple of strong runs down there. It was a good week for us.”
After opening the Whelen Modified Tour season with a ninth-place run, Lutz came back to the northeast and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the Icebreaker 150, where he finished second.
Now, as the season is set to conclude on Sunday as part of the 56th annual World Series right back at Thompson, Lutz has a new wave of confidence.
His team switched from Troyer to LFR Chassis just two weeks ago, and in their first effort at Stafford Motor Speedway, he started eighth and finished second.
“We were looking into the future, what our program was going to be next year,” Lutz said. “Either way we were planning on building a new car, but we were debating which route to go. When Rob Fuller (owner, LFR Chassis) posted a car for sale, it was an opportunity we didn’t know was coming. My car owner decided that was something we were going to do.”
The decision to swap to LFR definitely didn’t come without plenty of discussion inside the team first. After years of working with the same car, the support from the entire LFR company and the commitment to finding more speed on the track as a team made things a bit easier.
“It definitely makes you excited every week to know that you are going to be close right off the trailer. It’s definitely also a huge benefit to have the support at the track with Rob right there,” Lutz said. “That’s the biggest thing that makes the cars fast at the track. To have him at the track helping you to make the calls, it definitely helped the decision to switch.”
With Lutz turning his attention to the season-finale at Thompson on Sunday, he is hoping to capture another strong run — and carry momentum into the offseason.
“I’m really looking forward to it, last year in the World Series we had a really strong run. I think it’s going to be a good day for us,” he said. “The World Series and the Icebreaker are some of the biggest races of the year, so to be able to run well there and possibly win, it’s definitely a good place to do it.”
Whelen Modified Tour News & Notes
Bonsignore Set To Celebrate: Even though he has already been crowned champion, Justin Bonsignore will officially celebrate his first title on Sunday at Thompson. The Holtsville, New York, driver finds himself entering Thompson looking to accomplish another goal as well. After winning the first three events at the .625-mile oval this season, Bonsignore will look to complete the clean sweep. The most recent driver to complete that sweep was Doug Coby in 2015, and he also celebrated a title that year.
Preece Returns To Roots: Ryan Preece, who recently announced he will compete in the Monster Energy Cup Series full-time next season, will not be forgetting his modified roots. The Berlin, Connecticut, driver will compete in Sunday’s main event driving for Ed Partridge. In 43 career starts, Preece has three wins, including two in his last six starts at the Connecticut oval.
Solomito Looks To Regain Victory: The last time Timmy Solomito celebrated a victory on the Whelen Modified Tour was one year ago this weekend. The Islip, New York, driver rocketed his way to the checkered flag last season after leading just two laps — the final two — in a race that ended with overtime. Solomito, who has just four top fives in 2018, will look to end the season on a high note. He also captured his first of nine tour victories at the Thompson back in 2016.
Whelen All American Series: Thompson’s four NASCAR Whelen All American Series champions will be crowned throughout the weekend. After a seven-event schedule, the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will all conclude their season as part of the 56th annual Sunoco World Series. The weekend also includes plenty of racing with touring series divisions from across New England joining the racing card.