As part of Military Appreciation Month, and in conjunction with the beginning of Memorial Day Weekend, many of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams are going the extra mile at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway this weekend in recognition of America’s heroes.
Not only will all TSI Harley-Davidson 125 entries run the special decal that has become a part of the annual “NASCAR Salutes” program, but the majority of teams have pledged to honor individuals from the different branches of military service, and the list continues to grow.
The participating teams will have the name of a serviceman or servicewoman on the roof of the car above the driver's name. The graphic will be a small American flag alongside the serviceman or servicewoman's name. Some of the teams are honoring friends and families while others will be honoring members who have been nominated by fans.
This particular effort of recognizing individual service members was organized by Dale Wolbrink, a member of the KLM Motorsports team that fields the No. 64 Chevrolet entry for driver Ron Yuhas Jr. She was also able to secure the services of Critical Signs, Sign Techniques and Thirty-Two Signs to donate labor and materials so that there is no cost to the teams to participate.
All NASCAR race cars will feature the “NASCAR Salutes” logo decal through the July 4th weekend.
The Race: The 24th Annual TSI Harley-Davidson 125 will be the third of 14 races on the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, the second of four events at Stafford Motor Speedway and the 112th all-time tour appearance at the historic half-mile.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 31 cars, including provisionals. The first 26 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 125 laps (62.5 miles) and the tire change rule for the race is two 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-sanctioned 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. Ryan Preece is the defending winner of the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 and Bobby Santos won the season’s first race at the historic half-mile oval.
Pole Winners: There have been 42 different pole winners at Stafford, led by Stefanik’s 17. Preece holds the tour’s track qualifying record at 17.924 seconds (100.424 mph). Tommy Barrett Jr. was the pole winner in the April event.
Stafford Race Notes:
Win the 125 and Win the Title: In each of the previous four seasons, the winner of the TSI Harley-Davidson 125 also went on to capture that season’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship. In fact, there have been 10 instances overall where the winner of the second Stafford Motor Speedway tour event of a year has gone on to capture that season’s crown. The first was Richie Evans in the tour’s inaugural 1985 season and Mike Stefanik did it three times (1989, `97 and `98). The second date at Stafford has traditionally been run in late May, although there were a few years where it was in July. The date became 125 laps in 2010, the year the current run of winners that became champions started.
Eleven Years of Different Winners: The second Whelen Modified Tour date on the schedule at Stafford has produced a different winner every year since 2003. From Jerry Marquis in 2003 to Ryan Preece a year ago, there have been 11 different winners in 11 seasons. The last driver to win the second Stafford event in back-to-back years was Stefanik in 1997-98.
Santos Stays Dominant at Stafford: With his April victory in the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200, Bobby Santos has won six times in the last 16 Whelen Modified Tour races at Stafford. His first triumph there came in the 2010 Fall Final, and no more than half of his 11 career wins have now been earned at the track. Santos has won the Spring Sizzler three times, the Fall Final twice, and the 125 once, which leaves the August 150 as the only traditional tour date in which he has yet to reach Victory Lane.
Home Tracks: Preece With The Early Advantage
Inclement weather has plagued the early NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule at Stafford Motor Speedway, including rainouts each of the two previous Friday nights. The track does have two race dates in the books so far, however, and Ryan Preece is 2-for-2 in the headlining SK Modified division. Preece won on NAPA Spring Sizzler weekend and notched a second victory on May 2. He has 100 points through those two features while Ted Christopher is in second at 88 and Doug Coby in third at 84. All five of Stafford’s NWAAS weekly divisions will precede the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Friday, May 23.
Last Time Out: Stafford
The second event on the 2014 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule was held on April 27 at Stafford Motor Speedway. Here are some highlights from the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler 200:
Bobby Santos drove to the lead on Lap 115 and held on through the balance of the 200-circuit event. It was his third Spring Sizzler win in the last four years, and sixth overall at the track.
The race saw five drivers involved in seven lead changes, which was the most in a Stafford race since the 2010 Sizzler had 10.
Rookie Tommy Barrett Jr. earned his first career 21 Means 21 Pole Award by Coors Brewing and finished 11th in his first Spring Sizzler.
Next Time Out: Waterford
Following the TSI Harley-Davidson 125, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will have a month off before heading to Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl for the Mr. Rooter 161 on Saturday, June 21. Since the tour returned to Waterford two years ago, 2012 winner Doug Coby and 2013 victor Ryan Preece both used their wins at the .375-mile oval to fuel eventual championship-winning seasons.