Fans attend the Thompson 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut on September 3, 2020. (Billie Weiss/NASCAR)
(Photo: Billie Weiss/NASCAR)

NOTEBOOK: Whelen Modified Tour field ready for return to Thompson playground

When it comes to historic race tracks on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, there are none more notable than Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

The venue located in Thompson, Connecticut, has hosted more races than any other track in the history of the Tour. In fact, Thompson played host to the first official Tour race on March 31, 1985, a race that was won by the late Richie Evans.

Evans won the first four NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events held at Thompson, all during the 1985 season. George Kent Jr. snapped that streak, topping the fifth visit by the Tour to Thompson that served as the penultimate race of the 1985 season.

Fast-forward to 2022 and, after a brief hiatus, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is returning to Thompson for the 149th time this Thursday for the running of the Phoenix Communications 150. The event was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but expected weather led to the event being rescheduled for Thursday.

RELATED: Thompson entry list | Race preview

In the 148 previous NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races held at Thompson, 36 drivers have made trips to Victory Lane. Many current Tour stars have enjoyed success at Thompson through the years, but none more than Justin Bonsignore.

In 39 Tour starts at Thompson, Bonsignore has scored a whopping 12 victories at the 0.625-mile track. His first Thompson victory came in his 10th Tour start at the track in 2012, and he quickly added to his total, at one point winning six straight Tour events at Thompson from 2018-19.

Several other active Tour competitors have enjoyed Victory Lane at Thompson, including six-time Tour champion Doug Coby. The driver from Milford, Connecticut, has six Thompson victories in 64 starts, with his most recent coming in 2019. Coby is also a good qualifier at Thompson, with the veteran having earned 11 Tour poles at the track during his career.

Current NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship leader Ron Silk is a five-time Thompson winner, as is part-time competitor Bobby Santos III. Both are entered for Wednesday’s event.

Other previous Thompson winners who are entered for Wednesday’s race are Donny Lia, Timmy Solomito and Craig Lutz, who won the most recent Tour event at Thompson during the 2020 season.

Kyle Soper back in search of another Tour win

The last time Kyle Soper raced with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, his night ended in Victory Lane.

Soper, a weekly competitor at New York’s Riverhead Raceway, bested the Tour regulars when they invaded his home track on June 25. Soper led 39 laps during the race, including the final 11, to notch his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory.

In doing so, Soper became the first Riverhead regular to best the Tour stars since 1995, when Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. was able to earn a trip to Victory Lane.

Soper hasn’t slowed down much since notching his first Tour victory. Since then he’s continued to compete weekly at Riverhead, earning a marquee victory during the Baldwin, Evans & Jarzombek 77 on July 30. He also currently leads the weekly Modified standings at Riverhead.

Now Soper is turning his attention to Wednesday’s mid-week NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park,

The 26-year-old driver from Manorville, New York, has competed in four previous Tour events at Thompson. However, luck has not been on his side.

His best finish in those four starts is 13th, and he has an average finish of 21.5, a number he’ll look to drastically improve upon Wednesday during the Phoenix Communications 150.

Jimmy Blewett, driver of the #7 John Blewett Inc car races during the Jersey Shore 150 for the Whelen Modified Tour at Wall Stadium Speedway on July 9, 2022 in Wall Township, New Jersey. (Kostas Lymperopoulos/NASCAR)
Jimmy Blewett, driver of the No. 7 John Blewett Inc Modified, races during the Jersey Shore 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Wall Stadium Speedway on July 9, 2022. (Photo: Kostas Lymperopoulos/NASCAR)

Tommy Baldwin Jr. leads owner standings

There has been no team better this year on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour than Tommy Baldwin Racing.

The team owned by Daytona 500 winning crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. has visited Victory Lane four times this season with three different drivers, allowing Baldwin’s team to open a large lead in the Tour owner standings.

Entering the Phoenix Communications 150, Baldwin holds a 37-point advantage on No. 16 team owner Tyler Haydt, whose driver Ron Silk currently leads the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver standings.

Doug Coby, who has won twice in Baldwin’s equipment this year, will field his own car for Wednesday’s race at Thompson. Mike Christopher Jr., a winner in Baldwin’s equipment at Jennerstown Speedway, won’t be in action Wednesday.

That leaves Jimmy Blewett, who won at Wall Stadium Speedway for Baldwin, to pilot the No. 7NY in Wednesday’s race. Blewett has made a whopping 40 starts in Tour competition at Thompson, earning a best finish of second on two occasions.

Notes:

  • Spencer Davis is slated to make his fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start of the year at Thompson. The driver from Dawsonville, Georgia, has made five previous Tour starts at Thompson, earning a best finish of seventh.
  • Another driver making his fourth start of the season is Ronnie Williams. The driver from Ellington, Connecticut, has two career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour poles, and both of them came at Thompson in 2018.
  • Dylan Slepian will attempt to earn his third straight top-five finish in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition following back-to-back top five results at Riverhead Raceway in his last two Tour starts.