Winning a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race isn’t easy. In fact, since the modern NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was created in 1985, only 77 drivers have visited Victory Lane.
That’s what makes the start of the 2023 season particularly interesting. Through the first five races, five different drivers have secured victories ahead of the sixth race of the season this Saturday night at Seekonk Speedway.
It’s only the sixth time in the modern history of the series that the first five races have been won by five different drivers. The first such occurrence took place in 1990, when Reggie Ruggiero, Tony Hirschman, Rick Fuller, Mike Stefanik and Jeff Fuller triumphed in consecutive races to open the season.
It didn’t happen again until nine years later in 1999, when Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke Jr., Rick Fuller, Ted Christopher, Tim Connolly, John Blewett III and Tony Hirschman opened the season with wins. In the process, they set the record for the most different drivers to win consecutive races to open a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season at seven.
Two years later in 2001, Jerry Marquis, Rick Fuller, Blewett, Ruggiero and Ewanitsko opened the season with wins. It happened once more in 2004, with Christopher, Marquis, Flemke, Todd Szegedy and Tony Hirschman securing victories to open the season.
It took 17 years for this to happen again, but in 2021, Eric Goodale, Patrick Emerling, Doug Coby, Justin Bonsignore and Matt Hirschman collected victories in consecutive races to open the season.
That brings us to 2023, when for the sixth time in series history five different drivers have won the first five races of the season.
It started with Ron Silk, who captured his first victory since the 2021 season with a win at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February. The win marked his 18th series victory and his first with Haydt Yannone Racing.
Next was Austin Beers, who joined his father Eric as a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner with a dominant performance at Richmond Raceway in late March. He was followed by Coby, who collected his first victory of the year and the 35th of his career at Monadnock Speedway.
Bonsignore was next to visit Victory Lane following a back-and-forth battle with Silk at Riverhead Raceway on May 21. Matt Hirschman then powered to victory in the fifth race of the season at Lee USA Speedway two weeks ago to make it five different winners in as many races to open the 2023 season.
To make things even more interesting, through the first five races of the season, four different drivers have earned runner-up finishes. They include Bonsignore (New Smyrna), J.B. Fortin (Richmond), Jon McKennedy (Monadnock), Silk (Riverhead) and McKennedy (Lee USA).
All of this begs the question: Will the streak of different winners to open the 2023 season continue Saturday night at Seekonk?
It’s certainly possible, as three drivers who visited Victory Lane with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2022 and have yet to win this year are entered in Saturday’s race.
They include McKennedy, the defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, as well as New Hampshire Motor Speedway winner Anthony Nocella and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park victor Craig Lutz.
One also can’t count out drivers like Fortin, Jake Johnson, Tyler Rypkema and Anthony Sesely, all of whom would love to add their names to the list of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race winners.
Anything is possible when the green flag waves Saturday night for the Seekonk 150. If you can’t be there in person, you can watch the race live exclusively on FloRacing.