PIT BOX: Whelen Mods Hit Big Stage With Inaugural Musket 250 at NHMS

By KYLE SOUZA

It’s here.

One of the most anticipated short-track weekends in New England is on deck, as New Hampshire Motor Speedway hosts its first “Full Throttle Weekend.”

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers will take center stage in the inaugural Musket 250. The longest race in Whelen Modified Tour history will include live pit stops and put some of the best modified drivers and teams in the country up against their toughest test yet for a $25,000 first-place prize.

Canadian’s national championship for stock car racing, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series, will make its first trip to the United States with the inaugural Visit New Hampshire 100. The race will precede the Fall Brawl at Ontario’s Jukasa Motor Speedway to close out the season the following weekend, and a pair of Quebec notables – LP Dumoulin and Alex Tagliani – are separated by just five points.

And the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to the stage that is known for defining its champions. Tyler Ankrum won at the ‘Magic Mile’ in July, and will look not only for a season sweep with a win in the Apple Barrel 125, but he could also clinch the series championship with a race remaining. He would be the sixth driver in the last 12 years to win at NHMS en route to the title.

NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

It doesn’t get much bigger than this for the Whelen Modified Tour.

Considered one of the biggest stages they race on since the inaugural event in 1990, New Hampshire upped the ante this year. Not only is it the longest distance in the history of the tour at 264.5, there’s more than a $25,000 prize at stake. Throw in live pit stops and the constant shuffling and reshuffling of the running order in the draft, and the Musket 250 is shaping up as a can’t miss event.

0 1Justin Bonsignore looks to continue on his championship path by putting himself in position to clinch his first title before the finale even takes the green. If Bonsignore has another strong day, and Chase Dowling stumbles, there is one scenario that could see Bonsignore clinch the title at the checkered flag of the Musket 250. With seven wins in 13 races, Bonsignore would love to add the longest race in Whelen Modified Tour history to his winning resume. He completed the season sweep of Riverhead Raceway in New York last time the series was on the track.

Ryan Preece will sit behind the wheel of the No. 77 for Gary Putnam, a ride that Monster Energy Cup Series star Ryan Newman piloted to a third-place finish in July after leading 16 laps from the pole. Preece, who has never been to Victory Lane in a points race at NHMS, does have one victory in the Whelen All-Star Shootout in 2017.

Bobby Santos III, who will return to competition driving for Tinio Racing, looks to complete the season sweep for the second straight year. Santos has won the last three Whelen Modified Tour events at New Hampshire, and has done it by leading a total of just 15 laps.

The 250-lap distance will also bring pit crews and crew chiefs to the forefront with strategy set to play a major role in who captures the checkered flag.

RACING-REFERENCE: Previous Whelen Modified Tour races at New Hampshire | Whelen Modified Tour drivers’ career stats at New Hampshire

RACE FACTS

RACE MUSKET 250
PLACE New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, New Hampshire
DATE Saturday, September 22
TIME 3:30 p.m. ET (approx.)
TELEVISION Fanschoice.tv (live); NBCSN, Thursday, Sept. 27, 7 p.m.
TRACK LAYOUT 1.058-mile paved asphalt oval
2017 WINNER Inaugural event
2017 POLE Inaugural event
EVENT SCHEDULE Friday — Garage Opens: 6:30 a.m., Practice: 10:55-11:55 a.m., Final Practice: 2:25-3:10 p.m., Qualifying: 5:30 p.m.
Saturday — Garage Opens: 9 a.m., Musket 250: 3:30 p.m. (approx.)

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the inaugural Musket 250 is 36 starters, including provisional positions. The first 30 drivers will secure starting positions based on the qualifying session for the Musket 250. The remaining six spots will be awarded through the provisional process.

Two consecutive qualifying laps will be used to determine the starting positions. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on the vehicle after the vehicle has taken the green flag at the start/finish line. NASCAR reserves the right to have more than one vehicle engage in qualifying runs at the same time.

The Musket 250 will be 250 laps (264.50 miles).

The Musket 250 will be run in two segments. There will be a five (5) minute break at or near the conclusion of lap 100. Once the yellow flag is displayed at the start/finish line for the break, the caution vehicle will pick up the field. Once the field is under control, the caution vehicle will lead the field on to pit road. No work is to be performed at the break until advised by NASCAR Officials. All participants in the event will be allowed to make changes that would normally occur during a routine pit stop. A maximum of five (5) uniformed crew members in the car servicing area. The time will start when the last car stops on pit road and the NASCAR Official advises work can begin. Teams are allowed to change four (4) tires and add fuel. Fuel cannot be added at the same time that tires are being changed. Teams must use a dry break system while adding fuel during the race on pit road. At the end of the break, cars will line up with lead lap cars to the front.

The maximum tire allotment available for this event is twenty (20) tires per team. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. The tire change rule is twelve (12) tires, any position.