PIT BOX: Whelen Modified Tour begins crucial stretch at Oswego

·7 min read

For the first time in over 30 years, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to Oswego Speedway for a second time this season.

Having hosted four races in both 1988 and 1989, the 0.675-mile oval was not on the NWMT schedule for over three decades until it returned to the slate in 2016. In the last five races, the track has provided fans with some compelling open-wheel competition, only not running a race during 2020 due to COVID restrictions.

This weekend, the tour rumbles back to Oswego for the 11th race of the season, marking the first of four consecutive race weekends to close out the 2021 season and crown the champion.

RACE INFO: Race Center: Oswego

With Justin Bonsignore‘s advantage over Patrick Emerling sitting at eight points, the battle remains hot for the championship trophy. Ron Silk sits third in the standings, over 60 markers back of the leader, further emphasizing the two-horse race heading to the final four events.

But, it may very well be a part-timer who challenges the top two for the win on Saturday. With both Bobby Santos III and Matt Hirschman looming large, in addition to Doug Coby, who did not participate in the initial Oswego race earlier this season, those two will have their hands full. The boiler plates located on the inside wall create for one of the weirdest, yet most exciting, set of corners on the schedule.

Fans can watch the Toyota Mod Classic 150 live Saturday at 7:30 pm ET on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold and tape delayed on Thursday, September 9 at 7 pm ET on NBCSN.

Toyota Mod Classic 150

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

All eyes will be on Matt Hirschman when the cars hit the track this weekend. Not only does he enter the 150-lap event as the defending winner from June, but he‘s won twice in his career at Oswego, and has yet to finish outside the top-five in Whelen Modified Tour action.

Mod Classic Toyota Logo 3 (3)
Mod Classic Toyota Logo 3 (3)

In fact, his worst finish is second, twice. He‘s also led the most laps in three of his four events at Oswego (326 total) and has finished first and second in his two races this season. Coming off a dominant, but runner-up performance at Beech Ridge, the Northampton, Pennsylvania, driver is looking to end his NWMT season on a high note.

RELATED: Matt Hirschman Making Most of Limited Opportunities on Whelen Modified Tour

Bobby Santos III doesn‘t have quite the track record at Oswego like Hirschman, but two starts with a top-five finish and pole isn‘t too shabby. Since his win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last season, Santos has only run once on the Whelen Modified Tour — finishing eighth at New Hampshire earlier this summer. He is sure to be a force to be reckoned with when the green flag drops Saturday.

Patrick Emerling and Justin Bonsignore both finished inside the top-five at Oswego in June, but did so behind two part-timers in Hirschman and Ryan Preece. Following that event, Emerling held a three-point advantage over the No. 51, before the three-time and defending champion slowly and methodically worked his way past the No. 07 in the standings.

Bonsignore‘s lone win at Oswego came in 2019, but he hasn‘t finished worse than sixth across his five trips to the New York track. Emerling, though, has been a bit more inconsistent. Despite two top fives, including most recently in June, he‘s also finished outside the top 10 twice and has only led six laps across five races.

There‘s also Doug Coby, who didn‘t participate in the June event while going to Victory Lane with the SRX Series at Stafford, but was sure to have been a contender. As he preps for his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway in a matter of weeks, he‘s ready to run it back at one of his best tracks. Finishes of fourth, third and sixth followed his win in 2016 — his inaugural trip to the venue — but he‘s yet to lead a circuit since that triumph five years ago.

Along with Coby is Beech Ridge winner Ron Silk, who has one top five in three starts at Oswego, and Jon McKennedy, who hasn‘t finished better than 15th in his experience at the track, but is looking to buck that trend in his third career start. The Toyota Mod Classic 150 highlights the annual Budweiser Classic weekend at Oswego, which also includes a 200-lap special for the Supermodifieds on Sunday. The Whelen Modified Tour is the headlining division of a full Saturday night.

RACING REFERENCE:

RACE FACTS

Race

Toyota Mod Classic 150 at Oswego

Date

Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021

Track

Oswego Speedway

Layout

.675-mile oval

Location

Oswego, New York

Start time

7:30 p.m. ET

Laps

150

Miles

101.25

Tickets

Click here

TV channel

NBCSN (Delayed, Thursday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m. ET))

Live stream

TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (Live)

RACEDAY SCHEDULE: Saturday, Sept. 4 — Garage opens: 10:45 a.m. ET; Practice: 1:35-2:35 p.m.; Qualifying: 4:15 p.m.; Race: 7:30 p.m.

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT:
The starting field for the Toyota Mod Classic 150 is limited to 28 starters, including provisionals. The field will be set by qualifying (1-22) and provisional process per the entry blank (23-28) for the Toyota Mod Classic 150. In the event that qualifying as stated on the entry blank does not take place for any unforeseen circumstance, the field will be set in accordance with the 2021 NASCAR Touring Series Rule Book.

QUALIFYING: Two consecutive qualifying laps. Faster lap determines qualifying position. 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 maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire allotment available for this event is eleven (11) tires per team. All tires used for qualifying and the race must be purchased at the track and scanned by Hoosier, unless otherwise approved in advance by the Series Director. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. All qualifying tires must remain in impound until released by NASCAR Officials. The remaining tire allotment may be used for practice and/or change tires during the event.

The tire change rule is four (4) tires, any position. To utilize the fourth (4th) change tire, the team will have to take a practice tire purchased at Oswego Speedway and turn in by the conclusion of practice.

QUALIFYING AND SPECIAL AWARDS

$400 Phil Kurze Halfway Leader Award presented by Josten‘s per event award to the race leader at the halfway point of the event, regardless if the race is running under green or yellow.

$600 Hoosier Tire “Lap Leader” per event award to the eligible car owner whose driver leads the most laps in each event. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event.

$500 Hoosier Tire “Hard Charger” per event award to the highest finishing eligible driver who advances the most positions during the course of the race. In the case of a tie, the highest finishing driver will receive the award.

$500 Hoosier Tire “Most Improved” per event award to the eligible new team/organization whose driver improves the most positions during the course of the race. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event. If money is not awarded during this event, funds will roll over to the next event and will continue to roll over until an eligible new team/organization claims the money.

$1,000 Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole per event award to the driver with the fastest qualifying time eligible to participate under the Manufacturers’ Prize Money Conditions.

$550 Sunoco Spec Fuel award divided: 1st-$300 5th-$150 10th-$100.

$3,500 Whelen Engineering “Winner of the Race” award to the winning driver.

Whelen Non-Starter award will be paid to the first 15 competitors throughout the season who pass inspection, practice, attempt to qualify but fail to make the feature event.