NASCAR‘s oldest touring series will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the sanctioning body in a big way in 2023.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams will chase the championship in a 19-race schedule — spanning across eight different states from New Hampshire to Florida — moving from February through October. The last time the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season included 19 races was in 2004.
For the second-straight year the season begins New Smyrna Speedway in Florida on February 11 as part of the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, and ends at Martinsville Speedway in the midst of a massive NASCAR Playoffs weekend on Thursday, October 26. In the middle, teams will visit countless tracks in the Northeast and help headline weekends with NASCAR National divisions at places like New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway.
“Definitely adding a little bit more to the schedule this year with some different tracks,” defending series champion Jon McKennedy said. “Some that we have been to before, but others we haven‘t. It‘s cool to see some different venues there and have some more tracks interested in hosting our series and some more races on our schedule.”
After leaving New Smyrna, the series will visit Richmond for another year on March 31 for a Friday night special, prior to NASCAR Cup Series weekend. After that, drivers move north to Monadnock Speedway (May 6), Riverhead Raceway (May 20) and Lee USA Speedway (May 27) on Memorial Day weekend.
Trips to Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts (June 10), Riverhead (June 24), Wall Stadium (July 8) and New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 15) will bring the series to the halfway point.
McKennedy isn‘t the only one looking forward to it.
“As a driver, I‘m really excited for it this season,” three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore said. “The schedule has a lot of cool tracks, and some great facilities for us to visit. We‘re heading to places like North Wilkesboro… that‘s going to be an incredible event in itself.”
In the second half of the year, the Tour visits Claremont Motorsports Park (July 29), returns to Lancaster Motorplex for the second time in three years (August 5) and hits the high-banks of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, August 16. Stops at Langley Speedway (August 26), Oswego Speedway (September 2), Monadnock (September 9), Riverhead (September 16), North Wilkesboro Speedway (September 30), Thompson (October 8) and Martinsville (October 26) will keep drivers on their toes, and teams busy.
JDV Productions returns for the third straight year, promoting the two Monadnock events, the Lee USA Speedway race and Claremont Motorsports Park‘s 150-lap race.
Travel is certainly going to play a major role in deciding who wins the championship. Even though the beginning of the season has the first two races separated by more than a month, the middle of the summer will be a grind with 15 races between May and September across seven different states.
The teams are ready and many of them are excited to see how it shakes out.
“It‘s awesome to start the season at New Smyrna again between the Whelen Modified Tour and the World Series of Asphalt Tour Modified division — getting six nights of racing in to start the season is great,” Eric Goodale said. “My opinion it‘s the best week of the year. I‘m definitely excited to head to North Wilkesboro and still have some races in my hometown at Riverhead Raceway and everywhere else in New England.”
Bonsignore says the season will be a bit tougher on the crews compared to last year with three more races on the calendar. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour garage area is filled with crew members who work full-time jobs during the week away from the cars, then spend their nights in the shop and weekends at the track.
They will all need to work together on the cars to get them prepared.
“It‘s going to be a challenge for our team and many teams, but it‘s part of it,” Bonsignore said. “For the crew guys, especially with everyone volunteering, we may need to potentially rotate some guys in and out if a few have to miss a race or two. But we‘re looking forward to the challenge.”
McKennedy, who knows defending his title will be a tough task to begin with, is ready. He also knows it will come with some adjustments.
“The Whelen Modified Tour has been extremely strong the last few years, with good car counts and support and I think it is great,” McKennedy said. “Having some races where we are with the NASCAR top divisions like the Cup Series and Xfinity Series also there, it‘s cool to go out there and show those guys what we can do. A lot of them love the Modifieds and they are all watching us. The Whelen Modified Tour is some of the best short-track racing out there and it‘s going to be like that again this year.”
For fans who can‘t make it to the track, all 19 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races will available live on FloRacing.