NASCAR Tour-type Modifieds...
NASCAR Tour-type Modifieds await their tire scuffing session at Bristol Motor Speedway
In 25 years of NASCAR Whelan Modified Tour competition, the series had never visited Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway until the landmark race in August 2009. Primarily a New England-based circuit, the Tour does have a rich history of venturing south. Virginia has held 44 all-time races, and the Tour has gone as far south as North Carolina on three occasions, but the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 was its inaugural visit to Bristol.
In a format first introduced at Martinsville (VA) Speedway in 2005, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour was joined at the "World's Fastest Half-Mile" by the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for a combination race. The two tours were to run for one checkered flag and one purse, but drivers claimed chase points for their respective championship standings.
Quick to adapt and always eager to master a new track, Teddy Christopher unofficially shattered Bristol's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying record while turning laps in a February 2009 test of the concrete high banks. It was just the kind of white-knuckle ride Christopher was hoping for.
"It's crazy. It's intense," said Christopher at the time. "I've never been anywhere you can drive without lifting." Despite speeds and adrenaline levels being higher than normal, Christopher didn't anticipate the race would be run completely wide-open. "We will have to have some give-and-take," Christopher said. "I think it's going to be a very technical race."
Come raceday, 40 ground-pounding, fire-breathing Open Wheel monsters showed up, with 27 hailing from the Whelen Modified Tour and 13 from the Southern Mod Tour. Starting positions 1-30 would be set through time trials, while the remaining six positions were to be filled through the provisional process, making up a 36-car starting field.
Of the three early practice sessions Christopher was the fastest in the first two with laps of 14.951 and 14.957 in excess of 128 mph. In the third and final practice session 2007 Mod Tour Champ Donny Lia moved up the ladder with a top lap of 14.924. However, getting qualifying in was another story, told by Mother Nature.
The rain arrived just as cars had hit the track and lasted just long enough to force NASCAR and track officials to cancel qualifying for the UNOH Perfect Storm 150.
In addition to the heavier...
In addition to the heavier shock mounts, NASCAR also mandated that the mods run heavier hubs to handle Bristol's high banks.
The starting lineup was set in accordance to the rule book, which meant NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points leader Ted Christopher would start on the pole. He was joined on the front row by NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour points leader George Brunnhoelzl III. Todd Szegedy and Andy Seuss made up the second row for the race, as Ryan Preece and Brian Loftin would be in the third row, followed by Donny Lia and Frank Fleming, and Rowan Pennink and L.W. Miller filling out the top five rows.
The rain would have sent four drivers home but track and NASCAR officials agreed to start all 40 entrants. NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars drivers Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne who both had rides for the event started 38th and 39th, respectively.
The cars NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars, both divisions, are substantially different from their Sprint Cup counterparts or any other car for that matter. Today's cars are based on tubular chassis built by fabricators such as Troyer Engineering, Chassis Dynamics, Spafco, and Raceworks. Bodies are partial versions of passenger cars, largely fabricated from sheetmetal, with the front wheels and much of the front suspension exposed. A NASCAR Modified is 11 inches shorter in height and more than 23 inches wider than a Cup car. By rule, Tour-type Modifieds must weigh at least 2,610 pounds (with additional weight for engines 358 ci and larger) and have a wheelbase of 107 inches.
NASCAR mandated the beefier...
NASCAR mandated the beefier upper shock mounts in order to withstand the tremendous g-forces generated on the high banks of Bristol. Notice the tether on the wheel assembly next to the K&N decal. In the event of a hard crash, it will keep the assembly from separating from the car.
Every racer knows that scaling...
Every racer knows that scaling the cars is critical to getting the right weight distribution.
NASCAR star Ryan Newman is...
NASCAR star Ryan Newman is deep in thought prior to the race. He was one of two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars to take on the high banks in a Modified.