DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 5, 2005) – The annual Thompson Sunoco 300 at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway is the longest race on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour calendar, and has always been one of its most prestigious. The long, late-season event can make or break a team’s championship hopes and is a true test for race strategy, tire management and pit crew proficiency.
To ensure the teams have every opportunity to control their own destiny on the track and in the championship hunt, NASCAR and Thompson International Speedway have jointly agreed to return the race to its traditional 300-lap format. There will not be a mandatory pit stop or halfway break, as had been featured in recent editions of the event.
“The race is now back in the hands of the drivers and crews,” said NASCAR Director of Regional Racing Development Don Hawk. “There are no mandatory pit stops or competition cautions – it will be a 300-lap battle to the finish, with all the excitement the Whelen Modified Tour fans have enjoyed over the years.”
Many of the Tour’s top drivers applauded the decision.
“I’m glad they changed it all,” said Tony Hirschman, the defending Whelen Modified Tour champion from Northampton, Pa. “It’s back to 300 laps of racing – the way it should be. That’s the tradition of that race.”
Mike Stefanik, the Tour’s all-time win leader and a six-time champion, agreed.
“I’m very happy to see it back to the traditional 300 laps,” Stefanik said. “I think it puts the race back into the mode of ‘playing your cards’ the way you want to play them. Pit strategy, when to trickle on tires – I think it’s going to make for a lot more exciting race than the segment racing. I’m very happy they made that decision.”
The Thompson Sunoco 300 gets underway with practice and Bud Pole qualifying on Sat., Sept. 10. The Thompson Sunoco 300 begins at 2:30 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 11. The race marks the Tour’s 86th appearance at the popular 5/8-mile speedway, which has hosted more Whelen Modified Tour events than any other track. Stefanik, of Coventry, R.I., leads all drivers with 13 victories at the track.