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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


by Denise DuPont

On Friday, December 9th, the 2016 NASCAR Whelen All-America Series top competitors were honored once again at the NASCAR Hall of Fame for their sweat and hard work in 2016. The grandeur of the festivities dazzled the Hometrack champions along with friends and families who shared their special moments.

Notes from NASCAR Hall of Fame Charlotte, North Carolina:

Connecticut State Championship

Keith Rocco once again topped the charts in 2016 with Thompson Speedway Motorsports Motorsports Park, Waterford Speedbowl and the State of Connecticut Championship. Rocco missed the Whelen All-American Series National Championship by a mere four points.
“I think that it was a great year with two track Championships and a second place finish at Stafford.” Stated Rocco as he reflected on his 2016 achievements. “The consistency was there and the wins were there. Racing in the north and the south is definitely different type of racing. I feel very accomplished with the way that it finished up. Matt Bowling did a great job every week doing what he had to do to win. And he did it the right way. It is nice to be back on stage again this year.”

State of New York Championship

Jimmy Zacharias now has four consecutive New York State Championships in the books. Capturing the title was tougher this year as track racing and competition was raised up a notch. With more race competitors and race events at diverse tracks, Zacharias had to stay on his game to earn the state title. With the 2016 title his, he is now ready to start planning for the 2017 race year.
“It is always a great accomplishment to be able to top the whole state. There are a lot of good guys that challenge you from Riverhead and I raced against my brother all year. It was a lot tougher year this year. I did a lot more traveling to Riverhead Speedway, Spencer and other tracks. This year Danny Watts helped us out. And we had a couple of good runs at Riverhead and that pretty much helped us seal the title this year.”

Stafford Motor Speedway SK Modified 2016 Championship

At Stafford Motor Speedway, NASCAR Modifieds continue to be the featured attraction as it was several years ago where drivers like Sonny Hutchins, Ray Hendrick, Donnie and Bobby Allison came to Stafford as part of their quest for a national title. Legends Bugs Stevens, Fred Desarro, Jerry Cook, and Richie Evans all won at Stafford and then went forward to capture NASCAR National Modified Championships. So today as the tradition continues, the weekly modified regulars continue to be a tough challenge for the outsiders.
In 2016 Rowan Pennink was running for the SK Modified Championship at Stafford. Week after week, Pennink showed that the Kelly Iverson Monk’s Mechanic Hand Wipes sponsored #99 SK modified was a car to beat. When the year ended he had thirty point lead over runner up Keith Rocco.
Pennink summarized his 2016 year very simply: “We had another great year with the #99 tem at Stafford (Stafford Motor Speedway). We finished up with another six wins for the championship so it was a good year and hopefully we can do this good again next year.”

Bowman Gray Stadium Championship

Modifieds have been the featured division at Bowman Gray Stadium since racing began in 1949. The all-time wins list features some of the best NASCAR drivers including Lee Petty, Ralph Earnhardt, Ned Jarrett, Richie Evans, and Jerry Cook to name a few.
This year Burt Myers was been able to capture Bowman Gray Stadium’s modified championship for the seventh time in his career maintaining a family tradition.
Myers was all smiles as he discussed his 2016 Bowman Gray championship. “From a personal standpoint my family’s history at Bowman Gray is always important. For me to represent my family is very important. People do not understand how tough it is to race at Bowman Gray. It is a flat Quarter mile track right in the middle of a football field. The handicap systems and the atmosphere is just tough for a weekly show. I am very proud to represent Bowman Gray as a seven time track champion.”

The modified drivers accepted their trophies, roasted one another and when the night is over, everyone will head home for the holidays and to prepare for 2017 race year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Everyone!

What are the NASCAR’s All American Series State and Track Championship driver’s plans for 2017 race year?

Keith Rocco
“We will do all the same stuff next year. Race three nights a week. Our Thompson schedule is pretty thin but we will still be there every month and race once a month. And at Stafford we may do some of the MTS (Modified Touring Series) races. You know you cannot pass up a modified race if it is close by. And we will see what else comes about.”

Jimmy Zacharias
“Plans for2016 are still up in the air. I had my plans figured out right up until earlier this week. I planned to run dirt cars. I was going to run Spencer Friday and Chemung on Saturday and then Utica-Rome on Sunday and then try to go for the National Title. But Utica-Rome dropped NASCAR now and their dirt cars so that put a damper on that idea. I have dirt cars now so I am going to run mid-week shows and ten stick to Spencer on Friday, Chemung on Saturday and then figure out the rest.”
“I received a call yesterday and somebody offered me a tour ride. A new guy who wants to start a team and he has two cars that he wants to take tour racing. But I like doing what I am doing, having fun and staying local. But if the right opportunity comes by, I will probably take it. Especially if he give me enough incentive to do it and know I can be running up front, then I will take my chance with it.”

Rowan Pennink
“We are going to go back and run the #99 at Stafford weekly. We will probably run the #3 on the tour again and it will pretty much be the same thing as this year. Hopefully we can get a little bit better on the tour. We will also run some of the additional modified series races with the Gary Casella car. We have not talked about it yet but I am sure that is the plan.”

Burt Myers
“As of right now I am going to have to evaluate my situation this winter – my budget, my resources, and schedules and make a decision for going forward.”
Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
: December 10, 2016

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