NASCAR’s oldest and most unique division returns, Thursday, at Martinsville Speedway. 2021 marks the 73rd year of the Whelen Modified Tour.
Justin Bonsignore is the defending series champion. He won three of the nine races last season and ended the year with a 2.7 average finish. He defeated Jon McKennedy by 40 points. Doug Coby finished third in the points, 46 points shy of winning his seventh Whelen Modified Tour Championship.
The 2021 modified tour season includes 14 races at nine different tracks. Thursday is the tour’s return to Martinsville after an 11-year absence on the schedule. The paperclip hosted 35 races between 1985 and 2010, with five dates being crossover races with short-lived Southern Modified Tour.
2021 Whelen Modified Tour Schedule
- April 8: Martinsville Speedway
- April 25: Stafford Motor Speedway
- May 15: Riverhead Raceway
- May 29: Jennerstown Speedway
- June 12: Oswego Speedway
- June 19: Riverhead Raceway
- July 17: New Hampshire Speedway
- July 31: New York International Raceway
- August 6: Stafford Motor Speedway
- August 21: Beach Ridge Motor Speedway
- September 4: Oswego Speedway
- September 10: Richmond Raceway
- September 18: Riverhead Raceway
- September 25: Stafford Motor Speedway
Noticeably absent from this year’s schedule is Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Thompson is one of the tour’s most storied venues with a whopping 148 races since 1985.
Drivers to watch
#51 Justin Bonsignore
14 seasons – 29 wins – 85 top-fives
Whelen Modified Tour Champion: 2018 and 2020
2021 Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year
Bonsignore has been one of the Modified Tour’s superstars since 2016. That year started his five-year streak of top-three finishes in the points standings. He entered that year with eight career victories, and his win-total has exploded since then. Bonsignore dominated the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season by winning three of the nine races. His worst finish of the year was fifth place and he never surrendered the points lead.
#10 Doug Coby
19 seasons – 29 wins – 99 top-fives
Whelen Modified Tour Champion: 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019
With six championships, Doug Coby is currently the best Whelen Modified Tour driver of the modern era. Coby took on a new challenge in 2020 by forming his own race team and becoming an owner-driver. His first year was a success with one victory and six top-fives. In 2021, Coby hopes to become the Modified Tour’s first owner-driver champion since Bobby Allison in 1965.
#46 Craig Lutz
7 seasons – 3 wins – 16 top-fives
After just five full-time seasons, Craig Lutz looks like the future of the Wheelen Modified Tour. He’s finished in the top five of the points standings each year since 2018 and he claimed victory in two races last season. Lutz padded his 2020 stats with six top-10s, good enough for a p7 average finish.
#7 Jon McKennedy
10 seasons – 1 win – 12 top-fives
2020 was a breakout year for Jon McKennedy. He didn’t reach victory lane, but he finished in the top-10 in all nine races and earned a 5.6 average finish. McKennedy finished second in the standings, but prior to 2020, he never finished higher than 18th in the standings. 2020 was also McKennedy’s first full season in the Whelen Modified Tour.
#85 Ron Silk
17 years – 15 wins – 79 top-fives
Whelen Modified Tour Champion: 2011
Ron Silk returned to full-time competition in 2019 (though he missed one race in 2020) and he didn’t miss a beat, finishing in the top-10 seven times, and claiming victories at Thompson and Stafford. He ended the year fifth in the standings, but he could have finished much higher if not for a DNF at White Mountain and a withdrawal at Jennerstown.
#25 Calvin Carroll
5 seasons – 0 wins – 0 top-fives
2017 Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year
Calvin Carroll is one of the tour’s brightest young stars, as evident by his rookie of the year title in 2017. He is coming off his best season in the Whelen Modified Tour. In 2020 he scored three top 10s in nine starts, and he never finished worse than P18. Carroll ended the season 8th in the points standings.
TOP IMAGE: Tom Whitmore/Getty Images