Modified Tour Heading To Martinsville On The Rebound | SPEED SPORT

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NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour will open its season at Martinsville Speedway Thursday evening, with optimism because the collection begins to rebound from final 12 months’s pandemic-affected season. (Dick Ayers picture)

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Thursday evening’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour opener at historic Martinsville Speedway marks a big second within the historical past of NASCAR’s oldest division.

The Modified Tour, which traces its roots again to the start of NASCAR in 1948, hopes to rebound from a troublesome 2020 season, shortened and closely altered as a result of of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

9 races have been accomplished from June — when the collection was lastly in a position to get off the bottom at Pennsylvania’s Jennerstown Speedway — by way of the October finale at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

That’s the smallest schedule within the Tour’s modern-era historical past.

Given the challenges collection officers confronted, nevertheless, with restricted crowds and well being restrictions, it was a significant accomplishment that the Tour accomplished a season in any respect.

“It’s clearly one thing that we had by no means skilled earlier than,” NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour director Jimmy Wilson informed SPEED SPORT in an unique interview. “Candidly, I hope after we get all the way in which to the opposite aspect of this, we by no means must expertise it once more, for a lot of causes. We principally had to make use of each instrument in our toolkit to determine methods to get these races in final season. Visually, we ran 9 races and what I’m most pleased with is that we bought eight of these run with followers in some capability … and kudos to Jennerstown Speedway for being those to stay their neck out and get that first race in, as a result of that was the second we realized we may do that.

“I’ve mentioned this many instances earlier than, however when you’ve got a enterprise — whether or not it’s racing with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour or a retailer up the road — the longer one thing stays closed, the tougher it’s to get it reopened,” Wilson famous. “For Jennerstown to do the occasion with out followers and put collectively a plan of how that will promote their race we ultimately held in August, was large. However now, I’m simply glad we’ve got 2020 behind us. It was profitable within the sense that we bought that many races in, the racing on the observe was excellent, and our automobile counts remained very robust.

“There have been a whole lot of positives to take out of it, however to get to the top of it and get the season in, it positively took a whole lot of us working collectively and actually considering out of the field.”

That outside-the-box considering additionally led to a significant schedule overhaul for this season, together with returns to Martinsville and close by Richmond (Va.) Raceway — each previous staples on the NASCAR modified calendar.

“Martinsville is, clearly, very steeped in modified racing historical past with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s previous there, and Richmond is as nicely. Since I grew to become the Tour director in 2013, all I’ve heard is, ‘When are we going again to Martinsville? When are we going again to Richmond?’” Wilson famous. “Yearly, we’ve had these conversations … and for one cause or one other, whether or not it was scheduling, logistics or no matter it was, we haven’t been in a position to put it collectively.

“Lastly, this 12 months, all of it got here collectively and we bought each of them (on the schedule) and that’s one thing that we’re very pleased with and really enthusiastic about.”

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