The ground pounders of the western frontier will take to the clay and open their season this coming weekend, and there’s a few new twists on top for 2015 as the Bicknell Race Products Modified Tour kicks off their 17th season. The tour will return to some places it hasn’t been to in recent years, and with additional prize money on the line in a few of them, it should make for quite an interesting mix of drivers.
For those not yet fully enlightened, the modified tour stands as the only organized series for the drivers in the western PA, eastern OH, and Niagara regions, and sees both fully loaded big block and 358 competitors from each of them. The rules are simple, if it’s legal where you race weekly, it’s a legal car within the series. The series is unique in that it not only hosts special events for drivers to compete for higher purses, it also provides fans a glimpse of the modifieds at places that don’t normally offer them and full fields at that.
The BRP modified tour is also a good example of how not for profit sanctions can manage costs and yet still provide increased purses and a reasonable point fund as well, something that never existed for the modifieds in the area before the tour’s arrival on the scene in 1998.
So what’s in store for the coming season? It’s anybody’s guess as far as outcomes on the track goes, or even for what invaders might wander into the territory on a given night. But using history and intuition as our guide (yeah, we’ve got a little intuition, bought some week!), here’s a little glimpse of what to expect.
Now lets check out the guys defending home turf!
|Pat Miller Photo|
#165 Rex King Jr: King Jr won the “triple crown” last year garnering a Lernerville, Sharon and BRP title in the same season. He’s looked awfully strong in a handful of races to start the season and will be a great bet to repeat. Why will he repeat? Because he’s come into his own in the last three years and has a great car, King Jr knows how to get it done at Sharon as well as anybody in recent memory, and more than holds his own at other places. Why won’t he repeat? New tracks adorn the schedule in 2015. Will he be able to tame the high banks of Tyler County? Will he be able to wrest a Tri City win away from drivers that have won consistently there over the years?
#65 Rex King SR: King Sr, the elder statesman, has looked as competitive as King Jr in early action so far this year and is the all time winner in terms of season titles and is tied for the series lead in overall wins. Why he wins in 2015? Because he could very well have a season where he sweeps both Sharon dates and suffers no mechanical gremlins. If both those are true this year, than look to see him on top of the podium come September. If not, it could be due to a mixture of bad luck, and a stronger than anticipated mix regarding invading drivers participating in tour events in 2015.
|Pat Miller Photo|
#37MD Jeremiah Shingledecker: It’s been a rough start for the former Lernerville and Tri City track champion and that could be a very scary proposition for his opponents. If the luck turns around, he’ll be a tough out and will be one of the early favorites to win the opener at Tri City. If he can get off to a good start, he could very well drive away with his first BRP title. Currently it’s expected he’ll run the whole tour in 2015.
#61Dave Murdick: The former tour champion seemingly takes his game to another level for BRP events. He can sometimes run hot and cold, but when he’s on, he’s capable of rattling off back to back wins and vaulting himself to the top of the standings
#11 Brad Rapp: The western PA version of the Dr will be at most if not all tour dates and will be a significant player in the standings. He’s been a bit sparse with his racing since the end of last season, but those who are familiar know that he can stack top 5 finishes with regularity and has come ever so close to tour victories in years past.
|Pat Miller Photo|
#29 Garrett Krummert: The former super late model driver has made the switch back to the modifieds and has looked very impressive in doing so thus far in limited action at Lernerville. A win for the young pilot would surprise nobody that’s been paying attention. A top five finish would be a great result in his first year back in a modified.
#777 Kevin Bolland: Mr. Bolland returns after a two and a half year hiatus, ready to take on the BRP Mod Tour. He’s recently restarted his program and scored a pair of top 10 finishes at Sharon and Lernerville. It’s anyone’s guess how he’ll fair, but a win is not out of the question once any rusty effects come off.
Other area drivers we’ll see:
|Pat Miller Photo|
#83 Brian Swartzlander: We most likely won’t see “Flyin Brian” at all tour events, but definitely at some of them and he’ll be a handful to contend with. The series returns to Tyler County Speedway in West Virginia for the first time since 2008 this year. Who won that race? Brian Swartzlander, and he’ll be a good bet for Tri City as well.
#45 Steve Feder: He’s had a bit of a rough go to start 2015 as evidenced by a bad crash at Lernerville early this season. But he’s won at Sharon before and can consistently get top 10’s which can easily put him in the top 5 come season’s end.
And now for the invaders…
#19 Justin Wright: The Niagara frontier wheelman currently calls Canandaigua home on some Saturday nights and took a podium finish at Lernerville in the opener. He’s run parts of seasons in years past, but If he runs the whole tour, he could be the first invader since Brian Weaver in 2012 to win the championship!
#3b Chad Brachmann: Expect the Ransomville/Merrittville regular to be around here and there as his schedule allows this year and when he’s in the lineup, he’s as good as anybody in the field. In limited action, he’s won four races in BRP action and won the 2013 tour championship.
#88 Shayne Pierce: Welland, Ontario’s Shayne Pierce has thrown his hat into the ring, and he’ll be a formidable presence to be sure. The 358 driver had been calling Merrittville Speedway home in recent years and purchased a big block in the offseason. He’s been very solid in 358 action and has some experience at some of the tracks in the area. He’s raced at Lernerville a few times and has looked impressive. He could be a darkhorse to keep your eye on.
#13 Rick Richner: The veteran 358 wheel man calls Ransomville home on Friday and can be found at Sharon Speedway on Saturdays. He should be at most if not all tour events in 2015 and was an upset winner at Sharon Speedway in 2013 at Applefest.
#21 Randy Chrysler: The venerable lacrosse coach from Tuscorora, New York is amazingly fun to watch and should partake in a few events on the tour. He’s a true outlaw, running wherever and whenever he pleases and with any luck and the right set of circumstances can find victory lane anywhere on the tour.
|Pat Miller Photo|
#6m Mat Williamson: The former, and perhaps this year’s Lernerville track champion probably won’t be in the mix for a championship this year as his schedule will keep him at Merrittville on Saturday’s and Utica-Rome on Sunday’s, but you can expect a few appearances on the schedule from the Canadian sensation. And at those races, he’ll be a threat to win
Schedule- click on dates for track websites
Friday June 26: Raceway 7, Conneaut, OH
Thursday July 2: Tyler County Speedway- Middlebourne, WV ($5,000 to win)
Saturday July 11: Sharon Speedway- Hartford, OH (Lou Blaney Memorial)
Thursday July 16: Expo Speedway- Trumbull County Fairgrounds- Cortland, OH
Sunday July 26: Tri City Raceway Park-Franklin,PA ($5,000 to win)
Saturday August 15: Mercer Raceway Park- Mercer, PA
Sunday September 6: Eriez Speedway- Hammett, PA
Friday September 11: Stateline Speedway- Busti, NY
Saturday September 12: Sharon Speedway Hartford, OH (Applefest)
Cant Miss Races:
*The July 26 show at Tri City promises to be a great evening and should have a grand opening type of feel to the night. $5,000 to win should draw some great invaders
*The July 2 date at Tyler County should be an awesome sight to see. The 1/4 mile, banked facility offers four wide racing and fast action. If you’ve ever been there for a late model special, do yourself a favor and make plans now!
*The July 11 Lou Blaney Memorial at Sharon Speedway has increased purse money and a full All Star Sprint show on the card as well. This might be the biggest event in the area outside of World of Outlaw sprint and late model appearances. Do not miss this race!
*The September 12 Applefest show at Sharon is a great time and sees a great share of invaders since the home tracks have mostly shut down their weekly programs, plus there’s a bonfire, who doesn’t love bonfires?