With 2020 in the rearview mirror, Wilson tipped that this year’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour field has more reason than ever before to be optimistic about the action set to take place on the race track.
In a preseason memo distributed to teams last month, Wilson outlined several key points meant to help bolster the growth of the Tour field — and the series as a whole — as it begins anew this season.
Chief among them is the return of all of the Tour’s key contingency partners, as well as the addition of a new contingency partner in E3 Spark Plugs. That includes the Mayhew Tools Pole Award, the Hoosier Tire Lap Leader Award, Hoosier Tire Hard Charger Award, Hoosier Tire Most Improved Award and the Phil Kurze Memorial/Jostens Halfway Leader Award.
In addition, the $3,500 Whelen Winner of the Race bonus returns again this season, helping to keep the winner’s payout for the majority of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events at or above $10,000 to win.
“A lot of those bonuses are things that we have been doing all along,” Wilson said. “We’ve always had a very nice point fund payoff at the end of the season, thanks to all of our contingency partners and (series title sponsor) Whelen Engineering. Everyone contributed to that last year in a shortened season and we still managed to pay out more than $220,000 in point fund money to our teams, which we were very proud of,” Wilson said. “They worked very hard and the teams needed it, so we’re certainly happy to deliver with that.
“The Whelen winner’s bonus … we started that particular structure in the 2017 and ’18 seasons, which combines with the promoter’s portion of the purse to get the winner’s share over $10,000 at the vast majority of our races,” Wilson continued. “There are still a couple of them that fall a little bit short of that, but for the most part, we’re up over that $10,000 mark and that seems to be where the bar is.
“It certainly does attract more race cars, which is what it’s all about, is having cars on race tracks and having exciting shows for our fans.”
Marking another boost to teams in terms of exposure, every NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event this season will be shown live on NBC Sports Gold’s TrackPass streaming platform, as well as re-aired through tape-delayed coverage on NBCSN.
“Over the last few years, the coverage has gotten stronger and stronger. We have TrackPass now, but this year for the first time since before I came onboard with NASCAR (in 2011), this is the first year that on the tape-delayed basis with NBCSN, that every one of our races is going to be televised. The coverage is like no other this year and we’re all really excited about that.
“It’s huge. It puts more eyeballs on the series and that’s the kind of thing we need to keep it strong.”
While 2020 marked a defined speed bump in the more-than-seven-decade history of NASCAR’s modified division, a new calendar year and a 14-race schedule has brought a new sense of optimism and a breath of fresh air to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
It’s a season Wilson believes will be “extremely rewarding” when all is said and done.
“Going all the way back to NASCAR’s beginning, this is the division that started it all,” said Wilson. “We’re starting fresh, in a way, this year and continuing a story that has been being written over the last 65 or 70 years within the sport and we’re looking forward to kicking that off at Martinsville.
“When you hear of all the great racing on the Tour, people don’t realize there’s a lot behind the scenes that goes into it.”