THOMPSON, Conn. – Rowan Pennink won the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart but it was Ryan Preece who left Thompson Speedway with the heavy hardware on Sunday as he captured the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
Preece, from Berlin, Conn., capped off a stellar season highlighted by four wins for his first NASCAR touring series title. To do it, he had to dethrone defending champion Doug Coby, who entered Sunday as Preece’s lone competition.
With a 26-point lead, however, Preece only had to finish 22nd or better to secure his first title. For good measure, Preece led 33 laps late in the race in the No. 16 East West Marine/Sophie’s Rest Ford and cruised to the crown with his seventh podium finish of the campaign.
Sunday’s checkered flag went to Rowan Pennink, who drove the No. 93 Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner Chevrolet around Donny Lia on lap 133 and held it through the 150th and final circuit for his second career Whelen Modified Tour victory. Pennink, from Huntingdon Valley, Pa., ended a 48-race winless drought with the triumph.
Lia crossed the line second followed by Preece, polesitter Bobby Santos and Ron Silk. Max Zachem finished sixth in his Whelen Modified Tour debut while Matt Hirschman, Coby, Todd Szegedy and Justin Bonsignore brought home the top 10.
Coby, who celebrated his first championship following this same race last year at Thompson, had a large deficit to overcome to start the day if he wanted to keep the title. That challenge became even greater when he made contact with the wall on lap nine and ended up a lap down. Although he was able to get back on the lead lap and ultimately rally to a top-10 finish, Preece’s performance was too much to overcome.
At 22 years, 11 months and 25 days, Preece became the youngest champion in the 29-year history of the Whelen Modified Tour. He’s also the sixth different first-time champion in the last seven seasons, and the fourth in a row.