(RaceTalkRadio.com; April 9, 2011)

by Rick from Massachusetts

Thompson, CT (April 9, 2011) – The 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour prepared for their season opening event today at the .625 mile Thompson International Speedway. Bobby Santos III led the one and only practice session with a time of 18.407 seconds (122.236 mph). Rowan Pennink, Ted Christopher, Eric Berndt and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five. Six through ten were Justin Bonsignore, Kevin Goodale, Mike Stefanik, Ryan Preece and Glenn Tyler.

Santos’ time in practice was better than his record setting Pole in this event last year, which was 18.418 seconds.

The action was slowed for a couple of minor spins until the #14 of Jimmy Blewitt came off turn 4 and lost the left rear wheel. Blewitt wound up against the front stretch wall with heavy front end damage while the wheel continued on into turn one before coming to a stop. A visibly upset Blewitt was able to walk away from the wreck. The remainder of the practice session was uneventful.

As a result of the accident and extensive damage, Jimmy Blewitt has withdrawn from the weekend’s event.  Richie Pallai, Jr. blew a head gasket in practice and will not take a qualifying run. Instead, the team will make repairs to the car and start shotgun on the field.

During qualifying, Bobby Santos III once again showed the field how it’s done by setting a new track record with a lap of 18.237 seconds (123.376 mph). Going out seventh, Santos took the Pole away from Ron Silk, who had gone out in qualifying from the fifth position. It was the fifth career Coors Light Pole for Santos, his third at Thompson.

Ted Christopher, Justin Bonsignore, Ryan Preece and Todd Szegedy rounded out the top five qualifiers. Sixth through tenth were Ron Silk, Rowan Pennink, Eric Beers, Doug Coby and Eric Berndt. Other notables during qualifying include Mike Stefanik (14th), Matt Hirschman (16th), Ed Flemke, Kr, (20th) and Chuck Hossfeld (21st). The top qualifying Rookie of the Year candidate was Tom Rogers, Jr., who will start in the 12th position. Bryon Chew, who previously ran in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, is now competing full time on the WMT, qualified 27th.

Thompson Int’l Speedway will have six feature races prior to the Whelen Modified Tour taking the track. An autograph session is planned to take place under the turn 4 party tent as well. The 2011 Icebreaker is scheduled to go green at approximately 3:15pm ET on Sunday, April 10.