NASCAR Modifieds Will Not Be Part of Toyota Showdown by Len H. Sammons
Busch East Expects to Compete if Event Is Run
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Trenton, NJ – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Series will not be a part of the prestigious Toyota Showdown – something many had hoped for in 2007.

While the event itself remains questionable, it’s now definite that the Modifieds will not be a part of the program.

When a tentative Whelen Modified Tour schedule was released last November, the tradition date for the Toyota Showdown, the October 19-20 weekend was listed as “save the date”.
It looked like the NASCAR WMT and WSMT teams might meet in Irwindale this season.  But that's not going to happen.
This triggered the hopes of modified loyalists that the open-wheel division would join the NASCAR Grand National East-West series at the Showdown.  The thought was that it would replace the spot in the event of the NASCAR Elite Series which has been dropped this year as a touring division.

Since its inception the Showdown has been run at California’s beautiful Irwindale Speedway.  The event is high paying thanks to support from Toyota and high profile due to live, national coverage on SPEED Television.

AS of this writing, nothing officially has been announced if the Toyota Showdown will be held, where it would be held, what date it would be held, or what divisions will compete. 

It’s been rumored that the Showdown would move to different venues, but its late season date makes the cold weather an issue for much of the country.  Tracks that would be interested would also have to meet considerable hospitality requirements needed by Toyota and other sponsors.

Irwindale’s track schedule continues to hold the date.

Ed Cox, director of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, confirmed to AARN by phone last Thursday that he’s been told by NASCAR that his series will not be a part of the Showdown.

“I was told yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 21) morning that the Modified will not be a part of it – if it did happen at all,” said Cox.
“I think they’re still in negotiations to see if it will happen or not.  I don’t know where they are at, except that the Modifieds will not be part of it.”

Cox confirmed that the “save the date” at the end of the tentative schedule was indeed a reference for the Toyota Showdown.  There was speculation that the date might also have been reserved for the ‘Mason-Dixon Meltdown,’ a non-sanctioned Modified race presented late last year for the first time by SPEED TV broadcaster Bobby Dillner at Va.’s South Boston Speedway.

“The Showdown was the intent all along,” added Cox.

Cox did say that he had talked with Dillner about his event, but it had not gone any further at this point.

“Our (Modified Tour) season will end at Thompson, (Conn.),” said Cox.  “I honestly don’t think we’ll add another race late in the year, but I never like to say never.”

NASCAR Busch East director Lee Roy, however, is counting on again taking his top drivers
to the Toyota Showdown.

“It’s still part of our schedule,” said Roy by phone on Friday, Feb. 23.

“All Discussions that I’ve been a part of tell me it is going to happen again for us,” he said.
“We’re counting on it.”

The trip west for the Busch East racers is much more competitor friendly.  Their final regular
point race of the year is in Dover, Delaware on September 21.  That gives them ample time to
prepare for a trip across country.  There is, however, no current mention of the Showdown on
the NASCAR Busch East Series website.

It wouldn’t have worked so nicely for the NASCAR Modifieds.  The final point race for the
Whelen Tour is Sunday October 14 in Thompson.  If the race is indeed at Irwindale the following weekend, the teams would virtually have to leave as soon as Thompson’s checkered flag flew.  It would also leave no room for a rain-date in case of weather issues at Thompson.

“When I looked at the Modified schedule,” said Roy, “I could see it would be a physical challenge for their racers to attend a race across country.  They would have to leave right after the Thompson race to comfortably make it (to California.)”

Roy expected an announcement shortly regarding the particulars of the Showdown, but it seems he expects to return to Irwindale.  He had no idea, however, what other division would share the event with the Grand National cars.

“When I heard that the Modifieds might be a part I thought that would make it a great show,” said Roy.  “The Elite series has been dropped by NASCAR this year and the Modifieds would have been a great addition.”

Reportedly, Irwindale will have an event on October 19-20, even if it’s not awarded the Toyota Showdown.  The event was rumored to be a big event for the former Elite Series Late Model teams.  It only makes sense that these cars will now continue to be a part of the Toyota Showdown, not as a series event but as a big event for the class.  That would be much like the one that Va.’s Martinsville Speedway holds for the Late Models here on the East Coast. 

The Mods could have filled a void left by the Elite Series.  (Getty Images Photo)