Whelen Southern Modified Tour Veteran Teams Welcome Drivers
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Two weeks out from its first laps of the season on March 12 at Caraway Speedway, the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is already making news.
Long-established modified organizations Fleming Racing and Hillbilly Racing have tabbed new drivers for the 2016 season with Danny Bohn and Richie Pallai Jr.
For the second time in his storied career Frank Fleming has decided to step away from the driver’s seat and he and his brother Chris will have Bohn drive his family-owned No. 40 car during the 2016 campaign.
Fleming has made 106 starts in the southern tour and 30 in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour throughout his career, highlighted by a win at Bristol Motor Speedway in the combination race in 2011 as the highest finishing southern tour regular.
“When I stepped out from behind the wheel three years ago to let my nephew (Luke Fleming) drive I accepted the fact I probably wouldn’t drive any more tour races,” Fleming said. “When he decided to step away from driving and start a family last year I jumped back in the car.”
When Fleming decided to return to driving last season he enjoyed another solid showing with three top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 10 starts, but he and his brother and crew chief Chris Fleming, felt something was still missing from their car.
“We have four race ready modifieds in our shop ready to go out and compete for wins,” Chris Fleming said. “We think there is just a little something we need with our cars. Frank and I think that Danny and his dad Eddie can bring some experience to our team to find what’s missing and help us get our car in Victory Lane.”
The Freehold, New Jersey, native competed part-time on the tour last year with a win at Bowman Gray Stadium – which is also the home track for the Flemings and where Chris competes in a modified as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at the famous quarter-mile track.
“Danny and I have had some great battles at Bowman Gray during their season and the young man can drive a race car,” Chris Fleming said. “If Frank or Luke aren’t going to be driving the car, Danny is one of the few people Frank and I feel comfortable driving it.”
The younger Bohn has moved back to North Carolina to work for long-time family friend Ray Evernham and that relocation opened the possibility for the new partnership.
“I’m looking forward to driving their car this year and I feel the experience my dad and I can bring to the team will help get their cars in Victory Lane,” Bohn said. “They have the equipment to run well and contend for wins and we’re going to work hard together to put their car in Victory Lane.”
The car will still be prepared at the Fleming race shop in Mount Airy, North Carolina, with Bohn and his dad and several crew members joining forces with the Flemings each race weekend.
“We’ve got the deal put together for Danny to drive and now we’re just finalizing our deals with some potential partners to help us each week and looking for a few more,” Frank Fleming added. “We’ll be ready to race in a couple of weeks.”
“This new partnership has everyone involved excited because we know we have the cars and talent from everyone on this team to get our cars in Victory Lane and that’s what we intend to do,” Chris Fleming said. “Don’t be surprised if we wind up in Victory Lane at the season opener.”
With four cars, there still might be the possibility of Frank or Luke getting behind the wheel at a race or two during the season while Chris plans on returning to compete at Bowman Gray during their regular season which gets underway in late April.
Like Bohn, Pallai moved down from the Northeast for employment and will return to racing with the southern tour. David Hill, who owns the team along with his wife Susan, feels his new driver can bring added experience to his team.
“I’ve loved working with young drivers and helping them through the past couple of years,” Hill said. “We feel having Richie come on board this year will give us a driver with the seat time that can come in and contend for wins right away and that is something we want to do this season.”
Hillbilly Racing most recently went to Victory Lane in 2010 when James Civali drove the No. 79 car to a pair of wins.
Pallai is ready to help get one of the longest tenured teams on the tour another race win.
“David and Susan have good equipment and I’m ready to get the season started,” Pallai said. “I feel I can bring some experience as a driver to their team and with their experience setting up cars on the tracks on the schedule I feel this could be a good match for both of us.”
Pallai made 46 Whelen Modified Tour starts with his family team and has enjoyed solid results with one top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
“One thing I think will make a big difference for me is I will just have to concentrate on driving this season instead of having to run the team along with driving the car,” Pallai said. “Just having to focus on driving will help me perform better in the car.”
The 11-race NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour 2016 schedule will get rolling on Saturday, March 12 at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina.