The 25th season of NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour opened with Thompson International Speedway’s annual Icebreaker event on Sunday, April 5 (Thompson, CT).

Renee signs autographs during Thompson's Icebreaker

Renee signs autographs during Thompson's Icebreaker

Before the season got underway, on the previous weekend, the No. 90 team participated in some pre-season testing at Thompson. Unfortunately, after running just a handful of laps, an axle broke abruptly ending the team’s day – and leaving them under the gun facing substantial repairs.

After some late nights in the shop, the team arrived at Thompson on Friday morning to submit the car for NASCAR inspection. On Saturday, despite an unfavorable weather forecast, practice and qualifying went off without a hitch – with Renee qualifying into the tight field with the 21st fastest time of the day (a mere .317 seconds separated the top 25 cars).

Starting the 150-lap race from the inside of the 11th row, Renee initially dropped back. Once she found an outside lane, she worked her way forward. When the caution waved on lap 49, the No. 90 was scored in 14th place. Along with most of the leaders, the team pitted for tires on lap 52. A miscue during the pit stop dropped the car back to the 25th position.

Following a red flag period, for a crew member who was seriously injured during the pit stop action, the field remained under green until lap 115. During that time, Renee worked her way forward, then dropped back during the final run of late-race cautions. In the end, she posted an 18th place finish. For photos from the weekend, please visit our 2009 gallery – all pictures are courtesy of Howie and Mary Hodge.

We learned a lot today. Hoosier has a different tire this year and I think, going forward, we know what changes we need to make in order to keep the car from falling off, explained Renee. I don’t think our finish is indicative of how strong our car was, at times, during the race. We’ll know better for next time.

Actually, all things considered, I think we’re in pretty good shape. Back in January I had some knee surgery, which resulted in a completely unexpected two-month recovery period. My being out of commission for two months really jammed us up – there were a lot of unknowns as the season grew real close.

But, all that’s behind us and things are looking up now. As a team, we have a stronger crew of dedicated and knowledgeable guys than we’ve ever had. As of late, we’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to have some really strong engines under our hood. And, I’m working on some sponsorship deals that should provide us with some additional resources that we haven’t had in years. I’m excited for the possibilities.

Next up, the team moves on to the flat, ½-mile Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, CT) for the running of the 38th annual Tech-Net Spring Sizzler presented by CARQUEST. The 200-lap event is scheduled to go off at approximately 2:30 on Sunday, April 26. For more information, please visit Stafford’s website.