By Lou Modestino

The first NASCAR weekend at NHMS is just 18 weeks away

The race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday had a tough act to follow. Two, in fact. With an edge-of-your-seat Daytona 500 and old-school feeling Atlanta race in the books, all eyes were on Vegas Sunday afternoon, and the “Entertainment Capital of the World” didn’t disappoint, providing one of the most unique viewing spectacles in recent memory.

“It seemed like there were plenty of challenges, whether it was pit road or the weather or cautions,” said race winner Brad Keselowski, who passed teammate Joey Logano and hometown favorite Kyle Busch in the closing laps for his second victory in his last three Vegas starts. “They threw everything they had at us today, but this Miller Lite Ford team was too strong and we were able to fight them off and get to victory lane.”

The wind blew so wildly at times on Sunday that a dust storm blustered over the track, making the optics simply amazing. It’s the desert, after all.

“I guess that’s the Wild Wild West, right?” runner-up Joey Logano quipped. “It was just dusty, grainy, windy. Crazy.”

It’s been an awesome start to the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The first three races have seen three different winners by three different manufacturers. There have been photo-finishes, late-race passes for the lead, and some of the best side-by-side racing we’ve seen in recent memory.

Through the first three races, there have been 69 lead changes among 34 drivers. Sunday’s race saw seven drivers lead the race for at least 10 laps. At Atlanta, five.

There’s still 18 weeks before NASCAR returns to New Hampshire. But thanks to a mild winter (for New Englanders, anyway), It won’t be long until the best fans in the world are packing this place in; towing your wagons, carrying your coolers, sporting your favorite driver’s colors.

We know the passion you have for racing, especially here in New Hampshire. We are proud of the fact that you show the same enthusiasm for the Whelen Modified Tour races on Saturday as you do for the Sprint Cup battles on Sunday

So far, this has been a season built on excitement. One race after another. It won’t be long before that electricity makes its way to the Granite State. We hope you’ll be here to live it.

Though the official start of the 2016 NorthEast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series (TTOMS) season will not come until June, the entry list is already packed with top talent from across the Northeast. Fifty-three drivers have officially pre-entered for the 2016 season, which allows each of them to be eligible for the points championship fund, along with extra incentives that will be announced a later date.

Among the first fifty-three entries includes NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour defending champion Doug Coby (32), who is joined by some of the drivers that plagued him in the 2015 Whelen Tour standings. Ryan Preece (6), Timmy Solomito (66) and Justin Bonsignore (21) have all filed entries, as has 2015 Valenti Modified Racing Series champion and Whelen Tour front-runner Woody Pitkat (52).

Driving the No. 42 last year, Pitkat was able to capture the checkers at the non-points season finale event at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. He has entered behind the wheel of car No. 52 for this season.

Also joining the list of entered drivers includes defending series champion Matt Hirschman, who will be chasing his second consecutive series crown. Hirschman won the Monadnock opener in 2015, the same track that will open this season.

Local track favorites like Todd Annarummo (12), Roger Coss (17) and Branden Dion (04) will be battling it out against names like defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified champion Andy Suess (70) and youngster Troy Talman (3MA) this year.

Former series winners Richard Savary, Tommy Barrett and Chris Pastreyak are also among those who have entered for the season, as is 2014 Tri Track champion Jon McKennedy.

The list also includes multiple former winners on the VMRS and Whelen Modified Tour, along with current Race of Champions modified stars and local track favorites who compete in the SK Modified division and beyond. Former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Ken Bouchard has also entered behind the wheel of his No. 55.

Super Late Model stars Derek Ramstrom (35) and Dick Houlihan (80) are also on the list.

The 2016 NorthEast Race Cars Tri Track Open Modified Series will start with a non-points event at Monadnock Speedway on June 11. The format for that race will be announced at a later date.

The official points campaign will start at Seekonk Speedway on June 29, with a 100 lap, $10,000 to win feature as part of the 11th annual “Open Wheel Wednesday,” in combination with the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites. After a month off, the Tri Track Series will make a stop at Star Speedway, bringing back the “SBM” tradition with another $10,000 to win feature July 30.

A special $10,000 to win event on Thursday, Aug. 25 at New London-Waterford Speedbowl and a season-ending feature at New London-Waterford as part of the “Bemer’s Big Show,” will take place on Oct. 22.

Updated List of Entries as of March 10:

0 — Mike Holdridge
0 — Andrew Krause
00 — Ted Christopher
04 — Branden Dion
07 — Patrick Emerling
3ma — Troy Talman
4 — Jeff Gallup
M6 — Dylan Kopec
7 — Kurt Vigeant
9 — Tommy Barrett
11 — John Beatty
11 — Geoff Gernhard
12 — Todd Annarummo
13 — Steve Masse
14 — Max Zachem
15ct — Chris Pasteryak
16 — Eric Berndt
17 — Roger Coss
21 — Justin Bonsignore
23 — Mike Douglas Jr.
25 — Rowan Pennink
28 — Dwight Jarvis
29 — Jonathan McKennedy
32 — Doug Coby
33 — Rob Richardi Jr.
33 — Bill Dixon
35 — Derek Ramstrom
38 — Nick Ladyga
39 — Calvin Carroll
41 — Karl Fredrickson
43 — Kirk Alexander
45 — Dan Meservey
46 — Jon Kievman
50 — Ron Silk
50 — Carl Mederios Jr.
52 — Woody Pitkat
52/06 — Les Hinckley
55 — Joe Doucette
55 — Ron Bouchard
58/93 — Sal Accardi Jr.
59 — Matt Hirschman (Defending Series Champion)
66 — Timmy Solomito
68 — Johnny Bush
70 — Andy Suess
73 — Andy Jankowiak
76 — Zane Zeiner
79 — Garrison Grubisa
80 — Dick Houlihan
85 — Mike Benevides
92 — Anthony Nocella
93 — George Sherman
96 — Dennis Perry
99 — Richard Savary

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