The longest current starting streak on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will continue in 2012, though Ed Flemke Jr. will have a new owner backing that effort.
“We’ve been working on it for a while and finally just got everything together and we’re going to go forward and see what happens,” Flemke said. “[Running the whole season is] the hope and the intentions. We’re going to kind of go race to race and see how things go. Hopefully things work well and we can. If things aren’t making sense we’ll take some time off, but hopefully not. I don’t see why we would have to, but sometimes you never know.”
Flemke, who made his first start on the Whelen Modified Tour in 1988, will turn 57 on April 24.
“God am I old,” Flemke said. “Thank god. I’m happy that I’m old. I’d rather be old than not here.”
Flemke has started the last 354 Whelen Modified Tour events, a consecutive starts streak that dates back to the 1992 season. In 411 career starts in the series, Flemke has 17 victories, 91 top-five’s and 157 top-10’s. He has finished in the top-10 in the standings twelve times and was the series runner-up in the standings in 2004 and 2006. His last win came in 2008.
Flemke raced for team owner Gary Teto from 2005 until last season.
“Things just weren’t good,” Flemke said. “We’re still friends. He said to me last year ‘You might want to look somewhere else because I don’t think I can do this anymore.’”
King fielded a car last year for Woody Pitkat, but the team shut down before the end of the season. King said last year his intention was to shut the team down.
“I’ve always wanted to run for Don and it just kind of worked out,” Flemke said. “He wasn’t going to run this year, he had everything up for sale. He retired and was planning on taking it easy. We talked about it and decided to give it a shot. He’s definitely the car owner, but without getting into the details, it is his team, but it’s going to be up to us to run it and take care of the team. The financial commitment is up to us. It’s nice because we’re going into it with everything to gain and nothing to lose and we can have some fun.”
Last year it looked like Flemke’s consecutive starts streak was in jeopardy when Teto decided to not run events at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and Delaware (Ont.) Speedway, but Flemke worked out deals with other teams to make it to both races.
“The streak means quite a bit for me,” Flemke said. “The streak is cool for me because it’s something very few people have done. It means a lot to me. I don’t have championships, the wins speak for themselves, the poles speak for themselves, but the streak is something that’s kind of cool. It’s very important to me. Enough that I made sure last year that the two races that Gary didn’t want to go I worked out deals to run.
“The Tour is important to me. I’ll be the first one to admit that I get on them pretty hard when I think they mess up or I think they’re doing something that isn’t good for us, but it is the best deal in town and I like to be part of it. And it’s cool to have a record for something.”
The last time a Whelen Modified Tour event took the green flag to start without Flemke in the starting field was July 22, 1992 at the now closed Riverside Park Speedway in Agawam, Mass. Flemke said his team had issues with an overheating motor at the event at Stafford Motor Speedway on July 17, 1992.
“So we had to pull the motor out and have it completely redone,” Flemke said. “The Riverside Park race was a midweek deal. We thrashed and thrashed and thrashed and got the motor last minute and that was probably why we didn’t make the show, because we were so far behind on everything.”
Flemke said his goal to is to get his consecutive starts streak to 400, which would mean most likely running at least the next three seasons, which would bring him to 60 years old behind the wheel.
“I think about 400,” Flemke said. “It would be neat to keep going until I get to my 400th. That’s a tall order. Not that I’m ready to give this whole thing up, that’s the one thing. I know I can’t race forever and I don’t want to race forever. The only thing I do know for sure is that I’m not ready to stop now. I’m just not ready. Although, the end is coming and I know that. Unfortunately, in a sport like this, physically you can’t do it after a while and I don’t ever want to be just a participate. I don’t want to hang around just because it’s fun. As long as I’m competitive I’ll still be there.”
The 2012 Whelen Modified Tour season opens with the running of the Icebreaker April 14-15 at Thompson International Speedway.
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