After close to a decade away from competing at Seekonk Speedway, the stars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to the ‘Cement Palace’ this Saturday night Sept. 10, for the running of the AnytimeRealty 150.

The groundpounders will compete in race 14 of 17 on their tough schedule, coming off two straight races at Riverhead, won by Justin Bonsignore, and Oswego, won by Doug Coby. Leaving Seekonk, they will be staring down the final three races of the season at New Hampshire, Stafford and Thompson before crowing the overall champion as part of the Thompson Sunoco World Series in October.

“I’ve been to Seekonk a few times with the Valenti Modified Racing Series car,” Bonsignore said. “I’m really not sure how much it will carry over between our car and the Whelen Tour cars with the spec motor, but we will see.”

Bonsignore comes into the race riding a wave of momentum off his win at Thompson on Aug. 10, followed up by another win just two races later at Riverhead on August 27. Last weekend at Oswego Speedway, Bonsignore finished third, but trailed Coby, his championship counterpart.

Coby comes into the event with a 20 point lead in the championship standings coming off the big win at Oswego in the NWMT Toyota Mod Classic 150.

“At Seekonk, I won two of those $10,000 to win (Open Wheel Wednesday) shows,” Coby said earlier in 2016. “One of the key crew members from that 52 team who basically knows how we set those cars up is also on our team, so he will have a big part of what we bring for a setup there.”

In the tour’s history, six races have been contested around the 1/3 mile oval. The inaugural event was in 1987, when Reggie Ruggiero captured the victory after starting in fourth position. That night, Ruggerio, who is one of the all-time best modified drivers, held off Jimmy Spencer and Bugs Stevens to capture the big win in the ‘Coors 200’.

From there, the NWMT didn’t visit Seekonk for 13 years, but made a triumphant return in 2000, when modified Jerry Marquis held off Mike Ewanitsko in the final laps of the Carquest 150. Marquis started from the pole position and led 76 laps, but Ewanitsko came from his 30th place starting position to challenge in the final circuits.

Veteran Chris Kopec tamed the 1/3 mile in 2001, while Ed Flemke, Jr. was the victor at the end of the distance in 2002. Though 2003 saw no visit to Seekonk for the NWMT stars, 2004 made up for missed time. Chuck Hossfeld beat Donny Lia and current Seekonk Pro Stock driver Dick Houlihan across the line that night, capturing his first victory at Seekonk.

The last appearance for the tour was 2005, when Eric Beers took ‘Ole Blue’ into Seekonk victory lane, holding off a challenge from John Blewett III in the races final stages. In the six prior appearances, the winner of the race has started no worse than sixth on the grid — meaning qualifying for Saturday’s Anytime Realty 150 will be crucial. With the 150 lap distance including caution flags, getting to the front and having track position in the final 50 laps could be the deciding factor.

But since the tour hasn’t been to Seekonk since 2005, many of the drivers have no clue what to expect from the 1/3 mile beast. Will their setup out of the truck be the one that guides them to victory? Or will they be forced to change everything under the hood in order to capture the crown.

No one really knows.

“We feel that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour embodies the best of open wheel racing that the country has to offer,” Seekonk’s Ed St. Germain said. “We look forward to seeing the top notch drivers of the NWMT test their skills on the 1/3 mile bull ring at Seekonk.”

The track Division I regular NASCAR Whelen All American Series Pro Stocks will have the night off Saturday, allowing the stars of the modified tour to take center stage. However, the Division II Late Models, Division III Street Stocks and Division IV Sports Trucks will be on hand for regular racing, as their points battles go down the stretch of the season.