RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail: NASCAR Mods Return To NHMS, Stafford & Much More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returned to action at the New Hampshire International Speedway.

Justin Bonsignore took the lead on lap 24 of the 35-lap All Star Shootout, and went on to capture the checkered flag in the non-points NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at the 1.058-mile oval. His victory marks the fifth different driver to win the exhibition event in its five-year history. On the white flag lap, while Bonsignore was in the lead into turn three, Rowan Pennink made a desprate charge diving into the turn, but lost control after contact with the back bumper of Bonsignore’s machine and hit the wall. While Pennink ended up 14th, Bonsignore rolled to the start/finish line and into the winner’s circle.

Although two early cautions for wrecks slowed the race, during a mandatory caution on lap 20, a spin of a wheel determined an invert would be five, lining Eric Goodale and polesitter Rob Summers up on the front row for the restart.

Bonsignore lined up third for the green, and took the lead from Pennink when he rolled to the inside on lap 23. Five-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby narrowly avoided the wreck and crossed the line second, while Eric Goodale, Jon McKennedy and Bobby Santos rounded out the top five. Ryan Preece finished sixth, followed by Andy Seuss, Ryan Newman, Woody Pitkat and Matt Swanson.
Thirty-four cars attempted to qualify for the Eastern Propane & Oil 100. Ryan Newman took the pole position with a fast time of 28.763 seconds (132.420 mph) around the 1.058-mile oval. Defending and five-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby was second. Justin Bonsignore, who entered the race with four victories in seven races, qualified third and will start from the inside of the second row. Rounding out the top five were Chase Dowling and Eric Goodale.

Among those starting at the tail were Wade Cole, Gary McDonald, Melissa Fifield and Joe DeGracia. To put it bluntly, these four do not belong on the high-speed playing field with the Whelen Modifieds. They are all nice people and they all work hard but they are consistently not even close to being contenders.

Bobby Santos beat Chase Dowling to the finish line by less than a bumper as he scored the victory, his first of the year in the Whelen Modifieds. Santos started in 14th spot and methodically worked his way to the front. It had to be one of the most exciting finishes in the history of the track. Chase Dowling finished second and was followed by Ryan Newman, Justin Bonsignore, Eric Goodale and Rowan Pennink.

There were 21 lead changes during the event. Twenty five of the original starters were running at the end. Among those who failed to finish was Ken Heagy who crashed on lap 91, Andy Seuss who lost an engine on lap 84, Ryan Preece who crashed on lap 71, Max Zachem lost an engine on lap 58, Melissa Fifield’s latest excuse was a sour engine on lap 41, Blake Barney had a clutch go bad on lap 35, Dave Salzaulo overheated on lap 25, Walter Sutcliff lost power steering on lap14 and Calvin Carroll crashed on lap 10.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams return to the track at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway for the Starrett 150 on Friday, August 3.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night it was Girls Night Out / Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Track Walk night with the Limited Late Model cars going an extra distance 30 laps in their feature event. Ronnie Williams continued his hot streak with his third win in the last four races and fourth overall win of the 2018 season, Glen Reen picked up his second win of the 2018 season in the Late Model feature, Mark Bakaj was a first time winner this season in the SK Light feature, Duane Provost was the big winner of the 30-lap Limited Late Model feature, and George Bessette, Jr. scored his third win of the season in the Street Stock feature.

In the 40 lap SK Modified feature Williams took the lead on a restart just past the half way mark and held off Eric Berndt for the win. Michael Gervais, Jr. finished third and was followed by Matt Galko and Dan Avery.

In the SK Lites Bryan Narducci continues to impress as does his cousin Alexander Pearl. After starting 11th, Bryan finished 3rd. Alexander started 5th, was running a good race until two laps to go when he spun & got hit from behind.

On the Connecticut shoreline at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Kyle James returned to victory lane as he bested Todd Owen for the 40 lap SK Modified win. Matt Galko finished third with Andrew Molleur and Rob Janovic rounding out the top five. Bryan Narducci, who has been making a name for himself at Stafford and Thompson made his debut in the SKs at the Speedbowl and finished eighth.
Ryan Morgan and Jason Palmer took the Late Model wins. Other Saturday night winners were Peter Bennett in the Legends, Charles Canfield in the Mini Stocks and Jonathan Puleo in the SK Lites. Duane Noll was a winner in the Speedbowl Trucks after apparent race winner Tom Metcalf was disqualified following a post-race inspection.
James has now won four of the six SK Modified events run at the Speedbowl..

Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Tim Brown won his second Modified race of the season, and Randy Butner won his first race of the season in the twin 25-lap races Saturday night. Brown, who hadn’t won since May 5, won the pole for the first race and cruised to his second win of the season. Brown defeated Jason Myers, Jonathan Brown, Burt Myers and James Civali.
Butner won his first Modified race in over a year. He defeated Jonathan Brown, Burt Myers, Jason Myers and Tim Brown. Butner weaved his way around leader Chris Fleming on lap 22 and led the last three laps.

Racing at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island was cancelled due to a threat of rain. This coming Saturday night at Riverhead they will honor and remember “Tiger” Tom Baldwin, Richie Evans & “Charging” Charlie Jarzombek with the running of the annual 77-lapper in their memory. It will be a night of nostalgia with the LIVARS vintage race cars and the Cromarty Wall of Champions induction ceremony. Plus 6 great NASCAR divisions

On a sad note, Bruno S. “Shany” Lorenzet, 97, of Stafford Springs, CT, died peacefully at home on July 15. Shany took many, many thousands of photographs at New England tracks in the 1950s and ’60s. A very substantial portion of the entire photographic history of modified racing was created through his lens.
Gary Danko reported that Tom Ormsby’s sister called and wanted to let everyone know that Tom is in the hospital and his health status is declining rapidly. Ormsby is a retired Connecticut State Trooper and a one-time Modified competitor at the now closed Plainville Stadium. He is also the Webmaster of the internet site Vintagemodifieds.com.

On the speedway stock market scene this week, two of the three speedway stocks were down. The International Speedway Corporation took the big hit as they dropped 1.00 to 44.00. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.59 to 17.30 as Dover Entertainment went up 0.06 to 2.01. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Energy went up 0.37 to 61.58 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.81 to 21.05 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear dropped 1.06 to 21.62. Two of the three car manufacturers were up for the week. General Motors went up 0.04 to 39.40 and Toyota went up 2.29 to 131.80 while Ford dropped 0.42 to 10.56. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 3.76 to 202.45 and Lowes went up 1.08 to 100.66. With the exception of McDonalds which dropped 0.64 to 157.97 and Dow-Dupont which dropped 0.54 to 65.82 the big team sponsors stocks had a fairly good week. Coca-Cola went up 2.72 to 138.20, Target Department Stores went up 0.04 to 77.76 and Fedex went up 1.18 to 234.93.

On the tube this week:

Tuesday, July 24
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR K&N Series Thompson, Ct NBC Sports Net

Wednesday, July 25
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, Fox Sports 1
7:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour All Star Shootout NBC Sports Net

Thursday, July 26
5:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1
5:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub, FS1

Friday, July 27
5:00 PM, NASCAR Xfinity Series Iowa practice, NBCSN
6:00 PM, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Eastern Propane and Oil 100 NBC Sports Net
6:00 PM, NASCAR America, NBCSN
6:30 PM, NXS Iowa final practice, NBCSN

Saturday, July 28
10:00 AM, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono qualifying, FS1
12:30 PM, NASCAR RaceDay, FS1
1:00 PM, NCWTS Pocono race, FS1
3:00 PM, NXS Iowa qualifying, NBCSN
4:00 PM, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Pocono qualifying, NBCSN
5:00 PM, NXS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
5:30 PM, NXS Iowa race, NBCSN

Sunday, July 29
11:00 AM, NCWTS Pocono race re-air, FS1
12:00 PM, How It’s Made – Liquor jugs, NASCAR Engines, Deli Meats, SCI
2:00 PM, MENCS Countdown to Green, NBCSN
2:30 PM, MENCS Pocono race, NBCSN
6:00 PM, MENCS Post Race, NBCSN