RPW Exclusive: The Champ Trail: Whelen Mods At Thompson But No K&N East & More

Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to the Thompson Motorsports Park Speedway last Wednesday, June 5.

Less than 24 hours prior to the event NASCAR and the speedway announced that the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race scheduled for Saturday, June 15 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park had been cancelled and will not be replaced. The June 15 event at Thompson will go on with the American-Canadian Tour being the featured division along with Thompson’s regular divisions.

There were 31 Modifieds on hand for the Thompson 125 on hand. Because of the fact that bad weather was moving in the Whelen Modified event was moved up to the third spot on the night’s feature event schedule.

Justin Bonsignore became the first driver to win five consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in April, and on Wednesday, he increased that number by one.

Bonsignore scored his sixth straight win at the historic Connecticut oval, pulling away from the field after passing Jon McKennedy on a restart on lap 87 and never looking back. It was the 22nd career win for the Holtsville, New York, native and his second of the season. The victory was his 11th at Thompson, a number that leads all active drivers.

Doug Coby, who won his second consecutive Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in qualifying, led the opening 13 laps, fought a tight condition early that dropped him to the bottom of the top 10. But after a quick pit stop by his Mayhew Tools team, Coby mounted a charge up to second at the finish.

Craig Lutz, who led a race-high 73 laps, finished third, Lutz turned in an outstanding performance. Former NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers was fourth, driving for the injured Dave Sapienza, while Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Matt Swanson, Sam Rameau, Max Zachem and Woody Pitkat.

Twenty six of the original 31 starters were running at the finish. Among those who failed to finish were Anthony Nocella and Patrick Emerling who crashed in turn one on lap 98, Melissa Fifield parked it after completing 87 laps, Jimmy Blewett dropped out on lap 32 with ignition problems and Joey Mucciacciaro dropped out on lap 4 with an oil leak.

Once again Racefans.tv did an outstanding job of providing coverage and ample exposure to the track and competitors sponsors. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at the Riverhead Raceway in New York, on Saturday, July 6.

The Sunoco (SK type) modifieds provided a pleasant surprise in the form of Max Mclaughlin. Ryan Preece stole the show with a vintage run from 8th spot. Preece passed McLaughlin with four laps to go and went on to take the win. McLaughlin, son of former NASCAR Modified Champion Mike McLaughlin had never laid eyes on the Thompson track. Starting ninth in a Keith Rocco owned car, McLaughlin ran the track like he had been racing there for years. McLaughlin took the lead on lap 13 after a slick move and held off Preece until the closing moments. McLaughlin held on for second with Rocco, third. Troy Talman and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top five.

The SK Light© Modifieds closed out the night with Bryan Narducci looking to continue his perfect win record at Thompson seeking a seventh victory in his seventh start in the division. Narducci worked his way through traffic to the top five when a significant wreck eleven laps into the 20-lap feature brought out the red flag for track cleanup. Narducci found himself trapped in third place after the restart allowing Steven Chapman to pull away. Narducci saved the best till last and was able to move to second with four laps to go and on the final turn of the final lap Narducci drove it in deep, pushing Chapman up the track and took the win continuing his perfect run in the SK Light© Modifieds. Narducci is expected to compete in a tour type modified at Stafford next week.

Other Wednesday night winners at Thompson were Scott Michalski in the Mini Stocks, William Wall in the Late Models and Brent Gleason in the Limited Sportsman.

At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night, It was a banner night for Late Model driver Kevin Gambacorta as he celebrated his 11th wedding anniversary in style by winning the 30-lap Late Model feature and Gambacorta’s son Kolton won the Kids Big Wheel race that was held on the front stretch as part of Kids Night. Other winners were Eric Berndt in the SK Modified® feature, Alexander Pearl in the SK Light feature, Gary Patnode was a first time career winner in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson won the Street Stock feature.

In the SK Modified 40 lapper, Keith Rocco got by early leader Eric Berndt for the lead on lap-23 but his lead didn’t last long as Berndt retook the lead from Rocco on lap-25. Troy Talman was running in third with Cory DiMatteo fourth and Glen Reen was fifth with Todd Owen and Ronnie Williams right behind him in sixth and seventh place. With 10 laps to go, Rocco was still giving chase to Berndt for the lead with Talman, DiMatteo, Reen, Owen, and Williams still making up the top-7. Rocco couldn’t get close enough to Berndt to make a move as Berndt notched his second win of the 2019 season. Reen finished third with Talman and DiMatteo rounding out the top-5.

In the SK Lite 30 lapper Alexander Pearl beat out Nick Anglace and secured his second win of the 2019 season. Teddy Hodgdon came home in third with Bryan Narducci and Mikey Flynn roundin out the top-5.

At the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island Roger Turbush scored his first ever NASCAR Modified win. John Fortin finished second with Kyle Soper, third. On tap this weekend at the eastern Long Island raceway is the $32,650 Islip 300.

Racing at the Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina fell victim to rain.

Ron Williams was the Valenti Modified Racing Series winner at Monadnock. Kirk Alexander was second.

Former NASCAR CEO Brian France pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in New York’s Hamptons last year. Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said the 56-year-old France pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and undergo alcohol counseling. If he meets the requirements, the charge will be reduced to a traffic violation, a mere slap on the wrist..

On the speedway stock market scene last week, two of the three speedway stocks had positive endings for the week. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.23 to 18.39 and the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.16 to 44.92 while Dover Entertainment dropped 0.04 to 2.03. NASCAR Cup sponsor Monster Beverage went up 4.06 to 65.92, NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.51 to 14.92 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer) went up 0.30 to 14.06. The auto manufacturers were all positive at weeks end. Ford went up 0.25 to 9.76, General Motors went up 2.15 to 35.99 and Toyota went up 5.85 to 122.39. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 7.53 to 197.30 and Lowes went up 4.48 to 97.76. In the area of big team sponsors stocks McDonalds went up 7.71 to 205.48, Coca-Cola went up 8.52 to 310.33, Target went up 6.41 to 86.85, Dow-Dupont went up 0.01 to 30.52, Fedex went up 4.77 to 158.02 and Stanley Black and Decker went up 10.49 to 137.69.