Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series traveled to the Riverhead Raceway on eastern Long Island. The event, which drew 31 cars, was live streamed by Fanschoice.tv, was blacked out to race fans and possible new fans in New York state, New England and New Jersey.
Saturday night short-track racing can be the highest level of modified racing or the lowest level. The first of two Whelen Modified Tour events at the eastern Long Island facility was a slam-bang affair that produced nine caution periods for 68 of the posted 200 laps. There was contact, and even spinning, but it was enough for Justin Bonsignore to score his third straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night.
Bonsignore restarted to the inside of track regular John Beatty Jr. in overtime, and coming to the checkered flag, contact between the two drivers sent Beatty up the track, and Bonsignore spinning nose-first towards the frontstretch wall. In the midst of his spin it was just luck that he crossed the line first in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200. The victory was Bonsignore’s third of the season and his 23rd career in Whelen Modified Tour competition. He becomes just the third driver in series history to win three straight at Riverhead, joining Mike Ewanitsko and Ryan Preece as the only drivers to accomplish the feat.
Saturday night short-track racing at the highest level of modified racing.
There was contact, and even spinning, but it was enough for Justin Bonsignore to score his third straight NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night.
Beatty looked to have the car to beat in the final stages. He passed Timmy Solomito for the lead on lap 150 and was at the point for a near run to the finish, until a caution for a wreck down the backstretch with three laps to go closed the field up. Beatty selected the top lane, and when the field went down into turn one at the green, the contact started between the two leaders.
They leaned on each other the final two laps, until the contact in turn four, coming to the checkered, sent Bonsignore spinning. Beatty, a regular in Riverhead’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I Modified class, was disappointed in the result, but happy with his effort. He nearly became the first track regular in more than two decades to win a Whelen Modified Tour race at the oval.
Timmy Solomito, who led 37 laps, crossed the line third. Solomito took the lead for the first time on lap 76, after dumping Doug Coby who was in the lead at the time. Ron Silk and Craig Lutz rounded out the top-five. Coby rebounded to sixth, while Patrick Emerling, Eric Goodale, Tom Rogers Jr. and Tommy Catalano completed the top 10.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as part of their annual Monster Energy Cup Series weekend on Saturday, July 20. Select drivers will also compete in the All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire on Friday, July 19.
At the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night scoring feature wins were Keith Rocco in the SK Modified® feature, Tom Fearn in the Late Model feature, Bryan Narducci in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement in the Limited Late Model feature, George Bessette, Jr. in the Street Stock feature, and Cadence DeLorge in the Wild Thing Karts Junior Outlaws feature.
For Rocco it ended a long dry spell as he had not won at Stafford since May 4. His career overall total is now 273 wins which also include 150 victories at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, 60 at Thompson and 63 at Stafford. Rocco and Williams slugged it out for the last half of the 40 lapper. Williams took the lead back from Rocco by a nose on lap-24 and the two cars ran side by side until lap-27 when Rocco powered his way by with a move in turn 3. Williams then came back to Rocco’s inside on lap-28 and the two cars were once again side by side with Rocco the leader at the line by inches. Mike Christopher, Jr. brought the caution back out with 29 laps complete with a spin in turns 3+4.
Williams and Rocco resumed their side by side duel with Glen Reen and Todd Owen side by side for third behind the lead duo. Rocco and Williams were still side by side with 7 laps to go while Owen was third, Reen fourth and Michael Gervais, Jr. was up to fifth.
Williams fell back into line behind Rocco on lap-36 while behind them, Gervais nearly went 3-wide with Owen and Reen for third on lap-37. Williams could get a good run in turns 1+2 to the outside of Rocco but Rocco was able to fend off his challenge down the backstretch and get clear heading back to the start/finish line. Williams made one last ditch effort on the final lap but Rocco was again able to keep Williams behind him as he locked down his second win of the 2019 season. Reen finished third with Owen and Gervais rounding out the top-5.
Bryan Narducci got redemption in the SK Lite 20 lapper as nothing fell off his car and nobody accused him of hitting anyone as he scored his eighth career win at the track.
Tom Fearn was the late model winner and Matt Clement was the Limited Late Model winner while the girls ruled the roost in the Street Stocks (Megan Fuller) and Wild Thing Karts (Cadence DeLorge).
The Valenti Modified Racing Series was at the Monadnock Speedway on Saturday night July 6. Todd Patnode passed Les Hinckley III for the lead on lap 25 and then scored the victory in the rain shortened 100 lapper that had been scheduled. The race was stopped because of rain after 66 laps. Patnode took the lead on lap-25 when he passed pole sitter Les Hinckley, a 19-time series winner who was making his first start of the season.
The victory is Patnode’s fifth series win that ties him with Andy Seuss and Ted Christopher on the series all- time win list. He also ties Dwight Jarvis with five wins at Monadnock. Jeffrey Gallup, who scored his first series win this season, finished a solid second, with Rob Richardi Jr, third, for his best finish of the season. Hinckley and Brian Robie rounded out the top five. Sixth through tenth were Ronnie Williams, Kirk Alexander, Joey Kendall, Geoff Rollins, and Ben Byrne.
The next Event for the VMRS is at the Lee USA Speedway on July 12, 2019 with Twin 50-lap Features.
Get well wishes to multi-time Stafford, Waterford and Thompson track champion Bob Potter who is on the mend from recent colon surgery.