Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series rolls into the Thompson Speedway on Wednesday evening.for the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150.
Bonsignore, a Holtsville, New York, native, has won six consecutive Whelen Modified Tour races at the Connecticut oval. He swept all four series events at Thompson last year en route to his first career title and won both the Icebreaker and the Thompson 125 so far this season. He’s the only driver to accomplish the feat in the 144-race Whelen Modified Tour history of the track and has done it all driving for Ken Massa. Bonsignore has won the last six races from starting positions of fourth or better and has led 280 laps over the stretch. He might not have led all the laps or been the dominant car in all races, but he’s found his way to Victory Lane one way or another, which is a credit to him and his team. The average car count over the span is over 28 cars per event.
The Thompson event promises to be an exciting one as there are no stupid rules in effect that govern tire changes like there was at Stafford which recently held one of the most boring events ever seen.
All five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in competition, along with the NEMA Midgets, where veteran sprint car star Sammy Swindell will compete.
In regular weekly action at the Stafford Motor Speedway on Friday night Ronnie Williams was the winner of the SK Modified® feature, Adam Gray won the Late Model feature, Mark Bakaj won the SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie won the Limited Late Model feature, and Meghan Fuller won the Street Stock feature, her third of the year.
In the SK Modified 40 lapper, Williams got a good run to the inside of Marcello Rufrano on lap-31 and he took second with a pass going into turn 3. Williams was right on Mike Christopher’s back bumper as they completed lap-33 with Rufrano, David Arute, Keith Rocco, Glen Reen, and Michael Gervais lined up behind them. Williams was looking high and low and he made a move to the inside of Christopher in the middle of turns 3+4 to take the lead on lap-35. Christopher came right back with a crossover move to retake the lead on lap-36.
The two leaders took the white flag with Christopher leading Williams into turn 1. Williams got a good run through the first two corners and as the cars headed into turn 3 Williams sent it in deep to the inside of Christopher and the two cars touched with Williams coming off turn 4 to take the checkered flag by a nose in front of Christopher with Rufrano nearly making it a 3-wide finish. Arute finished fourth with Reen rounding out the top-5. Rocco finished sixth. Point leader Todd Owen was eliminated on lap 2 when he got into the turn 3 wall and came to pit road with heavy damage to his right front suspension.
In the SK Lite 20 lapper, Mark Bakaj was able to beat Puleo to the checkered flag by a half car length to pick up his second win of the 2019 season. Bakaj received a gift from Bryan Narducci who had a transmission go sour on a restart while leading. Steven Chapman finished third with Mikey Flynn and Robert Bloxsom rounding out the top-5. Chapman’s car was found to be 2 pounds underweight in post race inspection and he was penalized two positions back to fifth, promoting Flynn to third and Bloxsom to fourth.
After 100 laps of ground-pounder action, it was Anthony Nocella taking down the win in the Thunder in the Mountains 100 at White Mountain Motorsports Park, along with the $3,500 going to the victor in the inaugural Bullring Bash Quarter Mile Challenge presented by RaceChoice. Nocella, who started on the pole, got around Woody Pitkat with 32 laps to go and didn’t look back. Behind Nocella was Mike Willis in second. Andy Jankowiak was third, followed by Richard Savary and Kirk Alexander. The event drew a light field of 11 cars.
On the east end of Long Island, A near capacity crowd turned out for the I Love America Night program at Riverhead Raceway Saturday night. When the 50-lap NASCAR Modified feature event was checkered former three time champion John Fortin Sr. earned his 33rd career victory tying him with Chris Young for 4th on the all time win list. In a twist of irony the driver Fortin had to ward off for his first win of 2019 would be Chris’s son Christopher Young. Second generation driver Chris Young would again settle for runner-up money in his Riverhead Building Supply Chevy and noted afterwards looking over at Fortin in victory lane, “that’s it, he’s cut off. He tied my Dad but no more” the youngster said with a laugh. Enjoying a solid season John Baker was third in his Elite Towing entry while championship leader Kyle Soper and Tom Rogers Jr. completed the top five. Rogers trimmed 19 points off Soper’s championship lead between the heat race and feature points on the night and now trails the defending champion by 60 markers.
Down in the southland at the Bowman Gray Stadium twin 50s were run for the Modifieds. Brandon Ward won the first 50-lap Modified race after regaining the lead with seven laps remaining. Ward picked up his third win of the season after defeating Tim Brown, Jonathan Brown and Jason Myers.
John Holleman IV, who was making his Modified debut after being a fixture in the Sportsman Series, qualified fourth and drew the pole. Holleman trailed Ward with 12 laps left, but he slipped past Ward for the lead. The lead was short-lived after Ward went past Holleman just five laps later. Jonathan Brown won the second 50 lapper. Danny Bohn finished second in the nitecap.