RPW Column: The Champ Trail: Wild Mod Finish At NHMS; Racing At Stafford, Speedbowl & More…

Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Series headed to Loudon, NH this past Saturday for a 100 lap-105.8 mile event.

Thirty three drivers filed entries including Bobby Santos III who won the last two events there.

Ryan Preece took advantage of a last lap blocking incident that saw then leader Ronnie Silk cut in front of Justin Bonsignore. Preece sprinted around Silk and Bonsignore to go from third to first to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s Whelen 100 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Bonsignore also elected not to take fuel when the caution fell at Lap 74, choosing to take tires and track position instead.

Off Turn 4 on the final lap, Bonsignore said the engine stumbled, hindering any momentum coming back to the checkered flag. Silk ended up third in a backup car that had zero practice laps on it and just two qualifying circuits before Saturday’s contest. Silk wrecked his primary car in practice.

Shortly after taking the green as the field was about to complete lap 1 Matt Swanson in the Boehler No. 3 drifted wide off Turn 4 and contacted the outside wall. As the field scattered around him, Max McLaughlin was turned into the outside wall, and both drivers’ days ended early. It took forever and a day for the track crew to clean the track as the race resumed on lap 12. Once the green dropped the field ran non-stop for 62 laps. Bonsignore and Preece traded the lead numerous times during the long green.

Doug Coby, who was hoping to score a good finish saw his chances come to an end on lap 46 when he dropped out with engine problems.

At the half way mark, Bonsignore was scored the leader with Preece in second spot. Andy Seuss was having a great run in third spot with Jon McKennedy in fourth and Ron Williams in the Jamie Tomaino 99 rounded out the top five. Point leader Patrick Emerling was not having a good day as he was lapped by the leaders at lap 70.

Bonsignore would continue to hold the lead until the caution flew on lap 74 for a blown engine in the mount of Bryan Dauzat.

The restart on lap 82 saw Silk enter the picture. By lap 85 he was in the lead. At Lap 93, Tyler Rypkema suffered a right-rear tire blow-out heading into Turn 1 and spun driver-side into the outside wall. He exited the car unhurt, climbing out under his own power.

That set up a restart with four to go. The fourth and final caution came on lap 98 when JD Fortin and Eric Goodale came together on the front stretch with Fortin ending up in the wall. Goodale felt that Fortin had cost him a good finish and hit him after the fact to show his dis-pleasure.

This incident led to the over-time green-white-checker finish. Completing the top five behind Preece, Bonsignore and Silk were Ronnie Williams and Jon McKennedy. Andy Seuss, Dave Sapienza, Bobby Santos III, Kyle Bonsignore and Timmy Solomito rounded out the top 10.

The racing was absolutely great but there was no pit reporter and no follow-up data from NASCAR’s PR department was non existent, with the exception of the finish.

Stafford Speedway dealt with a rain delay but in the end presented a full night of racing. Stafford’s Street Stock division took center stage on Friday, July 16 with their lone extra distance feature event of the 2021 season, the Midstate Site Development 30. Frank L’Etoile, Jr. was the big winner of the night, outdueling Chris Meyer in the closing laps to score his fourth Street Stock win of the 2021 season in the MSD 30. Other feature winners on the night included Michael Christopher, Jr. scoring his second consecutive SK Modified® feature win, Adam Gray beat Michael Bennett to the checkered flag in a thrilling photo finish to score his second Late Model feature win of the season, George Bessette, Jr. was a first time winner SK Light winner, and Matt Clement scored his second Limited Late Model win of the season.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® event, Teddy Hodgdon and Marcello Rufrano ran the first lap side by side for the lead before Rufrano took the lead in the outside lane on lap-2. Once in the lead, Rufrano opened up a huge lead. Following a restart Christopher took the lead from Rufrano on the lap-28 restart as Todd Owen moved into the third spot. Owen looked high and low over the final laps but he couldn’t find a way by Christopher and he came up a half car length short at the checkered flag as Christopher picked up his third win of the 2021 season. Tyler Hines finished third with Andrew Molleur, fourth. Rufrano faded to fifth.

There were 22 SK Modifieds on hand. Among the missing were Keith Rocco, Ronnie Williams and Bryan Narducci who were serving a one week suspension for fighting.

At the New London-Waterford Speedbowl It was one day before his 31st birthday, but Ray Christian III started the celebration early. He started the night at the New London Waterford Speedbowl with a Late Model win, and ended the program with another 30-lap Late Model winner. As an added bonus, he moved into the division point lead by two points over Jason Palmer, who was plagued all night by a damaged race car.

Christian’s back-to-back success stories were two of the highlights on a busy night at the New London Waterford Speedbowl.

Other highlights were defending SK Modified champ Tim Jordan grabbing his first 2021 win, Jim Boyle winning the most prestigious Speedbowl Truck race of the year, a 50-lapper, Al Stone taking down his 57th career win in the Street Stocks, John O’Sullivan winning for the fifth time this season in the Legend cars and Randy Cabral taking down a win in the Pro 4 Modifieds.

The Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina fell victim to rain.

Riverhead Raceway on Long Island ran without the modifieds because of a tire shortage. It was a family fun packed Advance Auto Parts Weekly series program Saturday night run under hazy, humid & hot conditions at Riverhead Raceway with three divisions running in the second leg of their Miller Lite Triple Crown Series of 2021. Scott Pedersen of Shirley won his third Figure Eight event of the year while Jack Handley Jr. of Medford in the Super Pro Trucks and Dave Antos of Lindenhurst in the Street Stocks both copped their second win of the season.

July 15, 1972 Stafford ran their twice rained out Permatex 150 on Saturday night with Ronnie Bouchard taking the win over Bugsy Stevens, Leo Cleary and Bobby Santos who all finished on the lead lap. Bouchard started 12th after winning the second heat and took the lead on lap 72. Fred DeSarro finished fifth, one lap down. Rounding out the top ten were Ray Miller, Ernie Gahan, Jerry Cook, Gene Bergin and Ed Pieneziak.

Read all about it in the all-new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, which is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!

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