Story By: KYLE SOUZA / JDV PRODUCTIONS – JENNERSTOWN, PA – With the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour set to roll into Jennerstown Speedway for the fourth race of the season on Saturday, May 29, all eyes are pointed towards the championship standings, and two unfamiliar names at the top.
Saturday’s Jennerstown Salutes 150 presented by DGV, which falls on Memorial Day weekend, will also see fallen heroes honored on each Whelen Modified Tour roof decal through a partnership between NASCAR, JDV Productions and Operation Vet NOW Inc. (OVN). The Jennerstown event is the first of three promoted by JDV Productions, led by Josh Vanada and his team, for the 2021 season.
Eric Goodale and Patrick Emerling are tied at the top of the points grid — both with one victory in the first three races of the season. Goodale snapped a winless streak by capturing the Grandfather Clock at Martinsville Speedway in the opener on May 8, while Emerling was victorious at Stafford Motor Speedway in the NAPA Spring Sizzler on April 30. Between the two of them, their best career previous points finish is fifth — but they have shown speed in the early stages of the season. The question is, will they be able to keep the consistency going at Pennsylvania’s tricky .522-mile Jennerstown oval?
Coming in hot behind them is six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby, who is coming off his first career Riverhead win on May 15, while two-time series champion Justin Bonsignore and his cousin, Kyle Bonsignore, complete the top-five heading for race four of 14.
Justin earned the victory in the return to Jennerstown for the first time in nearly 15 years during the 2020 season, dominating what was the opener of the Whelen Modified Tour campaign. Bonsignore, who led 243 laps between two events at the track last year, is excited to return back in hopes of carrying his first checkered of the season.
“Love Jennerstown,” Bonsignore said. “It’s a beautiful facility, in a beautiful part of the country. We adapted really well and we were definitely strong there last year. I thought it was a great track, and running well at new tracks always helps our confidence. We’re hoping to get our first win of the season and get the summer stretch going.”
Goodale, Emerling, Coby and the Bonsignore family members will be joined by a stout entry list of competitors for a special Memorial Day event. As part of the OVN partnership, all cars will carry a roof decal with a fallen hero on it. Multiple families of those heroes will also attend the race day, with some part of the opening ceremonies as the Wieger family will be in attendance as a Gold Star Family. A full list of fallen heroes that will be honored on each of the cars is at the bottom of this story.
OVN concentrates on veterans who suffer from the invisible injuries of PTSD, TBI, combat and transition stress issues, and mental health concerns, stemming from military service, connecting them to heal their mind, body and soul. JDV Productions will also donate $1 from every general admission ticket sold to OVN, to help continue to increase awareness and assistance for veterans.
“On Memorial Day, we should be realizing that we are doing what we enjoy in life because there are people around the world that are protecting our freedoms,” Coby said. “To honor the people we have lost, especially Air Force Master Sergeant John Chapman… when NASCAR sent out the list of service members… he jumped out at me because he was originally from Connecticut. What he sacrificed that day for his entire team, I knew it was a remarkable story that I wanted to get out there.”
As part of the show, the Jennerstown Late Models and Modifieds will also join the action with qualifying and feature racing. The only Whelen Modified Tour practice of the day is set for 3:30-4:30 p.m., with Mayhew Tools pole qualifying set to go green at 5:45 p.m. The Jennerstown Salutes 150 presented by DGV will take the green at 7:30 p.m. and will air live on TrackPass via NBC Sports Gold.
CONFIRMED FALLEN HEROES ON WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR CARS AT JENNERSTOWN:
01 — Melissa Fifield — Air Force Captain Frederick A Reid
07 — Patrick Emerling — Air Force Major James A Crew
1 — Woody Pitkat — Marine Staff Sergeant Robert L Babula
2 — Chuck Hossfeld — Private 1st Class Marine Paul A Gilbert
5 — Kyle Ebersole — Lance Corporal Marine Abram Howard
7 — Jon McKennedy — Army Sergeant Jason McClary
10 — Doug Coby — Air Force Master Sergeant John Chapman
14 — Scott Wylie — Army First Lieutenant James R Kalsu
22 — Kyle Bonsignore — Lance Corporal Marine Joshua T Twigg
32 — Tyler Rypkema — Army Sergeant 1st Class Randall Shughart
34 — JB Fortin — Air Force Airman First Class Gerard J Fortin
36 — David Sapienza — Air Force Staff Sergeant Dashawn Briggs
45 — Timmy Catalano — Army Sergeant First Class Brent Adams
46 — Craig Lutz — Army Private 1st Class Melvin Brow
51 — Justin Bonsignore — Air Force Staff Sergeant David Wieger
54 — Tommy Catalano — Army Sergeant First Class Justin K Bluementhal
58 — Eric Goodale — Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy
64 — Timmy Solomito — Air Force Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin
77 — Max McLaughlin — Navy Seaman Ralph L Hann
78 — Walter Sutcliffe — Army Specialist Christopher A Golby
82 — Anthony Nocella — Army Staff Sergeant Stevon Booker
85 — Ron Silk — Army Warrant Officer James L Darcy