By Michael Jaworecki Myracenews
The NASCAR Whelen Modified tour makes its way to Long Island for the first of two 2018 trips to Riverhead Raceway. Last weekend there were fireworks in the sky this weekend there will be fireworks on the tight 1/4 mile oval with a solid 31 car entry list for this weekends Buzz Chew Auto Group 200.
With 6 races in the books Justin Bonsignore in the Phoenix
Communications Ken Massa owned #51 from Holtsville NY leads the Long Island gang home and leads the point standings with 3 wins and a very solid 23 point lead over young Chase Dowling.
Justin told me that he always looks forward to going home to Riverhead. He believes half the battle is going into these races with a positive outlook. He also believes that his new crew chief Ryan Stone will bring him another great car with a shot at a 4th win this year.
I asked Justin if it brings him satisfaction that he is a favorite each race. Justin humbly replied that he doesn’t feel that way yet but is confident he will be in contention each race. Justin says the WMT is still a very tough division.
Chase Dowling comes to Riverhead in second place in the point standing and has opened some eyes with 5 top 10 finishes. Last year Chase only ran partial schedule. this year in the Rob Fuller #15 he will complete the entire schedule. Chase is a full time LFR employee has only been to Riverhead 4 times finishing as high as 3rd in a family owned car. Chase said “With as well as this year is going he has expectations to not only be competitive but have a chance to win every week.” Chase is an up and coming short track racer that races weekly at Stafford Speedway in addition to running full time on the NASCAR WMT. He believes that having Justin in an LFR car helps both teams and with Justin and Chase currently first and second in points he could be correct. Chase told me ” I love short track racing and tracks like Riverhead.”
Timmy Solomito is another top WMT runner from Long Island and looks
to visit to his home track to pick up his first win of the season. A win needed to help close the point gap between he and Justin. While not the start to the 2018 season that he had in 2017 I asked Timmy about this weekends race. ” Last year we had about a 20 point lead around this time. I know I have to go out there and give it all I have and let the chips fall where they may. Justin is good at Riverhead being he grew up there as well. Chase has been strong pretty much every race too and will be tough. A lot of good cars and teams will be there and it should be exciting.”
Ryan Preece will make an appearance at Riverhead after his Xfinity Coca-Cola Firecracker 250 start Friday July 7th at Daytona International Speedway. Ryan will be at one of the largest tracks on the NASCAR Xfinity Series circuit Friday and the smallest NASCAR WMT track on Saturday. Ryan will have a great shot at winning both races showcasing his racing talent. Ryan picked up a big $7,000 check several weeks ago at Riverhead in the Islip 300 so he will have to be considered one of the favorites at Riverhead.
The rest of the NASCAR field will have a real Long Island feel to it with over half the field being based on Long Island, current or former Riverhead Raceway regulars.
Eric Goodale lives only a few miles from the track and has won at Riverhead before, you can never could Eric out. Craig Lutz looks like he has taken the next step with 4 top 10’s this year and 4th place in the standings. Craig looks to rebound from the last place finish at Thompson in the previous race. Dave Sapienza has turned many laps at Riverhead and can not be counted out.
With many of the Riverhead regulars running the Islip 300 last month they will not be at as big a disadvantage in a 200 lap feature as in previous years. We could return the first Riverhead regular to win a tour race in decades. 2017 track champion Tom Rogers Jr will be running the event in the Danny Watts #82 normally driven by Woody Pitkat. The father son team of John Fortin and John G Fortin have entered and with this being John’s last season it would be a very satisfying win.
The field will also have several teams who have not visited many times or making their first visit to Riverhead Raceway. Burt Myers the current Modified point leader at Bowman Gray Stadium, 8 time Bowman Gray Champion, 2 time Southern NASCAR WMT champion and star of the TV show Madhouse will be making his first trip to Riverhead Burt will be in the Ed Harvey owned Citrusafe / Dunleavy Truck & Trailer sponsored #1 Modified.
Pits open at noon, gates open at 3;00, practice runs from 3:15-430, time trials at 6:00 and the 200 lap Buzz Chew Auto Group 200 goes green after the local divisions complete their features. Approximately 8:00/8:30.
Riverhead Raceway: 1797 Old Country Rd, Riverhead, NY 11901