All posts by Kyle Souza

Solomito, Soper Among Favorites With Riverhead Background in Miller Lite 200

By: Kyle Souza/Cover Photo: Tom Morris/My Race News

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. —

For the first time since 1987, NASCAR’s Whelen Modified Tour will visit Riverhead Raceway three times this season. And if past results are any indication, drivers with Riverhead weekly background are going to be major threats to get to Victory Lane.

Justin Bonsignore, who cut his teeth racing at Riverhead before his rise to become a two-time Whelen Modified Tour champion, has won four straight tour races at the quarter-mile, the most consecutive in history. He is also only three wins away from Mike Ewanitsko (11) with hopes to tie the record for most all-time wins this season.

Outside of Bonsignore, in the last 10 Riverhead races — only one other driver has been to Victory Lane — Timmy Solomito. He also grew up racing at Riverhead, and still competes in weekly racing series shows on occasion. Solomito, who competed in his family-owned ride in the last tour event at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30 and finished third, was planning on running his family ride again. However, he is now teaming with KLM Motorsports and car owner Mike Murphy to compete in the No. 64 in Saturday’s Miller Lite 200.

“Got a phone call from Mike Murphy asking if I would be interested in driving their car at Riverhead, and they seem like great people,” Solomito said. “We’ve been close every time at Riverhead — I feel like it has come down to myself and Justin. It’s great to race in front of the hometown crowd again — Ed Partridge and his team at Riverhead have put a ton of work into the track — it’s good to see — and good to see they are getting the response they deserve from both the racers, and the fans.”

The last few years have been tough for the Islip, New York, native. On top of opening and maintaining a strong business, Natural Designs Concepts and Apparel, Solomito has been involved in multiple hard wrecks — one while racing in the Indoor Racing Series — and another in competition in Whelen Modified Tour action at Thompson Speedway in 2020. After multiple concussions, he feels ready to get back to work at the front of the pack. He also lost a ride after Flamingo Motorsports shut down their operation, sending him for a spin into running for his family team.

“Obviously it’s been tough right from the start of Flamingo Motorsports shutting down — I was able to buy a car, things started out well for us, but then at Thompson last year, destroyed the car and had to start from scratch again,” Solomito said. “It hasn’t been easy. But every day you wake up and fight the fight. The only way it’s going to get better is to keep digging. My health is pretty much back in check — just have to keep working, and look forward to Riverhead. Always love going back home.”

ENTRY LIST: Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway

Kyle Soper is also no stranger to Riverhead Raceway. Soper already has two second-place finishes in the weekly NASCAR division this year, and is a two-time champion of the division (2019 & 2018). Soper had three wins in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, picked up seven in 2019, and three in 2018. Soper was also the 2018 and 2019 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Racing Series New York State champion, has a Late Model crown at Riverhead, and is a former Legends Cars champion. 

He will drive in the Whelen Modified Tour race for Wayne Anderson in the No. 15 Eastport Feeds, Dr. Martha C. Baker machine. Anderson is a former Whelen Modified Tour champion himself in 1994.

“Patience, a lot of times the race will come to you,” Soper said of why he has so much success at Riverhead. “You have to be aggressive, but if you just show some patience, it usually works out.”

In Soper’s nine career Whelen Modified Tour starts, four have come at Riverhead, with a best finish of third in 2017. Soper opened the tour season at Martinsville Speedway on April 8, finishing 25th after an oil leak.

“To win the race for Wayne and the team would be incredible, as a past champion of the tour, Wayne’s mindset is whatever it takes to win,” Soper said. “Justin knows the track, Preece has raced there weekly and knows it well… There are a lot of local guys that have just moved on. To win against them would be a major accomplishment.”

Although local Modified races are 50 laps, Soper does have experience in extra-distance events at Riverhead. He won the prestigious Islip 300 lap race in 2019.

“It’s a long race, but the Islip 300 is longer and I won that one,” Soper said. “It’s going to be a track position race. I believe we will definitely finish top-five, if everything goes right. A lot of it is luck. It turns into a Modified race at the end, where anything that can happen, will happen.”

Saturday’s schedule includes a practice session from 3-4 p.m., followed by qualifying and feature racing. Along with the Whelen Modified Tour, the Crate Modifieds, INEX Legends Cars, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks will also be in action.

For more information on the Riverhead Raceway, visit RiverheadRaceway.com. My Race News will have full coverage from the track on race day. 

The Top Four: Best Bets To Knock Justin Bonsignore Off Top On Whelen Mod Tour

Story By: Kyle Souza / Photos: Tom Morris/My Race News

When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season takes the green flag on Thursday, April 8 at Martinsville Speedway, there will be a mix of tour champions, rising stars and current NASCAR Cup Series regulars in the field. And although the Cup drivers may steal the hype because of their participation, the race marks the start of a 14-race season that will find drivers chasing Justin Bonsignore in the race for the championship.

Bonsignore looks to become just the fifth driver in the history of the Whelen Modified Tour to accomplish titles in back-to-back years, with a list of challengers trying to run him down. Since his connection with Ryan Stone, a former JR Motorsports employee and new Kenneth Massa Motorsports crew chief in 2018, Bonsignore has been nearly unstoppable. In his most recent 41 starts, the Holtsville, New York, native has 17 wins and 37 top-10 finishes. There is no doubt he is the favorite heading into 2021, with the same team coming back and momentum on his side.

Who are the top four drivers who have the best chance to knock Bonsignore off the top? Let’s find out below as we preview the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.

Doug Coby

Six-time needs no introduction, but let’s give you one anyway.

Six-time champion. Twenty-nine career wins. 32 poles. Future NASCAR Hall of Fame member.

The Milford, Connecticut, native, who is a Real Estate agent by trade, enters his second full-time season as car owner of Doug Coby Racing. After team owner Mike Smeriglio retired in 2019, Coby scrambled to put the pieces together, debut his new team in a COVID-shortened year in 2020 and has the experience it will take to get back to the top. Coby won his first championship in 2012, four straight from 2014-2017 and another in 2019. Even though 2020 included just one victory, watch for Coby to rebound this season.

Eight of the last nine Whelen Modified Tour championships have been won by either Bonsignore and Coby. It’s hard to bet against either of them.

But will Coby actually have enough to knock Bonsignore off the top? Only time will tell.

Ron Silk

Even though Ron Silk won the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship nearly 10 years ago, his driving ability hasn’t fallen off, and if anything, he’s as sharp as ever. Arguably, his last two years with Kevin Stuart Motorsports have been two of the best of his career.

In his 25 most recent starts, Silk has five wins, 15 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s. He finished the 2020 season with five consecutive podium finishes, including two wins.

“Justin and his team are definitely very tough to beat, but over the last four or so races of last year we were probably the best car, not by a substantial amount, but right there with the No. 51 and the No. 10,” Silk told My Race News. “The results showed it. But last year is over and done with now. We have to go start off on the right foot at Martinsville.”

Silk is one driver who does have previous title experience, but with so many years in between, does it play a role now? Absolutely. Silk has not only been winning races on the tour since, but has also been a successful driver in countless Open Modified races in New England.

“Another tour championship would cement anyone’s legacy,” Silk said. “I’d love to be there at the end. The Tour is a bit different. The Tour championship is something you think about, but it’s really hard to race every week and think about the championship. You have to put your best food forward every week. It would be great for Kevin Stuart and the whole No. 85 team if we can pull it off.”

Jon McKennedy

The year 2021 is going to be Jon McKennedy’s best shot if he wants to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

The Chelmsford, Massachusetts, driver, who is well-known for his success in the Open Modified and ISMA Supermodified world, teamed with former NASCAR Daytona 500 winning crew chief Tommy Baldwin in 2018, and things have taken off from there.

The combination won in their first race together at Myrtle Beach Speedway, and have finished inside the top-five in 11 of 41 races since. Although they have just that one win, they are consistently one of the fastest cars at each Whelen Modified Tour race. This year, they have a chance to string finishes together to collect crucial points.

McKennedy will also be returning to the Open Modified world on a more regular basis in 2021, competing full-time with the Tri Track Open Modified Series and running events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

On the tour, he will be a threat as a potent team with Baldwin.

Craig Lutz

One of the quickest rising stars the Whelen Modified Tour has to offer, Craig Lutz can get the job done behind the wheel. But when it comes to the championship — can he have the consistency when it matters most? It’s possible.

Since his pairing with Goodie Motorsports in 2017, Lutz has grown to be one of the top contenders on the Whelen Modified Tour. With three career wins — including two in 2020 — Lutz has finished inside the top-five in the championship battle the last three years. He ended last year with a win in the World Series at Thompson Speedway, and kicked-off 2021 at New Smyrna Speedway for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, winning once, and dominating the Richie Evans 100 before an engine failure took him out of contention.

You might not think of him as championship material — but if he can formulate a little bit more consistency — he will be a threat to Bonsignore.

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The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season begins on Thursday, April 8, with the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 at Martinsville Speedway. The race will air live on NBC Sports Gold and the “TrackPass” platform.

The 14-race 2021 schedule will bring teams to six different states.

Seekonk Speedway Has Packed 2021 Schedule

By Souza Media/Kyle Souza / Photo: Seekonk Speedway

SEEKONK, Mass. — Seekonk Speedway is looking ahead to a fresh, exciting 2021 season. On December 3rd, the Massachusetts third-mile announced the full schedule of events for 2021 — one that will mark the 75th anniversary of full-time racing. Seekonk Speedway looks forward to welcoming fans back to the grandstands safely, as the recent vaccine announcements for COVID-19 are welcomed news and talks continue with the state of Massachusetts.

Multiple major events headline the 2021 schedule — including the ISMA Supermodified and Boston Louie NEMA Midget and NEMA Lite Races (June 9), the annual $10,000 to win Open Wheel Wednesday headlined by the Tri Track Open Modified Series (June 30), the inaugural $10,000 to win Bay State Summer Classic with the PASS Pro Stocks (July 28), the annual DAV Fall Classic (September 24-25) and the Haunted Hundred, headlined by Tri Track (October 23).

The slate includes 18 Saturday Night Showdowns — showcasing Seekonk’s premiere Pro Stocks, Everett’s Auto Parts Late Models, Helger’s South Coast Power Equipment Sportsman and Chaz Auto Body Sport Trucks. It will also see the return of the Fast Friday Series — with 16 events for the Nick’s Pit Stop Legends Cars, Helger’s Pure Stocks, Sport 4’s and Seekonk Grand Prix Bandoleros. Seekonk is pleased to welcome back all divisions and their sponsors, while adding Chaz Auto Body to the team of division sponsors.

With COVID-19 shutting down Saturday night competition and Thrill Shows in 2020, and only Fast Friday drivers hitting the track due to regulations from the state of Massachusetts to stop the spread of the virus, it’s only fitting that the 75th anniversary be celebrated in 2021. Seekonk’s Fast Friday classes ran a 10-race slate in front of no spectators in 2020, however, they continued to showcase youth talent and some of the best racing Seekonk offers through the track’s YouTube channel.

“Our schedule includes a bit of something for everyone who is a race fan in the region.” Ed St. Germain, Director of Business Development at Seekonk Speedway, said. “We’re excited for all of our special events, but above all, we can’t wait to welcome back our great fans and get our premiere Saturday night divisions back on the track in 2021.”

The season opens with two Test & tune sessions on April 10 and 24, while opening weekend returns on Saturday and Sunday, May 1-2. Saturday will include the Classic Car Show & Swap Meet fans have come to love, with burn out drags and race practice. On Sunday, May 2, the engines fire in a race competition for the first time with the Pro Stocks, Late Models, Sportsman, Trucks and Spectator Drags. The season rolls from this starting point in May all the way through October, with more than 45 events planned.

Of the touring divisions included, two of them will visit Seekonk more than once — with the prestigious Tri Track Open Modified Series bringing their top Modified talent for Open Wheel Wednesday (June 30) and the Haunted Hundred (October 23). Both races have a large purse and always attract the best Modified talent in the region. New for 2021, the American Canadian Tour (ACT) will also join the Haunted Hundred, along with the return of the Pro All Star Series (PASS) Super Late Models. All three races as part of the season-finale will be 100 laps, matching the Haunted “Hundred” name.

PASS, New England’s premier touring Super Late Model division, will return to Seekonk for three events overall in 2021 — including the big $10,000 to win race on Wednesday, July 28. PASS will also help headline the two races that will close the season — the annual Fall Classic, with a 150 lapper on September 25, and the Haunted Hundred.

The track welcomes back five Thrill Shows to the schedule — with a show for Memorial Day (May 29), Independence Day (July 3), Mid-Summer Spectacular (July 31), Labor Day (September 4) and the Pumpkin Smash (October 9). Note that all Thrill Shows are on Saturday night’s — giving weekly competitors the night off. There will also be a special event on Sunday, August 8 — headlined by the return of Monster Trucks and the first ever Spectator Drag race — where drivers will double up and actually race for multiple laps together on the track, instead of just in a one-on-one format.

As part of the weekly slate, track champions will be crowned in all nine divisions.  Championship battles for all divisions except the Pro Stocks will include as part of the DAV Fall Classic weekend on September 24 and 25, as the Fall Classic returns to a two-day race format, with a practice session on Thursday night, September 23. The Pro Stock title battle wraps on Saturday, September 18, on Ocean State Oil Night, allowing drivers to compete with PASS at the Fall Classic.

The Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series returns after a year off due to COVID, with a three-race, extra distance, set of races for all of Seekonk’s divisions. The Pro Stock Triple Crown Series races will be 60 laps, while the Late Models will shift to 45 laps. The Sportsman and Sport Trucks remain at 35, while the Pure Stocks, Sport 4’s and Legends Cars are set for 30. As always, the Seekonk Grand Prix Bandolero division runs 15 laps for all of their events, but will also crown a Triple Crown champion.

Phil’s Propane Triple Crown Series Dates:

  • Pro Stocks: June 5, July 16, August 21
  • Late Models: May 22, June 26, August 21
  • Sportsman: May 15, June 19, August 21
  • Sport Trucks: May 8, June 12, August 21
  • Legends Cars: June 25, July 30, August 20
  • Pure Stocks: June 18, July 16, August 20
  • Sport 4: June 11, July 23, August 20
  • Bandolero: June 4, July 9, August 20

The Everett’s Auto Parts Diamond Races are on the schedule, with three special events for the Pro Stocks and the Late Models. All of these races will be 50 laps for both divisions, including a night where both classes run the 50’s on Saturday, August 14.

Everett’s Auto Parts Diamond Race Dates:

  • Pro Stocks: June 26, July 24, August 14
  • Late Models: June 19, July 17, August 14

The Troy City Tactical Spectator Drag Series is back, with drivers set to compete in a 10-race series starting on May 2 and ending on October 9. In the middle, drivers will thrill fans in front of both Saturday night crowds and Thrill Show fans.

The Power 5 Series will return for Helger’s Southcoast Power Equipment Sportsman, with five races set for 30 laps instead of 25, with a bit of extra purse money on the line courtesy of Helger’s. Sponsorship is available for Power 5 races for the remainder of Seekonk’s Saturday night divisions.

The schedule also includes the special returns of Military Night, Youth Sports Night, the STAR and NEAR Antique Racer divisions, R.I. Shriners Night (with Trike Races), Fans on Parade, Scout Night, the Pit Party, Phil’s Propane night, Helger’s Southcoast Power Equipment night and the annual Fan Appreciation night sponsored by Everett’s Auto Parts.

Seekonk looks forward to welcoming back a long list of supporters for the 2021 season, and can’t thank those who stepped up in 2020 enough. See below for a full list of 2021 sponsors to this point:

  • Everetts Auto Parts, Helger’s Southcoast Power Equipment, Phil’s Propane, Ocean State Oil, Solar Theraputics, PEPSI,  T. Moreshead Landscaping, Sunoco Race Fuels, American Racer, Elmwood Dodge, Bristol Toyota, First Ford, Troy City Tactical, Shriners Childrens Hospital, Roger Williams Zoo, Precision Harley Davidison, Columbus Energies, Chick Fil A, Seekonk Grand Prix, Chaz Auto Body, Nick Lascuola Racing, Lambert Brothers Racing, Spring Villa Memory Care, Viper Graphics, Nick’s Pit Stop, Nat’s Racing Engines, KC’s Burger Bar, Miller Brewing, Coors Light, WCTK Cat Country, Four Town Farms

The full schedule is subject to change.

Seekonk Speedway will release additional updates about the 2021 season when available. For more information, follow the track on all social media channels and visit seekonkspeedway.com.  Please stay tuned for ticket release dates for advanced purchase.