Category Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

DOUG COBY AND JUSTIN BONSIGNORE TO DECIDE NWMT TITLE AT SUNOCO WORLD SERIES

BY KYLE SOUZA, THOMPSON SPEEDWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK 

Tom Morris/Myracnews photos

THOMPSON, Conn. — When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Thompson for the 57th annual Sunoco World Series October 11-13, two drivers are going to be in contention to earn the series championship. 

Doug Coby, a five-time champion looking to add to his historic resume, leads defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore by 19 points. For Coby, a solid day should help get the job done without even having to win the race. For Bonsignore, he is going to have to do everything he can to close the gap, and hope Coby has a bit of a stumble. 

“We’ll have a good car, but I know they are going to have a good car,” Coby said. “You have to figure Justin is going to win and go lead the most laps like he usually does. We are going to have to be every bit as good.” 

For Coby, this season has been filled with a return to the top. After a 2018 season that only included one victory, which wasn’t up to his standards, he watched Bonsignore dominate. A change in his shock package, combined with some improved setups, has given him four checkered flags in the 15 races this year. Coby went to Victory Lane in the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 at Thompson in August and finished inside the top five in the other two races at TSMP this year.

Bonsignore, who dominated en route to his first title last year with eight wins, has five victories this season, including two at Thompson. Entering the Bud 150, Bonsignore had won six straight Whelen Modified Tour races at TSMP, but he finished second that night, breaking the streak. Trailing Coby by 19 points might be a product of two DNF’s early in the season at South Boston Speedway and Wall Stadium Speedway. 

“We’ve thought for a while now that we needed to win every race. In the last four races, we have two wins. We’re doing what we need to do, but we spotted those guys too many points in the beginning of the year,” Bonsignore said. “We’re doing a great job. I’m happy. We just need to go there (to the World Series) and win the race, and if other things happen and we need to change our strategy, we will go with that.” 

For Coby, his 19-point lead might give him the chance to relax a bit in the early laps and settle in. But, as the Milford, Connecticut, driver knows, there is no safe spot in the field. In the 2017 Icebreaker, Coby started third, but didn’t complete a whole lap after a wreck on the backstretch ended his day. He knows anything can happen, but a strong finish will do the trick. 

“Even if we have some challenges, I’d like to think we can finish there,” Coby said. “If you get caught up in someone else’s mess, and you blow the right-front off, we could be running up front and be caught up in something and finish 20th. It’s really going to come down to the last lap.” 

Bonsignore has 11 wins in 36 Thompson starts, and he’s finished inside the top two in the last seven races at the Connecticut oval. 

“Every time we unload at Thompson, first lap I know what I am looking for, and I know the feel we need. You have a lot of confidence there when you win races,” Bonsignore said. “I’m excited to go and hopefully end the season on a high note. It’s been an amazing year. Five years after what we did last year, we backed it up. We have a lot of confidence; we will just go down swinging. Until they hand him the trophy, we are not out of it.” 

Coby knows putting a whole day together could earn him a sixth championship, which would put him past Tony Hirschman for the second most titles in the Whelen Modified Tour modern era. That would leave Coby trailing just the late Mike Stefanik, who had seven. 

“We should qualify up front, and if you qualify good, you should be able to get through half of he race without too much aggression. Then, it’s just a matter of if everyone comes in together and takes tires, you have to have a good stop, and be in the right lanes on the restarts,” Coby said. “Hopefully we have a good car that keeps us out of trouble. It’s going to be a barnburner.”

The 57th annual Sunoco World Series will take the green flag on Friday, October 11, and roll through Sunday, October 13. The event begins on Friday, with practice sessions running throughout the afternoon, and qualifying heat racing set to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feature racing on Friday includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds and Senior Tour Auto Racers. 

Saturday, action begins early with practice at 9 a.m., while qualifying racing begins at 2:30 p.m. There are 10 different feature races planned for Saturday night. Sunday, action begins at 1 p.m., with the season-finale for Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. The NEMA Lites, ISMA Supermodifieds and TSMP Limited Sportsman will also join the headliner of Sunday — the Sunoco World Series 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

Admission to the paddock area for the entire three days is $75, with grandstand general admission set at $55. Any seniors (65+), veterans and active military will have general admission tickets priced at $50, while kids 12 and under are free in general admission.  

Thompson’s annual breakfast and dinner buffets will also take place during Sunoco World Series weekend. The breakfast buffet runs from 7-11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and is $14 per person. The dinner buffet runs from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday night only and is $24 per person. For any children 12 and under, the dinner buffet is $14.  

For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans should visit the track on the web, www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track via social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Craig Lutz Breaks Into Victory Lane in NAPA Fall Final at Stafford

KYLE SOUZA NASCAR.COM SEPTEMBER 29, 2019

Photos Tom Morris/Myracenews

STAFFORD, Conn. — For the second straight year, the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway produced a first-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner.

Craig Lutz in Victory Lane after winning the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway October 29th 2019 Tom Morris/Myracenews

Craig Lutz took the lead from Doug Coby on a restart with 33 laps to go, and drove away from Coby, and defending series champion Justin Bonsignore, to earn his first career checkered flag in his 66th series start.

Prior to Sunday, Lutz had finished inside the top five in four of his 12 Stafford starts, including the last three. He had also finished inside the top five in eight of the 14 races in 2019.

For the first time, the Miller Place, New York, driver was able to celebrate a trophy.

RACING-REFERENCE: NAPA Fall Final 150 Race Results

“The first win is always special,” Lutz said. “Everyone kept on asking me when it was coming. To finally knock one off, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Lutz started ninth and rode inside the top 10 for the duration of the race, but shined when it mattered most. Chris Pasteryak earned his first career Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole award in qualifying, and led the first six laps, before Coby took control.

Bonsignore took the lead from Coby just before halfway, and paced the field until a caution just after lap 100, when leaders pitted multiple times for tires. It would be the only caution of the day that Coby, Bonsignore and Lutz entered pit road.

Pasteryak would lead eight more laps after cycling back to the lead, but couldn’t hold the top spot, as Coby slid by, then a restart gave Lutz his opportunity. Lutz passed Coby and never looked back, minding a gap back to Bonsignore for the final 10 laps.

“I just didn’t look in my mirror,” Lutz said. “I have an awesome spotter, who has a lot of experience, and he kept telling me to stay smooth and hit my marks. That’s what I kept doing.”

Bonsignore would finish second, while Coby settled for third. Chuck Hossfeld, who missed practice and qualifying on Saturday, charged from the rear of the field to finish fourth. Matt Swanson was fifth.

Ron Silk finished sixth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Woody Pitkat, Chase Dowling and Patrick Emerling.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 19 points with one championship points race remaining in search of his sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

The NAPA Fall Final 150 will air on NBCSN on Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the annual Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, the final race of the season, on Sunday, October 13.

Matt Galko to Make Whelen Modified Tour Debut in NAPA Fall Final

Tom Morris/Myracenews photo

(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes the green flag this weekend at Stafford Speedway for the NAPA Fall Final 150, Meriden, CT native and SK Modified® regular Matt Galko will look to realize a dream by making his NWMT debut.  Galko will be piloting the #41 Chevrolet owned by Susanne Lewis with Steve Mendoza serving as the crew chief.

“This is kind of a combo deal between Susanne Lewis and my crew chief Steve Mendoza,” said Galko.  “It’s a brand new car that they’ve been working on putting together.  I’ve known them for a while and I drove a couple times for Steve on the R.O.C. Tour two years ago so that’s how we got to know each other.  This has been a dream come true for me.  This has been something that my family and myself have worked for since we got started in the SK Lights.  The open modified shows are nice and all but the premier division that everyone wants to run is the Whelen Modified Tour.  I’ve had talks with some owners here and there over the past couple of years but nothing has worked out.  We’re going to have our challenges and growing pains as a brand new team, but it helps that we know the track and we’re hoping that everything will work out for us.”

There is no better track that Galko could have picked than Stafford to make his NWMT debut.  Galko is a two-time SK Light track champion (2010, 2011) and he has won a total of 10 races with 8 SK Light wins and 2 SK Modified® wins at the Connecticut half-mile.  Galko will be relying on his track knowledge to help overcome any learning curve he and the #41 team will face.

“We have to keep our expectations realistic because the Whelen Modified Tour is a whole different ballgame,” said Galko.  “First I want to qualify for the race, after that my goal is to finish on the lead lap.  If we could come out of the race with a top-15 finish or something like that, that would be really, really good for our first time out.  Pit strategy is always a big thing at Stafford and if you have the right strategy you could use that to your benefit.  Kyle Bonsignore won the Fall Final last year, which I think was a surprise to some people, and he was able to catch a lot of the guys off-cycle and had the freshest tires at the end of the race.”

Perhaps the biggest obstacle that Galko will have to overcome is his lack of experience in group qualifying.  In his career, Galko has only qualified through time trials once before and he says he will definitely be feeling some nerves as he prepares to make his qualifying laps in NWMT group qualifying at 2:30pm on Saturday.

“I’m feeling a lot of nerves right now more than excitement,” said Galko.  “I’m sure it’ll get a lot more exciting once we get to the track and start rolling.  I lack experience with group qualifying in the tour modifieds.  Everything I’ve run I’ve qualified through heat races.  I’ve time trialed one time at the Turkey Derby and the nerves I felt that day were unlike any I’ve ever experienced before.”

As Galko and the #41 team prepare for this weekend’s NAPA Fall Final 150, Galko is grateful to everyone who is helping him to realize his dream of making his first NWMT start.  They are also looking for any sponsors who would like to join the #41 team for the NAPA Fall Final.

“We have a lot of good equipment with this new team but we’re a little short on crew for pit road so I couldn’t do this without the help of all the crew members from our SK and Tour teams,” said Galko.  “It’s going to be a big team effort for us this weekend and I’m really looking forward to the race.  We’re funding this out of our pockets and the help of Steve Mendoza and Susanne Lewis.  Any marketing partners that would want to come on board with us would be greatly appreciated and would go a long way towards helping us out.”

Tickets for NAPA Fall Final Weekend, September 28 & 29, are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission, $10.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult.  Reserved seat tickets are $45.00 for all ages.  All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles.  Discount tickets are available through participating NAPA stores. 

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.