Category Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

KYLE SOPER SCORES ONE FOR THE HOME TEAM WITH BUZZ CHEW CHEVROLET 200 WMT RIVERHEAD RACEWAY VICTORY

Riverhead, NY June 25th
By Bob Finan

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Every time the popular NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Riverhead Raceway on Long Island it is usually noted along the way the last time a track regular won a WMT event was back in 1995. Saturday night Kyle Soper of Manorville, the reigning champion at the quarter mile bullring scored one for the home team winning the Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 after reclaiming the lead from defending WMT kingpin Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville with 10-lap remaining. Soper’s win comes 27 years and day after Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. won back on June 24th of 1995.

Kyle Soper #15 makes the winning pass on leader Justin Bonsignore #51 Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

Current WMT championship leader Ron Silk won the Mayhew Tools Pole Award with a lap of 11.586 edging out Timmy Solomito who toured the track in 11.637. As the 26-car grid took the green Solomito was able to get the early race advantage over Silk. Early on Solomito showed the way in his family-owned car which he has run part time to date in 2022. As the race developed joining race leader Solomito up front were Kyle Soper and Justin Bonsignore who started the race together from the third row. Other drivers flexing their muscles near the front prior to halfway included Tommy Catalano, Craig Lutz and Doug Coby, winner of the May 14th WMT stop at Riverhead.

After racing his way to second Soper drew closer to leader Solomito and was ready to make a bid for the lead. On lap 114 Soper was able to get around Solomito, who after being overtaken for the lead now had to try and fend off challengers for second as the handle went away on his car. Once to the lead Soper led 27-laps before Justin Bonsignore came calling making an inside pass for the lead on lap 143. With Bonsignore now out front seeking his 9th career Riverhead WMT triumph and just 57 laps left to click off many thought Bonsignore was in the cat bird seat.

After falling off Bonsignore after Justin took the lead Kyle Soper came back to life as the laps wound down and before he knew it he was on the rear bumper challenging for his first career WMT win. Entering the first and second turn Soper set Bonsignore up for a pass and by the time they started the 190th lap Soper was the new race leader. Bonsignore tried to cross Soper back over on lap 191 off the fourth corner but Soper was able to thwart that effort.

With the Riverhead Raceway faithful howling with approval Kyle Soper took the checker flag for car owners Wayne & Joette Anderson and the Eastport Feeds team and the celebration was on. Afterwards the 26-year old Soper was asked about his solid effort in qualifying playing a role in the win he responded, “yeah sure did, I was texting back and forth with Jimmy Blewett last night and he gave us some set up tips that got us close and further up front in qualifying”. As to his strategy after surrendering the lead to Bonsignore with 57-to go Soper shared, “after Justin got me on that restart I was just riding and see if I could reel him back in. Once I saw him getting loose on entry and exit I started licking my lips and timed it up pretty good”. In a lighter moment during victory lane festivities Kyle reflected, “I wasn’t even born yet when Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr. won his WMT race, feels pretty good to get one though”.

Racing for a second straight NASCAR WMT win, Justin Bonsignore had to settle for second in the Phoenix Communications Chevy and looked back afterwards, “been a longtime since Eddie Brunnhoelzl Jr’s win here and it’s cool to see a Riverhead team win, just a shame he beat us to do it. Congratulations to Kyle, Wayne, Tom Soper and that team, it was only a matter of time, think I’ll make Wayne buy the ice cream”. As to the duel for the lead Justin recalled, “late in the race I saw Kyle getting back to me, I was hoping to use some lapped cars to get lost in but his car was better than ours at that point. Onto to Wall Stadium”.
Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct. came home third in the Future Homes entry leaving him to wonder what he has to do to beat drivers who grew up racing at Riverhead, “the local guys who grew up here like Soper, Bonsignore and Solomito are just so tough here”. Silk was making his 21st career WMT start at Riverhead still in search of his first win.
Jon McKennedy of Chelmsford, Ma and Riverhead regular Dylan Slepian of Dix Hills were fourth and fifth. Completing the top ten were, Kyle Bonsignore of Bay Shore, John Beatty Jr. of Merrick Timmy Solomito of Islip, Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa and Doug Coby of Milford, Ct.  

Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200: 1. Kyle Soper 2. Justin Bonsignore 3. Ron Silk 4. Jon McKennedy 5. Dylan Slepian 6. Kyle Bonsignore 7. John Beatty Jr. 8. Timmy Solomito 9. Austin Beers 10. Doug Coby 11. Eric Goodale 12. Tyler Rypkema 13. Matt Brode 14. Tommy Catalano 15. Craig Lutz 16. Eddie Brunnhoelzl III 17. Chris Young 18. Dave Sapienza 19. Roger Turbush 20. James Pritchard Jr. 21. Donny Lia 22. Walter Sutcliffe Jr. 23. Chris Turbush 24. Ken Heagy 25. JB Fortin 26. Melissa Fifeld

LOCALS VERSUS INVADERS – IT’S WHAT MAKES THE NWMT AT RIVERHEAD SPECIAL

By KEVIN RICE

    RIVERHEAD, NY- Saturday night will be race number 69 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Riverhead Raceway, when an expected field of 28 drivers takes the green flag for the “Buzz Chew 200”. While things are always changing to a degree over time, since the first NWMT event at Riverhead in 1985 was won by Jimmy Spencer, the clash between tour regulars from other parts of the country, versus the Long Island drivers remains.

    It is what makes this event special. No other tour race can compare in that respect, with half the field made up of local drivers. The success of Long Island racers through the years is well documented. From 2015-19, tour events were won by Island racers. However, the past four races have been won by invaders, as Doug Coby and Patrick Emerling have learned to love the quarter-mile bullring.

    Emerling says that he used to dread seeing the George Washington Bridge, but now Riverhead might just be his best track. For Coby, Riverhead was the site of one of his worst crashes, when a stuck throttle sent him full bore into the turn one wall in 2013. After some years with top five finishes, he has now won three of the last four events.

    Three Long Island drivers are ready to give their hopes of victory on Saturday their best efforts. All three finished in the top ten when the tour last visited on May 14.

    “There’s always stuff that you can take away from the last race that you ran,” said fifth place finisher Timmy Solomito, who led laps and raced among the top three for most of that event. “My dad always says you’re only as good as the last couple of laps that you raced. Definitely learned a lot. I think we’re in a better spot for this race.

    “We showed up there, put it on the pole and led laps. We had the car to beat. Hopefully we’ve got the car back to where it needs to be and go out there and do it again. With the higher temperatures the track will probably be a little bit more greasy.

    “They’ve been putting some traction compound down on it lately, so we’ll see what the temperatures bring, and what the setup does. I typically don’t change too much from week-to-week there, so hopefully we’ll be good and can hit the pre-race adjustments really good and be up front.”

    Speaking of hot temperatures, the forecasted hot sunny afternoon, leading into a warm night for racing, seems to result in tempers flaring much easier than on cooler or wetter nights, like we have had way too often in recent years. Will that happen again? Very likely that there are plenty of race fans, which will fill Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night, who wouldn’t mind that one bit.

    “I don’t think it matters what the temperature is outside,” Riverhead native Eric Goodale countered. “All it takes is for something to happen on the track to rub you the wrong way. It could be 20 degrees at the Icebreaker or 100 degrees at Riverhead. I don’t think the temperature matters.”

    For Goodale, this is another opportunity to return to victory lane at his home track, as he did in 2014, and with a season that has him second in the season standings, with five top ten finishes in six races, he too has hopes of returning to victory lane on Saturday.

    “I double-dipped on that one,” Goodale said of his Riverhead tour win. “To win at my home track, and for it to be my first tour win was pretty meaningful. We’re having a pretty good season so far. To tag one on at the home track would be pretty sweet. I look forward to racing here. Makes traveling very much easier, but just being home and having my wife and kids there certainly helps that feeling.”

    It seems that for outsiders to win at Riverhead they first have to take their lumps and stick with it. Drivers like Coby and Emerling are just two who have conquered Riverhead from the outside. Ryan Preece, Jimmy Blewett and Ted Christopher are a few others that have done the same. Newcomers like Austin Beers, Tommy Catalano and Ronnie Williams are on the list of outsiders who have the potential to one day conquer Riverhead.

    For the Long Island drivers, it is a bit easier, because they get to hone their craft in weekly Modified events, and the highest finishing driver from Long Island in May was Dylan Slepian, a relative newcomer to Modified racing. 

Two Long Islanders, WMT regular Dave Sapienza #36 and Riverhead Raceway regular Dylan Slepian #10 Riverhead Raceway May 14th, 2022. Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

    In four NWMT Riverhead starts, the 27-year-old from Dix Hills, NY has not finished worse than 11th, and his most recent fourth place run gives him a different feel coming into Saturday.

    “One hundred percent,” he said when asked if this event feels different than coming into the May event. “When you get some positive momentum behind you it’s huge. We learned a lot of stuff in Florida and we’re just building a bigger playbook for these tour events. We carry our heads just a little bit higher this time, and we have that much more data for big events like this.

    We are really excited coming into Saturday. We have high hopes. At the same time, there are a lot of variables in a Riverhead tour race. I sat and talked with my crew chief Brian Magee and car owner Rob Pelis. Last time was so good, because you have to have a perfect day on the tour to finish well. That is what we are focused on this time.

    “A lot of it is unloading a really fast car, and being fast right off the bat in the first couple minutes of practice. That kind of sets the tone for the whole day. You get a good qualifying draw and can have good confidence all day long. Confidence is really one of the biggest variables of all.”

    Slepian’s accomplishment in May was with a home-built car. Having success in this fashion is a rarity in today’s Modified racing. His team can ask others for advice, but does it do them any good, or are they on an Island in more ways than one this Saturday?

    “Some of the most fun that I have had in racing is working on this deal because you just have to think about everything,” he explained. “A Modified is a Modified in a lot of respects. They react similar to the store bought cars, but when you ask for help from somebody that is used to working on an LFR or Fury car, they’re going to give you notes and numbers that are only relevant to that type of car.

    “Even with things like control arm links, and camber spacers, and really nitty gritty stuff. You just have to really take a step back and look at it from kind of a 10-foot view. It is really refreshing, and it makes everything that we accomplish a lot more exciting.”

    Saturday night it will all play out once again. The locals versus the traveling teams. Will Coby win again? Or maybe Ron Silk breaks through for a first Riverhead win after seven previous top five finishes? Will Ronnie Williams, Tommy Catalano or Jon McKennedy finally conquer Riverhead?

    Will Justin Bonsignore ride the Monadnock wave to another hometown victory, or maybe top local drivers from the May race in Slepian, Solomito, John Barker, Kyle Soper, Goodale or John Beatty Jr. reach glory at their local track?

    When the sun sets on Saturday, with track temperatures some 30 degrees cooler than when cars were on the track for practice, we will find out who hits the right setup and drives that perfect race to take the 69th NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour checkered in the long history of an ultimate challenge. A challenge created because of the locals versus traveling teams setting that is Riverhead Racewa

Doug Coby Looks for Second Straight Riverhead Win with Tommy Baldwin Racing in Buzz Chew 200; Welcomes Mayhew Tools to the 7NY

By Souza Media/Kyle Souza

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

MILFORD, Conn. – After years of coming close, Doug Coby finally broke into NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Victory Lane at Riverhead Raceway last season. His first Riverhead win seemed to open the flood gates – as the Milford, Connecticut, six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion has won three of the last four races at the track. In the only other event, he was racing at the front early before contact sidelined him from the race.

This Saturday night, Coby will pair with Tommy Baldwin Racing for the fourth time this season, returning to Riverhead – the site of their victory in May in their first race together. Overall, Coby has three wins in 23 Riverhead starts, leading 702 laps and posting top-10 finishes in 14 efforts. 

The 2022 Riverhead win sparked a run of success for the team – including a win at Lee USA Speedway in the next race with Coby driving and one at Jennerstown Speedway with Mike Christopher Jr. behind the wheel. Coby drove the car in last weekend’s Duel at the Dog 200 at Monadnock Speedway and scored a fifth-place finish, continuing impressive momentum as a team.

Coby will welcome longtime sponsor Mayhew Tools, based in Massachusetts, to the Tommy Baldwin Racing entry for the Buzz Chew 200-lap race.

“I feel like every time I go there I’m learning more and more about the track,” Coby said. “It feels like it’s more of a level playing field since they paved the corners. I know what I need to have during the day in practice so we can have a good car at night during the race and go out there and do what we need to do. You have to qualify well, stay up front, and stay out of trouble. You have to save your tires and make sure you are there at the end. I’m excited for another race with Tommy Baldwin Racing and also excited to welcome Mayhew Tools to the car for this race.”

Fans who will not be able to make it to the track can watch the race live on FloRacing.TV. Tickets will be available at the track for those who will be in the area.

For more information on Tommy Baldwin Racing, visit the team on Facebook. For more information on Mayhew Tools, visit Mayhew.com. For more information on Doug Coby and Doug Coby Racing, visit the team on Facebook or online at DougCobyRacing.com.