Tag 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.

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.

Ron Silk Looking to Go Back to Back at Stafford in NAPA Fall Final

Tom Morris/Myracenews photo

(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour last visited Stafford Speedway in August, it was Ronnie Silk and the #85 Stuart’s Automotive team taking the checkered flag after a thrilling green white checkered shoot-out.  Silk and the #85 team would like nothing better than a repeat performance and to collect the accolades in the NAPA Fall Final victory lane. 

“I think we’re looking pretty good,” said Silk.  “We were planning on bringing our new car that we had at Loudon but it got destroyed so we’ll be coming back with the same car that we won with back in August.  I’m definitely looking forward to coming back to Stafford.  Obviously any race you can win is great but it would be cool to win two in a row at Stafford and getting a win in the NAPA Fall Final would be a good way to wind the year down for sure.”

In addition to going for two wins in a row at Stafford, Silk will be looking to turn his 2019 fortunes around.  Since he won the Stafford 150 in August, Silk has finished 16th or worse in 3 of the 4 NWMT races held since then.  In that four-race stretch, Silk has gone from 2nd in the points standings and 24 points behind Doug Coby to 3rd in the standings, 64 points out of the lead. 

“It’s disappointing with the championship race,” said Silk.  “It’s not anything that we can put our heads down about.  We’ve had fast racecars at all the races but we got caught up in other people’s problems and had some bad luck.  I think we’ll look back at this year and be proud of what we’ve accomplished.  We’ve won 3 races so far and hopefully we can add to that in these last 2 races.  We’ve had some unfortunate circumstances but we’ve had a fast car at every track and we’ve run in the top-3 or top-4 every week.  There’s a lot of momentum that we can take into next season and try to be even better.”

Despite the last race at Stafford coming down to a green white checkered finish at the end of the race after going green for the first 146 laps of the race, Silk says he and the #85 team will be doing their usual preparations for the NAPA Fall Final.

“I think we’re going to prepare the car like we normally would for Stafford,” said Silk.  “I could see us putting a setup in the car for a longer run and then we have a caution about every 10 laps or so in the race.  The last race was an anomaly and we’re going to go with what we normally do and try to make the best adjustments that we can at the track to make the car as good as we can.  I never start a race with a set strategy.  It’s all going to depend on where the caution flags fall.  I prefer to take tires somewhere after halfway and with the 3 trips down pit road it takes to change 3 tires, I like to get all 3 tires changed in one pit cycle.  If you have a handling issue early enough in the race, you might come to pit road for one tire, but with changing one tire it gets hard to match the stagger.  We actually get 4 tires for the race, we have 3 new tires and we can bring one tire from practice to the race, so you could come in early for the one tire and still come back in later for three tires.  It’s all going to depend on your track position and what everyone else around you is doing.”

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.