Tag Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Riverhead, NY Sept. 7thBy Bob Finan
It was night for milestones Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in town for the Miller Lite 200 and when it was all said and done Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville became the first driver to win four straight WMT races in the 64 WMT events contested at the demanding quarter mile facility. The hard fought victory was Justin’s 5th of the 2019 campaign and the 25th of his WMT driving career as well his 15th Riverhead Raceway triumph.

Craig Lutz of Miller Place by virtue of winning the Mayhew Tools Pole Award brought the 30 car field to the green but it wouldn’t be long before the race was slowed on lap 3 for Gary McDonald who was making his first WMT start of 2019 suffering right front suspension damage coming to a rest in turn four. When the race resumed to start the 9th lap Justin Bonsignore was scored second by Lutz quickly rallied to the inside to reclaim the lead. Lutz seeking his first career WMT win would lead until the 32nd lap where he’d be passed by track regular Tom Rogers Jr. steering the Danny Watts Racing owned Chevy. During Rogers stint in the lead the race would go for it’s longest extended green flag run with Rogers at times opening a three four car length lead on Timmy Solomito who was now second while at other time Timmy closed up on Rogers rear spoiler. During this run many including the track announcers wondered aloud if Tommy was using up too much of his car in the middle portion of the race.

The first caution in 84 laps would wave on lap 116 when Chris Pasteryak and Rob Summers came together with this yellow flag to be the first of six that would wave during the final half of the Miller Lite 200. On the ensuing restart on lap 125 Rogers spun his tires slightly off turn for with Solomito made a run to the outside to lead the 125th circuit but Rogers would muscle his way back to the lead on lap 126. Rogers and Solomito tussled again on a lap 136 restart with Rogers staying out front. A tangle between Rob Summers and Chris Young drew another caution flag period on lap 138 setting up another restart and this time Solomito took the race lead from Rogers when the race resumed on lap 146. Moments later Justin Bonsignore also made his way by Rogers to come to second.

With some 54 laps remaining in the 200 Solomito and his Flamingo Motorsports team were hoping to take home their first win of 2019 giving them some momentum going into the final three WMT races of the season. However Bonsignore had as per usual strong Ken Massa Motorsports machine under him as he tracked down his former go kart rival. Geting to Solomito was one thing, passing him under green could very well have been another thing for Bonsignore. As the laps clicked off Timmy was hoping not to see the caution flag however those hopes were dashed on lap 184 when Rob Summer, who had a rough night of it and Wade Cole came together in turn two.

When the race went back to green on lap 189 Bonsignore gained the run he needed on the outside to take the race lead with Solomito now moved back to second but the race was quickly slowed on lap 192 when Tom Rogers Jr. rode over the left rear of Ron Silk in the corner giving Silk a left rear flat. Both drivers were in the top five when the incident occurred. That gave Solomito a crack at trying to reclaim the lead on the ensuing restart however when the race resumed on lap 196 Bonsignore stayed out front making Solomito uncomfortable to his outside. As the old adage goes cautions breed cautions and such was the case in the closing laps of the Miller Lite 200 as a four car crash involving Blake Barney, Chris Young, Ron Silk and Michael Rutkoski set up an overtime finish.
Solomito, a 20 time career winner at Riverhead Raceway would have one more shot at scoring his 4th career WMT win at his home track in OT. When the race went back green Bonsignore again ran hard into the corner while Solomito peddled as hard as he could to the outside. In the end Justin Bonsignore and his Phoenix Communications Inc. team would bask in the spoils of victory lane, Justin’s 8th career WMT win at Riverhead moving him to just three behind all time leader Mike Ewanitsko. “Ryan Stone and my guys just give me an amazing car wherever we go but especially here at Riverhead” Justin boasted in victory lane afterwards. As to the late race restarts and how the leader has to race when starting on the inside Bonsignore was very honest with his thoughts, “it’s just a product of how they treat the outside groove here, the only line of defense the car has on the inside is to make the guy alongside of you as uncomfortable as you can. It’s not the way anyone wants to race but you have little choice”.

Timmy Solomito of Islip was runner-up in his Sanderson & MacLeod Inc. Ford and afterwards to a degree he echoed Bonsignore’s remarks, “it’s just how it goes here at Riverhead, they treat the outside but not the inside, I was sent way up the hill but it’s just a product of how it goes here”.

Craig Luz of Miller Place crossed the line third in the Riverhead Building Supply Chevy and admitted afterwards, ” I was kinda hoping the leaders would get together in those final few corners, heck one time I had the car turned so far left I punched myself in the leg”.

Kyle Soper of Manorville was the highest finishing Riverhead Raceway regular as the defending track champion drove the Eastport Feeds Chevy to a fourth place finish after starting tenth. Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park completed the top five in his Sahlen’s Chevrolet.
Chuck Hossfeld of Ransomville was sixth while JB Fortin of Holtsville, JR Bertuccio of Centereach, Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead and John Beatty Jr., of Merrick rounded out the top ten. Afterwards Rogers who led 113 laps disclosed why he chose to run as hard as he did in the middle portion of the race, ” with my car I was better off having those guys chase me rather than me chasing them. Heck we only got two laps of practice as we had a crank trigger go bad, the car will roll into the truck so it was a good night” Rogers surmised.
The 8th place showing for JR Bertuccio impressed many on hand, JR drove a second Gershow Motorsports entry as a teammate to Chuck Hossfeld and after receiving a free pass scored the top ten finish in his first race since 2016, “not too bad, I wasn’t totally comfortable in the car but for my first race in awhile I’ll take it”. JR noted afterwards.

John Beatty Jr. who nearly won the July WMT race didn’t have the race he was hopeful for right from qualifying although ran in the top ten most of the race until some late race shuffling dropped him to 10th. “I got shoved in the wall at the end, run the entire race with little to no contact and them boom” Beatty deadpanned.

Riverhead Raceway regulars Chris Young of Calverton (17th), Michael Rutkoski (21st) and Roger Turbush (25th) were all at one time or another involved in incidents slowing their efforts.
Miller Lite 200: 1. Justin Bonsignore 2. Timmy Solomito 3. Craig Lutz 4. Kyle Soper 5. Patrick Emerling 6. Chuck Hossfeld 7. JB Fortin 8. JR Bertuccio 9. Tom Rogers Jr. 10. John Beatty Jr. 11. Matt Swanson 12. Tommy Catalano 13. Eric Goodale 14. Tommy Catalano 15. Doug Coby 16. Ron Silk 17. Chris Young 18. Wade Cole 19. Rob Summers 20. Blake Barney 21. Michael Rutkoski 22. Chris Pasteryak 23. Dave Sapienza 24. Calvin Carroll 25. Roger Turbush 26. Dave Salzarulo 27. Ken Heagy 28. Sam Rameau 29. Melissa Fiffield 30. Gary McDonald


Riverhead, NY Aug. 29th

.By Bob Finan

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

For reining NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville there truly is no place like home where racing is concerned as he’ll carry a three race WMT win streak into Saturday nights Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway. In fact Bonsignore’s has dominated victory lane at the demanding quarter mile facility having won 6 of the past 9 races contested at the track where he won the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Modified title.

Justin’s most recent Riverhead triumph in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 on July 6th did not come easy nor without some late race drama having to outgun track regular John Beatty Jr. of Merrick on the first attempt at an overtime finish. Beatty had come within three green flag laps of becoming the first weekly Riverhead driver to win a WMT since Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. turned the trick on June 24th, 1995. However a late race yellow for a Blake Barney incident changed the complexion of the race with a classic short track dash for the cash unfolding for the win during the green, white, checker finish. Beatty has he had all race long chose the outside for the final restart leaving Bonsignore the bottom and the rest as they say is history with Justin taking the win while John settled for second. The hard fought win was Justin’s 7th WMT victory at Riverhead putting him within four of Mike Ewantisko’s track leading 11 WMT wins. 

The only other driver to visit victory lane since Bonsignore’s 6 for 9 streak started in June of 2015 has been Timmy Solomito who has won three times over the past nine races including sweeping the 2017 WMT Riverhead races. Solomito who was third in July at Riverhead is hoping to return to victory lane in front of family and friends at the conclusion of the Miller Lite 200. To find a driver with the name other than Justin or Timmy who last won a 200-lapper at Riverhead you’d have to look back to June 28th, 2014 when Eric Goodale of Riverhead scored his first career victory. There would be no better place for Eric to make a triumphant return to the winners circle coming off a 8th place finish in the July Riverhead contest. If you are looking for the last non Long island resident to have won a WMT at the tight bullring you’d have to travel back to 2013 when Ryan Preece of Berlin, Ct. swept the two 200-lap races.

Current championship leader and five time WMT champion Doug Coby of Milford, Ct. recently snapped Bonsignore’s 6 race win streak at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and would be more than obliging to end Justin’s three race run at Riverhead in the Miller Lite 200. Doug has never won at Riverhead. Drivers who had a solid showing in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet 200 in July hoping to end Bonsignore’s run include Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct., Craig Lutz of Miller Place, Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, NY and Tommy Catalano of Ontario, NY.

Perhaps no driver is looking forward to the Miller Lite 200 more than Dave Sapienza of Riverhead who’ll make his first WMT start since back injuries suffered in May at Wall Stadium put him on the sidelines. “Sap” has been running recent Riverhead Raceway WAAS NASCAR Modified races getting ready for what will be his one and only start for the remainder of the 2019 WMT campaign. Bobby Santos will run the final three races of the year in the Sapienza entry. Long Island based WMT teams hoping for success Saturday include impressive rookie JB Fortin of Holtsville, Ken Heagy of Riverhead and Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead.

John Beatty Jr. has been waiting for the Miller Lite 200 for exactly two months and a day since the checker waved on the first WMT race at Riverhead as he seeks to avenge his late race loss to Justin Bonsignore that left him shaking his head while stating, “I have been second in these races so many times, I just want to win one”. Another Riverhead regular licking his chops in anticipation of the Miller Lite 200 is Tom Rogers Jr. of Riverhead who earlier this week was tabbed by WMT car owner Danny Watts to drive his car after he & driver Woody Pitkat parted ways. Rogers, a 55-time NASCAR Modified winner at Riverhead going into Labor day weekend action could very well net Watts his second win of ’19. Another Riverhead regular who impressed in July was Chris Young who held the Mayhew Tools Pole award until the final two cars, Bonsignore and Coby dropped the rising star to a third place starting berth for the race. Chris hopes to improve on his race performance in the Miller Lite 200 after contact slowed his efforts in the first race. 

Justin Bonsignore Holds Off Matt Hirschman for Toyota Mod Classic Victory


Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

OSWEGO, NY (August 31, 2019) – Justin Bonsignore knew it was going to take a few checkered flags if he wanted to climb his way back into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship battle.

With five races to go, Bonsignore proved on Saturday that he isn’t out of it yet. He scored his fourth victory of the season in the Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s at Oswego Speedway, earning the victory as part of the track’s annual Classic Weekend.

It was the 24th career win in Whelen Modified Tour competition for Bonsignore and his first at the ‘Steel Palace’ of Oswego.

“It’s unbelievable. There is a lot of history at this track,” he said. “I’ve wanted to win here every time we have come here.”

Bonsignore might not have posted the fastest lap times all day, but, when it mattered, his car shined. For the first 64 laps, he chased the back bumper of Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole winner Rob Summers in the race for the lead. He passed Summers at lap 65, and led through until a caution at lap 99, when Tyler Rypkema spun.

Then, his Phoenix Communications crew went to work. They got him out at the front of the cars that pitted and took fresh tires, but, he had to restart third, behind Patrick Emerling and Tommy Catalano.

It didn’t take him long to get back to the top spot. Before the field exited turn two, he was the leader once again.

Bonsignore had to hold off defending race winner Matt Hirschman on a final dash to the finish, but was able to accomplish the task. While the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Chevrolet struggled to turn through the center of the corners, Bonsignore was able to make it work.

He beat Hirschman to the line by .146 seconds. Following Hirschman, former Whelen Modified Tour champion Ron Silk was third, with Craig Lutz and Bobby Santos III completing the top five.

Doug Coby was sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Chase Dowling and Tommy Catalano.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 37 points, with Silk 44 back with four races remaining in the championship points schedule.

The Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 5, at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the second appearance at New York’s Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, September 7.

4th Annual Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s Results: 1. 51 Justin Bonsignore, 2. 60 Matt Hirschman, 3. 85 Ron Silk, 4. 46 Craig Lutz, 5. 36 Bobby Santos III, 6. 2 Doug Coby, 7. 58 Eric Goodale, 8. 16 Timmy Solomito, 9. 82 Chase Dowling, 10. 54 Tommy Catalano, 11. 64 Rob Summers, 12. 75 Chris Pasteryak, 13. 21 Chuck Hossfeld, 14. 07 Patrick Emerling, 15. 06 Sam Rameau, 16. 77 Gary Putnam, 17. 84 Amy Catalano, 18. 5 Kyle Ebersole, 19. 14 Blake Barney, 20. 32 Tyler Rypkema, 21. 34 JB Fortin, 22. 78 Walter Sutcliffe Jr, 23. 33 Wade Cole, 24. 25 Calvin Carroll, 25. 3 Matt Swanson, 26. 01 Melissa Fifield, 27. 45 Timmy Catalano