Bonsignore Brings Momentum Back To Home Track
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After getting the monkey off his back last week, Long Island’s Justin Bonsignore will return to his home track with the momentum needed to defend his Riverhead 200 victory.
A darkhorse favorite to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title, Bonsignore and the No. 51 M3 Technology team has encountered more than its share of adversity this year, primarily due to three accident DNFs. His struggles had been even greater at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, where he had posted a career average finish of 19th.
The Holtsville, N.Y., native reversed both trends on Sunday, however, when he made a late-race pass and powered to victory in the Town Fair Tire Northern 75.
The Thompson win was the second of his career. The first came in the 2011 Riverhead 200, a victory he hopes to defend when the Whelen Modified Tour returns Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway this Saturday, Sept. 15.
“I’m pretty excited, especially since we were able to win last week,” Bonsignore said. “It definitely puts a little more pressure on us to go two weeks in a row and then two years in a row at Riverhead, but it is a place we expect to run good.”
Now in his third full-time Whelen Modified Tour campaign, Bonsignore launched his Modified racing career in Riverhead’s famed NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified division. He earned the track title there in 2011 while simultaneously running on the tour, and has seven career weekly Modified wins at the quarter-mile bullring, including a pair this year in just four appearances.
On the Whelen Modified Tour side, which has been the No. 51 team’s focus in 2012, Bonsignore seemed energized by his first career victory in the Riverhead 200 last year. He reeled off top 10s in seven of the last nine events following Riverhead and improved 12 spots in the standings after that win to finish seventh in points.
“It was huge to win our first race of the season outside of Riverhead, on any level, is was real big,” Bonsignore said of his Thompson triumph. “Hopefully this can be the start of a nice little streak kind of like Doug [Coby] went on at the beginning of the year.”
This year he ranks sixth with four races left on the schedule. At 73 points behind leader Doug Coby, the title might be a tall order, but another impressive stretch run this year could realistically place Bonsignore on the championship podium for the first time in his career. As second win in a row would go a long way in constructing another strong finish.
RACE: Riverhead 200
PLACE: Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway
DATE: Saturday, Sept. 15
TIME: 8:30 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .25-mile, banked asphalt oval
2011 WINNER: Justin Bonsignore
2011 POLESITTER: Howie Brode
EVENT SCHEDULE: Practice 2-3:30 p.m., Qualifying 5 p.m., Qualifying Race 6:30 p.m., Driver Autograph Session 7 p.m.
TRACK CONTACT: Bob Finan, 631-842-7223, email@example.com
TRACK TWITTER: @RiverheadRacewa
EVENT HASHTAG: #Riverhead200
NASCAR CONTACT: Jason Cunningham, 704-201-6658, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @NASCAR_NE
The Race: The Riverhead 200 will be the 11th of 14 races on the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, and the lone trip to Riverhead Raceway on New York’s Long Island.
The Procedure: The starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 16 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. Positions 17-23 will be filled by the seven highest-finishing cars in the 25-lap qualifying race. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The feature is scheduled for 175 laps.
The Track: A quarter-mile banked asphalt oval, Riverhead Raceway opened in 1949. The track has held a total of 50 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races since the series began in 1985, and is one of only two venues to play host to the tour in each of its 28 seasons.
Race Winners: There have been 23 different drivers to reach Victory Lane at Riverhead, led by Mike Ewanitsko’s 11. Justin Bonsignore took the checkers last year, and among active drivers, Mike Stefanik has the most wins with six.
Pole Winners: Twenty-nine different drivers have won the pole at Riverhead, led by Ewanitsko’s eight. Ed Flemke Jr. leads active drivers in the category with four. Riverhead weekly competitor Howie Brode earned last year’s pole. Chuck Steuer set the qualifying record at 11.546 seconds (77.949 mph) in 2000.
RIVERHEAD RACE NOTES
Riverhead, Take 2: This Saturday will mark the second attempt at contesting the Riverhead 200. The race was originally scheduled to run on July 28, but heavy rains soaked the track on the morning of the race and it was postponed to Sept. 15. This will mark the first time that that the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has raced at the Long Island bullring this late on the calendar. The first 50 visits to the track all fell between the months of June-August.
Boehler, Anderson Combine Forces Once Again to Field an Entry for Christopher: Since his former full-time team shut down following the sixth event of the season, Ted Christopher has to piece together the remainder of the schedule. The last three races he’s piloted the Boehler Racing Enterprises No. 3, and that relationship will continue this week at Riverhead Raceway as far as owner points are concerned, but the actual car he will drive is property of Wayne Anderson. The 1994 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, Anderson has had Christopher in his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified – regularly numbered 15 – this year at Riverhead. The car that Christopher will drive this week is the same one that reached Victory Lane at Riverhead on Sept. 1 after six runner-up finishes during the season. This isn’t the first time that Anderson and BRE have teamed up – Anderson’s 1994 tour title came while he was driving the famed No. 3 “Ole Blue.”
Four Tour Drivers Had Riverhead Weekly Wins This Year: In addition to Christopher, three other fellow Whelen Modified Tour drivers have earned Whelen All-American Series Modified wins at Riverhead this year. Ron Silk took home the NASCAR Hall of Fame 100 checkers in May, Ryan Preece won twice – highlighted by the Baldwin Evans Jarzombek 77 in late July – and Justin Bonsignore also nabbed a pair of victories, including the Cromarty Cup 50 in early July.
Race No. 2 of a Busy Stretch: The Riverhead 200 will be the second leg of four races and four different tracks in four weeks for the Whelen Modified Tour. The stretch began on Sept. 9 at the .625-mile, high-banked Thompson International Speedway. Following this week’s race at the Riverhead quarter mile the tour will then go to the 1.058-mile New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 22 followed by the half-mile Stafford Motor Speedway on Sept. 30.
HOME TRACKS: Solomito Captures First Track Title
Shawn Solomito wrapped up his first Riverhead Raceway track championship on Sept. 8 with a third-place finish in the final feature of the year for the NASCAR Modified division. Solomito registered a pair of wins and 14 top 10s in 16 starts to edge Howie Brode by 10 points in the ultra-competitive division. Solomito also has one other championship to chase with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New York state title up for grabs. As of the latest national points update on Sept. 5, Solomito maintained a 575-556 lead on fellow Riverhead competitor Brode. Sept. 16 is the cutoff date for points to count toward the national and state standings. Riverhead is a charter member of the Whelen All-American Series, now in its 31st season of competition.
LAST TIME OUT: Thompson
The most recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event was held at Thompson International Speedway on Sept. 9. Here are some highlights from the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 and UNOH Showdown:
• Justin Bonsignore took the checkered flag in the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 points race for the second victory of his career and his first at Thompson.
• Ryan Preece earned the Town Fair Tire Northern 75 Coors Light Pole Award, his tour-high fifth of the year and his fourth in the last five Thompson races.
• Ted Christopher was victorious in the UNOH Showdown, an exhibition combination race with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.
• Andy Seuss was also a winner at Thompson in the GreenPointe Energy Southern 75 Whelen Southern Modified Tour race.
NEXT TIME OUT: New Hampshire
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will head to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the second and final time this year with the F.W. Webb 100 on Saturday, Sept. 22. Ron Silk is the defending winner of this race while Mike Stefanik edged Silk in a thrilling finish in the tour’s first visit to the “Magic Mile” this season on July 14. The F.W. Webb 100 will be carried live on SPEED and will be followed by the G-Oil 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race.
Sources: Jason Cunningham/NASCAR WMT PR
NWMT Riverhead 9/15/12 Schedule
9 a.m. Haulers Enter
10 a.m. Garage Opens
2-3:30 p.m. Practice
5 p.m. Qualifying
6:30 p.m. Qualifying Race (25 Laps)
7-7:30 p.m. Driver Autograph Session
8:30 p.m. Race (175 Laps)
All times ET and subject to change
NWMT Riverhead 9/15/12 Entry List
CAR DRIVER/HOMETOWN TEAM OWNER CREW CHIEF
0 Ed Brunnhoelzl III, Levittown, N.Y. * CLN/AARN/LIModManiac Chevrolet Ralph Solhem Ralph Solhem
2 Todd Szegedy, Ridgefield, Conn. Dunleavy Repair/A&J Romano Const. Ford Mike Smeriglio, III Phil Moran
3 Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn. Eastport Feeds Chevrolet Jan Boehler TBA
4 Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y. Mystic Missile Racing Dodge Robert Garbarino Dan Laferriere
6 Ron Silk, Norwalk, Conn. Reynolds Auto Wrkg/Schnitzer Chevrolet Ed Partridge Tom Grasso
07 Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, N.Y. Emerling Chevrolet Dealership Chevrolet Jennifer Emerling Mike Paquette
9 Tom Rogers Jr., Patchogue, N.Y. Planet Earth Recycling Chevrolet Joe Ambrose TBA
16 Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn. Diversified Metals/R.B. Enterprises Ford Eric Sanderson Stan Szaban
18 Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y. Buoy One Seafood/MacLad Drywall Chevrolet Robert Pollifrone Greg Gorman
26 Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, N.Y. Lakeland Landscape/TRC Electric Pontiac Sean McDonald Chad McDonald
28 Ed Flemke, Jr., Southington, Conn. Ron Bouchard's Autos/Raceworks TV Chevrolet Don King Tommy Trcka
33 Wade Cole, Riverton, Conn. Perf. Engines/Kendall Oil/Ryan's Chevrolet Beth Cole Rick Rodenbaugh
38 Driver TBA Perf. Engines/Kendall Oil/Ryan's Chevrolet Linda Rodenbaugh Jake Marosz
39 Richie Pallai Jr., Yorktown Heights, N.Y. Bosch Spark Plugs Chevrolet Rich Pallai Denis Pruchnik
45 Eric Beers, Northampton, Pa. Horwith Freightliner/John Blewett Inc. Ford Dave DeLange Ryan Plourde
46 Eric Berndt, Cromwell, Conn. Cape Cod Agts/North End Auto Parts Chevrolet Robert Katon, Jr. Richard Rotundo
50 Kevin Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y. Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet Nancy Goodale Keith Flores
51 Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y. M3 Technology Chevrolet Kenneth Massa Aaron Clifford
52 Doug Coby, Milford, Conn. Reynolds Auto Wrkg/Furnace & Duct Chevrolet Wayne Darling John McKenna
58 Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y. Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet Edgar Goodale Jason Shephard
64 Ron Yuhas Jr., Groton, Conn. Fast Track Elctrcl./Complete Const. Chevrolet Mike Murphy Stephen Dodge
66 Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I. Variety Auto/Canto & Sons Paving Ford Ed Marceau Brad Lafontaine
76 Jimmy Blewett, Howell, N.J. John Blewett Inc./Ling Trucking Chevrolet John Blewett Sr. Kevin Crowley
79 Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass. Hill Enterprises/Coors Light Pontiac Sandra Hill David Hill
88 Bryon Chew, Mattituck, N.Y. Buzz Chew Chevrolet/GT Vodka Chevrolet Buzz Chew Ron Ste-Marie
93 Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa. Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner Chevrolet Mark Pennink Don Barker
96 Howie Brode, East Islip, N.Y. Peter Clark Motorsports Chevrolet Peter Clark TBA
99 Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J. Supreme Manufacturing Chevrolet Trey Tomaino Trey Tomaino
*Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender
Unofficial Entry List, as of Sept. 9