DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Justin Bonsignore’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship aspirations, more often than not, have centered around his performances at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.
Three of Bonsignore’s eight career victories have come at the tough, intense quarter-mile, where the Holtsville, New York, driver was the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion in the Modified division. He also has two career victories at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, New Hampshire, another of the quarter-mile bullrings where the tour has competed in recent seasons.
Heading into the Riverhead 200 this weekend, Bonsignore is looking for a third straight victory at the track after completing the season sweep in 2015 — a feat most recently completed by NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Ryan Preece, who won three straight Riverhead races from 2012-2013.
After a disappointing finish last week at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Bonsignore dropped from second in the tour standings to fifth. He’s 33 points behind leader Doug Coby of Milford, Connecticut, but just 14 behind second-place Max Zachem with 12 races remaining.
RACE: Riverhead 200
PLACE: Riverhead Raceway, Riverhead, New York
WHEN: Saturday, June 25
TIME: 8 p.m. ET
TRACK LAYOUT: .25-mile banked oval
2015 WINNER: Justin Bonsignore
2015 POLE SITTER: Tom Rogers, Jr.
EVENT SCHEDULE: Saturday, June 25 — Practice, 2:35-3:20 p.m., 3:35-4:20 p.m.; Qualifying, 6 p.m.; Driver autograph session, 7:15 p.m.
TRACK TWITTER: @RiverheadRacewa
EVENT HASHTAG: #Riverhead200
The Race: The Riverhead 200 will be the sixth of 17 events on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, and the first of two trips to the Long Island oval.
The Procedure: The maximum starting field is 28 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 cars will have secured starting positions through two-lap time trials while the remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race is scheduled for 200 laps (50 miles). The tire change rule is zero (0) tires, any position.
The Track: A quarter-mile banked asphalt oval, Riverhead Raceway opened in 1949. The track has held a total of 56 races since the Whelen Modified Tour began in 1985, and is one of only two venues to play host to the tour in each of its 31 seasons.
Race Winners: There have been 24 different drivers that reached Victory Lane at Riverhead, led by Mike Ewanitsko’s 11. Justin Bonsignore swept both events there last year.
Pole Winners: Thirty-three different drivers have captured a pole at Riverhead, led by Ewanitsko’s eight. Chuck Steuer set the qualifying record at 11.546 seconds (77.949 mph) in 2000 and Tom Rogers Jr. earned his first career pole in the June event.
Riverhead 200 Notes:
Goodale Seeks Good Fortune: A full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitor for eight seasons, Eric Goodale’s lone career win came in the Riverhead 200 in 2014. The Riverhead, New York, native has gotten his season off to a rocky start with just one top five finish through the first five races. He won the pole at Waterford, but a driveshaft issue cut his race short, and an ignition problem ended his day early at Stafford in the second race of the season. Goodale has been consistent at Riverhead, however, with four top fives and seven top 10s in nine career starts at his home track, and he’s completed 99.8 percent of all the laps run there.
New Ownership: Longtime Whelen Modified Tour car owners Ed and Connie Partridge bought Riverhead Raceway last year, and the couple spent much of the offseason taking on massive improvements to the 66-year-old facility. Connie will field the No. 6 entry for four-time Riverhead winner Ryan Preece of Berlin, Connecticut, in the Riverhead 200.
Long Island Connections: Justin Bonsignore isn’t the only Long Islander with Modified success in the weekly ranks at Riverhead. The 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champion will be joined by Timmy Solomito of Islip, New York, who swept both halves of a Twin 50s Modified event at the track on June 11. Tom Rogers Jr. of Patchogue, New York, won the pole for this race a year ago and is entered in this weekend’s event, while Riverhead Raceway drivers Jerry Solomito, Brendon Bock, Dave Sapienza and Shawn Solomito are also entered.
Santos Back In Form: Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Massachusetts, snapped a nearly two-year winless drought with a dramatic last-lap pass of Max Zachem to win the Thompson 125 on June 15. The win was the 14th of Santos’ career and came on a night where he led only one lap — the final lap — to score the victory. The win jumped the driver of the No. 44 Tinio Corp. Chevrolet into sixth in the Tour standings heading into Riverhead.
Zachem Closes In: Max Zachem of Preston, Connecticut, came close to becoming the second first-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner of 2016, leading a race-high 43 laps before being passed by Santos after the white flag and finishing second in the Thompson 125. With point leader Doug Coby’s 11th-place finish, Zachem closed to second in the standings, just 19 points behind Coby. Timmy Solomito became a first-time Tour winner when he took the checkered flag in the Icbreaker 150 in the season opener at Thompson.
NASCAR Home Tracks: Late Models Join The Riverhead 200 Bill
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series will be highlighted as part of the Whelen Modified Tour Riverhead 200 program. The Riverhead 200 itself will take on a weekly racing flavor, with a number of the track’s premier tour-type Modified division teams entering the main event. In addition, Late Models, crate-engine Modifieds and Legends will also be racing Saturday night.
-NASCAR Hometracks Press Release
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com