RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — The stars and cars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will make their first of two appearances at Riverhead Raceway this Saturday night, June 25 for the running of the Riverhead 200.
It will be the sixth race of the season and the last of those in the month of June — before the tour goes on a break until the annual July weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Coming into the 200 lap event, Justin Bonsignore leads all competitors into the quarter-mile bullring, a venue he has won at three times before. Last year, Bonsignore completed the sweep, winning both races behind the wheel of his No. 51 M3 Technology modified owned by Kenneth Massa.
Going into the last tour race, the Thompson 125, Bonsignore had been riding momentum off multiple solid runs — three of them inside the top five in the first four races of the season. However, Thompson last Wednesday saw Bonsignore go spinning off turn two late in the race and load into the trailer with lots of damage. He is hoping to rebound at a place he has dominated many times before in the past.
As the series enters the quarter-mile, defending champion Doug Coby leads the point standings over the surprise of the season thus far, Max Zachem. Coby leads by just 19 points and he has already won two races this season, both at Stafford Motor Speedway. Zachem is still chasing his first career victory but is inching closer and has two second place finishes already in 2016, one at New London-Waterford Speedbowl and the other most recently at Thompson.
Currently, Rowan Pennink is quietly third in the point standings coming off a sixth at Stafford on June 3 and a seventh last time out at Thompson on June 15. Though Pennink hasn’t challenged for a victory in the final laps yet, his strong, consistent runs have accumulated him points and that could prove to be crucial going down the stretch of the championship chase.
Donny Lia comes into Riverhead fourth in the point standings and rounding out the top-five is Bonsignore. Bobby Santos, riding the momentum off his victory last time out at Thompson Speedway, comes into the race sixth in the points behind the wheel of his LFR Chassis No. 44 for Tinio Racing.
Santos had struggled with what he called “bad racing luck” for much of last season and the start of 2016. When he switched to LFR in March, the team struggled right off the truck at Thompson — but they now seemed to have figured it out.
Multiple Long Island modified regulars have entered the 200 lap feature, including 2015 pole winner Tom Rogers Jr. Timmy Solomito and his brother Shawn, who both run regular weekly modified action at Riverhead when they can, are also on the entry card. Timmy already has a victory in 2016 on the Whelen Modified Tour, that coming at the IceBreaker in April.
It will also be the first time the tour visits the facility under its new ownership of Eddie and Connie Partridge. The owners will field a car in the 200 lap race with NASCAR XFINITY competitor Ryan Preece competing behind the wheel of the No. 6 with TS Haulers.
The Whelen Modified Tour will practice from 2:35 p.m. to 3:20 p.m., then will have a final practice round from 3:35 p.m. to 4:20 p.m. They are scheduled to qualify for the Riverhead 200 at 6 p.m. and the feature will go green at approximately 8 p.m.
About the Writer
Kyle Souza is an aspiring Journalism major at the Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. Souza is Race Chaser Online’s New England motorsports insider, covering everything from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to the NASCAR Whelen All American Series and the PASS North Super Late Models.
When not writing, Souza works at the Seekonk Speedway as the track’s Friday night public address announcer and press writer, and is also the Media Director for both the Granite State Pro Stock Series and the Tri Track Open Modified Series.
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