Souza’s Spotlight: Best of the Best — 2014 New England Modified Awards

Kyle Souza Asphalt Modifieds, Featured, Kyle Souza Blog, Northeast, Touring Series 0 Comments

SEEKONK, Mass. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Seekonk Speedway photo —

With the 2014 racing season in the books in New England and 2015 quickly on the horizon, Race Chaser Online takes a look back on who excelled in their class and who will need to do some work for the 2015 season.

Top 2014 SK Modified Driver: Keith Rocco

Even though this choice was hard to make, Keith Rocco continues to take the cake as the dominant SK driver in the Northeast.  Rocco competed for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship once again this season and came up just a little bit short.

His weekly resume included SK Modified races at Stafford and Waterford, along with the Thompson events, but those were scarcer this season than they have been in the past. Rocco also competed on the Valenti Modified Racing Series and NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on occasion, taking the checkers with the VMRS on one occasion.

Rocco picked up multiple wins at Waterford, including the track’s SK Modified championship by a healthy margin.

Top SK Light Modified Driver: Branden Dion

Branden Dion competed weekly at Stafford as part of the SK Light Modified division, but turned multiple heads all season long.  Dion collected one win and multiple top-five finishes, ultimately letting him finish inside the top five in the point standings in the class.

Dion went to the SK Light following a full season in the Seekonk Late Model class and ran extremely well in his rookie year.  His expectations going into the season were just to finish races and run respectably but he proved he could run with the best of the best.

Expect Dion to take the Triple D Racing machine racing with the big boys, SK style in 2015.

Top Valenti Modified Racing Series Driver: Justin Bonsignore

This may come as no surprise, but Justin Bonsignore was definitely at the head of the VMRS class all season long.  Bonsignore did not collect the win he may have been looking for, but came up inside the top five at the finish of almost all of the feature events.

He found himself holding the big trophy at the end of the season at Thompson, collecting the championship in his first full-time season with Art and Kenny Barry. Bonsignore was stout at almost every track the tour visited and had a shot to win most races.

The most memorable race he had all year has to be his thrilling battle with young Tommy Barrett at the finish at Airborne.

Bonsignore will move to an SK Modified with the Barrys for the 2015 season, in addition to continuing to chase an elusive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title.

Top NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Driver: Doug Coby 

Two years after winning a tour title with Wayne Darling and the No. 52, Doug Coby found himself carrying the big trophy once again in 2014. Coby jumped into the No. 2 for Mike Smeriglio III last season and picked up right where he was during that 2012 season, carrying a trophy.

Doug collected only one victory in 2014, but was one of the most consistent cars that the tour had to offer. His strong work ethic behind the wheel and during the week in the shop, powered by a strong team behind him, propelled him to the series championship.

Doug will once again fight for the title in 2015, again behind the wheel of the No. 2.

Top New England Modified Series: Tri Track Open Modifieds 

It is hard to argue against the Tri Track Open Modified Series.  The three-race series included races at Lee USA Speedway, Star Speedway and Seekonk Speedway and all three were extremely exciting and entertaining. The drivers were awarded with one of the best purses any series in New England has put up in a long, long time.

The racing was second to none — thrilling battles right down to the checkered flag.  There were so many cars at each race that some of the B-Main features paid out the same amount of money for the last place finishing position in the main event.

Props to James Schaefer, Dick Williams and The Racing Guys on a job well done.

New England’s Top Modified Performer: Justin Bonsignore 

After a championship in the VMRS and a third-place finish in NWMT points, Justin Bonsignore was clearly New England’s Top Modified Performer in 2014. Bonsignore was in the title chase on the NWMT right until the final few races, when mechanical gremlins forced him to the sidelines of two events.

He was consistent on the tour all season long, finishing inside the top fives various times and collecting a few wins.  His 7.7 average finish found him in the front at the end of almost all events. His championship season in the VMRS also shows his excellence, as he collected his first title in his first season on the tour.

The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, Speed77 Radio, the Performance Motorsports Network, their sponsors or other contributors.

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