STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. — Story by Race Chaser Online New England Correspondent Kyle Souza — Dick Ayers photo — The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season has been filled with both highs and lows — from the highs of exciting battles and first time winners down to the lows of rainouts, including the most recent one at Riverhead Raceway two weeks ago.
The championship standings have stayed tight throughout, however, with former champion Doug Coby and Long Island native Justin Bonsignore separated by just 26 points headed into this weekend’s NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut.
Coby’s tale began with a young driver from nearby Milford, Connecticut who was looking for a big-time modified ride. The opportunity came for Coby when Wayne Darling hooked up behind the wheel of the #52 Seekonk Grand Prix machine. The pairing won multiple races together, including the 2012 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.
Coby was always a threat for the win driving the Darling ride, no matter where the tour went it seemed. However, since Darling was looking to only run part-time for this season, Coby hooked up with the Mike Smeriglio-led No. 2 team and filled the vacancy left by another former champion, Todd Szegedy.
Coby has gone on to pick up one points win this season back at Stafford in June, holding off Bonsignore to notch the mark in the win column. Back in February, Coby also picked up the Battle at the Beach non-points feature win at the legendary Daytona International Speedway. He has also been consistent, finishing in the top ten in all 11 races and inside the top five in nine of them. Coby’s quest for the title returns to Stafford on Sunday, a place where he has triumphed six times and where he looks to grab his second win of the season.
The other side of the championship comes from Long Island, New York and focuses on a driver who is chasing his first career Tour championship. Oddly enough, Justin Bonsignore is also in a hotly contested Valenti Modifed Racing Series point battle, holing a slim lead over Rowan Pennink heading into their final three races.
His season on the Whelen Modified Tour has had multiple high points. Bonsignore has three wins on the year, taking down the checkers at Thompson twice and once at the Monadnock Speedway in July. Justin has picked up nine top tens and three top fives as well, running extremely consistent until last weekend at Loudon, when he suffered a motor problem which sent him back to a 25th place finish. The tough result dropped him to second in the series standings by 26 markers, almost a full race’s worth with only two shots left to gain points.
The final two races of the season have suited each of the drivers at different times in their careers, and both Bonsignore and Coby should be threats for the win and will fight tooth and nail for the series title down the stretch.
To watch this battle play out at Stafford on Sunday, visit staffordspeedway.com for this weekend’s Fall Finale event schedule.