That one word pretty much sums up the start to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season for Justin Bonsignore.
The Holtsville, New York, driver has been to Victory Lane in four of the first seven races, and Saturday, he continued his run of favorable outcomes by winning the Buzz Chew Auto Group 200 at Riverhead Raceway.
The home track victory continued his dominance at the quarter-mile where he cut his teeth racing modifieds as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 15 career starts, Bonsignore now has five wins — an average finish of 5.7 — and a total of 639 laps at the front of the field.
RACING-REFERENCE: Justin Bonsignore’s Career at Riverhead
With the triumph, the 30-year-old becomes the first driver since 2012 to win four of the first seven races in Whelen Modified Tour competition. During that year, Doug Coby accomplished the feat, then went on to capture his first championship.
“We made the switch to LFR and brought Ryan Stone on, and we have been in contention at almost all of the other races this year,” Bonsignore said. “Ryan brings cars to the race track that are fast, and we just have to fine tune instead of swing for the fences.”
Oddly enough, Coby’s reign of success didn’t start until his 11th year of competition, when he won his first title driving the No. 52 for Wayne Darling. Bonsignore just started his 12th season and his ninth driving full-time for Kenneth Massa Motorsports, and is seeking his first championship this season. He now has 16 career checkered flags.
Bonsignore leaves Riverhead with a commanding 33 point lead in the standings, and there isn’t any sign of him slowing down anytime soon. At New Hampshire Motor Speedway — the next stop on the schedule — Bonsignore has one victory and seven top 10 finishes in 17 starts.
Doug Coby Inching Closer on Long Island
Even though five-time champion Doug Coby has yet to capture the checkered flag at Riverhead, he is certainly inching closer to accomplishing the goal. Saturday, Coby drove the No. 2 Mayhew Tools Chevrolet to a third-place finish, marking his third straight finish on the podium at the quarter-mile.
In his career, Coby has 16 starts at Riverhead, but it didn’t start off well — he failed to record a top five until his sixth start. However, of late, Coby has top five finishes in four of his last six starts at the New York oval, and will be looking to finally break the ice and capture the flag in September when the series returns.
With seven races down and nine to go, Coby sits sixth in the championship standings, 79 points from the lead as he looks to make a run at another record over the summer stretch.
Pace Heats Up, While Regulars Rise
At the end of the 200-lap distance, only three cars were left on the lead lap, and only three caution flags went into the record books. In 61 Whelen Modified Tour events at Riverhead, the 2018 edition marked the fewest cautions in recorded history with just three. The last time there were fewer than five cautions in a race at the New York oval? 2001. On that night, veteran and NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik went to Victory Lane in a race that had just four yellow flags.
RACING-REFERENCE: Whelen Modified Tour Races at Riverhead
Just six of the 30 drivers who started the race failed to finish, and while Bonsignore raced his way through lapped traffic, Ryan Preece found himself second — after leading a race-high 124 laps — looking for grip to close back in one night after competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event at Daytona International Speedway.
Half of the top 10 finishers were drivers who have NASCAR Whelen All-American Series experience at the quarter-mile in their past, including three of the top five. The only other two in the top five? Preece and Coby — the two most recent drivers to hold the championship trophy.
Regular Tom Rogers, Jr., drove the Danny Watts prepared No. 82 Chevrolet to an eighth-place finish, while Kyle Soper took the Wayne Anderson owned No. 95 to a finish of ninth.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will hit the halfway point on the season with the next stop on the circuit on Saturday, July 21 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. On Friday July 20, select drivers will compete in the All-Star Shootout, a non-points event at NHMS.