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RIVERHEAD, NY - JULY 06:   Justin Bonsignore, driver of the #51 Chevy LFR Phoenix Communications, celebrates in victory lane after winning the 2019 Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200 on July 06, 2019 at Riverhead Raceway, Riverhead, NY. (Photo by Ruby Wallau/NASCAR)
Justin Bonsignore added his third NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season at Riverhead Raceway. (Ruby Wallau/NASCAR)

RAPID REWIND: Bonsignore Beats & Bangs To Seventh Riverhead Win

Everyone knew a green-white-checkered in overtime was going to live up to the hype.

And boy did it.

Justin Bonsignore used a little bit of beating and banging to roll to his seventh victory at Riverhead Raceway in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200, while track regular John Beatty Jr. was left frustrated.

Doug Coby and Timmy Solomito tangled for the lead for the second year in a row, at the same track, in the same corner. All of this, and more, in the rapid rewind from the eighth race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.

BUZZ CHEW 200: Race ResultsRace RecapPoint Standings | Photo Gallery

Bonsignore Breaks Tie With Stefanik

Home sweet home.

Justin Bonsignore swept both Whelen Modified Tour races at his home track last year, and became the third driver in the history 63-race history of Riverhead action to score three consecutive victories on Saturday. He joins Mike Ewanitsko and Monster Energy Cup Series driver Ryan Preece as the only drivers to accomplish that goal. The victory also broke a tie with Mike Stefanik (six wins), with Bonsignore’s seventh career at the quarter-mile.

But, there were plenty of Saturday night sparks en route to the finish. Bonsignore took the lead from Doug Coby early, but quickly gave it back, and rode inside the top three for much of the first half of the race. He passed Timmy Solomito for the top spot on lap 109, before being passed on lap 145.

Then things took a turn. Bonsignore’s car started to fade just a bit, while NASCAR Whelen All-American Series regular John Beatty Jr. passed both Bonsignore and Solomito, taking the lead and looking to drive into the sunset and become the first track regular to win a race at Riverhead in over two decades.

But a caution with just three laps to go in the scheduled distance changed everything. Beatty selected the outside lane, a surprise to some, while Bonsignore dove off into Turn 1, and the contact was on between the two leaders. Into three on the final lap, it was a full-on contact body-slam that sent Beatty up the track and into the right-rear of Bonsignore, while Bonsignore went spinning across the line at the top of the field.

Spin to win.

“The top is just the only groove right now,” Bonsignore said. “But I was really shocked to see him take the outside lane with the way Riverhead is right now. He was doing what he needed to do to try to get my momentum broke, but he gave me one good shot getting into three, and you are coming to the checkered. I just stood in it, and turned, and it was enough to bring it home.”

Riverhead officials paved a section of Turns 3 and 4, and sprayed a traction compound down to allow drivers to use the outside lane. But, most drivers in the field, including Bonsignore, said racing on the bottom line was tough to gain traction all night. When Beatty gave him the chance to use the bottom to his advantage with a little banging, Bonsignore took it and ran with it.

“He had a better car tonight, we faded with about 50 to go, but you just need a chance, and we got that chance and took advantage of it on the restart,” Bonsignore said. “I could see John was struggling to turn for three or four laps, and I was good for those three or four. We were each doing what we needed to do.”

Tying the two former Whelen Modified Tour veterans means a lot to the Holtsville, New York, driver. Bonsignore is the defending tour champion, and at the halfway point, sits third in the standings, 32 behind Doug Coby. Bonsignore now has two streaks going on the two longest-tenured tracks on the circuit — with three in a row at Riverhead and six in a row at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

“Ryan (Preece) owned this place for a while, and it seemed like every year I would run second to him, I’d probably have a few more wins if it wasn’t for him,” Bonsignore joked. “But to be able to get three in a row, I was really determined tonight to get it. We want to keep this streak going when we come back here in the fall.”

Beatty Makes Local Crowd Proud

Inches away from his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win.

John Beatty Jr. is no stranger to Riverhead Raceway. But he might have been a stranger to some of the Whelen Modified Tour fans that don’t follow the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series circuit at the quarter-mile. If you didn’t know the name before, you certainly do now.

Beatty took the lead from Timmy Solomito on lap 150 and was the dominant car in the closing circuits before the caution closed the field up. With just three laps remaining, an accident on the backstretch closed Bonsignore and the field back to Beatty’s bumper. It was the caution Beatty didn’t want to see.

He selected the outside lane for the second time as the leader when the field crossed into overtime. Earlier, the outside lane worked for him as the leader. But this time it didn’t pan out his way. Contact between the two leaders sent him up the track and just short of victory.

“I don’t coast, I was riding just keeping up with the pace, and my car just kept getting better and better,” Beatty said. “We made a lot good decisions before we got here today. We were spot on. Just disappointed in the outcome.”

After taking some time to think about it, Beatty told NASCAR.com nearly 30 minutes after the checkered flag that he maybe would have done something different if given the opportunity to do it over again.

“If I could change things a bit, maybe I would’ve taken the bottom and tried something different,” Beatty said. “But I’m here to represent Long Island. This is my home track and this is why we are here. This is like our two Daytona races each year. We are here to have fun, and we had a great time tonight.”

Different Year, Same Situation For Coby & Solomito

It was like deja vu.

Doug Coby picked up his fifth Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in the first eight races, and set the pace for the all but one of the first 75 laps, before contact sent him spinning in turn one. Timmy Solomito, who inherited the lead when Coby spun, was part of the contact. It was the second consecutive Riverhead event that contact between the two drivers sent Coby spinning while racing for the lead, and Coby was frustrated after the checkered.

“I was a little bit snug and the car didn’t quite come in that early, I was feeling around the track with the new pavement,” Coby said. “I was riding. I was just trying to figure a few things out in the lead. There was contact and it wasn’t contact from me. If he got a wheel on me down the frontstretch, I would have gave him the bottom. There was contact, and for the second race in a row here I’m on the short end of the stick and there is no penalty.”

Solomito had a different view of what happened between the two.

“I got to Doug so quickly and I got to the inside of him and I tried backing out of there and he came down across the nose,” Solomito said. “I was trying to get out of there. That was totally incidental.”

After his spin, Coby went to the back of the field, while Solomito took control at the front, and led 37 laps before behind passed by Beatty for the lead. Solomito would finish third, his best effort of the season driving for Flamingo Motorsports.

“We got to the lead and the car was good,” Solomito said. “I just got roughed up on the bottom. I gave it back, but I ran out of car at the end. It’s good to come here and run well at your home track, but I come to win any race no matter what the track. We haven’t really run the strongest this year. But it’s good to know I still have it in me, and we just have to put all of the pieces together and try to make it better. I had a car tonight that I felt was capable of winning.”

Coby, who rebounded to a sixth-place finish, survived a wild night in New York with enough to points to keep his lead over 30 heading for the second half of the season. He leaves Riverhead without a checkered flag yet again.

“I didn’t make a mistake, my spotter didn’t make a mistake… it’s not my job as the leader to scoot away from someone who is going to clobber me,” Coby said. “I can’t defend against that. I would’ve given him room. It’s just aggravating.”

BUZZ CHEW 200 RACE NOTES:

  • Both Craig Lutz and Ron Silk finished inside the top five, but both were quiet for much of the 200-lap distance. It was the sixth top five finish in eight races for Silk, driving for Kevin Stuart Motorsports, while Lutz scored his third straight top five in competition. Silk gained a few points on Coby in the championship point standings, and sits second.
  • Matt Swanson spun down the frontstretch just a few laps into the race and was never able to recover. Swanson crossed the line in 18th position after taking the green 19th.
  • Before spinning to draw a caution on lap 174, former NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III was running comfortably inside the top 10. It was just the third career Riverhead start for the North Babylon, New York, driver.
RIVERHEAD, NY - JULY 06: Justin Bonsignore, driver of the #51 Chevy LFR Phoenix Communications, and John Beatty Jr., driver of the #15 Chevrolet MSM Elite, during the 2019 Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200 on July 06, 2019 at Riverhead Raceway, Riverhead, NY. (Photo by Ruby Wallau/NASCAR)
Justin Bonsignore races John Beatty Jr. in the final laps at Riverhead Raceway. (Ruby Wallau/NASCAR)