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Doug Coby Marches Back To Championship Form With Sixth Title

THOMPSON, Conn. — Celebrating on the highest stage of modified racing for the sixth time.

Doug Coby sealed his sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship on Sunday, completing a season that put the Milford, Connecticut, driver back on top after one year away from tasting glory.

The title was the sixth in the last eight years for the 40-year-old, and also helped him break a tie with Tony Hirschman with five series titles. Coby now only trails Mike Stefanik (seven) for the most Whelen Modified Tour titles in the modern era.

“It’s just hard to put into words,” Coby said. “We try to come out to have the best season of anybody, and win every race, everyone out there does. My team just finds a way to do it.”

Coby finished seventh in the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, but it was enough to win him the title by eight points. But it didn’t come without a bit of drama.

Coby started third, but during a red flag for a multiple-car crash on lap 12, received some crucial information over the radio — oddly enough, from a fellow competitor. Woody Pitkat told Coby’s team the left-rear tire looked low on air pressure, and he was right.

Coby pitted during the caution, changed the tire, and restarted deep in the field. It wasn’t long before he was back up inside the top 15, positioning himself where he needed to be to keep his points lead. By the end, seventh was enough to seal the deal.

Justin Bonsignore won the season-finale, his sixth victory of the season, which helped him close the gap to just eight in the championship standings. Even though he came up short of his second consecutive Whelen Modified Tour title, Bonsignore scored victories in three of four races at Thompson this season — extending his active drivers lead to 11 wins at the Connecticut oval.

“We spotted them way too many points in the beginning of the year. I’m really proud of our effort — we won a handful of races at the end of the year, and we didn’t get the championship, but we backed up our eight wins last year with six this year. Great car and a great pit stop (today).”

Ron Silk finished second, while Matt Swanson, Bobby Santos III and Woody Pitkat finished the top five. Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Coby, Chase Dowling, Rob Summers and Timmy Solomito.

Behind the top two in the championship standings, Silk finished third, 62 points back, while Craig Lutz and Swanson finished the top five.

The Sunoco World Series 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, October 17, at 7 p.m.

Coby will be honored with the rest of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour top finishers and special award winners at the NASCAR Awards Charlotte on Saturday, November 23.

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Craig Lutz Breaks Into Victory Lane in NAPA Fall Final at Stafford

STAFFORD, Conn. — For the second straight year, the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway produced a first-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner.

Craig Lutz took the lead from Doug Coby on a restart with 33 laps to go, and drove away from Coby, and defending series champion Justin Bonsignore, to earn his first career checkered flag in his 66th series start.

Prior to Sunday, Lutz had finished inside the top five in four of his 12 Stafford starts, including the last three. He had also finished inside the top five in eight of the 14 races in 2019.

For the first time, the Miller Place, New York, driver was able to celebrate a trophy.

“The first win is always special,” Lutz said. “Everyone kept on asking me when it was coming. To finally knock one off, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Lutz started ninth and rode inside the top 10 for the duration of the race, but shined when it mattered most. Chris Pasteryak earned his first career Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole award in qualifying, and led the first six laps, before Coby took control.

Bonsignore took the lead from Coby just before halfway, and paced the field until a caution just after lap 100, when leaders pitted multiple times for tires. It would be the only caution of the day that Coby, Bonsignore and Lutz entered pit road.

Pasteryak would lead eight more laps after cycling back to the lead, but couldn’t hold the top spot, as Coby slid by, then a restart gave Lutz his opportunity. Lutz passed Coby and never looked back, minding a gap back to Bonsignore for the final 10 laps.

“I just didn’t look in my mirror,” Lutz said. “I have an awesome spotter, who has a lot of experience, and he kept telling me to stay smooth and hit my marks. That’s what I kept doing.”

Bonsignore would finish second, while Coby settled for third. Chuck Hossfeld, who missed practice and qualifying on Saturday, charged from the rear of the field to finish fourth. Matt Swanson was fifth.

Ron Silk finished sixth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Woody Pitkat, Chase Dowling and Patrick Emerling.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 19 points with one championship points race remaining in search of his sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

The NAPA Fall Final 150 will air on NBCSN on Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the annual Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, the final race of the season, on Sunday, October 13.

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Bobby Santos Adds Musket 250 To His Winning Resume

LOUDON, N.H. — Bobby Santos III is no stranger to parking his car in Victory Lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Saturday, the Franklin, Massachusetts driver did it for the sixth time — but this one was the biggest of them all. Santos earned the win in the second annual Musket 250 presented by Whelen, taking car owner Dave Sapienza to Victory Lane for the first time.

It was the fifth championship points win for Santos at NHMS, who also has a victory in the Whelen All-Star Shootout. It was also the 18th career Whelen Modified Tour win for the former series champion.

In a wild 250 laps around the ‘Magic Mile’, countless drivers had the opportunity to lead the way. But when it mattered most, it was a battle between three modified veterans for the crown.

Santos, five-time series champion Doug Coby, and Jon McKennedy, who led a race-high 93 laps, were the three drivers at the front when the field crossed for the white flag. Off turn two, Coby would draw even with Santos for the lead — edging out as they approached the entrance to turn three.

However, Santos would drive deep into turn three, slide up, and hold off Coby and McKennedy across the line, while the two battled side-by-side for second. McKennedy would beat Coby to the line, but was .129 seconds behind Santos.

“It was a good run,” McKennedy said. “Tommy (Baldwin) and the guys gave me a great car. We led a lot of laps. Just one position short. As far as I’m concerned, Bobby is one of the best short-track drivers in the country.”

Before a crash racing for the lead, Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore were dominating the late stages. The two drivers combined to lead laps 133-222, but when Silk and Eric Goodale split a lapped car, they made contact — ending both of their races early with damage.

Chuck Hossfeld, subbing for Jimmy Blewett, was fourth, while Bonsignore completed the top five. Matt Swanson was sixth, followed by Rob Summers, Chris Pasteryak, Gary Putnam and Craig Lutz.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 21 points with two championship points races remaining. Coby is looking for his sixth title, while Bonsignore is seeking his second straight.

The Musket 250 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 26, and 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the annual NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway, on Sunday, September 29.

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Justin Bonsignore Makes It Four Straight at Riverhead

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — Another track, another streak for Justin Bonsignore.

The defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion earned his fourth straight victory at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night in the Miller Lite 200, adding his eighth career win at his home track. He took the lead from Timmy Solomito on a restart with 11 laps to go, and held off Solomito in overtime to score the win.

It was the fifth victory of the season for Bonsignore, and his 25th career in Whelen Modified Tour competition. He’s the only driver in the 64-race history at the track to win four straight, breaking a previous tie with Mike Ewanitsko and Ryan Preece, who both had three. The win also helped Bonsignore close the gap in the championship standings with just three races remaining.

“Anytime we come here, we want to win. We love coming home,” Bonsignore said. “I’ve just been really fortunate with good cars here with Ryan (Stone, crew chief), to be able to win four in a row.”

Bonsignore’s path to Victory Lane saw him fend-off another local favorite. He started second, but dropped to the bottom of the top five early, and had to spend much of the middle of the race charging back through. Former track champion Tom Rogers Jr. led from laps 32 to 124, driving away from the field before a caution flew just after the halfway point.

Rogers would struggle to keep his podium running spot, while Solomito took control of the race out front on lap 146, and Bonsignore followed by Rogers shortly after. Bonsignore would chase down Solomito as the two cut through lapped traffic, but didn’t quite seem to have the run to try and get around.

But a caution with 16 laps to go changed that.

Bonsignore worked the outside of Solomito on the restart, and was able to clear him for the top spot. He would have to hold his ground as the leader during two final restarts, but was able to accomplish the task.

Solomito would finish second, his best effort of the season, while Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole winner Craig Lutz was third. Kyle Soper, Riverhead’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modified points leader, was fourth, followed by Patrick Emerling.

Chuck Hossfeld was sixth, followed by Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender J.B. Fortin, J.R. Bertuccio, Rogers and John Beatty Jr.

After starting inside the top five, contact between Bonsignore and Doug Coby sent Coby spinning early. The points leader would charge back into the middle of the top 10, but after contact in the final corner, he spun again, and finished 15th.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 19 points in the standings, while Ron Silk is third, 45 back. The Miller Lite 200 will air on NBCSN on Wednesday, September 11, at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the Musket 250 presented by Whelen at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as part of the second Full Throttle Weekend on Saturday, September 21.

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Justin Bonsignore Tightens Points Battle With Oswego Win

OSWEGO, N.Y. — Justin Bonsignore knew it was going to take a few checkered flags if he wanted to climb his way back into the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship battle.

With five races to go, Bonsignore proved on Saturday that he isn’t out of it yet. He scored his fourth victory of the season in the Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s at Oswego Speedway, earning the victory as part of the track’s annual Classic Weekend.

It was the 24th career win in Whelen Modified Tour competition for Bonsignore and his first at the ‘Steel Palace’ of Oswego.

“It’s unbelievable. There is a lot of history at this track,” he said. “I’ve wanted to win here every time we have come here.”

Bonsignore might not have posted the fastest lap times all day, but, when it mattered, his car shined. For the first 64 laps, he chased the back bumper of Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole winner Rob Summers in the race for the lead. He passed Summers at lap 65, and led through until a caution at lap 99, when Tyler Rypkema spun.

Then, his Phoenix Communications crew went to work. They got him out at the front of the cars that pitted and took fresh tires, but, he had to restart third, behind Patrick Emerling and Tommy Catalano.

It didn’t take him long to get back to the top spot. Before the field exited turn two, he was the leader once again.

Bonsignore had to hold off defending race winner Matt Hirschman on a final dash to the finish, but was able to accomplish the task. While the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Chevrolet struggled to turn through the center of the corners, Bonsignore was able to make it work.

He beat Hirschman to the line by .146 seconds. Following Hirschman, former Whelen Modified Tour champion Ron Silk was third, with Craig Lutz and Bobby Santos III completing the top five.

Doug Coby was sixth, followed by Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Chase Dowling and Tommy Catalano.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 37 points, with Silk 44 back with four races remaining in the championship points schedule.

The Toyota Mod Classic 150 presented by McDonald’s will air on NBCSN on Thursday, September 5, at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the second appearance at New York’s Riverhead Raceway on Saturday, September 7.

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OBSERVATIONS: King of Beers 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park

No matter where they go, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series puts on a show. They once again displayed that with their Wednesday night special at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

With the top being the preferred groove around the speedway for the most part, it brings forth the question of who can make their car turn through the center to roll by someone on the bottom. Some drivers were able to be smooth, while others weren’t as much.

From the drop of the green flag to the checkered, there was action all the way around the track with drivers making their way forward, as others slipped back through the field. The high horsepower using up the 15-inch tires, and only one pit stop allowed during the event to change them, had drivers fighting for grip in hopes of being at the front.

The competition also proved to be close, as you did not know who was going to win throughout the event with different stars emerging. Bobby Santos III ultimately became the unsung hero in finding his way to the front late, but transmission issues on a late race restart burst those hopes. Craig Lutz also had a shot at his first career series victory, but he came up short after fading late. 

In a time when young faces are emerging as the ones to watch, the veterans are still proving they are the ones to beat in the modifieds with the final showdown being between Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore. Bonsignore tried all he could, challenging Coby right down to the line, but ultimately came up short on hitting another win out of the park at Thompson.

The veterans have proved to be the ones to watch all season, and no doubt will be in the final five races of the season. Though you cannot count out possibly seeing Ron Silk join them in victory lane, as he was coming late until issues.

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Doug Coby Uses Timely Move To Break Justin Bonsignore’s Streak at Thompson

THOMPSON, Conn. — One of the most historic streaks in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour history was broken by one of the drivers who will go down as one of the best ever.

Doug Coby earned his fourth victory of the season in the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, breaking Justin Bonsignore’s streak of six consecutive wins at the Connecticut oval.

It was Coby’s 28th career Whelen Modified Tour victory, his sixth career at Thompson — and it increased the points lead with just five races remaining in the championship points schedule.

“We just go race to race,” Coby said. “We ran three different cars at New Hampshire, Stafford and Thompson, and I’m really proud of that for my team. He (Justin) would probably have anyone but me snap that streak. It’s really impressive what his team did. They had a great run.”

Coby dominated the early laps after earning his seventh Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award of the season in qualifying. When the caution flag flew on lap 84, Coby was leading the charge over Bonsignore, and both of them led the field down pit road. Coby elected to take his fresh tires on the pit stop, and exited the pits second, behind Bonsignore.

Coby restarted third, after Jon McKennedy used some strategy to earn the lead. He wouldn’t get back to the top spot until the final laps. After former series champion Bobby Santos III took the lead on lap 129, a caution with just 11 laps to go left Santos, Craig Lutz, Bonsignore and Coby at the front. All four of them had led laps, but only three of them would finish.

At the green, Santos stumbled with a transmission issue, Lutz spun his tires, and Coby hung a hard left to clear all of them, into the lead. He never looked back.

“When someone messes up in front of you, you hope you have enough room, you crank it to the left, and hope no one is going to spin you,” Coby said of the restart dash.

Bonsignore would come up one spot short of his seventh straight Thompson win, while Lutz settled for third. McKennedy and Timmy Solomito completed the top five.

“The restart got a little bit wild, and Doug was just in a better spot,” Bonsignore said. “You’re not going to win every game (race). We were prepared for this to happen. We lost to the best car this year.”

Jimmy Blewett was sixth, followed by Andrew Krause, Patrick Emerling, Matt Swanson and Woody Pitkat.

Coby leads by 47 in the point standings over Bonsignore and Silk, who are tied for second. The three former series champions have won all but one race this season.

The 30th annual Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 will air on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 21, at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track on Saturday, August 31, at Oswego Speedway in New York, as part of the track’s 63rd annual Classic Weekend.

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Ron Silk Survives Chaotic Overtime Restart For Second Straight Win

STAFFORD, Conn. — Perfect timing for one, worst timing for another.

Doug Coby dominated the Stafford 150 at Stafford Motor Speedway, leading the first 147 laps before a caution flew for the first time. After a chaotic overtime restart, Ron Silk was the beneficiary of some fresh tires and a daring three-wide move to the take the lead and the win.

The former series champion earned his second consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour checkered flag — which was also his 13th career and second at the Connecticut half-mile.

“We are just continuously putting ourselves up towards the front, in position to have things happen like what happened tonight,” Silk said. “A lot of times, you make your own luck. My team has improved dramatically and the guys are doing a great job.”

It was Doug Coby’s night before a crash in turn three suddenly changed the complexion of the race. Coby was fastest in practice, earned his sixth Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in qualifying, and drove away with the race early. It was looking like Coby was going to celebrate a complete sweep of the night and his 13th career Stafford win.

But the caution changed everything.

With only six cars on the lead lap, pit strategy was key in the finishing order. Teams are only allowed to take one tire per pit stop under caution, but most of them made their way down pit road more times than one during the yellow. Coby’s Mayhew Tools team elected to take three tires, but he was also down pit road another time for fuel only. After four stops, he restarted sixth for the final dash.

Matt Swanson and Justin Bonsignore took the green flag on the front row, but it wasn’t long before Silk took the top spot with a daring three-wide move off turn two. From there, it wasn’t quite clear sailing, as Jon McKennedy was on the back bumper looking to pounce. But Silk was able to hang on for his third Whelen Modified Tour win of the season.

“I knew there were only six of us on the lead lap at that point and I thought you had to take the tires,” Silk said of the mindset during the yellow. “There were 146 green flag laps, our tires were shot.”

After restarting sixth, Coby managed to charge back to a third-place finish, while Swanson was fourth, and Craig Lutz fifth.

Justin Bonsignore was sixth, followed by Jimmy Blewett, Bobby Santos III, Sam Rameau and Patrick Emerling.

Coby leads by 24 over Silk in the championship point standings, while defending series title holder Bonsignore is third, 42 back.

The Stafford 150 will air on NBCSN on Wednesday, August 7, at 7 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track on Wednesday, August 14, at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150.

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Ron Silk Earns New Hampshire Win in Overtime

LOUDON, N.H. — Eight years later, not much has changed for Ron Silk.

The Norwalk, Connecticut, driver picked up his third career victory at the ‘Magic Mile’ in the Eastern Propane & Oil 100 on Saturday, outlasting a field of 38 drivers on the biggest stage of modified racing. It was the third career victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for Silk, and his first at the 1.058-mile since 2011.

He beat Doug Coby on what turned out to be the final restart, when contact from a crash shortened the race due to damage to the outside wall in turn one.  It was the second win of the season for the former series champion and his 12th career.

“Kenny and Kevin Stuart (car owners) have really done a great job getting me everything that I have asked for,” Silk said. “It’s nice to see the effort pay off. The guys are really working hard.”

Silk didn’t lead a lap until the final stages. Following a caution with just 20 laps remaining, Silk chased the back bumper of Eric Goodale, before taking the lead from him on lap 85. From there, he never relinquished the top spot, while drivers jostled for position in the draft behind him.

The field lined up for a green-white-checkered finish on lap 101, but a quick crash in turn one slowed the field again. While safety crews went to work on the wall, the race was deemed complete in overtime. Silk took the checkered flag until caution, seven laps after the scheduled distance.

“We raced really hard the whole day,” Silk said. “There was certainly no guarantee that I would have won. But we were leading at the right time today. Bummer circumstances that we didn’t get to finish (under green).”

Coby crossed the line second, while Chase Dowling finished third. Jon McKennedy, who earned his first Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in qualifying, led 19 laps and finished fourth. Matt Swanson was fifth. Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Justin Bonsignore, Rob Summers, Tommy Catalano and Craig Lutz.

Coby leads Silk by 28 in the championship point standings with seven races remaining, while Bonsignore is third, 38 out.

The Eastern Propane & Oil 100 will air on NBCSN on Wednesday, July 31, at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track on Friday, August 2 at Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut.

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Patrick Emerling Wins Three-Wide Battle in All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. — Three-wide racing to the finish on the biggest stage of modified racing.

Patrick Emerling edged two other NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour veterans in a three-wide finish to win the sixth annual All-Star Shootout on Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Emerling became the sixth different winner of the non-points event in its six-year history, and scored his first win at the ‘Magic Mile’.

The 26-year-old had come close to winning in the Granite State before, but nothing compares to holding the checkered flag at NHMS. His margin of victory was a mere .022 seconds.

“We have been working on just getting faster here. We’ve always raced well, but we just wanted to come back with a car that was just a little bit better,” Emerling said. “I’m proud of our team. It was definitely a good day for us.”

Into turn three on the final lap, Emerling shot to the bottom of Bobby Santos III with his No. 07 Sahlen’s Chevrolet and pulled ahead, but Santos wasn’t about to give up. He crossed under Emerling, and drag-raced him down the front stretch, while defending series champion Justin Bonsignore cut to the bottom of both of them and made it three-wide coming down the frontstretch.

Emerling led just four of the 35 laps, but, he led the most important one.

“We unloaded today with a new car and a whole new setup, and we weren’t sure what to do for pre-race adjustments,” Emerling said. “There was one point in the race where I was hanging on for dear life. We were lucky to get some clean air.”

Santos, who was competing in his first race filling-in for Dave Sapienza, was nearly hoisting the trophy at NHMS once again. The Franklin, Massachusetts, driver has won three of the last four Whelen Modified Tour points races at the 1.058-mile oval.

“I’ve been in that situation multiple times and been lucky enough to be the winner, but this time I wasn’t, which is a bummer,” the 2010 Whelen Modified Tour champion said. “Patrick made the right move going to the bottom, and I had a couple of different options, but I guess I made the wrong decision.”

Bonsignore was third, just .067 seconds back, while Jon McKennedy and Ron Silk rounded out the top five.

Craig Lutz, who started from the pole and led 15 laps, finished sixth. Ryan Newman, Timmy Solomito, Jimmy Blewett and Tommy Catalano completed the top 10.

The All-Star Shootout will air on NBCSN Thursday, July 25, at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track on Saturday, July 20, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Eastern Propane & Oil 100.