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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour


Local Drivers Sweep Podium At Riverhead Raceway 200
by Polly Reid

Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville, NY in the Ken Massa owned, M3 Technology/Phoenix Communications sponsored modified passed Timmy Solomito on lap 84, survived a half a dozen restarts including a red flag and with a final restart with seven to go, held off the Solomito brothers to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Riverhead 200 at his home town track, Riverhead Raceway.

Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY crossed for second, his brother Shawn Solomito also of Islip, NY who earned his first career NWMT Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the evening finished third, Tom Rogers of Patchogue, NY was fourth with Chase Dowling of Roxbury, CT fifth.

“To bounce back tonight, knowing we only have one car for the next few weeks,” said Bonsignore, “it was stressful in the back of my mind. We had a really good car, qualifying is just so tight here, I think I could have qualified better and made it a little bit easier but I got a real good gift- when I got to fifth and I think it was Lia got under Shawn and they went up to Applebee’s for dinner and I was able to get by them and got to Timmy (in second) then I got a really good restart.”

Bonsignore continued about his pass for the lead, “Timmy got me here in the spring on the green, white, checker- I got a real good restart- I was persistent that I was going to get the lead. He gave me just enough room and I was able to muscle my way down- it’s Riverhead, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do here.”

Completing the top ten was Jimmy Blewett sixth, Craig Lutz seventh, Max Zachem eighth, Frank Vigliarolo, Jr ninth and Eric Goodale tenth. Both Blewett and Goodale rebounded from right front flats to salvage a solid night.

The month of August has been a checkers, wreckers and checkers for Bonsignore who took his first NWMT win of the 2016 season at Thompson Speedway on August 10th winning the Bud 150 only to register a disappointing DNF one week later at Bristol Motor Speedway with a car that was in the hunt for the win. Ten days later, Bonsignore is back on top at his home turf to score a gratifying and reviving victory. “All in all, a great night, a great way to bounce back,” said Bonsignore. “I can’t thank my guys enough, the whole team, Ken Massa- this is my 100th career start tonight, so that was really cool to get back to victory lane. My crew chief Billy (Michael) wasn’t even here until practice started, his wife is due any second now and we weren’t even sure he was going to come but he’s here and now he gets to take a trophy home to his newborn soon.”

Starting seventh on the grid, Bonsignore was up to fifth in the early going. As the Solomito brothers, Shawn and Timmy continued to settle the top spot up front, Bonsignore used the restarts to set up the M3 Technology machine inching closer to the front. By lap 44, Bonsignore secured second and was running with the leader Timmy Solomito.

Bonsignore’s chance for the lead came on a lap 83 restart. Side by side with Timmy Solomito, Bonsignore powered on the outside through turns one and two taking over the lead on lap 84. As the longest green run stretch of the race continued, Bonsignore was shadowed by Timmy Solomito making it a two car break away by lap 115. A caution on lap 127 closed the field again, Bonsignore successfully held off Timmy Solomito once more while Shawn Solomito got a strong run to go from fifth to second by lap 137. Another yellow waved on lap 154, Bonsignore now had Solomito’s all around with Shawn on the outside in second and Timmy behind in third. The scene would be repeated on the next restart, lap 175, only twenty-five to go. The next yellow, two circuits later came out for point leader Doug Coby running in fourth who suffered a right front flat. Coby pitted and rejoined the field at the tail end.

The Bonsignore and Solomito scenario replayed on the lap 183 restart however this time Timmy passed Shawn taking over second. The action was then immediately pulled in for the most damaging wreck of the evening. On the backstretch, the 89 of Matt Swanson went into the outside wall collecting up Jeff Goodale, John Fortin and Doug Coby. Drivers all OK, the thirteen-minute red flag halted all action on the quarter mile oval.

At the green, only seven circuits remained in the Riverhead 200. For the final restart, it was Bonsignore, Timmy Solomito, Shawn Solomito, Craig Lutz and Tom Rogers the top five ready to make a dash to the checkers.

Bonsignore prevailed to take down his second win of August, a win on his 100the NWMT career start, his third win out of the last four Tour visits to his hometown track, Riverhead Raceway.

“Racing against the Solomito boys that I’ve been racing against for twenty years makes it even tougher,” said Bonsignore, “because they know my moves and I know their moves. The top was getting good drive on the starts but once I could get it in line, the bottom was definitely better and I could drive away from them. You got to do what you’ve got to do, be a little wide to make sure you hold onto the lead.”

“The 51 beat me a little bit,” said Timmy Solomito about the restart that helped launch Bonsignore into the lead. “He beat me on that one restart then I just didn’t have enough to get back by him. He did everything he had to, kind of made the car a little wide to do what he had to do to stay out front, but that’s part of racing here at Riverhead, you have to do what you have to do. It’s definitely good to get back out here and get a good finish. I’m just really happy for the guys, they did a good job. We’re going to Oswego, we’ll build on this and see what we have. It was a little rough out there tonight but that’s Riverhead.”

“It wasn’t easy,” said Shawn Solomito. “We got shuffled there early on, knocked back to sixth or seventh and had to make our way back to the front. We got second there, had a couple of tough restarts, battled with the 51- came up short tonight and finished third. Our first pole, best Tour finish, overall, a good night.” Shawn currently leads the points in the weekly modified division at Riverhead. “We’re having a pretty good year, I’m not going to complain at all.”

The crowd had plenty of opportunity to cheer for their local favorites from Bonsignore, to the three Solomito brothers- Shawn, Timmy and Jerry to the Goodale’s – Eric and Jeff to long time familiar faces of Tom Rogers Jr., John Fortin, Frank Vigliarolo Jr., Dave Sapienza, Ken Heagy, Gary McDonald, Donny Lia and Craig Lutz. The history with Bonsignore and the Solomito brothers is two decades in the making.

“Our families used to travel with go karts,” said Timmy Solomito. “It’s good to be up front, it’s good all the home town guys were up there at the end of the night and hopefully it was good for the crowd.”

While Bonsignore was working to stay out front which as he puts it, “just another hard fought Riverhead race for sure, they’re never easy here.” Timmy and Shawn were right there racing each other hard but with respect.

“We talked before the race,” said Timmy. “We pretty much said run your own race and whatever happens, happens- that’s pretty much what we did, we both finished up here on the podium, just wish it could have been one spot better. I just can’t thank Eric Sanderson and Sly Szaban enough for all the help and the crew does a great job.”

“It’s like racing on ice,” said Shawn Solomito about racing against his brother. “You don’t want to touch, bang or thrash anybody by accident, it makes it tough for the family but it’s also great memories and a lot of fun.”

Point leader Doug Coby will head to Oswego this next weekend with 465 points, Justin Bonsignore was able to gain some tallies and is up to 452 with Timmy Solomito gaining as well up to 430. Five races remain on the 2016 NWMT schedule, this one if far from over.

“I said after Bristol,” Bonsignore added, “Doug did the same thing last year, he came back from a Bristol wreck to win the championship. We have two more races this year to make up that deficit than he did. Tonight shows we can still do it. We’ve had a lot of speed all year, but recently, even more speed the last bunch of races which is really a good sign – we’re going to Oswego and Seekonk, that’s two new tracks. I’ve been to Seekonk a bunch of times, love that place, we run good there- Oswego, for the most part it will be a crap shoot for everybody, nobody really has any laps there so that’ll be fun. We usually adapt well to new tracks so I’m excited to get there as well.”

“We’re still there,” said Timmy Solomito, “still knocking and we’re not giving up yet. These guys don’t stop fighting and I’m not going to stop either. We’re going to keep going out there and run as hard as we got to. Hopefully we’ll come away with some really strong runs here, finish the year off and see what next year brings for us.”

The NWMT Riverhead 200 is currently scheduled to air on NBCSN on Thursday Sept 1st at 7pm ET. A big thank you to Connie and Ed Partridge for the welcome to Riverhead Raceway. It was wonderful to see the many improvements and upgrades at Riverhead.
Source: Polly Reid / TheChromeHorn.com
: August 28, 2016

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