Race Weekend Central

Justin Bonsignore Dominates at Riverhead for First Win of 2015

After a rough start to the season, Justin Bonsignore is back in Victory Lane. The 27-year-old brought home the checkered flag in dominating fashion on Sunday during a dreary afternoon at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island in the Hoosier Tire East 200.

Breaking a winless streak dating back to Thompson Speedway in Aug. 2014, Bonsignore earned his first win of the season after entering Riverhead 19th in the championship standings. Leading 191 of 200 laps, after the race was postponed to Sunday due to persistent rain on Saturday evening, it was just the second time in his career that he led over 180 markers in an event – with the previous one coming at Monadnock Speedway in 2013 (184 laps led).

“It’s awesome, especially to do it at home,” Bonsignore said. “It’s been a stressful start to the year. I wasn’t going to be denied today. I had a really good car, and I didn’t want to be the guy to let that go. You don’t get cars like these too often, and you need to capitalize when you do.

“NASCAR, the Cromarty’s (track owners) and John Ellwood (track manager) did an amazing job to get the show in and save everybody from traveling. I was just pacing myself and I didn’t want to burn my tires up. It was a lot of self-control and self-pace on our part. It means we’re a really good race team. We proved it last year. If luck is not on your side and things go bad, it is just a part of racing.”

Prior to this weekend’s race, the No. 51 car had just one top five finish, which came at Thompson at the beginning of June. Bonsignore finished second, but had back-to-back DNFs at Waterford and Stafford. The victory marks the seventh of his career, and each of them have been with the Kenneth Massa-owned team. He joins Ryan Preece, Ted Christopher and Donny Lia as the lone drivers in the field to win multiple races at Riverhead after he won his first race at the speedway in 2011.

“Typically, when it gets that bad, guys start to get frustrated and start to turn on each other, but we just kept plugging along in the right direction and said that all we can do is win races now,” Bonsignore explained. “We were close at Thompson, and to do it here in front of all my friends and family is pretty awesome. It’s definitely a tall task, especially when all the guys that you need to gain a lot on were in the top five. All we can do is try to win these races, and you never know what can happen.”

Todd Szegedy, who started 11th, made a late-race rally to take the win away from Bonsignore. However, the No. 4 Mystic Missile ended the day just short once again after running in the top five from Lap 75 on foward. For the second time this season, Szegedy finished second, and now sits fourth in points.

At the halfway point, Doug Coby began aggressively working his way through the field. The two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion was third after Lap 100, gaining three spots within 25 laps as Bonsignore and Preece began to catch lap traffic. By Lap 108, the three were head-to-head for the lead, but seven laps later, the caution was out for Riverhead regular Frank Vigliarolo spinning out.

But once again, the rain plagued the track on Sunday afternoon, forcing a red flag on Lap 141 for over an hour. Once the cars got back on the track, Coby soared to second. But on the final restart of the day on Lap 159, he was positioned on the high line, giving Szegedy the advantage.

“I think we had the best car on the long run for sure,” said Coby. “We were the only car in the top five or six that was passing cars and making gains. Passing the leader is another story, and he had a good restart and my car was really free after the rain delay. Our car is better than everybody on the long run at most tracks we go to, and those guys started to get free. It was one of those deals where I made up ground by not screwing up.”

For the first time in his career, Tom Rogers, Jr. won the pole award for a Modified Tour race in his 19th start. However, he was forced to start at the rear of the field after making an unapproved adjustment prior to the race. He finished seventh in the Joe Ambrose-owned car, which is his second consecutive top 10.

Timmy Solomito led the first eight laps after Vincent Biondolillo, who was making his Tour debut, moved up a row once Rogers dropped back. Solomito ran inside of the top five until late in the race, when Eric Goodale and Woody Pitkat got around him. He maintains sixth in the championship standings in his first season with Flamingo Motorsports.

Dave Sapienza, who is running the majority of the season, finished in the top 10 for the first time in his No. 36 car. Biondolillo ended the day in ninth, with Kyle Ellwood recording a career-high finish of 12th.

Preece and Coby are now tied for the points lead. Pitkat fell to third, and is now two markers behind the leaders. Szegedy sits fourth in the standings, while Bobby Santos, who spun out on Lap 131 and finished 20th, rounds out the top five.

The next race for the Whelen Modified Tour is at Loudon for the New England 100 on July 18.

Here are the results from the Hoosier Tire East 200:
1 4 51 Justin Bonsignore M3 Technology Chevrolet 200
2 11 4 Todd Szegedy Modzelewski’s Towing & Storage Dodge 200
3 6 2 Doug Coby Dunleavy’s Repair/HEX Performance Chevrolet 200
4 12 58 Eric Goodale GAF Roofing/Supreme Skylights Chevrolet 200
5 24 88 Woody Pitkat Buzz Chew Chevrolet/Elbow East Chevrolet 200
6 2 16 Timmy Solomito Diversified Metals /R.B. Enterprises Ford 200
7 1 0 Tom Rogers, Jr. Stakey’s Pumpkin Farm/CAC Ind. Chevrolet 200
8 5 6 Ryan Preece TS Haulers/East West Marine Chevrolet 200
9 3 06 Vincent Biondolillo * Kennedy L.I. Realty Chevrolet 200
10 27 36 Dave Sapienza * Frankie’s Towing/Wine Country Chevrolet 200
11 21 13 Ted Christopher Mr. Rooter/Cape Cod Aggregates Chevrolet 200
12 23 17 Kyle Ellwood * Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet 200
13 16 9 Chase Dowling * S&S Asphalt Paving/Dunleavy’s Repair Chevrolet 200
14 26 14 Max Zachem * Lu-Mac’s Package Store/Dunleavy’s Chevrolet 200
15 18 22 Keith Rocco Canto Paving/Milton Caterpillar Chevrolet 200
16 20 07 Patrick Emerling Buffalo Auto Auction Chevrolet 200
17 22 29 Brendon Bock * Pro System Brakes/L.I. Performance Ford 199 (-1)
18 19 75 Shawn Solomito Eastport Feeds/Donna Camella Chevrolet 199 (-1)
19 14 59 Jerry Solomito * Thermo Roll Windows/Eastport Feeds Chevrolet 198 (-2)
20 25 44 Bobby Santos Tinio Corp./Dan Kelley/Curb Records Chevrolet 198 (-2)
21 28 99 Jamie Tomaino Dunleavy’s Repair/Atlantic Sprinkler Chevrolet 198 (-2)
22 7 3 Troy Talman * Cape Cod Copper/DCU/NAPA Chevrolet 197 (-3)
23 15 8 Donny Lia Sypher Construction/Bardahl Chevrolet 196 (-4)
24 17 18 Ken Heagy Buoy One Seafood Chevrolet 149 (-51)
25 8 93 Rowan Pennink Van Wickle Auto Supply Chevrolet 146 (-54)
26 10 5 Frank Vigliarolo, Jr. Frankie’s Towing/F-1 Capital Chevrolet 124 (-76)
27 13 20 Ron Silk Elite Towing/Righteous Window Cleaning Chevrolet 45 (-155)
28 9 79 James Civali Hillbilly Racing/Coors Light Pontiac 18 (-182)


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Rowan Pennink has only one win at Riverhead.

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