July 8, 2019
JUSTIN BONSIGNORE MUSCLES HIS WAY TO RIVERHEAD RACEWAY BUZZ CHEW CHEVROLET-CADILLAC 200 WMT IN GREEN, WHITE, CHECKER OT FINISH OVER JOHN BEATTY JR.
Bob Finan PR
Coming into the Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac 200 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Riverhead Raceway Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville had won six career WMT races at his home track but never did he win one sliding nearly backwards crossing the start/finish line. That is until Saturday. A late race caution on lap 197 set up a green, white, checker finish between John Beatty Jr. of Merrick who had a comfortable late race lead and Bonsignore. What ensued on the final laps of the race will be talked about for years to come as Bonsignore muscled his way to his third win of 2019 on the WMT while Beatty was left to wonder about what could have been.
In qualifying it appeared for some time that Riverhead raceway regular Chris Young of Calverton might win the Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award for the race, Young the 7th car out turned in a lap of 11.799. That time stood for 23 cars before the two quickest cars from practice hit the track for qualifying with Justin Bonsignore knocking Young off the pole with a lap of 11.791. However WMT championship leader Doug Coby the quickest car in practice and the 31st to take time would set the standard for the race with a lap of 11.708. Patrick Emerling, 11.824 and Timmy Solomito, 11.854 completed the top five in qualifying.
Coby and Bonsignore would bring the 28 car field to green flag with Doug taking the early race lead while Justin tucked into second and Timmy Solomito filed into third. Solomito soon made his way Bonsignore for second on the 8th lap. As the race hit the 20th lap a chain reaction multi car crash drew the first caution flag after Ken Heagy after contact caught the wall with his right front just before the start/finish line. Calvin Carroll, Sam Rameau and JB Fortin were all involved with Heagy's car suffering the most damage and done for the race along with Carroll. The green flag waved on lap 25 with Bonsignore nosing ahead of Coby for the lead but again another multi car incident off turn two slowed the race on lap 26. Five cars were involved with Michael Rutkoski, John Fortin Sr., Eric Goodale, Frank Vigliarolo Jr. and Blake Barney all coming to a halt with Rutkoski the most damaged. On the ensuing restart it would be Coby riding the treated outside line at Riverhead Raceway to reclaim the lead from Bonsignore.
Coby who has been shutout pf victory lane at Riverhead would flex his muscles out front once the race ran some sustained green flag laps and early on it appeared Doug would finally grab the brass ring at a track where he has authored numerous podium finishes. Timmy Solomito who had worked his way by Bonsignore earlier was on the march toward leader Coby and it became evident the 3-time WMT winner at Riverhead was closing in on the leader. After the tandem crossed the line to start lap 75 Solomito now on Coby's rear bumper got into the leader sending him into a spin. Whether Coby came down on his challenger or it was just contact remained unclear but what was certain was Solomtio was the new race leader when the race went back green on lap 87.
Like Coby before him as the race stayed green it looked as though Solomito might be on track for his his 21st overall career win at Riverhead but those hopes were dashed when a four car jingle on lap 101 in turn four involving Timmy Catalano, Jimmy Blewett and both Fortin family members John Sr. and JB drew a yellow flag period. As it had been all race long the top was the place to be on the restarts Bonsignore rim road the high line to take the lead from Solomito. However Kyle Ellwood spun after contact from Patrick Emerling off turn two on lap 140 drew yet another caution and set-up another side by side restart. When the race resumed on lap 146 it was Solomito back to the race lead over Bonsignore and John Beatty Jr. It wouldn't be long before Beatty became a major player in the 200 as after getting by Bonsignore he set sail for and passed Solomtio for the lead on lap 150 under green flag conditions.
With just a regular Saturday night feature event distance of 50-laps remaining in the race many started to wonder if Beatty could become the first track regular since 1995 to win a NASCAR WMT race when Ed Brunnhoelzl Jr. turned the track on June 24th. Things were sailing along smoothly for Beatty as Bonsignore was within striking distance of the leader but not right on his rear spoiler. On lap 174 George Brunnhoelzl III slowed in turn four with an issue drawing a caution flag period that last just 5-laps. For the late race restart Beatty chose the top moving Bonsignore to the bottom and when the green reappeared on lap 180 the duo were clanging nerf bars and wheels dicing for the lead and win. WMT scoring showed Bonsignore the leader of laps 181 & 182 but Beatty held tough on the outside to reclaim the lead on lap 183.
With the race again green Beatty was able to once again get far enough away from Bonsignore and Solomtio it started to seem certain he'd break the 24-year streak of a Riverhead Raceway driver winning a WMT race. The laps were now clicking off, five to go, the four and now three to go! Then suddenly Blake Barney's car was disabled off turn two with right front damage after an tangle that also involved Chris Pasteryak and JB Fortin drew the yellow flag Beatty and his MSM Elite Motorsports team never, ever wanted to see.
As the field circled behind the Buzz Chew Chevrolet pace truck the fans moved closer to the edge of their seats and wondered along with the track announcers what groove would Beatty pick for the green white checker? As the pace truck lights were dashed Beatty much to the shock of many again chose the outside lane moving 22-time WMT winner Bonsignore again to the bottom. Many wondered, the announcers out loud why would John do that on a green, white, checker. After all it took him two laps to fend off Justin on the previous restart.
When the race resumed Bonsignore made his car very wide going into the first and second turn but Beatty tried to hold serve to the outside. Agian through three and four to the white flag Beatty found himself out in the marbles with Bonsignore starting to gain a slight edge. As the tandem hit the final turn Bonsignore again made his car wide but Beatty this time around was not lifting. With Bonsignore 3/4 of a car ahead of Beatty John went for broke catching the right rear rub rail of the leader ending him off turn four into a wild slide. As the checkers waved Justin Bonsignore nearly backwards wrestled to keep his Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevy off the wall while John Beatty Jr. kept his foot in it hoping to sneak by in his MSM Elite Motorsports Chevy.
The win Justin's 7th career WMT triumph at Riverhead moving him into sole possession of second on the all-time WMT win list behind Mike Ewanitsko who won 11 times at the quarter mile oval. Mike Stefanik is third overall with 6 WMT victories. While sitting in his car in victory lane waiting for the okay from NASCAR Media to exit Justin flashed four fingers noting how may wins behind Ewanitsko he is. Overall Bonsignore has now tallied 14 wins at Riverhead tying him for 29th on the tracks all time win list with Johnny Rambo. It was his 23rd career WMT win.
"I hate it for John (Beatty) and his guys, we are friends but I had to do what I had to do to win" a contrite race winner reviewed. When asked whether he was shocked the Beatty chose the top for the OT finish Justin simply stated "yeah, I was" Justin added, "at the end of the day Ryan Stone brought us another great car so we could be in the mix all night, I can't thank him, Phoenix Communications Inc and our Ken Massa Motorsports team enough, now off to New Hampshire in two weeks.
As he smiled and gave away MSM Elite Motorsports swag to children in the pit area after the hard fought race runner-up John Beatty Jr. reflected on what could have been, "man, i have been third and second I just can't get the WMT win here". As to the wild finish Beatty revealed, "I can't say I'm happy about it, frustrated yes but it is what it is". When pressed about his choice of lanes for the OT finish Beatty grew serious, "we made the decision as a team and I stand by my team".
In a season for Timmy Solomito of Islip that has featured a rough start he was quizzed if the third place finish was satisfying for he and his Flamingo Motorsports team, "no we come to win and we didn't do that tonight, we'll try and get 'em in New Hampshire".
Ron Silk of Norwalk, Ct bought the Stuart's Automotive Chevy home fourth while Craig Lutz of Miller Place rounded out the top five in the Riverhead Building Supply Chevy. Doug Coby, Patrick Emerling, Eric Goodale, Tom Rogers Jr. and Tommy Catalano completed the top ten.
As mentioned earlier Tom Rogers Jr of Riverhead ended an eventful night with a ninth place tally in his SGS Stone Works entry. Tom qualified 6th for the race but had to start at the tail for missing the drivers meeting. Tom drove his way into contention and was on the move when he spun after contact. Tom was able to keep his car moving and the 53-time Riverhead raceway NASCAR Modified winner salvaged his night with the top ten showing.
Despite his qualifying success and a solid showing running among the top ten early in the race suspension damage dropped Chris Young in his Riverhead Building Supply Chevy to 22nd place showing. John Fortin Sr. of Holtsville was another Riverhead Raceway regular with a tough finish, 25th after his John's Tree Removal Chevy was involved in its second caution period on lap 101 suffering heavy rear suspension damage.
Buzz Chew Chevrolet-Cadillac 200: 1. Justin Bonsignore 2. John Beatty Jr. 3. Timmy Solomito 4. Ron Silk 5. Craig Lutz 6. Doug Coby 7. Patrick Emerling 8. Eric Goodale 9. Tom Rogers Jr. 10. Tommy Catalano 11. Jimmy Blewett 12. Chris Pasteryak 13. Woddy Pitkat 14. Frank Vigliarolo Jr. 15. George Brunnhoelzl III 16. Kyle Ellwood 17. Wade Cole 18. Matt Swanson 19 JB Fortin 20. Blake Barney 21. Michael Rutkoski 22. Chris Young 23. Sam Rameau 24. Timmy Catalano 25., John Fortin Sr. 26. Rob Summers 27. Ken Heagy 28. Calvin Carroll