THE NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is about to make the first of two trips into New Hampshire Motor Speedway this season. The open-wheel rockets are slated for two events this weekend, which culminates with the Monster Energy Cup Foxwoods Casino 301 on Sunday.
Friday afternoon, a select group of Modified heavyweights will slug it out in the 35-lap All-Star Shootout, which is a prelude to Saturday’s Eastern Oil & Propane 100.
It would be a safe bet to wager that two of the drivers most likely to be dicing and drafting for the lead on the final lap Saturday are 2018 champion Justin Bonsignore and current points leader and five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified champion Doug Coby of Milford, Conn.
Coby pilots the No. 2 Mayhew Tools Chevrolet for Mike Smeriglio Racing. He currently leads Ron Silk of Norwalk, Conn., by 31 points, 338-307. Bonsignore, who crossed the finish line sideways to win recently at Riverhead Raceway on Long Island, sits third, one point behind Silk.
Racing at Riverhead is like wrestling in a broom closet compared with swooping and drafting around the Magic Mile. Three or four lead changes per lap are not uncommon.
Don’t plan on Bonsignore, Coby and Silk speeding off to race by themselves at the front. Three other formidable contenders — there are more than that, but I’ll stick to three — are Monster Energy Cup drivers Ryan Newman and Ryan Preece and last year’s winner, the inimitable Bobby Santos III.
Santos has won three of the last four Modified events at Loudon. The wins came for Tinio Racing, which has taken a year off. He’ll make his first Whelen Modified start of the year in a car fielded by Dave Sapienza, who has been sidelined since a hard crash at Wall Stadium (N.J.) in May.
Last year Santos won the Eastern Oil & Propane 100 by a whopping 0.014 seconds — about a foot — over Chase Dowling.
When a red flag was thrown on lap 86 to enable clean-up after Andy Seuss‘ engine blew up, Santos was sitting in seventh place. Eight laps later he was swapping the lead with Dowling, Newman and Bonsignore.
This weekend Seuss will compete in his family-team Modified and also make his Monster Energy Cup debut in Rick Ware Racing’s No. 51.
Joey Polewarczyk Jr. strikes again
Joey Polewarczyk Jr. won the Granite State Pro Stock Series Gate City Classic 100 at Hudson Speedway and spoke well of the upgrades at the track that have made by owners Ben Bosowski and Norm Wrenn.
“I raced a Mini Cup car there in 2002, and I watched Jean-Paul Cyr go flying off the track in an ACT race in 2001, but that was it,” Joey Pole said. “But now I live 9 tenths of a mile away from the place. It’s unbelievable what they’ve done — a new wall to replace the tire wall — trees in the repaved pit area removed — new lights and billboards. We had a good race day. We were fast right away, which was surprising. I like the tracks that are a little bumpy and worn out. You have to search around to find grip and it makes it more of a driver’s race.”
Defending Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Devin O’Connell was the Hudson runner-up. Joey Doiron completed the podium finish.
Joey Pole recently won the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model race at Star Speedway. He’s racing a part-time schedule, but he has at least three more dates already circled on the calendar — the $10,000-to-win ACT Mid-Summer 250 at White Mountain on Saturday, Aug. 3 — the 46th annual Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, Aug. 25 and the $75,000-to-win Canadian Short track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway in Ontario on Sunday, Sept. 1.
Tonight at Thunder Road’s Vermont Governor’s Cup event, Scott Dragon of Milton, Vt., will try to repeat last year’s win in a field that will include NASCAR and dirt racing star Christopher Bell of Norman, Okla.
Matt Lashua of Canaan held off Kevin Chaffee to win the double points Sportsman Modified feature at Bear Ridge Speedway.
The NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites join the action Friday on NH Muscle Car Night at Lee USA.
It’s “Christmas in July” Saturday at Star Speedway in Epping with the 350 Supers as headliners.
New England Racing Fuels presents the Pro All Star Super Late Model 150 Saturday at White Mountain. Weekly division heats start at 6:15 p.m.
On Track This Weekend
Thunder Road (Vt.): Thurs, 6:30 p.m.
NHMS: Friday, 2:10 & 7 p.m.
Lee USA: Friday, 6:40 p.m.
NHMS: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Rumtown: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Star Speedway: Saturday, 6 p.m.
Bear Ridge (Vt.): Saturday, 6 p.m.
White Mountain: Saturday, 6:15 p.m.
NHMS: Sunday, 3 p.m.
Hudson: Sunday, 5 p.m.