Auto Racing: Bonsignore roars to first tour victory

Timing can be everything in life, and especially in auto racing.

The timing was right on Sunday for Justin Bonsignore to post his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory in front of family and friends in the Lighthouse Mission 200 at Riverhead Raceway.

On Lap 19, during one of many restarts, Bonsignore, who has been saddled by a streak of rough luck, rode the outside lane past Howie Brode for the lead, a lead he never surrendered.

Bonsignore, who hoisted the trophy over his head, said: “This is awesome to win my first Whelen Modified Tour race here at home.”

Todd Szegedy of Ridgefield, Conn., was second. The next three drivers after him were Ronnie Silk of Norwalk, Conn., Ryan Preece of Berlin, Conn., and Doug Colby of Milford, Conn.

After Bonsignore, Dave Brigati of Calverton was the next-highest finishing Riverhead Raceway driver; he was 12th.

What did Chris Turbush of Riverhead and Tommy Walkowiak of Ridge have in common on Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway?

The answer is both drivers, who are the defending champions in their respective divisions, started on the pole and went wire to wire to claim victory, with Turbush posting his third Charger win of the year while Walkowiak laid claim to his fourth Blunderbust win.

Right from the throw of the green flag, Turbush took full advantage of his front-row starting berth and raced into the lead.

Turbush not only scored the win, but leaped from third to the lead in the Charger standings. He is two points ahead of Chris McGuire of Shirley, who placed fifth in the 30-lap feature. Jeremy McDermott of East Stroudsburg, Pa., came in second in the race and trails Turbush by four points. Dan Turbush of Riverhead finished third.

The Blunderbust 30-lap feature was run without a caution flag, and that suited Walkowiak just fine. Walkowiak built a comfortable lead until he hit lapped traffic with final five laps to go. That allowed Scott Maliszewski of Deer Park to close the margin. Maliszewski made a late-race run to the inside of Walkowiak, but his effort was thwarted.

Walkowiak posted his 47th career win and in the process opened up a 34-point lead over Tom Pickerell in the championship chase. Maliszewski had to settle for second place, and Rob Bader of Holtsville crossed the line third.