Justin Bonsignore of Holbrook raced to his ninth career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway.
Bonsignore took the lead with 25 laps remaining in the Eddie Partridge 256 and held on the rest of the way to pick up his second win of the month on the Whelen Tour. On Sept. 3, he won the race at Oswego Speedway.
The win puts Bonsignore squarely in the mix for the 2022 WMT championship as the season reaches its final stretch.
It was the ninth career WMT win for Bonsignore at the Riverhead track and his 17th overall win there. The race was the latest effort to remember Partridge, the late Riverhead Raceway co-owner who died last year. Earlier this summer, the raceway unveiled a 2020 Islip 300-winning NASCAR Modified car, which was driven by Ryan Preece, that now sits atop a large pole and serve as a tribute to Partridge. The raceway also honored Partridge last week on the anniversary of his passing.
“It’s a shame we lost Eddie last year, but is is unbelievable what Riverhead does each and every week to honor him,” Bonsignore said after Saturday’s race. “I’m so happy they keep the racing going for all of us.”
He added that his current car is “the best we’ve ever had here.”
“Momentum is a thing and now I’ve knocked off two wins in a row,” he said.
Bonsignore grabbed the race lead on Lap 231 after a couple of side-by-side laps alongside Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y., who would go on to take second place.
Afterward, Emerling said, “the cautions just didn’t fall in our favor there. We were disappointed with second and I guess that’s a good thing.”
Ron Silk of Norwalk, Conn. crossed the finish line third and said afterward he really hoped to win for Partridge after previously winning the 2011 WMT title with him. “[It] would have been great to win Eddie’s race, but we got ourselves a third,” he said.
Doug Coby of Milford, Conn. was fourth and Eric Goodale of Riverhead was fifth.
It was a busy day at the track with a full slate of races prior to the Eddie Partridge 256.
In the Crate Modifieds race, Charles Macwhinnie broke to an early race lead and stayed in front for the 25-lap race. After crossing the finish line, track officials noticed the muffler on his vehicle became dislodged, which earned him an automatic disqualification. Eric Hersey moved up one stop to claim the victory, the third of his career. AJ Desantis of Yaphank was the runner-up and Michael Berner of Patchogue was third.
Ray Fitzgerald won his first race of the season in the 20-lap INEX Legend Race Car feature that saw a seven-car pile-up resulting in heavy damage to several cars. No drivers were injured. Jim Sylvester of Massapequa was second and Chase Van Houten of Wading River was third.
Gerard Lawrence grabbed the race lead on the 12th lap of the 20-lap Street Stock race and held on for the victory, his second of the season and fifth for his career. Rhett Fogg of Westhampton was the runner-up and Greg Harris of Riverhead was third.
In the Mini Stocks race, Chris Elixson of Riverhead appeared to have won his first career race, however, he was found to have unapproved tires. Chris Olivari was then declared the winner and Joe Cooke Jr. of Shirley was second. Tony Collinsworth of Calverton placed third.
Racing continues at Riverhead Raceway Saturday and Sunday with NASCAR Championship Night. The top five in the modified tour seasons standings is currently led by Kyle Soper with 501, followed by Dylan Slepian (479), John Beatty (457), Dave Brigati (411) and Chris Young (402).