Defending champion Justin Bonsignore rebounds with big Modified Tour victory at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — After finishing last in the opening race of the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season in February at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway, Justin Bonsignore was in need of a rebound.

That came Friday at Richmond Raceway, where Bonsignore triumphed in the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150, the second race of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.

Bonsignore started from the pole and led early, but pit strategy shuffled him out of the lead and into the pack for much of the race. Meanwhile, 24-year-old Tommy Catalano was the star of the race, taking multiple turns at the front of the field as he appeared destined for his maiden Tour win.

However, Bonsignore had other plans.

RELATED: Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 race results

Restarting seventh with 49 laps left, Bonsignore worked his way to second and set off in pursuit of Catalano. It took Bonsignore 20 laps to run down Catalano, but once he did, the fight for the lead was on.

With 11 laps left, Bonsignore made the move to Catalano’s inside. The two stayed side-by-side for the next lap before Bonsignore ultimately emerged with the race lead. He led the rest of the way for his first Tour win of the year and 32nd of his career.

“It’s been a long seven weeks, just driving home from work every day and you’re like, ‘Man, we are dead last in points,’ ” Bonsignore said. “Deep down we know New Smyrna was out of our control. You’re going to have parts failures in this series. It was just important to come back and try and have a good day.

“It’s nice to bounce back. More than anything it’s the confidence that it’ll give our team.”

Catalano settled for second after leading a majority of the race. It’s his best Tour finish in 51 starts dating back to 2018.

“It’s one of those deals where you’re so excited, but at the same time, you’re disappointed,” Catalano said. “We came here with the goal of finishing in the top 10. A good day for us would have been a top-10 finish. To come 10 laps short of winning the race is definitely nothing to hang our heads on.”

Chuck Hossfeld rallied late to finish third, with Kyle Ebersole overcoming a spin during qualifying to finish fourth ahead of Tyler Rypkema in fifth.

Eric Goodale, Jimmy Blewett, Jon McKennedy, returning NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Donny Lia and Ron Silk completed the top 10.

Ryan Newman, making his first Tour start of the season for the debuting SS Racing team, led a few laps early in the race before fading to a 13th-place finish.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season resumes May 14 at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.

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