RIVERHEAD, N.Y. – For most of Sunday’s Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200, it appeared Ron Silk would finally visit Victory Lane at Riverhead Raceway in his 23rd NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour start at the track.
Instead, Justin Bonsignore ended up celebrating his 10th career Whelen Modified Tour victory at Riverhead.
A dominant performance for Silk was undone by a perfect restart from Bonsignore on the outside line with less than 10 laps remaining. Bonsignore subsequently held off Silk during an overtime restart to further establish himself as the most dominant driver at Riverhead in the last decade.
RELATED: Complete race results from the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200
“Ron and I have been beating the hell out of each other all year,” Bonsignore said. “That caution with 15 to go was good for us, and I got a really good restart after he spun the tires bad. We were beating and banging, and I thought we were going to wreck when that yellow came out but thank God we didn’t.
“It’s unbelievable to get No. 10 here and it’s a cool way to get into Victory Lane after a battle like that.”
Bonsignore’s dominance at Riverhead dates to 2011 when he earned his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory after leading 158 of the 175 laps.
With accomplishments at the facility that include four consecutive victories spanning from 2018-2019, Bonsignore has set a commanding precedent for both full-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competitors and track regulars each time the series visits Riverhead.
Silk was confident his car was strong enough to outrun Bonsignore heading into the weekend. He quickly wrestled the lead away from Bonsignore after the initial start and methodically controlled the race while navigating his way through slower traffic.
The decision by Silk to take the inside line on the penultimate restart ultimately gave Bonsignore the opening he needed to pull ahead and deny the 2011 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion the opportunity to add a Riverhead win to his resume.
Despite the disappointment, Silk still considered the afternoon a success and believes the speed he showed on Sunday will carry over into the next two Riverhead events on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour calendar.
“This is the best car we’ve had here in a while,” Silk said. “I thought I was a little bit better than Justin even after he got by me. The bottom is where you want to be on the restart, but I didn’t do a good enough job and he was able to get in front of me. This is the best we’ve run here so far, and hopefully we’ll do a little better [in the next race].”
Bonsignore said Silk’s efficiency in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200 highlighted just how tough NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins are to obtain, but he added the challenge provided by the series only made his 10th Riverhead victory even more memorable.
“Anytime you can win one of these races is special,” Bonsignore said. “We’ve won our fair share over the years, but they never get any easier because everyone is always trying harder each year to take down the previous year’s champion. We had a tough year last year but have had at least a second-place car just about every race.
“[If] you put yourself in that position, you’re going to win races.”
Bonsignore will have two more chances to add to his Riverhead win total during the 2023 season. His next triumph at the facility will tie him with Mike Ewanitsko, who claimed 11 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins at Riverhead from 1987 to 2000.
Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Jon McKennedy finished third in the Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200, with Tyler Rypkema and Eric Goodale completing the top-five. J.B. Fortin, Patrick Emerling, Jake Johnson, Craig Lutz and Kyle Bonsignore rounded out the top-10 finishers.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action on Saturday, May 27 with the running of the Granite State Derby at Lee USA Speedway. The green flag will wave at 7:45 p.m. ET with FloRacing providing live coverage.
Categories: NASCAR Roots, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Race Recap
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