NOTEBOOK: Bonsignore, Emerling research history in Stafford field stacked with intrigue

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour concludes its 2021 season this Saturday at Stafford Motor Speedway, and the main race storylines surround the battle for the championship.

Justin Bonsignore leads Patrick Emerling by 16 points heading into the final, seeking to seal his third Whelen Modified Tour championship in the past four years. Emerling is on the hunt for his first crown after 11 years of competition – with four career wins to his name. Emerling is no stranger to championship glory, as a former modified Race of Champions Tour champion, but this is his first chance to win the title with NASCAR>

Aside from the title battle, there are also countless other storylines to watch in the Whelen Modified Tour season finale. The battle is on for return third place in the championship race, as some drivers take to the circuit for the first time in their careers, and others return to try to end the season on a high.

Check out the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour notebook below ahead of the season finale.

RACE INFO: Race Center: Stafford | Entry List


DISMANTLING: Bonsignore vs. Emerling

Justin Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling both proved they belonged to this position heading into the last race of the year.

Emerling is undoubtedly enjoying the best year of his career on the Whelen Modified Tour, posting three wins (Stafford, Lancaster and Riverhead), while Bonsignore’s consistency strikes again.

DRIVER’S NAME: Justin Bonsignore Patrick emerling
Career titles 2 0
Career wins 30 4
Top-five in career 95 26
Career Top 10 126 59
Career poles 19 3
NWMT racing years 15 11

With a 16-point lead, an 11th place finish or better will win a third title for the Holtsville, New York native, no matter what Emerling does. If Bonsignore leads a lap, he must finish 12th or better. There are several scenarios involved – but if the two end up tied for the top at the end of the NAPA Fall Final 150 – Emerling will win, due to his multiple victories.

In Stafford in particular, the two have led rounds – but only Emerling is a winner, which happened during the NAPA Spring Sizzler in April. Bonsignore has completed the half mile 40 times in the Whelen Modified Tour action – and has yet to win – and his fellow competitors will be the first to give you the 0-40 statistic. He led 335 laps there, including 14 in August, before Ryan Preece passed him in the final laps to claim the victory, and Bonsignore was forced to finish fourth there.

Patrick Emerling celebrates winning the NAPA Spring Sizzler in Stafford in April. (Adam Glanzman / NASCAR)

Either way, both would be deserving champions.


For Emerling, it would be an outstanding performance for the ages, and one that no one could have predicted before the season. For Bonsignore, this would be one more step towards the consolidation of a dynasty. He is looking to become the fourth rider in Whelen Modified Tour history to win three or more titles. Only Mike Stefanik (seven), Doug Coby (six) and Tony Hirschman (five) are on the list. Coby’s 2019 title race is the only thing stopping Bonsignore from chasing a fourth straight.

“We just have to go out there and run the same way we’ve run all season,” Bonsignore said in a preview of the race. “We have to have a maximum day – qualifying well, getting a good pit selection and trying to take the advantage, lead the laps and control the race, then wait for the pit stop. With the different tire strategies happening at Stafford, it’s hard to figure it out. It should be a lot of things as usual for us, just a little more aware of where we are at with the points. There is a long way to go before we can think about winning the championship – we don’t want to be ahead of ourselves. It would be special to become a three-time series champion. Not a lot of guys are on this list and they’re all modified legends. “

Bonsignore is more experienced and more consistent. But Emerling has more wins this year and is ready to go for gold. A single rider can hoist the all-new trophy in the series, released earlier this year.


The battle for 3-7 in the championship race is near

Even though Bonsignore and Emerling got away, leading third place by over 60 points, the race between third and seventh is closer than ever. Ron Silk is third, 68 points off the lead, while Kyle Bonsignore is fourth, just six points behind Silk. There are nine left for Woody Pitkat, 10 for Doug Coby and 13 for Eric Goodale. Heading towards Stafford, it looks like all could be due to a solid finish.

All five drivers are former Stafford winners, and two of them are former track champions. Pitkat is second on the all-time track wins list at 78, while Coby, a former track champion, has 12 career wins at Stafford. Pitkat didn’t quite have the season he was hoping for his return to full-time action – with just two top-five finishes in 13 races – but is hoping a little home cooking will lead him to Victory Lane to close the year. .

Coby, who missed the June 12 race at Oswego, spent that night at Stafford, in Victory Lane. That night he won the inaugural Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) race against Tony Stewart, Bill Elliott, Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and others. As for the touring season, Coby has two dropouts (Loudon and Riverhead last week), but is still sixth in the championship battle ahead of the final. In the owner’s championship race, Coby and his team Doug Coby Racing are comfortably poised to finish third, as Chase Dowling led the car into the top 10 at Oswego.

Silk kicks off final race with Kevin Stuart Motorsports at Stafford. Ready to move on to another operation next year, Silk has earned seven victories since he started racing for the team in 2017, including twice at Stafford. Kyle Bonsignore and Goodale are former winners, but only have six top-five combined this year.


SK Modified Points Candidate To Make Tour Debut

It’s time for the big time for a successful driver and team leader.

Stephen Kopcik is second, just 14 points from the lead, on the heels of five wins in 18 starts in the historic division of the SK Modified track with two races to go. His next contest will be on Friday night, as he looks to beat Todd Owen in the battle between two drivers in search of their first title.

On Saturday, Kopcik participates for the first time in the Whelen Modified Tour.

Kopcik will drive for Gershow Racing in the # 2 category of Gershow Recycling owned by Joe Bertuccio. As a seasoned driver, Kopcik isn’t too keen on leveling up – especially since he has plenty of touring experience as a crew chief for NASCAR Cup regular Ryan Preece. Series. The suit has already been to Victory Lane three times this year, including Stafford in August.

Kopcik, President of Stafford
Stephen Kopcik (left) celebrates winning the Mayhew Tools Pole Award with driver Ryan Preece at the Whelen Modified Tour event in Stafford in August. (Adam Glanzman / NASCAR)

“I don’t want to sound arrogant, but my goal is to start and run in the top 10 all day” Kopcik said in a track release. “I know it’s not easy to race on the circuit, but Stafford is my home track and I prepare these cars for a living so I want to race well and I don’t think the top 10 is out. of reach for us. Mike Bologna, the team manager on the car, is going to give me everything I need to be successful, so it’s entirely possible for us to have a good run. I think my knowledge of the track will help me more just by knowing the riding style to get around Stafford. Any pilot will tell you that Stafford is a unique track. You look at someone like Justin Bonsignore, he’s a bada ** on the Tour and he hasn’t won at Stafford yet and then someone like Doug Coby, Stafford is his home track and he sort of has the track in his back pocket. It will be interesting for me to see how my experience compares to these guys. I really feel confident to race at Stafford.

Quick links:

NAPA Fall Final 150 Racing Notes:

  • The Whelen Modified Tour season will end in Connecticut for the 22nd consecutive year, but this time Stafford Motor Speedway will host the final. The half-mile in Stafford Springs, Connecticut has played a pivotal role in the title battle since the series began in 1985, hosting at least one race every year except 1988.
  • CJ Lehmann will make his first start on the Whelen Modified Tour since 2017, as the weekly NASCAR Advance Auto Parts race series at Riverhead Raceway will compete for Steve Mendoza.
  • Craig Lutz entered the race behind the wheel of a second Dave Sapienza Racing car, numbered 63. Lutz’s team, Goodie Motorsports, announced its immediate closure a few weeks ago, and he drove the Danny Watts No.82 at Riverhead, posting an abandoned bid. due to an accident. In his last five tour starts, Lutz has all dropped out.
  • Two-time track champion Ronnie Williams is back in No.50 for Paul Les, ready to chase the checkered flag. Williams just stepped onto the podium at Richmond Raceway earlier this month and is no stranger to the half mile.
  • Joey Cipriano, a graduate of one of Stafford’s weekly divisions, will compete in a spare car for Kevin Stuart Motorsports. Austin Beers also returns to the Whelen Modified Tour for the fourth race in a row, driving Mike Murphy.
  • The NAPA Fall Final 150 is part of two days of racing in Stafford, including Friday. All the weekly divisions of the track will be in action.
Stafford Candide
The Whelen Modified Tour season will end in Stafford, with 26 drivers registered to aim for victory in the NAPA Fall Final 150. (NASCAR)

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