Column Compiled By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour traveled to the Oswego Speedway located on the shores of Lake Ontario in upstate New York.
The entry list totaled 18 modifieds as Doug Coby is still without a ride because of the illness for car owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. and Matt Hirschman is on the mend from a broken arm which he incurred at the recent tour event at Thompson.
Justin Bonsignore was the top qualifier and led the field for over 80 laps when Ron Silk and Tommy Catalano took over the front running spots. A restart shortly after the halfway point was the opportunity Silk needed to take advantage of Bonsignore’s ill-handling car to take the race lead. Bonsignore was attempting to chase down Silk when disaster struck on lap 130. With Bonsignore and Catalano heading into the corner side-by-side, Catalano attempted to use the slower car of Gary McDonald as a jam car. With Bonsignore on the low side, he hopped the wheel of the McDonald car as they went into the corner. Bonsignore had no way to avoid driving over the back of McDonald’s car. and got airborne, taking Catalano into the turn one wall with him. With heavy damage to the styrofoam barriers, NASCAR brought out the red flag for cleanup. Done for the night, Bonsignore ended up 15th in the 18-car field. Silk held off Beers on a green-white-checkered finish. Bobby Santos ended up third and was followed by Anthony Sesely and Kyle Bonsignore. Sixth thru tenth included Jimmy Zacharias, Jon McKennedy, Tyler Rypkema, Tommy Catalano and Tyler Catalano.
A replay of the Toyota Mod Classic 150 at Oswego Speedway will air on CNBC at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, Sept. 17.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to action on Saturday night, Sept 9, for the Winchester Fair at Monadnock Speedway, which serves as the third and final leg of the Whelen Granite State Short Track Cup. FloRacing has the coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. ET.
Last Friday night at Stafford Adam Gray came up the big winner of the night by winning the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50, his first ever extra distance feature win at Stafford. RJ Marcotte used a dominating drive to capture his first career SK Modified® win in the 40-lap feature, George Bessette, Jr. was a winner for the second consecutive race in the SK Light feature, Matt Clement scored the Limited Late Model feature win, and Travis Hydar was a winner for the fifth time in 2023 in the Street Stock feature.
It took exactly 13 minutes for RJ Marcotte to become the 94th different winner in the SK Modified division. In an event that went non-stop Marcotte took the lead on lap 7 from Tyler Hines. While Marcotte stretched out to a big lead the battles behind him were intense. Todd Owen started 12th and made a hard charge to end up in the runner-up spot. A master of consistency, Owen has 30 consecutive top tens to his credit. Anthony Flannery finished third with Hines and Mike Christopher Jr rounding out the top five.
It was a tough night for Jimmy Blewett. Blewett started 8th and was running fourth with three to go when his car lost power and he coasted to a stop in the infield. Marcello Rufrano had even worse luck as his motor expired before the feature keeping him off the starting grid.
Thirty six cars started the 20 lap SK Light feature. George Bessett borrowed a rear end assembly from Joey Ferrigno, started 14th on the field and after slugging it out with Alexander Pearl made it two in a row. Only one caution slowed the event. For Bessett it was his fourth win of the season. Tyler Chapman finished third with Brian Sullivan and Tyler Barry rounding out the top five.
Congratulations to Amanda West who graduated from college with a degree in nursing.
Down in the southland at the Cateret County Speedway in North Carolina Brandon Ward passed Ryan Newman to win the 99 lap event. Caleb Heady finished third with Bobby Labonte and Burt Myers rounding out the top five.
In action at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl Chase Cook and Kyle James led the 35 lap SK Modified® feature to green, in a side by side battle that took place until Cook got crossed up on lap 5. With the outside line now free, Eric Berndt and Anthony Flannery began putting the pressure on James and Berndt was the first to make the bottom shot move by the 09, with Flannery hot on his tail. Todd Owen would also clear James, while Berndt and Flannery battled for the top spot. The two would make contact on lap 15, sending both cars to the rear win minor damage, giving the race lead to Owen. Paul Buzel would get by James for the second spot on the restart as Flannery and Berndt tried working their way back through the field. With Owen on cruise control, Flannery secured the runner up spot. Brody Monahan was the Late Model winner.
Across the big pond at the Riverhead Raceway on Long Island in one of the most hotly contested NASCAR Modified events concluded Saturday night, Justin Brown, who moved to the lead with seven laps left in the 50-lap event took home the victory in the Optimum Presents a Salute to First Responders feature event. Brown came out on top of a torrid three car tussle to claim his second win of 2023, third of his career.
Tommy Baldwin Jr continues to fight the good fight in his battle with cancer. Currently his specific situation is seven weeks of radiation for 5 days a week, 8 weeks of chemo for 4-5 hours every Wednesday, then fluids on Thursday and Friday’s. By the second week, he will need a feeding tube put in place to handle nutrition.
On a sad note, Championship Car Owner John “Sonny” Koszela, Jr., 89, of Greene, Rhode Island, passed away peacefully on Thursday, August 24, 2023 at Riverview Nursing Home in Coventry. He was the beloved husband for sixty-five years to Henriette E. (Landroche) Koszela. Born in West Warwick on July 6, 1934, he was the loving son of the late John Koszela, Sr. and Marion (Greene) Koszela. John was the President and Owner of Koszela Lumber Company.
In addition to his beloved wife, he is survived by a daughter: Julie Stefanik and her late husband, Michael Stefanik; a son: Joseph Koszela, a daughter-in-law: Susan Koszela and her late husband, John Alan Koszela; six loving grandchildren: Nicole, Christine, Jack, Sam, Jennifer and Jessica; and two cherished great-grandchildren: Gabriel and Julian.
Sonny along with his dad, known as Poppa Jack owned and fielded NASCAR Modifieds, known as the Woodchopper Specials, for drivers including Ernie Gahan, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, Fred DeSarro, Kenny Bouchard and Mike Stefanik. His cars won numerous championships and hundreds of Modified racing wins from Maine to Virginia.
Happy Anniversary Keith & Cassie Rocco.
The all new book, The Modified Years At Stafford, by the Grace of God and 600 hp, is gaining interest and has become a must have in race fans and competitors library. Race by Race, Year by Year, it’s all there. Read all about it! Books are now available on Amazon.com and Coastal 181 (877-907-8181 toll free) and are available thru Stafford’s web site in their store. Order yours now. Makes a great gift!
With the cooperation of the Arute family another book has been published with pictures and biographies of the 50 Greatest Drivers at Stafford.
The Stafford Motor Speedway had become the epicenter of NASCAR Modified racing in the northeast by the late 1980’s. From its dirt beginnings to its lightning-fast asphalt, Stafford had become the toughest and most gratifying track to score a victory. The Arute family which has owned and guided the destiny of the facility commissioned their thousands of loyal fans to name their favorite drivers. In alphabetical order so as not to offend anyone:
Tom Baldwin, Gene Bergin, Brett Bodine, Geoff Bodine, Ken Bouchard, Ron Bouchard, Mario “Fats” Caruso, Rene Charland, Ted Christopher, Leo Cleary, Tim Connolly, Jerry Cook, Corky Cookman, Pete Corey, Fred DeSarro, Richie Evans, Mike Ewanitsko, Ed Flemke, Sr., Jeff Fuller, Rick Fuller, Ernie Gahan, Bill Greco, Bo Gunning, Ray Hendrick, George “Moose” Hewitt, Tony Hirschman, George Janoski, Charlie Jarzombek, George Kent, Buddy Krebs, Randy LaJoie, Jan Leaty, Jerry Marquis, Mike McLaughlin, Ray Miller, Steve Park, Bob Polverari, Bob Potter, Brian Ross, John “Reggie” Ruggiero, Greg Sacks, Ollie Silva, “Wild” Bill Slater, Jimmy Spencer, Mike Stefanik, Carl “Bugsy” Stevens, George Summers, Jamie “The Jet” Tomaino, Maynard Troyer and Satch Worley.
Books are priced at $17.95 each and be purchased at the track at the Novelty Booth or at the Stafford Motor Speedway on line store. Books are also available at Amazon.com and at Coastal181 (877-907-8181).