Eric Goodale, driver of the #58 GAF Roofing Chevrolet, before the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford Motor Speedway on April 30, 2021 in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)
Eric Goodale, driver of the #58 GAF Roofing Chevrolet, returns to his home track of Riverhead Raceway as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship points leader. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

PIT BOX: Riverhead Raceway ready for return of Whelen Modified Tour

Riverhead Raceway had been a regular stop for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since the tour’s inception in 1985.

Sixty-four races over 35 seasons, with fabled Modified stars like Mike Stefanik, Richie Evans and Reggie Ruggiero trading wins with home track heroes such as Mike Ewanitsko, Steve Park and Wayne Anderson. The tour-typed Modifieds have long been a mainstay of the track’s NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series program, and the quarter-mile bullring seems to be uniquely suited to bringing out the best of the Modifieds.

The COVID-19 pandemic kept the tour away last year, but it will return in a big way in 2021, starting with Saturday night’s Miller Lite 200 (8 p.m. ET, TrackPass).

It will be one of three trips to Long Island for the tour.

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Fans can attend the race as well as watch the race live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.


Miller Lite 200

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

Miller Lite 200

It’s been 26 years since a weekly series regular has knocked off a visitor from the touring series. But Victory Lane at Riverhead has been the exclusive domain of a Long Islander since 2013.

In fast, since 2003, only four drivers outside of New York have won at the track in 25 races there.

That bodes well for the driver leading the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in points after two events: Eric Goodale.

Goodale’s first career tour win came at his home track in 2014. He has four top fives and 12 top 10s in 17 starts there, but has finished outside the top 10 in three of his last four races.

Nobody has been better at Riverhead than Justin Bonsignore.

The two-time tour champion has eight wins in 18 starts, including the last four trips between 2018-19.

They haven’t been easy. In July of 2019, he held off track regular John Beatty Jr. in a green-white-checkered finish that had Bonsignore taking the checkered flag sideways across the finish line. When the tour returned two months later, it was another green-white-checkered with Bonsignore edging Timmy Solomito.

Solomito has three wins and 10 top fives in 13 races at the track he grew up racing at.

The last driver NOT from Long Island to win there? Ryan Preece.

And the NASCAR Cup Series driver, who has four wins at Riverhead including three straight between 2012-13, will be back in the No. 6 for his third tour start of the season. Preece also won the Islip 300 last November, to become the first back-to-back winner of that non-tour event.

Craig Lutz was second to Preece in that race and third in the tour’s last race at Riverhead in 2019, while Stafford winner Patrick Emerling scored his first top five at the track in the last visit. Six-time tour champion Doug Coby has won the Mayhew Tools Pole Award in two of the last three Riverhead races, but has just seven top fives in 19 starts.

Among Riverhead’s weekly series competitors looking to end the tour drought is five-time track champion Tom Rogers Jr. Rogers has 60 wins at Riverhead, second all-time, and has nine top 10s in his last 10 tour starts at Riverhead – including a fourth in 2016. He also led 113 laps before finishing ninth in the September race in 2019.

Two-time Riverhead modified champion Kyle Soper will pilot Anderson’s car.

RACING REFERENCE:

RACE FACTS

RACE Miller Lite 200
PLACE Riverhead Raceway in Riverhead, N.Y.
DATE Saturday, May 15, 2021
TIME 8 p.m. ET
TV/LIVE STREAM TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (live) / NBCSN – (Friday, May 21, 5 p.m. ET)
TRACK LAYOUT Quarter-mile paved oval
LAPS 200
MILES 50
EVENT SCHEDULE Saturday, May 15 — Garage opens: 12:45 p.m. ET; Practice: 3-4 p.m.; Qualifying: 6 p.m.; Miler Lite 200: 8 p.m.
TWITTER @NASCARRoots, @RiverheadRacewy, @_TrackPass

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CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the Miller Lite 200 is limited to limited to 28 starters including provisionals. The field will be set by qualifying (1-22) and provisional process per the entry blank (23-28) for the Miller Lite 200. In the event that qualifying as stated on the entry blank does not take place for any unforeseen circumstance, the field will be set in accordance with the 2021 NASCAR Touring Series Rule Book.

QUALIFYING: Two consecutive qualifying laps. Faster lap determines qualifying position. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on the vehicle after the vehicle has taken the green flag at the start/finish line. NASCAR reserves the right to have more than one vehicle engage in qualifying runs at the same time.

The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire allotment available for this event is eight (8) tires per team. All tires used for qualifying and the race must be purchased at the track and scanned by Hoosier, unless otherwise approved in advance by the Series Director. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. All qualifying tires must remain in impound until released by NASCAR Officials. The remaining tire allotment may be used for practice and/or change tires during the event.

The tire change rule is zero (0) tires, any position.

QUALIFYING AND SPECIAL AWARDS

$400 Phil Kurze Halfway Leader Award presented by Josten’s per event award to the race leader at the halfway point of the event, regardless if the race is running under green or yellow.

$600 Hoosier Tire “Lap Leader” per event award to the eligible car owner whose driver leads the most laps in each event. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event.

$500 Hoosier Tire “Hard Charger” per event award to the highest finishing eligible driver who advances the most positions during the course of the race. In the case of a tie, the highest finishing driver will receive the award.

$500 Hoosier Tire “Most Improved” per event award to the eligible new team/organization whose driver improves the most positions during the course of the race. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event. If money is not awarded during this event, funds will rollover to the next event and will continue to rollover until an eligible new team/organization claims the money.

$1,000 Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole per event award to the driver with the fastest qualifying time eligible to participate under the Manufacturers’ Prize Money Conditions.

$550 Sunoco Spec Fuel award divided: 1st-$300 5th-$150 10th-$100.

$3,500 Whelen Engineering “Winner of the Race” award to the winning driver.

Whelen Non-Starter award will be paid to the first 15 competitors throughout the season who pass inspection, practice, attempt to qualify, but fail to make the feature event.