Nwmt Pitbox 090721 Lead Photo
Justin Bonsignore leads the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points standings in search of his third title in four years. (Bryan Bennett/NASCAR)

PIT BOX: Whelen Modified Tour returns to Richmond with Bonsignore eyeing third title

For the first time in nearly 20 years, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Richmond Raceway this week, where “The Action Track” is sure to provide just that on Friday night.

The venue is no stranger to Modified racing — having hosted a total of 11 races from 1990 to 2002. Legends Mike Stefanik and Ted Christopher graced Victory Lane over the years, with the former doing so three times (most all-time).

Across all three national series, Richmond has hosted a grand total of 216 races since 1953. This Friday night, September 10, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take the green on their 12th race of 2021 — the second of what marks four consecutive weekends to end the season and crown a champion.

RACE INFO: Race Center: Richmond | Entry List | Tickets

Justin Bonsignore’s championship lead over Patrick Emerling ballooned from eight to 20 points following Oswego, putting the two-time and defending champion in prime position for yet another title. Given his past performance at tracks for the first time, there’s no reason to think the Phoenix Communications No. 51 won’t be up front with the usual contenders.

Being a companion weekend with the Cup Series and Xfinity Series, two Ryan’s — Preece and Newman — join the ground pounders for the Friday night showcase. As does Ron Silk, who is gunning for his third consecutive victory, something he’s never accomplished in his illustrious career.

Fans can watch the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 live this Friday at 7 p.m. ET on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, and tape delayed on Saturday, September 18 at 2:30 pm ET on NBCSN.

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Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 150

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:

It’s been a silky smooth last few weeks for Ron Silk. Winner of back-to-back races at Beech Ridge and Oswego, the No. 85 is looking for his third consecutive victory in his first ever start at Richmond. Never having raced before at the track shouldn’t be an issue for Silk, though. He entered Beech Ridge with zero NWMT starts but walked away with the trophy.

Not to mention, in his first start at Jennerstown (2020), Silk finished sixth. Earlier this season at Lancaster, he brought his machine home in 12th. With the playing field being evened due to the lack of experience, Silk’s time up front should continue Friday night. He’s in his final three races with Kevin Stuart Motorsports, before the parties go their separate ways next year. Winning another race in their final three would be icing on the cake of a strong partnership.

RELATED: Silk is smooth: second straight tour win comes at Oswego

21 Rr Virginiaracinglovers150 Modified 4c

A two-time winner on the Whelen Modified Tour this season, Ryan Preece may have a leg up on the field thanks to his national series experience at Richmond Raceway. The Berlin, Connecticut, native has four Cup, three Xfinity and one K&N Pro Series East start to his credit at Richmond.

“The Rocketman”, Ryan Newman, has run 38 times in Cup at Richmond, winning once in 2003. In addition, he’s raced five times in Xfinity competition (most recently in 2010) and even finished second in an IROC event in 2004. His third start on the tour this season and first ever at Richmond, Newman is looking to just finish, as engine woes have ended his Martinsville and New Hampshire events early for the Mike Curb backed No. 53 team. Former Whelen Modified Tour champion Jamie Tomaino has 10 starts at Richmond, the most of any entered driver, with two top-fives to his credit. Chuck Hossfeld finished top-five in his only start at the track in 2002.

Bobby Santos III joins the group of drivers have limited, but some experience around the 0.75-mile track. One Xfinity Series start back in 2007 is all Santos has to his credit at Richmond, but the tour veteran is looking for his third top-10 of the season and 20th career win, getting back to work in the Tinio Motorsports No. 44. 

POINTS: Bonsignore leads Emerling with three to go

With Bonsignore pulling away in the standings, it’s officially desperation time for Patrick Emerling. After an uncharacteristic night at Oswego (finished 15th, two laps down), the two-time winner this season understands he needs to start winning and hoping the No. 51 has trouble if he wants to realistically get back in the hunt.

But with Riverhead, where Bonsignore is an eight-time winner, following Richmond, reality may be starting to set in for the driver of the No. 07. Plus, the No. 51 has finished top-two in his first career starts at new tracks over the last two seasons (win at Jennerstown, win at White Mountain, second at Lancaster).

RELATED: Returning To Second Home, Coby Looks To Add Richmond To His Wins List

Despite never turning a lap at Richmond, Doug Coby may feel right at home on Friday. A graduate of the University of Richmond, he’ll look to continue his ascent up the standings despite missing one event earlier this season. Sitting fourth, the six-time champion would love to add yet another track to the extensive list of venues he’s won at over his two-decade career. And, although still 38 points out, Coby is still third, right in the thick of the battle for the owner’s championship with three races to go.

RACING REFERENCE:

RACE FACTS

Race Virginia is For Racing Lovers 150
Date Friday, Sept. 10, 2021
Track Richmond Raceway
Layout 0.75-mile oval
Location Richmond, Virginia
Start time 7:00 p.m. ET
Laps 150
Miles 112.5
Tickets Buy tickets
TV channel NBCSN (Delayed: Saturday, Sept. 18, 2:30 p.m. ET)
Live stream TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (Live)

RACEDAY SCHEDULE: Friday, Sept. 10 — Garage opens: 10 a.m. ET; Practice: 1:30-3 p.m.; Qualifying: 5 p.m.; Race: 7 p.m.

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT:
 The starting field for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150 is limited to 32 starters, including provisionals. The field will be set by qualifying (1-26) and provisional process per the entry blank (27-32) for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 150. 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 fourteen (14) 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 six (6) 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 roll over to the next event and will continue to roll over 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.