Setting The Scene: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Twin Bill At New Hampshire Motor Speedway

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Justin Bonsignore (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Justin Bonsignore (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

A quarter of the way into the 2015 schedule it looked like a lost season for Justin Bonsignore, but fortunes can turn quickly.

A championship contender in 2014, expectations were high for Bonsignore entering this season, but things went south quickly. Due to a variety of circumstances, including a pair of accident DNFs, he had an average finish of 25th through the first four races on the schedule and ranked 25th in points.

In a 15-race schedule, a deficit like that is challenging to overcome, but compiling podium finishes sure helps.

Bonsignore just missed a trip to Victory Lane in Race No. 5 when he finished as the runner-up at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, then followed with a checkered flag run in his No. 51 M3 Technology Chevrolet last time out at Riverhead Raceway. The two-race jolt now has him up to 12th in the standings entering this week’s Andy Blacksmith 100 presented by Donate Life New England at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bonsignore, from Holtsville on New York’s Long Island, has a mixed history at NHMS. He recorded consecutive top fives there in 2011, but in 11 points races at the “Magic Mile” he’s suffered four DNFs with just one other top 10. He did finish as the runner-up in last year’s inaugural Whelen All-Star Shootout there, however.

Perhaps Bonsignore’s recent in-season turnaround will carry on with a first trip to Victory Lane in Loudon.

RACE: All-Star Shootout
PLACE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.058-mile asphalt oval
DATE: Friday, July 17
TIME: 2:10 p.m. ET
TELECAST: Thursday, July 23, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN
2014 WINNER: Ryan Newman
EVENT HASHTAG: #ModsAllStar

RACE: Andy Blacksmith 100 pres. by Donate Life New England
PLACE: New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, N.H.
DATE: Saturday, July 18
TIME: 2 p.m. ET
TELECAST: Thursday, July 23, 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.058-mile asphalt oval
2014 WINNER: Bobby Santos
2014 POLESITTER: Ron Silk
EVENT SCHEDULE: Friday – Practice 8-10 a.m., Saturday – Qualifying 9 a.m., Driver Autograph Session 10:15-10:45 a.m.
TRACK TWITTER: @NHMS
EVENT HASHTAG: #Blacksmith100

EVENT INFORMATION

Fast Facts

All-Star Shootout: The Second Annual All-Star Shootout is a non-points invitational event. The starting lineup will include 20 cars whose participation is determined by championships won, race victories, highest championship finishes and the 2014 Sunoco Rookies of the Year from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours. The race is scheduled for 35 laps with a 30-minute time limit and will run in two segments with a competition caution at or near Lap 20. The starting grid will be determined by random draw at the conclusion of the driver/crew chief meeting and the second segment will begin with a redraw of the top finishers from the first, as determined by a track promotion. Pit road will be closed for the entirety of the race, including during the competition caution.

Andy Blacksmith 100: The Andy Blacksmith 100 presented by Donate Life New England will be the seventh of 15 points races on the 2015 schedule and the first of two visits to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The maximum starting field is 38 cars, including provisionals. The first 33 cars will have secured starting positions based on two-lap qualifying. The remaining five spots will be awarded through the provisional process. This is an impound race, scheduled for 100 laps (105.8 miles), with an allotment of four change tires. There will be a five-minute midway break at or near the conclusion of Lap 50.

The Track: NHMS, a 1.058-mile slightly-banked asphalt oval, is the largest track on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule. NHMS has played host to the Whelen Modified Tour 61 times previously for points races, the most of any facility outside of Connecticut.

Race Winners: There have been 20 different race winners at NHMS, led by Mike Stefanik with eight victories. Bobby Santos is the defending winner of the Andy Blacksmith 100.

Pole Winners: There have been 26 different pole winners at NHMS, led by Jan Leaty’s six. Ted Christopher is the active poles leader with five. Mike Ewanitsko holds the qualifying record at 28.693 seconds (132.743 mph), set in 2001.

New Hampshire Race Notes

NASCAR Night at Nashua Silver Knights Game: The Nashua Silver Knights, a member of the Futures Collegiate Baseball League, will hold “NASCAR Night” on Thursday, July 16 at historic Holman Stadium in Nashua, New Hampshire. Slated to attend and participate in the night’s festivities are NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers Justin Bonsignore, Patrick Emerling and Bobby Santos.

Event Namesake: The Andy Blacksmith 100 presented by Donate Life New England is so named in memory of radio personality Andy Blacksmith, who passed away on June 20 following a five-year battle with heart disease and waiting for a heart transplant. Blacksmith, from iHeartMEDIA’s “Greg and the Morning Buzz,” was an avid and active NASCAR fan. Donate Life New England is involved to create awareness for organ donation.

Tight at the Top: As the 2015 season nears the midway point, it’s hard to imagine a tighter points chase. Entering Race No. 7 Doug Coby and Ryan Preece are tied atop the standings at 251 while Woody Pitkat sits in a close third at 249. Coby and Pitkat both have wins at NHMS while Preece is still seeking his first triumph at Loudon.

Lead Change Record: This race last year set an all-time record for official lead changes in a Whelen Modified Tour event with 35. The previous record of 30 was set on July 7, 2000, also at NHMS. The last five visits for the tour to the “Magic Mile” have featured an average of 24.6 lead changes. The six short-track races so far this year have produced an average of 4.2 lead changes.

First Appearance: This week at Loudon will mark the first Whelen Modified Tour appearance of the season for Ryan Newman, Joe Ryan Osborne, Cole Powell and Andy Seuss. Newman has won three modified events at NHMS – two points races and the inaugural All-Star Shootout. Seuss, a New Hampshire native, is the defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion. Osborne, who has 13 career Whelen Southern Modified Tour starts, will make his northern tour debut as fill-in for Spencer Davis, who is going to make his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start at NHMS.

Big Weekly Win for Preece: The Whelen Modified Tour may have had the two previous weeks off, but Preece has stayed plenty busy in the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, where he ranks third in the national standings. On July 10 Preece won the NAPA Auto Parks SK 5K at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway, a 100-lap SK Modified special event in which the format was determined by an online fan vote. The spoils of victory included more than $12,500 in prize money, which was billed as the biggest payout in SK Modified history.

Rocco Retains National Points Lead: Like Preece, Keith Rocco has an aggressive Whelen All-American Series weekly slate. The 2010 champion has led this year’s national standings from the start thanks to his success at New London-Waterford Speedbowl, Stafford and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. This week he will depart NHMS to race at Stafford on Friday night, return to race the Andy Blacksmith 100 Saturday and then head back to Connecticut to run at New London-Waterford that night.

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