Bullring Bully: Justin Bonsignore Rolling Momentum Home For Whelen Mod Tour Hoosier Tire 200 At Riverhead

Justin Bonsignore celebrates his first career Whelen Modified Tour victory at Riverhead Raceway in 2011 (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Justin Bonsignore celebrates his first career Whelen Modified Tour victory at Riverhead Raceway in 2011 (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mention Riverhead Raceway to many regulars on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and there’s usually more pessimism than optimism.

Just the thought of competition on the tightly packed quarter-mile oval gives many headaches long before even making the trek to Long Island.

It’s a battle that in many wins Justin Bonsignore feels he will have won even before the gates open to the track for Saturday’s Whelen Modified Tour Hoosier Tire East 200 at Riverhead.

“I look forward to going there and I think that’s a big advantage when you go to Riverhead,” Bonsignore said. “If you’re in the right mindset it’s going to make the day easier. If you go there with a negative mindset you’re usually going struggle.

“I think there’s a few people that go into knowing they’re going to struggle or who aren’t excited to go there and that tends to make you struggle more. I’ve had that happen to me in the past at places where I’ve said ‘I don’t really want to go there this week’ and then you tend to struggle.”

It helps that the Holtsville, N.Y. driver was a regular weekly competitor at the track before making his way to the Whelen Modified Tour.

“Coming back home is definitely a confidence because we know we run good at Riverhead,” Bonsignore said. “I’ve won there a lot in the past. It’s just a place I became comfortable with. I had so many laps there when I raced there weekly. You kind of had to force yourself to become good at the place. It wasn’t an easy process, but as the years have progressed we kept finding more things that work for me. Now when we go there I’m just extremely comfortable.”

Bonsignore got his first career Whelen Modified Tour victory at Riverhead on July 30, 2011. In eight career Whelen Modified Tour starts at Riverhead, he has five top-five finishes and an average finish of 8.8.

Bonsignore is helping to ride the momentum of a second place finish in the Mr. Rooter 125 at Thompson Speedway on June 10 in Riverhead. The runner-up finish proved like a victory to Bonsignore and his M3 Racing team after an agonizing first four events of the Whelen Modified Tour season.

After being squarely in the championship hunt right to the second to last event of the 2014 season, Bonsignore came into this year as one of the favorites to contend for a series title.

Those hopes though were dashed in a blur of bad luck and struggles that saw Bonsignore finish 20th or worse in the first four events of the 2015. He goes into Riverhead sitting 19th in the series standings.

“I take it pretty hard,” Bonsignore said. “I’m sure everybody does. But I get on myself more than anything. … We proved last year that we can run up front and it’s kind of frustrating to take that step back. We said we weren’t going to points race this year, but we didn’t want to do it this way. It is what it is. It’s racing. It’s going to humble you real quick. That’s why you can’t let your highs get too high and your lows get too low.

“It’s been very trying. But, like I’ve said a few times, nobody is really turning on each other. Usually when things start to go bad everybody starts to point fingers. You hope that doesn’t happen and our guys have really stuck together.”

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