Whelen Modified Tour Pit Box: Justin Bonsignore Begins Title Defense At Myrtle Beach Speedway

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)
Justin Bonsignore hugs the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion’s trophy after clinching his first series title last September at Stafford Speedway Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

The 35th season of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition begins on Saturday at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Drivers will head to South Carolina to begin the championship points schedule for the third consecutive season, and in the prior two, tire conservation has been key to success at the gritty .538-mile oval.

The Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen begins a 17-race calendar that will see the series stay south and head to South Boston Speedway on March 30.



Justin Bonsignore better have his best foot forward when the Whelen Modified Tour season begins on Saturday. With stout competition throughout the field, and multiple drivers improving their program over the offseason, it’s going to be difficult for Bonsignore to match the success he had last year.

WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR: 2019 Schedule | Race Center

In 16 races, the Holtsville, New York, driver won eight times and finished inside the top 10 in all but one. His average finish of 3.4 in the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet helped him clinch the championship one race early — and part of his 2018 success was on display in the opener at Myrtle Beach. In his first race with a new crew chief and new car, Bonsignore qualified sixth, led 26 laps and opened his eventual first championship season with a top-five finish. With the same crew chief, same sponsor and same team behind him, Bonsignore is poised to begin another title run.

But he is far from the only challenger.


Doug Coby, a five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, is seeking a sixth title as he looks to add to his long list of accolades. Coby took the No. 2 Mayhew Tools Chevrolet down south to New Smyrna’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing to get back into high-gear, and he picked up the victory on the first of five nights. With crew chief Phil Moran back on his side, and Mayhew returning as primary sponsor, Coby is hoping the 2019 season ends with a return to title form. He will look to turn around some Myrtle Beach misfortune in the opener — as over the last two years, Coby opened the season outside the top-10.

RELATED: Busy Offseason Has Timmy Solomito Ready To Chase First Title

Timmy Solomito, who won five races in 2017, but failed to visit Victory Lane last year, looks to create some more South Carolina magic. He won the first Whelen Modified Tour event at Myrtle Beach in 2017 with the same Eric Sanderson-owned team he enters 2019 driving for. After a busy offseason, including a visit to New Smyrna in February to knock the dust off the car, Solomito is hoping to get things rolling on the right foot.

Although those three drivers may be among the top challengers, the rest of the field isn’t going to be behind them. An offseason of updates has names like Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson, Craig Lutz, Dave Sapienza and 2018 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Tommy Catalano looking to pounce on their opportunity.

Matt Hirschman, who won the pole for last year’s Myrtle Beach event, is among a long list of entries for the opener.

Thanks to an agreement with FansChoice.TV, race fans across the country can watch the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen, and the entire 17-race Whelen Modified Tour slate via a live stream on FansChoice.TV. NBCSN will also air the Whelen Modified Tour opener on Thursday, March 21 at 6 p.m.


PLACEMyrtle Beach Speedway, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
DATESaturday, March 16
TIME5:30 p.m. (approx.)
TELEVISIONFansChoice.TV, 5:30 p.m. (live broadcast); NBCSN — Thursday, March 21, 6 p.m.
TRACK LAYOUT.538-mile paved oval
2018 WINNERJon McKennedy
2018 POLEMatt Hirschman
EVENT SCHEDULESaturday: Garage Opens: 8 a.m.,Final Practice: 12:15-1:30 p.m., Group Qualifying: 3 p.m.,Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen: 5:30 p.m.
HASHTAG#NWMT, #PerformancePlus150



The starting field for the Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen is 30 starters, including provisional positions. The first 24 drivers will secure starting positions based on the group qualifying session. The remaining six positions will be awarded through the provisional process.

NASCAR group qualifying is in place for this event. Qualifying order will be determined by each vehicle’s fastest single lap from the official practice sessions. The number of groups will be determined by NASCAR. Each group qualifying session will be five (5) minutes in duration and the fastest single lap speed of each vehicle will determine the first 24 starting positions. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on a vehicle after the vehicle enters the track to begin the session. Vehicles may not return to the track or make any further qualifying laps unless directed to do so by a NASCAR Official or in the event of a caution. If a vehicle returns to pit road, the qualifying attempt is complete. Once a vehicle’s qualifying attempt is complete, they must proceed directly to the designated impound area. Vehicles will be impounded after qualifying/inspection. Vehicles must qualify on race set up.

The Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen will be 150 laps (80.7 miles). The maximum tire allotment available for this event is eleven (11) tires per team. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. The remaining tire allotment may be used for practice and/or change tires during the event. The tire change rule is four (4) tires, any position.

Reigning Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore, former series Jamie Tomaino and Whelen Modified Tour series director Jimmy Wilson talk about Myrtle Beach and much more heading into the season opener on the latest edition of Unmuffled

Do you enjoy what you’re reading and seeing here at RaceDayCT? Would you like to see continued coverage of New England short track racing? Your support can help ensure that professional coverage of short track racing can continue at RaceDayCT, and you can get some great rewards for that support. Patreon allows readers to make small monthly contributions to RaceDayCT that support the ongoing coverage of short track racing. Your pledge comes with exclusive tiered reward programs for offering that support. For just a $5 a month pledge fans can have access to the weekly Unmuffled podcast. For more information click the link here.


  1. The 2019 Championship is Team 51/JBon’s to lose. They have made slow and steady progress over the years, changing team members along the way until now, and they have the right mix. They have the best collection of talent.

    Will the 2 dig its way out the funk they are in? What did they lose? What are they missing?

    The 16… will it step up a bit more and collect a couple wins? Will the 16 challenge the 51?

    Matt Swanson and Ole Blue? Can it pick up where Rowan left off and bring the historically significant team team to the top? Matt is a very good and high potential driver. A great spotter will keep him out of trouble.

    The 7NY… will the shop come through and turn out a car that can finish all races? Have to finish to compete.

    Dave Sapienza… this will be a great season. He’s been good, will be even better.

    Patrick Emerling… if he can stay out of trouble on the track, he should do well. He’s getting better and better.

    Rob Summers… been on the edge of the top running cars. Can they turn it up just a little more and get in the mix?

    Opening the season at two tracks with very little Tour experience will be chaotic. Will teams go all out for the win or take home safe points?

    Hopefully Bobby Santos can land a quality ride. He brings class and panache to the Tour.

    What 3-4 cars will own >75% of the wins at the end of the season?

  2. Did this article just confirm there are well defined tiers to the NWMT this year? A pecking order that we can count on to deliver pretty consistent or more bluntly boring results? That the top three will be dominated by just a few teams with surprise winners coming mostly from part time invaders like Hirschman, LFR, Newman, Preece or the 7NY if at all.
    I hope not.

  3. Sybil, history has shown there has been distinct tiers for decades.

  4. Gotta agree with ya dareal. The question is has Troyer come up with a car that can compete with LFR on a steady basis? How many Fury cars will we see? Do the teams that switched to LFR pick up in performance? We’ll know the answers pretty soon. Good luck to all the NWMT teams.

  5. So we’re back to the childish taunting I see DGF. I’m on record conceding you are an icon in that regard with experience spanning years so I’ll leave that area completely in your charge.
    I was thinking before you went into being the DGF that we’ve grown to know so well that was a darned good summary of what to look for this season. A little shallow but it was nice to see anyone show interest and a knowledge of what is afoot this year.
    Sapienza and Lutz are sporting newish LFR chassis with the help and support of guru Rob Fuller no doubt so I’ll be hoping those guys can break into the top tier on a consistent basis. Or as you say Rob Summers who my sons went to school with, who they say is an A+ guy and always seems to be just on the cusp of impressive finishes. With regard to your tier taunt it is a proper generic observation. However this year may hold the promise that we may not have all the answers going in. We may not know who will coral the lions share of the wins.
    JB’s championship to lose? Bold. Maybe a bit premature before the first qualifying lap is in the books. A quality team from the top down for sure but did I miss it DGF. No mention of LFR’s contribution to the earth shattering turn around? Slow steady progress? It could be argued that the jump from 2017 to 2018 was anything but slow and steady.
    Coby in a funk. Emmmmmmmmm, maybe. Or maybe an average year from a guy with tons of success just being average that appeared to be a funk. But that’s nit picking. Clearly he’s expected to be a contender for the crown.
    The wild card Jimmy Blewett. Notable results at New Smyrna and apparently having to prove his worth on a race by race basis. Do well and a full season could be in the offing in a pretty good car.
    You always have been a top tier guy DGF. Swanson gets a heads up from you no doubt for the nostalgic connection we all love to see do well. But no mention of the other newer faces. Sophomore Tommy Catalano has been working with Tommy Baldwin and showed great results at New Smyrna if not the best judgement at times. Brother Timmy with great equipment as well. Could he surprise? Sure would love to see mom Amy compete in a NWMT event. VMRS front runner Sam Rameau should be fun to watch. Joey Mucciacciaro I know nothing about but it’s fun saying his name so if I hear it often that’s fine with me.
    The ROC appears to be struggling with dates and the loss of another Catalano can’t be viewed as a good thing. May we see Jankowiak and Hossfeld show up a a few races. A long shot but a yummy prospect to ponder.
    The Possum. What aggravation will the ultimate invader inflict on the NWMT regulars? Smashing the top tier to bits with his speed, skill and smarts. He must drive that top tier pecking order nuts.
    A lot of new blood for sure. Does it put Melissa at risk of not making a race or races or maybe Wade Cole. I never got on the Fifield trash wagon but it is perplexing seeing anyone so consistently fail to make even minimal progress. Perhaps this is the year more competition will change her calculations on what races to attend. For now she’s locked an loaded on maybe on her way south.
    Is the quality of the entire field this year going to be head and shoulders above recent years. I think so.
    Bonsignor and that entire team are just dripping with class and professionalism. Nonetheless I’m hoping against hope they do not repeat last years run-a-way. I’m hoping for a competitive year and that the tier system you believe has always been a given DGF may show a few cracks we never anticipated.
    3 or 4 guys taking 75% of the wins you say. Last year 4 guys took exactly 75% by my calculation with JB the obvious statistical wrecking ball. I’ll take that bet.

  6. Fast Eddie says

    Is the Tinio 44 team not running this year? If they are I would think Santos would still be there.
    Hopefully Bonsignore has more competition this year.
    I can’t imagine Solomito and Coby making up for their below average years in 2019.
    Goodale might be right there with the above three.
    Summers needs a little luck and a good car on the same weekend; they’re close.
    Sapienza & Emerling are overdue. Lutz isn’t far behind.
    I think Swanson can put “Ole Blue” back in the winners circle.
    I think Joey Mucciacciaro ran SK mods at the Speedbowl for a time.

  7. Liz Cherokee says

    Good to see all you boys are back to your usual bloviating! Drink some bourbon 🥃 for once and put some hair on your chest!

  8. Two Doug’s now…..?? I can’t take these long posts about nothing

  9. Rob p., there is no chassis war. If Troyer were to give away chassis, the top talent teams would jump on them and run them. The dust will settle, and when LFR has to actually sell stuff to survive and not promote, things will change and the pendulum will swing back.

    Fury and LFR are the same as far as I can tell. So will folks go with Brad or Fuller? Brad knows how to set up a car.

    And big thanks to Riverhead for running a regular Tour Type series as a regular part of the program. Many teams from Riverhead on the NWMT roster.

  10. Fast Eddie,
    Tinio Team is not running this year.

  11. Liz, bourbon makes hair grow out of my ears.

    Also looking to see what Dowling does.

  12. Ouch, about nothing Steve. That hurts. I thought it showed I knew some stuff.
    I’ll try to keep them shorter but no promises.

  13. Fast Eddie says

    Thanks Shawn. If anyone with a Tour Modified (or a Super, or a midget, or… etc.) wants to improve their team, Santos III will get more out of the car than anyone and still bring it home in one piece, especially if Bob Santos Jr. is in the pit box.
    Dareal, I’ll second your Riverhead comment. Glad to see the all the NY teams that are running with the WMT.

  14. Ya what’s the matter with you Rob P, Troyer just updated their chassis in the last couple years more than once ,they just needed something to do since they hadn’t done anything in the previous 20 years ,not because they were getting beat .Can’t believe you didn’t know that. 1-2-3 Myrtle beach

  15. Pasteryak running LFR as well. Top 10 in points last year in a Troyer so let’s see if he can improve in the standings.

    And then we have the new CD chassis. Wonder who may make an appearance in one of those?

  16. I gotta believe it’s going to be hard to improve on a top ten in anybody’s chassis, not sure many picked him for a top 10 , I guess that’s why you race the race

  17. Elect wrote: “I gotta believe it’s going to be hard to improve on a top ten in anybody’s chassis, not sure many picked him for a top 10 , I guess that’s why you race the race”

    So Elect, you just said is wasn’t LFR that elevated the 51. You wanna stick with that? What changed your mind?

  18. All I’m saying is he may be the greatest person but don’t think he is much better than a 10th place car , as far as troyer or lfr it doesn’t make a hill of beans to me , I don’t know either ,all I’ve ever said is lfr forced Troyer to step up their game which they probably should have been doing all along, I haven’t trashed troyer like you trash LFR .I believe the 51 only ran a couple races with LFR last year

  19. Elect: The 51 team ran every race with an LFR car in 2018.

  20. Shawn my mistake, my original post was about Pasteryak in the top 10 , then dareal brought the 51 in and I didn’t correct it I believe pasteryak only ran a couple races in LFR. Oops And dareal like I’ve said before I don’t think some top teams switched to LFR for more of a challenge

  21. Elect: Yeah, Pasteryak was at least the World Series at Thompson and I think I remember the Fall Final at Stafford also.

  22. I believe Pasteryak was only in an LFR at the World Series. My point until a certain individual muddied the waters was Pasteryak made a chassis change in 2019 to LFR and it will be interesting to see if he improves his position in the points standings. Chris comes from a racing family with dad Charlie and uncle Carl and I think he will do just fine.

  23. JBon is going to do just fine. He made slow and steady progress over the years, and collected the best talent for his team, he knows how to make it to the last lap with car that has enough left to compete. I think JBon had the highest laps completed in 2018, very impressive.

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