Justin Bonsignore Back On Top Of Whelen Mod Tour Standings At Halfway Point Of Season

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

Justin Bonsignore celebrates a victory in May at Jennerstown Speedway (Photo: Nate Smallwood/NASCAR)

LOUDON, N.H. — Justin Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling are halfway through a title fight in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Bonsignore, the tour’s defending champion in addition to his 2018 title, jumped into the points lead for the first time this season following a second-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last Saturday.

Emerling had led the standings since race No. 3 on May 15 with a runner-up finish at Riverhead Raceway on the heels of a win at Stafford Motor Speedway two weeks prior. But an uncharacteristically poor performance at Loudon saw Emerling finish 13th, the last car on the lead lap after being lapped by Bonsignore earlier in the contest.

So as New Hampshire marked the separation of the first half and the second half of 2021’s tour schedule, it also separated Bonsignore and Emerling from the rest of the field, as third-place driver Kyle Bonsignore now sits 48 points back of his cousin for the points lead and 38 back of Emerling.

Justin Bonsignore said prior to Saturday’s race he wasn’t thinking about points — that the only thing that mattered in New Hampshire was winning the tour’s version of the Daytona 500.

But with how solidly he ran, leading 63 of 105 laps en route to a runner-up finish, Bonsignore knew how productive New Hampshire was for him and his team as he hunts a third championship, which would be halfway to Doug Coby’s six pack.

“Any year you can have a shot at it is special,” Bonsignore said. “This series is really hard. Doug made it look easy for a long time and it’s not. It is a really tough series to be a part of and to win in and we’ve got a great team. We could have won maybe four or five races this year and we’ve got one. That’s just how this series is.

Coby began 2021 eyeing a run for a seventh modified title, but that plan took a step back on Saturday. Despite missing the race at Oswego, Coby came into New Hampshire tied for fourth in points just 41 points behind. But an engine issue ended Coby’s race at lap 44, relegating him to a 27th-place finish and now sitting ninth in the standings 68 points behind the leaders.

“It probably kills it,” Coby said of his championship hopes. “We’re really solid. The 51 (Bonsignore) and their mistakes turn into eighth-place finishes when they screw up, if that. Sometimes, their mistakes turn into fifth-place finishes. We didn’t need a day like this where certainly we almost gave them another race.

“We’ve finished 27th and they go out and finish second, lead the most laps and get all sorts of bonus points and stuff. The reality is in a 14-race season, you can’t give somebody two.”

Emerling said New Hampshire tends to be his best track, and with six top fives — the most he’s accumulated at any track — the numbers back that up. But a tight car and issues refueling on Saturday gave Emerling enough trouble to cost him the points lead.

“He (Bonsignore) always brings his A-game everywhere he goes,” Emerling said. “He had an amazing car today. We just have to just put our heads down and get a little bit more speed out of our cars.”

Now begins the second half of the season, kicking off at New York International Raceway Park in Lancaster, New York, on July 31, a new venue on the tour schedule.

Bonsignore, who works as the general manager of a fiber optics company to pay his bills when he’s not behind the wheel, knows there’s a long way between now and Sept. 25 when the champion will be crowned at Stafford. But Loudon was a good measuring stick for where he and his team are functioning, he said.

“Before this weekend, I needed to see some speed,” said Bonsignore. “This car is a new car this year, and for the first time this year, this car really had a lot of speed all day long. It was really, really well balanced. Every track we’re gonna go to is a little different, but there’s a lot of flat tracks [with the] same similar setup we’re gonna run a lot of places. So hopefully this was a big step. Hopefully we learned some stuff, [have] some momentum on our side and just gonna keep our head down.

“Long way to go before we have to worry about the points, but you’re always conscious of it, I’ve learned throughout these battles.”

Emerling, meanwhile, is vying for his first championship on the tour. Just 10 points out, he knows he’s got a fighting chance but needs to keep giving Bonsignore strong fights if he wants to come out on top.

“We’re just gonna put our heads down and bring our A-game,” Emerling said. “We’re coming off of a win there (at Stafford), so now we think we’ll be pretty good there.”

The tour takes its next green flag on July 31 at New York International Raceway Park at 8 p.m. ET and can be streamed live via TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.


  1. Indeed.

    All JBon has to do is phone it in. Emerling has a few more wrecks left in the season that will take him out. Nobody else has a chance to catch JBon as long as he finishes decent. It will take a Herculean, longshot, Dark Horse run for the rest of the season to catch JBon.


    Everyone else is racing for 2nd place.

  2. If NASCAR would like to help itself, it could get the entry list and other race information out AT LEAST A WEEK before the race. Right now, it looks like the series is dead, NASCAR isn’t doing anything to help the NWMT Series.

  3. Emerling is only 10 points out with Lancaster his home track coming up. They also have 2 at Stafford a track J Bon hasnt had great success at it. They have only run half the schedule, anything can happen. I wouldnt start engraving the trophy just yet. In fact, I would argue a few cars in the top 10 could still win. I agree Bonsignore is definitely the favorite at this time though, Going in I thought it was probably between him and Coby. Missing that one race for SRX really hurt Coby. You give him an AVG finish generating 38 pts and he is only 28 pts behind certainly within striking distance. He may have been able to overcome missing a race but NH happened.

    I would say with only 12 or 13 running full time and the series running a significant portion of their schedule outside the region I am much more interested and following Tri track series these days. I am happy you posted, it gave me the incentive to look at the Whelen tour which I havent in a month or so.. I completely agree with the second comment. If anyone is mailing it in it is Nascar with the tour. With the big series off for the Olympics perhaps they ramp up their coverage of the Whelen Mods. Maybe Nascar went on vacation for the break. You cant get an entry list for the race this weekend. I am wondering if a few more cars looking at their points position skip the long haul and decide to run a more regional schedule.

  4. Unless JBon DNFs a couple times, the championship is his to lose. His average finish is 4.1. Emerling is 4.9, and the third place car is 9.6. If JBon maintains his average finish of 4.1 or thereabouts, he’s untouchable. The the other cars are going to have a MUCH better average finish for the rest of the season to bring their average up and points total. Even more specific, only one or two cars can actually garner all the higher finishes to get their points up. There are not enough laps or points left to get to go around amongst many cars. Emerling has to step it up bigly and can not tolerate ANY mistakes.

    As long as Emerling holds on to a lead over the third place car, the real excitement for the rest of the season will be the shuffling that can happen from 3rd place down to about 9th place. They can change their destiny by good performance, and the misfortunes of others is still a big play. It’s not likely that all the cars presently in 3rd through 9th will finish all remaining laps. If Emerling boinks a race, he’s racing for 2nd with a bunch of other decent cars.

    JBon needs to be careful, finish all laps, place well so as not to give up points.

    22 cars so far for Saturday, looks like the 01 will rake in a huge haul of points. The more cars that DNF, the more points she gets.

  5. In my mind NASCAR is dead! stick a fork in them,bring on TRI -TRACK

  6. So far, only 22 cars on the Lancaster entry list. Looks like owners are voting with their haulers.

  7. girl power says

    hey dareal! the most popular driver and her team have made the commitment to be in Lancaster . That is supporting the tour and NASCAR !!!

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