Digging Deep With Denise: Visiting With Ryan Stone

“Digging Deep With Denise” is a semi-regular question and answer feature with local racers and racing personalities produced by RaceDayCT’s Denise DuPont

Ryan Stone – Racing is my life …

Ryan Stone was going to be a Ford mechanic until work friends introduced him to racing and his life changed from that day on. At one point he made the move down south to build a new career but a phone call brought him back to his roots. Stone returned to New England and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2018 to be the crew chief of the Ken Massa owned No. 51 Modified with driver Justin Bonsignore. That first year that the team went out racing togethery they won eight out of the 15 Whelen Modified Tour races. The team’s 2018 season ended with their first Whelen Modified Tour championship after scoring eight wins, five poles, 12 Top-five’s, 15 top-10’s with 695 laps led, leading each category for the series.

On Saturday, the Ken Massa owned Phoenix Communications No. 51 ended Justin Bonsignore’s 40-race winless streak at Stafford Speedway as he scored his first series win at the track. The victory also clinched the 2021 Whelen Modified Tour championship for the team. It was their second consecutive title and third overall.

Stone is back home in Connecticut living his life – Modified racing.  He is not behind the seat in the Modified but ensures that his driver, Justin Bonsignore, has what he needs to get the job done on the track. After just clinching the 2021 championship, the No. 51 team with Ryan Stone at the helm celebrated and is now ready to prepare for the 2022 race season and what will come with it.

What made you get interested in racing?

“I went to trade school right out of high school to be a mechanic. I was working at a Ford Dealership and some friends there were helping some guys racing at [the New London-Waterford Speedbowl]. And one said to me: ‘You should come with us one night.’ And I did. As it turns out his dad won the race that night. So my first time at the race track we won and I have been hooked ever since.”

What attracts you to Modified racing?

“Ahh, it is just what we all grew up doing. Racing at Stafford, Thompson, Waterford, all the Connecticut tracks. Being from Connecticut, you just fall in love with the Modifieds because that is what you grew up watching. I have had a lot of friends over the years that used to race. And from the racing generations before us, we have heard the Richie Evans, Charlie Jarzombek and other great racer stories. I got to race with Eddie Partridge and a good buddy of mine Ralph Solhem who raced all through that era. So I kind of fell in love with racing through them. So now we are trying now to recreate some of the stuff that those guys did along the way.”

Working with the No. 51 Whelen Modified Tour team?

“It has been great ever since I came back home. These guys called me up in the fall of 2018. I was down south working and I was fairly happy with what I was doing and trying to pursue a career down there in racing. And I was enjoying it. We had a few phone calls and I decide to come home. I fit right in with the guys. They were a great team when I got here and we have been doing great ever since it started. ”

Would you say racing is your hobby? Your Job? Or your life?

“Racing is my entire life. I have dedicated my entire life to racing. It is all that I do.”

What racing memory stands out above them all?

“There are a few. With the No. 51 it was the first win at Thompson in the 2018 Icebreaker. But that whole year was pretty special, we won eight races with the team. Nobody knew kind of what to expect when we came out with them team and we really did over achieve. Man it is hard to pick one out of 2018. All eight of them were real special that year.

“There also was one special one that we won with Ronnie Silk at Loudon in 2009 when we raced with Eddie Partridge. We raced with him for about six years too and that one sticks out because we all had just left the team that we were helping and Eddie gave us a shot to race just a one off race. And when he called us and told us that we could drive his backup car, Silk and I both thought we could go and win that race. And somehow we ended up doing that. So that was a special day.”

What challenges do crew chiefs have with the Whelen Modified Tour?

“The tour runs at a fast pace so you have to be very well prepared. You have to be very quick on your feet and you have to be able to make decisions fast. You just have to be really, really prepared and ready to adapt to anything that may change during practice. Practice is the most important part of the day. Because you are trying to prepare your car for both qualifying and race speed. So that is the most fast pace, craziest moments of the day. After practice we have time to talk and think. Sometimes though we you have time to think that is hard too. I would say getting through the practice session and making sure that the car is where it needs to be is a big challenge for everybody.”

What challenges do crew chiefs have at Stafford Speedway?

“Stafford is tough. It is a flat track and not a lot of banking. The banking at those other tracks help you. Stafford is tricky to get a hold of and it changes day to night – the race cars drive completely different during the day then at night. So you have to keep up with it and make the proper changes. Stafford is probably one of the trickiest places we race at.”

At the current time, what chassis do you like the best?

“We like the Fury chassis. They have been really good to us. We have had a lot of success with them and they have a great group of very talented people down in Mooresville, N.C. building awesome race cars for us. They are a tremendous race car.”

What is your goal for 2021?

“We won the 2021 Championship, so we have met our 2021 goal. That was always our goal to win the championship. I would be lying if I did not tell you that we hoped we had won more races along the way. But sometimes you just have years like that. We finished second and third a lot this year. But 2018 really spoiled us winning those races. So we are a little bummed that we did not win as many, but winning the championship was what we actually intended to do this year and that is what we are already thinking about for next year.”

What is your target for 2022?

“Win more races and try to be a three-peat winner of the [Whelen Modified Tour] championship.”

Your thought on starting the 2022 Whelen Modified Tour season at New Smyrna Speedway?

“I am thrilled. There is no better place to start off the Modified season then in Daytona where this all started, during Speedweeks at a great race track in New Smyrna. And if you race NASCAR there is no better place to be then Speedweeks in February.”

If you had to do it all over again, would you?

“Yes, in a minute.”

Justin Bonsignore (left) soaks his crew chief Ryan Stone in victory lane after winning the NAPA Fall Final 150 Saturday at Stafford and clinching the 2021 Whelen Modified Tour championship (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)


  1. Seems like Phil Moran gets most of the attention for being a modified guru and Stone less so.
    Of course he prefers Fury, Stones Parts and Performance being an authorized dealer and repair facility and all. Good thing too you don’t want to be dependent on being a paid crew chief for a rich guy that suddenly decides he’s not going to be racing any more.
    Tough way to make a living.

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