Oh No Mo: Justin Bonsignore Gets First Stafford Win, Clinches Whelen Mod Tour Title In NAPA Fall Final 150

Justin Bonsignore celebrates victory in the NAPA Fall Final 150 and the 2021 Whelen Modified Tour championship Saturday at Stafford (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – For all the accomplishments Justin Bonsignore has achieved over 15 years on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, he was seemingly known just as well for the curse that followed him.

Stafford Speedway had become the seemingly unbeatable beast that the Holtsville, N.Y. driver couldn’t find a way to slay.

Bonsignore came into Saturday’s season ending NAPA Fall Final 150 at Stafford winless in 40 career Whelen Modified Tour starts at the track dating back to 2010.

Saturday Bonsignore clinched his third Whelen Modified Tour championship and did it by finally beating the track that has beat him for so long.

Bonsignore held off Doug Coby on a green-white-checkered finish to win the NAPA Fall Final 150, clinching his second consecutive series championship and third in the last four seasons.

“1-for-41!” Bonsignore screamed in victory lane. “I’m so glad we got that. Three-time champion, but I can’t get past winning at Stafford, and to beat Doug [Coby]. He beat me at Riverhead [Raceway] to get his first this year so it was only fitting that we were able to outrun him.”

It was the 31st career Whelen Modified Tour victory for Bonsignore.

“Unbelievable to get another championship, to go back-to-back,” Bonsignore said. “What we’ve accomplished since [crew chief Ryan Stone] came on board. And everything we’ve been able to do this year. We only had one win until tonight. I’m glad we could get a second one. I’m forever indebted to [team owners] Ken and Janine Massa.”

Bonsignore joined Mike Stefanik (seven titles), Coby (six titles) and Tony Hirschman (five titles) as the only drivers to win three or more Whelen Modified Tour championships since the series’ inception in 1985.

“I don’t belong in that crowd,” Bonsignore said. “Those guys are unbelievable. Doug is still accomplishing things. And Michael what he accomplished overall. And Tony doesn’t really get credit for what he accomplshed I feel. He’s very under the radar. It’s pretty special.”

Coby, of Milford, was second.

“I always made fun of Justin for not getting a win [at Stafford],” Coby said. “He stuffs it in my face by winning the championship and the race. I told him earlier in the week I said ‘I don’t care if you’re clear by two on the last lap, if I’m second you’re not winning.’ And he was just way better than me. I couldn’t get there. That team, we have a friendly rivalry. We really want to beat each other as often as we can. And man they are just on their game.”

Bonsignore came into the event leading second place Patrick Emerling by 16 points. Emerling, of Orchard Park, N.Y., finished third. He finished the season with a 22-point advantage over Emerling.

“Congrats to Justin, they’ve been the fastest car all season,” Emerling said. “We were chasing them. Hats off to my crew as well. We had a tight points battle there for a while and we had a lot of fun all season long. I’m just happy we were in contention up until the last race. We can finish the season and hang our heads high. I’m real proud of what we did.”

Ron Silk finished third in the final season standings, 79 points behind Bonsignore. Kyle Bonsignore was fourth, 81 points off the lead and Coby was fifth, 82 points off the top spot.

Anthony Nocella started on the pole and controlled the race at the front for the first half of the event. Bonsignore started second but fell to fifth at the start. Bonsignore clawed his way back with the leaders over the first 70 laps.

By lap 69 Bonsignore was in a heated battle for second place with Doug Coby. Two laps later Bonsignore moved past Coby for second and quickly closed on Nocella out front.

On lap 78 Bonsignore got under Nocella coming off of turn two to take over the lead for the first time in the event.

The first caution of the race flew on lap 130 with Bonsignore leading. Woody Pitkat in second and Coby in third.

All the leaders went to the pits with Bonsignore coming out first with Matt Swanson in second and Coby third.

Coby went to second on the lap 137 restart but it was Bonsignore quickly checking out on the field. Caution flew once again on lap 146 to set up the green-white-checkered. On the restart Coby seemed to get the jump into turn one, but Bonsignore fought back to the front off of turn two and stayed out front to the checkered.

“I didn’t want to see that lap [130] caution at all,” Bonsignore said. “And then with four [laps] to go you don’t want to see another caution. The car was just really good on the long run. I was just trying to do whatever I could to save fuel.”

Said Coby: “The caution comes out there at the end and I just feel like home turf, I should have been able to defend it,” Coby said.

Kyle Bonsignore was fourth and Craig Lutz fifth.


  1. Felt bad for Woody he worked hard for the #2 position and then the pit stop

  2. Congrats to Justin and the whole #51 team for the Stafford win, and NWMT championship. Also Congrats to Emerling and his team for their 2nd place points finish, bringing it down to the last race, a season to be proud of

  3. knuckles mahoney says

    Hollow championship. Field fillers, and only a very few have a shot at winning. Winning the SK championship at Stafford, now that is an accomplishment.

  4. Congratulations to Justin Bonsignore and his team on their championship and first Whelen tour win at Stafford. Where they really close to running out of gas? He didnt take any gas on his pitstop and the crew chief said they needed 20 laps of caution. I dont think they got that, in fact they ended up doing a couple extra laps because of the late caution. What did everyone think of the race?

  5. Congratulations to FURY CHASSIS!!!!!

    FURY, baby!!!!!

  6. Congratulations to the 51 team. They earned it. Doug and Woody put on a show all night. Woody has had speed since BR. They are so close. Just a matter of putting it all together. I heard he was livid post race.

    Huge crowd on hand once again. Campers as far as the eye could see. Not sure what else fans can do to let Stafford know they love tour races.

  7. Congrats to 51 team,, great race,, great season..

  8. When the lap 130 caution flew WOODY said alright guys 1 GOOOOD pit stop just give me 1 gooooooooood stop and NOT

  9. Were you at Stafford TJ? Huge crowd? Where was that? It was a mediocre crowd. Lots of empty places in the grandstand. Guessing Stafford management will be looking at the attendance for yesterday when they decide on scheduling Tour events for next year. That night have been the last Tour race ever at Stafford.

  10. Exactly what happened to Woody Pitkat?

  11. TJ what race track did you attend yesterday? If you looked at those stands from the infield there was not a big crowd. Everyone wanted to complain that it was $40 after paying $20 the night before and were not going.

  12. WAS not worth 40$ for LLM SKL AND VINTAGE with tour, crowd was average at best but always gets bigger as people come out of pits for tour race, plus add it was SATURDAY afternoon

  13. Open wheel fan says

    Was not a huge house by any means and there was plenty of open seating in reserved seats. I don’t think it was a great race and thought the yellow flag was manufactured to make it exciting for the last couple of laps. Glad 51 won and got the bad luck at Stafford off his shoulder and took the championship trophy home. Personally I think the SK divisions put a much better show on and I am huge modified fan and rarely miss modified tour show. I am thinking of taking the almost two hour ride for October 1st show.
    Nothing can ever compete with Thompson modified tour shows ever. Stafford puts on class act race program. Would be very sad if Stafford ever pulled the modified tour shows and went with open shows only for 2022 for modified division.

  14. 🌈🦄2020 says

    $40 for that show? No thanks. I’ll happily pay $75 for the Thompson 3 day show though.

  15. As far as visuals go this was second only to the SRX race in my view. The weather was perfect, a parking lot full of campers, good crowd in the stands and the track looked pristine. The race call first rate with Rickey’s straight, competent call the perfect antidote for the inevitable stream of repetitive Dodgisms.
    I can’t imagine a more perfect ending to what has been a really good NWMT race season. The 51 as most predicted won the championship but Emerling’s emergence and refusal to fade as the races clicked off had to be the pleasant surprise of the season. Great venue’s, some really outstanding races and crowds along the way and drama as drivers and teams switched around or dropped off and local guys made waves especially at Riverhead.
    The race not a barn burner but had it’s moments. The 51 did not play it safe going for it all day and even flirting with disaster if their gas calculations were off. Emerling, not unlike the Sizzler over comes a mediocre car to end up on the podium. The other Bonsignor having a great run, Lutz terrific in the Sapienza backup car, Ole Blue in contention then not and the much anticipated Stafford regulars as a group mostly whiff in the final results.
    Sidebar: how great would it be to see NASCAR equalize their rules and especially on engines and have this event include Rocco, Owen, Rufrano and others with a real chance to make life miserable for the NWMT elite.
    In victory lane Bonsignor, Coby and Emerling each saying the perfect thing given their relative finishes in the race and season. Did you notice Coby said he would be back. If he is in the 85 as one very credible forum participant predicted look out 51.
    Here we go again with the crowd assessment with the results tending to land where one finds it most accommodative to the chip they have on their shoulder. The stands were not packed and there were plenty of seats available. However by todays standards that was a great crowd. To that number, whatever it was, add in the streaming audience and all in all it was a banner day for eye balls.
    To the NASCAR “GRAVEDIGGERS” I’m begging you to put a pin in this one. Go ahead and sight all the problems the NWMT has but just keep in mind that they are still the number one big time draw in modified racing.

  16. Dadope I thought it was Troyer 1,2,3 you really are an idiot

  17. Glad to go to Stafford on a Saturday, much easier for me to get there. Surprised there were not more people there. After spending $50 at Thompson in previous years with less than 20 SK’s and SKL’s combined, $40 for the WMT and SKL’s wasn’t bad. Maybe give the SKL’s a longer race. I liked the vintage cars myself, they actually race at Stafford instead of fast pace laps with a predetermined finish. I was rooting for Emerling to break the Coby/Bonsignore stranglehold on #1, maybe next year. SKL finish was wild!

  18. Doug the last couple of sentences ah well the Nascar Gravediggers are going to be over joyed Spring Sizzler goes to the MRS Tour May not be at Stafford at all.

  19. So a question. Fuller had to pay Stone 25,000.00 to take the Massa deal according to Stone himself and Fuller. So how confident was Massa that he needed Stone? According to insider sources he wanted Bono Manion. Hmmmmm. According to the same sources Stone was NOT moving home to CT without Fullers word that he would back the successes of the struggling 51 team. These are facts. Not BS out if Massa. Can we please recognize facts in this sport for a change? Asking for a friend. His name is Rob.

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