Tight Whelen Mod Tour Driver’s Championship Battle Heads To Season Finale At Martinsville 

Jon McKennedy (top left), Ron Silk (top right), Justin Bonsignore (bottom left) and Eric Goodale (bottom right) (Photos: Jim DuPont & Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – The battle for the 2023 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship will come down to the final event on the big stage at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 28. 

Sunday’s Phoenix Communications 150 at Thompson Speedway shook up the standings some, with three-time series champion Justin Bonsignore taking the biggest hit. 

Coming into Sunday’s event McKennedy was at the top of the standings holding a three-point lead over Bonsignore and Ron Silk, who were tied for second. Eric Goodale came into Sunday’s race 22 points off the lead in second. 

Goodale won Sunday’s event in dominating fashion, putting himself in a long shot position for the title at Martinsville. Goodale will go to the finale 13 points behind McKennedy. 

McKennedy, who started 17th in the 24-car field Sunday at Thompson, had the best finish of the championship contenders. He finished sixth, the last car on the lead lap. Silk was ninth, one lap down. Bonsignore was 14th, two laps down. 

McKennedy will go to Martinsville with a six-point advantage over Silk and 11 points up on Bonsignore. 

“[Saturday] was a struggle for sure,” McKennedy said of practice and qualifying. “We had some issues with the car pushing and the guys worked hard and everyone made some good decisions for today. Overall we had a pretty good car. We started 19th and drove our way up … and finished sixth. Just got a little too loose there. Probably with about 30 [laps] to go I was just hanging on trying not to spin out. It was a handful. But everyone was in the same boat. Overall it was a good day. Good points day. We gained a few more points, but anything can still happen. Still kind of a slim point lead. We’ve just got to go Martinsville and stay out of trouble and when the race is over we’ll see how it all falls.” 

McKennedy, who is driving for first year team owner Tim Lepine, is looking for his first series title. Silk won the Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship in 2011. He’s competing this year for Haydt-Yannone Racing, which is in its first season running full-time with the series. Silk is the only driver among the top-four in the standings without a victory this season. 

“We’re just going to go do the best we can and try to win the race,” Silk said. “If we can do that we’ll probably have a good chance of winning. … It’s going to be tough. We’re just going to worry about our stuff and try to run better than we did today.” 

Bonsignore was the hottest driver on the series heading into the Phoenix Communications 150, having won the last two series events before Sunday, but struggled mightily at Thompson. 

“A bad day,” Bonsignore said. “… Shrug it off and try to win the grandfather clock [the Martinsville winner’s trophy] and whatever happens happens at this point. We weren’t supposed be in it so no stress, no pressure. It would have been nice to have had a good day today, but I don’t think we lost too much. But it’s going to be an uphill battle. They’ll have to have some bad luck. But who knows. We had a bad day today, maybe they’ll have a bad day [at Martinsville].” 

Tommy Baldwin Racing, with drivers Doug Coby, Mike Christopher Jr. and Jimmy Blewett, clinched the 2022 Whelen Modified Tour Owner’s Championship Sunday with Christopher’s second place finish at Thompson.


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    Keep it Going Jon & Dale,,, Dale is a very Sharp Crew Chief… Met him at Thompson many years ago… He helped me a TON with the Thompson set ups… We were able to grab 6 Wins after Dale drove up to Southern Mass. to help me get the car right and I will always be grateful to one of the GOOD guys you meet along the exhaust circuit …Jon you have Championships in many Divisions.. Modifieds.. Super Modifieds… And now you have a great shot at the Nascar Modified Drivers Championship for 2022… ! I have seen your driving Talent for many many years ,,. starting in NH bullrings where you drove CLEAN and passed cars the RIGHT WAY… without banging your way to the FRONT… The Mod Tour Fans are still learning how talented you are behind the wheel.. Your very Humble attitude is key to your Fan Base…A Nascar Title will only put a Stamp on what many of US already know…. You are one of the Best Drivers Currently Racing in 2022. Good Luck Jon & Dale as you go after the Championship for the first year Team of the Lepines…
    you were my pick in the pre-season to WIN IT ALL !!! go get em at the paperclip .. I am hoping to be there as I travel SOUTH to beat the COLD…
    Goodale won the last time I was there so He will have a Strong notebook along with Preece… Newman was also very quick until gremlins took him out. Weird layout.. Long Straights.. tight tight turns….. Picture Stafford with hardly any infield … and when front and back straightaways squeezed together the track elongates the straightaways… the TV doesn’t really capture how long it is and how tight the turns are.. Paperclip is the PERFECT description of the Layout…

  2. Hey Shawn do you know why Goodale only received 43 points for winning Thompson? I thought a win was a minimum of 47 (46+1 bonus) or if he led the most laps 48 points. I looked at other winners throughout the season and they got 47 or 48 points.

  3. Robert,
    I just noticed that. Trying to find out.

  4. Looks like the standings are updated to show Goodale 13 back. But still only show 43 points for the victory. Very odd, hopefully someone is double checking these points or this could be a very messy championship conclusion.

  5. Stuart A Fearn says

    Penalty for running an MRS or Tri-track race accounts for the 4 point deduction in the championship points from NASCAR.

    Kidding! we know they wouldn’t even think of that

  6. Tell you what, right there that’s forum commentary at it’s best by gum. Thanks Robert!
    13 points, that’s doable isn’t it? Not probable but possible.
    Two weeks to examine, ponder, stew and grouse about every little thing that can make their cars go faster or avoid a critical part failure. Then it’s in the drivers hands in a ridiculously unpredictable sport where you can get everything perfect and some other circumstance ends your day. Tough way to spend your leisure time.

  7. There’s gonna be a whole bunch of hoping for bad luck. All those cars can and are expected to finish top 10 or better each race. The standings as they are aren’t going to change much unless there’s some bad luck.

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