Title Time: Jon McKennedy Survives Late Wreck To Secure Whelen Mod Tour Driver’s Championship

Jon McKennedy celebrates winning the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship Thursday at Martinsville Speedway (Photo: Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)

It was a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship battle Thursday at Martinsville Speedway where every contender for the title had problematic issues. 

And in a wild scenario, the driver involved in the most dramatic incident of the contenders ended up being the one celebrating the championship when the dust settled at the legendary half-mile oval. 

Jon McKennedy ended up spun out of the lead and getting run over on a restart with nine laps remaining, but somehow was able to limp his damaged ride to a 12th place finish in the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 200 to secure his first Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship. 

It was the ultimate culmination of a new start for McKennedy and his first year team with car owners Tim and Cheryl Lepine. 

“We won the championship, it’s amazing, this is so satisfying,” said the 35-year old Chelmsford, Mass. driver. “… It’s the whole team, that’s what got me here today. I don’t know what to say. This is unbelievable. I’ve won multiple championships up north. A handful of other Modified championships with other series’ and with ISMA. And to be a NASCAR Modified champion is just awesome. I am so happy.” 

McKennedy came into the final event leading the four drivers hunting down the title. McKennedy held a six-point lead coming into the event over Ron Silk. Justin Bonsignore was third in the standings, 11 points off the lead with Eric Goodale fourth in the standings, 13 points behind McKennedy. 

Silk had issues around lap 127 and fell through the field before spinning on lap 130. Bonsignore was running second to McKennedy when caution flew on lap 146. Under caution Bonsignore went to the pits with major rear end issues to close out his title hopes. 

By the late stages the hunt for the title was left to McKennedy and Goodale. Caution flew on lap 186 with McKennedy leading, Jimmy Blewett in second. Kyle Bonsignore third, Max McLaughlin fourth, eventual race winner Corey Lajoie in fifth and Goodale in sixth. Under caution McLaughlin ran out of fuel. 

On the lap 192 restart trouble began off of turn two and continued down the backstretch among the top four cars. As the cars headed toward turn three contact among the leader resulted in McKennedy spinning and taking Blewett with him and then Kyle Bonsignore driving over the top of McKennedy’s left front. 

McKennedy restarted the race in 13th and was able to complete the final two laps after the race went back to green despite the damage to his car. Goodale, who was running fourth for the final restart, got knocked around at the green and ended up seventh. Silk rallied to finish 11th. Justin Bonsignore was 29th. 

McKennedy finished the night with a six point advantage over Silk in the final standings for the driver’s championship. Goodale ended up nine points behind McKennedy in third in the standings. Justin Bonsignore end the season in fourth, 29 points behind McKennedy. 

“I’m not going to lie, getting wrecked there with a few to go was a huge, that was a bummer,” McKennedy said. “We had a really good car. The guys gave me an awesome car. I thought we were in a great position. The middle of the back straightaway I felt a big bump and the next think you know I was totally sideways out of control. Not to sure the what the car behind me was thinking. But at the end of the day we are champions.” 

Over 16 events in 2022 McKennedy had seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10 runs. His lone win came at Claremont Motorsports Park on July 29. McKennedy also has three Modified Racing Series titles (2009, 2010, 2012) and one Monaco Modified Tri-Track Series championship (2014). 

Tommy Baldwin Racing, with drivers Jimmy Blewett, Doug Coby and Mike Christopher Jr., had clinched the Whelen Modified Tour owner’s championship after the most previous series event at Thompson Speedway on Oct. 9. 

Austin Beers was eighth Thursday and with one top-five and seven top-10’s clinched the 2022 Rookie of the Year Award. Beers ended up fifth in the driver standings.

Jon McKennedy celebrates the 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver’s championship with his first-year team Thursday at Martinsville Speedway (Photo: Adam Fenwick/NASCAR)


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    Congratulations, Jon & Dale & the Lepines … I am very Happy for one of the most talented drivers i have seen.. His humble and very like-able personality will be great as the Tours new Ambassador….Title comes home to Mass…..First year team and will only get stronger as they build their notebook…Great Job ! 53 was a rocket ship but almost cost Jon the Title…
    a little discretion when racing around the points leaders would have been the smarter move..glad it worked out ….thats twice the pan hard bar busted on the 51 … ??? a weak link on the design ..???

  2. knuckles mahoney says

    The best CV of all the racers right there. Multi time MRS champ. Super modified champ. Tri track champ. And now WMT champ. Name one driver who has those accomplishments. I would take that history over 6WMT championships any day. 1st year team spells trouble for the rest.

  3. Thank goodness for McKennedy. After all he went through with TBR to now win the Driver’s Championship with the Lepines, and with TBR winning the Owner Championship. Can’t make this stuff up.

    I have been rooting for McKennedy for years to win NWMT Championship. This feels good.


  4. Congrats to McKennedy and team.. Nice to see a new name added to the list of Champs.. didn’t think he had it in him,, glad to be proven wrong..

  5. Fast Eddie says

    Strongly agree with the first 3 posts! Been watching and been a McKennedy fan forever, great to see him add the WMT title to his list!!

  6. Have to echo Fast Eddie. May I add that Jons accomplishments put him up there with Teddy and Mike. Great job, now it’s time for 2 in 23.

  7. Rafter fan says

    Is McKennedy more talented than Les Hinckley?

  8. Congratulations to Jon ! Been watching him since the Star speedway days. Great kid, from a great family. Just another reason, for his Dad to be proud.

    As much as I like Les Hinckley, there is NO comparison.

  9. Well, the big news is that the 01 was able to finish in 15th place in points, ONE POINT ahead of Ken Heagy. One point.

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