Whelen Modified Tour Notebook: McKennedy, Silk, Bonsignore, Goodale Ready For Championship Showdown At Martinsville

(Press Release from NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications)

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

When it comes to four drivers, Thursday’s Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200 at Martinsville Speedway will make or break their 2022 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season.

Jon McKennedy, Ron Silk, Justin Bonsignore and Eric Goodale enter the season finale with a chance to win the championship. Awaiting them are 200 laps around the paperclip-shaped, 0.526-mile oval.

Below, starting with the points leader in McKennedy, we explain how each driver reached this point.

  • Jon McKennedy: 564 points

A consistent season has McKennedy in position to claim his first Modified Tour championship in just his second full season.

McKennedy has one victory this year, which came at New Hampshire’s Claremont Motorsports Park. He has finished outside the top 10 just twice this season. He has seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes, with his top-10 total being the best among drivers on the Tour.

McKennedy enters the finale with a six-point advantage over Silk. Should McKennedy win at Martinsville, he’ll secure his first Tour championship regardless of where his rivals finish.

McKennedy has just one previous start in Tour competition at Martinsville, which came last season. He started eighth and finished 11th.

  • Ron Silk: 558 points

The most experienced driver in the battle for the championship is Silk, who enters the finale six points out of the points lead.

Despite being winless thus far in 2022, Silk has used his incredible consistency to keep himself in the thick of the title hunt. His eight top-five finishes are more than any other driver this year, and he’s finished outside the top-10 in just three events.

Silk’s best finishes this season have come at Claremont and Virginia’s Langley Speedway; he scored runner-up finishes in both of those races. Silk has also led 232 laps this year, the fourth highest total on the Tour.

Silk has six previous starts at Martinsville dating back to 2006. His best finish at the track came in 2009, when he started second and finished fourth. He finished 21st in the Tour’s return to the track last season.

  • Justin Bonsignore: 553 points

An up-and-down season for Bonsignore has left him in the unenviable position of sitting 11 points behind McKennedy entering the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200.

Bonsignore’s season started as poor as it could have with a last-place finish in the season opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway. He rebounded to win the next race at Richmond Raceway, but he followed that with bad finish in the next race, at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.

Bonsignore made up ground in the points through the summer months thanks largely to victories at Monadnock Speedway, Oswego Speedway and Riverhead. He’s led more laps than any of his title rivals this year with 377, and his four victories are the most for a driver on the Tour in 2022. He’ll need more of that summer magic if he hopes to win his fourth championship in five years.

Bonsignore has made just two previous starts at Martinsville, both of which resulted in top-five finishes. He ran second in 2010 and finished third in the Tour’s return to the track last season.

  • Eric Goodale: 551 points

The driver who needs to make up the most points in the title race Thursday night happens to be the most recent Tour winner at Martinsville.

Goodale enters the finale fourth in the standings, 13 points behind McKennedy, but he has plenty in his favor. He enters this event having won the most recent Tour race thanks to amazing drive at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Oct. 8. Last year at Martinsville, Goodale started third and led the final 30 laps on his way to victory, one of his now five Tour wins.

Goodale has four previous Tour starts at Martinsville. Including his victory, making him the only driver of the championship four who has a Martinsville clock, he has three top-10 finishes at the track. He enters the finale with five top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2022.

Bobby Labonte set for Modified Tour debut

For the first time in his lengthy racing career, Bobby Labonte will run with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour on Thursday at Martinsville.

Labonte, the 2000 NASCAR Cup Series champion who made his last Cup Series start in 2016, will compete in the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 200 in a Modified fielded by Phil Stefanelli, the owner of PSR Products.

The 58-year-old Texan enjoyed a successful NASCAR career, capturing the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 1991 before claiming the Cup Series crown in 2000. He scored 32 NASCAR national series victories during that time, including 21 in the Cup Series with Joe Gibbs Racing.

While effectively retired from competition at the Cup Series level, Labonte has been keeping busy racing Modifieds on the side. He scored a Modified victory at South Carolina’s Dillon Motor Speedway last year.

During his NASCAR career, Labonte competed at Martinsville 42 times at the Cup Series level, earning one victory in 2002. He also has a victory at Martinsville in Xfinity Series competition, which came during the 1992 season, and in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, which came in 2005.

Ryan Newman back for another Modified start at Martinsville

For the first time since he competed at Richmond Raceway in April, former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Ryan Newman will race with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour this Thursday.

Newman is no stranger to the Tour; he’s competed in 31 events dating back to 2008. He has four Tour victories to go along with 18 in the NASCAR Cup Series, seven in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and four in the ARCA Menards Series.

The driver from South Bend, Indiana, will again compete for team owners Hermie Sadler and William Stanley at Martinsville after driving for them at Richmond. He started fourth in that event, led two laps and finished 13th.

While Newman hasn’t won a Modified Tour event since his victory at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2011, that doesn’t mean he’s been winless in a Modified.

Earlier this year, Newman won the first race at the revived North Wilkesboro Speedway, capturing a 50-lap Modified event that also featured drivers like Ryan Preece, Matt Hirschman, the aforementioned Labonte and Jimmy Blewett, among others.

While Newman has never won a Tour race at Martinsville, he does have a Cup Series win at the track in 2012 driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.


  • Tommy Baldwin Racing will clinch the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour owner’s championship when the green flag waves Thursday night. The team has won five races with three drivers (Doug Coby, Jimmy Blewett and Mike Christopher Jr.) this season. Blewett will pilot the No. 7 entry for the team at Martinsville.
  • NASCAR Cup Series driver Corey LaJoie will make his second start of the season with the Tour, this time aboard the No. 53 for team owner Mike Curb. Ryan Flores, who works as a tire changer for Team Penske as well as an analyst and podcast host for NASCAR.com, will change tires for LaJoie during the event.
  • Ryan Preece, the 2013 Tour champion, will make his fifth start of the season Thursday at Martinsville. He’ll return to the seat of the Ole Blue No. 3 for the Boehler family, with whom he won his first Tour race at Martinsville in 2008.
  • A total of 36 cars are entered for Thursday’s race, a season-high for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
  • Chuck Hossfeld returns to Tour competition after last racing with the series at New York’s Oswego Speedway, where he finished second. In two starts this year, Hossfeld has finished third at Richmond Raceway and second at Oswego.
  • Only four drivers entered in Thursday’s race have victories in Tour competition at Martinsville. They include Jimmy Blewett, Ryan Preece, Bobby Santos III and championship contender Eric Goodale.

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