Coming To Blows: Justin Bonsignore Tops Whelen Mod Tour Eddie Partridge 256 At Riverhead 

Justin Bonsignore celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Eddie Partridge 256 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

RaceDayCT Poll: What Did You Think Of The Aggressive Driving Between Justin Bonsignore And Ron Silk 

Ron Silk and Justin Bonsignore have occupied the top two spots in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour standings for most of the 2023 season and a lot of weeks on the track have also occupied the top two spots in the field.

It’s led to some feisty battles between the two former series champions, but none like the heavyweight bout that played out Saturday night on the Riverhead Raceway bullring. 

Bonsignore came out on top of a late race banging, bruising, full-contact showdown to win the Whelen Modified Tour Eddie Partridge 256 Saturday at Riverhead Raceway. 

Bonsignore harkened back to a July 8 series event at Wall Stadium when it was Silk celebrating in victory lane after the two traded haymakers on the track over the closing laps. 

“It’s been coming to that,” Bonsignore said. “It was a heavyweight fight for sure. It was going to be whoever did it last and I wasn’t going to be done like I was done at Wall Stadium. My guys didn’t like how I lost that race and gave it away.”

It was the second consecutive series victory for Bonsignore, his fifth of the season and his 40th overall on the Whelen Modified Tour. It was also his 11th series victory at Riverhead, matching Mike Ewanitsko for the most series wins at the track. 

“That’s awesome,” Bonsignore said. “That was a goal of mine since I was fortunate enough to start winning a few here.” 

Track regular Mark Stewart of Riverhead, making his second series start, was second. Silk, of Norwalk, ended up third. Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa. was fourth, the final car on the lead lap in the 18-car field. 

Setting up for a lap 206 restart then race leader Bonsignore chose the inside lane. On the restart Bonsignore pushed Silk up the track through turns one and two. It marked the second time in the event Bonsignore rode Silk into the marbles on a restart. Silk fell in behind Bonsignore and then on lap 211 Silk made a diving move under Bonsignore to take over the top spot. Bonsignore remained stalking Silk lap after lap. 

With six laps left Bonsignore gave Silk a tap to the rear that sent him up the track in turn two, but Silk was able to stay out front. Silk absorbed another shot from Bonsignore at the same spot on the next lap. With four laps remaining a hit from Bonsignore once again got Silk sideways in turn two, but Silk was able to power off the corner and hang on to the lead. 

Coming to the line to compete lap 254 Bonisgnore got a run off turn four on the low lane and led the lap at the line. Going into turn one on lap 255 Silk gave Bonsignore a shot from behind to send him up the track through turn two and Silk came off the corner back in the lead. Contact from Bonsignore got Silk sideways in turns three and four and allowed Bonsignore get back to the lead coming to the white flag. 

Bonsignore took a low line run on the apron through turns one and two on the final lap, with Silk making contact with him through turn two. The hard contact slowed Silk, allowing Bonsignore to drive away as Stewart moved around Silk to take over second down the backstretch. Contact from fourth place Beers through turns three and four got Silk sideways coming off turn four but he was able to wrangle the car back in to edge Beers for third. 

“Timed it perfect tonight,” Bonsignore said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to be aggressive in this deal. I was going to get wrecked if I let him get back behind on the front straightway. I hope the fans enjoyed it.” 

Silk came into the event holding a one-point lead over Bonsignore at the top of the series standings with Beers 32 points off the lead in third. 

Unofficially, Bonsignore left Riverhead with a three-point lead over Silk with three events remaining. Beers remained third in the standings, 38 points off the lead. 

The 18-car field at Riverhead was the smallest ever for a series event at the historic Long Island bullring. Saturday was the 73rd Whelen Modified Tour event at Riverhead since 1985. The previous smallest field for a series event at Riverhead was 23, which happened twice (June 24, 2023 and Sept. 15, 2012). Saturday’s event marked the first time in Whelen Modified Tour history (721 races since 1985) that the series has run four consecutive events with a starting field of less than 20 cars. There was an all-time series low 15 cars at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. on Aug. 26, 18 cars at Oswego (N.Y.) Speedway on Sept. 2 and 19 cars at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. last week. There have been 15 times in series history that the series has run an event with 20 cars or less in the starting field. Six of those 15 instances have taken place over the last 10 series events. 

Bonsignore joined the late Mike Stefanik (74 wins), Reggie Ruggiero (44 wins) and the late Ted Christopher (42 wins) as the only drivers to eclipse the 40-win mark with the Whelen Modified Tour.

Stewart was 13th when he made his series debut at Riverhead on June 24. 

“I’m speechless right now,” Stewart said. “I don’t know what to say. We had a good car, it was just being patient.” 

Bonsignore, who won the pole in qualifying, held the top spot at the start kicking off a long green flag. Silk looked to overtake Bonsignore for the lead on lap 14. Bonsignore defended the move and Silk settled in behind Bonsignore. 

The first caution of the event flew on lap 83 for the spinning car of Ken Heagy on the backstretch with Bonsignore leading Silk, Kyle Bonsignore running third, Beers fourth and Eric Goodale fifth. 

The race went back to green on lap 93 but caution was immediately out for a wreck near the back of the field. 

On the next restart, at lap 104, it was Silk getting the jump on Justin Bonsignore to take over the lead for the first time in the event. 

By lap 153 Silk was lapping seventh place Kyle Bonsignore to leave just six cars on the lead lap. Five laps later Silk put then sixth place running Stewart down a lap. Justin Bonsignore remained in second with Beers in third, John Beatty Jr. in fourth and Jake Johnson in fifth. 

By lap 170 Silk checked out some from the pack leaving Justin Bonsignore to fend off Beers in a battle for second place. 

The third caution of the event flew on lap 186 when Goodale spun. At the time of the caution Silk led Justin Bonsignore with Beers in third, Beatty in fourth and Johnson in fifth. 

The caution sent all the leaders to pit road. Silk won the race off of pit road. Justin Bonsignore stalled his car coming off pit road, but was able to remain in second thanks to Beers getting caught behind Beatty coming out of his pit stall. 

On the lap 197 restart it was Bonsignore pushing Silk up the track and taking over the lead. 

Two laps later, in a battle for fourth, Johnson and Beatty made contact setting off a big frontstretch wreck that also collected Goodale and sent Kyle Bonsignore hard into the inside wall. The wreck led to an extended red flag delay for cleanup. 

Series veteran Melissa Fifield was 12th, which marked a career best series finish for her. Her previous best finish was 15th (three times). She moved from 11th to 9th in the series standings.

RaceDayCT Poll: What Did You Think Of The Aggressive Driving Between Justin Bonsignore And Ron Silk 


  1. Suitcase Jake says

    Justin stepped over a LINE with Ronnie, Cool Hand Silk will definitely get His payback …51 was just abusing the 16 s bumper ,, I mean it was brutal beyond a bump, Just coming in the turn without lifting and killing the back of Silks ride… He thinks that’s payback, He has no idea what’s coming His way down the road… Ron Silk is not the Man you wanna wreck out of the lead…..
    Wait for it…..Trust and Believe……that was a Hatchet Job …..Hit the 16 at least 8 times sending him sideways and up the Track …..Not Impressed with the Hatchet Job by the 51… You know this is not the end of this one….

  2. Not taking either side BUT the 16 was Just as Guilty with Shots to the back of the 51, this was the most and hardest 3 tap rules ever BY BOTH, Like JBON said he was lucky he had the LAST SHOT!

  3. I suppose it’s to be expected. All the shots at NASCAR leading up to this race. How bad the Tour has gotten from car counts to strength of the field in general. But admit it, that was a great heavyweight battle. From Silks left rear glowing to what developed over the last 60 laps or so that was the best race of the tour modified season from a suspense standpoint.
    Had to replay it. It started on the lap 196 restart. Silk leading, Bonsignor drove Silk into the marbles in 1 and 2. Shame on Silk for giving the 51 the inside with his record of doing that at Riverhead. Silk could have done that racing the inside early in the race but never did.
    My score card has Silk with the aggressive bottom shot that was fair game and one retribution shot with 2 to go to take the lead.
    Including laps the 51 drove the 16 up the track in every corner and continuously trying to turn Silk especially in 3&4 it wasn’t even close as far as rough riding was concerned.
    Bonsignor drove a dirty race. He started it on lap 197, then again on 207 going so wide it was ridiculous. A lot of tickling Silks rear bumper which was fine but at the end repeatedly turning him until he got the desired effect inexcusable. What was particularly odious was Bonsignor referring to Wall to justify it all.
    I hope there is pay back but don’t see a whole lot of opportunity to do it. All the remaining races are on bigger tracks and bumper cars considerably more risky. That said if the Bonsignor ends up in the wall at some point he certainly has done enough to deserve it.

  4. Very good comments Jake and Doug.

    I always considered Justin Bonsignore a borderline dirty driver, but those restarts took the cake. Come on, 59 laps to go and you need to pull that(?) I hope he is proud of that win. Pretty sad, this season’s championship is going to come down to who wrecks who.

    I don’t buy the payback from Wall Stadium either, of his 11 tour wins at Riverhead, probably 7 or 8 had a late restart where he ran someone up or pulled some other dirty move to win.

  5. Both took the gloves off… one is not worse than the other. They both started it. They both took the gloves off.

    Everyone should have seen this coming. It’s only going to get more exciting.

    Hey Shawn, are the NWMT standings current?

  6. NASCAR should revisit their rule for front bumpers on the modifieds.

    I believe the rules state something like the front bumper must be installed at spindle height, and may not extend beyond 31” from the upper ball joint. They should either modify the rule to significantly reduce the measurement or don’t allow it to extend beyond the outer most front tire tread. I wonder when was the last time NASCAR checked the front bumpers for compliance with the rules?

    When the drivers start using the bumper for what it was not intended for they also will face the possibility of damaging suspension parts and tires that could potentially take them out of a race.

    If NASCAR decided not to change the rules then it’s time for a come to Jesus meeting with the drivers and tell them to clean up their act or penalty’s will be levied. It’s all fun and games until someone gets injured or worse.

    Don’t know what happened to respect and the days of if you were faster then make a clean pass. If not then enjoy the view.


  7. Darealgoodfella,
    Updated points through the top-20 have been added to the bottom of this story.

  8. Cadillac Bill says

    The 51 and 16 cars pounded on each other, and did not spin out. Especially the 51 car. When cars on the ROC tour, or tri track, or BGS, hit the bumpers this hard, the cars seem spin out. Why didn’t those cars spin out?

  9. Doug, IDK how well Flo showed it. But the rough battle between silk and Justin started way before lap 196.

    During that first run when it became clear it was a top dominate track again, silk did start getting rough with Justin. Driving through someone was the only way to pass last night with the way the track was sprayed.

    Not taking a side. Just saying, it was going on almost all night between them to an extent. And if there were two equal lanes, it probably doesn’t get as rough as it did.

    side note, if you liked the infield pitting there, they are doing it again for their 160 lapper weekly show and again for their islip 300 in November.

  10. Suitcase Jake says

    Cool Hand Silk, skipped the Podium interview.. That should tell you loud and clear that Ronny was not happy with Justin… Mark this down… Ron is going to teach Justin a HARD LESSON.. It won’t be with WORDS ,,,, It will be with ACTION….. I remember quite a few in years past who tried to keep smashing HIS bumper,, They were picking concrete off their firesuit and cars soon after.. Ron is a PRO.. he will race you clean and hard but will not tolerate being smashed outta a Win… if you watch the Re-play the 51 was like a rabid dog after the 16’s rear bumper too many times to Count… Trust & Believe Ron will survive and be Victorious in the upcoming Battles and Win the WAR.

  11. Typical posts if Justin is your guy he’s a hero.

  12. We have the tools now so be specific. I gave you laps and what I perceived was playing rough. I didn’t say it was carved in stone that it was on my scorecard. If you’re going to say it all started before lap 197 fine say what lap and what Silk did. Watch the race over again it doesn’t take that long. Generic recollections or feelings about what happened don’t really mean that much. Especially when we can view the exact same thing and have two different interpretations of it.
    Lap and what you think Silk did and we’ll compare notes.

  13. Well, I remember an interview with Richie Evans and Bodine. Richie told Geoff that he (Richie) had three cars and Geoff had two. Do the arithmetic.

    How many cars does the 16 and 51 teams have?

  14. Just Me - The Original says

    A. Front bumpers must be made of two (2) pieces of 1-1/2 inches minimum to 1-3/4 inches maximum round magnetic steel tubing. The upper and lower front bumper tubing must be six (6) inches apart when measured center to center with a minimum of four (4) vertical connectors. Two (2) vertical connectors must be welded in the center of the radiused corners with the remaining two (2) spaced between the corner uprights. The front bumper must be convex in shape with rounded corners and mounted at the front frame rails at spindle height. The maximum width of the front bumper must not exceed more than two (2) inches per side of the front frame rails. The maximum distance from the center of the front spindle to the front of the front bumper must not be less than 30 inches and not more than 30-1/2 inches.

  15. Why are you crying about the bumpers? If you didn’t like that watch F1! Hard fought racing and loved every second of it! Nobody got right hooked into the fence. Hard full contact racing on a tight 1/4 mile. Got full value for making the trip out from NJ.

  16. Reggie at the Park,Teddy every Friday at Stafford. Bo Gunning and Jerry Pearl the lists are endless folks come on and the tour is getting publicity for folks to see what happens next! This site and the folks that watch are smarter than that!

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