Ole Time, First Timer: Jake Johnson Wins Whelen Mod Tour Granite State Derby At Monadnock 

Jake Johnson celebrates victory in the Whelen Modified Tour Granite State Derby Saturday at Monadnock Speedway (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

It’s the most iconic and historic car on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. 

And Saturday it was the long familiar Ole Blue No. 3 back in victory lane, celebrating with a new winner for the series. 

Jake Johnson held off the challenges of Ron Silk and Austin Beers over the closing stages to win the 150-lap Granite State Derby Saturday at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.

It was the first career Whelen Modified Tour victory for the 21-year Rehoboth, Mass. driver. Johnson drove part-time for the Boehler Racing Enterprises team on the Whelen Modified Tour the last two seasons before  taking over their ride full-time for the 2024 season. Johnson, who ran six series events in 2022 and 13 last season, was making his 23rd career Whelen Modified Tour start Saturday at Monadnock. 

“I’ve got to thank a lot of people and, and all the fans for coming out tonight,” Johnson said. “But there’s so many people behind the scenes when it comes to the 3 car that makes this happen week in and week out. It’s just an honor to be here in victory lane for them and get that long awaited win.” 

It was the first Whelen Modified Tour victory for the Boehler Racing Enterprises team since Rowan Pennink won in the car at the Icebreaker 150 on April 9, 2017 at Thompson Speedway. 

It was the first Whelen Modified Tour event at Monadnock since the repaving of the track in the offseason. The Whelen Modified Tour will make stops again this season at Monadnock on July 20 and Sept. 21. 

“The competition was tough today,” Johnson said. “This track is just beautiful. I can’t thank [track owner] Norm Wrenn and [track operator] Josh Vanada have done to class this place up. It’s a beautiful facility and I’m excited for the next two races.” 

Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa. started 17th in the 24-car field and finished second. 

“We were actually blowing up at the end,” Beers said. “It started clicking with three [laps] to go and I was losing power and was just hoping it was holding off. … It was really fun with this repave. I didn’t really think we were going to have passing, but ti think we proved there can be passing here.” 

Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y. was third. It marked the second consecutive third place finish for the first-year RGM AZ team. 

“It was a solid run for us,” Emerling said. “A pair of thirds the last two races on the Tour here. We’re building something here. I think we might have been the car to beat right at the end. Just right at the beginning we got singled out there and got freight trained a little bit and lost a little track position. I give it up for the whole team here. … We were the fastest car at the end I thought.” 

Craig Lutz of Miller Place, N.Y. was fourth and Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa. fifth.

Reigning series champion Ron Silk, who ran at or near the front for most of the event, got into the wall on a late restart battling Johnson for the lead and fell back to finish 10th. Silk, the reigning series champion, had won two of the first three events of the season and had a second place finish in his other start. 

Silk came into the event holding an eight point lead over second place Justin Bonsignore, who had won the event at Richmond. Johnson came into Monadnock third in the standings, 24 points behind Silk. 

Bonsignore had a sixth place finish at Monadnock and cut Silk’s lead in the standings to six points. Johnson remained third in the standings, now 13 points off the lead. 

Before the race there was the drama of the return of the qualifying redraw. A spin of the wheel set the top-eight drivers in qualifying to redraw for their starting spots. Pole-winner Hirschman drew the seventh starting spot. Anthony Sesely, who qualified second, redraw the top starting spot. 

Sesely held the top spot at the start. Behind him Hirschman had issues early and quickly fell from seventh to 11th. 

By lap 20 Silk, who had qualified ninth, was up to fourth. Bonsignore, who started 12th, was up to eighth. Hirschman was at 10th. 

The first caution of the event flew on lap 22 for the spinning car of Trevor Catalano. 

On the ensuing restart it was Sesely holding the top spot with Johnson moving past Jon McKennedy to take over second and Lutz following him to third. 

The second caution was out on lap 33 for the stopped car of Nathan Wenzel. On the lap 40 restart it was Sesely holding the top spot with Lutz moving to second and Silk to third. 

Just following the lap 40 restart traffic issues dropped Bonsignore from seventh to 11th. On lap 47 Lutz got by Sesely for the lead with Silk moving to second. On lap 53 it was Silk then moving by Lutz to take over the top spot.

On lap 60, McKennedy, who had run near the front most of the race, went to the pits under green. 

Caution flew on lap 86 not long after the car of Kyle Bonsignore showed smoke and went to the pits with a blown motor. The caution flew with Silk leading, Lutz in second and Johnson in third. Hirschman was back up to sixth place. The red flag was displayed on lap 90 for the cleanup of fluid on track. 

On the restart it was Silk once again holding the top spot out front. Behind him Johnson overtook Lutz to take over second. On lap 103 it was Johnson getting by Silk to take over the lead. 

On lap 110 Silk was able to get under Johnson through turns three and four, but Johnson defended the top spot coming on the frontstretch. 

Caution was back out on lap 119 for the spinning car of Kyle Ebersole. The caution flew with Johnson leading Silk and Beers in third. 

On the lap 126 restart it was Silk staying to the outside of Johnson for much of the lap before Johnson cleared him for the lead off of turn four. Caution was back out again on lap 127 when Sesely, running fifth, got spun from a chain reaction issue in turn three. 

On the lap 134 restart Silk got into the wall on the backstretch, sustaining severe damage. Silk fell back to 11th place with Beers moving to second and Lutz to third behind Johnson. 


  1. Awesome. Freakin awesome. Ole blue in victory lane. Been too long.

  2. Hillary 2024 says

    Well I was wrong. I thought having two tour modified events in new england on the same day was a horrible idea. 20 cars at Waterford (19 actually raced) and 24 at Monadnock. The almighty NASCAR only drew 4 more than the MRS. The MRS that besides seeing at the world series, I barely knew existed anymore. I suppose this is the new normal but I can’t be the only one to think 24 is a dismal showing. But then again is this the new normal or just “normal”?

  3. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    @never president 2024,
    If the Tour had 30 cars you’d say only 30.
    If they had 34 you’d say only 34.
    If the Tour had 43 cars you’d say you remember when there was 50.
    I think we get it.
    As always don’t forget to destroy your server.

  4. Jerry Stearns says

    Jerry Stearns says

  5. Jerry Stearns says

    I”m not sure but I think Ron Silk had a little help getting into the back stretch wall.

  6. I’m not sure but I think Ron Silk had some help getting into the wall on the backstretch.

  7. Well, well, well … where do I begin.

    I’m shocked. The standings are up to date already, the morning after the race. SHOCKING!!!!! And I mean ALL up to date. Usually, the standings page gets updated column by column, over a week or more.

    Bravo!!!!! Great job.

    Amazing what a repave will do. I did not need Dramamine to watch this race. It used to be wince-inducing to watch the cars launch or hear them lose traction and rev, but not this time. That repave is freaking awesome, and this race was outstanding. It will only get better as Crew Chiefs (Looking at you Phil Moran) dial in. I can’t wait for the next Monadnock race.

    Speaking of repaves, Thompson, it’s time. You need to re-establish yourself as the center of Modified racing. A repave is long overdue. Get it done.

    Ole Blue, great to see you back in victory lane. ❸ Homemade chassis. Gotta love it.

    So Matt H. was running a LFR instead of a Troyer. Hmmm…

    The repave effectively created a new track and teams have to start a new notebook. The next couple races will be interesting to see who gets it dial in earliest.

  8. Missing something says

    Am I the only one thinking that the 1 car with Emerling is going to take some wins this season? Take Richmond out where he was leading and wrecked after a BS penalty by nascar he would be right in the points battle. Not bad for a first year team. Is this the old 79 team? Car has been fast every race.

  9. Suitcase Jake says

    OLD BLUE WINS !!!! OLD BLUE WINS!!! Just like many of us saw coming with Jake Johnson at the wheel ….!!! He is very talented and now he has that all important FIRST WIN ..!!! I am sure many of us older fans had a little tear in the corner of our eyes when ” Old Blue homemade & Built Chassis beat all the cookie cutter Big Chassis Cars out there… Chalk one up to the old guys … Lenny must be smiling up there looking down over his operation that’s been around for 5 decades or so…. The BEST NEWS IS – it’s a 5 HORSE RACE NOW WITH THE 3 16 51 1 64 for the 2024 Championship… Should be an exciting year for the Modified Tour !!! ..Congratulations to Andy & Jake Johnson & Family !!!! dreams do come true !!!! WOW what a huge win for everyone involved…!!!

  10. Main man says

    Facts. The crew chiefs on the 3-64-1 car need a tip of the hat. These guys did the best job setting up cars where everyone was on an even base with no notes. The 16 and 51 both tested as well so to beat those teams when they had a huge advantage over all others is big.

  11. Crazy in NY says

    { It will only get better as Crew Chiefs (Looking at you Phil Moran) dial in.}

    Phil not dialed is why Ronnie hit the wall by himself? He and JJ were going to be battling for that win in my view. The 51 and 60 need some dialing I think.

    [So Matt H. was running a LFR instead of a Troyer. Hmmm…]

    Welcome to three years ago ( which is when Matt first drove the Baker 60 {former 12} ). Matt “running” is more like driving for a guy with an LFR chassis.
    New pavement surprised more than a few people and props to JDV on a great race production. Love the Dog’

  12. I doubt Thompson ownership is going to pay for a repavimg especially when they lease the oval

  13. 🥤🥤🥤 Liz Cherokee 🥤🥤🥤 says

    Another top 20 for Melissa! It looks like it might be a season long battle between her and Tim Connolly for the top 15 in points. I’m hoping to get to Seekonk in a few weeks and catch the ferry to the Vineyard the next morning. Go Girl Go!!!

  14. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    @Liz, Ben Dodge sounded like he was getting aggravated calling the race on FLO Racing as he kept having to say “and they lap the 01 AGAIN!!!
    Every 3-4 laps getting in the way of side by side cars racing on new asphalt. IMO nothing worse than watching a battle end when one car has to fall in line because they are hitting slower cars. In this case the car is almost stopped. Like the paying$ fan is not already up against it.
    01 needs to be in a Mini stock etc.
    Liz have you ever seen her pass a car or even try to? Your top 20 talk is embarrassing.

  15. 🥤🥤🥤 Liz Cherokee 🥤🥤🥤 says

    To say that Melissa was lapped every 3 or 4 laps is just a misguided misogynistic misrepresentation of the truth. If that were true, she would have been 42 laps down (INT(150/3.5)=42). The fact is that she was only 9 laps down.
    Melissa is a true asset to the tour. She’s hauled a car and competed at nearly every WMT event for over a decade. I suggest you celebrate her 150th career start which just might be at Riverhead next week! Go Girl Go!!!

  16. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    LOL Liz you don’t even know the rules of the sport.
    With the Lucky Dog, If you even know what it is, a driver keeps getting their lap back until they are not the 1st car a lap down. EMBARRASSING.
    You guys also destroyed the Most popular Driver award as well. Congrats on that. She needs to be off the track for the safety of the other drivers.
    Seek help asap.

  17. 🥤🥤🥤 Liz Cherokee 🥤🥤🥤 says

    Perhaps you need to seek some reading lessons defendant. If you watched the race carefully or bothered to read the race report you would have seen that Melissa was only awarded one lap back. This would make your testimony that she was lapped every 3-4 laps a complete fabrication.
    Thank you for reminding me that Melissa still is the three time defending champion of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Most Popular Driver Award. I wouldn’t call it destroying it, I’d call it quite an accomplishment! 💋

  18. and the Tour goes on and on .... says

    Liz will the 01 even attempt a pass in 2024 or make any effort to stay up to speed with the back of the field.???
    Passing a car when it’s on the hook is not racing pass. “Another top 20”??
    Not even close. In the stands you hear all around you “what is she even doing out there?”
    It’s a Great question.

  19. Glad to see “ole blue” back in victory lane.
    What’s with the Melissa bashing again? The woman shows up, and probably has a blast. Allot of people bitch about various drivers, and guaranteed they say they could do a better job. Let me say, it’s not as easy as it looks to drive a race car successfully. Seen it time after time even in the late models at Stafford, where some rich guy goes out buys the best of everything, and wads it up week after week. Modifieds are a handful even when you’ve been racing for years. Granted, there are those who have “natural” talent, but they are few. Leave Melissa alone, she’s out there trying, and apparently is happy, otherwise why would she do it?

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