ATTLEBORO, Mass. — For the first time since 2005, it’s race week at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. In the 10th race of the 14-race Whelen Modified Tour championship points schedule, more than 20 of the best Modified talents from across the region will head to Maine to compete in the Rumble at the Ridge 200.
By Souza Media/Kyle Souza
The race is the third and final of the season promoted by JDV Productions — led by Josh Vanada and his team of racing professionals.
Justin Bonsignore leads the tour into Beech Ridge at the top of the title chase by 12 points over Patrick Emerling. Bonsignore, who is looking for his second consecutive championship and third overall, is heading to Maine with no previous laps at the third-mile. In fact, most of the field has only a limited amount of laps, or none, themselves. But, when the Whelen Modified Tour heads to a new track, Bonsignore is usually at the front of the pack. Bonsignore won the tour’s return to Jennerstown Speedway last year in his first laps there, then won the inaugural trip to White Mountain Motorsports Park just a few weeks later. This year, in his first trip to Lancaster Speedway, Bonsignore finished second to Emerling in July.
It will be hard to bet against the driver of the No. 51 Kenneth Massa Motorsports mount, but Emerling would be a good pick, if you decide to do it. The 2021 season has been the best of the Orchard Park, New York, drivers career, as in the first nine races, Emerling has two wins and six top-five finishes. If he wants to keep up with Bonsignore, winning the Rumble at the Ridge 200 would certainly help his path towards the title.
Another name to watch on Saturday will be NASCAR Cup Series regular Ryan Preece. Returning to his Modified roots for his seventh start of the season, Preece looks for his third straight win in races he has run — dating back to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July. The Berlin, Connecticut, native has been impressive with new crew chief and SK Modified standout Stephen Kopcik so far this season.
Look out for Matt Hirschman, who is batting 1,000 this season in Whelen Modified Tour action. Hirschman started his only race of the year at Oswego Speedway in June and dominated the distance, taking down another impressive victory. He may only show up to the tour once in a while, but when he does, he is a threat to win right off the trailer.
How can you count out six-time tour champion Doug Coby? The two-time winner this year enters Beech Ridge with optimism after a top-five finish last time on the track at Stafford Motor Speedway. He might not be in contention for his seventh tour title this year, but the race he missed at Oswego in June ended with him holding the checkered in the inaugural SRX event at Stafford, besting the top contenders in auto racing. His impressive calendar year would be bolstered even more with a Beech Ridge victory.
There are multiple other top contenders who are going to be threats to hold the checkered flag, including Jon McKennedy, Ron Silk, Eric Goodale, Woody Pitkat, Kyle Bonsignore and Matt Swanson. Out of all of them, Swanson might be in the best spot to chase the trophy.
The Acton, Massachusetts, driver, who competes for Boehler Racing in the famed ‘Ole Blue’ No. 3 mount, competed in a Modified Racing Series event at Beech Ridge earlier this year, and may have a leg up on some of his competition. McKennedy, Silk, Goodale, Pitkat and Kyle Bonsignore are all winners on the Whelen Modified Tour in their career, but only Goodale has a victory this season. The Riverhead, New York, veteran won the opener of the season in the tour’s return to the famed Martinsville Speedway in Virginia back in April.
Saturday will have a full day of racing — including Beech Ridge local divisions. The garage will open at 12 p.m. for Whelen Modified Tour teams, with local practice taking place from 12-2:40 p.m. The Whelen Modified Tour will have the track for one hour, from 2:50-3:50 p.m. for practice, followed by local heat races taking the green at 4 p.m.
The Beetle Bugs, Mad Bombers, Pro Series, Sport Series, Wildcats and Mighty Trucks will all be in competition. The Whelen Modified Tour Rumble at the Ridge 200 will go green at 7:30 p.m., live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Qualifying will take place in the race for the Mayhew Tools dominator Pole Award just before the race. The race will also air on NBCSN on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, August 29.
For more information on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, visit nascar.com. For more information on JDVProductions, visit JDVProductions.com. For more information on Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, visit beechridge.com.