The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to Riverhead Raceway for the third time this season, but with a much heavier heart than when the series was there in May and June.
Ed Partridge, owner of the Riverhead track and owner of the circuit’s most recent winning car, died on Friday, September 10, just hours after Ryan Preece drove Patridge’s No.6 car to victory lane at the Richmond Raceway. Partridge owned Riverhead with his wife, Connie, and while his passion for motorsport was highlighted over the days, so was his kindness.
Preece, who has won each of his last three races for Partridge this season, but will not be able to compete at Riverhead this weekend as he will be busy driving the No.37 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series in Bristol Motor Speedway.
RELATED: Car Owner Ed Partridge Passes Away
With two races on the books already this year at Riverhead and just one winner, we know a bit more what to expect ahead of Saturday night’s Miller Lite 200 at the arenas in New York. With a former six-time champion knocking on the door to sweep the season and a points battle before the home stretch, fans will be intrigued to see what happens on 200 laps in the quarter-mile.
The Miller Lite 200 is scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET and can be seen live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
RACE INFO: Race Center: Riverhead | Entry List
WHAT TO MONITOR
MILLER LITE 200
Six-time circuit champion Doug Coby has won the first two races of the year at Riverhead and is hoping to make a clean sweep on Saturday night. After failing to win in Riverhead’s previous 19 attempts, the Milford, Connecticut native finally scored the checkered flag in May, leading 25 laps, and followed it with dominance in June. Coby was in the lead for 149 of the 200 laps in the June race and proved his Mayhew Tools team got the tricky track setup. He will travel to Riverhead just after his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in Bristol on Thursday, which will drive the # 24 truck for GMS Racing.
Meanwhile, the battle for the Whelen Modified Tour championship takes center stage as Justin Bonsignore contemplates his third Tour championship in four years. The Holtsville, New York native had the opportunity to truly widen his lead over Patrick Emerling in Richmond, after Emerling snapped a driveshaft on lap 47. Instead, a mechanical gremlin knocked out Bonsignore of the race only 13 laps later and he only finished one. ahead of his rival in the championship.
Riverhead marks the penultimate race of the 2021 season, with just one race on September 25 at Stafford Motor Speedway to decide the title. Bonsignore comes in with a 22-point cushion over second-placed Emerling and has a clear advantage this weekend at Long Island.
Bonsignore is an eight-time winner at Riverhead – he recently won four consecutive races from July 2018 to September 2019, and he finished third of two races this season. Emerling, meanwhile, is winless in 11 starts on the ¼-mile oval, but was second in each of the races there earlier this season.
And while the Driver’s Title is where all the goals will be set, the heat for the Owners Championship is just as fiery as ever. Bonsignore’s No.51 team owned by Ken Massa has a 20-point advantage over Coby’s No.10 team. And just two points behind Doug Coby Racing is Emerling’s # 07 team. This fight could last until the last rounds at Stafford.
Ron Silk won each of the two races ahead of Richmond and sits third in points, but 53 points behind Bonsignore, a title race seems out of reach. Silk has yet to find his way to victory at Riverhead, but has put in a strong performance earlier this season, placing seventh in May and fourth in June. Jon McKennedy finished second in Richmond, his best result of the season and his fourth top five in the last six races. McKennedy could use some of that momentum ahead of Riverhead. In his two previous starts this year, McKennedy has placed 16th and eighth respectively.
The race will also feature some of Riverhead’s top local stars, as their NASCAR Modified division takes their leave and the drivers come to play with the Whelen Modified Tour. Kyle Soper leads the weekly track championship standings after a handful of wins this year, and will return to tour on Saturday, driving Wayne Anderson. Dylan Slepian, third in the track standings, will also compete in the Miller Lite 200.
Former track champion and multiple-time winner Tom Rogers Jr. is expected to compete for the Darch family in their familiar No.03, as Rogers extended an 18-year streak of winning on the track earlier this year. Timmy Solomito, a longtime regular at the weekly in Riverhead, is pulling out his own No.66 family ride for the competition. The Islip, NY native rocked the car last week in the weekly competition and earned three of his nine career wins at Riverhead.
|Race||Miller Lite 200|
|Dated||Saturday, September 18, 2021|
|Disposition||Quarter mile oval|
|Site||Riverhead, New York|
|Start time||8 p.m. ET|
|Tickets||Sold on track|
|TV channel||NBCSN (Late: Thursday, September 23, 5 p.m. ET)|
|Direct||TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (Live)|
RACE SCHEDULE: Saturday, September 18 – Garage opens: 12:45 p.m. ET; Practice: 3.15 p.m.-4.30 p.m. Qualifications: 6:00 p.m. Race: 8 p.m.
CREW CHIEF DOCUMENT: The starting field for the Miller Lite 200 is limited to 32 starters, including provisionals. The field will be defined by the qualification (1-26) and the provisional process according to the registration blank (27-32) for the Miller Lite 200. In the event that the qualifications as indicated on the registration blank n ‘would not occur due to unforeseen circumstances, the terrain will be defined in accordance with the NASCAR Touring 2021 Series rulebook.
QUALIFICATIONS: Two consecutive qualifying rounds. A faster lap determines the qualifying position. No adjustments or repairs can be made to the vehicle after it has passed the green flag on the start-finish line. NASCAR reserves the right to enter more than one vehicle in qualifying races at the same time.
The maximum tire allocation available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire allocation available for this event is fourteen (14) tires per team. All tires used for qualifying and racing must be purchased on the track and scanned by Hoosier, unless otherwise authorized by the Series Director. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to start the race. All qualified tires must be impounded until released by NASCAR officials. The remaining tire allowance may be used for testing and / or changing tires during the event. The rule for changing tires is six (6) tires, any position.
SPECIAL QUALIFICATIONS AND AWARDS
$ 400 Phil Kurze Halfway Leader Award presented by Josten’s per event rewards the race leader at the halfway point of the event, regardless of whether the race is run in green or yellow.
$ 600 Hoosier Tire “Lap Leader” reward per event to the eligible car owner whose driver leads the most laps in each event. In the event of a tie, the prize will be awarded to the best-ranked car in the event.
$ 500 of Hoosier “Hard Loader” tires reward per event to the eligible driver who finished the highest and who advances the most positions during the race. In the event of a tie, the highest ranked driver will receive the prize.
“Most Improved” $ 500 Hoosier Tire reward per event to the new eligible team / organization whose driver improves the most positions during the race. In the event of a tie, the prize will be awarded to the best-ranked car in the event. If the money is not allocated during this event, the funds will carry over to the next event and will continue to carry over until a new eligible team / organization claims the money.
Dominator Mayhew Tools $ 1,000 reward per event to the driver with the fastest qualifying time eligible to participate under the terms of the Manufacturers’ Prize.
Sunoco Spec Fuel price of $ 550 split: 1st-$ 300 5th-$ 150 10th-$ 100.
$ 3,500 Whelen Engineering “Race Winner” reward to the winning pilot.
The Whelen Non-Starter Prize will be paid to the top 15 competitors throughout the season who pass inspection, practice, attempt to qualify but fail to participate in the main event.