Riverhead Raceway: After plane flight, Bonsignore flies on track


Justin Bonsignore of West Islip was on his way home from a fourth-place finish in a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race in Bristol, Tenn., last Wednesday when he decided to stop off in North Carolina to visit his parents and some friends over the weekend. Then, while he was having dinner, Bonsignore’s car owner, Ken Massa, sent him a text message, asking him to get on a plane and drive Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway where he had won the 2011 NASCAR Modified championship. Bonsignore turned that late decision into a victory in a 35-lap feature event in front of a standing-room-only crowd.

Shawn Solomito of Islip was the runner-up, and with that now leads Howie Brode of East Islip by 24 points with two races remaining in the season. Brode, who lost the third spot on a 14th-lap restart, made a late-race pass of Ted Christopher of Plainville, Conn., to reclaim and finish third. Christopher and Timmy Solomito of Islip completed the top five.

In other races:

The Late Models finally finished their Aug. 11 feature, which had been interrupted by rain with three of 25 laps complete. Peter Eriksen of Baldwin scored his 46th career win, snapping a tie with Paul McElearney for second on the all-time win list. When told he had just won his 46th race, a stunned Eriksen said, “Wow, that’s a lot of wins.” Mike Bologna of Melville, the defending champion, was second. With two races to go in the season, Bologna holds a 10-point lead atop the division over Eriksen. Chris LaSpisa of Shirley placed third.

The defending Figure Eight champion, Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach, was in the right place at the right time in a 15-lap feature, winning his second race of the year and taking over the points lead in the process. Mike Mujsce and Ken Hyde Jr. were tied for the division lead coming into the race and in the lead before they got too close to each other exiting turn four and spun out, drawing a caution flag.

Pedersen, who was racing with brother Scott for third, suddenly found himself the new race leader and he was able to keep his place out front over the final three laps to post his eighth career win. Scott Pedersen of Shirley crossed the line second, Mujsce of Westhampton Beach made a nice recovery for third. With one race on Sept. 8 left for the title, Arne Pedersen has a two-point lead over Mujsce.

Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead made sure nobody was going to chip away at his points lead in the Chargers. He won a 20-lap feature event for his second win of 2012 and sixth of his career. C. J. Lehmann of Mastic Beach was second. Four-time defending champion Chris Turbush of Riverhead was third. With one point race to go on Sept. 8, McDermott has a 16-point lead over Eric Zeh of Selden.

Chris Young of Calverton got up at 4 a.m. at Purdue University in Indiana to catch a plane at Indianapolis International Airport so he could compete in the 20-lap Legend Race Car feature event after his first week of college. He made that trip worthwhile, taking home his fourth win of the year. Young managed to get to the track on time and had less than 10 laps of practice before starting sixth in the race. He made his move past Vinny Delaney of Holtsville for the lead on Lap 8. Delaney drove in second, with Kevin Nowak of Medford third.

Early in the summer, popular school bus racer Don Fox of Riverhead passed away after a serious car accident. On Saturday his nephew, Paul Fox, in his first ever School Bus Demolition Derby, paid tribute to his fallen uncle by winning a hard-hitting affair. Fox outlasted Kevin Rommeney of Maspeth to score the emotional win in front of family and friends. Rommeney, who won the first School Bus Demolition Derby this past spring, was second.