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Auto Racing: Rain doesn’t stop Bonsignore in Miller Lite 200

Justin Bonsignore of Holtsville took another step towards his first career NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship Saturday when he won the Miller Lite 200 at Riverhead Raceway. It was his sixth career WMT victory at the track where his NASCAR Modified career began. The victory also upped his overall Riverhead NASCAR Modified win total to 13. The Miller Lite 200 program was completed despite a five-plus-hour rain delay.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice session was barely a half-hour old when light rain fell over the track, halting the session while track-drying efforts began. After a short delay the track was deemed safe to resume the session but after one set of cars practiced the rain picked up in intensity and was halted once again.

What ensued was a marathon track-drying effort while NASCAR WMT officials along with Riverhead Raceway management held several meetings to explore options for the 200. After a delay of over five hours, a 20-lap Street Stock race was run before the WMT cars were called to the track for the Miller Lite 200. Wesley Sammon of Southampton won his first career race in that Street Stock event.

Bonsignore took the lead for good on the 160th lap of the Miller Lite 200. Timmy Solomito of Islip had to be content with runner-up honors. Chase Dowling of Roxbury, Ct., was third, followed by Doug Coby of Milford, Ct., and Dave Sapienza of Riverhead.

In a 30-lap Crate Modified race, Michael Rutkoski of Mattituck and Justin Brown of Manorville, two friends off the track, battled for the lead. Rutkoski, the 2016 Rookie of the Year, steered his way to a division-leading fifth win of 2018 and the seventh of his two-year career. The win gave Rutkoski a one-point advantage in the standings. Brown was second and Jack Orlando of Calverton crossed the line third.

Jack Handley Jr. of Medford continued his successful Blunderbust campaign, winning his sixth feature of the year in a 20-lap affair. It was the 27th career triumph for Handley, who opened up a 39-point lead over Jim Laird Jr. of Riverhead in the standings. Laird was second and defending champion Tom Pickerell of Huntington placed third.

Jim Sylvester of Massapequa took another step towards the Legend Race Car championship by winning a 20-lap main event for the class after starting from the pole position. Collecting his third win of the season was no easy task for the veteran driver, who held off second-place Richie Davidowitz of East Moriches and third-place Vinny Delaney of Holtsville.

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