RIVERHEAD, N.Y. — Looking ahead to the Miller Lite 200 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour (WMT) event on Saturday, May 14 at Riverhead Raceway, it’ll be hard not to pick a tested tough WMT veteran for the win.
However, the quarter-mile bullring has provided some surprise winners and results along the way in the previous 67 races.
Several local teams of the Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series at Riverhead plan on entering the 200.
With 32 WMT triumphs coming at Riverhead Raceway, Justin Bonsignore comes to the Miller Lite 200 ranked among the favorites for victory. Bonsignore will be seeking his second straight WMT win of the year, having won in April at Richmond Raceway.
The last driver to enjoy the thrill of a first career WMT victory at Riverhead will come to the Miller Lite 200 tied for the early season championship lead, Eric Goodale. Goodale scored a popular victory in 2014, and was swarmed by family and friends afterwards.
The driver knotted with Goodale atop the early WMT rankings, Tommy Catalan, could score the first WMT win of his career. The sixth-year driver has run very well early on in 2022, nearly winning at Richmond.
One driver hoping familiarity and momentum will add up to victory in the Miller Lite 200 is J.B. Fortin. When raceday dawns it will have been six months to the day that Fortin drove to an impressive Islip 300 victory.
Fortin spent his nights off from the WMT racing at Riverhead in 2021 and knows the track well. Additionally, last year during the three WMT races, Fortin and his team hit on a setup that saw his car perform well in the low groove.
Two drivers ranked in the WMT top-ten that are also seeking their first career win are Tyler Rypkema and Austin Beers. Between the duo Beers may have the upper hand, since he started his Modified driving career at the Mahoning Valley Speedway, a track that features very short chutes, continuous turns yielding lap times in the 10-second range.
Perhaps no local team has anticipated the Miller Lite 200 more than that of Roger Turbush. Turbush, a former multi-time Super Pro Truck champion along with 30 wins in the class, turned heads in the final WMT race on the Island last September, scoring a third-place finish. Turbush chased race winner Patrick Emerling and Justin Bonsignore to the checkers.
Defending track champion Kyle Soper is hoping to check off a WMT win on his racing bucket list when the Miller Lite 200 concludes. Soper, a 24-time winner in Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series competition, is chasing his fourth title in five years at Riverhead in ’22.
Off a career best three-win season in 2021, John Baker hopes for WMT success in the race.
Other local teams that have hinted a run in the Miller Lite 200 include former five-time champion and 61-time winner Tom Rogers Jr., Dave Brigati, Dylan Slepian, Michael Rutkoski, Chris Young and John Beatty Jr.
Complimenting the Miller Lite 200 program are the Crate Modifieds, INEX Legend Race Cars, Street Stocks and Mini Stocks.