PIT BOX: Bonsignore, Emerling title fight concludes at Stafford in Fall Final

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The fight for the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship comes down to a title match between Justin Bonsignore and Patrick Emerling at Stafford Motor Speedway on Saturday night.

Two-time and defending champion Bonsignore carries a 16-point lead into the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final 150 over second-place Emerling, who is seeking his first career title on the tour. Bonsignore will clinch the championship regardless of what Emerling does if he finishes 11th or better; or finishes 12th or better and leads a lap; or finishes 13th or better and leads the most laps.

If the two drivers finish tied in points at the end of the night, Emerling owns the tiebreaker with most wins this year (3-1).

The visit is the third time the tour will make the trip to the Connecticut oval this season.

The good news for Emerling is that Bonsignore remains winless at the half-mile, while Emerling was victorious in the tour‘s first Stafford trip in April. However, Bonsignore has started to string some strong runs together there — netting three finishes inside the top three in his last four starts.

RACE INFO: Race Center: Stafford | Entry List

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WHAT TO WATCH FOR

NAPA Fall Final 150

Justin Bonsignore‘s experience appears to be a massive advantage in his pocket as the tour heads back to Connecticut.

Even better is that Bonsignore has won two of the past three tour titles and is yet again proving his strength is his consistency. The Holtsville, New York, native only has one win to his name this season, which came on May 29 at Jennerstown Speedway, but his 11 top-10 finishes are a series high, boosted further by his 10 top fives.

Patrick Emerling, meanwhile, has had runs on both sides of the spectrum this season. His three victories emphasize his first multi-win season on the tour with wins at Stafford, Lancaster and last week‘s race at Riverhead Raceway. And while his eight top fives and 10 top 10s are career bests across the board, those slips outside the top-five are the root of what separates the two competitors with one race left to decide it all.

Six-time tour champion Doug Coby is out of the running for either a driver or owners championship this season, following a DNF at Riverhead one week ago, but Coby is an unquestionable threat at Stafford. The Milford, Conn. native has a remarkable 12 wins around the half-mile and has just one finish outside the top four in his last eight Stafford starts. He’s also a former multiple-time champion in Stafford’s competitive weekly divisions.

2021 Fall Final Logo
2021 Fall Final Logo

Additionally, 2010 tour champion Bobby Santos III makes his return to Stafford, where the 19-time tour winner has collected six career victories. Other previous Stafford winners in the field Saturday include Ron Silk (three wins), Woody Pitkat (two), Eric Goodale (one) and Kyle Bonsignore (one). Silk will be in his final voyage for Kevin Stuart Motorsports — a combination that scored back-to-back wins at Beech Ridge and Oswego earlier this year.

The most recent Stafford winner, Ryan Preece, won‘t be competing Saturday night due to his NASCAR Cup Series obligations at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Jon McKennedy and Anthony Nocella both return to the tour at Stafford after missing the Riverhead event, while CJ Lehmann and Joey Cipriano, who both have limited tour starts in their resume, will also return. Lehmann will drive for Steve Mendoza in the No. 59, while Cipriano drives a second car out of the Kevin Stuart Motorsports stable, numbered 88.

Don’t forget about Ronnie Williams, either. After a second-place effort in his last Whelen Modified Tour start at Richmond earlier this month, Williams is riding momentum into the track where he is a two-time SK Modified champion.

Quick links:

RACE FACTS

Race

NAPA Fall Final 150

Date

Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021

Track

Stafford Motor Speedway

Layout

Half-mile oval

Location

Stafford, CT

Start time

6 p.m. ET

Laps

150

Miles

75

Tickets

Online ticket sales

TV channel

NBCSN (Delayed: Friday, Oct. 1, 6 p.m. ET)

Live stream

TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (Live)

Race Day Schedule: Garage Opens: 10:30 a.m., Practice: 1:20-2:20 p.m., Qualifying: 4 p.m., NAPA Fall Final 150: 6 p.m.

CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the NAPA Fall Final 150 is limited to 32 starters, including provisionals. The field will be set by qualifying (1-26) and provisional process per the entry blank (27-32) for the NAPA Fall Final 150. In the event that qualifying as stated on the entry blank does not take place for any unforeseen circumstance, the field will be set in accordance with the 2021 NASCAR Touring Series Rule Book.

QUALIFYING: Two consecutive qualifying laps. Faster lap determines qualifying position. Adjustments or repairs may not be made on the vehicle after the vehicle has taken the green flag at the start-finish line. NASCAR reserves the right to have more than one vehicle engage in qualifying runs at the same time.

The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire allotment available for this event is eleven (11) tires per team. All tires used for qualifying and the race must be purchased at the track and scanned by Hoosier, unless otherwise approved in advance by the Series Director. Four (4) tires must be used for qualifying and to begin the race. All qualifying tires must remain in impound until released by NASCAR Officials. The remaining tire allotment may be used for practice and/or change tires during the event. The tire change rule is four (4) tires, any position. To utilize the fourth (4th) change tire, the team will have to take a practice tire purchased at Stafford Motor Speedway and turn in by the conclusion of practice.

QUALIFYING AND SPECIAL AWARDS

$400 Phil Kurze Halfway Leader Award presented by Josten‘s per event award to the race leader at the halfway point of the event, regardless if the race is running under green or yellow.

$600 Hoosier Tire “Lap Leader” per event award to the eligible car owner whose driver leads the most laps in each event. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event.

$500 Hoosier Tire “Hard Charger” per event award to the highest finishing eligible driver who advances the most positions during the course of the race. In the case of a tie, the highest finishing driver will receive the award.

$500 Hoosier Tire “Most Improved” per event award to the eligible new team/organization whose driver improves the most positions during the course of the race. In the event of a tie, the award will go to the highest finishing car in the event. If money is not awarded during this event, funds will roll over to the next event and will continue to roll over until an eligible new team/organization claims the money.

$1,000 Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole per event award to the driver with the fastest qualifying time eligible to participate under the Manufacturers’ Prize Money Conditions.

$550 Sunoco Spec Fuel award divided: 1st-$300 5th-$150 10th-$100.

$3,500 Whelen Engineering “Winner of the Race” award to the winning driver.

Whelen Non-Starter award will be paid to the first 15 competitors throughout the season who pass inspection, practice, attempt to qualify but fail to make the feature event.

Emerling Sizzler Win For Pit Box
Emerling Sizzler Win For Pit Box