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Commentary: The Whelen Modified Tour championship battle is on after Riverhead

Another win for Bonsignore tightens up points battle…

Matthew Manor/NASCAR

It sure seemed like things were falling into place for Doug Coby.

After stumbling slightly at Loudon in July and Stafford in August, a win two weeks later at Thompson looked like the power move that would cement Coby as the 2019 Whelen Modified Tour champion.

It’s funny how things can change. Not funny, but funny, y’know?

Coby’s 47-point lead is shrinking quickly. Only 19 points now separate the five-time champion from Justin Bonsignore, winner of last year’s Tour crown. Bonsignore has been back to form over the past two races, winning at both Oswego and Riverhead.

Meanwhile, Coby hasn’t been struggling with speed. He’s qualified inside the top-five in each of the last two races, but it’s bad luck that got Coby at Riverhead. Running inside the top-10 on the last lap, Coby got clipped from behind and spun in turn three. It was Coby’s second spin of the night, as he had gone around earlier in the night on lap 14. Instead of a solid finish, Coby dropped to the middle of the pack.

Not only did Bonsignore win, he picked up 18 points on Coby, who finished outside the top-10 for the first time all season.

Now the series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Musket 250, where Bonsignore was a half-lap from victory a year ago before contact with Ryan Preece sent him into the wall.

Then it’s to Stafford, where Coby has dominated, and Thompson. While Bonsignore had won seven in a row at the ⅝-mile oval before August, it was Coby who snapped the streak with a win of his own.

Coby fares slightly better than Bonsignore at the three remaining tracks down the stretch, his average finish sitting at 10.66. Bonsignore, however, remains close behind, as his average finish of 11.9 is no slouch.

Quite simply, the Tour championship battle will come down to the two strongest drivers this season at some of their strongest tracks. It’s everything a racing fan could want.

So here we are. Just three races left. Three exciting tracks. A champion to be decided. Fasten up your seat belt.

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Paul Lambert is an aspiring collegiate journalist. A writer and broadcaster, Paul's excited to cover New England short track racing in 2019. Paul has also been published in Speedway Illustrated and on Autoweek.com.

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