Craig Lutz Dominates; Modified Tour Contenders Crash

There was a lot to unpack from the Phoenix Communications 150.


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It was a race that featured a little bit of everything.

For the first time since joining Danny Watts Racing during the off-season, Craig Lutz returned to Victory Lane in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Thompson Speedway. It was his first win of the season, second at Thompson and fourth of his career.

The last time Lutz was in Victory Lane was actually in October 2020, at Thompson.

"It's awesome," Lutz told Racing America after the race. "Thompson, it seems like has turned into a special place for me. Every time there's a race here, I look forward to it.

"To get Danny back in Victory Lane, it's been a long time, and to do it with a car that was the best car here is a picture-perfect night. I can't wait to celebrate and move on to the next one."

While Lutz largely dominated the race in straightforward fashion, what unfolded behind him was anything but.

There were numerous cautions throughout the night, and typical of Thompson, few of them were light and easy. The most notable ones involved the championship leaders. This is what that picture looked like entering the race:

  1. Ron Silk
  2. Jon McKennedy -4
  3. Eric Goodale -21
  4. Justin Bonsignore -28
  5. Tommy Catalano -34

Each of them were running near the front until 14 laps to go when contact from McKennedy sent Silk into the wall as they were attempting to pass, three-wide laps down Gary McDonald. There was light contact in the previous corner, but the final tap sent Silk into the wall.

Silk declined comment when asked by Racing America, while McKennedy said there was a previous incident between the two that used up the remainder of his patience for his championship rival.

"The 16 of silk drove over the top of me," McKennedy said of the initial contact. "That bent the front-end, broke the A-Pillar, windshield, hood, throttle linkage and it's a miracle we even finished fourth. It shows how good our car was. Credit to the pit crew. We had to change our tire, fix the left front.

"I’m just disappointed, man. I feel like I race everyone really clean and that was early on in the race to do a move like that. We came across a lap car, he wasn’t lifting, I wasn't lifting, the spot closed quick, and rubbing is racing right?"

Silk went on to finish 12th and McKennedy fourth, an eight-point swing, leaving McKennedy the unofficial championship leader by four points over Silk.

Goodale finished second and made the biggest points gain, now just 15 points back with five races remaining.

"The points will take care of themselves," Goodale said. "We’re just here to win races. We came up one short, but Craig had a rocket ship. I thought I was going to have a chance on that last restart, but the guys did a bang-up job on pit road and put me in a position to win. We’ll take it and move on."

And three-time and defending champion Justin Bonsignore is slowly but surely recovering from two dead last finishes in the first three races to inch back in contention now too at 25 points back.

The final five races of the season are setting up for a shootout:

  1. Jon McKennedy 413
  2. Ron Silk -4
  3. Eric Goodale 398 (-15)
  4. Justin Bonsignore 388 (-25)

Then came a major impact for pole sitter Jimmy Blewett as a result of a three-wide battle between himself, Doug Coby on the bottom and both trying to get around Tyler Rykema and Spencer Davis up top.

Contact from Coby below sent Blewett hard into the frontstretch wall and launched his right front tire towards the road course.

Coby and Blewett have shared the Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7ny this season and ‘Showtime’ blamed the six-time champion for the incident between teammates of sort on the FloRacing live broadcast.

"My teammate basically put me three-wide and put me in the fence," Blewett said. "I really don't understand why he was racing me like that of all people. We have all season of racing together. It's unfortunate for these guys because they gave me such a great car.

"I was trying to get out of the three-wide situation. I was just trying to back out of it and he just cleared himself off of four and destroyed our car for the rest of the season. He knows. He knows he fucked up and what comes around goes around I'll repay for favor."

Coby didn’t agree with that assessment and was adamant that the last thing he wanted to do was destroy either one of those cars. Coby went on to finish third, this week driving his self-owned No. 10 car.

"I was on the bottom at the restart, I was on the bottom there, and there and there," Coby said pointing to each corner of the race track. "He was hoping I would lift, but I was in there pretty good, and I tried to stay as low as I could. There’s three drivers three-wide, and I wasn’t the one who made it three-wide. They were trying to get around (Spencer) Davis, he was the slow car there and he forced it three-wide.

"I feel really bad, and I’m not looking to wreck Tommy’s car, but he chose to go in the middle, and I have to protect my equipment."

Through it all, there was Lutz leading, only losing the lead during pit stops when teams opted for their various strategies.

"This was one of those cars that was just perfect," Lutz said. "All the guys had an awesome pit stop, and they made a great strategy call. I was nervous when we stayed out and everyone came for tires, but [this car] was pretty badass."

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is down to its final five races of the season: Langley, Oswego, Riverhead, Thompson and Martinsville.

NASCAR Modified Tour Phoenix Communications 150
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
August 19 2022

  1. Craig Lutz
  2. Eric Goodale
  3. Doug Coby
  4. Jon McKennedy
  5. Justin Bonsignore
  6. Ryan Preece
  7. Kyle Bonsignore
  8. Timmy Solomito
  9. Patrick Emerling
  10. Spencer Davis
  11. Ken Heagy
  12. Ron Silk
  13. Walter Sutcliffe, Jr.
  14. Tyler Rypkema
  15. Tommy Catalano
  16. Austin Beers*
  17. Gary McDonald
  18. Melissa Fifield
  19. Donny Lia
  20. Ronnie Williams
  21. Jimmy Blewett
  22. Andrew Krause
  23. Dave Sapienza
  24. J.B. Fortin