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Locals fill delayed modified card

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Start your engines -- the NASCAR Whelen modifieds are coming to town.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour makes its annual stop at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday night with the Riverhead 200. The race was initially scheduled for July 28, but heavy rain forced a postponement.

Twelve Long Islanders were entered in the race as of Friday night, with Holtsville's Justin Bonsignore leading the charge. The Holtsville native won last year's Riverhead 200 to earn his first career NWMT series victory. The 2011 Riverhead modified champion has found the winner's circle twice this season at the quarter-mile track, with wins in both the Cromarty Cup 50 and the Miller Lite Night 35 last month.

Bonsignore won't be the only Long Islander hoping to end up in victory lane. Two-time series champion Donny Lia of Jericho will try to win his fifth career Riverhead 200. Ed Brunnhoelzl III (Levittown), Ken Heagy (Calverton), Byron Chew (Mattituck), Kevin and Eric Goodale (Riverhead), Johnny Bush (Huntington), Tom Rogers Jr. (Patchogue), Frank Vigliarolo Jr. (Mount Sinai) and Gary McDonald (Lake Ronkonkoma) are also expected to compete.

East Islip's Howie Brode, who finished second in the NASCAR Whelen All-American series championship last week, will also compete thanks to the rain date. With the race initially set to run in July, Brode decided to focus his efforts on his NWAAS championship hopes. But the rain delay pushed the race back far enough so that Brode would be able to finish the series and run Saturday night's race.

Series regular Doug Colbie of Milford, Conn., enters the race as the points leader. Defending series champion Ron Silk also has had success at Riverhead. The Norwalk, Conn., native won the Riverhead 200 two years ago, as well as the NASCAR Hall of Fame 100 last May.

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