JUSTIN BONSIGNORE LOOKS TO KEEP STREAK ALIVE IN THOMPSON 125
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore clearly has mastered Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
The Holtsvile, New York, driver picked up his fifth straight Thompson win at the Icebreaker on April 7 – becoming the first driver in the history of Whelen Modified Tour action at the .625-mile oval to win five consecutive events. With 10 career Thompson wins, Bonsignore leads all active drivers on the high-banked oval.
“We’ve always had great race cars no matter what, along with great teams and pit crews,” Bonsignore said. “A few of the races, the pit crew won the race for us. Really since 2014, I’ve had a lot of success there. The biggest thing is having the really good cars and crew chiefs that make really good decisions. You need the racing luck to go along with it, and everything seems to come together for me.”
Bonsignore, a driver who grew up racing at Riverhead Raceway in New York, has found a knack for the high-banks of Thompson, a completely opposite style compared to Riverhead. Why he has been able to find so much success?
“A lot of people ask me that and I can’t really say what the answer is,” Bonsignore said. “But I feel really comfortable there, it’s like going home to Riverhead -- I have the same feeling when we unload. I know what I need on the first lap of practice and I know what I need for the race.”
His quest to capture a sixth consecutive victory certainly isn’t going to be easy. Bonsignore will have to fend off the challenges of names like Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat, Ron Silk, Matt Swanson and many more. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series star Ryan Preece will also join the event to compete in the No. 6 car for Ed Partridge.
With just one practice for the day due to the packed schedule, Bonsignore knows unloading off the truck well is going to be crucial.
“We’ve put an emphasis on coming off the truck better than we ever have. It’s really important practice because you want to be in that last group in qualifying and pick the right pit stall. You want to have good notes and good feedback because you are only going to get out there a few times in practice,” Bonsignore said. “Just a little bit of fine-tuning here and there, and Ryan Stone does a really good job of getting us there off the truck.”
Stone has been a major player in Bonsignore’s success over the last year and a half. After moving from a job at JR Motorsports, Stone helped Bonsignore win eight of the 16 Whelen Modified Tour races last year en route to his first championship.
“Everywhere we go with Ryan setting up the cars, we’ve been unbelievably fast. Rob Fuller and everyone at LFR have developed a really great car and Ryan has been with LFR since day one, and has a really great understanding of the cars. It’s the time and the effort he puts into the setups,” Bonsignore said. “The people working on these cars are smart.”
When Bonsignore won his fifth straight race at the Icebreaker, the emotion poured from the veteran when he climbed out of the car and stood on the nerf-bar screaming ‘five in a row!’ for the fans to hear.
“We got off to a little bit of a struggle with a bad race at Myrtle Beach and got caught in a crash at South Boston, so we were a little bit behind and we knew we were looking to turn it around at Thompson,” Bonsignore said, recalling why there was so much emotion. “From Thompson’s World Series last year until the Icebreaker all we heard was that we had won four in a row and we were looking for five. We did think about it and how much of an amazing accomplishment it was. I thought about it when people said Richie Evans or Mike Stefanik hadn’t even done it on the Tour. Everything put together, I just let loose in Victory Lane.”
Just under two weeks before the return to Whelen Modified Tour action at Thompson, Bonsignore certainly is thinking about the streak. In NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition, Bryan Narducci has won six consecutive SK Light Modified® races entering this Wednesday special event as well. Both streaks will be on the line come June 14th.
“People talk about it and it’ll be something where I am going there with intentions of winning the race. Having a shot at six in a row is really special, but we also know that in racing, you aren’t going to win 10 or 20 races in a row,” Bonsignore said. “We have to be prepared for the streak to be over at some point. But I go to the race track thinking that everyone needs to come there to beat us.”
“Every single time we go to Thompson there are packed stands. The fans in that area seem to accommodate with any night we race.”
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park returns to action on Wednesday, June 5, as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headlines the night with the annual Thompson 125. Grandstands will open for the night at 3:30 p.m., while qualifying heat racing is scheduled to get underway at 5:05 p.m. with the Sunoco Modifieds.
Fans will be able to watch all five Whelen All-American Series divisions compete in both qualifying and feature action, along with group qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour, and the Thompson 125. Fans should note that the SK Light Modifieds® will run their 20-lap feature at the conclusion of the Whelen Modified Tour race.
A paddock pass for the night is $55, while fans can enter the grandstands for $50. Any seniors (65+), veteran, or active military members can enter at $45 with the proper identification. Kids 12 and under will be free. Any fans wishing to camp on the grounds of Thompson Speedway for the night can do so for $25, but campers must be removed from the property early Thursday.
If for some reason inclement weather delays the event, Thursday, June 6, is the rain date.
For more information on Thomspon Speedway Motorsports Park, fans are encouraged to visit www.thompsonspeedway.comand follow the track on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.