THOMPSON, CT — Justin Bonsignore grew up racing on a quarter-mile bullring on Long Island, but he’s quickly become one of the best at the fast, high-banked five-eighth mile oval of Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). He proved that again by taking the win with a late-race pass for the lead in the Budweiser “King of Beers” 150 on Thursday night.
With 14 laps to go Bonsignore made a bottom shot move on Doug Coby going into turn three. He slid up in front of Coby coming off of turn four and started to drive away.
Bonsignore wasn’t much of a factor for the first 100 laps of the race. He ran near the back of the top-10 most of the race, so the team decided to pit under caution on lap 45 to make some adjustments.
“That probably was the winning move for us,” said Bonsignore. “We got the car good enough and that way we were able to get to a reasonable position for our pit stop.”
He brought the car to pit road again with the rest of the leaders near lap 75. The team got him off pit road seventh, but he restarted ninth because Glen Reen and Jimmy Zacharias stayed out.
The inside lane on the restart wasn’t the place to be but that didn’t stop Bonsignore from quickly climbing through the field. He made his way into fifth on lap 107 and then got some help to get into the top five.
That assistance came in the form of a crash involving early leaders Tommy Barrett and Donny Lia when the lapped car of Patrick Emerling spun in front of them. Barrett was committed to the outside, but Emerling backed up right in front of him. Barrett gently hit the left side door of Emerling’s no. 07, but Lia slammed into the back of Barrett. Barrett and Lia were running second and third at the time of the crash.
“It’s unfortunate that leaders get caught up with lapped cars wrecking like that,” said Bonsignore. “We’ve been on the other side of that and sometimes it’s got to go your way.”
That put Bonsignore in third for the next restart with Ron Silk leading and Coby in second. Coby cleared Silk for the lead two restarts later and Bonsignore was able to follow by diving to the bottom of Silk in turn three on lap 135.
He made the same exact move on Coby for the lead just one lap later and that proved to be the winning pass.
“I roughed (Ron) up a little bit into three,” said Bonsignore. “Not anything intentional, but that late in the race you’re giving it everything you’ve got and sometimes you drive it in too deep a little over the edge and you bang wheels. It’s not the way I’d like the race but sometimes when you’re going for the win it’s what happens.”
A slew of late cautions meant that Bonsignore would have to hold off Coby on multiple restarts. The late restarts ramped up the aggression level and that was something that left Coby pretty heated after the race.
“We could all run clean,” said Coby. “We do it a lot. But this race track just doesn’t breed that. Everybody gets that run down the backstretch and just drives you through the fence. And I do it. I’m not gonna say that I’m not one of the worst.”
The win is the sixth of Bonsignore’s career. It’s his third of the season and second straight at Thompson Speedway. Bonsignore won the Icebreaker back in April.
Unofficially Bonsignore will head to Bristol Motor Speedway (TN), one of his best race tracks, trailing Coby by two points in the standings with five races remaining.
“We’ve gotta keep the pressure on him,” said Bonsignore. “If winning is how we’ve gotta do it then that’s what we’ve got to do.”
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, NJ, CT) – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
NWMT Budweiser “King of Beers” 150 Unofficial Results
Thursday, August 14 – Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT)
|17||14||John Beatty Jr.|