Though Justin Bonsignore hails from Long Island and considers Riverhead Raceway (NY) his home track, he has taken to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) as if he has raced there from birth.
The 29-year-old racer from Holtsville, New York has collected more NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins at Thompson than at any other track including Riverhead. While Bonsignore has said in the past that he has the “Big T” all figured out in the driver’s seat, he gives the credit to the Ken Massa-owned No. 51 team, who will be bringing some brand new ammo to this weekend’s Icebreaker.
“We’re bringing a new car, so the guys are working hard, day and night, to get it finished up and 100% for this weekend,” Bonsignore told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’re hoping to shake it down on Friday just to check all the nuts and bolts. If we can’t, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll unload fine and we’ll go with the same setup that we’ve been running the last couple of years up there. It’s been really good to us; I’m not worried at all.”
Bonsignore has always been a Thompson fan both inside and outside the race car, even when things haven’t gone the way he would’ve liked, especially at the start of his career. Despite his high marks for the 5/8-mile Connecticut race track, he never imagined that he would find this kind of success.
“Never in a million years did I think Thompson would be my best track after seven or eight years,” said the five-time winner at Thompson. “More than anything, we’ve had really good race cars, especially the last three years there; we’ve gotten a good chunk of the wins there. We’ve been in a position to win a few more, so it could easily be higher if things played out differently. The cars are always great to drive, the guys nail out good pit stops. We should be in the same position this weekend, hopefully.”
Bonsignore also enters Icebreaker weekend as one of a number of drivers that feel that the season is truly getting underway, with the start of the season feeling different than the past several years.
“It’s definitely different, Myrtle Beach just didn’t have that feel that Thompson has at the start of the season. Everybody walking through the garages on race morning, it’s a two-day show, so you get to relax and enjoy it after being cooped up all winter. It definitely has a different feel than Myrtle Beach, which is a quick one-day show,” he commented. “We got out of there sixth; it could’ve been better considering we were second on the last restart, but it could’ve been worse considering how many guys got torn up. You look at who we race against all year, we’re in good shape points wise coming into our bread and butter tracks on the schedule.”
Bonsignore is looking to carry on a surge of momentum which started last August with a win in the Budweiser 150 at Thompson and carried through to the Sunoco World Series in October.
“Going for three in a row at Thompson is cool, especially after coming back from mid-pack to win the World Series and give Doug (Coby) everything we could; we would love to continue winning at Thompson and make that right-hand turn into victory lane there and celebrate with all the fans. Really excited and optimistic about the rest of the season, last year it was so close with the strong second half. We’ve been looking forward to getting back to Thompson for the Icebreaker, hopefully we can improve on our package a little bit from what we had and continue the second half of last year into this year.”
Speed51.com will be at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this Saturday and Sunday with coverage of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Pro All Stars Series and more all weekend long.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Rick Ibsen/Speed51.com