THOMPSON, Conn. — Even though the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion will be officially crowned at Thompson’s 56thannual Sunoco World Series again this season, the battle to decide who will be champion has already come to a close.
Justin Bonsignore, who has seven wins the first 15 races of the Whelen Modified Tour season, left the last event at Stafford with a 64-point lead entering Thompson’s finale. Per the rulebook, the most points any driver can earn in one race is 48, meaning Bonsignore has already clinched the 2018 championship.
He will be officially crowned following the checkered flag in the Sunoco World Series 150, which will conclude a packed three days of racing.
“It was an unbelievable season,” Bonsignore said. “Ryan Stone brought great cars to every race this year, and things couldn’t have gone any better.”
The Holtsville, New York, driver will enter the 16thand final race of the season looking to add another goal to his list of accolades. He has already picked up the checkered flag in the first three Thompson events of the season, winning the Icebreaker 150, the Thompson 125 and the Bud 150.
Justin will look to become just the fifth driver in history to sweep all of the Whelen Modified Tour races in one season at the 0.625-mile oval. Richie Evans (1985), Steve Park (1996), Mike Stefanik (1998) and Doug Coby (2015) are currently the only four to accomplish the goal.
“It was a goal as soon as we won there (at the Icebreaker), we wanted to make sure we could go there and race and not just ride around,” Bonsignore said. “Doug (Coby) did the sweep there a few years ago and it’s a huge accomplishment.”
Bonsignore definitely seems to have found a knack for competing on the Thompson high-banks. In 32 career starts, Bonsignore has eight victories, including his three this season. His first win was in 2012, driving for Kenneth Massa Motorsports, the same team he drives for now. He’s been the winner in five of the last nine Whelen Modified Tour events at Thompson, with only Ryan Preece, Timmy Solomito and Rowan Pennink joining him as victors.
He is excited to have already clinched the title, so he can enter Thompson and go for the victory, instead of worrying about the points. In the last few years, the Whelen Modified Tour championship battle has gone down to the final laps at Thompson.
“We want to go there and run well,” Bonsignore said. “We want to keep winning races there. I love going to Thompson, it’s my favorite race track. I always have some great cars there.”
Although his season has been dominant, Bonsignore is not ready to fully celebrate the accomplishment just yet. He’s going to keep his laser focus on entering Thompson’s World Series and trying to capture the sweep.
“We are going to work hard for the next couple of weeks, but enjoy it at the same time,” he said. “Hopefully we end the whole deal off with a win. We will enjoy ourselves that night.”
Bonsignore won’t be the only Whelen Modified Tour driver chasing a victory on World Series weekend, though. Matt Swanson, who will sit behind the wheel of Boehler Racing’s No. 3 again, is inching closer to capturing his first win. Following Rowan Pennink’s sudden retirement, Swanson has taken the wheel of the famed ‘Ole Blue’, and finished second in his first effort driving the car back in the Bud “King of Beers” 150 in August.
He drove that race for Pennink, who was celebrating the birth of his first child at the time. Since his retirement after back injuries, Swanson has been tabbed to drive the car for the remainder of the 2018 season.
Doug Coby, who has clinched the last four championships at Thompson, will enter the weekend with a different mindset without having the points to worry about. Coby has five wins in 57 starts at Thompson, but has finished inside the top five in nearly 40 percent of his efforts. Chase Dowling, who captured his first career win in the Musket 250 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month, will also be a factor.
Thompson’s 56thannual Sunoco World Series will take place from Friday October 12 through Sunday October 14, and there will be plenty of action on the track for fans to watch. A total of 17 different divisions will compete, with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 150 headlining the weekend. All four of Thompson’s Whelen All American Series champions will also be crowned.
Fans can enter the paddock area for $75, which is one price for all three days. Any fans that wish to enter the grandstands can do so with a general admission ticket at $55, while seniors (65+), veterans and active duty military members can enter at a price of $50. As always, any children under the age of 12 are free.
Camping is also available for the weekend. Fans can catch-up with the latest World Series information by visiting www.thompsonspeedway.com, where you can find the full schedule. Follow the track on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.
-Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com