Justin Bonsignore had been so close to winning a Valenti Modified Racing Series event on many different occasions this season. He had finished second so many times in so many different ways, but it seemed that no matter what he just couldn’t break into victory lane. That was until Sunday afternoon.
Bonsignore, a three time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner this season, finally scored his first career VMRS victory on Sunday at Airborne Park Speedway (NY) in Plattsburgh, NY.
With more than five second-place finishes this season, is it fair to say that it’s about time Bonsignore won?
“It’s hard to say it’s about time since it’s only our first year, but we’ve definitely been in position to win a couple,” Bonsignore told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “It is nice to get that off our back and everything. It couldn’t come at a better time. We needed that coming into this last stretch of races.”
Bonsignore held off a hard charging Tommy Barrett Jr. in the final stages of the 100-lap event. That’s no easy task as it is, but electrical issues made things even more challenging.
“With 10 to go, I go down the middle of the straightaway and the thing just started sputtering on us,” said Bonsignore. “And it would do it from the second half of the straightaway all the way to the corner for the last 10 laps.
“Honestly I thought at first it was running out of fuel because that was the most laps that we run on the bigger tracks in the MRS series,” he said. “I didn’t realize that it was electrical until we got to victory lane and I finally looked down at all my gauges and the volt meter was pretty much down at zero. We think we diagnosed the problem but it’s amazing that it held on for that many laps.”
He said that the lack of power caused him to have to race Barrett a little more aggressively than normal to try to break Barrett’s momentum.
“I ran him up a little bit,” he said. “Just tried to take all his lanes away. He was really clean about it and it was good, hard racing.”
The electrical issue wasn’t the only problem Bonsignore faced throughout the day. He was having issues with the power steering all day long. He and his team thought they had the problem fixed during practice, but the issue came back during the race.
“We don’t know if something was still going wrong but it was very intermittent which makes it worse during the race,” he said. “One lap you have it on one end of the race track and then you get to the next corner and it’s in and out. As a driver you’d rather have it or not have it. You don’t want it going in and out. That’s like the worst feeling.”
He also lost his radio about 20 laps in and was forced to rely on his mirrors and his instincts like he used to when he started racing go-karts.
“It’s not something you rely on,” said Bonsignore. “But it definitely takes a big burden off of it. Especially when you’ve got a guy coming as hard as Barrett was at the end of that race. It definitely would have made it a little bit easier but we were able to prevail.”
Bonsignore is hoping that this win will open the proverbial flood gates and lead to some more wins before the season is through. But he said he won’t do anything too risky while he’s in the midst of a championship battle with last year’s champion, Rowan Pennink.
“We finished second at both Lee (NH) and Waterford (CT), which are the next two races on the schedule so I’m excited to go back to both of those tracks,” said Bonsignore. “We’d like to get wins but at this point in the season we are racing one other car so if it takes a win to beat the guy that we are racing for the points then that’s what we’ll have to do. But on the other hand you can’t do anything out of control and crazy to risk throwing it all away at this point of the year.”
– Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Long Island, NJ, and CT)- Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Crystal Snape