When Justin Bonsignore arrives at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for the Bud 150 on August 9, he’ll do so with a six pack already in his arsenal.
Bonsignore found his way to the front when it mattered, taking the victory in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Thompson 125 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday night. Dating back to his win at the 2018 Icebreaker, it was his sixth straight victory at the Connecticut oval.
The 2018 NWMT champion took the lead on lap 86 after fighting with a dominant Craig Lutz for nearly 20 laps. From there, he never looked back. A brief red flag with 20 laps to go shook up the top 10 as everybody came in for fresh tires, but Bonsignore’s crew got him out ahead of everyone except the No. 7NY of Jon McKennedy.
On the restart, Bonsignore was able to win the battle against McKennedy and jumped to a 1.5-second lead, effectively sealing the victory. The caution flew for a spin in Turn 4 in the final moments, but Bonsignore had already crossed the line to take the white flag, meaning the race was official.
“Our car was unbelievable on the long run tonight,” Bonsignore said in Victory Lane. “I did not want to see that yellow. I don’t know if Jon took two or three [tires on the pit stop] but he was real tight when we got into turn one and I knew I had to get in there as hard as I could. Unbelievable to keep having cars like this, can’t thank [crew chief] Ryan Stone enough and the whole team, the pit stop again was unbelievable.
“We’ll see you in August for seven!”
Five-time Tour champion and most recent tour winner Doug Coby had a very eventful race as well. He started the race from pole, but fell down through the field, ending up as low as 11th before the red flag.
“Oh we were bad,” Coby said after the race. “We just tightened the car up too much. You never know what this track’s going to do and we just tightened it up too much.”
However, Coby’s pit crew worked their magic again, gaining their driver five spots on the pit stop and enabling him to recover for a strong second-place finish.
“My guys rocked it,” Coby said. “We came in tenth and came out fifth. I don’t know if anyone expected that but my guys did an awesome job.
“I think we were better than the 51 the last couple of laps. I’m sure he was going really hard and I was going real hard and still catching him.”
Despite his recent dominance at Thompson, Bonsignore still knows that he needs to put together the rest of the season to have any chance of beating the No. 2 team of Coby.
“The two of our cars are really good right now,” Bonsignore said. “I think it’s going to be a hell of a battle between both of us all season, but luckily we were able to come out on top tonight.”
Bonsignore and Coby may be two of the hottest drivers on the Tour at the moment, but both men are starting to glance over their shoulders at the surging No. 46 of Craig Lutz.
Lutz had easily the best day of his 2019 campaign, leading 73 laps on his way to a strong third-place finish. However, he did not quite have the right setup in the car to chase down the leaders at the end.
“We were able to keep second and still be able to run right near Justin, so that was good,” Lutz said. “Came down for the pit stop and put three tires on, the guys killed it on the stop but it was just too tight. Still all in all a good day for the team.”
Lutz’s recent run of top-five finishes has him feeling good about his position for the rest of the season.
“The confidence is definitely there now that the cars are good. The whole team is working real good together and the cars are fast and I’m just lucky enough to drive it.”
Burt Myers, filling in for the injured Dave Sapienza, brought the No. 36 SAP Enterprises machine home in fourth, and Ron Silk continued his own momentum streak with a solid fifth place finish.
Eric Goodale, Matt Swanson, Sam Rameau, Max Zachem, and Woody Pitkat rounded out the top ten.
The next race for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is a 200-lap marathon on the quarter-mile bullring of Riverhead Raceway in Calverton, New York on Saturday, July 6, 2019. Doug Coby enters that race with the championship lead ahead of Silk, Bonsignore, Pitkat, and Lutz.
For more from the Thompson 125 visit Trackside Now presented by New Hampshire Motor Speedway's Full Throttle Fall Weekend.
-Story by: Ian Pettigrew, Speed51 Northeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ian_pettigrew
-Photo credit: Speed51
NWMT Thompson 125 - Full Results (Unofficial)
1 51 Justin Bonsignore
2 2 Doug Coby
3 46 Craig Lutz
4 36 Burt Myers
5 85 Ron Silk
6 58 Eric Goodale
7 3 Matt Swanson
8 06 Sam Rameau
9 20 Max Zachem
10 82 Woody Pitkat
11 54 Tommy Catalano
12 75 Chris Pasteryak
13 16 Timmy Solomito
14 6 Ryan Preece
15 1 George Brunnhoelzl III
16 64 Rob Summers
17 7 Jon McKennedy
18 24 Andrew Krause
19 14 Blake Barney
20 18 Ken Heagy
21 34 JB Fortin
22 45 Timmy Catalano
23 78 Walter Sutcliffe, Jr.
24 38 Kyle Ellwood
25 25 Calvin Carroll
26 33 Wade Cole
27 07 Patrick Emerling
28 92 Anthony Nocella
29 01 Melissa Fifield
30 21 Jimmy Blewett
31 47 Joey Mucciacciaro