Justin Bonsignore slammed the door on Rowan Pennink’s bid for the lead on the final lap to secure the win in Friday’s Whelen All-Star Shootout at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Bonsignore crossed under the white flag as the leader, but Pennink mounted a vicious charge as the leaders powered down the backstretch for the final time. Pennink delivered a few taps to Bonsignore’s back bumper entering turn three before his momentum sent him up the race track.
The end result saw Bonsignore going to victory lane, while Pennink’s day came to an unfortunate end up against the outside wall in turn three.
“Unfortunately, my worst lap was my last lap,” Bonsignore said. “Rowan got a really good run off of two and down the backstretch. I did like everybody does coming to the checkered. You block the bottom, and he got into us trying to get us up off the bottom. It didn’t work out and we were able to hold our ground.
“I was doing the IndyCar swerve every lap to try and break the draft. I knew off of two he had a good run, so I was going to do it and just go in on the bottom. If he was going to drive around me or under me, it was going to be whatever, just come home second and make sure we don’t wreck the car. He tried to just root me up off the bottom and unfortunately for him it just didn’t work. I hate that his car got torn up, you don’t want to see anybody get torn up in an all-star race. I committed to my line down the whole straightaway, so it is what it is.”
After making his way back to the garage area, Pennink declined comment after the race.
Bonsignore, a four-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner in 2018, admitted to having a cautious strategy for Friday’s non-points counting race. With a 100-lap points race on the docket for Saturday afternoon, he didn’t want to push the limit and risk damaging his race car.
“We come into this race a little cautious because we want to try and use the same car tomorrow,” Bonsignore explained. “We just played it by ear. A couple of the early restarts worked into our favor and we were able to get through some of the traffic, get ourselves into the top five.
“I could tell right away our car was pretty good, so I wanted to get up to the front if I could and see if I could get a read on what our car is going to do tomorrow in traffic. We were able to get to third in that intermission and the re-draw worked pretty well for us. I got stuck on the bottom a little bit on the restart. I was able to get up in line and get back by those guys into the lead. We had a really good car with good drive off and I was able to stretch those guys every corner and they’d suck back in with the draft.”
With the win, Bonsignore became the fifth different winner in five versions of the Whelen All-Star Shootout. It was also the second win of his career in 22 starts at “The Magic Mile."
“We struggled for a long time (at New Hampshire). It takes a lot to learn how to race here and be successful,” Bonsignore stated. “We obviously have a really good car right now with a lot of speed in it. That’s a big part of it, you’ve got to have the car behind you and right now we do. I learned a lot when I was able to win that race in 2016 on how to lead the event and how to control the pace up front. I feel like that definitely helped us today being able to stay up front and hold those guys off at the end.
“Anytime you can roll into victory lane at Loudon, it’s always cool.”
Defending NWMT champion Doug Coby mixed it up with the leaders before settling for a runner-up finish. Eric Goodale, early race leader Jon McKennedy and Bobby Santos completed the top five.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will be back in action Saturday afternoon for the Eastern Propane & Oil 100.
Race fans can find on-demand Trackside Now coverage from Friday’s Whelen All-Star Shootout by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Rick Ibsen
Whelen All-Star Shootout Unofficial Results
New Hampshire Motor Speedway - July 20, 2018
|5||44||Bobby Santos III|