Justin Bonsignore was the driver to beat all afternoon, and even though multiple drivers gave it their best effort, no one could stop the driver of the No. 51 from taking his second NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season in the Seekonk 150 at Seekonk Speedway Saturday night.
Bonsignore won the pole with a stunning 11.925-second lap in qualifying, one of only two drivers to dip below 12-second lap times, and he led a race-high 100 laps on the way to his second win in four races this season. The win did not come easily, though – Matt Hirschman, Chase Dowling, Anthony Nocella, and Andrew Krause kept Bonsingore honest throughout the race in battles that raged for all 150 laps.
“I think we were just the best of the remaining cars at the end,” Bonsignore told NASCAR Home Tracks after the race. “Matt got by me on the one restart and he had position so I had to let him go. I could see his car was getting tighter and tighter, and my car was still pretty decent. I was able to put a good crossover on him. That was kind of fun racing side by side and leaning on each other and whatnot. We just had a good enough car to hold them off until the end.
“I just can’t thank everyone enough. This is a total team effort, and I am just the lucky guy that gets to drive this car right now.”
Dowling’s No. 15 was a rocket ship – he passed a massive eleven cars en route to a second-place finish. He joined Bonsignore and Hirschman for the last 50 laps, and was able to steal second from Hirschman on a late restart. He adds this finish to a string of top-five finishes this season, and he has finished no lower than eighth in any race so far.
Hirschman ended up finishing third, a strong result for a driver who is not a NWMT regular. Hirschman and Bonsignore swapped the lead six times between them and were the only two cars who led any laps, with Hirschman leading the other 50. Hirschman has finished third in both of his NWMT starts this season, with the other result coming at the season opener at Myrtle Beach.
A solid run for Rowan Pennink saw him finish fourth. Surprisingly, it was his worst finish of the season – in both of his other two starts (Thompson and Stafford), Pennink finished third.
Ron Silk rounded out the top five, bringing his No. 85 up from the eighth starting position.
Ronnie Williams, Timmy Solomito, Dave Sapienza, and Craig Lutz completed the top ten. Despite their early performance, Andrew Krause and Anthony Nocella finished 13th and 20th respectively, with Nocella getting caught up in a spin on lap 120.
The 2018 season that Bonsignore has been experiencing so far this season has been a dream, but for defending champion Doug Coby, the nightmares continued Saturday night. Coby had been charging through the field and was running as high as sixth, a result that would have equaled the season-best finish he scored at Thompson. However, bad luck struck again as he spun out of turn four with just 17 laps to go, and finished right back where he started in 12th.
Occasional NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Ryan Preece finished a dismal 27th after experiencing engine issues less than one third of the way through the race. Woody Pitkat and Myrtle Beach winner Jon McKennedy would both join Preece in the pits before the 100-lap mark.
With the win, Bonsignore tightened his grip, albeit slightly, on the championship standings, now sitting seven points clear of Chase Dowling. The top two drivers at the top of the standings have created some space back to third, with Craig Lutz sitting 19 points behind. Timmy Solomito remains fourth, and Rob Summers sits only two points behind Solomito in fifth.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Thompson Raceway Park on Wednesday, June 13 for the Thompson 125.
-By Ian Pettigrew, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com