A pit road mishap by five-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby opened the door for defending champion Justin Bonsignore to secure a historic feat Sunday afternoon at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
Coby, who swept Saturday’s practice sessions and set fast time during qualifying earlier in the day, appeared to have the car to beat in the Icebreaker 150. However, a pit road penalty for running over an air hose with less than 50 laps remaining sent him to the rear of the field on and handed the lead over to Bonsignore.
From there, Bonsignore drove away from Ron Silk to score his fifth consecutive win at the Connecticut oval, a feat that had never been accomplished previously.
“It’s really special anytime you go to victory lane at Thompson but we’ve been having a really good streak here,” Bonsignore told Speed51.com. “We just keep bringing that same car here every time we come. It’s undefeated right now. The odds are stacked against us to keep doing it but we put ourselves in position this whole weekend.”
Despite a near-perfect weekend up until the pit road penalty, Coby finished fifth after charging back through the field.
“I ran over the air hose, man. That’s what I saw,” Coby said. “It is what it is. It’s just a stupid penalty and you need to go to the tail of the longest line, so we couldn’t even restart behind the lead lap car which would’ve helped because we had a great car and came back to fifth. I’m just lucky and happy that it’s in one piece because it could’ve gone the other way after the penalty.”
Bonsignore was running behind Coby on the race track when he noticed the No. 2 machine drop off the pace during pace laps. At first, he didn’t have any indication as to what was happening.
“I had no idea what was going on,” Bonsignore stated. “I think our spotters were having a little trouble getting with race control. I think something was broken on NASCAR’s end to communicate so we didn’t really know why he was stopping, but once he didn’t maintain pace speed, you’ve got to catch the pace car. It took a couple minutes to get it relayed over what happened. I hate it for them, I want to race people outright and either get beat or outrun them.
“The racer in me would have like to race him and seen who would’ve come out on top, but I think it’s going to be a dogfight all year between him and I.”
After a subpar start to the season at Myrtle Beach Speedway and South Boston Speedway, Bonsignore entered the Icebreaker 18th in the point standings. Although he isn’t looking at the points just yet, he was pleased to get momentum back on the side of the No. 51 team.
“The points, you can’t look at them yet anyways,” Bonsignore commented. “If we just have a good spring here and get through Stafford with a good run, hopefully be in contention to win, Wall Stadium is going to be a crapshoot. We’ve got a good couple tracks coming up after that. Anything can happen at all of these races, everyone is going to have a mulligan or two. It’s going to be a good battle all year. [Doug] and I are both really fast right now. Ronnie Silk has a lot of speed in his car and other guys are going to keep working harder to get there with us. I think the strength of the tour right now is really good.”
Silk followed up his South Boston victory with another strong second-place showing Sunday afternoon. Eric Goodale recorded his best finish of the season and completed the podium. Patrick Emerling finished fourth and now sits second in the standings, while Coby’s fifth-place finish was enough to vault him into the championship lead.
As for Bonsignore, he’ll head back to Thompson on Wednesday, June 15 looking to score an unprecedented sixth-straight victory at the track.
“Every time we come here we think we have a shot to win,” he said. “That’s the mindset we have everywhere we go but especially here. Obviously, we know the odds are going to be against us to keep doing this but you never know, it could happen. We’ll see what we can do. If not, we just need to have best finish we can. The big picture is to win this championship.”
Race fans can find on-demand updates, photos and more from Sunday’s race by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Rick Ibsen
NWMT Icebreaker 150 Unofficial Results
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) - April 7, 2019
1 51 Justin Bonsignore
2 85 Ron Silk
3 58 Eric Goodale
4 07 Patrick Emerling
5 2 Doug Coby
6 1 Burt Myers
7 3 Matt Swanson
8 82 Woody Pitkat
9 75 Chris Pasteryak
10 21 Jimmy Blewett
11 06 Sam Rameau
12 15 Kyle Benjamin
13 46 Craig Lutz
14 22 Kyle Bonsignore
15 16 Timmy Solomito
16 14 Blake Barney
17 7 Jon McKennedy
18 54 Tommy Catalano
19 25 Calvin Carroll
20 36 Dave Sapienza
21 34 JB Fortin
22 45 Timmy Catalano
23 18 Ken Heagy
24 92 Anthony Nocella
25 33 Wade Cole
26 01 Melissa Fifield
27 24 Andrew Krause
28 64 Rob Summers