It’s not often a driver has a perfect night, but a perfect night is what Steve Masse had at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) on Saturday night as he completely dominated the 75-lap Valenti Modified Racing Series season finale during the World Series of Speedway Racing.
Masse started from the pole and went wire-to-wire. There were times when it seemed like Woody Pitkat or Keith Rocco would have something for Masse, but neither of them were ever able to make a serious attempt at the lead.
“The car was just amazing,” Masse told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I’ve raced SK’s here. I’ve never officially gotten a win here so to finally seal the deal here is pretty amazing. It’s hard to put it into words right now. It’s right at the top of the wins list for me.”
During the long green flag run to start off the race it appeared that it would be Pitkat who would be the main challenger to Masse, but Rocco launched into second place on a restart with 10 laps to go. Rocco closed in on Masse but couldn’t get much closer than two car lengths behind.
“I was really afraid that Rocco was saving and would come up and shoot by me,” said Masse. “But I did a really good job of saving my tires up front. It would have been nice to pass a couple of cars, but a win is a win and I’ll take it.”
The big story coming into the night was the championship battle. Justin Bonsignore left the penultimate race at Lee USA Speedway (NH) with a 37-point advantage over defending champion, Rowan Pennink. All Bonsignore had to do was finish 15th or better to secure his first VMRS championship in his first full campaign with the series.
Fifteenth or better appeared to be an easy task at the start of the night for Bonsignore, who started sixth. Bonsignore quickly moved into fourth and stayed there most of the race before he started to get shuffled back with about 20 laps to go.
Bonsignore started battling with Dan Meservey for sixth, but struggled to get by. Then Bonsignore, by his own admission, got a bit impatient and dove underneath Meservey going into turn three. They made contact and Meservey went for a spin. Brian Schofield spun to avoid Meservey and made hard contact with the driver’s side of his blue No. 07 machine.
“I made a stupid move,” said Bonsignore. “I thought I had position on (Meservey) and he kind of kept me down a bit more than I expected and we just banged wheels a bunch. My thoughts and prayers are with Brian. I hope he’s going to be okay.”
The race was red-flagged for close to an hour as safety workers tended to Schofield. Schofield drifted in and out of consciousness making it difficult to get him out of the car. Safety workers had to cut the roof off of Schofield’s car to get him out. He was then placed into an ambulance and then transported to UMass Worcester Hospital by helicopter as a precaution.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park track chaplin, Scott Martin was with Schofield at the hospital until 2am Sunday morning. He said that Schofield was “alert and will be fine.”
The red flag proved to be a bit of blessing for Bonsignore, whose team had to replace a lot of the parts in the right front area.
“Pretty much everything but the hub and the brake,” said Bonsignore. “It did some things that Kenny (Barry, Bonsignore’s crew chief) had never seen before.”
Bonsignore restarted at the tail-end of the lead lap with eight laps to go; about four positions behind where he needed to be.
He picked a few drivers off before another caution came out with three laps to go. Bonsignore restarted 15th, the position he needed, and did all he could to maintain that spot during the last three laps.
Bonsignore took the checkered flag in 14th, one position better than he needed, and clinched the championship.
“It’s pretty cool to win a touring title,” he said. “I’ve won at the weekly level. So to doing it at the touring level is awesome.”
Speed51.com will have more on Bonsignore’s championship next week. For on-demand coverage of the VMRS event from Thompson, visit 51’s Trackside now coverage here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Regional Editor (CT, NJ, Long Island) – Twitter: @RobBlount
VMRS Sunoco World Series 75 Unofficial Results:
1) Steve Masse
2) Woody Pitkat
3) Keith Rocco
4) Richard Savary
5) Rowan Pennink
6) Ted Christopher
7) Dave Schneider
8) Eric Goodale
9) Mike Willis Jr.
10) Dylan Kopec
11) Dave Etheridge
12) Brad Van Houten
13) Ryan Preece
14) Justin Bonsignore
15) Todd Patnode
16) Matthew Mead
17) Rob Richardi Jr.
18) Dennis Perry
19) Roy Seidell Jr.
20) Chris Pasteryak
21) Colbey Fournier
22) Dan Meservey Jr.
23) Brian Schofield
24) Chris Bakaj
25) Tommy Barrett Jr.
26) Johnny Kay
27) Donnie Lashua
28) Norm Wrenn
29) Carl Medieros Jr.
30) George Sherman
31) John Fortin
32) Geoff Gernhard