A STORY BY NASCAR.COM/Kyle Souza
In 34 years of NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour competition, no one had accomplished the task.
Justin Bonsignore won his sixth consecutive Whelen Modified Tour race at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park last week, eclipsing the record he set in April of five straight. The Holtsville, New York, driver seems to have mastered the Connecticut high-banks, and he’s the only one to do it this well. But a deeper look shows you that Bonsignore is the first driver in the history of the Whelen Modified Tour to win six races in a row at any track.
Reggie Ruggerio won five straight at New Hampshire Motor Speedway between 1992 and 1994, but he’s the only one to do that. The series has visited more than 30 tracks over the last three decades, and Bonsignore is the first one to make that mark in the record books.
Previously, multiple different former champions had won four straight at Thompson. Richie Evans, Jeff Fuller, Steve Park, Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher and Doug Coby had accomplished the task of winning four in a row. But Bonsignore took that to the next level.
Bonsignore captured his fifth straight in April’s Icebreaker 150, dominating the final laps after Doug Coby’s pit penalty cost him a shot. Entering Wednesday, it was Bonsignore himself who said the place is starting to feel like home.
"A lot of people ask me that and I can’t really say what the answer is," Bonsignore said in a track release. "But I feel really comfortable there, it’s like going home to Riverhead — I have the same feeling when we unload. I know what I need on the first lap of practice and I know what I need for the race."
RACING-REFERENCE: Justin Bonsignore’s Career at Thompson
Bonsignore, who won his first championship last season in dominating fashion, has done something no other champion has done before. Seven-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Mike Stefanik never did it. Five-time champions Tony Hirschman and Doug Coby never did it.
But Bonsignore did.
A STORY BY NASCAR.COM/Kyle Souza
THOMPSON, Conn. — The streak just keeps on rolling. Justin Bonsignore became the first driver to win five consecutive NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in April, and on Wednesday, he increased that number by one.
Bonsignore scored his sixth straight win at the historic Connecticut oval, pulling away from the field after passing Jon McKennedy on a restart and never looking back. It was the 22nd career win for the Holtsville, New York, native and his second of the season. The victory was his 11th at Thompson, a number that leads all active drivers.
RACING-REFERENCE: Thompson 125 Race Results
"I don’t think anyone in the Whelen Modified Tour would ever think they could pull something off like this," Bonsignore said. "Deep down, you know you have cars that always come here and you will be able to do it. But we have won them in so many different ways and there are so many different strategies."
The strategy for this victory was rather easy to decide. Bonsignore took the lead from Craig Lutz on lap 87 after chasing him for the top spot for the middle portion of the race. But a caution on lap 100 sent Bonsignore and the rest of the leaders to pit road for fresh rubber. Once he received his new tires, there was no stopping the veteran.
He restarted to the inside of McKennedy at lap 106, and took the lead entering turn three on the following lap. From there, he pulled away from the field and rolled to victory.
"At lap 100, I was confident that if it just stayed green I would be fine, but when the yellow came out, I was sitting there wondering who was going to pit, who wasn’t going to pit. When McKennedy only took two tires, I knew what his car was going to do. Our car was just so good on three tires."
Doug Coby, who won his second consecutive Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award in qualifying, fought a tight condition early that dropped him to the bottom of the top 10. But after a quick pit stop by his Mayhew Tools team, Coby mounted a charge up to second at the finish. Craig Lutz, who led a race-high 73 laps, finished third. Former NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Burt Myers was fourth, driving for the injured Dave Sapienza, while Ron Silk rounded out the top five. Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Matt Swanson, Sam Rameau, Max Zachem and Woody Pitkat.