Bonsignore Extends Points Lead With Third Thompson Win of 2018, Fifth of Season
Story By: Taylor Therrien/Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
Photos By: Michael Ivins/NASCAR
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park hosted its mid-summer classic event on Wednesday, August 8, the annual Bud 150 featuring the stars and cars of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Series Tour as well as Thompson’s local racing divisions. In their third appearance at Thompson in 2018 the nation’s best modified drivers were all chasing down one man, Justin Bonsignore who entered the event with four wins and a 51-point advantage on Chase Dowling for the title.
Bonsignore started the evening off strong by winning the pole for the race and went on to lead the first 14 circuits before Dowling managed to wrestle the lead away. Bonsignore wouldn’t go quietly and kept Dowling in his sights with the gap holding at less than half a second every lap until the points leader used a power move in turns one and two to take the lead back on lap 77. Another caution on lap 89 brought Bonsignore and the remainder of the lead-lap cars into the pits with only reigning champion Doug Coby, who claimed his first win of the season on August 3 at Stafford Motor Speedway, taking a chance and staying out on old tires.
When the green waved again Bonsignore reclaimed the lead easily. It was Coby himself who brought out the next caution when he spun in turn two 123 laps into the race allowing him to come in for new tires. While Coby was able to utilize the new rubber to work his way up to third before the finish it was all Justin Bonsignore in the closing laps who won his third race at Thompson and his fifth of the season to extend his points lead heading to Bristol Motor Speedway. Matt Swanson, filling in for Rowan Pennink who was celebrating the birth of his first child, finished second in the Ole Blue #3 of BRE Racing.
“It’s pretty unbelievable right now everything’s clicking on eight cylinders,” Bonsignore said in victory lane. “The guys are killing it on pit road. It’s just a total team effort – It’s our third race this year (at Thompson) and we’ve won all three. I can’t thank them enough.”
Matt Swanson was humbled by his runner up finish having received the call the day before the race to drive the #3 and called it a great opportunity to get behind the wheel of a legendary modified. “I couldn’t stop saying how thankful I was to be able to drive that car today after the race. The opportunity to drive such a famous modified it makes me feel very blessed. I’m happy I could get a good finish for them,” said Swanson.
Third place Doug Coby said his team took a chance staying out on tires and while it looked like his own spin helped him gain an edge he admitted he needed a caution a few laps earlier to make a real run at the lead. “With 125 laps on one set of tires you’re certainly getting roughed up quite a bit because those guys with tires are coming through,” Coby said. “Fifteen laps or 20 laps before that would have been the right time. We called our shot from the beginning and we were looking for a late caution and when you’re the only car without tires it’s probably going to be you.”
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour heads to Bristol next on Thursday, August 16 for the Bush’s Beans 150.
The Sunoco Modifieds started off the evening and resulted in yet another battle between two of the best drivers in the division. After handing Keith Rocco his first loss of the year in July, Ryan Preece continued to be the biggest threat to the points leader and reining division champion as the two drivers were nose to tail for most of the 30-lap feature. Both drivers worked their way to the top three by the end of the third lap before a caution on lap four gave Keith Rocco the opportunity to take the lead on a restart. Preece remained on Rocco’s bumper eventually working the bottom line of the track in an attempt to gain an edge on his rival. Rocco however would not be denied and charged his way to yet another win in the Sunoco Modifieds, his fourth of the season in five events.
For the defending champion it was business as usual. “(Preece) was running the bottom and he was probably on the free side,” Rocco said after his victory. “We had a really good car today and I just did what we do. We were able to stay up front and keep them behind us.”
The NEMA Midgets made their first appearance at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park for 2018 with a 25-lap feature that saw another familiar name score a win. Todd Bertrand put on a clinic with a dominating performance leading the bulk of the race and surviving numerous restarts to earn another NEMA win at Thompson after scoring the win during the World Series weekend in 2017 and in the NEMA Lites during the Icebreaker weekend. A local racer from Danielson, Bertrand considers Thompson his home track and called it a demanding oval when speaking about his win.
“The car actually got really tight halfway through the race, so I couldn’t run as high of a line as I wanted to in order to keep the momentum. I was trying all different lines,” Bertrand said. “I knew I had to get to the front as quickly as possible and luckily the car drove away and I made some good moves at the end and kept the nose clean.”
One of the best races of the afternoon was the 20-lap feature hosted by the Limited Sportsman division as Shawn Monahan looked to continue his division-leading dominance in search of his third win of the season. The event began with Meghan Fuller looking for her first win at Thompson. She showed some promise early leading a good portion of the first ten laps before a lap nine caution set up a restart that did not work in Fuller’s favor. Scott Sundeen took advantage of the restart to claim the top spot and after contact with Monahan Fuller’s day was finished in a wreck on lap 16.
Sundeen maintained the lead but Shawn Monahan and Ryan Waterman would not let Sundeen get away. With two laps remaining Ryan Waterman worked his way to the second position preparing for a potential race-winning move on the final lap while Monahan waited in the wings for his time to strike. The three-way battle for the lead culminated in one of the best finishes at Thompson so far in 2018 as it all came to a head in the final turn of the race. In a last-ditch effort to win the event Ryan Waterman dove deep, pushing Scott Sundeen out of the grove and, in turn, losing his own grip coming out of turn four. This opened the door for Shawn Monahan to make a charge for the win rubbing doors with Waterman resulting in Monahan going across the line sideways for his third victory of the season.
After the race Monahan spoke about the exciting final turn. “Being at the right place at the right time makes a difference. The race director was warning (Waterman) no contact or we’re going to pull you from the position and he didn’t have his headset working. He sent it in there pretty deep and move Sundeen up. Quite frankly I really don’t feel bad about it at all. Sundeen openly doesn’t like me and he drove me right out of the park going into turn one,” said Monahan. “It’s the only thing that I potentially could have hoped for, for something to happen between those two and me not to get caught up in it.”
Both Sundeen and Waterman finished outside the top ten, Sundeen due to the final lap incident and Waterman due to the contact he made trying to make the final pass.
Closing out the night were the Mini Stocks and the Late Models with a 15-lap and 25-lap feature respectively. In the Mini Stock feature it was Wayne Burroughs who claimed his fourth win of the season continuing a great year for the driver who sacrificed his opportunity to defend his division title when a rescheduled race conflicted with a family vacation in June. The Late Models saw Ryan Morgan score his second consecutive win and third overall on the year in the division at Thompson. The win didn’t come easy as Morgan had to fight off a last lap charge by Tom Carry, III resulting in a near-photo finish for the victory. “I knew we had a fast car tonight. I got here late and didn’t have any practice. I’ve got to thank the track for giving me some hot laps. We just went too far on an adjustment and we couldn’t run away. (Carey) definitely made me work for it,” Morgan said in victory lane.
Thompson will celebrate its penultimate racing event for 2018 on Sunday September 9 with the “For the Fans Night”, a day to celebrate the motorsports fans who have made this year a massive success for Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The day will include events from the local divisions including Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks. The big event of the evening however will be the Sonoco Modified 20/20 Sprint, a popular feature including a pair of 20-lap points races and a 10-lap feature to decide an overall winner.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS (CHECK THE WEBSITE FOR OFFICIAL RESULTS TOMORROW)
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Bud 150 Finish Top- 10: 1. Justin Bonsignore; 2. Matt Swanson; 3. Doug Coby; 4. Chase Dowling; 5. Bobby Santos, III; 6. Woody Pitkat; 7. Andrew Krause; 8. Craig Lutz; 9. Chris Pasteryak; 10. Timmy Solomito
SUNOCO MODIFIED FINISH TOP-10: 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Ryan Preece (Broad Brook, CT); 3. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 4. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Timmy Jordan (Plainfield, CT); 7. Kyle James (Ashaway, RI); 8. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 9. Adam Gada (Bozrah, CT); 10. Joey Gada (Uncasville, CT)
NEMA FINISH TOP-10: 1. Todd Bertrand (Danielson, CT); 2. Jim Chambers (Atkinson, NH); 3. Cole Carter (Indianapolis, IN); 4. Paul Scally (Raynham, MA); 5. Ben Seitz; 6. Randy Carbal (Kingston, MA); 7. Doug Cleveland (Sudbury, MA); 8. Andy Lutz; 9. Avery Stoehr (Lakeville, MA); 10. Kevin Park
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FINISH TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Zachary Robinson (Putnam, CT); 3. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 4. Chris Meyer (North Franklin, CT); 5. Scott Sundeen (Sutton, MA); 6. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 7. Larry Barnett (Moosup, CT); 8. Troy Waterman (Danielson, CT); 9. Jeff VanPelt (Pawtucket, RI); 10. Mike Malbum (Moosup, CT)
MINI STOCK FINISH: 1. Wayne Burroughs, Jr. (Oakdale, CT); 2. Dave Trudeau (Mansfield, CT); 3. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 4. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 5. Eric Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 6. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 7. Mike Anzalone (Plainfield, CT); 8. Chris Taylor (East Lyme, CT); 9. Dave Trudeau, Jr (Mansfield, CT)
LATE MODEL FINISH TOP-10: 1. Ryan Morgan (Gales Ferry, CT); 2. Tom Carey, III (New Salem, MA); 3. Woody Pitkat (Sturbridge, MA); 4. Walt Sutcliffe (East Haven, CT); 5. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 6. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 7. Glenn Boss (Danielson, CT); 8. Paul Charette (Woodstock, CT); 9. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 10. Randy Tucker (Millis, MA)