Short Track Scene

With new crew chief, Bonsignore hungry for first championship

Cassie Fambro | STS

With a championship the goal in mind, it was announced last Wednesday that Justin Bonsignore will be driving an LFR ground-pounder for Kenneth Massa Motorsports in 2018. Ryan Stone will call the shots from atop the pit box as Bonsignore’s crew chief.

“I’m very pleased we were able to put this deal together after a tremendous amount of work,” said team owner Ken Massa. “This will bring our team to the next level. We didn’t have the season we wanted to last year and after an exhaustive process, speaking to all the manufactures, and a handful of crew chiefs, we have it nailed down. I’m ready to put our team and sponsor back in Victory Lane and work toward earning our first championship in the series.”

2017 sponsor Phoenix Communications Inc. will also be returning to KMM as the team’s primary sponsor for the 2018 season.

In his eight prior seasons with KMM, Bonsignore has scored 12 victories on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The Holtsville, New York-native has also finished third or better in the points standings in three of the last four campaigns.

“I’m very excited and anxious to get the 2018 season started, racing can be a humbling sport and the 2017 season didn’t turn out to be the season we had hoped for,” said Bonsignore. “I feel that bringing Ryan (Stone) on board and making the switch to LFR Chassis will elevate our team back to the level we need to be to contend for wins and a championship. Ryan and I have always been friendly at the races, and I feel our chemistry will be there right away, along with having Rob (Fuller) in our corner for support, I am very confident that this season will be a successful one.”

“None of this would be possible without the return of Phoenix Communications Inc. coming back on board,” continued Bonsignore. “Mark and Marie Langevin stood behind us with their full support last year, and I really want to get them and my team of guys back to Victory Lane more than anything else.”

The man who shepherded Ron Silk to the 2011 championship, Ryan Stone, will be the crew chief for the No. 51 team. Stone is a 20-year veteran of the sport, having worked with modifieds for more than a decade as a racer, car chief, and crew chief. Three of those seasons were spent working at LFR.

“This is a great opportunity for me to get back home to Connecticut and get back working with the modifieds and LFR which is where my heart is,” said Stone. “I’m glad I got the experience to work in the South for a short time to see what it was all about, but I’m excited to get back up North and work with Justin and Ken. I spent a lot of time with Rob while we built the LFR brand so I know we will have the equipment that can contend for a championship.”

Ken Massa was all too happy to have Stone join the team. Massa believed that Stone would fit in with the team well, albeit with some persistence needed.

“It’s funny, because we approached Ryan earlier and he turned us down, but I guess I owe it to Rob for keeping after it,” said Massa. “Eventually Ryan came back to the table and we were able to finish the deal. Rob put in a lot of work to make this happen, and showed that he was determined to get the 51 Team in LFR equipment, and that means a lot when there are so many choices of what car to run.”

LFR has seen nothing but success on the Whelen Modified Tour. Since it was created by Rob Fuller in 2014, LFR teams have won the championship every single year.

“A team like KMM can go to any design car they want honestly,” said Fuller. “I have had my eye on them for a couple years now and knew they were a better group than what they were showing, and thought they would be a perfect addition to the LFR team. Ken and Justin came to the LFR shop before the holidays and their reaction to the cars was what I hoped it would be. Ken explained that he watched our house car this year and was impressed with our results. Also, the teams that made a change to LFR in recent years, all had immediate improvements in performance. Justin was just as impressed and is ready to start winning races again. I believe this team will be back where they belong in 2018.”

The 2018 Whelen Modified Tour season will open on March 17th at the Myrtle Beach Speedway.

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