When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, Justin Bonsignore will be aiming to add to his historic streak.
Bonsignore has won six consecutive Whelen Modified Tour races at the Connecticut oval. He swept all four series events at Thompson last year en route to his first career title and won both the Icebreaker and the Thompson 125 so far this season. He’s the only driver to accomplish the feat in the 144-race Whelen Modified Tour history of the track and has done it all driving for Ken Massa.
All eyes have now turned towards the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150.
“We anticipate every time that we go to the track we will have a shot at it, but we also know that the streak isn’t going to last forever,” Bonsignore said. “I’m confident enough in my team to say that we can win the race when we get there, no matter how many in a row we have.”
Prior to Bonsignore, multiple former Whelen Modified Tour champions had won four races in a row at Thompson, including Doug Coby, who swept all four races in 2015 en route to his title. Bonsignore has won the last six races from starting positions of fourth or better and has led 280 laps over the stretch. He might not have led all the laps or been the dominant car in all races, but he’s found his way to Victory Lane one way or another, which is a credit to him and his team. The average car count over the span is over 28 cars per event.
“Every time we go there, it’s in the back of your head how unbelievable it is and you wonder how much longer it will go,” Bonsignore said. “On one hand, I am prepared for it to end, but at the same time, I think we will be bummed when it does happen. Especially if we lose it and finish second in the race. When you sit back and look at it 10 years from now, you’ll be able to appreciate what you did.”
Entering Thompson, although he’s won two races at the high-banked oval this season, he also was able to hold the checkered flag at Riverhead Raceway, his home track, in July. But with two DNF’s early in the season, the defending series champion has a 42-point hole in the title chase. Coby, a five-time series champion and Thompson winner himself, leads by 24 over Ron Silk, another former champion and Thompson winner. The three veterans look to be the favorites to contend for the title down the stretch.
“Those are two guys that are two of the best right now and we right there with them,” Bonsignore said. “I’m still confident in what we are going to bring to the track, especially because we brought something totally different the last time, even though we had won five in a row. I go into Thompson with my head held high and a lot of confidence.”
With Ryan Stone on the pit box, Bonsignore knows he will have a strong car to drive to give himself a chance to keep the streak going. The Bud 150 provides fans a chance to watch pit strategy play out, as drivers can take four tires during the event whenever they wish.
“Ryan is always tinkering with setups, trying to evolve to the next setup,” Bonsignore said. “We’re trying to make our own gains. But the strategy is tough to even sit back and talk about, because one caution at a weird time can throw everything for a loop. We might go in with a game plan, but if you don’t get the cautions when you planned, you just adjust. This is a big event. It’s right up there as a marquee event and has been around for many years. We’ve been fortunate enough to win it a few times.”