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MYRTLE BEACH, SC - MARCH 16:  Justin Bonsignore, driver of the #51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet, during practice before the NASCAR Whelen Modified Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety-Kleen on March 16, 2019 at Myrtle Beach Speedway in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)
Justin Bonsignore topped the only NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour practice session at Myrtle Beach Speedway. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

PRACTICE: Justin Bonsignore Tops Speed Charts at Myrtle Beach

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore topped the lone practice session on Saturday afternoon at Myrtle Beach Speedway.

The Holtsville, New York, driver is looking to follow up on his dominant 2018 season, where he won eight races driving for Kenneth Massa Motorsports. But, his task of a repeat performance en route to another possible title surely isn’t going to to be easy.

For now, he’s off to a good start.

Bonsignore drove the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet around the South Carolina oval with a quick time of 19.464 seconds (99.507 mph). He was at the top of the speed charts early, and even though he fell to second for a period of time, a late mock qualifying run brought the title-holder back to a familiar place in the top spot.

In two previous starts at Myrtle Beach, Bonsignore finished inside the top six both times — including leading 26 laps last year en route to a fifth-place effort.

RACING-REFERENCE: Performance Plus 150 Practice Results

Ron Silk, another former Whelen Modified Tour champion, was second in the session with a time of 19.483 seconds (99.410 mph). Silk only has one previous start at Myrtle Beach — back in 2017 — and it ended with a finish outside the top-10. He moved towards the top of the speed charts in the final moments of practice with a mock qualifying run of his own.

Five-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby was third in the 75-minute session, as he looks to kick back into high-gear in chase of his sixth title. Craig Lutz was fourth, followed by defending Performance Plus 150 presented by Safety Kleen winner Jon McKennedy.

RELATED: Justin Bonsignore Has Sights Set on Repeat Performance

Jimmy Blewett was sixth, followed by Rob Summers, Kyle Bonsignore, Andy Seuss and Timmy Solomito. Two years ago, in the inaugural Whelen Modified Tour race at Myrtle Beach, Solomito went to Victory Lane.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour teams return to the track for group qualifying at 3 p.m. The qualifying session will be the first for drivers to chase the first Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award, while the first “Big Stick” will be awarded to the pole winning crew chief.