Justin Bonsignore keeps on rolling.
The defending NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion added another victory to his historic streak at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, picking up his sixth consecutive win in the Thompson 125.
Five-time champion Doug Coby won his second straight Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole Award, and even though he struggled early, the veteran rebounded for second. The race also marked the third podium finish in four races for rising star Craig Lutz.
All that and more in the rapid rewind from the seventh race of the season.
Bonsignore Flexes His Muscles Again
Six straight wins at any track isn’t an easy task, nevermind the high-banks of Thompson. Wednesday, Bonsignore almost made it look easy. He qualified second, and even though he dropped to the bottom of the top five early, it didn’t take long for him to work his way to the front.
He hounded the back bumper of Lutz for the lead just past the halfway point, and finally worked his way around him on lap 87. From there, Bonsignore was driving off into the night sky, and if the race would have stayed green, he felt like he would have been in the clear.
But it didn’t.
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 6, 2019
A caution on lap 100 slowed the field and gave crew chiefs a chance to make adjustments and put fresh rubber on their cars. Bonsignore’s team got him out second, but it was Jon McKennedy, who took just two tires, who put himself in the top spot.
But Bonsignore didn’t waste any time. The Holtsville, New York, driver rolled the bottom of a tight McKennedy, took the lead, and drove away with another win. Coby was chasing him down a tick in the final laps, but it didn’t matter.
“You just mind the gap in case there is a yellow so you have some tires left,” Bonsignore said. “Once Doug got to second, we were watching intervals, and even though he was a little bit quicker, I was just doing what I needed to do to keep the lead. It’s just phenomenal to keep coming back here and have cars like this.”
Even though Bonsignore started the season with two finishes outside the top 10, and also finished 13th at Wall Stadium, the team is still at the top of their game. In the last two races, the defending series champion has a second and first. But he’s going to need to do some work to catch Coby in the standings, as he trails by 39 points with seven races complete.
“To have a second and a first, our cars have been really good all year and so have the No. 2 teams cars,” Bonsignore said. “I think it’s going to be one of those years. There are some good cars out there. But I think the No. 2 and us have some great cars week in and week out. It just goes to show you how hard our crew chiefs and our teams are working. Unfortunately we spotted him a bunch of points, so hopefully we can nit pick at it through the summer and make our way back into the fight.”
#NWMT There is that 🏁🏁🏁
Justin Bonsignore wins his SIXTH race in a row at Thompson! This is his 22nd career win & second of the season.
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 6, 2019
Previously, six drivers had scored four consecutive Thompson victories — Richie Evans, Jeff Fuller, Steve Park, Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher and Doug Coby. Bonsignore will look for a seventh straight when the Whelen Modified Tour returns to Thompson on Wednesday, August 14.
Coby Rebounds For Solid Second
Overall, it was a solid day for Doug Coby.
He won his second consecutive Mayhew Tools Dominator pole award in qualifying, but in the early laps of the race, the Milford, Connecticut, driver fought a tight condition behind the wheel. He moved to the back of the top 10, and if the caution didn’t fly with 25 laps to go, he was going to finish there.
But the caution saved the day. Coby pitted, the team put tires on, got him out a few positions further up the lineup, and he took care of the rest. He methodically worked his way to the front, passing for second, and attempting to chase down Bonsignore.
But it wasn’t enough.
“Craig is due for his first and Justin is real tough here,” Coby said. “We went out for qualifying and ran one setup, and the guys who qualified at the end, we were still working on our final adjustments and we just tightened the car up too much. We had to battle on the long run with the car changing, and we had to make an adjustment on the pit stop and the guys rocked it.”
No matter what, another second-place finish continued to pad the points lead for Coby in chase of his sixth championship. Leaving Thompson, he leads the standings by 31 points over Ron Silk headed for the summer stretch.
Lutz Continues Impressive Run
Rising star Craig Lutz isn’t messing around.
In the last three races, the Miller Place, New York, driver now has three finishes inside the top three, including another third-place effort in Wednesday’s Thompson 125. For Lutz, the race nearly dropped into his hands. He took the lead from Coby on lap 14, and was the dominant car in the first half of the race behind the wheel of his No. 46 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet.
#NWMT Watching his driver show the way early 👀
— NASCAR Home Tracks (@NASCARHomeTrack) June 5, 2019
When Bonsignore made the move for the lead, he was forced to settle for second until the caution flew. He restarted fourth on the final green flag, and was able to bring the car home third, back in tech inspection again.
“The car fired off good and we were able to get out to a good lead, but with a heat cycle on the tires, we just got tight with the right-front,” Lutz said. “We could run right near Justin, and when we came down for the pit stop, the guys killed it, but it was just too tight. My confidence is definitely there now that the cars are good. To unload and have a fast car off the trailer always makes the day go that much easier.”
The early success has Lutz fifth in the championship standings through seven races. In his career, his best points finish previously is fifth, last year.
Thompson 125 Race Notes:
- In his return to NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour racing, Ryan Preece started 19th and finished 14th. It might have been a struggle in the Thompson 125, but Preece did capture the victory in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sunoco Modified feature.
- After trouble in the first few laps, Jimmy Blewett took a hit in the championship standings, scoring just a 30th-place finish. It was the worst finish in the first seven races for Blewett and his Bertuccio Motorsports team.
- A crash at lap 100 took out both Patrick Emerling and Anthony Nocella, who were racing hard entering Turn 1 when the two made contact. Both drivers exited their cars under their own power, but both had severe damage.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has a month off before returning to action on Saturday, July 6, at New York’s Riverhead Raceway.