Wins at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park don’t come easy and Justin Bonsignore earned a hard-fought one on Sunday.
The 26-year-old from Holtsville, N.Y., outdueled pole sitter Woody Pitkat for the win in the Icebreaker 150 presented by Town Fair Tire. Pitkat was poised for his first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victory, but Bonsignore made the decisive pass through Turn 4 with just nine laps to go en route to the season-opening triumph.
“We had a great car, I was just hoping I wasn’t going to be the guy to mess it up in the last 25 laps,” Bonsignore said. “I knew I had a little bit better car and I kind of had to be aggressive, but everybody knows how it goes here at Thompson – the bottom shot is the only way you’re going to get by.”
Pitkat, who won his first Coors Light Pole Award in Saturday’s qualifying, came up just short in his bid for a first Whelen Modified Tour win and finished second for the third time in his career. Doug Coby, last season’s runner-up in the championship standings, crossed the line in third followed by rookie Timmy Solomito in fourth. Eric Goodale rounded out the top-five finishers in the kick-off event for the tour’s 30th season.
Ron Yuhas Jr., Ron Silk, 13-time Thompson winner Ted Christopher, defending tour champion Ryan Preece and rookie Jimmy Zacharias completed the top 10.
Sunday marked Bonsignore’s first Icebreaker 150 victory, and the fourth of his Whelen Modified Tour career overall. Bonsignore’s second tour victory also came at Thompson in September 2012. His previous best Icebreaker finish was a fifth-place effort in 2011.
Despite once again coming up one spot shy of that elusive first Whelen Modified Tour victory, Pitkat kept a positive attitude following the race.
“I think there was a little more added pressure maybe because we came out and led practice and won time trials, and now you want to go out there and win the race,” Pitkat said. “We tightened it up just a little bit too much. We’re here to learn – we’re a new team – and that’s what we learned.”
The cars of Bonsignore and Pitkat were both powered by the NASCAR-approved spec engine. Sunday marked the third time in the last three seasons a Whelen Modified Tour victory was earned with the engine package, including the last two Thompson races.
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to action on Sunday, April 27 for the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-Icebreaker 150 pres. by Town Fair Tire
At Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
Lap length: 0.625 miles
(Start position in parentheses)
1. (2) Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150 laps, 73.481 mph.
2. (1) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
3. (14) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
4. (12) Timmy Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
5. (10) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
6. (13) Ron Yuhas, Jr., Groton, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
7. (17) Ron Silk, Norwalk, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
8. (11) Ted Christopher, Plainville, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
9. (4) Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn., Ford, 150.
10. (15) Jimmy Zacharias, Candor, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
11. (7) Matt Hirschman, Northampton, Pa., Chevrolet, 150.
12. (21) Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y., Ford, 150.
13. (16) Rob Fuller, Boylston, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
14. (20) Jamie Tomaino, Howell, N.J., Chevrolet, 150.
15. (19) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
16. (22) Wade Cole, Hartland, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
17. (6) Patrick Emerling, Orchard Park, N.Y., Chevrolet, 148.
18. (9) Bobby Santos, Franklin, Mass., Chevrolet, 142.
19. (24) Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H., Chevrolet, 136.
20. (8) Keith Rocco, Wallingford, Conn., Chevrolet, 135, steering.
21. (3) Donny Lia, Jericho, N.Y., Dodge, 123, accident.
22. (5) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa., Chevrolet, 116.
23. (25) Tommy Barrett, Jr., Millis, Mass., Chevrolet, 100, ignition.
24. (18) Mike Stefanik, Coventry, R.I., Chevrolet, 95, engine.
25. (23) T.J. Zacharias, Candor, N.Y., Chevrolet, 19, oil pressure.
Time of Race: 1 hour 16 minutes 33 seconds
Margin of Victory: 0.589 seconds
Fastest Qualifier: W.Pitkat (120.167 mph, 18.724 seconds)
Caution Flags: 7 for 36 laps.
Lead Changes: 7 among 4 drivers.
Lap Leaders: W. Pitkat 1-16; J. Bonsignore 17-20; R. Pennink 21-78; W. Pitkat 79-99; J. Bonsignore 100; D. Lia 101-123; W. Pitkat 124-141; J. Bonsignore 142-150.
Standings: 1. J. Bonsignore, 47; 2. W. Pitkat, 43; 3. D. Coby, 41; 4. T. Solomito, 40; 5. E. Goodale, 39; 6. R. Yuhas, Jr., 38; 7. R. Silk, 37; 8. T. Christopher, 36; 9. R. Preece, 35; 10. J. Zacharias, 34.