Justin Bonsignore Completes Thompson Sweep & Celebrates Championship

Caps 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Title Run With Eighth Victory

THOMPSON, Conn. — Justin Bonsignore couldn’t have dreamt of a better way to end his championship season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.

Bonsignore captured his eighth win of the season in the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, ending his title run by celebrating both a race win and a dominating championship.

The win allowed the Holtsville, New York, driver to become the fourth driver in the modern era of the Whelen Modified Tour to sweep all of the events at Thompson in the same season. Steve Park (1996), Mike Stefanik (1998) and Doug Coby (2015) are the other three to accomplish the feat.

“It’s been unreal, ever since we unloaded at Myrtle Beach, we have had a great race car at every single race track,” Bonsignore said. “To come here and to sweep the season, there are only a few select people who have done that, and it means a lot to me. It’s important.”

RACING-REFERENCE: Sunoco World Series 150 Results

Bonsignore started third, but ran just outside the top five for the first half of the race. During a caution on lap 81, he rolled the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Chevrolet to pit road and changed tires. Quick work by his team allowed him to exit the leader of the race, and he never relinquished the top spot.

“We didn’t have the best car, but the pit crew did a great job and got us out there in the end. The car was really good on the second set of tires,” Bonsignore said. “It was the same thing we did all year at Thompson. We were going to race hard because we didn’t have anything to lose today.”

RACING-REFERENCE: Justin Bonsignore’s 2018 Season

He defeated Chase Dowling by 97 points in the final championship standings, with an average finish of 3.4 and top-10 finishes in all but one event.

Jon McKennedy used a late stop for tires, and passed Ron Silk in the final turn, capping his season with a second. Silk was third, followed by Ryan Preece, who led a race-high 83 laps. Burt Myers rounded out the top five.

Doug Coby was sixth, followed by Matt Swanson, Bobby Santos III, Chris Pasteryak and Eric Goodale.

The Sunoco World Series 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, October 18, 7 p.m.

Bonsignore and his Kenneth Massa Motorsports team will be honored with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour top finishers arnd special award winners at the NASCAR Awards Charlotte on Friday, Dec. 7.

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour-Sunoco World Series 150 Results

Sunday

At Thompson International Speedway

Thompson, Conn.

Lap length: 0.625 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

  1. (3) Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150 laps, 85.638 mph.
  2. (5) Jon McKennedy, Chelmsford, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  3. (9) Ron Silk, Norwalk, CT, Chevrolet, 150.
  4. (2) Ryan Preece, Berlin, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  5. (7) Burt Myers, Walnut Cove, N.C., Chevrolet, 150.
  6. (4) Doug Coby, Milford, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  7. (15) Matt Swanson, Acton, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  8. (10) Bobby Santos, III, Franklin, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  9. (19) Chris Pasteryak, Lisbon, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  10. (18) Eric Goodale, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
  11. (17) Anthony Nocella, Woburn, Mass., Chevrolet, 150.
  12. (8) Craig Lutz, Miller Place, N.Y., Chevrolet, 150.
  13. (13) Woody Pitkat, Stafford, Conn., Chevrolet, 150.
  14. (1) Ronnie Williams, Ellington, Conn., Chevrolet, 149.
  15. (14) Kyle Bonsignore, Bay Shore, N.Y., Chevrolet, 149.
  16. (23) Blake Barney, Lakewood, N.J., Chevrolet, 149.
  17. (25) Sam Rameau, Westminster, Mass., Chevrolet, 149.
  18. (12) Rob Summers, Manchester, CT, Chevrolet, 149.
  19. (22) Tommy Catalano, Ontario, N.Y., Chevrolet, 148.
  20. (21) Shawn Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Chevrolet, 148.
  21. (26) Gary Putnam, Vernon, Conn., Chevrolet, 148.
  22. (24) Ken Heagy, Calverton, N.Y., Ford, 148.
  23. (16) Calvin Carroll, Newton, N.J., Chevrolet, 147.
  24. (29) Wade Cole, Hartland, Conn., Chevrolet, 147.
  25. (27) Walter Sutcliffe Jr., East Haven, Conn., Chevrolet, 143.
  26. (11) Dave Sapienza, Riverhead, N.Y., Chevrolet, 132, accident.
  27. (20) Andrew Krause, Holmdel, N.J., Toyota, 131, ignition.
  28. (31) Timmy Solomito, Islip, N.Y., Ford, 93, suspension.
  29. (33) Cory Osland, East Hampton, N.Y., Chevrolet, 88, mechanical.
  30. (6) Chase Dowling, Roxbury, Conn., Chevrolet, 82, ignition.
  31. (32) Melissa Fifield, Wakefield, N.H., Chevrolet, 72, handling.
  32. (30) Dave Salzarulo, Monson, Mass., Chevrolet, 33, engine.
  33. (28) Gary McDonald, Ronkonkoma, N.Y., Chevrolet, 0, accident.

 

Race Statistics

Time of Race: 1 hour 5 minutes 41 seconds

Margin of Victory: 0.448 seconds

Fastest Qualifier: R.Williams (120.553 mph, 18.664 seconds)

Caution Flags: 6 for 28 laps.

Lead Changes: 1 among 2 drivers.

Lap Leaders: R. Preece 1-83; J. Bonsignore 84-150.

Standings: 1. J. Bonsignore, 693; 2. C. Dowling, 596; 3. D. Coby, 575; 4. T. Solomito, 545; 5. C. Lutz, 541; 6. R. Summers, 515; 7. E. Goodale, 495; 8. D. Sapienza, 477; 9. R. Williams, 461; 10. C. Pasteryak, 431.

Payea Captures ACT Championship in Wild Day Two of World Series Weekend : UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

Despite Mother Nature raining on the party early, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park successfully held day number two of the 56th Annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing on Saturday, Oct. 13. Seven features made up the afternoon with several drivers clinching championships in touring series holding their season finales at the Big-T.

The highlight event of the night was the American-Canadian Tour Late Models who took to the track for the World Series 75, the longest race of the night. Last year’s race winner Eddie MacDonald hoped to continue his success after winning the Granite State Pro Stocks feature on Friday night at Thompson. MacDonald entered the final race of the season 26 pts behind Scott Payea for the championship lead. Payea was seeking his second consecutive title with a perfect record of top tens in 2018 having to finish third or better to secure the championship regardless of what his competition did.

MacDonald and Payea proved to be inseparable throughout the race both staying within three positions of each other on the back end of the top ten while Rich Dubeau took a significant lead on the field up front. The race proved to be a marathon of green-flag laps until lap 67 when a series of consecutive cautions and restarts changed the complexion of the race.

Payea’s smooth day quickly fell apart as he was involved in two different incidents allowing Eddie MacDonald to make up ground and move into the top five. Meanwhile Tom Carey, III and Richard Dubeau traded the lead numerous times on consecutive restarts before another caution on lap 71 saw both drivers spin out seemingly putting Eddie MacDonald in the lead. However, MacDonald was penalized and sent to the back of the field as he was deemed partially responsible for causing the wreck by failing to lift, spinning Dubeau as a result.

With MacDonald going to the rear all Scott Payea had to do was finish as he secured his second consecutive title after a seemingly simple feature turned into one of the most intense battles of the entire weekend. “It was just amazing with this team behind me. The tour is so tough, and it was a wild night. We won it, we lost it and we won it again. I’m just so happy to get this done for the whole team. It’s just amazing,” Payea said in victory lane.

As for the race win it was young Jake Johnson who took advantage of the chaos and charged to his first ever victory at Thompson in his first race at the track in a late model. “We had a really good car and I really didn’t think we would have this type of night. We were eighth or so and then things started going our way. Everyone started getting aggressive and wrecking each other. Once I was in fourth it was hammer time and we were going for it,” Johnson said.

The Valenti Modified Series was just as action packed, closing out the season with a 50-lap feature and a tight points race with Woody Pitkat and Michael Willis, Jr. separate by only 15 points. Pitkat earned his only win of the season on Oct. 7 at Lee USA Speedway and was riding momentum into the final event but luck was not on his side as an engine failure earlier in the weekend and a broken rear end in the opening laps forced Pitkat to pit seemingly ending his championship hopes. However, Michael Willis, Jr. also suffered through an unfortunate evening sustaining damage in a caution halfway thought the race, one of two incidents at halfway that brought out red flags. Willis went on to finish 22nd but it wasn’t enough to overcome Pitkat’s lead giving Pitkat his second title in the Valenti Modifieds despite an early retirement from the event.

“It was a long weekend obviously. Not the way I wanted to finish it off. I can’t thank these guys enough. There’s so many people to thank it’s unbelievable,” Pitkat said after the race. Pitkat won the title driving for different owners throughout the season in order to earn the championship and with the struggles World Series weekend brought he said he felt blessed to have a support team to help him pull it off. “It’s just nice that the hard work we did over the weekend came out because I probably slept about four hours. It’s really unbelievable to have to piece together rides here at the end of the year to cap this off. That’s just my never give up attitude. When you think you’re down you just keep digging.”

Meanwhile in the front of the field the early battle was between Keith Rocco and Chase Dowling with Rocco having the advantage in the opening laps. By lap 16 Dowling had hunted down Rocco and made the pass for the lead where he remained until a restart with six laps to go allowed Owen to get a jump, pushing past Dowling before the final caution waved on lap 45. Owen held the lead off the last restart winning a wild and eventful Velenti Modified feature. Owen said restarts were key to his success at the end of the night.

“When you’re second you need cautions because that’s probably the only point right there where I could have passed (Chase Dowling),” Owen said. “He was probably better on the long run. I knew if we had a restart I could have a good chance at him and that one right there I was able to drive right by.”

The NEMA Midgets started off the evening with their annual Shane Hammond Memorial 25-lap feature, the penultimate race of their season, with Randy Cabral firmly in charge of the points looking for his second consecutive title and seventh overall in eleven years. Cabral, always a threat at the World Series with eight previous wins in Thompson’s annual season-ending weekend, came into the race a model of consistency with three wins and six other podium finishes in eleven races this season.

The race pitted Cabral against John Zych, Jr. by the end of the race setting up a battle between two drivers who are no stranger to victory lane on World Series weekend. In the end is was John Zych, Jr. who took the checkered flag while Cabral all but wrapped up the title with one race left in the season.

After the race John Zych, Jr. celebrated a win at one of his favorite tracks on the circuit. “I love coming here. I love this track and the atmosphere here. For pavement racing this is it,” Zych said. “The car was really good through one and two. I was almost able to flatfoot it around. I knew the car was really good and for someone to pass me they would have had to be really good.” The NEMA drivers will close out their season with one final feature at the Waterford Speedbowl next weekend.

The Exit Realty Truck Challenge crowned a familiar name as champion after a 25-lap feature. Allen Coates won both the title and the feature event, but he had to battle and defeat his son Corey Coates to do it. “I saw (Corey) in the mirror and I was like, ‘oh no, here we go’. I knew I couldn’t miss my corners with Corey there. I told him from the beginning to take advantage of what he gains. I saw him a couple times pretty heavy in the mirror,” Allen Coates said after the race. The legendary racer was joined by his son in victory lane who went on to finish second.

The Pro 4 Modifieds produced a pair of winners during the annual Harry Kourafas Memorial Race Brett Meservey took the overall win while P.J. Peters picked up the win in the limited category. In the North East Mini Stock Tour 20-lap season finale Desmond Skilling scored the feature win, his first career victory on the tour, while Cody LeBlanc overcame and eight-point deficit to Emerson Cayer to win the tour title. Finally, the Street Stock Showdown closed out the night with a 20-lap feature that event was was called after 11 laps just before the midnight hour. Wayne Corey, Sr. was awarded the win while Alby Ovitt was presented with the championship trophy.

Thompson’s 56th Annual World Series of Speedway Racing will come to a close with its biggest day of racing on Sunday, Oct. 14 where several track champions will be crowned in the Mini Stock, Sunoco Modified, and Limited Sportman track divisions. The afternoon will also include the NEMA Lites and ISMA Supermodifieds before the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closes out its season to end the weekend. Justin Bonsignore comes into Thompson with the Whelen Tour title already secured, but the driver is looking for the Thompson Grand Slam having won all three prior events at the track in 2018. Ronnie Williams will start the race from the pole.

ACT TOUR FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Jake Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 2. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 3. Nick Sweet (Barre, VT); 4. Jean-Francois Dery (Quebec, QC); 5. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 6. Ryan Morgan (Gales Ferry, CT); 7. Ryan Kuhn (East Bridgewater, MA); 8. Scott Payea (Colchester, VT); 9. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 10. Jimmy Hebert (Williamstown, VT)

VALENTI MODIFIED RACING SERIES FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 2. Chase Dowling (Roxbury, CT); 3. Matt Swanson (Acton, MA); 4. Anthony Kocella (Woburn, MA); 5. Anthony Flannery (East Hampton, CT); 6. Rob Richardi (Taunton, MA); 7. Bryan Narducci (Colchester, CT); 8. Dave Etheridge (Portland, CT); 9. Andy Shaw (Center Conway, NH); 10. Dave Shneider (Huntington, NY)

NEMA SHANE HAMMOND MEMORIAL FEATURE TOP-10: 1. John Zych, Jr. (Mendon, MA); 2. Randy Cabral (Kingston, MA); 3. Ben Seitz (Bourne, MA); 4. Jim Chambers (Atkinson, NH); 5. Avery Stohr (Lakeville, MA); 6. Todd Bertrand (Danielson, CT); 7. Alby Ovit (Somersworth, NH); 8. Paul Scally (Raynham, MA); 9. Mike Horn (Ashland, MA); 10. Bethney Stoehr (Bridgewater, MA)

PRO 4 MODIFIEDS HARRY KOURAFAS MEMORIAL RACE FINISH: 1. Brett Meservey (Bewster, MA); 2. Rob Richardi (Taunton, MA); 3. Randy Cabral (Kingston, MA); 4. P.J. Peters (Oxford, CT); 5. #75; 6. Julian Gorman (Bethel, CT); 7. Mark Charette (Wolcott, CT); 8. Bill Lucchessi (Putlake, NY); 9. Dion Doyle (Preston, CT); 10. Ben Ashford (Northfield, CT); 11. #87

EXIT REALTY PRO TRUCK SERIES: 1. Allen Coates; 2. Corey Coates; 3. Josh Stringer; 4. Duane Noil; 5. Jacob Perry; 6. Andy Lindamin; 7. Joshua Hedges; 8. Lucas Leone; 9. Dave Koening; 10. Rick Ashlaw

NORTH EAST MINI STOCK TOUR FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Desmond Skillings (Antrim, NH); 2. Cody LeBlanc (Waterville ME); 3. Jacob Rheaume (Rochester, NH); 4. Rich Fournier (Warwick, MA); 5. Matt Boucher (Andover, NH); 6. Cris King (Derry, NH); 7. Mike Viens (Seekonk, MA); 8. Andrew Farnham; 9. Marc Paneroni; 10. Justin Faford (Westminster, MA)

Photo Michael Jaworecki Myracenews

Nick Johnson Captures Thompson Late Model Title

Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park kicked off the 2018 Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing weekend on Friday, Oct. 12, the biggest racing weekend in New England crowning champions in all of Thompson’s local racing divisions and the Whelen Modified Series Tour. The first night of racing served as a warmup for the action still to come with the crowning of Thompson Late Model Champion and the penultimate race of the 2018 Granite State Pro Stock Series season as the highlights of the evening.

The Late Models have been the most competitive division all season at Thompson Speedway both in terms of points and the variety of winners. Four different drivers entered the season finale with wins to their credit but one without a victory was Nicholas Johnson who used consistency to open a slim seven-point lead on Tom Carey, III coming into the final race of the year. Carey entered the race with momentum having won the September feature event at the Big-T. Mathematically four drivers had a chance at the title in the final race with a mere nineteen points separating fourth from Johnson in the lead.

In the end though it was a battle between Carey and Johnson with Johnson starting the 25-lap feature from ninth position while Tom Carey, III, worked his way into the top five in the early going. Carey was in the top three by lap ten engaging in a hard-fought side-by-side battle with Paul Charette for the second position which would continue throughout the rest of the event. Meanwhile Mark Jenison opened up a sizable lead out front looking for his second win of the season. With ten laps remaining Johnson worked his way into the top five as Carey continued his pursuit for the runner-up spot. Carey was unable to complete the pass despite taking the battle to the line while Johnson finished fifth completing a season of perfect top five finishes and winning the division championship in the Late Models. Mark Jenison took advantage of the hard racing behind him to charge to the race win.

With a season built on consistency Nicholas Johnson said he didn’t expect to be in the running for a title, but he was more than happy to celebrate once the checkered flag waved. “I really can’t believe it. I never thought I’d be running for a championship,” Johnson said in victory lane. “We just kind of fell into it this year and did what we could every race. We ended up on top and just never gave up. It’s unreal. To be able to race at a track where your family raced at and do well, it means a lot.”

In victory lane Mark Jenison celebrated ending his season on a high note taking the same “Support the Troops” scheme he won with during Thompson’s For the Veterans weekend to victory lane. “It’s a tough day and good racing,” Jenison said. “I want to thank our troops and veterans. They do so much for us and they don’t get much reward, but they get it tonight from all of us.”

The Granite State Pro Stocks took to the track later in the evening with a 50-lap feature and the second-to-last race of the season for the New England touring series.  With a 20-point lead in hand Connecticut native Davin O’Connell looked to continue his momentum after a win and a top five in the last two races allowed him to erase a 22-pt deficit with Joey Doiron close behind.

As fate would have it both championship frontrunners experienced their share of turmoil over the course of the race. O’Connell’s bad luck came first as the points leader was involved in a multicar incident on the seventh lap sending him to pit road for repairs. It looked like this opened the door Joey Doiron to have a big points day but on the twelfth lap of the race Doiron’s car experienced a tire failure where the left rear wheel came off of the car, ending his day and effectively ending his chance to win the Granite State Pro Stocks title. O’Connell recovered to finish eleventh while Doiron was scored finishing sixteenth. O’Connell still takes a significant points lead heading to the final race of the season at Waterford.

As for the race win it was all Eddie MacDonald who dominated the event to score his first win of the season in the Granite State Pro Stocks. MacDonald will race again at Thompson on Saturday evening in the American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Model feature and said getting an early win has helped prepare him for the next challenge ahead. “The guys gave me such a good car – It’s great to be able to come down here and get a win,” MacDonald said after the race. “I’m just happy that the car was fast today. It was good to get out there, get a few laps on the track and hopefully tomorrow night it will be just as good.”

The Lite Modifieds held a 20-lap feature that saw the battle for the win become a family affair with cousins Bryan Narducci and Alexander Pearl duking it out in the front row for much of the event. Narducci was able to hold off Pearl and get the jump on a restart with two laps to go to take the checkered flag for his third win of 2018 at Thompson and repeat as a World Series weekend winner after claiming victory in 2017 which was his first race in the Lite’s at the Big-T. Narducci, who has persevered through cerebral palsy to become a rising star on the local racing circuit, was named the Whelen All-American Series Division III national champion last month.

“I think that was our eighth win of the year and we’re four for four at Thompson. There’s something about this place that I just love,” Narducci said after the win. “I just want to thank everyone on the crew and all the sponsors that made this possible. It’s nice to cap the season off on a high note.”

The evening concluded with the Vintage Modifieds representing the history of local racing on the Big-T. The Senior Tour Auto Racers also capped off the night showcasing legendary modified and sportsman vehicles from racing’s past.

World Series weekend continues on Saturday with a loaded schedule of events throughout the afternoon. Racing begins with the NEMA Midgets and ACT Late Models before moving to the Valenti Modifieds, Pro 4 Modifieds, Exit Realty Pro Trucks, North East Mini Stock Tour, the Street Stock Showdown and the crowning of the Thompson Mini Stock Division champion.

LATE MODEL FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Mark Jenison (Warwick, R.I.); 2. Paul Charette (Woodstock, CT); 3. Tom Carey, III (New Salem, MA); 4. William Wall (Shrewsbury, MA); 5. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 6. Ryan Kuhn; 7. Ryan Morgan (Gales Ferry, CT); 8. Joey Parker (Weymouth, MA); 9. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 10. Chad Baxter (Pascoag, R.I.)

LITE MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1, Bryan Narducci; 2. Alexander Pearl; 3. Mark Bakaj; 4. Chris Viens; 5. Brett Gonyaw; 6. Wesley Prucker; 7. John O’Sullivan; 8. Cassandra Cole; 9. Ed Chicoski; 10. Jason Hanson

GRANITE STATE PRO STOCK FINISH TOP-10: 1. Eddie MacDonald; 2. Todd Stone; 3. Tommy O’Sullivan; 4. Ray Christian, III; 5. Mike O’Sullivan; 6. Brad Babb; 7. Dave Farrington, Jr.; 8. Scott MacMichael; 9. Jimmy Renfrew, Jr; 10. Josh King

From weekly short track racing to NASCAR Cup racing