NASCAR WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR HEADLINES MID-WEEK SHOWDOWN
By Kyle Souza, Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park
THOMPSON, Conn. – For the second time in 2019, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour is set to invade Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park this week.
The Thompson 125 will take place on Wednesday, June 5, as the stars of NASCAR’s Modified division return to the .625-mile oval chasing glory in their second of four stops this season. Thompson’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in action over the course of the mid-week main event.
Entering the Whelen Modified Tour 125, Justin Bonsignore has to be the clear favorite. The Holtsville, New York, driver has won five consecutive races at Thompson and will look to continue to break records on Wednesday night. In April’s Icebreaker 150, Bonsignore became the first driver in the history of Whelen Modified Tour action to win five straight races at Thompson.
But Doug Coby isn’t going to let him get far away. The five-time series champion led 107 laps at the Icebreaker before a pit road penalty for running over an air hose on forced him to the tail of the field. The Milford, Connecticut, driver was still able to charge back up to a fifth place finish.
“I think we had a winning car at Thompson for sure,” Coby said. “I think we have a car that is going to show up on Wednesday and be really strong. But, everyone got a race under their belts there and they are going to make changes. The 125 lap race is totally different.”
As Coby mentions, the Thompson 125 creates a completely different animal for Whelen Modified Tour teams. Of the four stops at TSMP, this is the shortest race of all of them, which forces crew chiefs to be at the top of their game to make the right pit calls when it matters most. Drivers can take tires anytime throughout the race, and in the past, it’s been a mixed bag – with some drivers coming in early and staying out late, while others bolt tires on in the final laps and charge through the field.
Bonsignore and Coby have a full field of challengers chasing them. Although Coby has won three of the first six races, and Bonsignore has one to his credit, former champion Ron Silk and Woody Pitkat also have carried the checkered flag this year. In 50 previous Thompson starts, Silk has four wins, and he finished second at the Icebreaker. Pitkat has 42 Thompson starts, and although he hasn’t won yet, he did finish eighth in April, and has tons of experience and wins in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series action in the Late Models and Sunoco Modiieds.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series star Ryan Preece returns to Thompson for the first time since last year. Preece has three career wins at TSMP, including a victory in the Thompson 125 back in 2017. He will sit behind the wheel of the Ed Partridge No. 6, and will also bring a Sunoco Modified to the track for competition.
Names like Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Jimmy Blewett, and Burt Myers are also going to be in contention. The field for the Thompson 125 is expected to be star-studded.
Thompson’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions are also set for their third race of the season. After a win and second in the first two Sunoco Modified races, defending champion Keith Rocco leads the early standings over Mike Christopher Jr. and Woody Pitkat.
Wednesday’s Sunoco Modified field added two more stars last week, as NASCAR K&N Pro Series regular Max McLaughlin and former NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III will compete in the 30-lap event. Brunnhoelzl also returns to Whelen Modified Tour action driving for Eddie Harvey.
In the Late Models, former champion William Wall has two second-place finishes, which has allowed him to take the early advantage over Pitkat by 10 points. Wall came just inches away from a victory on May 19, when Ryan Morgan edged him out at the line. Tom Carey III picked up the Icebreaker win to open the season.
Bryan Narducci’s perfect streak is on the line in the SK Light Modifieds® as the Connecticut rising star and defending NASCAR Division III National Champion has won six consecutive Thompson races dating back to last year. With his two wins this year, Narducci has opened a large 28-point lead in the standings over Cornelius Flynn.
Steve Michalski holds a scant four-point lead over Jared Roy in the Mini Stocks, as the two drivers have shared Victory Lane in the first two events. Evan Bourgeois, the son of reigning Mini Stock champion Eric Bourgeois, is third, 10 points out.
Ryan Waterman won the Icebreaker, and with his second-place finish on May 19, Waterman is the early leader in the Limited Sportsman class. Shawn Monahan, who took his new ‘Swaggin Wagon’ to Victory Lane in the extra distance event, is second.
Thompson’s Wednesday night showdown begins when the front grandstands open at 3:30 p.m. Fans will make it in just in time to watch the only practice of the day for the Whelen Modified Tour from 4-5 p.m., followed by the beginning of qualifying races at 5:05 p.m. Feature racing will follow, with the Thompson 125 slated to take the green flag at 8 p.m.
For the latest news from Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans can visit www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track on social media via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Tom Morris Photo