HOLTSVILLE, N.Y. — After scoring their second championship together on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2020, Ken Massa Motorsports and Justin Bonsignore have announced that Phoenix Communications Inc. will return to the team as title sponsor in 2021.
Based in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Phoenix Communications started operations in 2000, and they consider themselves to be New England’s leading provider of fiber optic network construction and testing. They install the fiber optic cable that provides homes, businesses, universities, and the entire telecommunications industry with internet, phone, security and a number of other services that are critical to daily operations.
The partnership between the three has produced double-digit wins and multiple titles on the race track.
“We’re very excited for our sixth season with Mark Langevin, Marie Langevin and the entire Phoenix Communications, Inc., group as the primary sponsor of our team in 2021,” Justin Bonsignore said. “We can’t wait to chase our third Whelen Modified Tour championship together and look for continued success.”
Team owner Ken Massa pointed towards the teamwork in the group, which includes Phoenix, as to why the combination has been successful.
“Phoenix Communications ownership gives our team needed inspiration, which elevates our team to want to compete at a higher-level in all aspects,” Ken Massa, team owner, said. “Having them on our side only makes us stronger.”
Justin Bonsignore, Ken Massa Motorsports and the Phoenix Communications team will open their 2021 season in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Martinsville Speedway on Thursday, May 8, 2021.
“We had a couple of really long tenured clients of our company that attended the Whelen Modified Tour races, and when the opportunity came up for sponsorship, the rest is really history,” said Mark Lengevin, president of Phoenix Communications, said in 2018 of the partnership. “Being at a race is a great environment, and (before the sponsorship) I personally had never been to any of the Whelen Modified Tour races, but it’s always a good time. There is always a smile on someone’s face.”
For more information on Justin Bonsignore, fans should follow JustinBonsignore.com and Justin Bonsignore’s Athlete page on Facebook.
THOMPSON, Conn. — When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Thompson for the 57th annual Sunoco World Series October 11-13, two drivers are going to be in contention to earn the series championship.
Doug Coby, a five-time champion looking to add to his historic resume, leads defending Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore by 19 points. For Coby, a solid day should help get the job done without even having to win the race. For Bonsignore, he is going to have to do everything he can to close the gap, and hope Coby has a bit of a stumble.
“We’ll have a good car, but I know they are going to have a good car,” Coby said. “You have to figure Justin is going to win and go lead the most laps like he usually does. We are going to have to be every bit as good.”
For Coby, this season has been filled with a return to the top. After a 2018 season that only included one victory, which wasn’t up to his standards, he watched Bonsignore dominate. A change in his shock package, combined with some improved setups, has given him four checkered flags in the 15 races this year. Coby went to Victory Lane in the Bud ‘King of Beers’ 150 at Thompson in August and finished inside the top five in the other two races at TSMP this year.
Bonsignore, who dominated en route to his first title last year with eight wins, has five victories this season, including two at Thompson. Entering the Bud 150, Bonsignore had won six straight Whelen Modified Tour races at TSMP, but he finished second that night, breaking the streak. Trailing Coby by 19 points might be a product of two DNF’s early in the season at South Boston Speedway and Wall Stadium Speedway.
“We’ve thought for a while now that we needed to win every race. In the last four races, we have two wins. We’re doing what we need to do, but we spotted those guys too many points in the beginning of the year,” Bonsignore said. “We’re doing a great job. I’m happy. We just need to go there (to the World Series) and win the race, and if other things happen and we need to change our strategy, we will go with that.”
For Coby, his 19-point lead might give him the chance to relax a bit in the early laps and settle in. But, as the Milford, Connecticut, driver knows, there is no safe spot in the field. In the 2017 Icebreaker, Coby started third, but didn’t complete a whole lap after a wreck on the backstretch ended his day. He knows anything can happen, but a strong finish will do the trick.
“Even if we have some challenges, I’d like to think we can finish there,” Coby said. “If you get caught up in someone else’s mess, and you blow the right-front off, we could be running up front and be caught up in something and finish 20th. It’s really going to come down to the last lap.”
Bonsignore has 11 wins in 36 Thompson starts, and he’s finished inside the top two in the last seven races at the Connecticut oval.
“Every time we unload at Thompson, first lap I know what I am looking for, and I know the feel we need. You have a lot of confidence there when you win races,” Bonsignore said. “I’m excited to go and hopefully end the season on a high note. It’s been an amazing year. Five years after what we did last year, we backed it up. We have a lot of confidence; we will just go down swinging. Until they hand him the trophy, we are not out of it.”
Coby knows putting a whole day together could earn him a sixth championship, which would put him past Tony Hirschman for the second most titles in the Whelen Modified Tour modern era. That would leave Coby trailing just the late Mike Stefanik, who had seven.
“We should qualify up front, and if you qualify good, you should be able to get through half of he race without too much aggression. Then, it’s just a matter of if everyone comes in together and takes tires, you have to have a good stop, and be in the right lanes on the restarts,” Coby said. “Hopefully we have a good car that keeps us out of trouble. It’s going to be a barnburner.”
The 57th annual Sunoco World Series will take the green flag on Friday, October 11, and roll through Sunday, October 13. The event begins on Friday, with practice sessions running throughout the afternoon, and qualifying heat racing set to begin at approximately 4:30 p.m. Feature racing on Friday includes the Granite State Pro Stock Series, Late Models, Open Vintage Modifieds and Senior Tour Auto Racers.
Saturday, action begins early with practice at 9 a.m., while qualifying racing begins at 2:30 p.m. There are 10 different feature races planned for Saturday night. Sunday, action begins at 1 p.m., with the season-finale for Thompson’s Sunoco Modified division. The NEMA Lites, ISMA Supermodifieds and TSMP Limited Sportsman will also join the headliner of Sunday — the Sunoco World Series 150 for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
Admission to the paddock area for the entire three days is $75, with grandstand general admission set at $55. Any seniors (65+), veterans and active military will have general admission tickets priced at $50, while kids 12 and under are free in general admission.
Thompson’s annual breakfast and dinner buffets will also take place during Sunoco World Series weekend. The breakfast buffet runs from 7-11 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and is $14 per person. The dinner buffet runs from 5-11 p.m. on Saturday night only and is $24 per person. For any children 12 and under, the dinner buffet is $14.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, fans should visit the track on the web, www.thompsonspeedway.com, and follow the track via social media on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
THOMPSON, Conn. — The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour took center stage at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Wednesday, August 14 for the third time in 2019 with the 30th running of the Budweiser King of Beers 150. Coming into the race three drivers were considered the ones to watch. Points leader Doug Coby looked to extend his perfect streak of top ten finishes on the season, second place Ron Silk sought his third consecutive series victory, and third place defending champion Justin Bonsignore was looking for his seventh consecutive win at Thompson.
Coby earned the early edge by grabbing the pole in group qualifying earlier in the evening, but Bonsignore made sure to keep the five-time champion in his sights, staying within striking distance of Coby through the first half of the race. A caution on lap 83 brought the field to pit road where Jon McKennedy exited first and Justin Bonsignore beat Doug Coby back to the track giving him his best shot at the lead all night.
A poor restart for McKennedy allowed Bonsignore to storm to the lead with 90-laps to go, but an impressive power move by Craig Lutz saw Bonsignore fall back to second where Doug Coby was waiting to pounce. While Bonsignore and Coby battled it out for the runner-up spot with 50-laps to go, Lutz opened a .422 second lead seeking his first Whelen Modified Tour victory. A pair of cautions forced Lutz to fend off both Bonsignore and Coby, but a hard charging Bobby Santos III proved too much for Lutz, who was forced to relinquish the lead on lap 128 leaving Lutz, Bonsignore and Coby hoping for one more shot at the win.
They got their wish with just over ten laps to go as the fifth caution of the night led to chaos when Lutz spun his tires while Santos broke a shifter ending his day. The ensuing caution set up a clash between Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore, but it was Coby who claimed another Thompson win and his fourth win of 2019. The victory was extra special as it came just days shy of Coby’s 40th birthday.
“This is a special place for me and my family,” Coby said on Thompson Speedway in Victory Lane. “What a great race. My last Modified Tour race in my 30s and I won it. What a great decade it was for me and I hope my 40s are even better.”
Justin Bonsignore settled for a runner up finish and saw his winning streak at Thompson come to an end. “It’s tough when you’re that close. It just didn’t work out tonight,” Bonsignore said after the race. “You’re not going to win every race. We were prepared for it to happen. I’ve probably been more prepared (to lose) as it’s gone more and more – we lost to the best car this year.”
The NEMA Midgets followed up the Whelen Modified Tour with a 25-lap feature that saw Todd Bertrand lead the early laps of the event seeking a repeat victory after winning the same race in 2018. However, a mechanical failure 14 laps into the race sidelined Bertrand handing the advantage to points leader Avery Stoehr. Stoehr went on to earn the win defeating Randy Cabral by a margin of just over a second. The win was Stoehr’s first at Thompson in the NEMA Midgets and his best finish at the Big-T since a fourth-place result in 2015.
In addition to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NEMA Midgets, Thompson’s five NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions also took to the track with only a handful of races remaining before the season finale in October. First up were the Sunoco Modifieds where Keith Rocco looked to continue to solidify his position as the frontrunner for what would be his eighth Thompson title. Rocco carried a 38-point lead into the race over Todd Owen and it was those two drivers who battled it out for the first ten laps. While Rocco would manage to fight off his rival, it wouldn’t be the last challenge for the reigning champion in the 30-lap feature. Rocco also defended his position against a hard-charging Woody Pitkat, but it was Ronnie Williams, who defeated Rocco in May, who offered the biggest challenge making several dives for the lead right up to the final corner. It wasn’t enough to dethrone the champion however as Rocco claimed his third win of the season and extended his points lead to 44.
“(Williams) was really good. I do have to say tonight he showed me a lot of respect and that goes a long way,” Rocco said of his rival after the race. “He ran me like a gentleman tonight and that goes a long way – If we could race like that every night the two of us could put on one heck of a show.”
Next up was the SK Light Modifieds® where points leader Bryan Narducci sought his sixth win of the year, with Albert Ouellette not far behind. However, neither driver would last long in the race, as the two points leaders were caught up in a multi-car incident only six laps into the 20-lap feature opening the door for a new winner to shine in the division. That driver was Teddy Hodgdon, who outraced former Thompson Mini Stock champion Wayne Burroughs, Jr. for his first Thompson victory.
“I’ve always wanted to win here since I started last year. We’ve been very close many times, but we were able to do it tonight. The car was on rails,” the 18-year-old Hodgdon said in Victory Lane. “The car went away a little bit towards the end. (Burroughs) was coming. I knew he was better on the long run than I was, so I just had to defend, and we ended up getting a victory.”
Sporting the closest points battle of Thompson’s five divisions, the Limited Sportsman series saw Shawn Monahan step up to the plate to take full control of the points race scoring his third victory of the season in dominating fashion. Monahan made it look easy cruising to a 1.4 second lead and walking away with a trophy and an eight-point lead over Kyle Gero putting Monahan in prime position to earn his third consecutive division title.
“I’m going to take any win I can get – we can’t let go now. We’ve got a goal and there’s not even time out there to run in second place because somebody can get you when you least expect it,” Monahan said after the win.
In the Mini Stocks, the points race was shuffled after both Scott and Steve Michalski, who sat first and second in points respectively with only six points separating them, each had problems in their heat races. This opened the door for Doug Curry, who was third in points facing a 35-point deficit, to cut into their lead. He took full advantage of his opportunity leading nearly the entire race and scoring his second win of 2019 making him the first multi-race victor in the Mini Stocks this season. Despite their troubles the Michalski’s still maintained a tight grip on the top two spots with finishes inside the top ten. Scott Michalski goes into the Labor Day race with an eight-point lead over Steve Michalski.
Finally, the Late Models took to the track for a 25-lap feature with William Wall holding a 17-point advantage over Woody Pitkat for the championship. The points battle took a backseat to some division veterans however as Brian Tagg, Rick Gentes and Ryan Morgan, all virtually eliminated from the title hunt, looked to score a late-season win. Brian Tagg came away with the win while Woody Pitkat picked up minimal points over William Wall as the title contenders finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Racing action returns to Thompson on Labor Day weekend for a makeup day of on-track action on Sunday, September 1. NASCAR’s Whelen All American Series divisions will take center stage as drivers seek valuable points with only two more races before the Sunoco World Series of Racing season finale in October.
WHELEN MODIFIED TOUR 30TH ANNUAL BUD 150 FINISH TOP-10: 1. Doug Coby; 2. Justin Bonsignore; 3. Craig Lutz; 4. Jon McKennedy; 5. Timmy Solomito; 6. Jimmy Blewett; 7. Andrew Krause; 8. Patrick Emerling; 9. Matt Swanson; 10. Woody Pitkat
NEMA FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Avery Stoehr; 2. Randy Cabral; 3. Paul Scally; 4. Mike Horn; 5. Bethany Stoher; 6. Jake Trainor; 7. Sammy Swindell; 8. Andy Lunt; 9. Jeff Champagne; 10. Todd Bertrand
SUNOCO MODIFIED FEATURE FINISH TOP-10: 1. Keith Rocco (Berlin, CT); 2. Ronnie Williams (Tolland, CT); 3. Woody Pitkat (Bellingham, MA); 4. Todd Owen (Somers, CT); 5. Troy Talman (Oxford, MA); 6. Noah Korner; 7. Corey Barry (Brooklyn, CT); 8. Kyle James (Westerly, RI); 9. Adam Gada; 10. Danny Cates
LIMITED SPORTSMAN FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Shawn Monahan (Waterford, CT); 2. Jason Chicolas (Sutton, MA); 3. Moose Douton (Niantic, CT); 4. Kyle Gero (Baltic, CT); 5. Brent Gleason (Griswold, CT); 6. Corey Fanning (Mapleville, RI); 7. Meghan Fuller (Auburn, MA); 8. Al Stone (Durham, CT); 9. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 10. Tommy Shea (New London, CT)
MINI STOCK FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Doug Curry (Norwich, CT); 2. Jared Roy (Sterling, CT); 3. Glen Thomas, Jr.; 4. Ian Brew (Woodriver Junction, RI); 5. Joe Bavolacco (Stratford, CT); 6. JT Suprenant (Central Village, CT); 7. Scott Michalski (Danielson, CT); 8. Steve Michalski (Brooklyn, CT); 9. Evan Bourgeois (East Haddam, CT); 10. John Ekdahl (Chepachet, RI)
LATE MODEL FEATURE TOP-10: 1. Brian Tagg (Oxford, MA); 2. Ryan Morgan (Franklin, CT); 3. Rick Gentes (Harrisville, RI); 4. William Wall (Millbury, MA); 5. Derek Gluchacki (Dartmouth, MA); 6. Matt Lowinski-Loh (Milford, MA); 7. Nick Johnson (Rehoboth, MA); 8. Mark Jenison (Warwick, RI); 9. Buddy Charette (Woodstock, CT); 10. Mike Benevides (Westerly, RI)