Tag Archives: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour

Justin Bonsignore Looking to End Stafford Winless Streak in NAPA Auto Parts 150

Photo Michael Jaworecki/Myracenews

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Now in his 11th full-time season as a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver, Justin Bonsignore and his #51 Phoenix Communications, Inc. team have established themselves as perennial front runners.  Bonsignore has amassed 29 career wins and he has finished in the top-3 of the points standings for the last 4 years in a row, including a championship run in 2018.  One track that has been a nemesis for Bonsignore over the years has been Stafford Speedway.  Bonsignore has 37 career starts at the Connecticut half-mile track and he has yet to post a victory.  Bonsignore’s best Stafford finish has been second place, which he has achieved four times.  As he and the #51 team prepare for this Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 150, Bonsignore is looking to put an end to that winless streak.

“I saw something posted from Stafford that said I was 0-for-37 there and I didn’t know I had that many races at Stafford,” said Bonsignore.  “It’s always on the mind of if and when we can break through.  I think we were the closest we’ve ever been last season at Stafford and we were really looking forward to having 3 shots at winning there this season.  We were really excited with how we ran at Stafford last season to get back there this year and possibly get our first win.  Especially the Sizzler, I would love to win that race but the NAPA 150 is also a prestigious race and we’re happy and thankful we’re able to get back to Stafford in 2020 even if it’s only for one race.  I’m really optimistic that we’ll have a shot at winning this race as long as we have the right strategy.”

In 7 starts this season, Bonsignore has recorded 3 wins, 2 second place finishes, and 2 fifth place finishes.  Dating back to the 2019 season, Bonsignore and the #51 team have recorded 13 consecutive top-5 finishes.  Bonsignore has also completed all 1,247 laps that have been run this season to date and he leads the Whelen Modified Tour field with 390 laps led this season.  Looking at Bonsignore’s 2020 performance, he would have to be ranked among the favorites to win the NAPA 150.  

“This season has definitely been tough for all of us but our season has been really good,” said Bonsignore.  “We started off with back to back wins and we’ve had some good top-5 finishes.  Every race has been a top-5 finish for us so it’s been really successful and we feel like there have been a couple races that we let slip away.  It’s been great to be as competitive as we have been and it just shows how hard Ryan Stone and my entire team work and it’s a pleasure to be able to drive cars that are this good.  Going back to last year, knock on wood we’re on a pretty good top-5 streak.  The goal is always to win or finish in the top-3 every week knowing how good our team is and the potential we have but to not have any issues or an off day where maybe you finish 6th or 7th, it’s a pretty cool stat to have and we’re really proud of that.  If you can be in the top-5 every week you’re going to put yourself into a position to do some really good things.”

Normally when the Whelen Modified Tour rolls into Stafford in September, it’s the third Stafford event of the season.  With the NAPA Auto Parts 150 serving as the one and only NWMT Stafford race this season, teams won’t have any notes from earlier races to fall back on and with a new tire compound and pit stop rule, Bonsignore says fans could be in for a treat when it comes to pit strategy changing up the running order through the NAPA Auto Parts 150.

“This race is going to be different for sure,” said Bonsignore.  “We have different rules this year for pit stops with the tires where we can only take 2 tires per caution period, so that’s kind of a big unknown for everybody and with not running at Stafford yet we don’t know how things will play out but we’ll all watch everything unfold live on Saturday.  We’re also running a different tire compound with a softer tire which I think might open up some different strategy options and it could jumble track position during the race.  I think it’s going to be a crazy race with strategy and we’ll have to make sure we get that right on race day.”

As always, time trials for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 will be important for teams to get the best starting position possible, but Bonsignore says that practice could also play an important role in determining who will be among the front runners once the green flag drops.

“Qualifying will be important to start up front but practice is also going to be important,” said Bonsignore.  “Our pit stalls are determined from our practice speeds so you want to have a strong practice run to possibly get that first pit stall, which will definitely help you out during the race.  We definitely want to try to start on the pole if possible and if we can’t be on pole we want to at least be somewhere in the top-5 to start the race so we can be up front and get into a nice position and not have to race our way through the field and burn up the tires.  As always at Stafford, if you can start up front it can be a huge advantage for how your race is going to play out.”

Bonsignore and the Whelen Modified Tour field will be joined in feature action for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 by Stafford’s SK Lights and Limited Late Models along with the Vintage All-Stars.  General Admission tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 have met the State mandated capacity, but there are still a limited amount of paddock passes available for purchase online through www.staffordspeedway.com.  Tickets will not be sold day of show.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Inside The Musket: Santos Becoming The Best at New Hampshire

By: Kyle Souza / Photo: Tom Morris/My Race News

Bobby Santos and New Hampshire Motor Speedway seem to be the perfect match.

After 12 months of not making a start on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Santos returned to competition in the Musket 200 presented by Whelen last weekend at NHMS and parked his No. 63 ThinkLite Chevrolet in Victory Lane.

Santos hasn’t been out of the seat in 2020 — competing in Sprint Cars and Midgets across the country — including a victory in the prestigious Little 500 just one week prior. But his tenure on the Whelen Modified Tour dwindled a bit the last few years, as he continues to build a family and race elsewhere. But, when he rolls into NHMS, it doesn’t matter whether he’s been on the Whelen Modified Tour lately or not.

He finds a way to win. Santos now has six victories in 28 starts there, including two in the prestigious Musket extra-distance event.

His six wins leads all active drivers, and has him tied for third in the list of all-time drivers at the ‘Magic Mile’. Only seven-time champion Mike Stefanik (8) and Tony Hirschman (7) have more. Santos’ most recent win tied him with Reggie Ruggerio.

“This place has been good to me, I just love coming here,” Santos said. “Good cars and good people around me giving me what I need and making the right adjustments. It’s about getting a feel that I like in the race car so I can race it. I want to be comfortable so I can maneuver and put ourselves in position. It’s also understanding that you have to be in the first couple of spots at the end of the race. If you are third, fourth, fifth on back, it becomes really hard to get to the front without doing anything drastic.”

New Hampshire’s style of racing includes drafting similar to what NASCAR Cup Series fans might see at Daytona and Talladega, but on a much smaller level. There are no large packs three and four-wide, but instead, a slight bump draft, or group or two cars chasing one, makes a difference.

It’s a major wild card of a race with the potential to be collected in a wreck high.

Saturday, Santos wasn’t much of a factor for the lead early, but was riding comfortably inside the top-10. He led his first lap on 169 of 200, and would lead a total of 24 before it was done — including the final one. It was in typical Santos fashion that he doesn’t show up to the front dance until it matters most.

In his six wins, Santos hasn’t led a lap before the 31 laps to go mark in any race. In fact, in all but one of his victories, Santos didn’t lead until there was under 10 laps to go.

He is always there when the big money is on the line, and this time, it earned him a $20,000 prize in the biggest paying Whelen Modified Tour race of the year.

“It was a long race, just trying to bide our time and put ourselves in position to be there at the end,” Santos said. “We just pushed as hard as we could.”

Santos swapped the lead back and forth with 2018 Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore countless times in the final laps.

His first four victories at NHMS were with Tinio Motorsports, but after they decided to step away, the last two have come with Dave Sapienza as his car owner. Sapienza, a competitor on the tour himself, tabbed Santos to drive his car in 2019 after Sapienza was injured in a tour race at Wall Stadium Speedway. Santos was involved in a wreck, earning a DNF in July of last year, but won the September Musket 250.

This year, he made it back-to-back. In those two Musket races only, he’s collected over $40,000 in winning prizes.

Sapienza also competed in the race on Saturday, but finished outside the top-10 a few laps down.

“I’ve been staying busy, racing my sprint cars and midgets, but at the end of the day it comes down to Dave Sapienza and his team,” Santos said. Tommy Grasso (crew chief) works so hard on the cars and prepares them so well. The team was so impressive this weekend — showing up with two cars and the guys bouncing back and forth. It was impressive the way they worked together and did what they could to accommodate me as the outsider and also understanding that it’s Dave’s team and giving him what he needs. It’s just an honor to be able to drive their car.”

If you look back at the history of the Whelen Modified Tour at NHMS, you can now argue that Santos might go down as one of the best drivers to ever run the track in a modified. The eight wins Stefanik has seems like a small number with Santos’ career still going full steam ahead.

Schedule Announced for 58th World Series at Thompson Speedway

Advance Ticket Sales to Begin Tuesday, September 15

Thompson, CT — Track and series officials have announced the schedule of events for the 58th World Series of Speedway Racing at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. The annual auto racing festival once again has three days of racing from Friday, October 9 to Sunday, October 11 with 18 divisions on the program.

The action kicks off Friday, October 9 with rotating practice beginning 11:00am. All World Series divisions except the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour are allowed to participate. A five-division Friday night card goes green at 5:00pm that includes the Thompson Mini Stocks, an 8-cylinder Street Stock Open, the Senior Tour Auto Racers Modifeds and Late Models, and an Open Vintage Modified feature.

Saturday, October 10 will be the busiest day of racing at the World Series. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour has practice and qualifying for their annual World Series 150. Twelve other divisions have heat races that afternoon beginning at approximately 2:00pm. Following NASCAR Modified time trials are main events for the Tour-type Modified Open, ACT-type Late Model Open, 350 Supermodifieds, EXIT Realty Pro Truck Series, North East Mini Stock Tour, NEMA Midgets, and Pro 4 Modifieds.

The festival wraps up Sunday, October 11. The first green flag flies at 12:30pm when the Sunoco Modified feature rolls onto the track. Main events for the Pro All Stars Series Super Late Models, Limited Sportsmen, NEMA Lites, and SK Light Modifieds are also on Sunday. The World Series concludes with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 150-lap event.

Advance tickets for the 58th World Series of Speedway Racing go on sale Tuesday, September 15 at https://happsnow.com/event/Thompson-Speedway-Motorsports-Park-YHPQ. A three-day general admission pass is $55 for adults and $15 for kids ages 12 and under. Grandstand attendance is limited to 25% of capacity per state requirements. Pit admission is $75 per person for a three-day pass.

Division rules, purses, and entry forms that have not yet been released will be announced soon. Visit www.thompsonspeedway.com or www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway for regular updates and to review the track’s health and safety guidelines.

For more information about the World Series of Speedway Racing schedule, contact the ACT offices at (802) 244-6963, media@acttour.com, or visit www.acttour.com/thompson-speedway or www.thompsonspeedway.com. You can also get updates on Facebook and Twitter at @ACTTour.

For camping information and general Thompson Speedway inquires, call (860) 923-2280 or email oval@thompsonspeedway.com. You can follow Thompson Speedway on Facebook and Instagram at @ThompsonSpeedway or on Twitter at @ThompsonSpdwy.

For technical information concerning all PASS divisions, and for media or marketing questions, please contact passracing@roadrunner.com or visit www.proallstarsseries.com. Don’t forget to “Like” the Pro All Stars Series on Facebook or follow on Twitter @PASSSLM14 to keep up with breaking news as it happens.