THOMPSON – Lap after lap the pieces of the fairy tale were revving toward a seemingly perfect crescendo.
Then Justin Bonsignore took Cinderella’s glass slipper at Thompson Speedway and unabashedly smashed it in a million pieces.
After a heated battle for the top spot, Bonsignore passed Woody Pitkat for the lead on lap 142 and stayed there the rest of the way to win the NASCAR Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 Sunday at Thompson Speedway.
“That was wild,” Bonsignore said. “I hope everybody enjoyed that one. If they didn’t enjoy that I don’t know.”
It was the fourth career Modified Tour victory for Bonsignore, of Holtsville, N.Y.
Pitkat, of Stafford, was second and Doug Coby of Milford third.
Pitkat, who has never won in 79 starts on the Modified Tour, was racing in his first event for his new team, Buzz Chew Racing. He was fastest in practice and then set fast time in qualifying on Saturday to win his first career pole position.
“He’s going to win his first for sure,” Bonsignore said. “But hopefully we go back and forth this year. He had a great car. I knew he was going to be the guy I had to beat. …. They showed it all weekend that they were real quick. … The competition is so close, you can see it. I just drove my butt off and was able to get it done.”
Pitkat ended up leading 55 laps for his second career runner-up finish on the Tour.
“We led a bunch of laps, that was awesome,” Pitkat said. “Got to run up front like I wanted to prove I could. Now we just keep working on it to get it better and better and we’ll get our win.
“… I might be down right now but I shouldn’t be because it was an awesome day. It was a great start to the season, a great finish and I can’t thank the guys enough. … [I gained] confidence the whole weekend. My whole attitude is different coming to the racetrack now. It’s awesome to know you can go out there and the car is going to do the same thing every lap and you’re having fun.”
Bonsignore set up Pitkat coming off turn two on lap 142, went under him into turn three and came off of turn four with the lead.
“Great car, I was just hoping I wasn’t going to be the guy to mess it up the last 25 laps,” Bonsignore said. “I knew I had a little bit better car. 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.
“… My mind was going a million miles an hour. I knew I was going to be aggressive. I had tried it a little bit earlier and Woody drive into Stafford it looked like in the first corner. I regrouped and did what I needed.”
Said Pitkat: “We tightened it up just a little bit too much [on the pit stop]. That’s what we’re here to do is learn, we’re a new team and that’s what we’re going to learn. I can’t thank these guys enough. They had a phenomenal pit stop, we came out and gained some positions and I just drove my butt off. We were just a little bit too snug. Congrats to Justin and those guys, they had a stout piece. We have a great piece and it’s one piece so we can work on it for [the next race].”
Coby had the best seat for the show at the front. He was hoping the aggressive battle for the victory would turn out in his favor.
“I tried to let in unfold like it was meant to, and of course it would have been [me] in victory lane if it had unfolded properly,” Coby said. “They were battling real hard and they were certainly the class of the field. I wanted to be right there, but not right there.
“I’m really happy with the third. It’s certainly not what we wanted, we come here to win, but something that we’ll take given where we started and how hard we had to battle from fourth to 12th all race with a lot of good cars.”