Set Up: Justin Bonsignore Ready To Chase Whelen Mod Tour Title After Breakout 2014 Season

Justin Bonsignore celebrates victory last August at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Justin Bonsignore celebrates victory last August at Thompson Speedway (Photo: Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The overriding theme across the roster of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for 2015 seems to be change.

From drivers changing teams, to teams making wholesale changes when it comes to chassis and motor programs, there are few championship contender type organizations who won’t go into the season getting used to newness.

It’s a point that helps give Holtsville, N.Y. driver Justin Bonsignore confidence heading into the Whelen Modified Tour season opening Icebreaker 150 Sunday at Thompson Speedway.

The wholesale changes for Bonsignore’s M3 Racing team came prior to the start of the 2014 season. They were moves that put Bonsignore in championship contention for the bulk of the 2014 season.

“We definitely look at that a lot of other teams either switched drivers or switched chassis and guys are switching to spec to engines,” Bonsignore said. “As good as the teams are on the Tour, we were able to do a lot of that last year and come out of the gate strong so we kind of expect them to do the same, but at the same time it might be in our favor a little bit to have the same team as last year and have a good notebook. I think just on our side, being together for our second year will help me and my crew chief Billy [Michael]. I’d like to think that maybe we have a little bit of an advantage, but I’m not sure that’s the case because teams are way too good.”

Bonsignore finished the 2014 Whelen Modified Tour season with a three victories in 13 events, which was a career best. His third place finished the standings also proved to be career best in five years running the division full-time.

The 2014 also see Bonsignore win his first Valenti Modified Racing Series championship, racing for team owner Art Barry.

Sitting squarely in contention for the Whelen Modified Tour championship, a blown motor in the September 2014 event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway set the team back with just two events remaining. Bonsignore ended the season 27 points behind champion Doug Coby.

“I really thought we approached the whole season pretty well,” Bonsignore said. “We didn’t try to points race or do anything out of the ordinary. We just went out and did the best we could each week and put ourselves in position to win each week. There’s not really anything my team did wrong or I did wrong to take us out of the [championship chase], we had an engine failure and you really can’t control stuff like that. I think if anything, we’ll probably not look at the points as much this year. We’ll just try to let the races fall where they are and try to take what we can on each given day and let it get down to the end of the year. It was definitely pretty stressful last year going for two championships and you probably try to look at things too much more than you should. We’ll probably try to be a little bit more relaxed this year.”

And while Bonsignore might not want a repeat of the way the 2014 season ended for his team, he surely wouldn’t mind a carbon copy of the start. He won the 2014 Icebreaker at Thompson. He also won the August King of Beers 150 at Thompson last year. Of his six career Whelen Modified Tour victories, three have come at Thompson. The addition of a fourth Whelen Modified Tour event to the schedule this year at Thompson only heightened the spirits for Bonsignore.

“I was very happy when they announced that last year,” Bonsignore said. “I love going to Thompson. I’ve had a lot of success there and I think that’s going to really help my team.”

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