Rebound: Justin Bonsignore Confident For NAPA Spring Sizzler At Stafford After Icebreaker Victory

Justin Bonsignore (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

THOMPSON – Two races into the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season and Justin Bonsignore was already hearing the nag of doomsday theorists. 

Bonsignore had one of the most remarkable seasons in series history in 2018 with eight victories, 12 top-five’s and 15 top-10’s in 16 events on the way to his first series title. 

He started the 2019 with a 12thplace at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway on March 16 and a 25thplace finish at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on March 30. 

Heading into Sunday’s Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway Bonsignore was hearing plenty of people call the event a “must win” for his team. He came into Thompson 17thin the standings, 31 points behind five-time series champion Doug Coby. 

“Everybody is thinking like we were 80 points out,” Bonsignore said after winning the Icebreaker 150 Sunday. “[We were 31] out. We won [the championship by 95 points] last year. If just go out and have good top-three finishes the points will come. Obviously we want to win every race we can, that’s why we come here. I don’t come here to points race. If we can win races the points are going to close up quicker.” 

The victory Sunday at Thompson vaulted Bonsigore 10 spots in the standings to seventh, 25 points behind Coby, who was fifth at Thompson. Bonsignore cracked Coby’s four year stranglehold on the series title in 2018 and he thinks this year the title fight looks like it’s shaping up to be between the two again. 

Coby won the pole at Thompson Sunday and led every lap until he was penalized under caution for running over a hose on pit lane. The penalty handed the lead to Bonsignore on lap 108 and the reigning champ never trailed again. 

“People were asking if this was a must win, I didn’t think so,” Bonsignore said of Sunday at Thompson, where he scored his 10thcareer series victory at the historic venue. “We just needed a good run. It would have sucked if [Coby] beat us, but it’s going to be us two I think this year. He’s definitely picked their game up this year. It’s going to be a dogfight. 

“We need to lead laps at every race. Unfortunately [Coby] led the most [Sunday]. But it’s going to be a dogfight. He got a little bit of a head start on us, we knocked a few points out [at Thompson]. Everybody has some mulligans. We had ours right in the beginning hopefully. We’re going to keep digging. They’re going to keep pressuring us, they’re going to keep pressuring them.” 

Bonsignore heads to Stafford for the NAPA Spring Sizzler on Sept. 28, a track that has become the nagging nemesis that the Holtsville, N.Y. driver is regularly asked about. In 34 series starts at Stafford dating back to 2010, Bonsignore is winless at the half-mile oval. 

“We’ve got 10 [wins at Thompson] and zero there,” Bonsignore said. “You have to be good in Connecticut to win this championship, we know that. We definitely went with three different packages to Stafford last year and [at the NAPA Fall Final] we were definitely our best. But that one tire pit stop deal is so hard to play. When you’re racing for points you can’t do the strategy where my cousin [Fall Final winner Kyle Bonsignore] came through and blasted through and looked like a hero because he had fresh tires. We have to play smart and try to get top-five’s and top-three’s and the wins will come, you’ve just got to put yourself in position. … I’m confident going to Stafford. I’ve been getting better and better there. [Crew chief Ryan Stone] has picked our program up there. One of these days we’ll do it. I would love to do it at the Sizzler. That would make up for 10 years of never winning there if I could win the Sizzler first.” 


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