Whelen Mod Tour Duel At The Dog Notebook: Justin Bonsignore Gets Practice Pole; Mike Christopher Jr. Added To Lineup

Justin Bonsignore (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

By Shawn Courchesne & Denise DuPont

WINCHESTER, N.H. – It’s long been said that practice pays off.

For reigning and three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour series champion Justin Bonsignore that was true on Saturday at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.

Bonsignore was fastest in practice Saturday at Monadnock in preparation for the Duel at the Dog 200.

And when qualifying ultimately got rained it out it meant Bonsignore would get the pole for the Duel at the Dog thanks to setting the fastest time in practice. The race ended up getting postponed to Sunday due to rain.

Bonsignore, of Holtsville, N.Y., has victories in three of his eight Whelen Modified Tour starts at Monadnock, including a win in the last visit to the track for the series in 2020.

Qualifying had begun at Monadnock but was stopped because of rain. Bonsignore was not one of the drivers to hit the track during qualifying.

“I honestly would have rather qualified and gotten the lap in even if we did not win the pole, to allow the tires to take a set,” Bonsignore said. “The tires will get to a certain size and then they will stay there once you run them a couple of laps.”

“You always run the risk of the tires not being there where you need them. And then it is a pit stop race. So there are a lot of unknowns there. I am confident that [crew chief] Ryan Stone and the guys got everything figured out. Hopefully we can nail the setup for [Sunday’s] temperature. It would just be nice to lead and contend. And control the pace of the race. But there will be a lot of guys upfront who will have their own agendas. We will just have to do what is best for us and hopefully be there at the end.”

Surprise Start For Mike Christopher Jr.

Mike Christopher Jr. was the last winner in Whelen Modified Tour competition, getting his first series victory in the Jennerstown Salutes 150 on May 28 at Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway.

But the Wolcott driver was not scheduled to run at Monadnock Speedway. But with Jimmy Blewett needing to return to New Jersey Sunday, team owner Tommy Baldwin Jr. called on Christopher to fill the seat Sunday.

“I never took a lap [at Monadnock],” Christopher said. “I think that it is going to take a couple of laps but we have got plenty to make it happen.

Christopher said he went to Tom O’Sullivan and six-time Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby for some tips on getting around the tight quarter-mile in Winchester, N.H. Coby is Christopher’s teammate in the two-car Tommy Baldwin Racing effort.

“I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of it but everything changes once we get out there.” Christopher said. “The race is 200 laps so we have to get to the front and not get lapped. More important is saving the tires. It is kind of a double edge sword but we will figure it out.”

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