(Stafford Springs, CT)—For Justin Bonsignore and the #51 Phoenix Communications / M3 Technology team, the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season has been a stark contrast to their 2015 season. Although they won 2 races last season, Bonsignore finished in 10th place in the points standings and was never a championship contender. Fast forward to 2016 and Bonsignore and the #51 team have again won 2 races but are now second in the standings behind Doug Coby. Bonsignore has 3 races remaining to make up a 20-point deficit and with three top-5 finishes at Stafford, including a second place finish in the most recent NWMT race in August, he is looking to collect his first career Stafford victory in the NAPA Fall Final 150 on October 1st & 2nd.
“We have Loudon before we go to Stafford and with bonus points being so important in our series, we’re going to try to win each race left on the schedule,” said Bonsignore. “Bonus points are a big chunk of why we have a 20 point deficit to Doug. You never know when someone else might drop out of a race or have a bad day so you don’t want to do anything risky. We need to get as many bonus points as possible and winning is the best way to do that. Our first couple of races at Stafford were issue plagued and we were able to battle back and get top-5 finishes and then the last race we were decent. We have a lot of speed in our car, and confidence is really high at the moment. We’ve had a lot of races at Stafford where we’ve been close to winning and it would be a real clutch time to get our first win at Stafford.”
Not only would a Stafford victory be important for Bonsignore’s championship hopes, he would also like to add Stafford to his win list, a feat he has yet to check off his list.
“I really want to win at Stafford,” said Bonsignore. “It’s right up there with any other track that I haven’t won at yet. At this time of year it would be really important to get a win. All you can ask for at the beginning of the year is to have a shot at it and we have a great shot at it. We’re going to need to have three really good runs and hopefully we can pull that off but it’s not going to be easy by any stretch.”
With Coby and the #2 team having another strong season, as they go for 3 championships in a row and four in the last 5 years, perhaps no team has been stronger over the last 9 NWMT races than Bonsignore and the #51 team. Since a second place finish at Riverhead back at the end of June, the #51 team has 8 top-8 finishes with the only blemish a 22nd place finish at Bristol after a crash. Bonsignore’s average finish over that stretch is 5.1 while Coby’s avg. finish in the same time frame is 7.0. While 2 positions doesn’t sound like much, it has allowed Bonsignore to go from 33 points behind to 20 points behind and they are looking to continue their positive wave of momentum in the final 3 races of the season.
“We really haven’t been doing anything differently,” said Bonsignore. “We started off the season pretty consistent with some top-5’s and we had a couple of crashes that put us a little behind, but for the most part we’ve been a top-5 car every week. We haven’t finished worse than third since Bristol, a lot of it is just confidence and momentum for us. Our cars are well prepared in the shop and everyone is jelling together really well. The guys are doing an awesome job. We hope we can keep it up.”
The NAPA Fall Final will be different from the majority of the races that comprise the 2016 NWMT schedule in that it is a 2-day show with practice and qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday with no car impound after qualifying. That will allow teams to tweak their car setups to best match the conditions for both qualifying and the feature but Bonsignore says that he’s going to stick with what has been working for them in the first 3 races at Stafford and he knows that Coby will be among his primary challengers for the checkered flag.
“It’s going to be pretty much business as usual, we typically don’t change all that much for a 2-day show with no impound,” said Bonsignore. “There will probably be a little fine tuning on the car and we’ve had a good package at Stafford the last couple of years so there’s no reason to mix that up. Without a doubt [Doug’s team] has been near perfect all season long at Stafford and they’re the team to beat almost every week. You also can’t count out Timmy Solomito, they’ve been just as hot as us the last month and there’s still plenty of other guys who can win on any given day other than us three going for the championship. There’s probably 10 or 12 cars on the Tour that can win on any given day.”
The NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend gets underway on Saturday, October 1st with practice sessions for Stafford’s Whelen All-American Series divisions, Legend Cars, TQ Midgets, Mr. Rooter Truck Series, and the Whelen Modified Tour. Action continues with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat races for all divisions with feature events for the SK Light, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, Legend Cars, TQ Midgets, and Mr. Rooter Truck Series divisions wrapping up Saturday’s on track activities. The Legend Cars feature will be a national qualifier event. The NAPA Fall Final continues on Sunday, October 2nd with the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party from 11am-12noon followed by Stafford’s SK Modifieds® and Late Models joining the Whelen Modified Tour in feature action.
Tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $42.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Visit your local participating NAPA Auto Parts Store for discount tickets.
For more information on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.