Justin Bonsignore has a new goal for the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour season: ‘Win them all’
By Brandon White
4 Minute Read
The shared mindset between NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver Justin Bonsignore and car owner Ken Massa was clear after a bad crash at New York’s Oswego Speedway a couple weeks ago caused them to lose significant ground to Ron Silk in the championship standings.
“Let’s win them all,” Bonsignore jokingly told Massa during a meeting last week.
Nursing a broken thumb from the Oswego crash, Bonsignore a few days after stating that goal was stoic and composed as he put together his most efficient performance of 2023 to date. He led all 150 laps from the pole at New Hampshire’s Monadnock Speedway on Saturday to take his fifth victory at the track.
A bad night from Silk allowed Bonsignore to erase most of his lost ground from Oswego. Now within striking distance of his fourth Modified Tour title, Bonsignore finds himself further invigorated to win the last four races of 2023, starting with Saturday’s Eddie Partridge 256 at Riverhead Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FloRacing).
“We did go into Monadnock with some confidence,” Bonsingore said. “We’ve always run well there in the past, and obviously it went better than we could have expected. Fortunately for us, Ron had some bad luck. Even though you never want to see anyone have bad luck, if there was a week we needed it, that was the one.”
The first two races on the calendar after Oswego, Monadnock and Riverhead, immediately inspired confidence in Bonsignore and the rest of the No. 51 Ken Massa Motorsports operation.
Although Bonsignore admittedly struggles at tracks where significant tire wear is a factor, he has always felt comfortable navigating Monadnock’s abrasive quarter-mile layout. The long-run setup put together by crew chief Ryan Stone allowed Bonsignore to cruise comfortably through slower traffic during the final 125 laps of green-flag racing.
Bonsignore hopes his car is just as perfect when he takes the green flag Saturday night at Riverhead, a track where he has 10 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour victories to his name.
The third event at Riverhead of the season has quickly become one of Bonsignore’s favorites on the schedule with the race honoring late track co-owner Eddie Partridge — and its inclusion of live pit stops. Bonsignore cherishes races where his pit crew can directly help him win, adding that a stellar stop will be essential for great track position at the end of Saturday’s race.
“Riverhead is typically a race where you’re saving tires as much as you can to make sure you have enough for the end,” Bonsignore said. “With this race, you can run considerably hard knowing you’re going to pit around Lap 175. After that, it becomes a sprint race, so it opens some possibilities.”
A victory for Bonsignore in the Eddie Partridge 256 would be crucial toward staying even with Silk as they endure three tough tracks to close out 2023.
Immediately following Riverhead is the Modified Tour’s inaugural trip to North Wilkesboro Speedway. Bonsignore has never turned a lap on the track’s old, abrasive surface, which will put extra emphasis on aggressively conserving tires to contend for the win.
Closing out the year at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and Martinsville Speedway provides Bonsignore mixed levels of optimism. He will be going for his 14th series victory at Thompson in October but has yet to win at Martinsville despite a pair of top-three finishes.
Having won the Tour championship three times before, Bonsignore finds himself in a familiar situation. He knows he can control his own destiny by maintaining solid speed and minimizing mistakes.
“We just need to have great cars and make smart decisions,” Bonsignore said. “It’s obviously not going to be easy, because Ron has been fast everywhere this year. There are other guys that will be in contention like [Austin] Beers. More than anything, you have to know what you’re racing, but if you’re in a position to win the race, you have to take advantage of that if you can.”
The margin of error for Bonsignore during the final stretch of races will be small as he attempts to overtake Silk and assume control of the point standings.
Oswego was the first race Bonsignore failed to finish in 2023, a stark contrast from the previous year in which he finished worse than 25th in two of the first three races. After grinding his way back into the title fight, two consecutive finishes outside the top 10 to end the year made Bonsignore’s heroic effort fruitless.
Consistency has put Bonsignore in a more favorable position this year, but he does not expect Silk to pull any punches. He has commended the clean battles with Silk throughout 2023 and would love to defeat him so he can further cement himself as one of the greatest drivers in the history of the series.
“Anytime you can contend for the championship is cool, because these aren’t easy championships to be in contention for,” Bonsignore said. “A fourth championship would be another step closer to the goal of getting to Doug [Coby] or [Mike] Stefanik’s record.
“Before you get to seven, you have to get to four. That’s the goal this year.”
Should he pull off the improbable feat of running the table through Martinsville, Bonsignore will be tied for second in the all-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins list alongside Reggie Ruggiero with 44 victories.
Bonsignore looks to keep the momentum going from Monadnock in the Eddie Partridge 256 on Saturday by earning his 11th victory at Riverhead, which would tie Mike Ewanitsko’s series record at the track.