Column By: PHIL SMITH / RPW – WESTERLY, RI – NASCAR feted their Touring series champions last week in Charlotte, NC as well as their weekly champions.
In the Whelen Modified Tour Series Justin Bonsignore rolled to his first championship in his ninth full-time season of competition, winning eight of 16 events and finishing inside the top-10 in all but one race. Bonsignore clinched the championship with one race remaining on the schedule, but celebrated his first trophy by completing a sweep of the four events at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the season-finale.
Bonsignore becomes the first champion not named Ryan Preece (2013) or Doug Coby (2012, 2014-17) to win the championship in the last seven years. Bonsignore took the point lead after winning the second event of the series at Thompson and never looked back. In 16 starts, he completed 2589 of 2590 laps. His tale of the tape showed 8 wins, 12 top fives and 10 top tens.
Bonsignore’s path to the championship may have seemed easy if you look at the statistics he put together, but with competition on the Whelen Modified Tour at an all-time high, it certainly wasn’t an easy task. Over the course of 16 races, at nine different tracks, a total of 61 different drivers took the green flag. Of them, eight different drivers visited Victory Lane, and the average car count per race was just under 30, the best the Whelen Modified Tour has seen since 2015.
Chase Dowling finished second in the standings. Dowling recorded one win. Defending series champion Doug Coby who also recorded a win, finished third. Rounding out the top five were Timmy Solomito and Craig Lutz.
Sixth thru tenth were Rob Summers, Eric Goodale, Dave Sapienza, Ron Williams and Chris Pasteryak. Tommy Catalano who finished 11th was honored as Rookee of the Year.
In Division 1 of the NASCAR Whelen Weekly Series Philip Morris who races at South Boston, Myrtle Beach, Hickory, Old Dominion and Southern National speedways took the National Championship. He had 23 wins. Keith Rocco who won 10 of the 27 events at Stafford and Thompson finished third. Ron Williams who also races at Stafford and Thompson finished sixth. Rocco is also the Connecticut state Champion.
Morris was joined by Alon Day (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), LP Dumoulin (NASCAR Pinty’s Series), Ruben Garcia Jr. (NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series), Justin Bonsignore (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), Derek Thorn (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West), and Tyler Ankrum (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) on stage in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as the culminated their championship seasons with the NASCAR Awards Charlotte.
Bryan Narducci, grandson of Ron Narducci and Jerry Pearl was crowned Division IV champion. In 20 events Narducci scored 5 wins and 15 top fives. Marcello Rufano finished third with six wins and 11 top fives. Mark Bakaj finished fifth and Andrew Molleur was sixth. George Bessette finished second in Division V standings. Brandon Michael was fifth and Megan Fuller was eighth. Rufano was presented the Youth Achievement Award. David Arute was the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division 1 Connecticut state Rookie of the Year.
Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park has released a 10-race schedule for the 2019 NASCAR Whelen All American Series (NWAAS) season. Three added events to the oval schedule for the newest campaign are sure to give fans added excitement and opportunity at the Connecticut oval.
The 2019 calendar includes various touring divisions from across New England, staple special event dates including the Icebreaker and Sunoco World Series and standalone dates reserved for the stars of Thompson’s local classes to showcase their talent to dedicated fans.
Speaking of local divisions, Thompson is also proud to announce the addition of the Lite Modifieds to the NWAAS slate on a weekly basis. The Lite Modifieds will slide to Division III, dropping the Limited Sportsman to Division IV and the Mini Stocks to Division V. The Sunoco Modifieds will return as Division I and the Late Models are back as the Division II class.
All five classes of Thompson’s drivers will have the chance to earn NWAAS points towards both a track championship and the national titles in their respective divisions.
After a March 23 Test & Tune for drivers to make sure they have all of the bolts tight, the season kicks-off in style April 6-7 with the 45th annual Icebreaker. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour headlines the weekend with what will be their third race of the 2019 season while Justin Bonsignore, who swept all four tour races at Thompson last season, looks to continue his streak. The NWAAS divisions will also begin their season with qualifying and feature action across the two days.
The first NWAAS stand alone event of the season is slated for Sunday, May 19, with the Limited Sportsman division taking center stage for their annual long distance event. The Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Lite Modifieds and Mini Stocks will join the card and all active military and veterans with ID will be admitted free.
The Thompson 125 night for the Whelen Modified Tour moves up one week this season and the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Lite Modifieds, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stocks will join NASCAR’s modified stars for racing to kick-off the summer months. The rain date for this event is Thursday, June 6.
For the third straight year, NASCAR’s upcoming talent of the K&N Pro Series East return to Connecticut on Saturday, June 15 for a 100-lap event. New this year, the ACT Tour, one of the top Late Model touring divisions in Canada and the United States, will run for 75 laps that night. The Whelen All American Series divisions are also on tap for what is sure to be an action packed night of racing.
The middle of the summer will give Thompson’s fans a chance to see the stars and cars of the Whelen All American Series by themselves on the track. On June 30, July 21 and August 4, the Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman, Lite Modifieds and Mini Stocks will take center stage as their championship battles heat up on Sunday afternoons.
In the middle of August, Budweiser returns as the primary sponsor of the 30th annual Bud “King of Beers” 150 for the Whelen Modified Tour, their third of four appearances. The NEMA Midgets will hit the high-banks as well, along with the NWAAS classes.
With great success in its past, the Sunoco Modified 20/20 sprint returns for three segments on For the Fans Day at the track on Sunday, September 8. The modified standouts will share the track with their fellow NWAAS divisions.
And, as Thompson does each season, the racing concludes with a three-day spectacular as part of the 57th annual Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing. The 2019 event will run from Friday, October 11, through Sunday, October 13, and will cumulate with the crowning of various champions from across New England, and the crowning of Thompson’s NASCAR Whelen All American Series champions.
On the speedway stock market scene a general blood bath on Wall St found its way to the auto racing related stocks with a few exceptions. Speedway Motorsports dropped 0.54 to 16.84 while the International Speedway Corporation went up 0.10 to 42.44 and Dover Entertainment went up 0.02 to 1.97. NASCAR cup sponsor Monster Beverage dropped 2.27 to 57.41while NASCAR tire provider Goodyear dropped 1.04 to 22.12 and NASCAR fuel supplier Sunoco (Energy Transfer ) dropped 0.32 to 14.25. The auto industry took a digger as General Motors dropped 3.26 to 34.69, Toyota dropped 1.51 to 119.97 and Ford dropped 0.59 to 8.82. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot dropped 7.53 to 172.79 and Lowes dropped 4.97 to 89.40. In the world of NASCAR big team sponsor’s stocks Coca-Cola went up 5.63 to 218.15 while McDonalds dropped 5.55 to 182.96, Target dropped 3.15 to 67.81, Dow/Dupont dropped 4.10 to 53.75, Fedex dropped 27.61 to 201.39 and Porter Cable Stanley Works dropped 8.26 to 122.59.
On the tube this week:
Tuesday, December 11
3:00 AM, NASCAR Race Hub – Season Recap, FOX Sports 1
6:00 PM, NASCAR Race Hub – Radioactive, FS1