Story By: KYLE SOUZA / KENNETH MASSA MOTORSPORTS – MARTINSVILLE, VA – Justin Bonsignore opened the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season and his quest for a third series championship with a third-place finish at Martinsville Speedway on Thursday night, April 8.
The driver of the No. 51 Coastal-Fiber, Kenneth Massa Motorsports machine was forced to start at the tail of the 35-car field after originally qualifying seventh, as the team found a potential leak and were forced to take a deeper look prior to the green.
While the car was sitting on the grid, Bonsignore’s team noticed a slow drip of water, and elected to bring the car back to the garage. Luckily, there were no major problems. He would enter the car and buckle the belts just moments before the green flag, and would begin to chase towards the front through a stacked field of cars in front of him.
“Just had to take the safe route and make sure everything was good. You don’t want to take any chances,” Bonsignore said of having to start at the rear.
If anything, all it did was give Bonsignore fans a chance to watch him dice through the field at one of NASCAR’s most historic tracks. Bonsignore took the lead for the first time just after halfway, and was the top contender for the start of the second half of the race. During a caution period with 52 laps to go, the Ken Massa Motorsports team went to work with fresh tires and some adjustments, and Bonsignore quickly took back control of the lead after restarting third.
However, it just wasn’t meant to be in Virginia. Eventual race winner Eric Goodale and second-place finisher Tyler Rypkema passed Bonsignore in the final laps and Bonsignore would settle for third. The third-place finish was the 16th consecutive top-five finish for Bonsignore in Whelen Modified Tour action. The run at Martinsville came behind the wheel of a brand new car prepared by Ryan Stone.
“We did a longer run early in practice and we knew we had good speed, with not a lot of fall-off, the car was great to drive,” Bonsignore said. “There were no new-car jitters today. We raced our way up through the field, and had some really good strategy again by Ryan Stone. We just missed it on adjustments during the final stop. To continue the top-five streak is cool. Starting at the tail and working our way into the top-three is a really good day. If you can’t win, you have to go out and run in the top three. We were able to get the season off on the right foot.”
Bonsignore returns to the track on Sunday, September 25, when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will visit Stafford Motor Speedway in Connecticut. Following the tour race, Bonsignore will compete in the Tri Track Open Modified Series event at Monadnock Speedway on May 1.