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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour




Town Fair Tire
Whitcomb 200

Polly Reid / Denise DuPont

Close to the checkers in 2011. In the hunt in 2012. The third time indeed was the charm for Justin Bonsignore in the Ken Massa owned, M3 Technology sponsored Chevrolet who took an early lead after a restart from pole winner Eric Goodale and never looked back to score an impressive win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Monadnock 200 at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, NH.

The Holtsville, NY driver survived the challenges of defending NWMT Champion Doug Coby and a late caution setting up a 4 lap dash to the checkers to take down his third career NWMT win.

Doug Coby crossed for second, Rowan Pennink third, Bryon Chew fourth and Ryan Preece fifth.

Coors Pole winner Eric Goodale brought the 23 car field to green and secured the front spot with confidence as the field settled in behind. Bonsignore who started on the outside front row, tucked in for second with Bryon Chew, Donny Lia and Doug Coby the top five. The first caution was the opportunity that Bonsignore was looking for. On the restart, Bonsignore powered on the outside to take the lead on lap 17 and truly, never looked back.

“I haven’t started up front in a while and to be honest I was a little nervous. The initial start, I got smoked on that one,” admitted Bonsignore. “The second one, I did what I could to ease into it and I got a good start, got into turn one, held him down as tight as possible and we went into three and I was clear. From there, I knew he had the better car at the time so I knew I had to hold the position, hold him off as best as I could because I knew in the end, I didn’t want him to get by me because I didn’t want to pass him again- it’s so hard to pass here. I tried to be as clean but as wide as possible at the same time.”

After making the pass for the lead, Bonsignore held off first Goodale then the likes of Teddy Christopher, Donny Lia and in the closing circuits, Doug Coby.

“The car was very good right from the start- I just kind of went into ride mode. I gave them the outside if they wanted, I knew no one would really go up there- just did what I could and once the car kind of came to me I just tried to edge away a little bit but not be too aggressive at all because I didn’t know who, but I knew guys like Doug and Rowan would get to the front. I know from the past you can’t qualify 14th or 15th and win the race because by the time you get to the leader, your car is done, you’re just holding on. It was huge to qualify up front and it was huge for us to set our own pace and then towards the end when I had to go on the last restart, I didn’t spin the tires and everything was still there.” Bonsignore adding at the end, “Need to throw in a little plug to Mike from Magnus Transmission- I am the worst at shifting –he built me some really good transmissions the last couple of weeks that makes me look like a superstar.”

Off of their win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Doug Coby followed up with a solid second place finish at the quarter mile high banked oval. “Nineteenth fastest in practice out of 23, we were junk in practice,” said Coby. “Not sure what to do, they made a bunch of changes for the qualifying run and we qualified good (5th)- that gave me the confidence that we were on the right track for the feature. The car was really good for most of the race. I kept going after those guys, I wanted to win, so yea, I slid it a couple of times but generally I was watching my car vs. the 4 and the 88, the 58 and I was better than them. I know Justin was out front so he could ride a little bit- he was getting pressured a lot but he could still ride, he didn’t have to pass cars on the restarts- I think he had more than me at the end, I had a shot on the restart but he had a better car. I’m happy for them- they’ve had a crappy couple of weeks and it’s nice to see those guys come out on top. I’ll take a second.”

In the closing circuits, Coby had Rowan Pennink in his rear view mirror. Pennink qualified 12th but started the Monadnock 200 scratch after being late to the drivers meeting. The Mark Pennink owned, Monk Mechanics Hand Cleaner sponsored Chevrolet adjusted their strategy that in the end, worked well. “We struggled a little bit in practice but made the changes for sure for the feature,” said Pennink. “We started in the back there and kind of hung out to conserve the tires like we usually do when we run the 25 car here, then when it was time and everyone else started backing up to me we started making our move to the front. We got to the top five and thought we were looking pretty good there and thought we’d be able to contend for the win there but that last cycle I think after that, my tires had had enough. I think we were better than Doug- Justin, I didn’t get into second to challenge him- congratulations to Justin. We’re happy with a third place finish.

A win and a contender for the win in the two MRS series already run this year at Monadnock, Pennink transferred the experience there to the show tonight. “How we run the strategy in this race definitely helps, this place can be tough to pass and knowing the track and knowing where to be really helped me to get by a lot of those cars to make it to the front.”

Pole winner Eric Goodale suffered possible motor issues- a disappointing 20th place finish for the Riverhead, NY driver. Another disappointing night for Todd Szegedy who ended up pitting with a right front flat taking what was looking like a solid night out of the mix. And Donny Lia, running as high as second- contact on out of turn two put the Jericho, NY driver into the backstretch wall ending their night as well.

Finishing sixth was Ron Silk, Andy Seuss seventh, Richie Pallai, Jr was eighth with Woody Pitkat and Eric Berndt rounding out the top ten.

I was able to catch up with car owner of the 51, Ken Massa after the Monadnock 200. “Once you get the lead, to be honest with you, he was just riding along,” said car owner Ken Massa. “I think Eric made a mistake, Justin took the lead on lap 17 and never looked back. From what he was telling us he was just riding along the whole time. He kept saying, ‘Let me know when to light the wick.’ We said to keep doing what you’re doing. For this team, you know what happened at NH, so to be able to come back from that, a real, real downer losing two motors, we were clean out of motors so we threw one together to come here and to win, that’s the best. I told everyone in the trailer before we came out here tonight, I said it’s not about points anymore, it’s about wins. When Justin gets a car, it’s all he needs.”
It was a similar take from crew chief of the winning car, John Sanford. “Our attitude changed at Loudon,” said Sanford. “When we lost the two engines, we knew our championship hopes pretty much went out the window. The only way to get back is to win every single race from here on out and I know that’s bold, whatever you want to call it- this team is that good and there is no reason why we can’t. As a collective, from the owner right on down to the guy that cleans the trailer, this team is that good. I believe we can win every race we enter from here on out.”

Sanford continued, “I couldn’t be prouder of this team- they really worked hard at Loudon, my son, Bill Michael, he is the car chief, he builds these cars, I go the shop and set them up. He and Justin do most of the work on these cars. I’m pretty dam proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

After a morale boosting finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway the MAHLE Performance/Lucas Oil team of Richie Pallai came to Monadnock to hopefully continue their forward momentum. And the team did just that as they raced across the finish line for an eighth place finish for the team’s second top ten finish in a row. “The race was great,” said Pallai after the race. “It was cool because we came off of the momentum from Loudon and we carried it here. We knew we knew with the gear that we brought here that we would not be that quick in practice or time trials but our plan was two hundred laps which we definitely conquered. We got the green light to go about lap 150 and we were about tenth at that point. I got up to seventh and then those cautions killed me. If it stayed green I think that we would have liked to finish higher but that was the nature of the beast. We leave here with our car in one piece and a top ten.”

The Monadnock Speedway track surface appeared to be very slick as drivers had to work hard to keep their cars straight on the track. Several cars skimmed the front stretch wall and others just were down right squirrelly from the time that the first green flag flew. Pallai held on tight and managed to avoid mishap. “I have not run here in two years and I just could not believe that it was the same track. There was absolutely zero grip. Turns one and two are banked so they carry you through. But turns three and four you have to put your foot on the brake and be real careful with the gas pedal. I think towards the end with the lack of grip and tires everyone was holding on. That is why a lot of guys were sliding.”

Andy Seuss returned home again to New Hampshire to run the family owned #70 Rockingham Boat modified. The team qualified well and ran with the leaders most of the day. The team had set their goals on a top five but their finish was just shy of their target as their efforts were rewarded with a solid seventh place finish. “It was good race and we had a good car. We will now go forward and make changes that will ensure that the team is competitive in this division. We came into this race with a target to get our first win this year in the NWMT. We will take our notes and hopefully set it next time!” From here Seuss will return down south as the southern modified tour racing continues to heat up as they return to Bowman Gray Speedway.”

Next up on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule is Stafford Motor Speedway Friday August 2nd. If you can’t be there in person, you can follow the live updates with Denise DuPont here on www.thechromehorn.com.

Source: Polly Reid / Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: July 28, 2013

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