THOMPSON, Conn. (WWLP) – Justin Bonsignore out-dueled pole sitter Woody Pitkat to win the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Town Fair Tire 150 at the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Thompson, Connecticut on Sunday. While the tour raced in February’s Battle at the Beach in Daytona, this was the 1st points race and thus considered to be the inaugural event of the season. Other winners at Thompson included Springfield’s Mike O’Sullivan in the Granite State Pro Stock Series opener. Keith Rocco won twice (Sunoco Modifieds and Late Models) followed by a Monday announcement that he had been disqualified from the late model victory for an engine violation.
Wilbraham’s Glen Reen drove the #8 Chevrolet to a 15th place finish on the lead lap in the NWMT race. Reen will drive some Whelen Tour events and plans to race his own SK Modified weekly at the Stafford Motor Speedway. Reen told 22News, “As far as it goes on the tour right now, we want to run the first three races and see where we end up in points. If we’re running well, I think we’re going to make a run for the whole year. If not we’re going to pick and choose races, maybe Loudons and Bristol and Riverhead and probably the last Stafford and Thompson.”
Doug Coby of Milford, Connecticut finished 3rd in the Town Fair Tire 150. Coby, the 2012 NWMT Champion, won his title driving the Wayne Darling-owned #52 Chevrolet. This year, he’s in the seat of the #2 previously driven by Todd Szegedy.
In all levels of stock car racing, drivers look for a chemistry with their crew chief that will produce success. Coby is now paired with well respected wrench turner Phil Moran. So how many races does it take to establish that chemistry? Coby told 22News, “I don’t know, maybe we won’t have it, and we all know that.The good thing about this and one of the key reasons why I came over here was I’ve known Phil since Phil’s known Todd, since they started racing together in 2003. This is the first team I’ve ever driven for where I know all the guys on the team. I know the car owner, I know their wives, I know a lot of their girlfriends, I know the crew chief, we all are friendly with each other. And every other team I drove for, including the 52, I didn’t know anybody, not one person. A lot of the reason too is that four of my guys came with me from the 52 over to this team. So I’m pretty confident we’re all going to mesh well together.”
For the longest time, it looked like a Mike Stefanik’s NWMT future might be in doubt. But on opening day, Stefanik was behind the wheel of the Ed Marceau owned #1 Chevrolet. Engine problems ended his race with a next-to-last 24th place finish. So when 22News asked how many races and for how long, Stefanik replied, “Not too many and not too long! We’re just going to run a couple of races and they might be all here at Thompson. It’s Eddie Marceau’s car, I’ve ran it in the past. He was trying to sell it, he didn’t sell it. A couple guys on the team, good friends of mine, John Wilcox and Dave Young, they’ve been with me forever, and they want to come race. They wanted to race the car a few times and they wanted me to drive it. So that’s why I’m here.” Stefanik is on the 2014 ballot for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Mike told 22News he was quite humbled by that, and added, “I’m just a little punk kid from Springfield. You know Indian Orchard and then Wilbraham.”
The once Thompson International Speedway has been re-branded the Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park as a multi-million dollar improvement project that began in 2013 is still ongoing. Work is continuing on the road course there and a newly built 30-stall garage was used by the Whelen Tour racers on Icebreaker weekend. Thompson’s Russ Dowd told Sunday’s crowd that when they come back in May and see the changes, they’ll “say wow,” and when work is completed in June they’ll “say wow again.”