Bonsignore Looks To Break Stafford Drought

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Justin Bonsignore's crew services his No. 51 modified during a recent NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event. (Stafford Speedway Photo)

STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. —  In his 11th full-time season in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, Justin Bonsignore and his No. 51 Phoenix Communications team have established themselves as perennial front runners.

Bonsignore has amassed 29 career victories and he has finished in the top three of the points standings for the last four year, including a championship run in 2018. But one track has been a nemesis for  Bonsignore — Stafford Speedway.  With 37 starts at the Connecticut half-mile track, he has yet to post a victory. He has four second place finishes at the track. It is a winless streak he hopes to end in Saturday’s NAPA Auto Parts 150.

“I saw something posted from Stafford that said I was 0 for 37 there and I didn’t know I had that many races at Stafford,” Bonsignore said.  “It’s always on the mind — of if and when we can break through. I think we were the closest we’ve ever been last season at Stafford, and we were really looking forward to having three shots at winning there this season. We were really excited with how we ran at Stafford last season to get back there this year and possibly get our first win. Especially the Sizzler, I would love to win that race but the NAPA 150 is also a prestigious race and we’re happy and thankful we’re able to get back to Stafford in 2020 even if it’s only for one race.  I’m really optimistic that we’ll have a shot at winning this race as long as we have the right strategy.”

In seven starts this season, Bonsignore has three victories, two second-place finishes, and two fifths.  Dating back to last season, Bonsignore has 13 consecutive top-five finishes. His performance has him ranked among the favorites heading into the NAPA 150.

In a normal season, this would be the Tour’s third visit to Stafford Speedway, but with the reshuffling of dates due to the pandemic, this will be the only NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour visit to Stafford this year. New tire compounds and a pit stop rule will definitely change pit strategies for the event.

“This race is going to be different for sure,” said Bonsignore.  “We have different rules this year for pit stops with the tires where we can only take two tires per caution period, so that’s kind of a big unknown for everybody and with not running at Stafford yet we don’t know how things will play out but we’ll all watch everything unfold live on Saturday.  We’re also running a different tire compound with a softer tire which I think might open up some different strategy options and it could jumble track position during the race.  I think it’s going to be a crazy race with strategy, and we’ll have to make sure we get that right on race day.”

Bonsignore and the Whelen Modified Tour field will be joined in feature action for the NAPA Auto Parts 150 by Stafford’s SK lights and limited late models along with the vintage all-stars.