Bonsignore Triumphs At The Steel Palace

Justin Bonsignore in victory lane Saturday night at Oswego Speedway. (NASCAR Photo)
Justin Bonsignore in victory lane Saturday night at Oswego Speedway. (NASCAR Photo)

OSWEGO, N.Y. – Entering Saturday night’s Toyota Mod Classic 150, Justin Bonsignore had won virtually every prestigious event on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour schedule, except for Oswego Speedway’s Labor Day spectacle.

After 150 laps around the five-eighths-mile New York oval, Bonsignore rectified that statistic with a statement victory at the Steel Palace.

Bonsignore led a race-high 81 laps en route to his fourth NWMT win of the season, jumping his No. 51 Ken Massa Motorsports team up to second in the point standings behind Doug Coby as a result.

He took the lead for the first time at lap 65, passing polesitter and early leader Rob Summers, who paced the first 64 tours virtually uncontested. From there, Bonsignore was the class of the field, only giving the top spot up again during a lap-99 caution, after Tyler Rypkema went around.

Though a final pit stop gave Patrick Emerling a brief tenure out in front, Bonsignore leapt from third back to first when the green flag waved with 45 to go and never looked back after that.

Despite a fierce challenge in the final laps from defending race winner Matt Hirschman, Bonsignore stayed true and fended off every advance the No. 60 made to come home victorious for the 24th time.

“We had an unbelievable car tonight. Ryan Stone brought a great Phoenix Communications mount today and we all knew after I got a long run in practice early … about 30 laps, that it was going to be stout,” said Bonsignore in victory lane. “I was really impressed with the speed all race. We got to second there early, and then got that bonus money as well on lap 80. I’ll be honest, it was in the back of my head to try and get the lead for that.

“From there, we just set a good pace. We had a great pit stop at the end,” Bonsignore added. “My guys always are one of the best (crews) on pit road here on the Tour and they made it happen tonight.”

Bonsignore tipped that his car wasn’t handling perfectly at the end of the race, but it was good enough to get the job done, despite Hirschman’s best efforts.

“We were a little snug at the end,” noted Bonsignore. “They could roll up to us through the center (of the corner) and I could get a good drive off. When Matty (Matt Hirschman) is behind you, you know he’s gonna run you clean, but you have to be so on top of it and drive as hard as you can. I actually messed up a little bit through one and two. I should’ve waited on the throttle and hugged the boiler plate and instead, I tried standing in the throttle and it just ran all the way up to the outside fence.

“It’s a deceiving look. He had a nose and we made a little contact, but we hung on to the finish.”

Hirschman had a shot at Bonsignore on a 12-lap dash to the finish, after a final caution for a clash between Craig Lutz and Patrick Emerling that sent Emerling spinning, but couldn’t make the pass and had to settle for second.

The driver nicknamed “Money Matt” crossed the finish line .146 seconds adrift of Bonsignore.

“It helped that Justin was out front there,” noted Hirschman. “I had to work to get to him, but we were right there at the end contending. That’s a good thing. I’d like to have won, but it’s still a good run.”

Behind Hirschman, Ron Silk, Craig Lutz and Bobby Santos III completed the top five.

Doug Coby finished sixth, ahead of Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Chase Dowling and Tommy Catalano.

The finish:

Justin Bonsignore, Matt Hirschman, Ron Silk, Craig Lutz, Bobby Santos III, Doug Coby, Eric Goodale, Timmy Solomito, Chase Dowling, Tommy Catalano, Rob Summers, Chris Pasteryak, Chuck Hossfeld, Patrick Emerling, Sam Rameau, Gary Putnam, Amy Catalano, Kyle Ebersole, Blake Barney, Tyler Rypkema, J.B. Fortin, Walter Sutcliffe Jr., Wade Cole, Calvin Carroll, Matt Swanson, Melissa Fifield, Timmy Catalano.