April 6, 2014 — report by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Race Chaser Online — Jim Rogash/Getty Images for NASCAR photo — THOMPSON, CT — They call it the Icebreaker 150 for a reason, and Sunday afternoon at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Long Islander Justin Bonsignore broke not only the ice, but the fight in polesitter Woody Pitkat over the course of the 150-lap event.
Bonsignore dove underneath Pitkat with nine laps remaining after a late-race restart to assume the lead and set sail from there, scoring the season-opening victory for the NASCAR WHELEN Modified Tour and notching his first-ever Icebreaker triumph.
The win was the fourth career Tour victory for Bonsignore, and his second at Thompson after winning at the track in September of 2012. His previous best in the Icebreaker was a fifth-place result in 2011.
“I was just hoping I wouldn’t be the guy to mess it up during the final 25 laps,” Bonsignore said in victory lane. “I knew I had a little bit better of a car. I tried not to be aggressive, but everyone knows how it is at Thompson.”
Pitkat came up just short of his elusive first Tour victory and finished second for the third time in his career.
UNOH Battle at the Beach winner Doug Coby completed the podium in third, with Timmy Solomito and Eric Goodale completing the top five at the finish.
Ron Yuhas Jr., Ron Silk, 13-time Thompson winner Ted Christopher, defending champion Ryan Preece and Jimmy Zacharias, driving the famed Boehler Racing #3, made up the rest of the top 10 in the season’s first event.
At the green flag, it was Pitkat leading the field to the green flag and through the early going ahead of Donny Lia and outside polesitter Bonsignore, but the caution flag flew in a hurry at Lap 7 as the #01 of Melissa Fifield spun in Turn One to slow the field for the first time.
Problems early drew the #44 of Bobby Santos III, the #13 of Christopher and the #8 of Glen Reen to the pit lane, with a broken oil line derailing Santos’ efforts for the afternoon.
Due to the broken oil line and the excessive amount of fluid on the track from the #44 machine, track officials threw the red flag to clean up the racing surface, and after the stoppage, defending champion Preece brought his #16 car to pit road to make a chassis adjustment to the right rear.
Preece rejoined the tail end of the field on the restart, and on the green flag, Bonsignore dove to the inside lane to snatch the lead away from Pitkat. That lead would be short-lived, however, as Pitkat would give Bonsignore a shunt off of Turn Two at Lap 21 to reclaim the lead and bring Rowan Pennink with him to second.
One lap later, Pennink would decide it was go time, and took his machine to the inside of Turn Three to grab the top spot and would then check out with Pitkat on the rest of the field, leading until the second caution of the day flew at Lap 56 for Zacharias’ spin in Turn Two.
Pennink would then hold the lead all the way through to halfway, despite a Lap 62 caution for the spinning car of Reen, until Pitkat surged back to the inside at Lap 79 to regain the number one spot once again.
Back in the field though, the driver making moves was the #4 Mystic Missile machine of Lia, charging his way forward on fresh tires and making it all the way to the top ten before the caution flew for the fourth time at Lap 97 when second-place running Pennink slammed the outside wall in Turn Two after what appeared to be a mechanical failure sent his #93 machine around.
That crash necessitated a second red-flag period at Lap 98 to clean up the scene of the accident and set up a round of pit stops that saw multiple strategies implemented. Several drivers stayed out after pitting previous, and Donny Lia would inherit the lead for the Lap 103 restart.
Old tires would hamper the front-runners once the green flag flew, as Bonsignore and Pitkat began easily disposing of the slower cars ahead of them, getting all the way up to third and fourth behind Lia and Matt Hirschman before the yellow flag flew again at Lap 114, this time for a spin by Keith Rocco.
On the ensuing restart, Pitkat would dispatch Bonsignore and plow his way back up to Lia’s back bumper for the lead, but contact between the two would send Lia’s yellow No. 4 hard into the Turn Two wall and slow the field a sixth time at Lap 123.
When the green flag returned at Lap 129, Pitkat and Bonsignore would restart one-two and begin to run away from the field, but a seventh caution for a melee involving Wade Cole and Patrick Emerling would set up a thirteen lap dash to the finish and lead to Bonsignore’s race-winning pass with nine laps to go in the final sprint.
The NASCAR WHELEN Modified Tour is back in action on Sunday, April 27 for the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 at Stafford Motor Speedway.