Shullick wins ISMA race, championship; Preece makes last lap pass for Sunoco Mod Win
–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
THOMPSON, Conn. – Justin Bonsignore experienced both the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat on Sunday at Thompson Speedway.
The Holtsville, N.Y. driver made a late race pass on Timmy Solomito to claim the win in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series 150, but lost out on the season-long championship battle as Doug Coby sewed up his third straight Tour title with a sixth place finished.
“It’s our fifth win at Thompson, but probably the worst one we’ve had given the circumstances,” Bonsignore said. “There’s a lot worse things that I could be doing in my life and I get to race cars with my friends.
“When you pull into victory lane and then he takes over and celebrates from there, it’s definitely a bummer.”
Bonsignore moved into the second spot following pit stops midway through the race and began to chase leader Solomito. Bonsignore’s first challenge came on lap 116 when he planted his No. 51 car right on Solomito’s rear bumper. His first challenge for the lead came on lap 122, but it was thwarted by lapped traffic. Bonsignore remounted the charge and took the lead on lap 129 as he dove to Solomito’s inside in turn three.
“I just worked (Solomito) over,” Bonsignore said. “I knew he was free and I could see it. Finally, I could see the guys behind us were running us down and I said ‘I gotta go.’
“He drove it in there deep with us and we bounced wheels. It wasn’t one my cleaner passes at Thompson. I hope he’s not too upset. I’m sure he understood that we had to win the race and hope for the best.”
The win for Bonsignore was his fourth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour win of the season.
Ryan Preece, who flew in on Sunday morning after his NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, charged from the rear of the field to finish second. Jimmy Blewett bounced back from an early race pit stop to finish third with Donny Lia fourth. Solomito faded to fifth after he led 125 of the first 130 laps.
Coby’s sixth place finish captured his third straight championship and fourth in the past five seasons. He now sits with Mike Stefanik and Tony Hirschman as the only drivers with more than three Tour championships.
“It’s so hard to do this every week,” Coby said. “I want to tip my hat to (Bonsignore’s) team and also (Solomito’s) team. They really put the pressure on us this year. Everybody said we were going to walk away with it with a couple changes last year to start the season. Man, it was tough. It’s so tough to win on this series.
“I’m honored to be mentioned (among the greats). I’m honored for the accomplishment to have done this. This is so special.”
Woody Pitkat, Eric Goodale, rookie Matt Swanson, and Dave Sapienza completed the top-ten finishers.
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Dave Shullick Jr. earned a dominating win in the 50-lap International Supermodified Association feature.
The North Ridgeville, Ohio driver took the lead on lap seven from early race leader Dan Bowes and zoomed out an enormous lead. Shullick then held on through a late race restart to claim his second straight ISMA Super Modified win during Sunoco World Series weekend.
The win for Shullick was his sixth of the season and earned him his second straight series championship.
“The car was amazing all weekend,” Shullick said. “I just tried to be smart and not make a mistake and I figured we’d be good at the end.”
Shullick entered the event 39 points back of Mike Lichty in the championship battle and was able to gain three points on him during the heat race events on Saturday. As Shullick ran to the early lead, Lichty was marred in traffic and ran in the seventh spot before the races’ final restart. On that restart, however, he ran into mechanical woes and headed pit side, ending his race and his championship hopes.
Windham, Maine driver Mike Ordway Jr. finished second with Ontario driver Mark Sammut third after he was able to get around Ben Sietz late in the event. Sietz settled for fourth with Mike McVetta fifth. Timmy Jedrejzek, Chris Pelkey, Mike Netishen, Alison Cumens, and Joey Pane completed the top-ten finishers.
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Ryan Preece made a back-to-front run and completed it with a last lap pass on Rowan Pennink to win the 30-lap Sunoco Modified feature.
The Berlin, Conn. driver sustained an issue before the green flag and ran off of pit road just as the field took the green flag. From there, Preece marched through the field and then dogged Pennink for the final third of the race for the top spot.
As the duo took the white flag, Preece dove to the inside of Pennink in turn one and slid up in front of him as the leader. Preece opened up a gap down the backstretch that thwarted off a last turn attempt from Pennink to take the win.
“We were making the bottom work and Rowan had a really good car,” Preece said. “Both him and I began to struggle for side bite so I just started moving down. I kept working him over and that last lap we both sent it in hard.
“We raced hard. I missed racing with (Pennink) at Stafford. It’s always fun when he’s racing that 99.”
Pennink finished second with Ronnie Williams third. Woody Pitkat came home fourth while Keith Rocco earned the Sunoco Modified championship with a fifth place finish.
Phil Jacques of Dudley, Mass. won the 20-lap Thompson Limited Sportsman feature event while P.J. Stergois of Newmarket, N.H. earned the 20-lap NEMA Lite feature win.
VMM will have more from the Thompson Sunoco World Series soon.
1 – Justin Bonsignore celebrates his NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco World Series win on Sunday afternoon at Thompson Speedway. (Fran Lawlor/NASCAR Home Tracks photo)
2 – Dave Shullick Jr. races under the checkered flag to win the ISMA Super Modified feature win during Thompson World Series weekend. (Jim Feeney photo)