Bonsignore’s Consistency Pays Off to Win First Ever TC Cup as Indoor Auto Racing Series Champion – PTD Exclusive
By MIKE MALLETT
Justin Bonsignore opened the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled by VP Racing Fuels with a win before backing that up with a pair of third place finishes, one in Allentown and another in the Gambler’s Classic in Atlantic City. That allowed the NASCAR Whelen Modified tour regular to head to Albany as the indoor series point leader. That was where the good fortune came to an end.
Albany was a struggle for the Holtsville, N.Y., driver. He lucked his way to a seventh place finish Friday after being in the pits multiple times before surviving a motor going south on Saturday night to finish 11th. Those two finishes were enough to allow him to win the first ever TC (Teddy Christopher) Cup as the indoor series championship over Erick Rudolph.
“We had a great start to the year with those top threes,” said Bonsignore on Saturday night. “We would have loved to win some more races. There aren’t a lot of them each year, there are only a couple, but we were able to get one so the first one is off our back. Consistency was key. We had a great car every race.
“Last night was tough. We got punted out of the way in the heat and that put us in the back of the race. We got caught up in three or four wrecks. We knocked the throttle body off. Somehow we were able to salvage a good night. Luckily for us, unfortunate for Erick, which I don’t like to have that, he got knocked out last night and that helped the points lead. Honestly if that didn’t happen he would have beat us tonight with the circumstances with the motor blowing. You got to be lucky more than good. I’ve had a lot of unlucky years in here so I’ll take this.”
Winning the TC Cup was special to Bonsignore as he had a great relationship with Christopher prior to his untimely passing. When he left Atlantic City he mentioned the importance of having a shot at winning that prize for being the champion.
“It’s very humbling,” stated Bonsignore. “I was able to become really good friends with Ted the last couple of years. After I ran his car in Atlantic City we became a lot closer. We stayed in touch a lot during the week and we would always talk at the races. I always loved talking to him. He was a ball-buster to the very end, but I could give it right back. We just had a great relationship. It is huge honor to win this championship in his memory. I’m really thankful that a Modified driver was able to do it. Hopefully we’ll represent him well and do him proud.”
As he said, luck was a major factor as just enough cars dropped out Saturday night that he was able to limp his No. 51 to the checkered flag with a sour engine. He needed to finish 11th or better to guarantee himself the title. He got 11th.
“The first five or six laps I was waiting for it to blow like Ryan’s (Flores) did in Atlantic City,” commented Bonsignore. “I could see Davey (Sammons) up the tower pointing at me. He was telling when it goes to get off. I didn’t want to ruin the track. After it stayed for five or six laps, it stalled and I restarted it. Once I did that I thought it was a valve or something in that sense. I kind of got some advice to take it easy because there weren’t many cars on the race track. Once I knew there was 11 or 10 left I knew he (Rudolph) couldn’t beat me. At that point you just go half throttle and make sure you don’t do anything stupid. I don’t know how it made it, but it did. We’ll take it for sure.”
Bonsignore will now try to ride the positive momentum from the winter months into a strong start on the NASCAR Whelen Modified tour which kicks off in a few weeks at the Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina. He hope earn a series title there as well.
“This gives you so much momentum and confidence,” cited Bonsignore. “In 2016 I won half the races the last half of the season and it just sky rockets your team. Everybody gets so amped up. A couple of my guys come and help me here, but all my guys are texting me and wishing me luck. They are excited. I’m going to go into Myrtle Beach in a month with so much confidence. We have a brand new crew chief, brand new race cars on the tour and I can’t be more excited. I hope it continues all the way through the summer and we can win another championship.”