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THOMPSON, Conn. – Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good and sometimes a driver can be both.
Justin Bonsignore was just that as he was able to miss the late accidents that collected some of the lead pack cars and hold off a strong challenge by Matt Hirschman on a green-white-checkered finish to win the Budweiser King of Beers 150 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
“They got aggressive on the last few restarts, but I’ve lost a few races here the same way, so sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to win the race,” Bonsignore said of the rough-and-tumble conclusion to the event.
It was the second consecutive Whelen Modified Tour win for the Holtsville, New York native at Thompson and his third of the season. Bonsignore became the first driver to win back-to-back races at Thompson since Ted Christopher scored four consecutive wins at the track from 2010-11.
Doug Coby followed Hirschman in third with Ryan Preece and Ron Silk completing the top five.
Timmy Solomito finished sixth with Christopher seventh and Todd Szegedy eighth. Glen Reen and Spencer Davis completed the top 10.
The runner-up finish was the best for Hirschman in Whelen Modified Tour action since the 2008 Stafford Fall Final, a span of 32 starts, when he also finished second.
“It’s a good finish,” Hirschman said. “We didn’t have a winning car, the 51 [Bonsignore] was definitely a little bit better. The goal is now, that we have a car that can win the World Series (Thompson season finale).”
The race was relatively calm through the first half mark with only three cautions. However, business picked up in the field over the final 75 laps of the contest with the yellow flag displayed for several multi-car accidents. The most significant of those incidents came on Lap 124.
Silk was leading the race with Donny Lia, who led the first half of the race before pitting under caution, second and Tommy Barrett Jr. third. Patrick Emerling spun in Turn 1 collecting both Lia and Barrett ending their night.
Coby took the lead past Silk on the ensuing restart on Lap 134 and remained out front for just two laps until Bonsignore made his move past the points leader on Lap 136 where he remained the rest of the night.
“[I’m] happy with a third, we keep plugging away,” Coby said. “Not too happy that the 51 [Bonsignore] gained a couple points on us, but it’s still early. We’ve got five races left. Just keep ticking them [top finishes] off, that’s all we can do.”
With the win, Bonsignore was able to slice five points off of Coby's lead entering the night and will head to Bristol Motor Speedway for next Wednesday's Bush’s Beans 150 just three points (367-364) out of the top spot.
“It’s still too early to talk about points,” Bonsignore said. “The best way to look the points is to win the race and we got max points tonight.”
Justin Bonsignore leads Matt Hirschman late in the race and held on to score his third win of the season. Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR