And as the schedule begins to wind down for the modifieds, Thompson’s 29th annual Bud “King of Beers” 150 will play a crucial role in the championship chase. It also marks the final stop at Thompson for teams to tune on their equipment before the champion is crowned as part of the Sunoco World Series in October.
In two previous Thompson events this year, Justin Bonsignore drove the No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Chevrolet into Victory Lane. In April’s Icebreaker 150, Bonsignore rolled by Jon McKennedy when McKennedy ran out of fuel and went on to score the victory. In June, a late caution flag allowed Bonsignore’s stellar pit crew to shine and get him out at the front of the pack, and he never gave up the top spot.
Bonsignore leads all active drivers with the most career wins on the 0.625-mile oval (seven) and has put together a fast start to the season that has him as the championship favorite to this point. But behind him, 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Chase Dowling is looking to break into Thompson’s Victory Lane and Doug Coby will be looking to regain his magic on the high-banks. Coby swept all four races in 2015, and has five career wins in 56 career starts. He finished inside the podium during the Thompson 125.
Other entrants to watch include Timmy Solomito, Matt Swanson, Bobby Santos III and Ronnie Williams. For Williams, the Thompson stops so far this season have proven to be difficult for him during the race action, but not in practice or qualifying. Williams qualified on the front row for both races, but has failed to finish inside the top-10. Will the speed he has shown so far return and allow him to have a chance at the victory?
One entry in the field that Thompson local fans may really want to watch is Ray Parent.
The defending Thompson Late Model champion is making his move to the modified ranks with Don Parsons Racing and he will drive the No. 98 Make A Wish entry in the Bud “King of Beers” 150. Parent has plenty of laps around Thompson and will look to use that experience to help him expedite the learning process driving a modified. Parent started 23rd and finished 16th in the Thompson 125 back in June in his Whelen Modified Tour debut.
Along with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, a full slate of NASCAR Whelen All American Series racing is also planned for the night. The Sunoco Modifieds, Late Models, Limited Sportsman and Mini Stock divisions will all compete in qualifying and feature racing. The NEMA Midgets will also return to the high-banks of Thompson for a 25-lap feature.
In the NWAAS Sunoco Modifieds, Keith Rocco has been victorious in three of the first four races, and holds a 28-point advantage in the championship point standings over Troy Talman. The only driver to knock Rocco off the top so far – Ryan Preece – will pull double duty and attempt to close the gap in the Sunoco Modified championship chase.
After some impressive runs to start the season, Nick Johnson finds himself in position to score a championship in the Late Model ranks. Johnson has finished inside the top five in all events so far in 2018, and holds a 17-point lead over Mark Jenison in the title fight. However, the top seven drivers are separated by 27 points – meaning it will be crucial for the eventual champion to score three consistent finishes at the front of the pack if they want to seal the deal.
Eric Bourgeois has won two races so far, and holds a 26-point lead in the Mini Stocks, while defending Limited Sportsman champion Shawn Monahan is running away with the Limited Sportsman title. Monahan is 27 points ahead of Chris Meyer with three races remaining and has already been victorious twice.
Qualifying racing gets underway at 5 p.m., and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will hit the track for group qualifying at 7 p.m. In the midst of feature racing, the Mini Stocks and the Late Models will follow the modifieds and complete the full night of racing. Paddock entry for the Bud 150 night is $50, while fans can walk into the front gate for just $44 and watch six action-packed feature events. As always, kids 12 & under are free for admission.
For more information on Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, check the track social media channels, or visit www.thompsonspeedway.com.