How Bonsignore is preparing for Xfinity debut

Justin Bonsignore’s annual trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway carries extra significance this weekend.

Before he climbs into his familiar No. 51 Phoenix Communications Inc. Modified for the Mohegan Sun 100, the 36-year-old from Holsville, New York will have an opportunity to prove himself at NASCAR‘s top level by making his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in the No. 19 M3 Technology Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing during the SciAps 200.

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Bonsignore has been working tirelessly to ensure his first venture into the Xfinity Series goes flawlessly. A part of that process includes conversing with current NASCAR Cup Series competitor Ryan Preece, who also racked in numerous accomplishments in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour such as winning the championship in 2013.

“Ryan Preece and I have been really good friends for a long time now,” Bonsignore said. “I‘ve reached out and asked if he had some time he could make available for me to offer any type of insight that I can put in the memory bank and think about for the next couple of days.

“Anybody that is willing to tell me anything, I will listen and remember it when it counts.”

A veteran of the Modified Tour for more than 15 years with three titles to his name, adjusting to full-bodied stock cars has been a learning experience for Bonsignore.

The ARCA Menards Series pre-race practice at Daytona International Speedway served as his first exposure to stock-car racing, which earned him a chance to make his series debut at the same track in February. Driving for Rette Jones Racing, Bonsignore had to settle for 32nd after rupturing an oil line on Lap 42.

New Hampshire will provide a much different atmosphere compared to Daytona. Unlike on the Modified Tour, no draft will be prevalent in Saturday‘s Xfinity Series event, which has forced Bonsignore to ascertain how to gain track position by utilizing aerodynamics and horsepower to his advantage.

The two Modified Tour New Hampshire victories Bonsignore has on his resume has provided him some confidence prior to the SciAps 200. Despite this, Bonsignore understands he needs to be patient and not interfere with the ongoing battle to reach the Xfinity Series Playoffs.

“There‘s going to be a lot of good cars in this race, Christopher Bell my teammate probably being the toughest,” Bonsignore said. “You have to know you‘re the new guy here, so you don‘t want to be too aggressive like us Modified guys can be.

“We‘re going to be smart about it and attack when we can. We don‘t want to make any enemies along the way.”

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The SciAps 200 is currently the only Xfinity Series event on Bonsignore‘s schedule, but he did not rule out potentially tagging on more races should the appropriate sponsorship materialize.

For now, Bonsignore is focused on being the best version of himself both physically and mentally during the biggest race of his career to date. Those qualities will be more paramount Saturday afternoon as drivers deal with a heat wave that is arriving in the northeast this weekend.

With his family, friends and sponsors in attendance at New Hampshire, Bonsignore is setting high expectations for himself. He would love to triumph in his Xfinity Series debut, but Bonsignore stressed the importance of logging laps and coming away from the afternoon with Gibbs‘ car intact.

“I‘m looking to have a smooth day and take it all in,” Bonsignore said. “If we can contend in the top five or top 10, that would be a win, but I wouldn‘t have done this if I didn‘t think we couldn‘t contend for the win. We‘re in a Gibbs car, so you have to go there with that mindset, but we need to execute and try to learn each and every lap.”

The SciAps 200 commences at 3:30 p.m. ET and will air on the USA Network. Once the Xfinity Series race concludes, Bonsignore will chase another Modified Tour New Hampshire checkered flag starting at 6:30 p.m. ET on FloRacing.