Last December, James Civali stood before the entire Whelen Modified Tour community as he accepted his Sunoco Race Fuels Rookie of the Year award. Standing there at the podium at Mohegan Sun, Civali knew his rookie campaign was a success. Many veteran drivers would be content with a seventh place finish in points, including a victory at one of the most prestigious tracks in modified history, Stafford. But when the Meriden, CT-native left the stage that night, he knew there was more to gain.
All winter Civali remained focused on the next chapter in his career, his sophomore season on the Whelen Modified Tour. For the first time the 23-year-old knew what to expect entering a Tour season. Again teaming with Don King and King Racing, Civali knew he had the equipment to take him to the next level, a Whelen Modified Tour Championship.
“I couldn’t wait for the Icebreaker at Thompson (International Speedway) in April,” said Civali. “I knew we had a solid team, I just had to do my part and drive.”
And drive Civali did, crossing the finish line first at the 2007 Icebreaker event. For the first time Civali left a Tour event with the points lead, knowing he wanted be a factor in the championship battle come October.
“When we left Thompson we knew we could be contenders, as long as we ran consistently throughout the year, “ said Civali.
As the season progressed Civali has seen both ups and downs, but he still remains optimistic.
“We really had a great car at Loudon (NH), but we had some bad luck and it hurt us a little,” said the young driver. “However, we still left knowing we had a great shot at the title, we just needed our luck to turn.”
Civali’s luck took an immediate turn for the better, winning the very next race at Twin State Speedway in Claremont, NH. After waging an exciting wheel-to-wheel battle with fellow rising star Matt Hirschman, Civali was able to claim his second victory of the season.
“Going to victory lane in Claremont was huge for our momentum, it helped reestablish our confidence in being able to win a championship,” Civali said.
When the Whelen Modified Tour returns to action August 4th at Riverhead Raceway, Civali will look to use that momentum to grab a solid finish at the Long Island track.
“It is one of the toughest events of the season, when you see Tour regulars fail
to qualify you know the competition is high,” said Civali. “If we can leave Riverhead with a solid finish, I think we can really make a run at the title, considering how well we’ve run at the remaining tracks.”
Civali knows there is a lot of season left to run, but he’s confident in his abilities and his equipment.
“Don (King) has given me a great opportunity,” said Civali. “Last year all I wanted was to get him his first win, now I want to get him a championship.”
For more information on the Whelen Modified Tour, please visit www.nascarlocalracing.com. For all the latest news on James Civali, please log on to www.jamescivali.com, the official home of James Civali.
Sources: Jimmy Thompson/James Civali PR