Waterford, CT — There are precious days left and John Puglisi is ready to begin the seasonal ritual – getting ready for Waterford Speedbowl’s season-opening Budweiser Modified Nationals April 12-13. Like always, he’ll be there when the first green flag drops.
A 30-lap Sportsman feature is part of the 12th annual, 10-division Modified Nationals. The $20,000 SK-150 tops the billing that also includes extra-distance beginnings for the Late Models (50 laps) and Mini Stocks (30). The Legends, Northeastern Midget Association, AllStar Race Trucks, Pro4 Modifieds, Allison Legacy Cars and NEMA Lites are also on the schedule.
“Last year was a mixed-bag for me,” says Puglisi. “I missed a lot of events, and ended-up driving for some other guys. It was the first time in a long while that I wasn’t able to run my own car all season, and the results weren’t very good.”
Ranking ninth on the all-time career Sportsman wins, he hasn’t been to Victory Lane since ’05 when he won three times. “It’s looking better this season,” he says. “This car has been good to me over the years, it’s a winner. While it’ll have the same sheet metal as last year, it’ll be new underneath. The car has a lot of updates including a new frame.”
He came to racing via the Enduro route participating in the Speedbowl’s first-ever event of that kind. “That was quite a while ago,” he reminisces. “The starting field stretched around the entire length of the track. It was a wild affair to say the least. Running a sportsman is a different deal altogether. Let’s just say that it’s more of a controlled environment.”
It remains a difficult sport. “It’s hectic sometimes because I’m basically a one-man operation,” he says. “It’s not easy to find people willing to put-in the hours on a race car these days.”
He has a special association with fellow competitor and friend Jim Procaccini. The realization that he, along with Procaccini, are “elder statesmen” in a division teeming with youngsters has not gone unnoticed. “It’s a good mix of talent in the division both age and equipment-wise, and the wins don’t come easily,” he says. “I like to think that old guys like Jim and me will stick together and show the kids a thing or two. We’ve got to teach them to respect their elders.”
Setting realistic goals for 2008, Puglisi is looking to improve on his overall performance. “I’m always serious about the points-race, but if you’re consistent, that takes care of itself. The main goal this year is to put the car back into victory lane. That’s what I’m after.”
Sources: Dave Dykes/Waterford Speedbowl PR