Stafford Springs, CT — With a tight race for the championship on the Whelen Modified Tour this season, there is another tight battle brewing between Justin Bonsignore and Richie Pallai, Jr. for Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. Bonsignore comes to Stafford leading Pallai 116-112 in the Rookie of the Year standings, having won 8 Rookie of the Race Awards to Pallai’s four this season. Bonsignore is currently 11th in the Whelen Modified Tour Standings, while Pallai is 13th in the standings, only 46 points behind Bonsignore.
“At the start of the season, I would say that we exceeded our goals,” said Bonsignore. “At the start of the season, we had a new car, a new team, and a new driver. As we got some good finishes, we adjusted our goals midway through the year. Lately we’ve had some hard luck getting finishes, so we’re hoping to get some good finishes in the last couple of races this year. We really weren’t concerned with winning the Rookie of the Year, but we’ve had good runs this year and now that it is something that we want to win. It’s a great honor and something that we can use to build on for next season.”
While Bonsignore is looking at winning the rookie title this season, Pallai and his team have a different outlook on the rookie duel.
“We’ve been watching the rookie points, but we’re more concerned about the overall points standings and staying in the top-15, and getting a win” said Pallai. “We’re 13th right now, and if you’re in the top-15, you get two free tires every week, which is a huge financial help to us. For us it’s not about beating another rookie driver, but it’s about beating 33 other drivers on the track, we want to win a race. Our season has been up and down, we had a great first 5 races but then we’ve broken a driveshaft, broken a shifter, and we’ve got caught up in some wrecks. We’ve run really well everywhere we’ve been, we just haven’t had a lot of luck.”
For Pallai and the #39 Bosch Spark Plugs team, they are coming off a top-10 finish in New Hampshire and Pallai is returning to Stafford, a track where he has raced weekly for the past three seasons in the SK Modified® and SK Light Modified divisions.
“We were fast right off the truck in Loudon and that was really a finish that we needed,” said Pallai. “Once the race started, it seemed like we were picking guys off one by one. The race was a lot of fun and we turned a lot of heads with our finish. Stafford is our home track and any time you can go back to your home track is nice. This Stafford race won’t be an impound race, so we can throw the kitchen sink at the car for qualifying and go for the pole without worrying about having a race setup in the car. We know what we need for the race and we have qualified well for every Stafford race so far, which we will need to do again because track position is going to be important. Last time out at Stafford I think we had the best car that we’ve had all year long and we’re looking for a top-5 finish or even winning before the season is over.”
For Bonsignore and the #51 M3 Technology team, they are also looking for a strong finish at Stafford to get their team back on track.
“We wrecked at Loudon last week and we fell out of the top-10 in points,” said Bonsignore. “Our goal is to get back into the top-10 and build our notebook for next season. We’ve run well at Stafford this season, but we struggled a little bit the last time we were there. We’re getting stronger as a team and I think that as long as we can have a good qualifying run and keep the car up towards the front, we can be contenders for the win.”
Race fans can meet and greet with Bonsignore and Pallai, as well as the rest of the Whelen Modified Tour competitors and Stafford’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers, at the CARQUEST Belts and Hose Pit Party on Sunday, starting at 11am.
The Whelen Modified Tour cars hit the track for the first time during CARQUEST Fall Final weekend on Saturday October 2nd with a practice session from 11:00am-12:30pm. Time trials to set the field will begin at 2:15pm on Saturday and the 150-lap race will take the green flag at approximately 3:15pm on Sunday.
Tickets for the 38th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend are now on sale at the Stafford Motor Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $35.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, $38.00 for reserved seats, and free for children ages 5 & under. Tickets are good for admission to the Saturday, October 2nd, and Sunday, October 3rd portions of the Fall Final. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking with overnight weekend parking available.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR