Stafford Springs, CT — It’s often been seen in racing that if a driver and team have momentum on their side, it can lead to a series of good finishes. After posting only one top-10 finish in the first 9 races of the 2011 season, Richie Pallai, Jr. and his #39 Bosch Spark Plugs team sat out the Bristol, Canada, and Thompson races before making their return to the Whelen Modified Tour at the road course of Lime Rock. Pallai qualified seventh and he finished a career best fourth in the Lime Rock race, and he will look to carry the momentum of that career best finish to Stafford Motor Speedway for the CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend on Oct. 1st and Oct. 2nd.
“We had a great weekend at Lime Rock, we were never slower than 7th in any of the sessions,” said Pallai. “We qualified seventh and we ran in the top-5 all day long. It was a good race, but we were a little disappointed because we felt like we had a second place car, no one had anything for Todd [Szegedy]. It was a blast in the race, Justin [Bonsignore] and I passed each other like 8 times during the race and we never touched. You have to be aggressive at a road course and I think playing hockey helped me with being aggressive on the track. It was terrible to have to miss races, but we needed to take a break and get regrouped. Now we’re looking to keep the momentum going for Stafford and build something for next season.”
Fresh off his career best finish, Pallai will return to Stafford, which is the track that he has the most racing experience at. Pallai began his weekly racing career in the SK Light division in 2006, narrowly missing out on winning the championship. Pallai moved to the SK Modified® division in 2007 and he picked up his first SK Modified® feature victory in 2009 in the Spring Sizzler. Pallai made his Whelen Modified Tour debut at Stafford in the 2009 CARQUEST Fall Final and in 7 career Stafford starts, Pallai has a best finish of 11th in the 2010 Town Fair Tire 150. Pallai will be looking to capture his first career top-10 finish at Stafford and he says it’s all a matter of qualifying well and getting a handle on the car for the race.
“You would think that Stafford would be our best track and it’s probably been one of our worst tracks” said Pallai. “Our best run at Stafford was probably the Fall Final last year, we were in the top-5 with 20 to go and we got caught up in that big wreck in turn 3. If we can have a good car like we had that day, we should be all right. For some reason, it seems like we’ve never really been able to hit it on the setup at Stafford. The car is good on the short run, but not the long runs, and it seems like every time we come to Stafford, there is at least one long green flag run of like 60 laps that just kills us. Most tracks you can expect an early caution, but at Stafford, it seems like we go 50 or 60 laps into the race before the caution comes out, so you have to wait to make adjustments on the car. Qualifying is crucial at Stafford because it’s hard to pass. With this being a weekend event, we’ll be able to practice in the same conditions that we’ll be racing in, and we can put a qualifying setup on the car for Saturday and then change back to a race setup for Sunday where on the Friday shows you can’t do that. And I think you’ll see some different strategies going on for the Fall Final. With the Sizzler being a 200-lap race, everyone usually tries to pit right around halfway, but with the Fall Final being 150 laps, you’ll see some guys pit early and some guys pit late and try to come back through the field on new tires. If we can qualify and finish the race in the top-10, that would be a good way for us to end the season.”
In addition to his on track activities, Pallai and the #39 Bosch Spark Plugs team will have a special tee-shirt offer going on at the their car during the CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party on Sunday, Oct. 2nd from 11am-12 noon. For a $5 donation to the Danbury Animal Welfare Society, fans can receive a CARQUEST Belts and Hose tee-shirt. All fans who make a donation to D.A.W.S. will also receive a raffle ticket for a chance to be the honorary starter for the 40-lap SK Modified® feature that will take the green flag at 1pm on Sunday, October 2nd.
The 39th Annual CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend kicks off on Friday, Sept. 30 with pit gates opening at 12:00pm with a practice session running from 2:00pm to 6:30pm for Stafford’s weekly divisions. The General Admission grandstands will be open to the public at no charge for the practice session. The G.A. Grandstands will open at 2pm.
Action continues on Saturday, Oct. 1 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars at 2:15pm, followed by heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions. Saturday’s events wrap up with feature events for Stafford’s SK Light Modified, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions.
The CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend continues on Sunday, Oct. 2 with the famous Stafford CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party kicking off the day’s activities from 11:00am to 12:00pm, with the final SK Modified® and Late Model feature events of 2011 being accompanied by the Whelen Modified Tour 150-lap CARQUEST Fall Final. Tickets for the CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend are available and on sale now at the Stafford Motor Speedway Box Office.
Tickets are priced at $35.00 for adult General Admission, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is $38.00 for all ages. All tickets cover both Saturday and Sunday admission to the Fall Final. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. Tickets can be ordered by calling the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783.
For more information, or to order tickets, 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