Stafford Springs, CT — As the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour hits Stafford Speedway this weekend for the 41st Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler, Justin Bonsignore will be hoping to turn his luck at Stafford around. In 8 previous races at Stafford, Bonsignore’s best finish has been 10th on two occasions and he has an average finish of 17.6 in those eight races. But one of Bonsignore’s top-10 finishes at Stafford came in last year’s CARQUEST Fall Final, where Bonsignore put his #51 M3 Technology car on pole and led 79 laps and he hopes to repeat that performance in order to take home a career best Stafford finish in the Sizzler.
“We sure hope we can have a good finish,” said Bonsignore. “We had some motor issues in the first couple Stafford races last year and we ended up getting caught up in a wreck at the Fall Final, so we’d love to be able to win the Sizzler, that would be a big deal. We’re bringing back the same car we had at the Fall Final last year, so I think we’ll have a good chance. Aaron Clifford, my crew chief, always does a good job preparing our cars and we’re usually fast right off of the truck, so that makes my job a lot easier. I love coming to Stafford, it’s one of my favorite tracks although we haven’t always had the best finishes at Stafford.”
The first step for Bonsignore and his fellow Whelen Modified Tour competitors will be to lay down a good qualifying lap on Saturday in preparation for the 200-lap CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler on Sunday. A good qualifying lap can often be the start of a good weekend at Stafford.The first step for Bonsignore and his fellow Whelen Modified Tour competitors will be to lay down a good qualifying lap on Saturday in preparation for the 200-lap CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler on Sunday. A good qualifying lap can often be the start of a good weekend at Stafford.
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Stafford Springs, CT — Over the past three seasons at Stafford Motor Speedway, no driver has won more races than Keith Rocco. While the SK Modified® division has accounted for the majority of Rocco’s 30 victories in that 3-year span, he has also won Late Model races, a Modified Racing Series event, and the CARQUEST Champions For Charities feature event. With the 41st Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler taking place next weekend at Stafford, Rocco will try to add another chapter to his wide variety of feature victories at Stafford as he makes his Sizzler debut.
Rocco will be driving the Boehler Racing owned #3 Cape Cod Copper / Silver Dollar Construction Chevrolet, which won the Sizzler in 2004 with Jerry Marquis behind the wheel as well as the very first Spring Sizzler with Fred DeSarro at the controls. Rocco qualified fourth in his first race with the Boehler team, but a multi-car wreck relegated them to a 22nd place finish.
Despite the finish, Rocco is happy with his new team and is looking forward to his first Sizzler. “Everything went well and I’m extremely happy with the team,” said Rocco. “After our first race together it looks like we’re going to have a lot of success this season. I have a real good feeling for my first Sizzler. The guys gave me a great car for Thompson and I think we’ll have just as good a car for Stafford. The team has had a lot of success in the past and that makes my job a lot easier.”
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Stafford Springs, CT — For Stafford native Woody Pitkat, the 41st CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler Weekend will be a busy time as Pitkat will perform triple duty, driving in the SK Modified®, Late Model, and Whelen Modified Tour feature events. This year’s Sizzler is the third consecutive Sizzler that Pitkat will have three separate drives during the weekend. Pitkat will pilot the #11Spectro Oils of America Ford in the 200-lap CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler, the #89 Hitchcock Pool Water / James Paige Plumbing Chevrolet in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, and the #88 New Haven Truck and Auto Body Chevrolet in the 30-lap Late Model feature.
Pitkat is coming off a 15th place finish in the season opening Whelen Modified Tour event in which he was involved in a multicar incident that relegated him to the 15th place finish, 30 laps down. But overall Pitkat was happy with his car and he is looking forward to racing at Stafford, where Donny Lia finished third in the #11 car that Pitkat will be driving in last year’s CARQUEST Fall Final.
“We struggled a little at Thompson, but we made the best of the weekend that we could,” said Pitkat. “We had a transmission issue on Saturday, so we lost a bit of practice time and then we only had high gear for time trials. We qualified 20th and I was just riding around, trying to get the feel of the car. The car felt pretty good and then we got caught up in that big wreck in turn 1 and we went a couple laps down while I was helping the guys fix the car. After the race was over, we found that we found a motor issue, so all in all it was a good weekend, the team really jelled well together. We feel pretty confident going to Stafford. These guys have a good setup
for Stafford, Donny Lia almost won the Fall Final with this car, and this car used to be a Todd Szegedy car and Lloyd Agor was helping Todd. Between Lloyd’s knowledge of the track and the car, and I know the track pretty well, hopefully we have our motor issue fixed and the guy behind the steering wheel can go out and get it done this weekend. We certainly hope to have a good finish, it seems like Thompson and Stafford are two of my worst tracks with the Tour car.”
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Stafford Springs, CT — The 41st Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler will kick off the 2012 race season at Stafford Motor Speedway and Richie Pallai, Jr., driver of the #39 CARQUEST Filters / Bosch Spark Plugs Chevrolet, is hoping for a repeat of the 2009 Sizzler where he collected his first SK Modified® feature victory. Pallai finished 14th in the season opening event at Thompson, and although he was caught up in a multi-car wreck, he has confidence in his car and team with how well they ran as they prepare for the 200-lap test that is the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler.
“We’re looking forward to the Sizzler more than we have in the past,” said Pallai. “Stafford has kind of been one of our worst tracks. You would think it would be one of our better ones, but it just hasn’t been. We ran really good at Thompson, we were eighth when we pitted and we pitted with all the leaders. We restarted 14th and we were up to 10th right before we wrecked, so realistically we had about a 7th or 8th place car without a problem. We didn’t qualify as good as we wanted to, which hurt us because it’s tough to pass, but we’re looking forward to Stafford. We had a lot of problems with the car last year that we figured out during the winter and we switched to Bruneau engines. We have the best equipment that we’ve had in three years, so it’s nice to know that going into the race.”
With the Whelen Modified Tour field being so close together, Pallai knows that the first step to repeating his SK Modified® victory will be a good qualifying lap. “You think it would be easy, but qualifying is a lot harder than it looks,” said Pallai. “We’ll definitely need to have a good lap because it’s so hard to pass with the cars all being so close together. At Thompson, Ryan [Preece] was dominant in the first half of the race and he was having a hard time getting back to the front after he pitted. We were at Riverhead testing this week and the car is very fast. Everyone on the team is having fun and when everyone is having fun, good things usually happen for us.”
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Stafford Springs, CT — For Doug Coby and the #52 Reynolds Auto Wrecking / Furnace and Duct team, the 41st Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler was a dream race. Coby took over the race lead from Ryan Preece on lap-112 of 200 and he led the rest of the way, beating Preece to the checkered flag by 1.881 seconds. But as calm and smooth as Coby’s ride looked from the outside, Coby and his team were worried for much of the second half of the race that the car might not make it to the finish. Coby’s car picked up a Subway wrapper in his grill area and it shot his water temperature to the virtual point of breaking, but the engine held together and Coby was able to take home his second career Sizzler trophy. Coby’s Sizzler trophy will be joined by another trophy, the Subway wrapper that hitched a ride with Coby for most of the second half of the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler.
“We had a Subway wrapper on the grill and it shot the water temp up from 200 or 210 to 240, and 240 is when you pull in,” said Coby. “We were actually debating on one of those cautions with 48 to go to come into the pits and pull the wrapper off the grill. It stayed at 240 and then went to 230 and 236 and my crew chief [John McKenna] told me there was a light in there that is gonna tell me and if the light comes on I’ve got to pull in. It never came on and I don’t think I would have told him if it did come on. It was just one of those things that someone got a sandwich from Subway and it almost ruined our race. You’ve seen it happen with Dale Sr. I think at Daytona where he got a wrapper on his grill and it happened to a modified at Stafford Speedway and it almost ruined our day, it was that close. It was after the pitstop so it must have been around lap-110 or lap-120 and my car owner [Wayne Darling] sits in the stands and he came on the radio and told me there was a big piece of debris on the grill and to check my water temp. It was fine for a while then I saw it go from 200 to 220 and that’s ok, and then it went to 230 and I said that wrapper is going to ruin our freaking race. It got to 240 and that’s when I started to panic and I turned it over to my crew chief and I said you tell me when to pull in. I’ve run motors before at 250 and 255 and I’ve blown them up after that. This was a fresh Bob Bruneau motor that we just got back, this is my favorite motor that we won Thompson with and we didn’t have it for the Icebreaker because he had a problem with it on the dyno. I like this motor, its very comfortable to me at both Stafford and Thompson, and it’s a very big thing to have done this for the team. The wrapper is in my helmet and its going on the wall. It ran about 240 for most of the race, it went down to 230 a couple of times. I pulled up to the pace car under caution because I’ve seen Cup guys when they have debris change the airflow and sometimes it will drop, but the cup guys don’t have a big box like we have and I think it was just stuck in there.”
Coby qualified 7th and he spent the first half of the race working his way towards the front and he was up to second when most of the lead cars came to pit road under caution on lap-97. He came out third of the cars that pitted and he was sixth in line for the lap-109 restart. It took Coby only three laps to run down and pass Ryan Preece for the race lead and once Coby got out front, he remained there for the remainder of the race, although he and the team were worried about the wrapper on his grill.
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