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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour



The Race for the “Rookie of The Year” Winds Down
by Denise DuPont

NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour 2010 rookie contenders, Justin Bonsignore and Richie Pallai, Jr, are in the top fifteen in points as they race to the end of the 2010 race season. With only three races left in their first year of competing on the tour, the two young guns are both striving to be in the top ten and to be honored as the “Rookie of the Year”.

They had a lot of firsts for their teams this year and moments that they will not forget. During the tours visit to historic Bristol Motor Speedway, Justin Bonsignore made some history of his own as he became the first NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour driver to earn a Coors Light Pole Award at Bristol Motor Speedway. Achieving this notable milestone he also managed to earn the first pole of his career. This was a great accomplishment for Bonsignore as he raced to the charts ahead of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman and NASCAR Whelen Modified Champions such as Mike Stefanik , Ted Christopher, and Todd Szegedy.

Bonsignore raced with the front runners as though he had been doing it for years. He finished the race with a strong sixth place finish and was all smiles after the race. He was very pleased with his finish, but like any driver, wished it could have been better. “The race went pretty well. We were just looking to get a pretty solid finish. I did not know how good our car was going to be. We started that first run a little too loose. We had a different transmission in the car so it didn’t work on the start. So that is where we lost all of our positions and it really hurt us.”

Bonsignore followed Ryan Newman’s through the field of cars and along the way hoped he learned some moves that will help him with his career. “During the second run after the break, I ran with Newman (Ryan) as he made the holes. We were fighting for track position on the outside. I just could not get in there as fast as he did. But the time that I got in there the hole was already filled.”

With the best of both series contending, getting his first pole and finishing sixth was a great accomplishment for Bonsignore. “It is just such a pleasure racing with those guys up front. It is pretty cool to do that in my rookie season. I am really happy. It is tough though to beat guys like Ryan Newman and Mike Stefanik. We have to be spot on perfect and I cannot mess up at all. I cannot be so-so because they are so good. Hopefully my time come a time. We are still learning every week consistently. That is all we can ask for as a rookie.”

“Running a full segment like that it is pretty demanding,” said Bonsignore exhausted after the intense race. “You just try to keep your focus going every lap. You just make your marks and keep going. I was pretty beat it was a long run. I am not use to running that long in that type of G-Force.”

Rookie, Richie Pallai did not have as stellar experience at Bristol as the team continues to be plagued with issues. “We did not qualify as well as we wanted to.” The #39 car of the Bosch Spark Plugs Chevrolet completed time trials in thirty-five and took a provisional spot to enter the race.

During the race the team’s hard luck continued as more challenges were dealt to them. “About lap 20 we lost power steering. Then about lap 100 as we went down the front straight away the oil pressure light came on. So before it (the car) blew up we pulled it in and we will go through it.”

Veteran racer Ted Christopher raced with Pallai at Stafford Speedway in the SK Modified division and shared some words of experience to the rookie before the race began. “Teddy told me before we went out at practice was to just breathe. He also said that the G-Forces will get to you. You just have to make sure that you stay relaxed and hydrated especially how hot it was today.”

Bristol Motor Speedway has banking of thirty degrees plus in some portions of the track. When you walk the track you feel like you are climbing Mt Washington but while racing the drivers barely notice it. Pallai expressed his thoughts on the historic track. “You really do not notice that you are sideways on the track because you have so in tune with what you have to do you do not notice. When we walked in and looked at the track it looked like a Roman Coliseum.”

Now that the Northern Whelen Modified teams have conquered Bristol they have about a month to regroup and get ready for the drafts of New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

As the M3 Technology team of Bonsignore prepares their car ready for more racing, the team is setting their goals. “For the rest of the year we just hope to finish strong like we did tonight. Hopefully we will get back to the top ten and be in a top six or seven in points. And win the rookie of the year. I do not know if we have that clinched or not yet. I have to figure it out. Goal is to win rookie of the year and definitely get back into the top ten in points if we can.”

The Pallai team has more work to do as the team takes the car apart, diagnoses what is wrong and puts it back together ready for racing at Loudon New Hampshire’s superspeedway. “We will put the car together and try again at Loudon. It has been a good year so far. We had some bumps but over all we are happy. It is my first year in a full blown modified and my fourth year of racing. Not a lot of kids can say what they are doing what I am doing. So I am pretty fortunate. We are happy with the progress that we have made.”

So the two rookie teams have a month to regroup and psych themselves as the season unwinds and the last three races of the season unravel. They will give it their all we are sure. In the end like the great Modified racers before them, they will make their marks in the books and go forward with their racing careers shooting for the stars.

Rookie Race Notes From Bristol Motor Speedway

First of all here are some facts about Historic Bristol Motor Speedway:

It is considered the World's Fastest Half Mile Track.
It is a .553 Mile Concrete Oval Track.
The race surface is concrete and it is 43 feet wide.
The banking is steep.
The Degree of Banking in corners varies from 24 to 30 degrees.
The straightaways are 650 feet long.
The grandstands have a seating capacity of approximate 160,000.

What are the rookies thoughts on the track?

Justin Bonsignore
“The groove started to move up as the race went on. The track rubbered up so bad on the bottom, that everybody started fighting for the top. Newman, I think, was the first one to go up there. You just wanted to and had to run up there. You are just holding on because you are running fast and you are sideways. It is a controlled slide.”

Richie Pallai
“The track is different. You just drive it in and then you roll out of it and then you roll it back into it. Just like every where else that we went to this year, the track is new. It is pretty cool to say that we have raced at Bristol.”

  Source: Denise DuPont / TheChromeHorn.com
Posted: August 21, 2010

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