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   The Chrome Horn - NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour




In NASCAR’s Daytona 500, Dave Marcis holds the record for most career starts with 33, and A.J. Foyt holds the Indy 500 record for most career starts with 35. Jamie Tomaino, who has raced in 27 of the previous 39 Sizzlers, currently holds the CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler record for most career starts and he will add to that total in this year’s 40th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler. Tomaino's familiar #99 Supreme Manufacturing Chevrolet will take the green flag for the 28th time in this year’s edition of “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring”.

Tomaino made his first career Spring Sizzler start in 1980 and he has been in the Sizzler starting field every year since 1989, a span of 22 consecutive races.

“I remember my first Spring Sizzler in 1980, we finished around 20th and we won around 350 or 400 dollars,” said Tomaino, whose recollection was spot on as he finished 22nd and won $365 for his first Spring Sizzler start. “I’ve been racing at many Sizzlers, and it’s a great accomplishment that I’m still going today. I haven’t been able to win one yet, but I still think that we can get to victory lane. All drivers want to win the big races and the Sizzler is definitely a race that I would like to win. My whole career I’ve been close to winning some big races, but I always seem to come up a bit short.”

With 27 and soon to be 28 Spring Sizzler starts under his belt, Tomaino has amassed a great deal of memories throughout the years, but he says that the memory that sticks out the most was a year that he missed the race. “It was the first year of the Tour in 1985 and I was leading the points heading into the Sizzler,” said Tomaino. “Back then, there were so many cars attempting to make the race, if you didn’t make the top-10 in time trials, you had to qualify through a heat race. We ended up qualifying 11th, so we had to go into the heat race to qualify. We started on the pole for the heat race and we were running in a qualified spot before I had a flat tire. There was no infield pitting for the heat, so we had to go into the consi, where they took 2 cars to transfer into the race. We ended up finishing third in the consi and we missed the race. That had to be the sickest feeling I’ve ever had as we drove back to New Jersey.”

Over the years, the qualifying format isn’t the only thing that has changed. The race has changed from an 80-lap dash to a 200-lap marathon, and Tomaino says the tire strategy has changed quite a bit.

“Back then, there was Goodyear, Hoosier, M+H, Firestone, and McCreary,” said Tomaino. “It was an 80-lap race and you would see some guys come into the pits 4 or 5 times to change tires. Now, we have one tire and we only get 4 tires to change for 200-laps. A lot of times you would see guys change from one tire company to another right in the middle of the race. Some tires were better than others for qualifying and some were better for the race. You really had to buckle down and be on your game if you wanted to qualify for the race back then, so if one tire was a little bit softer than the others, a driver might use one set of tires to get qualified and start the race on, and then they would pit the first chance they got to change to another type of tire. Back then teams would come into the pits and change all four tires at once. There would be two jacks on either side of the car and there would be four guys with air guns to change the tires. Probably the best team at changing tires like that was Mario Fiore’s #44 team.”

In addition to the tire strategy, Tomaino also says that the track has changed as well as the line that the drivers use to make their way around Stafford.

“The track in the 80s was much different than it is now,” says Tomaino. “It used to be that the tires wouldn’t last 25 laps unless you knew what you were doing. I used to tell the younger guys back then that I would be coming by to lap them in about 25 or 30 laps. The line has also changed, we used to run much higher in the corners where now guys are practically racing around the apron.”

After 27 previous trips to Stafford for the Spring Sizzler, Tomaino still has the motivation to come to Stafford and chase after his first career Sizzler victory.

“Nothing ever changes, we still get pumped up to come up to the Sizzler,” said Tomaino. “This is something I said I was going to do when I was 10 and I’ve been racing now for 38 years. Some people love baseball, hockey, or basketball. I love racing and I’ve been fortunate enough to still be going after 38 years. Our goal is to survive the first 175 laps and then hope things fall into place for us in the last 25 laps of the race.”

The 40th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler gets underway Friday, April 29 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions. The practice session will be open to the public at no charge. Action continues on Saturday, April 30 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions. Saturday will wrap up with feature events for the SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions. The Sizzler continues on Sunday, May 1 with the CARQUEST Belts & Hose Pit Party followed by Stafford’s SK Modifieds® and Late Models joining the Whelen Modified Tour in feature

Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $35.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $38.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available.

For more information on the 40th annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler®,
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.

  Source: Scott Running / Stafford Motor Speedway
Posted: April 8, 2011

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