After three full seasons in the SK Modified® ranks at Stafford Motor Speedway, Richie Pallai, Jr. will make the jump up the ladder to the Whelen Modified Tour for the 2010 season and run for Rookie of the Year honors.
“The plan is to run the full schedule and try to win Rookie of the Year,” said Pallai. “It’s all going to come down to the keeping the car and our equipment together. As long as something out of our control doesn’t happen to us, we plan on running the full season.”
Pallai made his Whelen Modified Tour debut at last season’s CARQUEST Fall Final Weekend event at Stafford after he missed the field for the May TSI Harley-Davidson 125 by only .004 seconds. Pallai put in an impressive performance in qualifying by posting the third-fastest time and he then backed up his qualifying performance in the first half of the race before a bad tire in the second half of the race hampered him to a 17th place finish.
“We ran in the top-5 for about 70 laps and then when we came in for our pit stop, we put a right rear tire on the car that just didn’t work,” said Pallai. “We came in several more times to adjust on the car, but the car
just stayed too loose and our finish definitely didn’t show how well we ran in that race. We’re coming back this year with the same car and the same Billy the Kid engine and we’re hoping to run as consistent as we can every race and win Rookie of the Year.”
Pallai will have to duplicate his qualifying performance from the CARQUEST Fall Final event in the first three races on the 2010 schedule as he was 42nd in 2009 WMT owners points and 44th in the 2009 WMT driver standings, leaving little wiggle room in case he would be in need of a provisional starting position.
“The biggest thing for me this year is going to be qualifying,” said Pallai. “We have no owner points so we’ll have to be sure we put down a couple of good laps to get into the shows at the start of the season. I think the 4 Stafford races are races that we can show up to and have an edge. I’m really looking forward to the Stafford races, it’s going to be like having four Daytona 500’s in a season for me. It’s definitely going to take some time for me to get used to the tracks, but guys like Teddy [Christopher] have told me that if you can get running at Stafford down, then we should be able to get any other tracks down.”
Although Pallai will see many of the tracks on the Whelen Modified Tour schedule for the first time, he and his team have a plan in place to try to alleviate the learning curve that he will face this season.
“Our plan is to run the Riverhead 100 and get up to Monadnock in May to get some seat time at those tracks,” said Pallai. “Those are two tracks that I’ve never ran before and those races usually have track regulars in the field, so it will be that much tougher to qualify for the race on time. It’s all about getting seat time for us right now.”
After three seasons of SK Modified® competition at Stafford and his run in last year’s CARQUEST Fall Final, Pallai doesn’t lack for confidence as he approaches his rookie season. He also has his sights set on taking home another Spring Sizzler trophy.
“We have top notch equipment, a great crew, and I think we have one of the best crew chiefs in the entire garage in Denis Pruchnik,” said Pallai. “We have all the right people and the right equipment in place, I won’t be surprised at all if we end up turning some heads this year with our performance. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it would be awesome to be able to win the SK® race one year and then be able to win the Tour race the next year at the Sizzler.”
With his plans for the 2010 season focused on the Whelen Modified Tour, Pallai will scale back his efforts in Stafford’s SK Modified® division.
“We’re going to put our focus on the Tour car and scale back our SK® effort this year,” said Pallai. “We really don’t have the finances to be able to do both for the full year. We’re definitely going to run the two extra distance races this year and we’re looking right now at where we can fit some other appearances in the SK® car into our schedule for this season.”
The Whelen Modified tour makes its first of four visits during the 2010 season to Stafford on April 24 and 25 for the 39th Annual CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler. The 33-car starting field for “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” will be set on Saturday, April 24 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying and the 200-lap race will take to the track on Sunday, April 25. In addition to the Whelen Modified Tour, Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will be making their 2010 debuts as well.
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 39th 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.