The quest for a third Valenti Modified Racing Series championship begins Sunday at the Waterford Speedbowl for Chris Pasteryak.
But don’t expect the 33-year Lisbon driver to be tossing and turning this week in anticipation. The jolting jitters of youthful excitement for a season beginning anew have given way to the steady calm of a veteran in-tune to the yearly chase.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series celebrates its 11th season opener Sunday with the running of the Blastoff 100 at the Waterford Speedbowl.
Pasteryak, the 2008 and 2011 Valenti Modified Racing Series champion, is looking to join Kirk Alexander and Jon McKennedy in the ranks of the division’s three-time champs.
“It would be great,” said Pasteryak, who also plans on competing in all three of the Tri-Track Open Modified events scheduled for this season. “I go to the racetrack because I enjoy it. But, if I don’t win another title I’m not going to lie in bed thinking about one’s that got away. At this point if I can go out and contend for wins and be in contention for a championship, that would be good. As the year goes on I’ll probably pay more attention to it, but right now I just look at like, if it happens it happens and if it doesn’t, oh well.”
Pasteryak, a series regular since 2007, is excited to see the continued growth of the division. Founded by former series regular Jack Bateman as a division that competed primarily north of Connecticut, the series has seen steady progress over the last decade and has laid a strong foundation at Connecticut short tracks.
This year the division will compete at Stafford Motor Speedway three times, at the Waterford Speedbowl three times and twice at Thompson Speedway as part of a 17-event schedule.
“I like the fact that we can go to Thompson and Stafford and still have races at Waterford and we go back to the some of the places that series started at,” Pasteryak said. “The fact that there’s more cars coming is good. We have a pretty high average car count. We’re always sending cars home. Nobody is doing this to make a living, but it’s nice to be involved in something that’s run a little bit more professionally each and every year. We’re all doing it for fun, but nobody likes to go have fun when it’s just a cluster. But they’re trying. It seems like they’re always willing to listen and take feedback and take things in a positive direction.”
Pasteryak, a former regular on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, sees the two divisions as being far more comparable overall than five years ago.
Rowan Pennink, who also competes full-time on the Whelen Modified Tour, won the Valenti Modified Racing Series title last year driving for team owner Gary Casella. Justin Bonsignore will join Pennink running both divisions full-time in 2014 for Preston owner Art Barry. And former Whelen Modified Tour champion Todd Szegedy will compete full-time with the Modified Racing Series in 2014 for car owner Kevin Stuart.
“I think this, year, with [Bonsignore] coming in and [Szegedy] coming and a few other guys and the strong car counts that we’ve been having, I really do think right now the competition is as close as it’s ever been, if not equal to [the Whelen Modified Tour]. But it really is two different styles of racing. Our racing are short races, short tracks, no pit stops, one set of tires. We’re both Modifieds but they’re really two different deals in a lot of ways. It’s not equal, but I’d say, if you’re going to go see a Modified race you’re going to get the same quality show at either one.
“Those new guys coming in, it’s only good for us. If more people are watching us because Todd Szegedy is in the race, that’s great. The more the merrier. I think Todd getting a ride is great for the series. … He brings it all up a little bit.”
Qualifying for the Blastoff 100 is schedule for Saturday at the Waterford Speedbowl.