Tommy Catalano Looking Optimistically To 2019 After Winning Rookie Title On Whelen Mod Tour

Tommy Catalano (Photo: Jim DuPont)

By Denise DuPont

In the spring of 2018, while Tommy Catalano of Ontario, N.Y. was patiently waiting for the Race Of Champions touring season to kick off in upstate New York, his family made the decision to include more racing venues in their 2018 race season.

The Catalano’s decided to head to Thompson Speedway for the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150. The team missed the tour’s opening race for the season at Myrtle Beach Speedway and wanted their driver to get his share of experience on track.

After a 15th place finish in the Icebreaker 150, Catalano was hooked and decided to continue tour competition for a few more races. The family team finished 16th at Stafford Motor Speedway’s NAPA Spring Sizzler 150 and then he had an eighth place run at Seekonk Speedway. From there on the family was hooked. They had the Whelen Modified Tour race bug.

“It has been a great year,” Catalano said. “We came into 2018 not planning to run the whole tour. Our goal was to run three or four races and get our feet wet. We did the three or four and it was let’s do one more and then one more. Then finally we ended up leading the rookie points and we decided to try to go for it.

Despite only starting 15 of 16 events, Catalano ended up 11th in the series standings, seven points behind 10th place finisher Chris Pasteryak.

“Even missing the first race we were able to overcome that and even being in the top ten in points, I think that we missed that by a few points. That I am kind of bummed about. But I tell myself not to be bummed because our goal was [the Rookie of the Year title]. We never expected to get anywhere near the top ten.”

The family accomplished what they set out to do in the beginning of 2018 and “wet their feet” in Whelen Modified Tour competition.

“It was definitely a great year with a big learning curve,” Catalano said. “Hopefully if we can get some more funds we will be back next year.”

With the 2018 race season wound down to the finish line for 2018 teams are regrouping and planning for 2019 race season. Hopefully we will see the Catalano family included in the stout field of NWMT competition next year.

Catalano is oldest of five sons to parents Amy and David Catalano.

“I think that it is huge for the family,” Catalano said. “This is the first time that we have been on the Whelen [Modified Tour]. So to be able to do what we did is definitely huge. … I am hoping we can get some funds over the winter and be able to come back full steam ahead next year. Run all events and not miss any races. If we do that we will hopefully get in to the top ten in points and that will be next year’s goal. … I am already setting my goal and sites on next year for the top ten in points.”

For next year Catalano is hoping to have a fuller inventory of equipment at hand.

“To be honest for our team, this is the car that I run at home so some nights we run the [Whelen Modified Tour] and then we will run home and run races on our home tracks on the ROC tour. So we did not have two cars. It was definitely a learning curve. We early on in the year we struggled because we did not have the spec motor and we ran the same car at different series whether we were at home or on the tour. Hopefully next year we will be able to get a spec motor and maybe another car to have two. That would be huge and another big step.”

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