Forward Steps: Rookie Sammy Rameau Progressing Early With Whelen Modified Tour

Sammy Rameau (Photo: Jim DuPont/RaceDayCT)

Sammy Rameau may not be thrilled with the finishing numbers, but the steps have kept moving in the positive through the first three races of the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season for the 16-year old series rookie. 

The former Valenti Modified Racing Series standout recorded a series best 11thplace finish in Sunday’s Whelen Modified Tour Icebreaker 150 at Thompson Speedway. 

Rameau, of Westminster, Mass., was making his fourth series start Sunday and his second with the series at Thompson. He made his series debut in the Sunoco World Series 150 last October. 

“So far, I guess we’ve been doing alright for our rookie team,” said Rameau, who is sponsored by Racechoice.com. “I’m not the only rookie. All my guys are new to this. My crew chief [Dan Stebbins] has been to a couple [Whelen Modified Tour] races crew chiefing. … All my guys and my dad, who owns the car, are all brand new to this whole thing. I feel like for the … first three races or so we’ve been doing alright. We’re just struggling on short run speed. Like a qualifying run, we’re just struggling like that. But the car’s been racing pretty good.”

Mechanical issues relegated him to a 31stplace finish in the season opening event on March 16 at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and he was 15thon March 30 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. 

“It’s nice going to Thompson after going to Myrtle Beach and South Boston and being the test dummy there,” Rameau said. “I had never been to any of those places where some of these guys had. But going to Thompson where I had at least a couple laps, I had raced there four times and that was my fifth race there. Just being somewhere that I’ve been before felt like home and kind of helped me out a little bit.” 

Rameau pinpoints qualifying as a focus area he and his team need to work on. He qualified 24thSunday at Thompson Speedway. 

“It feels good coming out of the weekend, it feels good to have a good finish,” Rameau said. “We’ve got to work on some other parts of the deal. We’ve got to find some other speed in practice. Practicing 21stisn’t the best confidence booster. Hopefully we can work on that a little bit, including qualifying. Qualifying in the back like that doesn’t help me or the team out. … I’ve got to qualify a little bit more toward the front so you don’t have to beat your stuff up as much coming up through. I have never ever ever ever since I was six years old and started racing, I have never been good at qualifying. So we’ll have to work on that as a team and see where we can go. But it feels awesome to have some good finishes here. I wouldn’t say they’re good. They’re good, but I’d love a little better. We’ll get there. 

A late miscue on the final restart cost Rameau his first series top-10. 

“We would have had a little bit of a better finish if we didn’t have that [final] restart and if I didn’t miss the shift on that,” Rameau said. “We probably would have ended up eighth or ninth if I didn’t miss that shift. But that’s my own fault. Under a lot of pressure inside that car and just a rookie mistake on my end.” 

Rameau sits 18thin the series standings after three events, 49 points behind standings leader Doug Coby. He leads the series rookie standings and looks to keep climbing at the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200 on April 28 at Stafford Speedway. 

“My confidence, it’s going to be good I think,” Rameau said. “My crew chief has had some success there with Woody Pitkat. Myself, I haven’t had a lot of success there at all, but I feel like we can turn that around.” 


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