While a good number of Northeast Modified drivers prepare to begin their 2018 season early at New Smyrna Speedway this coming February, there is a trio that cannot wait even that long, as they gear up for the TQ Midget portion of the 2018 Indoor Auto Racing Championship. With Indoor season set to begin a week from Friday, January 5 at the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, preparation time is entering its final phase.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour star Justin Bonsignore enters his third winter of Indoor Racing with new colors, but the same TQ Midget. He hopes that experience on the track and in the race shop will make him one of the favorites for the three-event slate.
“I’m happy with how the car came out; it looks good. It’s the same car we’ve run the previous two years. We just went through it, put on a new body with some new colors. I’ve been looking forward to it since we got back from Thompson,” Bonsignore told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We’ve come a long way with the car and learned a lot about what it needs to compete. We were really fast last time out at Atlantic City, didn’t have the luck in the race, but the car had some good speed. Since then I’ve been wanting to see what it can do.”
The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour ace has done well Indoors in both time trials and prelim racing in the past but has yet to translate that over to a 40-lap feature victory. For Bonsignore, it comes down to both experience and having a lot of luck.
“You got to have both, but with the tight confines of Indoor Racing, you have to have more luck than anything. But I’ve also learned when to be aggressive or patient, if we can put a whole race together with the speed we have, I really think we should have a shot.”
Bonsignore is committed to the three-event schedule in Allentown January 5-6, Atlantic City, NJ January 26-27, and Albany, NY February 9-10, all before heading to New Smyrna, FL for five nights of Modified racing.
Up and coming Race of Champions Asphalt Modified young gun Tommy Catalano is also in for the full Indoor ride before heading to Florida right after Albany. As per usual, it will be a full-family affair the whole way, as younger brother Timmy Catalano will also run the whole Indoor Auto Racing Series schedule, while sharing a car in New Smyrna.
“We’re both running this year. We’ve got two new cars for this year; they’re almost done. It’s going to be close but they should be done and ready. We both run in the Mods and a little Indoors last year; now we can transfer it over to this year, so it’ll be a good time,” Tommy Catalano explained.
While Catalano knows the competition for Indoor Racing is extremely competitive, he has both race wins and title hopes on the mind, especially after a near stellar performance in Allentown one year ago.
“Last year was my second year. We’ve been up and down, but last year we finished second in Allentown, and that’s up first. Hopefully, we can move up one more spot there. The competition over the last few years has gotten stronger and stronger, to go out there and get a top-five finish in an A-Main is definitely a good day. Maybe we can get some wins and good finishes and get a championship.”
One of the biggest names entered for the Indoor season in 2018 has got to be Ryan Preece. The 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and now NASCAR XFINITY Series race winner, is set to run the full Indoor slate after competing only in Atlantic City the past two seasons. This year he is running a TQ with a very special history, running the same cars used by Ted Christopher in past seasons.
“My second cousin Donny Preece, him and Teddy were partners in the TQ’s for the last seven or so years. He ended up buying the rest of the ownership, so we’ve been working on that and I’m looking forward to taking it out at Allentown. We had Brandon Ernest go through the shocks and Richie Wood through the motor, so we are prepared and ready to go,” Preece said eagerly.
The Indoor scene is one that Preece has always been high on mostly due to the menagerie of talent that turns up every winter.
“I like all kinds of racing, but what’s cool about the TQ deal is that it’s pretty open for what you can do. It brings everyone in from racing. I can name a lot of guys that have dabbled in it,” Preece stated. “It’s pretty exciting when you’ve got Modifieds, Late Models, Dirt, pretty much every type of racing is in it.”
While getting his first A-Main win in a TQ is on his to-do list, the primary goal is to have fun and quench the racing bug before heading to Florida Speedweeks and before his racing schedule gets serious, very serious.
“It’s always fun to race up north in January and February, obviously. It’s a good way to kick off the year and get going before the Modifieds and XFINITY stuff starts,” Preece said. “There’s going to be a lot of good guys. Hopefully, we can go there, have fun and win.”
Be sure to stay with Speed51.com for more on the 2018 Indoor Auto Racing Championship.
For tickets for all Indoor Auto Racing events visit http://www.indoorautoracing.com/.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos