When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes the green flag at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) this weekend, series frontrunner Justin Bonsignore will be without his tire guy. Max Zachem, who normally takes care of the shoes on the No. 51, will be behind the wheel of the Jimmy Zacharias-owned No. 3 competing against Bonsignore and a host of other drivers in the NWMT Fall Final.
“Jimmy called my spotter and they worked out a deal and asked if I wanted to come get the car for the weekend,” Zachem told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I said, ‘absolutely.’ It’s one of his tour cars. Him and my spotter made the deal and asked me if I wanted to go get it, so we went up Wednesday night and picked it up.”
Zachem will be making his second career NWMT start following his debut last October during the World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park driving the No. 20 for Smeriglio Racing. He finished sixth in that race.
The Preston, Connecticut native has hopes that his strong debut will lead to another top-10 finish this weekend, but understands that there may be a few speed bumps along the way as he works with a different team and different equipment.
“When I drove for the Smeriglio’s I knew the equipment really well because I worked on the team all year,” said Zachem. “I knew what I was getting into and had a close relationship with Phil Moran and the whole group over there. This is more of being run out of my own shop, but I’m looking forward to that.
“My expectation is to get out there and run as many laps as we can. If we bring it back home in one piece and end up in the top-10 that is another win for us. I believe we’re more than capable of doing that and we’re going to give it our best.”
Zachem also drives his family-owned No. 20 on the Valenti Modified Racing Series, where he currently sits fourth in the championship standings. He believes a lot of what he has learned competing on the VMRS circuit will help transfer over to the 150-lap race on Sunday afternoon.
“Lately we’ve been racing against a lot of the same guys and I’ve always had my nose in the Tour,” Zachem said on Friday afternoon. “I’ve worked as the tire guy for Justin Bonsignore, so I’m always around it and I’m looking forward to it. It’s the same style pretty much. It’s a 150 laps and double the race, but you’re running two sprints because you’re allowed to change tires. You’re basically going to have the same mentality as with the MRS car.”
More important than anything else, Zachem is excited to get more seat time competing with the best of the best in Modified racing.
“More seat time is everything and I’m really looking forward to it,” said Zachem. “We run pretty well at Stafford with the MRS car, so I’m pumped up to run the (NASCAR Whelen Modified) Tour race there.”
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo Credit: Crystal Snape