Welcome back, Chris Pasteryak.
In many ways, the first three races of the 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season have been a welcomed-return to competition in NASCAR’s modified ranks for the veteran. After seven years off the circuit, Pasteryak returned to action this year, and as of now, he plans to run a majority of the remaining races.
In his time away from the tour, Pasteryak compiled an impressive record in Valenti Modified Racing Series competition, including a championship in 2011, which added to his 2008 series title. He has also competed in additional modified events across New England, including races on the Tri Track Open Modified Series and Modified Touring Series.
He felt it was the right time to return.
“I went and helped out Gary Putnam a couple of times last year, and I was really impressed with how they ran the show,” Pasteryak said. “Things are going pretty good for us right now in business, and change is good. I was ready to try something different and all of the guys that help out were ready to try something different because a lot of them didn’t get to go tour racing the last time I did it.”
His early return to Whelen Modified Tour racing hasn’t gone exactly how he was hoping, though. In the first three events of the 16-race schedule, the Lisbon, Connecticut, driver posted a best finish of 11th at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in the Icebreaker 150.
In the opener at Myrtle Beach Speedway in South Carolina, Pasteryak scored an 18th place finish, and he followed that up by once again tallying an 18th place run at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in the NAPA Spring Sizzler 200. Although he only finish 186 of the 200 laps, but he was still running at the checkered flag.
“We are three races in, and we didn’t really run all that well in two of them,” Pasteryak said. “Myrtle Beach we weren’t good, and Stafford we got wrecked 30 laps in, so you never know what could have happened there. At Thompson, we ran pretty good all day. I had set a goal for myself to be top 15 in points after the first three races, and I was kinda shocked to see we are in the top 10 right now.”
Pasteryak sits ninth, just 38 from the top of the field.
In his career, all four of Pasteryak’s finishes inside the top five have come at the Stafford half-mile, and he feels as though that is one of the tracks he is most comfortable at because of that.
“Traditionally, though the years, my father always ran okay at Stafford, but always went pretty good at Thompson. I am kinda the opposite,” Pasteryak said. “There you accelerate around the corner more than you drive in the corner, and I seemed to get up to speed at Stafford a little bit quicker.”
Looking ahead, after a month off from the track, the Whelen Modified Tour is slated to return to action in Massachusetts at Seekonk Speedway on June 2. Pasteryak has been victorious at Seekonk before in the Valenti Modified Racing Series, so he knows his way around the track, and the crew knows the setup under the hood rather well.
“It seemed like in 2007, ’08, & ’09, every time I went to Seekonk we were fast right off the truck. I have had some off and on runs since, and I don’t really know why. Things change and you have to work harder trying to get back to where you were,” Pasteryak said. “(Going to Seekonk) definitely helps because I’m kinda comfortable there. This isn’t a tire change race, which is more like what I am used to having. We run the same tires from the time we unload to the time we go home, which I think will help me.”
Going forward, the No. 75 team will not compete at the first of two events at New Hampshire, and will miss the race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. However, they are all-in for the 250-lap main event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, as part of a weekend that will also include the NASCAR Pinty’s Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
“From a competition standpoint, I’m probably not going to be all that quick there, but I seem to be really good at making it to the end of race . I have 250 laps to learn what I need to be there,” Pasteryak said. “I grew up going to the 250-lap race at Pocono every year, and it’s pretty neat to see a longer distance event come back. This is what we have been asking for: a short-track weekend at Loudon. It’s important to go and support it.”