Tom Morris/Myracenews photo
(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes the green flag this weekend at Stafford Speedway for the NAPA Fall Final 150, Meriden, CT native and SK Modified® regular Matt Galko will look to realize a dream by making his NWMT debut. Galko will be piloting the #41 Chevrolet owned by Susanne Lewis with Steve Mendoza serving as the crew chief.
“This is kind of a combo deal between Susanne Lewis and my crew chief Steve Mendoza,” said Galko. “It’s a brand new car that they’ve been working on putting together. I’ve known them for a while and I drove a couple times for Steve on the R.O.C. Tour two years ago so that’s how we got to know each other. This has been a dream come true for me. This has been something that my family and myself have worked for since we got started in the SK Lights. The open modified shows are nice and all but the premier division that everyone wants to run is the Whelen Modified Tour. I’ve had talks with some owners here and there over the past couple of years but nothing has worked out. We’re going to have our challenges and growing pains as a brand new team, but it helps that we know the track and we’re hoping that everything will work out for us.”
There is no better track that Galko could have picked than Stafford to make his NWMT debut. Galko is a two-time SK Light track champion (2010, 2011) and he has won a total of 10 races with 8 SK Light wins and 2 SK Modified® wins at the Connecticut half-mile. Galko will be relying on his track knowledge to help overcome any learning curve he and the #41 team will face.
“We have to keep our expectations realistic because the Whelen Modified Tour is a whole different ballgame,” said Galko. “First I want to qualify for the race, after that my goal is to finish on the lead lap. If we could come out of the race with a top-15 finish or something like that, that would be really, really good for our first time out. Pit strategy is always a big thing at Stafford and if you have the right strategy you could use that to your benefit. Kyle Bonsignore won the Fall Final last year, which I think was a surprise to some people, and he was able to catch a lot of the guys off-cycle and had the freshest tires at the end of the race.”
Perhaps the biggest obstacle that Galko will have to overcome is his lack of experience in group qualifying. In his career, Galko has only qualified through time trials once before and he says he will definitely be feeling some nerves as he prepares to make his qualifying laps in NWMT group qualifying at 2:30pm on Saturday.
“I’m feeling a lot of nerves right now more than excitement,” said Galko. “I’m sure it’ll get a lot more exciting once we get to the track and start rolling. I lack experience with group qualifying in the tour modifieds. Everything I’ve run I’ve qualified through heat races. I’ve time trialed one time at the Turkey Derby and the nerves I felt that day were unlike any I’ve ever experienced before.”
As Galko and the #41 team prepare for this weekend’s NAPA Fall Final 150, Galko is grateful to everyone who is helping him to realize his dream of making his first NWMT start. They are also looking for any sponsors who would like to join the #41 team for the NAPA Fall Final.
“We have a lot of good equipment with this new team but we’re a little short on crew for pit road so I couldn’t do this without the help of all the crew members from our SK and Tour teams,” said Galko. “It’s going to be a big team effort for us this weekend and I’m really looking forward to the race. We’re funding this out of our pockets and the help of Steve Mendoza and Susanne Lewis. Any marketing partners that would want to come on board with us would be greatly appreciated and would go a long way towards helping us out.”
Tickets for NAPA Fall Final Weekend, September 28 & 29, are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission, $10.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seat tickets are $45.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles. Discount tickets are available through participating NAPA stores.
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.