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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Tommy Tombarello Jr. is enjoying a quick rise in one of short track racing’s fastest cars.
Tombarello, 31, of Haverhill, Mass., won his second small block Supermodifed track championship at Lee (N.H.) USA Speedway in 2012. Because his 2010 title came before the division became Lee’s NASCAR Division I, the 2012 championship is his first in the track’s top NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division.
“I’ve been around my brother-in-law Justin Belfiore’s Supermodifieds since I was 13 or 14,” Tombarello said. “His dad (Jim) builds Belfab Supermodified chassis. I learned these cars inside and out before I ever drove one.
“Justin let me try his car out in a test session seven or eight years ago. I was chomping at the bit for a long time before I finally got my own car.”
Tombarello was the Lee’s divisional rookie-of-the-year in 2009; won the championship in 2010; finished third in points in 2011; and won the championship again in 2012.
He unseated three-time defending track champion Wayne Helliwell Jr. by a 25-point margin at season’s end. His racing record included three wins, 12 top fives and 14 top 10s in 15 starts. Helliwell won the Late Model division at Canaan (N.H.) Fair Speedway, and his two-track record was good enough to win the NASCAR state championship.
“Wayne and I raced very, very hard,” Tombarello said. “We had a lot more competition at Lee this year. Wayne was the first to congratulate us on winning the championship… he congratulated us before our final point race.”
The key moments of Tombarello’s season came two weeks before the season started, when he sensed his car just wasn’t right.
“We wrecked the car during Lee’s Oktoberfest races at the end of 2011,” Tombarello said. “We took the car apart, when through everything and put it back together as usual over the winter. I just knew there was still a problem, but I didn’t see it. Two weeks before the 2012 season opened, I was checking the car out. I stepped down on the back bumper, and it didn’t spring back up. That’s when I knew we had a problem.
“We took it apart again and found the rear torsion bar was bent. We powder coated everything, put a whole new rear clip on, and put it back together a second time. That took a lot of dedication from the team. That saved our season before we even started.”
Tombarello is an owner-driver. Belfiore is crew chief. Team members include Craig Arvo, Al Castro, Adam Douphinette, Garrey Pinheiro, and the driver’s wife Jeanette Tombarello. The car uses a Belfab chassis and is powered by a Butler McMaster-built engine. Sponsors include Old State Campground, Little Caesars Pizza, and Price Rite Auto. The driver operates Thomas Tombarello Jr. Electrical Services.
Tombarello was honored in December for his track championship during the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards event at the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 counted toward their states and national point totals, and the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total would increase incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.