RPW Column: May Have Pressure To Succeed, But John Virgilio Thrives On Pressure & Is Ready To Win
Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – PITTSFIELD, MA – If you thought there will be pressure to succeed setting atop John Virgilio’s shoulders during his first full season in the Big Block Modified ranks at Lebanon Valley Speedway, you may be right.
However, to see Virgilio in person, you wouldn’t know it.
The calm demeanor of the Pittsfield, MA native is just who he is. He’s not a very emotional guy but John’s down-to-earth and is someone who knows exactly the job he has at hand in 2023.
To that, Virgilio’s ready to tackle things head on.
However, nobody can put any more pressure on Virgilio than he puts on himself. Does he have expectations as to what will make this season a success?
“The first thing I think we need to check off the list is a win,” Virgilio said. “Then, realistically, with the equipment we have, the people we have on this team and our marketing partners, I don’t see why there isn’t a reason we couldn’t be flirting somewhere near the top five in points.”
Consistency is the name of the game if you want to be in the points hunt during any racing campaign, but for the second-generation driver, he knows it all starts with that first trip to victory lane.
“Once we get that win knocked out, we’ll be points racing,” he said. “However, we’ll just be working to get another win or two and be up front on a constant basis.”
Being a team that can run well from any position is big in the minds of Virgilio and everyone on the JR Heffner-owned A. Colarusso, Lance & Jill Sharpe-sponsored team.
“We don’t want to be that car that starts on the pole and wins,” he said. “We want to be one of the cars that can start 15th and by the time the race shakes out at the end of 30 laps is somewhere near the top five.”
Last season, when Virgilio began driving for his mentor Heffner, the team utilized Teo Pro Cars. Over the off-season, those Teo’s were sold off in exchange for a more familiar pair of Bicknell race cars.
This is something that has helped to make John a little more comfortable heading into 2023.
“When we started last season in Sportsman, we had basically the exact same car that we have now,” he said. “I’ve always run Bicknell’s. I’ve never bought or run anything else, really, except for the Teo late last year for JR.”
Was this a no-brainer to make the switch over the winter?
“At the end of the year, we all sat down and made a decision,” he said. “From a confidence standpoint and a knowledge standpoint, it would be better to start off this season with Bicknell cars.”
That’s when the team got to work.
“We sold what we had and got two new cars from Bicknell,” he said. “We built them pretty similar to what our Sportsman Bicknell’s have been. We used the parts we were familiar with and the set-ups we know.”
After the first two practice sessions, Virgilio seemed pleased with the progress and the direction the team took.
“Trying this car so far at practice, it seemed like it really worked well,” he said. “It was good during the first test and progressed pretty well during the second with the different changes we made.”