Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – DANBURY, CT – As the dominoes begin to fall in the dirt racing world, another has been knocked down in a small Connecticut town.
In an announcement on the Jeff & Marty Internet racing show Tuesday evening, LJ Lombardo talked about his Chili Bowl program for 2019 but also his plans for racing at the Lebanon Valley Speedway, and maybe a little time at the “Great Race Place” in Malta, NY as well.
Lombardo, who has been a mainstay in the Teo Pro Car camp for his entire racing career, will make the switch to PMC Chassis starting with his first race of the 2019 racing season.
“We’ve decided to make a complete chassis change this season,” Lombardo said Tuesday afternoon. “We currently have two brand new PMC Race Cars on order that we’ll be running this season.”
Lombardo enjoy some amazing success at the end of 2018 driving for Frank Harper, who has been in the PMC camp for years. LJ ran the last two races at Lebanon Valley for Harper and was able to pick off a win in his car on September 8th. He backed that up with an 11th place showing in the King of Dirt race at the Valley of Speed the following week.
However, even with the win, the team’s biggest accolade came during Eastern States Weekend.
Lombardo started fourth in the 358-Modified 100-lap event and was in the hunt all race for the victory. In the end, he brought the PMC home in second, and that cemented his thought process on the chassis.
“We were good going out for hot laps and everything but we wanted more,” Lombardo told RPW’s Dylan Friebel after the event. “Pete (Chuckta) from PMC along with my crew chief, Robbie Albreada, made some big changes.”
Those changes seemed to work, and seemed to prove how much Lombardo liked the car.
“Pete is just a down right awesome guy,” he said. “His fabricating is second to none and even has an in-house pull down machine. We plan on doing a bunch of testing on that with our whole snap-on team between Frank Harper and myself.”
One of the big reasons for the move was continuity as well.
“A huge reason for the switch is when we are at the races. With both our team and Frank’s operation, my crew chief has been working on two completely different manufacturers. It gets very difficult to keep up with changes. Each car manufacturer reacts differently.”
In the end, fresh air can be what the doctor ordered.
“We truly just needed a change,” he said. “We now will have the support I feel we’ll need to be successful. That’s something many people don’t have and now we will with PMC.”
Another big change for the team will be in the suspension department. Since the end of 2016, Lombardo’s #35 machines have been on Fox Shocks. That changes for the new season.
“We’re going to be working strictly with Dig Race Products this year,” he said. “We’re going to be using and helping to develop their new Pilot Series Shocks. Robbie Albreada, through his business, ACR Performance, will be taking care of our shock program.”
Optimism is high for the entire Lombardo Motorsports team as they look to build on their two Big Block Modified wins last season at Lebanon Valley.
“Our expectations for this season are to go after the Valley championship,” he said. “We will start the year with Friday’s at Albany-Saratoga and Saturday’s at the Valley, but the main focus is the Valley. We want to put our own knowledge in with Pete’s and have a great time doing it. I’m really looking forward to this deal!
2019 is sure to be a year full of hope for LJ Lombardo. With the major changes to his racing program, here’s hoping the new season brings the results they are looking for.