Waterford, CT — The 2008 Waterford Speedbowl Sportsman division championship is priority No. 1 for Al Stone III. “The only place left to go is up,” says Stone who finished second in the final standings last season.
“We’ve continually improved our performance over the years,” offers Stone who has been in the top 10 in the final standings over the past four years. With two-time defending champion Dwayne Dorr taking a year off, Stone is the man to beat.
The Speedbowl season opens April 12-13 with the 12th annual Budweiser Modified Nationals featuring the $20,000 SK-150. The Sportsman join the Bowl’s other NASCAR Whelen All-American divisions – the Late Models and Mini Stocks – on a 10-division program that also includes the Northeastern Midget Association, Pro4 Modifieds, AllStar Race Trucks, Allison Legacy Cars and NEMA Lites.
“I think we’ve paid our dues,” says Stone who had three wins last year. He actually led the points race for a while before finishing 22 points behind Dorr. A fan of the longer races – he won at the Finale – he hopes to get off to a quick start. Stone also owns the Sportsman single lap record, a 17.465 seconds effort in last year’s Pepsi 300.
The team will come to the Nationals with three cars. “Dave Trudeau will be driving for us in the opener and after that we’ll go back to a two-car operation with Ed Lamb driving the second car,” says Stone.
He came to the sportsman division nine years ago after a successful stint in go karts. “There’s a huge difference between them,” he says. “When I first started it became obvious that driving a Sportsman was a lot more physical. You have to kind of manhandle a sportsman, where the open-wheel kart is more precise. You’re down there inches from the ground, and you just sort of hang-on. It’s really like night and day, and it took a while for me to get accustomed to it.”
The Stone operation is definitely a family-affair, and he’s quick to acknowledge the effort extended by members of the team in getting him to the track each week. “My dad Al and my mom Sally are both very supportive,” he says. “I’m also lucky that my girlfriend Danielle is into it. Joe Brockett does all the set-ups, and of course I can’t forget the others that are there on race night. Without them and sponsors like JSB Motorsports and East Coast Racing Engines, I’d not be able to race.”
The family participation is important to Stone. His grandfather Al Sr. was a racer during the “coupe era” at now-gone venues such as West Haven Speedway and Riverside Park . He loves watching his grandson continue the tradition.
“My grandfather raced years ago, and seeing me out there gives him a real charge,” says Stone. “He’s not able to come as often as he used to but he’s still one of my biggest fans.”
Sources: Dave Dykes/Waterford Speedbowl PR