Stafford Springs, CT — After several seasons away from Late Model competition at Stafford, the 2012 season has been a return to form for 2000 Late Model champion Mike Quintiliano. The Shelton native has been near the top of the points standing for much of the 2012 season, and after winning his first Late Model feature in 7 years last Friday night, Quintiliano is back on top of the Late Model standings.
“Knock on wood it’s been a good year for us,” said Quintiliano. “We’ve had a couple of seconds and we were running second one other night and we fell back to fourth. We’ve been there, we have an old car, and we’re just trying to make the old car work. We changed the whole setup on the car last Friday night and I like the car with this setup in it, it’s more comfortable for me to drive. We may not be the fastest car, but we’re competitive. Thanks to the help from Ricky Sura, Scott Ritter, Joe Gaglio, David Adams, Tom Demshak, and Joe Tobin, every week we’re trying something to make the car better and more comfortable for me. Last week we did it and we were able to get a win.”
For Quintiliano, his success in 2012 is really a rags to riches tale. Quintiliano hasn’t raced full-time since the 2008 season and he is competing this season without the benefit of a primary sponsor. Quintiliano credits his team camaraderie as well as his good finishes thusfar as to his success this season.
“Teamwork has made the difference for me this year,” said Quintiliano. “The guys I have are dedicated, we get along great, and we have a lot of fun working on the car and racing. Everybody loves taking credit, but you have to give credit where credit is due. If I didn’t have a couple of guys that I have on the team, no way would we be where we are. It’s definitely a team sport. We’re coming to the track to win races, but without a sponsor, it’s tough to run a full season. We were hoping to have a few this year, but a couple of potential sponsors fell through. I have great guys on the team who help out with the car here and there, and since we’ve had a great season, all the winnings we get goes right back into the car and we do all the work on the car ourselves. That’s how we’ve been able to stay up there, otherwise we probably wouldn’t be up there every week. Les and Nap Chenard gave me $1,000 at the start of the season just to help get things started and that’s all we really have this season. My crew chief’s wife, Tracy Ritter, she bought a spring rubber for us last week and she’s bought gas a couple of times, so we’re putting her name on the car. But we really don’t have any big sponsors, we’re doing it week to week and it’s the guys that help me is the reason why we’re making it up to the track every week.”
Although Quintiliano has the experience of not only being in but winning championship battle, he thinks that the Late Model division of today is much tougher than 12 years ago when he won his championship.
“The year we won the championship we had a great year, but a lot has changed since then,” said Quintiliano. “The cars are a lot different, and from then until now there’s more competition. Even though we won the championship back then, I think it’s harder now than it was. We’re about halfway done, so it’s still early to worry about points. Woody [Pitkat] is coming on strong, Corey [Hutchings] is strong, Keith Rocco is right there, Jim Peterson, these guys are all strong. I’m not going to get nervous about it. Wherever it ends up, if we can make the full season, the last race will tell the story. Whether it’s the top-2 or top-3 guys that can win it, I think the championship will come down to the final race. There’s some great competition now. There were more cars 10 years ago, but now there’s fantastic competition. It’s hard to win a race in the Late Model division, so far, we’ve only had one repeat winner.”
While Quintiliano has enjoyed a great first half of the season, he has a very simple game plan for the second half of the 2012 season.
“Our strategy is to have the same second half as we did in the first half of the season,” said Quintiliano. “If we can get ‘r done like we did in the first half, we should be in good shape.”
NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Terry Labonte’s two career championships came 12 years apart, the first in 1984, and the second in 1996. If Quintiliano can have as good a second half as his first half of the 2012 season was, he might join Labonte with having 12 years in between championship seasons.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
Sources: Scott Running/Stafford Motor Speedway PR