Matt Swanson will return to drive the No. 89 SPAFCO this season with new sponsorship from the L. S. Starrett Company. Starrett is a tool manufacturer of micrometers, saws, and measuring equipment based in Athol, MA. Swanson is looking forward to the 2,000 employees joining his fan base.
The Acton, MA driver and Timmy Solomito of Islip, NY will be sponsored by Starrett this year. Jimmy Blewett won at Stafford (CT) Motor Speedway last year driving the Starrett No. 4 for Bob Garbarino.
“I met Jim (Taylor) and BJ (Guerin) during the middle of the season and we’ve been talking,” Swanson said. “The deal’s really coming together these last couple of weeks here. They wanted to put a deal together with two guys, so they decided to put me and Timmy (Solomito) with Starrett behind us.”
“Matt Swanson was very impressive,” Starrett’s Vice President of Operations Jim Taylor said. “If you followed him last year at all, you saw that he went from not knowing any of the tracks to really running in the top 5 or top 10 by the end of the season, and he’s really a good kid. He’s gonna be a good representative for us. He’s well spoken, and clean cut, and a humble kid, so we really appreciate those things about him.”
The NASCAR Southern Modified Tour united with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for this season. The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will visit Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway in March for the season opener and Langley (VA) Speedway in May.
“It’s that many more times that we’re going to go to different racetracks; me and all the drivers except for a couple are going to be in the classroom all day just trying to learn the racetrack and get better all weekend because a good three-quarters of us are going there not knowing what to expect. It’s just going to be a learning day so if we go back there again the following year we all have a good notebook to go back there with.”
Swanson called the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour the heart and soul of Modified racing.
“It is the best racing, the best competition, the hardest competition that there is in any sort of short track racing anywhere around the country. … You can’t beat that competition. … If you’re not learning on this series, you just really gotta put your mind to it and you gotta’ understand that you’re racing against the best Modified drivers in the country.”
Swanson will run a limited Super Late Model schedule for Dale Shaw Racecars and Dale Shaw Racing Development. He has raced in the NEMA Midgets and NEMA Lites and plans to enter Midget races for the Seymour family again.
The Shaw family has been around Swanson since he was born. Dale Shaw raced with Matt’s father. Swanson raced Go Karts for the Shaw family when he started racing in Maine in 2010.
“It’s always a challenge and I’m always learning something. It’s something that I feel keeps me better as a driver, not only getting all the seat time, but just learning these different types of race cars. It helps me really progress as a driver.”
Swanson began racing at age 8 with his family until he went Modified racing. He won in Quarter Midgets and Go Karts. He won the Modified championship at Star Speedway in 2014 at age 14 driving for Marco Turcotte. He began driving for Barry in the SK Lights at Stafford before he moved to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
“You don’t see many people take a sixteen-year-old under their wing going Whelen Modified Tour racing, but I can’t thank Kenny, the whole Barry family for their support and their help that they’ve given me through this whole journey. Frank at FMR he’s been with us a long time. The Seymours, they’ve brought me up, they provided me my safety gear for as long as I can remember.”
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity they’re giving me this year and I really wanna thank Ken Barry for all the faith he’s put in me and all my guys for helping out. We have a couple new crew guys coming on this year and I’m really looking forward to the year. I’m really confident we’re going to be a top contender every week and hopefully, we can get some wins and really make a name for ourselves on the tour and build as a team.”
Swanson finished ninth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points last year with 2 top fives and 7 top tens in 17 starts.
“We started off the year just going to the races, wanting to finish the races, build a notebook and start knocking off some top 10 finishes.”
Swanson picked up his first top 10 at Waterford and got 2 in his next 3 races. His best finish of the season came at Thompson (CT) Speedway Motorsports Park in June. Swanson continued his consistency with top 15s. He ended the season with a solid effort of fourth at New Hampshire, eighth at Stafford, and ninth at Thompson. The 16-year-old was awarded the Sunoco Rookie of the Year.
“We’ve really progressed as a team myself and Ken Barry. We’ve really gotten better at the feedback, the communication, and that’s really all it takes to have an awesome team. Regardless whether it’s a top team or a family team like I run with. I just think now that me and Kenny are on the same page and now that we have Starrett with us, it’s just really good combination going in the season.”
Barry’s veteran presence has helped Swanson advance. Barry brings experience with the family’s Spearpoint Racing No. 21, SPAFCO chassis, and driving in the Valenti Modified Racing Series and SK Modifieds®. Barry was the 2004 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour Rookie of the Year.
“It helps me understand it a lot easier because I know Ken (Barry) has been in that situation before.”
Sources: Nicholas Teto/YankeeRacer.com