Archive for February 17th, 2017

Johnny Walker Ready to Defend DARE Stock Championship at Stafford

Stafford Springs, CT — For Ludlow, MA native Johnny Walker, the 2016 season at Stafford Speedway was the realization of a dream come true as he won the DARE Stock track championship.  Walker had been agonizingly close to winning the championship in 2013 and 2014, finishing second in the standings each season before taking the 2015 season off.  Now that he has a championship under his belt, Walker is ready to go for two in a row in 2017 with his #01 Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Repair / Garrett’s Carpentry & Drywall Chevrolet.

“It’s been a couple of months, but it’s actually just now setting in that we won the championship,” said Walker.  “We love Stafford and the track has always treated us good.  Racing for the championship and points was really stressful last year and now that we got that monkey off our back with the championship, the goal is to have fun and try to win as many races as we can.  We don’t want to worry about points like we did last year.  If we can go back to back and add our name to the Stafford record books, that’s a pretty small list of drivers who have done that and it would be pretty special to add our name to that list.”

The 2016 season was a class in both domination and consistency for Walker and his #01 team.  Outside of a 12th place finish on July 8th, Walker finished each of the other 16 races on the schedule in the top-5 with 13 podium finishes.  While Walker says the pressure of the championship chase started to wear on him during the season, his results on the track didn’t show that as he finished the final 8 races of the season on the podium.  Walker and his team have been hard at work replacing the body on his #01 Chevrolet during the winter and he will debut a new paint scheme for the 2017 season in the Stafford booth at the Frank Maratta Auto Show on March 10-12.

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Mike Wray Ready to Pick Up Where He Left Off in 2016 in Stafford’s Late Model Division

Stafford Springs, CT —  In only his second season of Late Model competition at Stafford Speedway, Northford native Mike Wray strung together an impressive season.  Wray and the #42 DMW Graphics team posted 2 wins with 14 top-5 finishes in 17 races.  Wray’s worst finish of the entire season was a 7th place finish and his consistency helped move from a 7th place points standings during his rookie season to a 2nd place finish behind Tom Fearn in 2016.  Wray is looking to continue his high level of performance once the 2017 season kicks off.

“We’re feeling good about the 2017 season,” said Wray.  “We won the Fall Final last year so we have some good momentum coming into the new season.  We have a good piece and we learned a lot last year as a team so I don’t see any reason why we can’t be just as good as we were.  We’re definitely excited to get started.”

Wray’s performance during the 2016 season was quite a turnaround from his rookie campaign in 2015.  During that season, Wray notched a win but he was only able to record 2 top-5 finishes.  Wray credits his improvement to a Jay Stuart chassis that his team purchased prior to the start of last year.

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Eric Berndt Ready to Challenge for SK Modified® Championship at Stafford

Stafford Springs, CT — With the 2017 season on the horizon at Stafford Motor Speedway, Cromwell native Eric Berndt is preparing to embark on his 23rd consecutive season of SK Modified® competition at the half-mile facility.  Berndt began his modified career in 1995 at the age of 16 and has been part of the SK Modified® landscape at Stafford ever since. 

Berndt has finished in the top-5 of the points standings 6 times in his career and the top-10 13 times.  He has recorded 6 consecutive top-8 finishes in the points standings and he is looking to build some consistency in order to capture his first career Stafford championship with his #66 Cos Williams owned Cos’ Central Auto / North End Auto Parts machine.

“We had a pretty good 2016 season so we’re hoping we can take some of what we had towards the end of the season with a couple of wins and build on that for a stronger 2017,” said Berndt.  “We’re looking to get out of the gate good because the first race of the season can be a make or break race. Last year we were in the top-4 and we lost an engine about a month and a half before the season ended and that kind of set us back.  We’re close, we just need to have a little more consistency.  You definitely don’t want to have to dig yourself out of a hole at the beginning of the year.  If we can have a good Sizzler and roll into some top-5’s from there, hopefully we can be a contender for the championship.”

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Dunleavy’s Truck & Trailer Returns as First Place Stafford Speedway Contingency Sponsor in SK Modified® and SK Light Divisions

Stafford Springs, CT — Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair of Brookfield will once again contribute a bonus to the winner of each SK Modified® and SK Light Modified feature at Stafford Speedway during the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season.  Dunleavy’s will provide a bonus of $150 for each SK Modified® feature winner as well as a $125 bonus for each SK Light feature winner.  With 17 races during the 2016 season, Dunleavy’s contributed $2,550 to SK Modified® feature winners and $2,125 to SK Light feature winners for a total of $4,675.

“I’ve always been a fan of the modifieds and Stafford has two exceptional modified divisions,” said Dunleavy.  “Both the SK Modifieds® and SK Lights are always exciting to watch.  It looks like the SK Lights will have a lot of new drivers moving up and the SK Modifieds® have a great field of cars so it should be another great season of excitement on the track in both divisions.”

The premier SK Modified® division provided a wide variety of recipients of the Dunleavy’s bonus last season with 8 different winners in 17 races.  SK Modified® champion Rowan Pennink led all drivers with 6 wins with Ted Christopher, Woody Pitkat, Eric Berndt, and Todd Owen all recording 2 wins.  Single feature winners were Keith Rocco, Dan Avery, and Glen Reen.  In the SK Light ranks, there were 6 different feature winners with SK Light champion Tony Membrino, Jr., leading the way with 7 wins.  Dan Wesson had 5 wins and Joey Ferrigno won twice with Joe Graf, Jr., David Arute, and Marcello Rufrano all winning a single feature.  Graf, Arute, and Rufrano were each rookie winners.

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DIRTcar Nationals Night Three Recap

Ruhlman Rallies for Second Career Gator Win
BARBERVILLE, FL – February 17, 2017 – Brian Ruhlman devised a perfect plot and forced Ken Schrader from his preferred line as he engineered a pass in the outside groove with two laps to go for his first win of the 46th Annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park on Thursday night.
After passing Schrader, the Clarklake, Mich. driver took the checkered flag by over two seconds for his second career Volusia win, extending his point lead in the week long chase for a Big Gator trophy.
Ruhlman started fourth in the 20-lap main event and ran second to the polesitter Schrader until he took advantage of a lap 17 restart. Ruhlman showed the nose of his No.49 to the inside of Schrader’s No.9 several times before the final restart on lap 17, which he revealed was a setup move to make the winning pass.
“Kenny’s a smart racer and he’s one of my heroes,” Ruhlman said in Victory Lane. “He was in the rubber and I had to get him out of the rubber to where I could pass him. I kept showing him the nose on the bottom so he would move down to the bottom, then I could roll the top [lane]. To say I shnookered Kenny Schrader is pretty cool.”

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