Rob Fuller Motorsports of Shrewsbury, MA brings a new driver for next season. Chase Dowling of Roxbury, CT joins the team with 4 top fives and 15 top 10s in 32 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts. He was the youngest Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner when he ran in 2015. Fuller and Dowling spoke at the World Series last year regarding 2017.
“Rob was one of the first people that approached me about driving a racecar for him,” Dowling said. “…I just want to win races and Rob Fuller’s going to give me the opportunity to provide me a car where I can be up front.”
Rob Fuller of Boylston, MA sees positives in his new driver. The No. 15 car is the house car for LFR Chassis, which won the last two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships with Doug Coby. The adjustments on the car are different and Fuller wants a driver to provide the best feedback.
“I’m looking forward to having somebody that doesn’t have any preconceived notion of what a sway bar change does,” Fuller said. “… I want someone that’s just gonna get in the car and give me 100 percent and just give me as much feedback as they can. That has been a huge factor in our development. Todd (Szegedy) and the other drivers just gave great feedback that allowed me to adjust what we needed.”
Fuller cited the LFR driver development group that had young drivers find success through associating with the right people and “good equipment.”
“The plusses for me were I’ve got a young driver who is aggressive who doesn’t have a lot of bad habits that I can kind of mentor. The positives for him is this is a pretty high-profile ride with the connections that I have down south and the amount of people that watch this car.”
Fuller has owned cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, K&N Pro, and Truck Series before, and believes he can help advance Dowling’s career. Fuller has represented DRACO Springs for 11 years. When Fuller is working on spring designs for teams like Stewart-Haas Racing or Hendrick Motorsports, they take notice on Fuller’s car’s performances at New Hampshire.
“I think it’s gonna be good for a young northeast based driver to kind of break into racing for a career if you will,” Fuller said. “It’s getting more and more difficult to do that but I honestly feel that I have one of the better rides to get that done.”
15-40 Connection of Westborough, MA is sponsoring the team for a fourth season. The nonprofit educates teenagers and adults about early cancer detection. A primary sponsor not connected to the owner or driver is a rarity at this level. Dowling was the youngest driver available at 19. He can be a spokesman to the people 15-40 is targeting.
“It’s literally an outside source that showed interest in a race team and in NASCAR and just stuck with it for 4 years,” Fuller said. “That’s something that especially the Modified series hasn’t seen in a long time and these guys are stronger now than they were the first year. What better cause would there be to try to help promote early cancer detection in young teenagers and young adults. It’s such a perfect fit for the NASCAR demographic and for what they’re trying to push for.”
“I think at this stage sponsorship is huge for racing but that’s not even the purpose sometimes,” Dowling said. “Cancer’s a serious problem and hopefully, we can spread the word a little bit more and hopefully find some relief.”
Dowling’s efforts in the last four years have been a “family run” operation. Dowling and his father were “calling the shots” on the setup. They gained speed on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour after building a notebook.
This is the first time he does not have to work on the race car daily and compete on weekends. Dowling believes this change can help him win races.
Dowling drove his first race in a full-bodied car at Dover last year. He finished ninth after starting 21st in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut for Ted Marsh.
“I went down there open-minded,” Dowling said. “… I went down there with a team that knew what was going on and I did my job the best I could and Teddy Marsh and their crew gave me a good race car.”
Dowling met with Marsh in December. He would like to run a couple of races for Marsh but is awaiting word on sponsorship.
Dowling won the Pro 4 Modified feature at Thompson last October driving for Steve and Joe Lemay. Dowling finished second at New London-Waterford (CT) Speedbowl in the season finale. Dowling does not have any plans set for the Pro 4s.
“That’s a great division for people to learn with Modifieds just a smaller scale of a Modified. We basically went there to have fun and we ended up winning, went to Waterford and had a lot of fun and almost won at Waterford too just came up a little short.”
Dowling will return to full-time competition in the SK Modifieds® at Stafford (CT) Motor Speedway for Adam Skowyra of Palmer, MA.
“We’re building a brand new racecar,” Dowling said. … We have a good motor going in and we have a good crew. … Adam’s been having a team for a while now and should have a good notebook and I think I have experience behind the wheel there that’s pretty decent … I think we’re gonna have a shot at winning and being upfront near the title for the end.”
Dowling owns 8 wins at Stafford between 2013-14. Dowling won Rookie of the Year in the SK Lights in 2013 and the SK Modifieds in 2014.
“This is a huge curveball year for me, “Dowling said. “ …. This is the year that I think I can turn some heads and win some races.”
Fuller designed and built the LFR Chassis at his shop in Mooresville, NC. Fuller does 99 percent of the setup on the cars himself. He has done testing to develop the chassis and had the car on a pull down rig countless times to fine tune the suspension.
That intimate knowledge provides Fuller confidence to provide adjustments to make a driver go faster most of the time.
The Modified chassis saw success. Burt Myers won the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, Southern Modified Racing Series presented by PASS, Bowman Gray Stadium Modified championships last year. Andy Seuss won the North-South Shootout at Concord.
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Doug Coby drove an LFR Chassis with a spec engine since 2015. He has 15 poles, 13 wins, 23 top fives, and 16 top tens in 37 starts across the NASCAR Modifieds and Open Competition events.
Coby’s drove a Troyer race car with an open engine in his first championship season with Mike Smeriglio Racing He had 2 wins, 10 top fives, and 13 top tens.
“The success of the 2 car and the 1 car down South should have sold 100 Modifieds and it just didn’t,” Fuller said. … People aren’t buying racecars and the phone isn’t ringing off the hook. … It’s gotta describe the market that’s out there and as a businessperson, you’ve got to think to yourself. Man, how far do I really want to take this?”
Fury Race Cars acquired the intellectual property and manufacturing equipment to build and sell Super Late Models and Modifieds last August.
This year brings a change for Fuller. The overhead of operating LFR Chassis and managing 34 employees are no longer his concern.
“2017 is kind of sending me in a different direction,” Fuller said. “… I can stay focused more on this deal, which I think is gonna be better for me in the long run. It’s just exciting. It’s been a long time since I’ve been that excited for Modified racing because I’ve been so distracted with all of the other things I’ve got going on in life. But this is definitely a cool situation to be in right now.”
“This is a much better place for me. I can be at home with my family. I’ve got other business ventures going on and I can dabble with the 6 or 8 customers that I have up in the northeast and I can go to the racetrack and continue to help and support them. So at the end of the day, I couldn’t be happier with where I’m at.”
Fuller will shift his focus from manufacturing, to design and customer service for the LFR teams. He plans to visit Stafford, Waterford and other local tracks in the Northeast and support his LFR customers and continue to develop his LFR brand.
“The competition has adapted some of our designs and engineering which was to be expected,” Fuller said. “I have a Gen 2 LFR modified designed and we should roll that out this summer hopefully. Chase (Dowling) will be a great wheelman for that project as well.
“Without the overhead and stress of manufacturing, I can now focus on design and customer support which is what I enjoy doing most. I am steering the ship back to what I wanted LFR to be from the beginning. LFR will never be a chassis for the masses but will remain a superior design and continue to stay on the cutting edge of technology. We are still the only brand with a house car to R and D designs. That has to send the message that we will continue to grow our technology.”
“If they’re a customer they’ve gotta know that they’ve got me in their corner. They’ve got me for at-track support. They’ve got me there telling them, pointing them in the right direction to what parts they need.”
Fuller spotted for Melissa Fifield and tested with her. The improvement was vast and instant.
“As long as I can see an increase in performance and I can hear enjoyment in the owner or in the driver that we really picked up the pace, that’s what it’s all about. They liked the way the car handled better and it showed on the watch. It’s tough to have teams get instruction from someone that has never been there and done that as I feel I have in this series. I am just fortunate to be able to share the experience and the knowledge I have been able to gather from the 17 years I spent down south.”
Sources: Nicholas Teto/YankeeRacer.com