The inaugural Short Track U.S. Nationals has a multitude of drivers making their way to Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) from their shops in the Southeast and Midwest. As for drivers from outside these states, most are going with teams with Southern roots, with some exceptions. One of these exceptions will be a corps of experienced drivers and teams from the State of Connecticut who are ready to take on the Last Great Coliseum.
The Constitution State has its greatest numbers in the CRA Street Stocks with four drivers; Jim Boyle, Chris ‘Moose’ Douton, Corey Hutchings and Ryan Waterman, all of which have won races, and in some cases championships, during their racing careers.
Corey Hutchings is well known at all three of Connecticut’s short tracks, racing in multiple divisions throughout his career. He has spent time in Late Models and even SK Modifieds. But Street Stocks are where he has spent the most of his time. Always packing high energy wherever he goes, Hutchings is over the moon for this challenge.
“It’s really awesome, I’m very excited for myself and the team, can’t wait to get there. Don’t know what else to say about it,” Hutchings told Speed51.com powered by JEGs. “It’s different; it’s big. I’m just so excited. When I saw it come out for Street Stocks at Bristol, I had to rethink my season because it’s a bucket list thing. The Late Models and SK Modifieds, it’s awesome to have been in big races and them have big races all the time. Now you have big races for the lower divisions, it’s great.”
His bold style of hard racing has earned him the nickname, “The Entertainer” throughout his decade’s long career. While his excitement is high for Bristol, he is remaining objective with his goals.
“With 110 cars, a C-Main, and a B-Main, I got to have realistic goals,” he admitted. “I’m hoping just to qualify for the A-Main and put the car on trailer in one piece after, that’s my goal. I’d love to go down there and beat these guys and win. I hope we can, but making the fifty lap A-Main would be awesome.”
Bristol will be the first race of 2017 for Hutchings, but the Salem, CT driver has already begun to prepare, using a test session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday (where Hutchings plans to run July 1) to help get ready for the speeds of Bristol. He is also coordinating with fellow veteran drivers Boyle and Douton for the long trip.
“I’ve been talking with Moose and Boyle, trying to communicate and have everybody bring a few spare parts because it’s a long trip home if we break something; we don’t have it there. We’ve been talking, collaborating. Saying, ‘If you can bring this, I’ll bring that.’ Just trying to work together.”
Jim Boyle spent a number of seasons competing on Wednesday nights in the Super X-Car division at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. In 2015, the East Windsor driver upped his game to Street Stocks going on the road with the former Northeast Street Stock Tour. Things have gotten tough for Boyle and a number of drivers in recent months with the folding of the NESST and external legal matters surrounding the Speedbowl. Bristol has changed everything for the East Windsor driver.
“My whole race season has been built around this race this year. I am absolutely psyched about it. When I saw it pop up, I registered the day after it came out,” Boyle said. “With the disbanding of the Street Stock Tour, I can’t see myself getting back into the 26 weeks of racing between family, work, and I’m not exactly a spring chicken anymore. We bought a truck, planned to run it at Waterford, but we all know what happened there, so we ran the last few races of the Mr. Rooter Truck Series. As for the Street Stock, we only got two more races planned, Bristol and Loudon.”
The aforementioned partnership between Boyle, Hutchings and Douton has already worked for Boyle, with some notes from Hutchings at Loudon.
Boyle is not going down south flatfooted though, as he has been in the region once already in 2017.
“It’s going to be pretty cool with us Connecticut drivers entered, my crew is going with me too,” Boyle stated. “But I also go to the race at Dillon (Motor Speedway, SC) every year in January and those guys have welcomed us with open arms down there and I know a few of those guys who are going to Bristol, too. So, we’ll all try to get into the same type of area, everybody is going to be helping everybody else out too, see if we can’t do something down there.”
Chris “Moose” Douton is in the same boat as Boyle coming into the season, operating at both Waterford and on NESST. He too also ran at Dillon over the winter against southern teams who run more power than those in the Northeast. While he’s excited to go down, he is also taking it very seriously.
“I was bummed when the Cup race got postponed because I watch every in-car camera to get as good a look as I can. I’m doing my homework every time I go to a new track, I watch as much in-car footage as I can get. It’s helped with some tracks that I went to in New Hampshire and Dillon.”
“Moose,” who shares the same hometown as the Speedbowl, is heading to Bristol with what has become one of the more unique cars in the Chevrolet dominated realm of Street Stock racing.
“I’m one of two or three Ford’s down there. We just picked the engine back up from the machine shop, gave it some horsepower, it’s odd to see a four-barrel (carburetor) on a Street Stock, but I’m not complaining; I like how it looks. Hope it goes as good as it looks.”
Unlike Hutchings and Boyle, Douton will be unable to attend the New England Short Track Showdown July 1 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway due to scheduled shoulder surgery. He wants to enjoy Bristol as much as possible.
“Right after this race I’m having shoulder surgery, so I’ll be done for eight weeks after,” Douton explained. “I’m bummed out I can’t go to Loudon, but like I told my car owner, my wife, I’d rather take the time we have and go down south and run these kinds of races. I like it down there, it’s cool. Whether we make the race or not, we can all say we raced Bristol.”
Danielson’s Ryan Waterman rounds out the CT roster in the CRA Street Stocks. The youngest of the four, Waterman is coming off a big 2016 season where he scored the championship in the Limited Sportsman division at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. He also opened 2017 with a pair of wins at Thompson on Icebreaker weekend back in April.
Outside of the Street Stocks, one name CT residents will find familiar is Groton resident Chuck McDonald. Running at Bristol in the Vore’s Compact Touring Series, McDonald has run in the Waterford X-Car division while also touring around on the Northeast Mini Stock Tour and even going beyond the region. McDonald feels that his car, which is tuned to X-Car stock rules, is behind on power compared to the majority of the front runners, but isn’t backing down from the challenge.
“We’re going to be a little underpowered, but it’s possibly a once in a life time opportunity, so we’ll go for it,” McDonald said excitedly. “Because we have run X-Cars we don’t have the big motor in it, pretty much a stock motor. If we make the C-Main, I’ll be ecstatic. Hey, it’s Bristol, anything can happen.”
McDonald has been busy in 2017 running multiple tracks, one of them being on the Vore’s Compact schedule, but he hopes for a better time out this time around.
“We have so many races before then that I’m not sure when we’ll get everything done,” he said. “We actually ran with them early this year at Anderson, Indiana. Unfortunately, we got taken out in our heat race by a lapped car, but I was impressed; those guys do their homework and are very fast.”
Connecticut will also be represented in Super Late Models with Joey Mucciacciaro taking part in the weekend of racing.
If you can’t make it to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Short Track U.S. Nationals, be sure to watch both days of racing May 20 and 21 right here via a live pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com