One year ago four Connecticut Street Stock competitors pointed their haulers south for Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) in what they considered a one shot opportunity at taking on “The Last Great Coliseum.” Now in 2018 one of those drivers is gearing up for round two.
Jim Boyle has become a familiar name in the Street Stock ranks in New England, mostly at his home track the New London-Waterford Speedbowl. Lately he has taken up Pro Truck racing, winning the Speedbowl’s season opener for the division less than two weeks ago. In the meantime, he and his No. 2 team have been retooling their Street Stock for challenges they will face in the CRA Street Stocks at this year’s Short Track U.S. Nationals.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. We’re even coming a little bit more prepared this time too. No crate motor this time. Got a brand spankin’ new motor with more horses than what we had last year,” Boyle told Speed51.com.
While the East Windsor, CT driver had made a good show in the heat and B-Main races, he did not have the ponies he needed to advance to the 50-lap feature. This time around, Boyle believes he has just what he needs to compete.
“We had a four-barrel (carburetor) with the Crate, we had about 300-360 horsepower. This motor was sponsored to me by TLB Machine out of Norwich (CT) and came up on the dyno at about 560 the other night. I’m expecting better things. It will change the handling of the car going into the corners, but I won’t get dusted on straights this year,” Boyle explained.
“There’s not a whole lot of rules like we’re used to. We’re still going to be behind a lot of these guys, but you can only go so fast there with the tires. If you can keep momentum off the corners onto the straightaways, I think we’ve got as good a shot as anyone else.”
One area Boyle and his teammates Corey Hutchings and Chris Douton succeeded in last year was finding a supreme setup handling wise
“We have extremely good notes from last year, for what we ran for a motor I was really happy with the setup, it’s an extremely good setup. We learned a lot, the car came home without a scratch, so life was good there.”
This time around Boyle will be the sole CT driver on the track, with Hutchings, Douton, and Ryan Waterman sticking close to home this year. Vernon, CT driver Rick Charette was originally on the entry list, but is now wrapped in a close points fight in the 375 Pro Sportsman Challenge in the Northeast. Instead, Charette will assume his other major racing role, being Boyle’s crew chief.
“I’m coming down with two carloads of people this year. The same crew that runs with me on a regular basis, I talked to some of the other guys I know and they just weren’t feeling it this time. Rick Charette is my crew chief. He’s sitting fourth in points in his series so he didn’t want to take a chance of hurting his car. But he’s been my crew chief for a couple of years now. He’s Mr. Setup for sure,” Boyle said excitedly.
Though it has been a year, the impact of just logging laps at ‘Thunder Valley’ is still deep for Boyle. While the goal in 2017 was to enjoy the experience, he hopes to come away with more in 2018.
“I didn’t know if there was going to be a second time either way, so I considered it a one shot deal. Just being able to run that track, the history around that place is absolutely phenomenal, and for a nobody short track racer like myself to get on that track and turn some laps was absolutely unbelievable. We had a good piece last year, we passed a lot of cars, we just came up a little short. But man what an experience, to be on the Bristol high-banks in a Street Stock. Phenomenal.”
The 50-lap CRA Street Stock feature will conclude three days of racing this Sunday, May 20, along with the 100-lap Super Late Model feature under the co-sanction of the ARCA/CRA Super Series, Southern Super Series, and CARS Super Late Model Tour.
Tickets are still available for all three days of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, May 18-20. Those unable to make it to ‘Thunder Valley’ can watch all the action on Speed51.com’s weekend-long pay-per-view broadcast.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com