DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When he was a high school student Doug Curry helped field a race car for one of his teachers. Curry used the racing lessons to help win his first feature race this year. The lessons from the teacher helped him craft his off-track career.
Curry leads the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series mini stock point race at Connecticut’s Waterford Speedbowl. He’s in his fourth season of full time driving, but been around the .375-mile paved oval most of his life. His dad John Curry was a mini stock owner-driver in the 1990s. His grandfather, the late William T. Curry was a modified division owner-driver in the 1960s. It seemed natural for Curry, 20, of Groton, Connecticut, to become a race car driver at Waterford.
His step into Victory Lane in April was the culmination of experience and a lot of hard work on the family race car over last winter.
“I told dad before the first race I had a good feeling about this year,” Curry said. “We wanted to compete for wins. I took everything I’ve learned as a driver over three years to make sure I was ready. We went through the car with a fine-tooth comb. We spent a little money out of pocket to make the car right.
“We’d been close to winning in the past but something always happened. It was frustrating. Guys who win all the time make it look easy. By the end of last season I questioned my ability to win and beat myself up a little,” Curry said. “The off season gave me a chance to calm down and focus.”
Curry’s nine-race record so far this season is one win, seven top-fives and nine top-10s. He finished third behind Dave Trudeau and Garrett Denton Saturday. Curry is ranked sixth in this week’s NASCAR Championship Division IV standings.
The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II-V Championship program determines support division national championships. In each division, dirt and asphalt tracks are combined in point standings. The four national champions will receive a trophy and a trip to the series national awards event. In addition, the top-three dirt and top-three asphalt drivers will be invited to the series awards event.
“We set a goal to win at least one race this year. When we won, it was a big weight off my shoulders. Now maybe we can win a couple more and stay in the point race,” Curry said.
His first win was even sweeter when he was congratulated by five-time track champion and 2012 NASCAR Division IV champion Ken Cassidy Jr. Curry passed Cassidy for the lead on the way to the win.
“Being congratulated by Ken on Facebook and in person meant a lot to me,” Curry said. “We’ve always been friends and we’ll help each other in the pits if something comes up.”
The Currys honor their family racing heritage under the team name 3G Motorsports, representing the three generations of drivers. They are using William T. Curry’s race car No. 2 and painted their 1987 Ford Mustang in the colors and style to match his 1966 modified. The senior Curry passed away several years ago and the family decided their 2014 season would be in tribute to him.
“Dad owned and drove race cars since 1993,” Curry said. “He eventually stopped driving, took a break and then came back as a car owner in about 2005. When I turned 15 in 2008 he asked me if I wanted to drive the next season. I ran five races in 2009 and wrecked the car. We had to cut it up.
“We still had another car running. My high school body shop teacher Steve Violette was driving it. That car got wrecked and we decided to call it a year. Mr. V. got another ride the next week so I helped with that car for the rest of the season. He’s not in oval track racing anymore, but he still follows my racing to this day.”
Violette had a positive impact Curry, who is now a professional body shop technician at Girard Nissan in Groton. Curry’s step mother Lori Curry is car owner. Crewmen include John Curry, Michael Priviti, Joe Tupay and Dylan Cabral. Cabral, 13, is being mentored by the Curry team. He hopes to start his driving career next season. The engine builder is C.B. Fabrication. Sponsors include Shantok Motors, 7 Seas Pizza, uniform supplier Thirty Racewear, Priviti’s Race Shop, JMD Chassis, 32 Signs and the driver’s Aunt Linda.
The top five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Championship Division II-V leaders this week include:
- Division II: Keith Rocco, Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, Thompson (Conn.) Speedway Motorsports Park; Ryan Robertson, Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C.; Spencer Davis, New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway; Randy Stout, Grandview Speedway, Bechtelsville, Pa.; Taylor Branch, Bowman Gray.
- Division III: Jerod Weston, I-80 Speedway, Greenwood, Neb., Adams County Speedway, Corning, Iowa; John Ketron, Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway, Lonesome Pine Raceway, Coeburn, Va.; Josh Sink, Adams County, I-80; Blain Petersen, I-80, Adams County; Jared Umbenhauer, Grandview.
- Division IV: Brad Derry, Adams County, I-80; Jeremy Menninger, Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway; Jimmy McElfresh, Columbus, Kil-Kare Raceway, Xenia, Ohio; Dave Trudeau, Waterford, Thompson; Corey Kyer, Columbus.
- Division V: Brian King, Anderson (S.C.) Motor Speedway, Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway; Donavan Beacham, Anderson, Greenville; Chris Harvell, Greenville, Anderson; C.J. Huitt Jr., Greenville, Anderson; Don Tavernia, Anderson, Greenville.
The NASCAR point structure in Divisions I-V has been adjusted slightly for 2014. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of in an event, up to 18 cars. Three bonus points will be awarded to a race winner with a single-digit starting position and five bonus points will be awarded to a race winner with a double-digit starting position. At season’s end, drivers in Divisions II-V will be ranked by their best 14 NASCAR point race results. The season concludes September 21.
Drivers must be NASCAR-licensed and cars will be verified for display of required series sponsor decals to be eligible for NASCAR points and awards.