DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Two weeks before the 2014 season began, New Hampshire modified driver Todd Patnode had no ride and no tangible plan for what would come next. Little did he know, the best season of his racing career was on the horizon.
Patnode captured his fifth career a Monadnock Speedway championship, and first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series New Hampshire state crown.
Neither milestone would have been accomplished, however, without a fortuitous call from car owner Dan Stebbins. Patnode, from West Swanzey, New Hampshire, had sold off all of his own equipment at the end of last year and didn’t have any irons in the fire as the 2014 season approached.
“I didn’t have the time to put into the car myself, and owning it I felt obligated to be one of the people putting the time into it, so I sold it,” Patnode said. “But then as the season was coming around I started thinking, ‘geeze, that was a bad idea,’ because it was going to be a real miserable summer if I wasn’t in a race car.
“When Dan called up, it was kind of a no-brainer because I knew they were a team that took care of everything and they had a car was that always well prepared to go to the track.”
The new combination proved to be quite beneficial for all parties involved. Patnode turned in a career-best eight wins in 16 starts in Monadnock’s sportsman modified division.
“The competition was real strong at Monadnock this year, but things just seemed to go our way most of the time,” Patnode said. “We didn’t have any DNFs, which is always a big thing, and I think most of those guys suffered at least one.”
The 44-year-old Patnode never finished outside of the top 10, and fifteen of 16 races he stood on the podium, a suffocating performance to the competition. He dethroned reigning dual titlist Bill Kimball Jr. by 122 tallies for the track title and by 158 for the state crown.
“Bill is a strong competitor week-in and week-out, but we just seemed to have a little bit more speed than he did for most of the year,” Patnode said.
Patnode’s fifth NASCAR track title at the rural Winchester, New Hampshire, quarter-mile extended the record he already owned (his first three came when pro stocks were the feature division), but adding the state championship for the first time was icing on the cake.
“It was a pretty awesome thing,” Patnode said. “We hadn’t really thought much of it until the end of the year, we’ve always just gone one race at a time. But it’s pretty neat. I don’t know if it has fully sunk in for all of us yet.”
Patnode was thankful for the efforts of Stebbins and the entire crew who propelled the No. 5 All States Asphalt/West County Equipment Rental Chevrolet through the wildly-successful season. Additional Stebbins family crew members included Neil, Tim, Amber, Jeff and Mike. The Sessions family of Craig, Tyler and Hunter also contributed to the effort along with Sam and Mary Bocon and Patnode’s daughter, Brianna.
“They were a really easy fit,” Patnode said. “They were awesome to work with. I just can’t say enough about that whole team, they work so well together.”
Patnode, who has an additional NASCAR title to his credit from the super late model division at Twin-State Speedway in 2005, appreciated the journey to his sixth overall track championship.
“The whole season stands out as being memorable, it was just an awesome season,” Patnode said. “Towards the end of the season I’m usually ready for it to be over, but this year I wasn’t even close to ready for it to end.”
Patnode will be recognized alongside each of the track and state champions from across North America at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards on Dec. 12 in the Charlotte (North Carolina) Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
-NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release
-Photo Credit: Dutton Photography/Monadnock Speedway