Stafford Springs, CT—For Adam Gray and the #97 Meadows Motor Car team, the 2014 Late Model season at Stafford Motor Speedway was very nearly a case of déjà vu all over again. Gray and his team dominated the 2013 season, scoring 16 consecutive podium finishes en route to their first championship at Stafford. The 2014 season found the waters a bit choppier for Gray and his team then they were last season, but in the end, they were able to win their second consecutive championship.
“Last year was a dream season, a once in a lifetime kind of deal,” said Gray. “We knew it would be hard to repeat what we did last year, but we were trying our hardest to do that. We had a good car and a great team and we knew we were going to be a force to be reckoned with, but we’re racing with a great group of cars. I think on any given night, 75% of the guys in the Late Model division could win a race.”
Two podium finishes in the first two races of the season, including a win, found Gray in the lead of the points standings and confirmed that he would once again be a championship contender. But a crash and a 15th place finish in the third race of the season left him playing catch up to Jay Stuart for much of the summer. As the 2014 season stretched into August, Gray was still 24 points out of the lead heading into the August 15th Late Model feature. A victory for Gray, combined with a 20th place finish for Stuart, allowed Gray to turn that 24 point deficit into a 14 point cushion, a margin that Gray would only increase from that point to the end of the season.
After struggling to get some gremlins worked out of his #97 machine after that wreck on June 6th, Gray and his team really began to hit their stride beginning with the August 15th victory that catapulted them to the top of the standings. In the final 7 races of the season, Gray scored 4 wins and a third to go along with 7th and 9th place finishes that allowed him to wrap up the championship race in the Final Friday Night Shoot-Out on Sept. 19th.
“After we got wrecked, we had some demons that we needed to chase out of the car and we just keep working at it and we got the car back to where it was. We had a few points during the season where luck wasn’t quite on our side like getting stuck on the outside on a green, white, checkered finish, but one we got the demons worked out, we pulled it around and we were able to make it work. I’ve got the best crew around. They deal with me week in and week out and they give me a fast race car every week. I have to thank all my sponsors, Meadows Motor Car, Leon’s Auto Repair, Hawley’s Auto Body, Hawley’s Auto Repair, big thanks to Billy the Kid for the awesome power, Mike from Magnus Transmissions, NAPA of Belchertown, Hamm’s Chassis & Snouts, Hardwick Auto Salvage, Trackside Motors, OJS Construction, Gregg Orlen Construction, Logan’s Colors Unlimited, Independent Race Wheels, B & J Country View Landscaping, Perry’s Auto Parts, Pizza Shoppe, Statewide Auto Auctions, Hot Tables, Waddell Communications for the awesome radios week in and week out, Barrco Automotive, Sunoco Race Fuels for all their help, XtraMart, 811 Call Before You Dig, CT Trailers, SPAFCO, and everyone at NAPA Auto Parts.”
With 2 consecutive championships under his belt, Gray will now try to make it three in a row next season and join Phil Rondeau and Ryan Posocco as the only drivers in Stafford’s Late Model history to win three consecutive track championships.
“It’s funny because everyone asked me last year if we thought we could do it again, and I like to take things week to week,” said Gray. “If we’re running well, having good finishes, and not wrecking equipment, it’s very possible. But at the same time, you could have a rough season and more or less knock yourself out of it. Obviously we’re going to shoot for another championship and try to win races, be competitive, and see where that brings us.”
With 12 wins, 25 top-5, and 33 top-10 finishes in 35 Late Model feature events held during the past 2 seasons at Stafford, things look good for Gray and his #97 team to once again be among the championship contenders in 2015 and have a chance to add their name in the Stafford record books alongside Rondeau and Posocco.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Driscoll Motorsports Photography