After three long years of bad luck and close calls, Richard Savary was finally able to get back to victory lane with his No. 99 team in the Valenti Modified Racing Series on Friday night at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT), a track which he had been trying for 28 years to win at in a Tour-type Modified.
It was the first win for Savary since winning the Open Wheel Wednesday show at Seekonk Speedway (MA) in July 2015 and despite the troubles since then, the promise of just one more win has kept the Canton, MA going.
“It’s a long time coming. We’ve been good but in those three years we’ve had a ton of top five’s, bunch of second places, but it’s hard to win. To win here, we’ve been trying to win here since 1990 in a Modified, and I’m at the end. It feels pretty good to do it. What would’ve made this better is if my son was here tonight, but he’ll get to see it,” Savary said afterwards.
Following a solid showing in his heat race, Savary lined up in the seventh starting position, quickly carving through the top six in the opening laps of the Lincoln Tech 80, eventually settling in behind leader Chase Dowling just before the first and only yellow flag.
Soon after, Savary pounced, taking the lead on Lap 25, keeping drivers like Ron Silk, Dave Ethridge, and eventual runner-up Jeff Gallup at arm’s length the final 55 laps.
“Chase was conserving, I knew that, my spotter was telling me that; I was conserving, so we were just going to ride. But then he went into a lower mode, he was slowing too much for me, so I decided to get by him, and I’ll run my own pace. That’s all did, when I got by him I slowed down, I knew there was cautions coming, there had to be. Every time I waited and someone got close I’d open up just a little bit, but to save as much as I could. The car never faded and I’m fortunate there wasn’t any yellows and I didn’t have to find out if someone was saving like I’ve done in the past.”
The win is the culmination of a number of promising races that have been spoiled by one or two little details throughout 2018.
“We had a bunch of shows that showed how fast we were, but just didn’t finish it. Loudon we finished second, Monadnock the top three, Waterford we had a great car; just little things, electrical problems with the car, we never had mechanical problems, just little simple things always messed us up. But we knew as a team, we talked about it even tonight, as a team we have all the ingredients.”
The veteran race team led by former Oxford 250 winner Joey Kourafas have also kept Savary’s faith of another win alive all this time.
“I have a great crew chief, Joey Kourafas. I have a great spotter, great crew guys, everything works together. They didn’t give up, and we also talked about that tonight, that it’d be easy after three years not having won a race to say, ‘You know what, I’m in my 50’s, maybe it’s time.’ But the guys keep saying, ‘You’re not done yet.’ I’m glad I listened to them and that we kept going.”
Savary, now 53, admitted that retirement from driving is looming near, especially with his five-year-old growing up so fast. But at the same time, the second-generation driver now sees that there is still time for one final hurrah before the time comes to hang up the helmet and that winning at Stafford is a great way to start.
“Hopefully this gets the monkey off our back and we go forward without those little problems that we’ve had. Winning here at Stafford is just awesome. This track to me is a famous place. I came here as a kid for all the Sizzlers when I couldn’t even get in the pits, then all the time I was in the pits, winning here in a Pro 4, and all these years coming in a Modified, finally to win, it’s pretty cool. I know Mike Stefanik would be proud of me winning in my 50’s.”
Jeff Gallup and Dave Ethridge capped off strong runs finishing second and third respectively, with Eric Goodale and Woody Pitkat rounding the top five. Early race leader Chase Dowling dropped out of the race with mechanical trouble 20 laps shy of the 80-lap distance.
Points leader Anthony Nocella did not make the feature after an engine failure during his heat race.
The Valenti Modified Racing Series heads north to Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine next Saturday night.
-Story by: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT