For Prospect, CT native Nick Salva, the 2014 SK Light season has been just what he has been looking for. After running partial schedules during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Salva and his #98 J.G. Poulin Drywall team started the 2014 season from race #1 instead of during the middle of the season, and Salva was able to capture his very first SK Light victory last Friday night.
“We’re all still on a bit of a high from last Friday night,” said Salva. “To go from a 5-year old kid sitting in the grandstands dreaming about racing a modified at Stafford, it was an amazing experience. We’ve always had a fast car at Stafford and until the Sizzler and last Friday night, our finishes really haven’t showed our speed. We haven’t really had a lot of luck, but it turned around for us last Friday night so it has changed for the better for us.”
Salva’s results thusfar during the 2014 season have been uncharted territory. Salva had one previous win at Stafford in the DARE Stock division during the 2010 season, but he has never run a full season and thus been a championship contender. Salva’s first career SK Light win moved him from 9th to 3rd in in the points standings and he is only 10 points out of the championship lead.
“Obviously we come to the track every week to win, but this is the first time we’ve been able to start a season at the beginning and kind of do big picture racing,” said Salva. “Every year we usually show up around June or later and there’s no hope for points and we just went for wins. I think this year we have a little bit more focus on the bigger picture this season considering we can run the full season and we want to be at the track week to week. It’s still very, very early in the season, but it is nice to be where we are right now.”
In racing the old adage is that once you get your first win, it becomes easier to get more wins. Not that Salva and his crew need any extra motivation to win, but there was one very special person who was missing from Salva’s victory celebration last Friday night.
“My mom was visiting my grandmother, who is ill down in South Carolina,” said Salva. “It was kind of funny because she pulled an all-nighter to drive down there and she told us to give her a call to tell her how we did. Out in victory lane my stepfather was trying to call her and tell her we won, but we couldn’t get ahold of her and it wasn’t until about 2 hours later we finally were able to give her the news. I could only imagine her reaction to that. With her missing the race it definitely gives us more motivation to get back into victory lane.”
With a win under his belt, and a newfound focus on big picture racing, Salva will hope to join his uncle, Bo Gunning, as a modified track champion at Stafford.
“Bo always told me to focus on winning races and championships will come,” said Salva. “That strategy seemed to work out for him so I’m going to try to do the same thing this year. If we were able to win a championship, it would be a bit surreal. I would probably be an emotional wreck since I’ve dreamed about driving a racecar and I’ve worked my whole life for something like this.”
Prior to the 2014 season getting started, Salva and his #98 team welcomed J.G. Poulin Drywall as a sponsor, and Salva says it was the best feeling he’s ever had to put his car with their name on it into NAPA victory lane.
“That win felt like I proved myself to them for coming on board with us and it kind of got the monkey off our back so to speak,” said Salva. “Seeing Mr. and Mrs. Poulin smiling in victory lane was the best feeling I’ve ever had. I have so many other people to thank for helping me, D+D Autoworks, Dell’s Vinyl Siding, First Class Wine & Spirits, Hamm’s Welding, Northeast Racecars, Critical Signs, R.A.D. Automachine, and my crew Tom, Bo, Bob and George Buffinton, Big Jim, Henry, Paul, Randy, Jigs, Joe, and Kyle.”
If Salva can maintain his level of having a fast car each week and keep on getting top-5 finishes along with a few more wins, than he may just realize his dream and join his uncle as a modified track champion at Stafford.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
– By Scott Running, Stafford Motor Speedway