(Stafford Springs, CT)—Prior to the start of the 2018 SK Modified® season at Stafford Speedway, Ellington native Ronnie Williams made the switch from his family owned team to the driver’s seat of the #50 Les’s Auto Center/Empower Financial car owned by Les and Tina Skowyra. The move has paid immediate dividends as the Williams/Skowyra combination has been one of the most consistent cars through the first 8 races of the 2018 season, scoring a win, three second place finishes, and a fourth place finish to go along with an 8th and 18th place finish. The #50 team won the NAPA SK 5K last season with Chase Dowling as the driver and Williams will be looking to continue his good fortune and take home the lion’s share of the over $30,000 in total posted awards in the June 29th NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K.
“I definitely think that the NAPA SK 5k is always a race that you circle on the calendar because it’s an important race. These guys won the race last year with Chase driving, this is the one that we all want to win” explained Williams. “We’ve had a strong car this year so I’m definitely looking forward to the 5k. I look forward to every Friday but especially the 5k, it would be a good race to check off the list, especially after almost winning the race in 2015.”
The NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K boasts a base purse of over $27,000 with the winner guaranteed to take home $5,000. First place contingency bonuses from Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Maybury Material Handling, Starrett Tools, and New England Racing Fuel will push the winner’s total to $5,475 with even more money possible with the Kevin Harvick bonus and the Dunleavy’s Gambler’s Challenge. An annual hit at the NAPA SK 5K, the Gambler’s challenge has each SK Modified® driver post $100 with Doug Dunleavy matching up to $2500. With 16 drivers currently entered in the Dunleavy’s Gambler’s Challenge, the bonus is up to $3,200. The Gambler’s Bonus is distributed to either the winner, evenly across the top 5, top 10, or 10th through 20th. The winner will draw from a hat in victory lane to see how the bonus will be distributed.
“It’s great that Stafford and NAPA have been able to put up a bunch of money for that race along with Doug Dunleavy’s help,” said Williams. “It’s always great when you race extra laps and have a nice payday at the end of the race. I know the guys were a little disappointed last year when they were the first team to not have the winner take all option so hopefully we can change that around this year.”
Williams is one of 12 drivers who have participated in all four previous runnings of the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K at Stafford. Williams has an average finish of 9.0 in those four NAPA SK 5K starts with two top-5 and three top-10 efforts. With the combination of Williams’ experience and how well the #50 team has performed this season, Williams feels confident that he can put the #50 car back in NAPA Victory Lane for the second year in a row in the NAPA SK 5K.
“With this team, I think we have a pretty good chance of winning the race,” said Williams. “Adam [Skowyra, crew chief] and these guys really know what they’re doing. It showed last year and it’s really showing this year. I know every Friday we have a good chance at winning so it’s always good to have that feeling. Going to the shop during the week, I feel like we have a great chemistry with the whole team. I think that’s a big reason for our good finishes along the way this year. The 5k is a whole new ballgame because there’s a lot of guys who haven’t raced longer races. You have a lot more time to pick and chose what kind of moves you want to make. In a 40-lap race, you have to take what you can get. Experience is huge, I remember the first time I ran an SK race going from 20 laps to 40 laps and thinking was the race ever going to end? A lot of people don’t think race car drivers are athletes but it takes a lot to drive a lot of laps especially at Stafford, so I think stamina will come into play as well as how well your car is handling.”
With Williams and the #50 team having already built up a wave of positive momentum with their race results, a good finish in the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K could help boost their momentum to an even higher level as they prepare for the second half of the 2018 season looking to make a run for the SK Modified® track championship.
“We’re almost at the halfway point of the season and one race is all it takes to turn your season upside down,” said Williams. “Every race is a big race so I’m approaching the NAPA SK 5k like it’s just a regular race and we’re going to do all we can to win it. I would say we’re right there. I would prefer to not have that 18th place finish on our record, but it was great to get our first win together a couple weeks ago and now we can look forward to the rest of the season. There’s a lot more racing to go this season and hopefully we can get some more wins and the championship at the end of the year. I have a lot of great support behind me and thanks to Empower Financial, Les’s Auto Center, All Town Recycling and Hauling, Flamingo Motorsports, Centurn Machine, NAPA of Tolland, Pettit Race Engines, and all the Stafford contingency sponsors Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, Maybury Handling, Starrett Tools, Casagrande Builders, New England Race Fuel, Sunoco, and Kevin Harvick Management, Inc. for their support.”
The 5th annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K is set for Friday, June 29. With $5,000 guaranteed to win and over $30,000 in posted awards, the 100-lap big money race will be an event not to miss. Discount tickets for the NAPA SK 5k are available at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores. For a full list of the 72 participating locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, please call the speedway office or visit us on the web at www.staffordmotorspeedway.com/participating-napa-auto-parts-stores. Tickets for the NAPA SK 5K are available and on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $30.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for kids ages 6-14, and kids 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $32.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Speedway offers free parking with free overnight parking for self-contained RV’s available. There will also be a barbeque taking place on the midway with some great food available to race fans for only $10.
For more information on the June 29th NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Ronnie Williams Facebook Page