(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Motor Speedway welcomed a guest list of over 500 people consisting of teams, drivers, sponsors, and employees this past Friday night, November 21 at Maneely’s in South Windsor to officially honor Ted Christopher, Adam Gray, Jeremy Sorel, Andrew Hayes, Frank L’Etoile, And Dana DiMatteo as the 2013 Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track champions.
With Norwich Bulletin Sports Writer Marc Allard and Stafford Motor Speedway broadcaster Matt Buckler serving as the Masters of Ceremony, the 45th annual Stafford Motor Speedway NASCAR Champions Awards Ceremony not only honored the six track champions, they also recognized the top-20 points finishers from the SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, and U.S. Legend Cars divisions. Special awards that were presented during the evening’s festivities were Most Popular Driver Awards, SPAFCO Race Chassis & Parts Rookie of the Year, R.A.D. Automachine DARE Stock Rookie of the Year, and the UNOH Youth Achievement Award.
The 2014 SK Modified® season saw Ted Christopher extend his track record for SK Modified® track championships to 9 in an ultra-tight race with 2011 SK Modified® champion Ryan Preece. Preece was the big winner of the 214 season, recording 6 trips to victory lane. While Christopher managed only a single victory during the season behind the wheel of his #13 Freightliner of Long Island / Al-Lee Installations machine, he was a model of consistency, finishing each of the 17 SK Modified® feature events this season in the top-9. Christopher claimed his 9th championship by the narrowest of margins, only 2 points or one position on the racetrack and for the season he recorded 1 win, 8 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes in 17 starts for an average finish of 5.1.
The 2014 Late Model season was déjà vu all over again Adam Gray and the #97 Meadows Motor Car team. While Gray didn’t quite have the same performance as 2013 where he posted 16 consecutive podium finishes, he was once again the leading feature winner among the Late Model ranks with 6 victories and 11 of his 13 top-5 finishes were podium efforts. In the final points tally of the season, Gray claimed the championship by a 96-point margin over Jim Peterson, which is almost two full race wins worth of points. For the season, Gray posted 6 wins, 13 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes in 17 starts for a remarkable average finish of 3.8.
The SK Light Modified championship came down to a dominating performance from a rookie driver. Prior to 2014, Jeremy Sorel had never sat behind the wheel of a modified car. But that lack of experience didn’t hamper the Westfield, MA native as he piloted his #77 Bill’s Repair Service machine to a consistent performance that slowly saw him edge away from his closest competition as the season wore on. Sorel nearly had the championship race wrapped up with one race to go, but a wreck in the Final Friday Night Shoot-Out meant that he only had to take the green flag in the NAPA Fall Final feature to win the championship. For the season, Sorel posted 2 wins, 13 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes in 18 starts for an average finish of 4.9.
The Limited Late Model championship came down to a 2-car race between former DARE Stock competitors Andrew Hayes and Duane Provost. Provost established himself as the man to beat early in the season and Hayes was playing catchup to Provost for the first half of the season. But once Hayes took over the point lead for the first time following the July 18 feature event, he held the point lead for the remainder of the season. For the season, Hayes and the #9 Asnuntuck Community College / Total Protection Security Systems team posted 4 wins, 17 top-5, and 17 top-10 finishes in 18 starts for an average finish of 3.6.
In the DARE Stock division, the championship chase proved to be a prophetic season for Frank L’Etoile, Jr. After sitting in the grandstands and watching Dave Secore win the 2013 championship, L’Etoile’s father told him that it was going to be them enjoying the championship plaudits in 2014. L’Etoile was a familiar face on the DARE Stock podium this season, recording 11 top-3 finishes that helped him outlast Johnny Walker in the chase for the title. For the season, L’Etoile and the #33 KOMA Unwind / Zeke’s Pump Service team posted 2 wins, 14 top-5, and 17 top-10 finishes for an average finish of 3.8.
In the U.S. Legend Cars division, Dana DiMatteo became the very first Stafford track champion in the return of Legend Cars racing to Stafford on a weekly basis for the first time since the 1994 season. Dimatteo served notice early on in the season that he was going to be a championship contender and he made the Legend Cars podium his home during the 2014 with 8 podium finishes in the 11 U.S. Legend Cars races. For the season, DiMatteo and the #76 Manafort Brothers / Island Cove Marina team posted 2 wins, 9 top-5, and 11 top-10 finishes in 11 races for an average finish of 3.3.
The SPAFCO Race Chassis and Parts Rookie of the Year awards were presented to Chase Dowling from the SK Modified® division, Kyle Casagrande from the Late Model division, and Jeremy Sorel from the SK Light division. Taking home R.A.D. Automachine Rookie of the Year honors were Cliff Saunders in the Limited Late Model division and Trace Beyer in the DARE Stock division. The awards will be worth an $800.00 bonus to Dowling and $700.00 bonuses each to Casagrande and Sorel from SPAFCO Race Chassis and Parts, and a $1,000 bonus to Saunders and $500 bonus to Beyer from R.A.D. Automachine. Each Rookie of the Year bonus will be paid out in $100.00 weekly increments to each driver as they attend events during the 2015 season.
The winners of the Most Popular Driver Awards were Todd Owen in both the SK Modified® division, Jim Mavlouganes in the Late Model division, Tyler Hines from the SK Light division, David Arute from the Limited Late Model division, Doug Phelps in the DARE Stock division, and Mike Christopher, Jr. in the U.S. Legends Car division. The Most Popular Driver Awards are voted on by the fans who attend Stafford Motor Speedway race events and fill out the ballots found weekly in the track’s PitStopper Magazine.
The UNOH Youth Achievement award was won by SK Light Modified driver Branden Dion. The UNOH Youth Achievement Award was a new program this season that was open to all drivers at Stafford between the ages of 14-17. The eligible driver who scored the most track points from their best 14 finishes this season won a $500 cash award from UNOH as well as a $500 scholarship award from UNOH.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com