Stafford Springs, CT — As the Final Friday Night Shoot-Out approaches at Stafford Motor Speedway this Friday, Sept. 19th, there are only 2 races left for drivers to jockey for position in the points standings. With the 2 remaining races on the schedule, that means that any driver within 100 points of the leader is still mathematically alive to win the championship. Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions have several tight races that will go down to the wire and there are also two championship races that could be wrapped up this Friday night.
The two races that can be clinched this Friday night are the Late Model and SK Light championships. Stafford’s Late Model division sees defending track champion Adam Gray at the top of the standings by 50 points over Jim Peterson with Kevin Gambacorta 60 points behind in third. What this means for Gray is that to clinch the championship this Friday night, he only needs to finish in front of Peterson and no more than 5 spots behind Gambacorta. Gray has been on a hot streak of late with 2 consecutive wins and three wins in the last 5 Late Model feature events. Gray’s hot streak has put him in a prime position for the championship if the race should come down to tiebreakers. Gray has recorded 5 wins thusfar in 2014, with Peterson having won twice and Gambacorta has yet to win this year. What this means for Gray is that even if Peterson or Gambacorta were to erase their points gap over the final 2 races and end up tied with Gray, Gray’s five wins would give him the championship for the second year in a row.
The other championship that could be clinched this Friday night is the SK Light title race. Jeremy Sorel, an SK Light rookie, holds a commanding 70 point lead over Nick Salva and another rookie driver, Branden Dion, is third, 72 points behind. For Sorel to clinch the championship, all he would need to do is finish this Friday night’s race in the top-10. If he does that, no matter if Salva or Dion wins the race, they will be more than 50 points behind Sorel with one race left, which would make Sorel the champion. Sorel would be the third rookie driver in 9 seasons of SK Light competition at Stafford to win the championship, joining Michael Gervias, Jr. in 2009 and Matt Galko in 2010.
Stafford’s SK Modified® division has the tightest points race of any of the 6 racing divisions. Going into the Sept. 5 feature event, Ryan Preece led Ted Christopher by 18 points. But Preece encountered engine troubles during the feature and he finished 20th while Christopher finished 6th. This result flip-flopped the two leaders with Christopher now leading Preece by a margin of 10 points, or 5 positions on the track heading into this Friday night’s feature event. Also still mathematically in championship contention are the defending SK Modified® champion Woody Pitkat, who is 40 points or 20 positions on the track behind in third place, and Keith Rocco, who is fourth and 48 points or 24 positions on the track behind. While Pitkat and Rocco may be long shots at winning the championship this season, just as last week’s SK Modified® feature proved anything can happen and what could be looked at as a safe margin can be erased in a flash. With Preece, Christopher, Pitkat, and Rocco all being former SK Modified® champions, they all know what it takes over the final 2 races to become champion after the final checkered flag of the season in the NAPA Fall Final Weekend on Sept. 27-28.
Stafford’s Limited Late Models has been mostly a 2-man race between current points leader Andrew Hayes and Duane Provost. Both drivers have each won 4 times this year to co-lead the division in wins, and they have both taken turns at the head of the points table. Hayes currently leads Provost by 22 points or 11 positions on the track, which is the margin that Provost will have to make up over the final 2 races. Austin Bessette, Norm Sears, David Arute, Albert Saunders, and Justin Bren are all still mathematically alive to be a championship contender but the race for the championship will come down to a duel between Hayes and Provost.
Stafford’s DARE Stock division is currently headed by Frank L’Etoile, Jr., who holds a 22 point lead, or 11 positions on the track, over Johnny Walker. Walker was the runner up in the DARE Stock standings last season, finishing second to Dave Secore, Jr., so he will be extra hungry over the final 2 races to make up that deficit to L’Etoile. Walker holds the edge over L’Etoile in wins by a 2 to 1 margin, but L’Etoile has been a model of consistency, leading the DARE Stock division with 13 top-5 finishes in 16 races. If L’Etoile can continue his consistency, he may relegate Walker to runner-up status for the second year in a row, but Walker will do everything he can to try to erase that 22 point deficit.
Lastly, Stafford’s Legend Cars division has come down to a brotherly battle between Dana and Cory DiMatteo. The brothers are separated by 20 points or 10 positions on the track heading into the final two races of the season. Cory began the 2014 season with a victory and he is the most recent Legend Cars feature winner, taking the checkered flag last Friday night. Between them, the DiMatteo brothers have won 5 of the 9 feature events this season with Cory holding the edge over Dana 3 to 2, which could be an important factor if the brothers end the season tied in the points standings.
With 2 races to go, Friday September 19th and the NAPA Fall Final Weekend, September 27th & 28th it’s all to play for in each of Stafford’s six racing divisions in the race for the track championship.
-Stafford Motor Speedway Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com