Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – The 2018 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour season is only 2 races old, but Craig Lutz, driver of the #46 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet is off to the best start of his young career.
Starting only his third full season on Tour, Miller Place, NY native, Lutz heads into the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® coming off a career best second place finish at Thompson. Lutz is looking to continue the wave of positive momentum with a strong run in the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® and possibly score his very first career NWMT victory.
“I think we’ll have a good shot at the Sizzler,” said Lutz. “Stafford is one of my favorite tracks and we’ve run well at Stafford so far. 200-laps is a long race so hopefully we’ll be able to be there at the end. I think we can definitely be a top-5 car or challenging for the win. If we can improve just a little over how we’ve run in the past, we can win the Sizzler. We come to the track to win and winning is why we put all the time and effort that we do. To win the Sizzler, that’s one of the biggest races of the year for the Whelen Modified Tour and that’s the race that I want to win.”
Lutz’s career best second place finish at Thompson, combined with his 9th place finish in the season opener at Myrtle Beach, has him sitting second in the NWMT points standings heading into the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. With Lutz still in search of his first NWMT win, Stafford might be just the track for Lutz to break into the winner’s circle. In 7 career Stafford starts, Lutz has 4 top-10 finishes, including top-10 runs in all three NWMT races at Stafford last season. Lutz scored his first career pole position at Stafford last August and he will be looking to continue his excellent start to the 2018 season in the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®.
“You always expect to do the best you can and so far we’ve been able to put together some good finishes,” said Lutz. “It’s a big confidence booster to get the first races of the season under our belts and we hope we can continue our run of good finishes in the Sizzler. It’s a pretty big deal to make sure we get another good finish this early in the season. We always try to get the best finish that we can but another top-10 or top-5 finish would really make for a good weekend and help keep the season rolling along for us.”
While some might see Lutz as a dark horse pick for winning the 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®, there are several variables at play that could see Lutz join Doug Coby as drivers who scored their first win at Stafford in the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. The race is 200 laps in length, which is 50-laps longer than the typical NWMT race and the new pit rules that limit teams to one tire per pit stop could shake things up where there might be a dark horse driver that emerges with the checkered flag and gets to sip the milk in NAPA Victory Lane.
“I think [the new pit rules] is definitely going to put a lot more strategy into the race,” said Lutz. “Taking only one tire at a time makes the car unbalanced so as a driver that’s a different challenge to deal with. It’s going to come down to who puts new tires on the latest and who has the best track position at the same time. It’s definitely going to be a gamble so we’ll have to see how the race plays out to determine what we’re going to do.
The 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® takes the green flag April 27-29. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. Tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Discount Tickets are now 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 point your web browser to www.staffordmotorspeedway.com/participating-napa-auto-parts-stores.