Story By: MATTHEW WIERNASZ / ISMA – WINCHESTER, NH – Ohio’s Trent Stephens will be heading to the CARQUEST Genden Auto Parts 75 Presented by T-Bird Mini Marts ISMA Season Opener on Saturday, May 19. Stephens is planning to run the full season this year as he has been doing.
Stephens, driving the Steve Stout number 19 car, finished fourth in the competitive ISMA point standings in 2017, and he is looking forward to the new venue at the 2018 opener.
” I love going to new tracks. I always like the challenge of a new track. I adapt quicker to new tracks than some people. I am hoping that it’s a benefit for me. I know there’s some guys that have some laps around there in other stuff.” Stephens commented.
Timmy Jedrzejek and Mike Lichty have watched online videos on Monadnock’s rather different track setup. Lichty feels there is going to be some side by side racing. Stephens also jumped online as soon as the race was announced on the schedule to watch some races there, taking in an in-car video of a NEMA race and watching some modified videos.
” It looks like a racy track. It’s kind of cool that the two turns are different. It will be a balancing act between trying to get the car to work good in one turn and then figure out how to drive in the other turn.” Stephens said
Trent believes ISMA has been making changes to help with the racing. A lot of the ISMA teams got together with Hoosier to change the compound of the tire to give a little more grip. Stephens also believes there will be a lot of passing with Monadnock being a short track.
“You don’t realize how much you rely on the downforce, when you don’t get it at a short track. And you don’t realize how much you’ll slide around, without the downforce from the high speeds. More mistakes are made at short tracks. I think a couple of them had reference to the Star race last year. There’s a lot of passing just because everyone was sliding around at a little quarter mile. I like short tracks.” Stephens continued.
Stephens was once teammates with “Liquid” Lou Cicconi for a little bit and he learned a lot from Cicconi. And Stephens believes it’s all about setup. And with Jon McKennedy having more experience at Monadnock in the modifieds, he could be the driver to beat when ISMA comes to the New Hampshire quarter-mile oval.
“I think if you get the setup right. If you can get a good balance of where either you’re really, really good in one turn and you’re average in the other or if you’re average in both turns, the setup will be key. I think we saw that a lot last year up until actually the last two races. We had a new winner every night. We only had one repeat winner.”
An Ohio compatriot Dave Shullick, Jr. took down the last two races of the year in the 2017 season winning at Star and Thompson after running part to of the year non-winged at Oswego. Stephens believes the field is close especially the top-10 cars.
“We show up to a track. We think we qualify awesome and end up like eighth but then when it comes to the race, we’re in the top five. It’s going to be another, I would imagine tough season because I think all the strong cars from last year are coming back with the same drivers. Everyone should be tough again.” Stephens Said
Heading into his fourth year of competition in ISMA Stephens believes the competition is tough because everyone is tough.
“I’ve raced other ISMA shows over the years but not a full season until 2015. It’s a little bit different ball game because there are longer races. Sometimes you have to kind of ride back for a while but you hope that if someone gets out there early, they burn their stuff up by the end, and you haven’t. It’s definitely a tough series to run because everybody has got his or her strengths. It’s hard to be really, really good everywhere,” said the 4-time MSA champion.
Stephens believes that a lot of people don’t expect the power that the ISMA Supermodifieds have in acceleration when these cars can go up to 7,600 RPM’s. To add to the excitement of the speed factor, Bentley’s Saloon will be sponsoring to see who can get the fast time in time trials (NTR) where the winner will get $1,000 dollars.
“It’s pretty awesome in all honesty. I enjoy qualifying. I think it’s its own little challenge. I would consider us a smaller budget team. An extra $1,000 dollars if we can crank out a good lap would be awesome for us because we’re coming all the way from Ohio. It’s probably a 13-14 hour drive with a trailer. We always hope we have a good weekend in New England and we take the car home in one piece and don’t spend too much money. The $1,000 dollars will be great for whoever wins it.” Said Stephens.
Trent welcomed the other extra cash available as Shea Concrete is paying a $1,000 halfway bonus at the event on Saturday, May 19.
“Ed Shea has always been a huge supporter of ISMA and we appreciate everything he does for the Supermodifieds. Any extra money is always a great incentive for our teams. “ Stephens stated
Racing is known for being a family sport, and the Stephens family is no exception. Trent’s brother Talon races supers and was ISMA Rookie of the Year in 2016. Trent’s wife Jessica is involved with ISMA as one of the officers as the Secretary. Stephens has been involved in racing since he was seven years old racing in quarter midgets.
“It has always been a family thing for us. That was our thing every weekend. We would jump in the motorhome and go racing with the quarter midgets and now supers. My brother still races. My parents are both involved; they go to every single one of his races and last year they came to every one of mine. We all travel in one big carpool lane I guess if you want to call it that. My parents come and as do my wife and daughter Paislee. I race against Jess’s brother Mike Ordway Jr. The Ordways come to the races too. It’s nice to see them because Jess moved from New Hampshire to out here and now her parents have moved to North Carolina. It’s definitely a family-oriented sport that’s for sure. Even though we all usually don’t always like each other on the race track, I think we all respect each other from that perspective.” Stephens Said
The Monadnock Speedway NASCAR Whelen All American Series divisions will be apart of the program beginning at 6:00 p.m. Tickets for reserved seating will be $25 in advance and $30 at the gate. Tickets for general admission for adults will be $20 in advance and $25 at the gate. Seniors will be $15 and Kids 12 and under will be $5 at the gate. The rain date will be on Sunday, May 20 at 2:00 p.m. Monadnock Speedway is located at 840 Keene Road In Winchester, NH.