Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – When Tom Fearn scored his first Late Model win of the 2018 season at Stafford Speedway on May 18, it was the start of a milestone 6-race winning streak that set a track record for consecutive wins in the Late Model division.
With his 8th and most recent win of the season coming on July 13th, Fearn is on the verge of reaching another milestone in the Late Model division. Fearn will enter the Friday, July 20th Late Model feature with 44 career wins, one victory behind Ryan Posocco for the most wins in the division’s history.
“That is some pretty good company to be in,” said Fearn. “I know I’m the win leader in the ProStock division and if I could one day be the Late Model win leader, it would be another feather in the cap. Ryan won a lot of races and although I think he has retired from racing, nothing is official and he could come back and race again one day.”
With Fearn already having notched 8 wins in 12 starts this season with his #92 King Ward Coach Lines Ford, and 10 more races on the schedule before the 2018 season comes to a close at the NAPA Fall Final on Sept. 29-30, Fearn feels good about his chances of setting a new Late Model win benchmark this season.
“We’ve been on a roll and we’d like to keep that going,” said Fearn. “One minor thing on any night could stop that from happening, but we’ll show up ready to win and hopefully we can get it done this week. If not this week, then hopefully the next week. With how things have gone this season, I feel pretty confident we could get it done at some point this season. People always ask how we win all these races and I tell them we have a great car and a great crew and I have 30 years of experience. I’ve been racing at Stafford longer than some of the guys have been alive.”
In addition to the Late Model win milestone, Fearn is closing in on an all-time win milestone. Fearn’s most recent Late Model win moved his career Stafford win total to 62 wins between the Late Model and ProStock divisions, which is 10 wins behind Bugsy Stevens for third place on Stafford’s All-Time Feature Winners list.
“I think that would be a little more significant than the Late Model record to be among guys like Bugsy,” said Fearn. “It’s a great honor to be in the top-4 or top-5 of the All-Time win list. Teddy Christopher, I don’t think anyone will ever touch his record at Stafford but to be in the top-4 or top-5 on any win list means that you had a pretty good career. It will probably be a lot of years before someone comes along and knocks us out of that top-5.”
Fearn has been somewhat of a late bloomer in his Late Model career. Of his 44 career Late Model wins, 34 of them have come since the start of the 2013 season. Fearn’s best season came in 2015 when he won 10 races and with 10 races still left on the 2018 calendar, he might eclipse that mark this season. In addition to his team and his sponsors, Fearn says that a newfound patience has been a key to recording so many wins over the last 5 and a half seasons of Late Model competition.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’ve assembled a great team of crew members over the last 4 or 5 years and we all work really well together,” said Fearn. “SAFCO Foam gives us a great shop to work on the car and the ability to go out and win races. We have great support from King Ward Coach Lines, Sun Valley Fire Equipment, Whips Sporting Goods, Guns N Gear, and JR Sweeping, and with Hamm Chassis, R.A.D. Auto Machine under the hood, and John Williams and Buzzy working on the driveline, it’s a great combination. Everything gets done and it gets done right in a timely manner. When we go to the track, we’re prepared and we’re ready to win. I think maybe we’re a notch above the rest right now but at some point they’re going to catch up and we’ll have to look for something new to get back above them again. Every week we try to put the best we have together to get out there and be able to win races. You’re always learning things out on the track and I’d say the last 5 years or so I’ve become more patient behind the wheel to make sure we’re there at the end. You have to be there at the end if you want to win races.”
Fearn will attempt to tie Ryan Posocco this Friday night as part of the Girls Night Out/Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Track Walk program. Ladies General Admission tickets for this event are just $10 at the gates with all other Adult General Admission Tickets priced at $18.50. As always kids age 6-14 are just $5.00 and kids 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is available and is priced at $20.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking for auto racing events along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles. Fans can also take part in the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Track Walk for a $10 donation, which will be collected at the NAPA booth set up at the main entrance with all proceeds going to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Bryan Narducci Leading Stafford Speedway’s SK Lights as Rookie
Normally in racing a rookie driver will go through growing pains as they acclimate themselves to a new car and new set of competitors. Through the first 12 races of the 2018 season at Stafford Speedway, SK Light rookie Bryan Narducci is bucking that trend. The driver of the #01 Florida Connection Chevrolet finds himself leading the points standings with three wins and ten top-10 finishes. Aside from two races where he involved in accidents and recorded finishes outside the top-20, the Colchester native has yet to finish worse than fourth this year.
“This season has been pretty close to what we expected,” said Narducci. “We debuted last year at Waterford and we won 4 out of 7 races and 5 out of 9 overall so I kind of expected to be winning this season. I’m definitely very happy where we are with 3 wins so far this season. I’m meeting the goal I had for myself for this season so we’re on the right track. Racing at Waterford was good for me to learn the SK Light car and how to drive it. Stafford has the best competition every week and there’s a lot of good cars so running Thompson and Waterford last year helped prepare me for what to expect and then running the Fall Final last year was important because I ran against the same guys I’m racing with this year. It was a big head start to learn all those things last year rather than having to learn them at the start of this season.”
In his short career, Narducci has proven that he has what it takes to win races. He won 40 feature events during his six seasons in Wild Thing Karts along with the 2016 Sr. Outlaw Championship. Narducci scored 6 wins in his 2 seasons of Limited Late Model competition at Stafford from 2016-2017 and has 3 wins in the first 12 races of the 2018 season. Despite having limited SK Light experience prior to the 2018 season, Narducci says his time in the Limited car helped him prepare to move up to open wheeled competition.
“The Limited Late Model car helped me because that was the first full size stock car that I drove,” said Narducci. “I think it’s easier to drive the SK Light than the Limited. There’s bigger tires and it’s a wider car so it’s easier to drive even when the car isn’t handling right. With the Limited, if you were off just a hair, you were way off where if you’re tight in the SK Light you can change things around and free the car up. If you’re loose, it’s easier to handle the SK Light because the tires are so much wider and grip the track much more.”
The fact that Narducci finds himself leading the points standings in the SK Light division isn’t exactly something new at Stafford. Rookie drivers have gone on to win the championship three times: Michael Gervais, Jr. in 2009, Matt Galko in 2010, and Jeremy Sorel in 2014 all won SK Light championships as rookie drivers. Narducci is looking to follow in their footsteps and he has a good game plan in place to do just that.
“I’ve been looking at the points every once in a while and I think we’re 18 ahead going into this Friday,” said Narducci. “I know I’m battling with Marcello [Rufrano] so if I notice he’s having a bad night, I don’t really push the car as hard as I can and I don’t try to make any stupid moves knowing I can have a good points night. If we both have good cars, I’m going to go for the win. I go for wins every race but sometimes the car doesn’t allow for that and you have to be happy with whatever you can gain in points. We want to win every race but if the car will only allow for a third place finish, I’ll take that and chalk it up to a good points night. We’d love to keep our top-5 string going because that’s what helped Cory DiMatteo win the championship last year. He was in the top-5 for I think it was the final 6 or 7 races last year and if we can do that this year, I think we’ll have a pretty good shot at the championship.”
As well as having a good car to go along with his talent behind the wheel, Narducci has great support from his team as well as his sponsors.
“Definitely Todd Owen, Butch Shea, and all the guys at the shop do a great job helping me get the car ready to get to the track and then at the track,” said Narducci. “We’ve changed 2 transmissions at the track this year, once when I went out for practice and didn’t know it was broke and the second time it broke during practice. The work that the guys do not only on my car but on 4 cars or more during the week at the shop is very impressive and I can’t thank everyone enough for all their help. To not have a finish worse than 4th in the races that we’ve actually finished, is pretty impressive because consistency is what wins championships and that’s the main goal for us. Thanks to The Florida Connection, Curley’s Kids Care, Baldwin Automotive, Chris Our, Waddell Communications, R.A.D. Auto Machine for their support this season and hopefully we can keep the wheels on the car and we can keep on having fun in the second half of the season.”
Time will tell if Narducci can continue the success he has enjoyed in the first half of the 2018 season and become the fourth rookie driver to win an SK Light title at Stafford.