Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – When the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes the green flag in the Starrett 150 at Stafford Speedway this Friday, August 3rd, Chase Dowling, driver of the #15 15-40 Connection Chevrolet, will be looking to take advantage of his home track knowledge as he seeks his first career NWMT victory.
Dowling and the #15 team nearly put themselves in the record books as NWMT race winners at Stafford back in April as he finished second in the NAPA Spring Sizzler after setting a new track record in qualifying. With the Whelen Modified Tour returning to Stafford where Dowling has 13 career wins in the SK Modified® and SK Light divisions, he is hoping to end his winless drought.
“I think this is the third time I’ve done an interview about winning my first race at Stafford so hopefully the third time will be the charm,” said Dowling. “Finishing second has been really frustrating. There’s been a couple races we could have won but we didn’t. I’m hungry and the team is hungry to win so it gives me a little extra determination to go out and win. We’re close and we’re bringing fast race cars to the track, we just need to execute. Winning at Stafford would be special because it’s my home track and having all my family and friends there would be a big thing.”
Over three plus seasons of SK Modified® and SK Light competition at Stafford, Dowling has shown a mastery of the Connecticut half-mile facility. As a 15-year old SK Light rookie in 2013, Dowling won his very first start and he went on to win 7 races that season. As an SK Modified® rookie in 2014, Dowling won in only his fourth start and he won 4 more times in 2017 in addition to another win this season. The Starrett 150 will mark Dowling’s 50th career NWMT start and with 4 career second place finishes, he is anxious to break into the winner’s circle.
“We feel pretty good about the race,” said Dowling. “We’ve finished in the top-5 in our Stafford starts the last 2 seasons and we’re coming into the race with the same mindset to run up front, lead laps, and be there at the end. Obviously I have a lot more seat time at Stafford than the other tracks we go to and I’m most comfortable at Stafford. It’s a lot easier when we come to Stafford to make adjustments to the car after we unload knowing what the track is going to do from day to night. We know we can have a fast car and a good run at Stafford, we just have to avoid any mechanical failures or any kind of mistakes. If we can avoid mistakes, we should be there at the end of the race.”
One variable that could determine who takes the Starrett 150 winner’s trophy home is pit strategy. NWMT teams are only allowed to change one tire per pit stop and Dowling feels like he could have won the NAPA Spring Sizzler if not for the alternate pit strategy that Ryan Preece utilized. Preece took his new tires with 48 laps to go after all the leaders had already pitted and he took the lead from Dowling with 29 laps to go and never looked back.
“With the pit strategy, it’s going to come down to when do you pit for tires,” said Dowling. “Looking back at the Spring Sizzler, we had a really good race, we just got beat on pit strategy. We had the lead towards the end of the race but we got beat by a car with fresh tires and finished second. There’s going to be some pit strategy coming into play again with the tire rule and it’s going to be an exciting race for sure. Maybe this time we’ll be the car to pit late and have the freshest tires for the end of the race.”
Tickets for the August 3 Starrett 150 are available and on sale now at the Stafford Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $35.00 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 seat tickets are $37.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self-contained Recreational Vehicles. Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will join the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour cars in feature action.