Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Coming off a season where he finished runner-up in the championship standings by the slimmest of margins, 2 points, Colchester native Bryan Narducci is looking to lay claim to the SK Light championship this season.
The Wild Thing Kart graduate and 2016 Sr. Outlaw champion will return to Stafford behind the wheel of the same #01 The Florida Connection Chevrolet that carried him to 5 wins during his rookie campaign in the SK Lights and with not much change, Narducci is confident that he will once again be among the title contender this season.
“We’re looking pretty good for 2019,” said Narducci. “We just got the car wrapped from Tom Abele and other than that we’re pretty much ready to go. We did a few updates on the car, it has a new body and the car will have a slightly different look from last season. Our goal is to win as many races as we can and run for the championship. After coming so close to the championship last year, we want to push even harder to try to win it this year and keep the car up front and make all our sponsors happy. Thanks to The Florida Connection with my Uncle Greg and Aunt Venetta, Curley’s Kids Care, Baldwin Automotive, Preece’s Auto, Robert B. Our Construction, Waddell Communications, Pioneer Valley Wheel Repair, EB Exterminating, Tom Froment for letting us borrow his truck to get the car to the track sometimes, and everyone in Todd’s shop that helps me out whenever I need help. It’s not that long until we’ll be racing again and it’s always good when the off-season goes by quickly.”
As an SK Light rookie last season, Narducci’s performance was nearly flawless. He scored a career high in the win column with 5, surpassing the 4 wins he had in the Limited Late Model division in 2017. Narducci also scored an incredible 13 top-4 finishes in the first 15 races of the season, but several finishes of 15th or worse in the final five races of the season erased the point lead he had built. He was eventually overtaken by Marcello Rufrano for the championship in the final race of the season. Narducci is looking to work on his restart skills as he prepares for the 2019 season.
“I don’t know that we can get the car much better than it was,” said Narducci. “Last year the car was pretty much perfect most nights thanks to Todd Owen and Butch Shea. If anything, I think it comes down to me as the driver. One thing that was a killer all season for me was restarts. I definitely need to get better on restarts and luckily I have a great transmission builder with my Uncle Jeff. When I was in the Limited Late Model I seemed to get good restarts but I don’t know if it’s because the tires have more grip with the SK Light or if I just mistimed some things, but I think I lost the championship last year because I missed a shift on the restart with 4 laps to go in the final race. I have to work on hitting the restarts every time this year.”
With Rufrano and Andrew Molleur, who won a combined 10 SK Light races between them last season, both moving up to the SK Modified® division this season, it may look like an easier path to winning races, but Narducci is quick to point out that the competition level in the SK Lights will be as high as ever this season.
“This year both Marcello Rufrano and Andrew Molleur are moving up to the SK Modifieds® and we were three of the guys that were always up front together last season,” said Narducci. “I think Alexander Pearl is going to be really fast this year, Mikey Flynn is going to be right there, Steven Chapman and Teddy Hodgdon will both be there, so even though Marcello and Andrew are moving up, there’s still going to be the same amount of fast cars every Friday night and the competition is going to be stiff again. It’s going to be tough to get wins this season but as long as we have a fast car that handles well every week and we can stay out of trouble, I hope we can at least match or be better than we were last season.”
With Narducci’s eyes set on contending for the championship again this season, he will be looking to replicate his performance from 2018 with consistent finishes towards the front of the field in the opening races to get a good start on his championship quest.
“You definitely want to get a top-5 finish at the Sizzler, if not a win,” said Narducci. “Last year we had 13 top-4 finishes in the first 15 races, so it’s important to get off to a good start and maintain that throughout the summer. We started off last season really fast and we were still fast when we got to the middle of the year but it was a lot tougher to hit the setup just right for the feature when it got dark out and the track cooled down during the summer. A good start to the season will help propel you to get better and better while a bad start will leave you trying to dig out of a hole.”
Narducci has had a busy off-season in keeping himself sharp for the upcoming SK Light season. Narducci tested an ARCA car at Daytona and ran the indoor TQ Midget event in Atlantic City at the end of January. Narducci also spends plenty of time logging virtual laps at Stafford through iRacing.
“I went to Atlantic City and had a chance to run a TQ Midget,” said Narducci. “We didn’t make the main race, but it was a great experience that helped keep me sharp during the winter and I also had the chance to test an ARCA car for Chris Our. I’ve also been playing a lot of iRacing with Mike Christopher, Jr. and that also helps keep me sharp for the upcoming season. I’m excited. Running the indoor race and going to Daytona helped keep me on my toes and it gave me a big itch to get back to racing at Stafford. I can’t wait for the end of April to bring our beautiful #01 car out on the track.