Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – The race for Stafford Speedway’s 2019 SK Light championship will come down to three drivers, all graduates and former champions in the Wild Thing Kart Series, which races at Stafford on Monday nights.
Through 18 races, rookie driver Steven Chapman, the 2014 Tiger A and 2016 Jr. Outlaw champion, leads Teddy Hodgdon, the 2011 Tiger A champion, by 4 points with Alexander Pearl, the 2014 Jr. Outlaw champion, 20 points behind in third place. In addition to Chapman, Hodgdon, and Pearl, Bryan Narducci the 2016 Sr. Outlaw Champion is fourth with Wesley Prucker rounding out the top 5. Rookie driver, Jonathan Puleo sits in the 6th position making 5 former Wild Thing Kart drivers in the top-6 of the points standings.
“It’s really cool that guys like myself, Teddy, Alexander, Bryan, JP, and Mikey Flynn, have all come from karts and it shows how great of an organization that Wade Gagner has with Wild Thing Karts,” said Chapman.
“It shows how good the Wild Thing Karts program is and if you have the right people behind you and the right talent, you can go far in this sport,” said Hodgdon. “It really shows right now with five of the top-6 guys in points all being Wild Thing Kart graduates. It’s pretty cool that the guys I grew up racing with has culminated with us now all racing for the SK light championship.”
“We’ve all been racing against each other since we were young,” said Pearl. “It shows that the kart program helps prepare drivers to transfer over to the big track at Stafford. It’s pretty awesome.”
Chapman has yet to post a victory during his rookie campaign, but he his #14 Chapman Apartment Homes car has finished all but 1 race this season in the top-10. The SK Light championship was won in 2008 by Joe Allegro, Jr. and in 2009 by Michael Gervais, Jr. without winning a race but Chapman would like to capture his first SK Light victory as well as the championship.
“It’s amazing that we’re doing as well as we have this season,” said Chapman. “We still haven’t gotten the win that we want yet but we’re putting new tires on the car this week so hopefully we can get a win to help us pull away from those guys in the championship race. This year has been amazing, I would have never thought that we would be in the hunt for a championship this season. The rainout helped us a little bit because that’s one less race where something could go wrong. We’d like to be a little more out in front than we are right now but we’re focused on finishing in front of Teddy and Alexander in these last 2 races and winning the championship.”
Hodgdon and the #55 Montanari Fuel team got out front in the points standings early in the season and have been the pacesetters for the majority of the year. Several finishes outside the top-10 eliminated Hodgdon’s comfortable cushion that he enjoyed earlier in the year but he is focused on putting his #55 car back at the top of the standings.
“It’s been really great to be in a position to fight for a championship every week this season,” said Hodgdon. “I have a great group of guys behind me who bring their best effort every week to make sure this car can succeed. We’re taking it race by race right now and trying to get the best possible finishes we can in the last 2 races and whatever happens happens. Halfway through the season we had a pretty big gap and since then we’ve had some unfortunate incidents that mostly weren’t our fault, but that’s how racing plays out sometimes. We have 2 races left and as long as we can come out on top, we’ll be happy.”
Pearl and the #7 Darling Auto Parts team scored 2 wins in the first 6 races of the season to establish themselves as a championship contender. Pearl also had 2 finishes of 20th or worse in those first 6 races of the season and he has slowly been climbing his way out of the hole those finishes left him in. Pearl has to make up 20 points or 10 more positions on the track to catch Chapman.
“This year has been a big improvement from last year, so that’s been good,” said Pearl. “We got a couple wins early in the season but we’ve had a couple bad finishes which put us behind. We’ve been finishing up front and trying to finish in front of the two guys in front of us so we’ll see how the last 2 races go. We’re going to have the same mentality for the last 2 races that we’ve had all year long, which is to try to win them both. 20 points is only 10 spots on the track and with how competitive the SK Light division is that deficit can be made up at any time.”
The race for the SK Light championship continues this Friday, September 13 as part of First Responder Night at Stafford. All first responders with proper I.D. will get a general admission ticket for only $10. Regular tickets are priced at $20 for Adult General Admission, $5 for kids 6-14 and kids 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is $23 for all ages.
Tight Duel For Stafford Limited Late Model Crown
With only 2 races left in the 2019 season, the race for the Limited Late Model title at Stafford Speedway will come down to the #6 L & S Equipment team of Jeremy Lavoie and the #59 Aquatic Wildlife / Elmo’s Dockside Restaurant team of Matt Clement. There could not be a more stark contrast between two drivers fighting for the championship than Lavoie and Clement. Lavoie is the defending track champion in the Limited Late Model division while Clement had never won a race before this season or finished in the top-5 of the standings.
Both Lavoie and Clement came out of the gate strong, combining to win 4 of the first 5 Limited Late Model races this season to establish themselves as championship contenders. The two drivers have taken turns swapping the point lead back and forth between themselves this season and Clement currently leads Lavoie with 6 wins to 4 heading into the final 2 races of the season. Although Lavoie has 2 fewer wins than Clement, he leads Clement by 4 points in the race for the championship.
“We’ve both had great years with Matt taking 6 wins and we have 4,” said Lavoie. “We’ve been real close to each other all year long and every position on the track counts and that’s really showed this season. We’re 4 points ahead right now and our plan is to keep our nose clean and to finish in front of Matt these last 2 races. Our focus is to still try to win these last 2 races but ultimately the only car I’m racing for points is Matt so we’re going to try to play both cards by finishing in front of Matt as well as winning the last 2 races. I’d love to win the Fall Final, that’s always a bigger trophy and it would be a great way to end the year on a high note.”
“This season has been kind of unbelievable for us,” said Clement. “I was actually just watching a video of our first win this season back at the Sizzler and it still gives me goose bumps watching it. I’ve probably watched all of our other wins this season at least a 100 times each on YouTube trying to pick apart what I could do better and maybe see where we can pick up a little speed on Jeremy. We’re all excited to be in the position that we’re in right now and we’re going to do the best we can the last 2 races. The plan is to be aggressive at the start of the races and be out there in front at the end. It’s going to be tough because Jeremy is probably the best or 2nd best driver in the division and he’s very consistent. We’re going out to win these last 2 races and have a take no prisoners attitude. I think we’re the underdog right now and I’ve been joking with my Dad that we work better under pressure. We’re excited to be in this position only 4 points behind and we’re going to try to go out and win two more trophies this season.”
The race for the Limited Late Model championship continues this Friday, September 13 as part of First Responder Night at Stafford. All first responders with proper I.D. will get a general admission ticket for only $10. Regular tickets are priced at $20 for Adult General Admission, $5 for kids 6-14 and kids 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is $23 for all ages.
The SK Light & Limited Late Model champion will be determined at the season ending NAPA Fall Final on September 28-29. Tickets for the NAPA Auto Parts Fall Final Weekend are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $10.00 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 $45.00 for all ages. All NAPA Fall Final tickets are good for admission on both Saturday and Sunday. Discount tickets for the NAPA Fall Final Weekend are available at your local participating NAPA Auto Parts Store. The NAPA tickets include general admission for both days along with a lunch buffet on Sunday, all for only $38 per person. For a list of participating NAPA Stores, please click the PARTICIPATING NAPA STORES link found at the top of the www.staffordspeedway.com homepage. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.