Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Over the past several seasons, Tom Fearn has become synonymous with winning Late Model races and championships at Stafford Speedway.
The East Longmeadow, MA native and driver of the #92 King Ward Coach Lines Chevrolet entered the 2019 season with 22 wins and 2 championships from 2016-2018 and added another 8 wins to those totals with a dominant 2019 season that saw him clinch a second consecutive championship and third Late Model championship in the last 4 years.
“The competition level has risen every year and we just have to try to stay on top of our game,” said Fearn. “We’re enjoying what we’re doing right now and team morale is great. It’s nice to be able to give something back to all the guys on the crew who take a lot of time away from home and other things to be able to work on the car and be at the track during the week. This championship isn’t just for me, it’s for all of them as well. The last few years we’ve been real consistent and we’ve tried to finish every lap. I have a great car and crew behind me with great sponsors supporting us like King Ward Coach Lines, SAFCO Foam, Sun Valley Fire Equipment, Whips Sporting Goods, JR Sweeping, Hamm’s Chassis, R.A.D. Auto Machine, John Williams, Buzzy does our drivetrain, and the track sponsors NAPA, Sunoco, iRacing. We have something that is working for us right now and our plan is to keep on going with that. I guess I’ll continue to keep on doing this until I can’t do it anymore.”
Fearn and the #92 team took control of the Late Model point lead after the second race of the 2019 season and maintained that lead all the way through the end of the season. Fearn’s point lead was so large that a rainout on the night of September 7 enabled Fearn to clinch the championship with 2 races still left to run.
“We strived to complete every lap this year and be consistently on the podium every week,” said Fearn. “We kind of distanced ourselves from the field in the points race and it’s a good feeling to have a decent point lead where you can always try things and at that point, if they don’t work out then it’s no big deal. With Ryan [Fearn] also driving in the Late Model division this year, we were able to try some things that if it didn’t work for me it might work for Ryan and vice versa. Our car setups are almost identical but we both do some different things and it’s always better when you have 2 notebooks to work off of rather than just one.”
Although Fearn ended up winning 8 times and recorded 17 top-5 and 19 top-10 finishes in 20 starts this season, the year got off to somewhat of a slow start by Fearn’s standards. It took Fearn and the #92 team until the fifth race to record their first win. Once they won that first race, they enjoyed an 8-race stretch where they finished 1st or 2nd in every race. Following his first win of the season on May 31st, Fearn’s point lead was 28 points and by the end of his 8 race top-2 streak, his point lead was up to 96 points or nearly 2 full races with wins worth 50 points each.
“We came to the track with what we ran last year and we had to tune on that a little,” said Fearn. “Every week we’d get a little better and once we got something that worked we stuck with it. Kevin [Gambacorta] was definitely the fastest car at the beginning of the year and we were starting to wonder what he was doing that we weren’t doing while we were chasing after him those first couple of races. Now I know how the other drivers feel when they’re trying to chase us down on the track. I had to lean on some of my experience by going back years and years ago to when we ran a treaded tire in the Late Model division to figure out what we ran then and base my setup decisions off of that. We tried a few things and it ended up working out pretty good.”
With 2 consecutive championships in their pocket, Fearn and the #92 team will look to join Phil Rondeau (‘87-’89) and Ryan Posocco (’03-’05) as the only drivers to win three consecutive Late Model track championships at Stafford. Fearn and his team will also have their eyes set on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division 2 National Championship after finishing third this season.
“I feel like we’re in a pretty good position to do it with our team and our equipment,” said Fearn. “It gets harder and harder every year to win but we continue to work harder each season as well. We started to look at the national points this season and we ended up third. The year before we won 12 races and we ended up somewhere around 25th in the national standings. That would be something else for us to shoot for next season and see if we can be in the hunt for a national championship.”
Fearn will officially be crowned the 2019 Late Model Champion at the 50th Annual Stafford Speedway Champion’s Awards Banquet, scheduled for Friday, November 15 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor. Tickets to the awards banquet are $50 and are on sale now. Tickets can be ordered by calling the track at 860-684-2783 or they can be ordered online at www.staffordspeedway.com.