Improbable Circumstances Lead To Tight SK Light Mod Championship Race At Stafford

Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Year 2020 has been full of improbable circumstances and the race for the Stafford SK Light championship fits perfectly into that narrative.

The 2020 season began with Brian Sullivan and the #11 Vasseur Landscaping team jumping out to an early season lead and looking like the team to beat. Then Sullivan missed 2 races and Alexander Pearl and the #7 Darling Auto Parts team became the team to beat.

After winning the August 21 SK Light feature event for his second win of the season, which was the halfway point of the 2020 season, Pearl held a 72 point lead over Jonathan Puleo with Sullivan sitting fifth in the standings, 90 points behind. Pearl recorded three consecutive DNF’s from August 28 through September 11 which allowed Sullivan to overtake Pearl in the standings. Pearl has since rebounded from his misfortune nicely by winning the last 2 SK Light features but enters this Friday night’s NASCAR Weekly Racing program presented by All Phases Renovations trailing Sullivan by 8 points.

“At the beginning of the season my plan wasn’t to run for points,” said Sullivan. “My plan was to run maybe the first 5 races and then concentrate more on my crew chief duties for Steven and Tyler Chapman. One of my best friends was getting married so I missed one race for the wedding and the week before was the bachelor party so since I wasn’t running for points, I figured I’d skip both races. I never expected to be in the point battle but here we are now leading the points. I think we fell as far down as fifth in the standings but Alex Pearl had 3 DNF’s in a row and some other guys had some bad luck and we found ourselves right back at the top of the standings.”

“It’s been a crazy season for sure,” said Pearl. “It’s 2020 so our season goes right along with it. We were good at the beginning of the year and we’ve been fast and then those 3 races happened. We had a big points lead but that’s racing. It’s nice to be able to come back and win the next 2 races in a row after our 3 DNF’s. Those 3 races were really frustrating. Week after week we had to keep taking the car apart and rebuilding things and spending money. I’m very grateful for everyone we have on our team and I’m very thankful we’ve been able to get 2 more wins. It shows that we can put the car back together and still be fast.”

With both Pearl and Sullivan experiencing ups and downs during their run through the 2020 season, both drivers say the key to the final 2 races of the season will be to keep on doing what has got them to this point.

“We’ve had a good season, we’ve been in the top-5 in every race except for one and we start around 15th every week due to the handicapping,” said Sullivan. “Our main thing has been to have fun racing and try to win as many races as we can. We won’t approach anything differently because we haven’t been racing for points all season long. Some of my friends throughout the season have been asking me if I’m points racing and I tell them that the finish is all the car had that week. We’re still putting forth 110% going for wins in the last 2 races and if the championship happens then it happens. If we can win the last 2 races then we’ll be the champion so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

“I just have to keep on doing my thing,” said Pearl. “There’s still 2 races to go and a lot can happen in 2 races. We had a 72 point lead and then after 3 races it was gone. Being up there in the points chase last season gives me a little experience to lean on and hopefully we can finish this season on top. The track has changed since the start of the year so we have to stay on top of things but the baseline setup we go with will be mostly the same. I feel like we run better in the cooler weather so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.

While Sullivan and Pearl are the two main protagonists in the race for the championship, Derek Debbis, George Bessette, Jr., and Jonathan Puleo are all still mathematically eligible to win the championship but each driver is facing a deficit of almost 50 points, which is how many points are awarded for a race win.

The race for the SK Light championship continues this Friday, October 2nd with a Stafford Weekly Racing program Presented by All Phases Renovations. Tickets for this race are on sale now through the Stafford Speedway website with adult general admission priced at $20.00, $5.00 for kids ages 6-14, kids 5 and under are admitted free. Paddock passes are priced at $40.00. The 2020 points race will conclude next Friday, October 9 with NAPA Auto Parts Championship Night.

All Phases Renovations Presenting October 2nd NASCAR Weekly Racing at Stafford

All Phases Renovations of Southeastern Massachusetts joined the Stafford Speedway family of sponsors in 2020 by supporting the track’s Friday night iRacing events as well as selected contingency bonuses for Open Modified events. All Phases Renovations will continue their sponsorship of Stafford events in 2020 by presenting the October 2 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series program.

“I’ve been around racing all my life so it’s in my blood and now that I’m a little older and have a few extra dollars, I don’t mind helping people out to help them keep on racing,” said Larry Westgate, owner of All Phases Renovations. “It makes me feel good to be able to help others. No matter if you have all the money in the world or if you’re on a shoestring budget, every few extra bucks helps out.”

Westgate is a former racecar driver himself, racing at Seekonk and Thompson before calling quits on his driving career after racing Super Late Models in Florida. Being a former driver himself gives Westgate a great appreciation for the benefits a sponsor can offer.

“I raced when I was a kid so I know how good it feels whenever someone comes up to you and asks can I put my name on your car,” said Westgate. “I started racing at Seekonk in Street Stocks, I ran Late Model Sportsman at Thompson, and then I ran a Super Late Model in Florida before I got away from racing and started a family. I own a Tri-Track modified car and I’m a sponsor of a Late Model car driven by Travis Jurcik so whether it’s $50, $100, or $500, it makes you feel good to know someone wants to help you out and I enjoy helping guys out. Every extra bit of cash can help a guy buy a tire or fuel for the night.”

Westgate and All Phases Renovations first came on board with Stafford back in March when the track was hosting iRacing sessions while the track was shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Westgate and All Phases put up a $250 bonus with the winner taking $150, second place $75, and third place $25. With 10 races, All Phases paid out $2,500 to top-3 finishers in Stafford’s iRacing events.

“Sponsoring the iRacing was fun because it gave us all something to look forward to when we were all doing nothing,” said Westgate. “I appreciate everything Stafford has done for me and we really enjoy what we do. I like sponsoring third place in the Open Modified races at Stafford because I’ve always had the number 3.”

All Phases Renovations, located at 43 Water Street in Assonet, Massachusetts, are your hardscape and carpentry specialists with projects ranging from patios, to outdoor bars and kitchens, to pool renovations. All Phases can tailor your outdoor construction needs. All Phases Renovations can be contacted by phone at 508-332-6316 or by email at allphasesrenovation@gmail.com. For more information and to check out some of their work visit their Facebook Page.

“We do a lot of backyard renovations like pavilions, patios, outdoor fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, pool renovations and we also do new pool design, composite decks, and we’ve been at it for over 30 years.”

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