Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Now in his fourth full season of SK Modified® competition at Stafford Speedway, Waterbury native Joey Cipriano is still in search of his first SK Modified® victory.
Cipriano won in only his fourth career start in Stafford’s SK Lights back in 2010 and he then racked up 6 SK Light wins in 2011. Cipriano has come close on several occasions to scoring his first win during his career in the SK Modified® division with 4 second place finishes and 4 third place finishes. Cipriano is hoping that the June 29 NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K could be the time and place for his first victory in the SK Modified® division.
“I’m excited for the NAPA SK 5k,” said Cipriano. “The car has been good all year long and it’s been consistent throughout a run, which we’ve never really had before. The car is as good on lap-40 as it is on lap-1 so as far as the longevity of the race we’re going to be pretty good. The 5k is the biggest race of the year and that’s the race where everybody brings their A-game to win that race. It’s going to be tough just like it is every Friday to win but we’re going to approach it like we do every week and try to get our first win. At this point, I just really want to get a win. We’ve worked so hard to get a win in the SK Modified® division. We’ve been really close, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve finished second. We’ve been close enough to taste it, we just haven’t got there yet. If the 5k is our first win, great, if not, then I’d love for it to come a week earlier.”
Cipriano’s most recent brush with NAPA Victory Lane came earlier this season on May 18th when he finished second behind Keith Rocco. While that second place effort stands as his lone top-5 finish this year, Cipriano knows that a good run in the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K can give his #78 J.G. Poulin Drywall team the needed boost for the remaining races.
“This year has not been the best but not the worst either,” said Cipriano. “We’ve had a lot of bad luck between blowing a tire or getting spun and not being able to get back through the field, or we were running second with 4 laps to go and we got caught up in someone else’s mess. We’ve had really good runs every week but we just haven’t been able to put a whole race together. The one race we’ve had this season where everything went smooth for us we finished second. It’s been one of those years once we get all the bad circumstances out of the way, we’ll be great. That’s been the story of our year so far. A good run in the 5k can turn your season around, especially if you win. Racing is a momentum sport and a good finish can take a year like we’re having and all of a sudden turn it into a year where we string off 10 top-5 finishes in a row.”
Should Cipriano and the #78 team win the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, they will go home with a large payday. The NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K has over $30,000 in total posted awards up for grabs and Cipriano is hoping to take home the winner’s check of $5,000, and also the Dunleavy’s Gamblers Challenge bonus.
“It’s a really cool deal allowing us to put money into a pot with Doug Dunleavy matching,” said Cipriano. “Doug has been phenomenal for SK Modified® division and all of modified racing. Hopefully if we win the race we can pick the winner take all option.”
As Cipriano and the #78 team prepare for the 100-lap NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K, Cipriano can look back at his two starts in the VMRS 80 and Twisted Tea Open Mod 80 at Stafford this season to help build up his experience in longer distance races at Stafford and what to expect from his car.
“We’ve run some longer races this year with the MRS and the Open Mod 80 races at Stafford and those have been good for me to get a little more experience in a longer race,” said Cipriano. “The NAPA SK 5k is 2 and a half times longer than our usual 40 lap races and there’s a deep field with good equipment so it’s going to be a good race for sure. It’ll be fun and I think the guys who run good every week are going to be the guys who are in contention. We’ll give it our best and hopefully we’ll be the ones that come home with the win. I have a lot of great support behind me and I’d like to thank AVI International, J.G. Poulin Drywall, Green Construction Management, Prospect Street Automotive, Janetty Racing Enterprises, Neimad Design, Waddell Communications, Team Full Throttle Battery, Pettit Racing Engines, Tom and Sandy Welch, and Andy and Louise Brockway.”
The 5th annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K is set for Friday, June 29. With $5,000 guaranteed to win and over $30,000 in posted awards, the 100-lap big money race will be an event not to miss. Discount tickets for the NAPA SK 5k are available at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores. For a full list of the 72 participating locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, please call the speedway office or visit us on the web at www.staffordmotorspeedway.com/participating-napa-auto-parts-stores. Tickets for the NAPA SK 5K are available and on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $30.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for kids ages 6-14, and kids 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $32.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Speedway offers free parking with free overnight parking for self-contained RV’s available. There will also be a barbeque taking place on the midway with some great food available to race fans for only $10.