Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – The 2019 season marks Matt Clement’s fifth full season of competition in the Limited Late Model division and coming into this year, he had yet to win a race.
With 5 races left in the 2019 season, Clement and the #59 Aquatic Wildlife / Elmo’s Dockside Restaurant team lead all drivers with 6 wins and they also lead the points standings by a slim 6-point margin over defending champion Jeremy Lavoie.
“At the start of the season my goal was to be consistent and try to give Jeremy [Lavoie] and Duane [Provost] a run for their money to put on a show for the fans,” said Clement. We got our first win and I didn’t really celebrate in victory lane because we had the win taken away from us last year. We were loading the car into the trailer when we got the ok that we were good and that’s when it really hit me that we found something. It’s funny, we finished fourth last week and I was disappointed with that. Now I’m expecting to be fast and at least have a shot at winning each week where last year our goal was to just finish races with the car in one piece.”
Clement won the NAPA Spring Sizzler® feature for his first career win on May 11 and he followed that up with his second win two weeks later. Even though Clement and the #59 team were enjoying their newfound success, they weren’t thinking about being a championship contender until Lavoie said something over the track P.A. system after one of his early season wins.
“There was a race earlier this season when Jeremy won and he said over the P.A. that the 59 is chasing us and that’s when it really hit home for me that we might have a shot,” said Clement. “We’re taking things one race at a time right now and trying to not make any bonehead moves and keep the wheels on the car.”
With Clement and the #59 team holding a 6-point lead over Lavoie in the standings with 5 races to go, Clement plans to continue on doing what he’s been doing all season long while also being smart on the track.
“We’ve been pretty aggressive at the start of the races this season,” said Clement. “A lot of it comes down to your starting position and how aggressive you’re willing to be in the first couple laps of the race. We’re not going to drive through anyone but we’re also not going to let anyone drive through us. We want to keep it as clean as we can and put on a show for the fans while still having a chance to win races.”
The 2019 season has been a remarkable turnaround for Clement as there were several times where he thought about giving up on racing with the struggles he endured throughout his first several seasons at Stafford.
“There were many a night where I’d be leaving the racetrack wondering if we were ever going to be a competitive car, let alone winning races,” said Clement. “There were even a few times where I thought about hanging it up because I didn’t think I had it. It feels great to finally be able to give something back to my Dad, my girlfriend, and my brother for all their hard work on the car as we’ve been stacking the trophies on the wall at home.”
More than anything Clement wants to become the newest track champion in the Limited Late Model division, but he also wouldn’t be too disappointed if he came up short at season’s end.
“I’d like to say we’d be ok with not winning the championship, but we’re out here to win and we’re playing for keeps,” said Clement. “It would probably take me a couple weeks to get over it, but with 6 wins so far this season, I can’t really complain. My Dad is always telling me to be thankful for what you have at the moment and take things from there. If we were able to win the championship, it would be unbelievable to be added to list of great drivers who have won championships at Stafford. Especially from the low point we came from the last couple years. My Dad drove Strictly Stocks, Pro-4 Modifieds, Limited Late Models, and he was never really able to find success because he was focused on raising me and my siblings. If we could possibly add the big trophy on the wall at the end of the year, it would mean the world to us and my sponsors Aquatic Wildlife, Elmo’s Dockside Restaurant, Wayne’s Auto Body, DMW Graphics, and Short Track Baker.”
Clement will continue his quest for the championship this Friday night, August 23 as part of the Back 2 SK®ool Blitz / Maybury Night program. Stafford’s five weekly divisions will all be in feature action as well as Kid’s Big Wheel races. There will also be bounce houses and all kids win a prize at the midway kids tent. All kids 14 & under are admitted free when accompanied by a paying adult for the Back 2 SK®ool Blitz program while Adult General Admission Tickets are $20 and Reserved Seating is $23 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self-contained Recreational Vehicles.
2020 Stafford Speedway Late Model Rules Released
Stafford Speedway officials have released the 2020 rules for its premier full fendered Late Model division. For the 2020 season, the Late Model rules will remain unchanged from the 2019 season.
Stafford’s Late Model division currently sees Tom Fearn with a commanding 112 point lead in the championship standings and ready to claim his 3rd Late Model track title and his 6th overall at Stafford. Fearn leads all drivers with 7 wins this season but there have been 7 different Late Model feature winners this season. Michael Wray, Kevin Gambacorta and Al Saunders have each won twice while Cliff Saunders, Adam Gray, and Ryan Fearn each have a single win to their credit. Paul Arute, Michael Bennett, and Darrell Keane, who have all won races in previous seasons, are still in search of their first win this season.
Teams are encouraged to contact the track via phone, email, or social media with any questions relating to rules or track procedures.