Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Heading into the final 2 races of the 2019 SK Modified® season at Stafford Speedway, defending track champion Ronnie Williams holds an 8-point lead over Todd Owen, a 14 point lead over Keith Rocco and a 34 point lead over Michael Gervais, Jr.
The tight points race is reminiscent of the 2017 and 2015 seasons. In 2017 Keith Rocco came from 20 points back over the final 2 races to claim the title over Chase Dowling while in 2015 Rowan Pennink outlasted current NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series driver Ryan Preece in a tight race for the title.
The 2019 season kicked off with Rocco winning the first race of 2019 but a DNF and a 25th place finish in the second race of the year left Rocco in hole that he is still trying to dig out of. Gervais took over the points lead after that second race and he held the lead until June 21 when Owen took over the point lead. Owen led the points from June 21 through August 9, when a first lap wreck combined with a Williams win, erased Owen’s 42 point advantage and left the two drivers tied for the lead in the standings. Williams and Rocco have each won twice in the four SK Modified® races since August 9th, setting up a 2-race sprint to the finish line to see who will become the 2019 SK Modified® champion.
“We started off kind of slow and it was right around the midpoint of the season that we got back into our groove and we’ve been real consistent and got some wins,” said Williams, the driver of the #50 Les’s Auto Center Ford. “I always knew if we could be consistent and get some wins that we’d at least be in the hunt for another championship. I think we’re in a good spot right now and of course last year was better since we had a 66-point lead. It should be a nice tight battle with Keith [Rocco] and [Todd] Owen. We’re not going to change anything or go into the last 2 races with a different mindset than we’ve done all season long. We have to compete and the rest will take care of itself. Anything can happen in these last 2 races. It’s great to be in front like we are now but we all know that just one mistake could cost us the championship and it’s the same for the other guys.”
“I’m going do what I’ve been doing all year long and try to win the last two races and hope for the best,” said Owen, driver of the #81 Cooker Construction Chevrolet. “No matter the outcome, we’ve had an awesome year. It’s pretty crazy that top-3 in the SK Modified® points standings are all in the top-10 in the national points, so we’re all having awesome seasons.”
“DNF’s have killed us this year,” said Rocco, driver of the #88 Wheelers Auto Chevrolet. “We won the first race and then in the second race we got caught up in a wreck and were one of the first cars out of the race that night. We’ve been playing catch-up all year long and the last time we got close to the lead we ended up in a wreck again, so it’s been that kind of year. We have a fast car and we’re looking to win the last couple races. The thing we have going for us is that we have nothing to lose and the other guys do. There’s nothing left on the table, it’s all going to be hanging out these last 2 races.”
The dark horse in the SK Modified® championship race would be Gervais. The driver of the #33 Gervais Brothers Roofing Chevrolet won the 2009 SK Light championship at Stafford without winning a race that season and although he is 34 points or 17 positions on the track behind the leader that deficit can be erased in one night.
“Our plan is to try to finish up front these last 2 races,” said Gervais. “We’ve had a really good car the last couple of weeks so we want to continue what we’ve been doing. We started off the year really good with a couple of second place finishes and were sitting up front for a while, but some of the other guys were just a little bit better than we were and that’s how the lead slipped away from us. We’ve been able to stay right there with those guys all season so it’s been an awesome year for sure. I’ve never won a Spring Sizzler or Fall Final race so I’d love to win the Fall Final this season but we’d definitely take a win this Friday night as well. We know we can win a championship without winning a race and anything can happen in these last 2 races. Either way we’re all very happy with what we’ve accomplished this season.”
The race for the SK Modified® championship resumes 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 Modified® 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.