Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – With 2020 being a year full of unpredictable and unusual circumstances, the race for the SK Light track championship at Stafford Speedway fits perfectly into the unpredictable and unusual narrative.
Brian Sullivan and the #11 Vasseur Landscaping team opened the season with a strong start, winning a race and posting top-6 finishes in each of the first 5 races of the season.
Following that 5-race stretch, Sullivan missed not one but the next two races on the schedule, which dropped him from the point lead to 5th in the standings, 90 points behind the leader with only 7 races left.
That fact didn’t deter Sullivan or the #11 team as they continued to notch strong consistent finishes in the top-5 while the drivers in front of him in the standings all encountered issues that allowed Sullivan to turn his 90 point deficit into a 40 point lead heading into the NAPA Auto Parts Championship Night event.
A conservative 10th place effort in that final race saw Sullivan and his team crowned as the 2020 SK Light champions.
“Missing two races I thought we’d battle back to maybe finish somewhere in the top-5 in points but I never thought we’d be battling for a championship,” said Sullivan. “We know we had a good team and we had a fast car so we were going to battle to the end but we never expected to make up for missing 2 races. Winning the championship means a lot. I’ve been going to Stafford since I was a kid sitting in the stands on Friday nights. To go from a kid in the stands to winning my first race at Stafford and to win a championship at what I think is the premier track in New England, if not the entire country, it feels really good to be on the list of feature winners and track champions. I have to thank all my sponsors Monaco Ford, Glastonbury Oil Co., Competitive Edge Coatings, Sullivan Landscaping, Vasseur Landscaping, Ceric Fabrication, R.A.D. Auto Machine, Buzzy Transmissions, Waddell Communications, the whole Chapman family and crew, and my crew guys my Dad, Mark, Kim, Ted, Glen, and Dave and Mike Monaco.”
Adding to the unpredictable and unusual nature of Sullivan’s 2020 season was the fact that prior to the start of the 2020 season, Sullivan wasn’t planning on running the full schedule of events. With the Covid-19 pandemic leading to a condensed schedule for the 2020 season, Sullivan and his car owner Rich Vasseur decided to run the full schedule and see where they ended up at season’s end.
“For us, this season was a matter of running the first part of the year and seeing how things went,” said Sullivan. “Even though we ended up with 14 races, I was figuring on a 10 or 12 race schedule with the shortened season and we could really go for it. The season went very well for us. We raced all year and kept the wheels on the car and we only had to change 3 bumpers during the season. I wish we had a few more wins with our expectation level to win races but the championship fell into our hands because we ran well every week.”
Despite missing 2 races, Sullivan and the #11 team were the most consistent SK Light team at Stafford in 2020 with an average finish of 4.0. While he only had 1 win this season, Sullivan led all SK Light drivers with 10 top-5 and 12 top-10 finishes. Sullivan points to his years of experience working both as a crew chief and a spotter as some of the key reasons why he was able to be consistently good every Friday night during the 2020 season.
“I definitely feel like being a crew chief is an advantage,” said Sullivan. “I’m looking for a certain feel in the car and making the right decisions, so it’s an advantage to be a crew chief and driver. Also I’ve been a spotter for years and that really helps as far as getting through accidents or squaring the car up if someone wrecks in front of you. You also have to be alert and aware of which cars are around you and make smart decisions on the track. A lot of drivers have smart people helping them out but it’s an advantage to know what I want in the car and knowing week to week that I’m coming to the track with a stout car.”
Now that Sullivan has both his first career feature win and championship at Stafford, he is looking to return to the track in 2021 to defend his title.
“I think for next season we’re going to try to come back and defend our championship,” said Sullivan. “We’re not looking to move up. I’ve been down that road before and I know what an SK costs and you also have to have pit crew guys and you’ve got to have everything, so that’s a big step up.