Column By: BRITTANY NUTILE / RPW – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Motor Speedway has been a NASCAR-sanctioned race track for over 60 years. Monday night, they made an announcement over social media saying that they will be leaving NASCAR weekly racing in 2021.
That means that Stafford will still be running every Friday night but, they will be independent. There will be no NASCAR point racing.
It’s a big shock to everyone who’s involved in racing because it wasn’t expected. Now, all three tracks in New England are non-NASCAR sanctioned and might be better for racing in general. It really wont change much in terms of drivers coming to the track, racing against each and winning races and championships.
The consensus of most of the drivers and crew members I spoke with was that they were shocked and surprised but, also happy that this change happened. They feel it will be better for the track.
Nick Fraulino, spotter for SK Modified driver Joey Ternullo, talked about how it’s a shame that this had to happen but, he believes that Stafford will still be the same. They are losing some branding but states Stafford will still produce some of the best short track racing around.
“I think things will run about the same as usual,” Fraulino said. “Mark Arute and his team have been doing this a long time and I don’t believe they need NASCAR to operate accordingly.”
His driver, Ternullo, also talked about his thoughts on the announcement.
“It doesn’t concern me too much,” Ternullo said. “I think racers are more concerned about having a chance to go to the track every week and do what we love, especially during this pandemic.”
Ternullo also talked about how no one can take away from winning a race and the feeling as well as positive energy that comes with it.
“Stafford Speedway has the potential to still be one of the greatest tracks in the north week in and week out,” he said.
He did want it to be know that he’s been a long-time competitor at the Speedbowl in Waterford and how losing the NASCAR sanction did, in fact, affect car count. However, this past season, there were some great numbers of cars at the Bowl so, hopefully, it doesn’t affect Stafford once the season starts.
Some other drivers expressed that they are perfectly fine with the decision and they think it will be for the better for everyone all around. Other’s who are on the crews of these drivers say that this is also a good thing for a lot of the tracks because the they can’t afford the fees that NASCAR has.
Troy Andros, a crew member for George Bessette Jr’s team, says he thinks it’s a good thing overall.
“It will be better for track management, fans and competitors for sure,” Andros said. “Stafford is one of the best managed and professionally-run tracks in the country. The Artue’s do a great job with their media department promoting the track. I’m personally excited for the change.”
The only thing that effects the drivers is not being able to have a chance at contending for a NASCAR national championship. Tyler Leary expressed that was the only ‘con’ he sees in the change.
“I don’t think there will be weekly changes at all,” Leary said. “Only positive changes, if any. I think it will be better for the races and for the facility itself.”
There are a lot of things to come with this change. It will be very interesting to see what happens in 2021 with this change. Not seeing the NASCAR logo around will be weird, but I feel that everyone will be happy just to be at a racetrack, watching cars go round.
After an up and down 2020 with the pandemic, that’s what we’ll all need.