(Stafford Springs, CT)—Since the drop of the green flag on the 2016 Late Model season at Stafford Motor Speedway at the NAPA Spring Sizzler back in April, 4 teams have emerged as championship contenders with 20 points separating first place from fourth place in the standings.
Currently leading the standings is Tom Fearn and the #92 SAFCO Foam / King Ward Coach Lines team. Fearn and the #92 team won the most races in the Late Model division last year with 10 and Fearn once again leads all Late Model drivers at the half-way point of 2016 with three wins. Fearn holds a slim 8 point lead over Michael Wray, who was the 2015 Late Model Rookie of the Year.
Just as Mike Christopher, Jr. isn’t showing any signs of a sophomore slump in the SK Modified® division, Michael Wray and the #42 DMW Graphics team are building on their Rookie of the Year performance of last season. Wray has been on the podium in 5 of the 9 Late Model features this year and he has one victory to his credit. Wray’s consistency has kept him in touch with Fearn despite Fearn’s margin of 3 wins to Wray’s 1.
Just behind Fearn and Wray are the teams of Kevin Gambacorta and Josh Wood. The #32 Rafferty Fine Grading team of Gambacorta have been in search of a Late Model feature victory since moving into the division in 2012. That search ended on June 17 and they followed up that first win with a second consecutive win the very next Friday night. Gambacorta’s 2 wins have him tied with Josh Wood for third in the standings, 20 points behind Fearn.
Just as Gambacorta had been searching for a Late Model feature win since 2012, Wood and the #17 Flamingo Motorsports team had been so close to their first win of the year with two second and two third place efforts before finally getting a win last Friday night. Gambacorta is a former 3-time track champion at Stafford and Wood is the 2013 Limited Late Model champion at Stafford, so both drivers have been in the thick of a championship fight before and they know how they can claw their way out of the 20 point deficit they both face to catch Fearn.
Sitting fifth in the points standings is rookie driver Joel Monahan. The driver of the #03 Monahan Trucking Chevrolet along with Tyler Leary, the driver of the #11 Amherst Trucking Chevrolet, both made the move to the Late Model division after racing against one another at Monadnock Speedway. The two rookie drivers are separated by only 32 points in the chase for NAPA Rookie of the Year honors and with the familiarity of racing against one another for several seasons, the rookie fight is sure to go right down to the wire.
In addition to the top-4 drivers in the points standings, the only other drivers to have won a race this season include Michael Bennett and Woody Pitkat, who won while driving Bennett’s #16 machine.
With such a tight race among the top-4 drivers in the standings, the race for the Late Model championship promises to be an entertaining duel right through to the end of the year.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.