(Stafford Springs, CT) — With over $30,000 in total posted awards, Stafford Speedway’s NAPA SK 5k, on Friday, July 8th is one of the biggest races of the 2016 season. The starting grid will now welcome former 3-time Stafford SK Modified® champion Bo Gunning, who will be bringing his #22 Tick Free Organic Tick Control machine back to Stafford for his first SK Modified® start since the 2012 season. Despite the time off, Gunning is eagerly anticipating taking the green flag in the 3rd Annual NAPA SK 5k and chasing the winner’s check of $5,000.
“Stafford is my track, I’m really excited for this race,” said Gunning. “We’ve won some big races up there in the past and I think we’ll be ok. One of my crew guys, Bender, has come back to help me out this year and he helped me out the last couple years I ran at Stafford and I think we should have a pretty good idea of where the car should be. I think we’ll be pretty close and I hope that we can be fast right out of the box.”
During his long and distinguished career at Stafford, Gunning has won 47 SK Modified® feature events, second only to Ted Christopher, who has 102 SK Modified® wins. Gunning trails only Christopher and Bob Potter for the number of career championships with three. Each of Gunning’s championships have come in a different decade (1983, 1998, 2002) and as familiar as he is with the track, he says that there’s not much use for coming up with a strategy for the race.
“You know how it it, it’s as much luck as anything,” said Gunning. “The thing is nowadays guys run their cars so hard. If you can pace yourself just a little you’ll have something left at the end. But we’ll see how it goes. If the pace is fast then we’ll have to run fast. One thing is for sure, I’ve been doing this a long time and any game plan that you can come up usually never works out. We’ll just have to take things one lap at a time.”
One area where Gunning may be ahead of the curve after not racing in the division for three plus years is the fact that his nephew Nick Salva, driver of the #98 J.G. Poulin Drywall car, can serve as a teammate and he has already given Gunning some setup pointers on his #22 car.
“Without a doubt it’s a plus having Nick to work with,” said Gunning. “He’s a really smart kid and we’ve made some small changes to the car on some stuff that he had found that worked better this season. I really enjoy working with Nick and I was joking with him last night at the shop and I told him we’re both probably going to be starting in the back so you make the holes and I’ll follow you through.”
Although Gunning’s last SK Modified® win at Stafford came on May 30, 2008, he knows how to get to NAPA Victory Lane in big events. Gunning has won several NAPA Spring Sizzler SK Modified® feature events, he has several wins when the Whelen Modified Tour has been on hand, and he won the Winston 100 back in his 1998 championship season. With his experience in running well in the big events, Gunning says that a win would be magical although he would settle for a top-3 finish.
“A win would be huge,” said Gunning. “I haven’t run up there for a few years and I’m not 30 years old anymore. We’re competitive and we’ve been able to run up front at Waterford this year. I don’t think I’ve ever said this before but if we could get a top-3 finish that would be great. I always come to the track to win but I’d be really happy with a top-3 finish.”
A good finish in the NAPA SK 5k could also see Gunning making more than one start in the SK Modified® division this season.
“We’ll have to see what happens Friday night,” said Gunning. “If we run really good, we might be back every week, who knows. The guys who own the car have their own business and it was tough for them do to Fridays, which is why we went racing at Waterford. It would be my dream to come back to Stafford but I don’t own the car so we’ll have to see how things go.”
The $5,000 to win SK 5K won’t be the only entertainment at Stafford during the night of July 8th. Stafford Speedway will host the Brass Attack Band for a pre-race concert and the O’K and the Nightcrew Band for post-race entertainment. There will also be a barbeque taking place on the midway with some great food available to race fans for only $10.
Tickets for the July 8th NAPA SK 5K are available and on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $27.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for kids ages 6-14, and kids 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $30.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Speedway offers free parking with free overnight parking for self-contained RV’s available.
For more information on the July 8th NAPA SK 5K, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.