(Stafford Springs, CT)—With a second place finish in the NAPA Fall Final feature event for Stafford’s Limited Late Model cars, hometown driver Al Saunders wrapped up a championship season that saw him in the lead of the points standings from start to finish.
Saunders ended his 2014 season with 10 consecutive top-8 finishes and he carried that momentum to the 2015 NAPA Spring Sizzler, which he won to kick off the year. Saunders didn’t finish lower than 6th through the first 10 races of the season and it was that consistency that allowed him to maintain the point lead from the start right through the completion of the year. Saunders joins his twin brother Cliff, who won the 2012 DARE Stock championship at Stafford, and they are only the second brother combination to win championships at Stafford, joining Mike and Ted Christopher, who between them have won 12 SK Modified® titles at Stafford.
“It’s really cool for both Cliff and myself to have won championships at Stafford,” said Saunders. “We won the Sizzler and we led the points all year long and there’s so many drivers and teams that get off to a good start, it was really nice for us to be able to maintain our momentum through the whole season. We felt pretty good all year because my wins were spread out throughout the whole year and we didn’t have any stretches where we had a couple of good races and then a couple of bad races. Winning the championship is the highest goal that drivers have every season so you can’t get much better than that. I thought we’d be in contention this year. Although we didn’t really show it last year, towards the end of the year we started to get the car more consistent and I thought by the end of the year we were one of the three best cars out there. I knew with a few more little tweaks we could get there. 5 wins was a big surprise to me. My previous best for wins in a season was 3 back in the DARE Stocks. I was hoping to win a race or two this season and to get 5 wins, we definitely overachieved.”
One big piece of Saunders’ championship run was the contribution of his crew chief, Barry Fluckiger from Fluckiger Race Chassis. Saunders says that without his expertise, he never would have become a champion.
“The car has been awesome all year long and I have to thank the team and especially my crew chief Barry Fluckiger,” said Saunders. “If it wasn’t for him, there’s no way I would have won the championship. The car was dialed in every week and that’s all thanks to his setup. Barry was a huge piece to this championship. I don’t know anything about the setup so having someone like Barry is huge for making the right changes on the car. Even when I come in and say the car is good, he’s really good at making the right changes to get the car even better. I also have to thank American Sleeve Bearing, B.A. Muzio, Rob Davis, Johnson Memorial Medical Center, Fluckgier Race Chassis, R.A.D. Automachine, Tom Butler’s #4 Late Model team, my brother, and my Mom for all their help and support this year. It’s an honor for me to be the champion this year.”
For the season, Saunders tied for the division lead with 5 wins, he led all drivers with 18 top-5 finishes, and he tied for the division lead with 21 top-10 finishes in 22 starts. Saunders will officially be recognized as the 2015 Limited Late Model champion at the 46th Annual Stafford Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony to be held on Friday, November 20 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.