(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway DARE Stock driver Brandon Michael is no stranger when it comes to championship chases. Between his experience in Wild Thing Karts and the DARE Stock division, Michael has been in contention for several championships, but he has yet to win one. Michael is currently 2 points, or one position on the track, behind Johnny Walker in the chase for the 2016 DARE Stock title as the DARE Stock division prepares for its 20-lap Xtra Mart Xtra D feature this Friday night.
“A championship would be one of the greatest things in my career,” said Michael. “I’ve lost some points races in the Wild Thing Karts and to run with the guys that we run against at Stafford, they’re a great group of people and we’ve been trying to win this championship for a few years now. We’ve finished in the top-4 in points in the full seasons that I’ve ran and it usually comes down to issues we’ve had early in the year. Every point you can get counts, especially when it’s a tight race like this season. This week we made some changes to the car and we’re hoping it will stay with us for 20 laps. We usually do pretty good in the longer distance races.”
Making things tough for both Michael and Walker is the fact that they start in the back of the pack almost every week as they are both averaging a fourth place finish through the first 11 races of the season and they only have 15-laps to get to the front. Michael says there’s a fine balance to strike between being smart and aggressive enough to get to the front before time runs out.
“It’s really tough because we only have 15 laps to get to the front and that’s tough to do when you start in the back every week,” said Michael. “The biggest thing is you have to be smart about it, be consistent, and keep your eyes out for wrecks and don’t get caught up in things that will take you out of the race. Everyone usually tries to push it on the first lap and I try to hold back for a lap or two. If I know I have a good car, then I’ll hang back for two or three laps if I have to and try to pick off spots one by one. The biggest thing for us is getting to the front while keeping your head clean. You have to stay as close to your competition as possible and don’t let them get too far away so you don’t have to make up that much ground. I know where I’ve got to be at the end of the race and if that means driving harder at the end of the race, then that’s what I’ll do. You have to drive hard but you have to drive clean. I have an absolute blast racing against Johnny and I know we can run side by side without getting into each other. I know we’ve had some falling out in the past, but the past is the past and I’m glad both of us can make things work and put on a great show for everyone each week.”
In the midst of a championship race, Michael says that he tries not to focus on accumulating points but rather on driving his #74 Hub International Insurance Chevrolet to NAPA Victory Lane as much as possible.
“The car is very stable right now, we’re just finding little things here and there that have been keeping us from wins the past couple of weeks. The plan is to pull off as many wins as we can. We’re looking at the big picture and we’re running for points, but I’m really focused on getting wins. I try to keep the points in the back of my head and get to the front and try to win if we have a winning car that night. At the end of the season if the championship falls in our lap then so be it. I think it’s going to come down to the last couple of races. Points will be more important then than they are now, there’s still too many races left to be a deciding factor just yet. I really have to thank John Berardi, Ray Kocum, Jim, Mike, my Dad, and my entire family and girlfriend, they always come out to support me. I also couldn’t do this without all my sponsors. Everyone on the car this year has been a huge help and we’ve picked up some new sponsors and they picked a good year to come on board with us because we’ve been having a killer 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.