(Stafford Springs, CT)—After winning three races and being in contention for the SK Light championship in 2015, East Hartford native D.J. Burnham is making the jump to Stafford Speedway’s premier SK Modified® division for the 2016 season. Burnham will carry sponsorship from Maneeley’s Banquet Facility and Salon Rausch on his #51 machine and will join fellow SK Light graduates Stephen Kopcik, Nick Salva, and Jeff Fialkovich in forming the 2016 SK Modified® Rookie Class.
“I’m pretty excited and I’m looking forward to racing against some of the best modified drivers in the northeast,” said Burnham. “I know it’s going to be a lot tougher than the SK Lights but I’m pretty excited to see what we can do and I feel pretty confident we can do all right. My father and brother are also excited about making the move up to the SK’s and they’re both really smart with giving me what I need in the car to be able to go faster. I have to thank my father Dave, my mother Donna, and my brother Brian for all of their support, I couldn’t do this without them.”
Burnham was a complete rookie to the world of open wheel modified racing when he made the switch from Limited Late Models to SK Lights for the 2014 season and his 2 years of SK Light experience should help make his transition smoother despite the high level of competition that awaits in the SK Modified® division.
“I was just starting to get confident in the SK Light car towards the end of the season so maybe I should have done one more year there, but we took our SK out for practice the last 2 races of the season and it seemed to go pretty well,” said Burnham. “I think we’re right in the ballpark of where we need to be with the car. I wouldn’t say it’s going to be easy but it’ll be an easier transition than going from the Limited Late Model to the SK Lights. I brought some bad habits with me from the Limited to the SK Light and I had to work on eliminating those in the modified. Now I have a pretty good feel of what it takes to drive a modified and I won’t have any shock driving the car. I don’t see why we can’t be mid-pack and eventually towards the front of the field this year. There’s 10 guys that can win on any given night and there’s a lot of good SK Light drivers who are moving up like Stephen Kopcik and Nick Salva so I’m looking forward to racing with them again because it was a lot of fun racing with them in the SK Lights.”
In three years of Limited Late Model competition, Burnham scored 6 feature wins and never finished lower than 5th in the points standings. He didn’t win a race in his rookie SK Light season and he finished 7th in the points, but he rebounded with 3 feature wins and a second place finish in the points this past season. While Burnham knows the road to NAPA Auto Parts Victory Lane is tough, especially in the SK Modified® division, he says winning races remains his main focus.
“Rookie of the Year is a goal for us but every time we go out on the track we want to win races,” said Burnham. “Our main goal is to run up towards the front and be able to compete with guys like Teddy Christopher, Keith Rocco, Ronnie Williams, and all those guys. I’d be very disappointed if we weren’t able to race with those guys. We definitely have the equipment that we need to run up front. We have a Chassis Dynamics car, a R.A.D. Automachine engine, and we’ve got the best of the best that we can have on the car. I feel like I’ve come a long way in the modifieds and we’ll be going up against the best in the northeast. We’re definitely going to have our hands full but we’re all looking forward to it. To be honest, I never even imagined being behind the wheel of an SK Modified® car. If we were able to win a race this season, I would be speechless. If you can win a race at Stafford in the SK Modified® division, you’ve really accomplished something, you’re getting it done, and you can hold your head up high.”
Burnham will get his first taste of life in the SK Modified® division on April 23-24 for the 45th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. The NAPA Spring Sizzler gets underway Friday, April 22 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions, Legend Cars, and Mr. Rooter Trucks. The practice session will be open to the public at no charge. Action continues on Saturday, April 23 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions, the U.S. Legend Cars, and Mr. Rooter Trucks. Saturday will wrap up with feature events for the SK Light, Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, Legend Cars, and Mr. Rooter Trucks. Spring Sizzler action continues on Sunday, April 24 with the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party from 11am-12noon followed by Stafford’s SK Modifieds® in a special 45-lap feature and Late Models joining the Whelen Modified Tour in feature action.
Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating will be priced at $42.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information, 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.