(Stafford Springs, CT)—Since returning to Stafford Speedway’s SK Modified® division in 2010, victories have been hard to come by for Dan Avery and his #10 Horsepower Hill Farms team. With 2 SK Modified® wins under his belt during the 1982 season, Avery recorded his first SK Modified® victory since returning in September 2013 and he had gone without a second win until last Friday night. Avery credits his wife Lara for guiding him in the correct direction to get his #10 back into NAPA Victory Lane.
“Since I first came back to the SK Modified® division in 2010, I had kind of been doing my own thing as far as car setup,” said Avery. “I think we’ve always had a pretty good car and we’ve had some success but the last couple of years we were kind of struggling. My wife Lara is a very competitive person and she hates to lose and during the winter, she kept telling me that I needed to bring somebody in and that something needed to change because what we were doing wasn’t working. One thing led to another and we ended up bringing Stash Butova on board to work on the car setup and he’s really turned the car into a handling machine. I really have to thank my wife for pushing me to go in that direction. I’ve always had a very loyal crew that does a fantastic job and looking back now I realized that I could only carry the setup deal so far. Having Stash as our setup guy and with Glenn Griswold coming on board as our tire guy combined with the crew I already had, it’s made an amazing difference in the feeling I have behind the wheel of the car.”
Although Avery started the 42-lap feature from pole position, the race was anything but an easy walk in the park. Avery had to contend with 7 restarts throughout the race and he outdueled the best drivers in the division each and every time, which he credits to his experience racing at Riverside and learning from Reggie Ruggiero.
“The win was unbelievable, we all felt like kids again,” said Avery. “There was a lot of pressure and I wasn’t sure how many more restarts I could have taken. I was under pressure with the best in the business all around me. I was surrounded by Teddy Christopher, Keith Rocco, Ronnie Williams and Rowan Pennink on all those restarts, but that just shows what you can do with a good handling car. If I had my old setup under me, it would have been the same old thing as before and we wouldn’t have won the race. We probably would’ve got a top-5 finish but having a good car made all the difference for us to be able to roll into victory lane. It’s a very fine line between winning and not winning races at Stafford. The SK Modified® division is so competitive, I always check the lap times after the races and there’s only a tenth or two tenths of a second from the winning car back to around 8th place. With the cars being so competitive and the drivers being so talented, you really have to be almost perfect just to get up front, not to mention staying up front. I reflected on a lot of what I learned from the best guy in short track racing at Riverside Park from Reggie Ruggiero. He taught me years ago that you have to control the restarts. With Riverside being such tight quarters, the restarts were usually the key to everything and he taught me how to control restarts and maintain that throughout the race. Once you start allowing the second place guy to dictate the how the restarts are going to go, you’re giving the race away so that Riverside experience really helped me get through that race.”
At 61 years of age, Avery is the oldest driver in Stafford Speedway’s SK Modified® history to win a feature event. And as good as Avery feels behind the wheel, he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
“I’m going to keep on racing until we’re not having fun anymore,” said Avery. “At the start of this year it was a little questionable but once we got the car a little better the last few weeks, I told Stash and all the guys on the crew that I know we don’t have any results to show for it but we have a good car. We’re going to try our hardest to win some more races and this win will definitely carry us throughout the rest of the season. I think we’ve really hit on something these last 3 or 4 weeks with the car and we’re hoping that we can get another one before the end of the year. I have no reason to think I won’t continue and I’m still going to have a car on the racetrack whether I’m driving or not. It’s all just a matter of time of ‘when should I hang up the helmet?’ Friday nights at Stafford are like an extended family for me and really I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I wasn’t racing. We really enjoy the whole ambiance of Stafford with our fellow competitors and crew members and seeing everyone each Friday night.”
Avery and his wife Lara are proof positive that a little friendly advice can go a long ways towards helping achieve success.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.