(Stafford Springs, CT)—For Palmer, MA native Duane Provost, the 2016 season at Stafford Speedway was an improbable trip that almost never came to fruition. While unsure if he was going to race a full schedule, strong results in the first few weeks of the season with the #88 Facchini Law Firm Chevrolet convinced Provost that he had to run the full season and see how things played out.
“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t sure I was going to run every week but we did so well the first couple races we couldn’t stop coming to the track,” said Provost. “We went downhill a little during the middle part of the season but we found a bad part on the car and that really helped pick the performance back up towards the end of the season.”
Provost worked his way into the point lead midway through the season but he fell down as far as third in the standings during the second half of the season and he entered the NAPA Fall Final 12 points behind Al Saunders in the race for the championship. Provost finished third while Saunders retired early in the race with damage to his car in 11th place which was enough to make Provost the champion by 2 points.
“Coming to the race I knew I was down 12 points and I really didn’t anticipate getting up there,” said Provost. “I told people I didn’t have a very good chance and something would need to happen in order for us to win and I don’t wish that to happen to anyone. We worked hard every week and from the beginning of the year and the end of the year we tried to put this thing in the top-3 every week and after 12 years of racing I was able to finally win a championship. I have to thank Gus Coelho Auto in Ludlow, and Michael Facchini Law Firm in Springfield, Donny Wood at R.A.D. Automachine and Buzzy for the transmissions.”
Just to add to the drama surrounding the championship race, Provost had no idea he had actually finished high enough in the race to become champion until he pulled into NAPA Victory Lane for the podium ceremony.
“I had no idea until I got to the podium and the crowd came out to victory lane and I thought ‘That’s more people than usual coming out here’. I knew I had to have 7 positions and there were a couple of cars already out of the race and I didn’t really know so I just figured I’d drive the car and push it as hard as I could and see what happened at the end of the race.”
The championship win for Provost was extra special in that his crew consists of himself and his brother Derek working on the car.
“The championship is huge because there’s a lot of good teams in this division and it’s mostly just myself and my brother Derek working on the car,” said Provost. “It’s a lot of work and responsibility and it’s also humbling because there’s no one to blame but yourself if something goes wrong.”
As unlikely as Provost might have thought of his chances at winning the championship this season, he is looking forward to returning to Stafford in 2017 to defend his title.
“I’m sure there will be a little pressure but it’ll be pretty cool to be the defending champion,” said Provost. “We’ll work on the car over the winter and be ready to go. I had been pretty close to winning before but we just couldn’t get there. I’m anticipating a few cars coming up from the DARE Stocks next season so hopefully we’ll have more cars and it will be just as competitive as it was this season.”
For the season, Provost posted 1 win, 12 top-5, and 15 top-10 finishes. Provost will officially be crowned as the 2016 Limited Late Model track champion at the 47th Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 18 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.
Tickets to the 47th Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony are $48 per person and can be ordered by calling the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or by downloading an order form from www.staffordspeedway.com and returning the form to the track office.