(Stafford Springs, CT) — For Eric Berndt and the #66 Cos’ Central Auto / North End Auto Parts team, the 2016 SK Modified® season has been a season of ups and downs. Through the first 6 races, Berndt has 3 podium finishes, including his first win of the season last Friday night, and three finishes outside the top-10. But if recent form is any indication, Berndt and crew have found a setup that looks to have them among the contenders for the win every Friday night.
Two weeks ago Berndt narrowly missed out on his first win of the season, finishing second to Woody Pitkat by a nose after running on the outside of Pitkat for 5 laps. Berndt followed up that finish with a win in last Friday night’s SK Modified® feature. After closing out the 2015 season with 2 consecutive wins, Berndt is primed for more time in NAPA Victory Lane this season and is ready to be a championship contender.
“We had to get the chassis adjusted to the new tire compound,” said Berndt. “Last year we figured out what the car wanted on the other tire compound and we started out that way this year. We’ve had to change several things to get the car to like the new tires and now the car feels really good, we’re not going to change anything.”
“We’ll just take things week to week, dodge the bullets we need to dodge, and try to finish races,” continued Berndt. “If the car is good at the end of the race, then we’ll try to get on the podium but we don’t want to get caught up in any wrecks that will take us out of a race.”
Berndt’s performance over the past two weeks has helped him climb from 6th to 4th in the points standings and he has carved his deficit to current leader Rowan Pennink from 62 points down to 46 points.
“We definitely want to get back to victory lane a couple more times, be consistent, finish on the podium and gain as many points as we can,” said Berndt. “We’re still a ways away, 40 points is a lot of points but one bad race for them and one good race for us and we’ll be right back in it. Everyone knows that in the SK world at Stafford, when you win, you’ve beat the best. It’s a Tour-studded field and to win at Stafford is definitely a top-notch win.”
Berndt has excelled at long distance races during his SK Modified® career and with the 3rd Annual NAPA Auto Parts SK 5k on the horizon, he is hoping that a winning performance in that race can help propel him towards a championship.
“We’ve found where the car wants to be and depending on how many laps the SK 5k race is, it’s going to be a game changer because the tires are a little softer,” said Berndt. “That means there’s going to be more tire management than there has been in the past. I’m really looking forward to the race and I can’t wait for it to get here. Hopefully in the weeks beforehand we can keep the car in one piece so we’re not having to thrash around and fix things leading into that race. Any time you get into victory lane at Stafford it gives you more confidence, it gives the team more confidence, and it helps propel you forward to keep on going.”
If Berndt needs any additional motivation to reach NAPA Victory Lane, he needs to look no further than to his children, as his daughter Brooke and son Parker are both racing at Stafford on Monday nights in the Tiger B division of Wild Thing Karts.
“Monday nights are a blast, I look forward to Monday nights with the kids every week,” said Berndt. “It’s just a ton of fun. There’s a little bit of poking going on when one of them wins and the other one doesn’t or if they do better than I do on a Friday night I’ve got to hear about it so I usually have to give it back a little to them if they don’t finish as well as I did on a Friday night.”
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.