(Stafford Springs, CT)—As time continues to count down to the first green flag of the 2015 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at Stafford Motor Speedway, the track’s SK Light rookie class continues to grow. Oakdale native Kyle Startz is the latest rookie to join the class of drivers who will be chasing a record $1,000 bonus from R.A.D. Automachine and T/A Engines. Startz is also the latest driver to move from the Wild Thing Kart ranks into one of Stafford’s five weekly divisions. There are currently over 20 drivers who raced on Monday nights at Stafford in the Wild Thing Karts on the 2015 driver roster and Startz was the 2008 Champ Kart Champion in the Wild Thing Karts. Startz also won the 2009 New England Champ Kart Series championship and he has won Rookie of the Year honors across all his divisions of go kart racing. After taking some time off from racing, Startz is ready to embark on a new challenge in his racing career.
“I started racing go karts in 2002 at Pomfret and finished second in points in my first season and then I raced Champ Karts at Stafford from 2006-2008 and won the championship in 2008,” said Startz. “I had my first daughter in 2009 so after that I didn’t do much racing. I was still doing some go kart racing here and there but nothing full time. My father and I have always done everything in racing together and we decided in 2012 that we wanted to try something new so we sold all of our go kart stuff and we bought a modified from Dave Webb at the end of 2013. We spent that winter and most of 2014 working on the car and learning as much as we could about the car. We’ve gone through the entire car and it has an entirely new front suspension and I took a lot of the old parts that Dave had on the car off and those are now backup parts. There’s still a few small things we have to do to the car but we should be good to go for the beginning of the season. Ever since I was a little kid, modifieds have been the ultimate race cars to me. I grew up watching NASCAR on TV but those cars never seemed as cool to me as modifieds since I was able to go to tracks and see the cars and go into the pits and talk to the drivers. I didn’t want to go through life and look back and think that I never tried it out. It’s all about seeing how well we do. We could come out and do ok or we could come out and be terrible, but at least we tried it out.”
In order to get his feet wet behind the wheel of a modified before coming to Stafford, Startz participated in the final race of the 2014 season at Waterford. The experience gave Startz a good idea of what to expect and what he needs to improve on in order to be a competitive car during the 2015 season.
“There’s a lot involved in any type of racing and we wanted to learn as much as we could about the car so we would be best prepared for when we actually took the car out on track,” said Startz. “We ran the last race at the Speedbowl and we finished 8th out of 14 cars. It was a good experience because it was all about learning and keeping the car in one piece. With all the karting I’ve done, I know how to race, it’s just going to take getting used to the full size modified, which will take time. I got some good advice from Brad LaFontaine on a base setup that we put into the car for the outing at Waterford and we were turning some decent lap times by the end of the first practice. So I think I can drive the car, but the biggest challenge will be eliminating some driving habits that I’ve formed from racing go karts. With the go kart, I know what the kart was going to do and how hard to go into a corner underneath someone, but with the modifieds that’s all new. Another big challenge will be learning just how much a modified car will change during one day. A go kart doesn’t change much at all during an entire day but with that one race at Waterford, the car went from extreme loose, to good, to extreme tight all in one day. Combine that with learning the tires, and that’s going to be my biggest challenge. Anyone can drive a car when it’s perfect.”
Despite the learning curve that faces Startz, he has a realistic goal in mind for being able to crack into the top-5 by the end of the 2015 season.
“Any racer’s ultimate goal is to win races but I have a lot to learn before I can make that happen. I know there have been some drivers who come in and win races as rookies, but I think those guys have had a few more stepping stones in getting up to the modified division than I have. The ultimate goal is to get to a point where we’re a competitive car. By the end of the season if we can be getting a couple of top-5 finishes, that would be great. But the competition at Stafford is probably the toughest of any track in the area. Top five finishes will be a tough goal to reach, but you have to shoot high with your goals. I’m real excited about getting started.”
And of course, Startz has his eyes on the record $1,000 bonus from R.A.D. Automachine and T/A Engines for winning the Rookie of the Year title.
“If things are going well for us and we’re making all the races, that bonus is definitely something nice to be racing for,” said Startz. “That bonus is an extra motivating factor for us to make all the races and try to be the top rookie. It’s a great rookie group so far and to be the best of that group would be a huge honor for us. I won rookie of the year back in the karts and it was very rewarding for us because we didn’t really have much in the way of expectations.”
Startz will get his first taste of modified racing at Stafford Speedway as part of the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 24-26. 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 is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, 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.