(Stafford Springs, CT)—After winning Rookie of the Year honors in the Super Stock division at Monadnock Speedway in 2015, Whately, MA native Joel Monahan came to Stafford Speedway’s Late Model division for the 2016 season with his sights set on winning another rookie of the year title.
Monahan actually started his Stafford career with four starts at the end of the 2015 season to prepare himself for a full season of Late Model competition in 2016. After 2 top-10 finishes in his 4 2015 starts, Monahan and the #03 Monahan Trucking team posted 4 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes in 17 races to take home NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year honors.
“I think things went better than we expected,” said Monahan. “We didn’t’ win a race but we got some podium finishes and we learned a lot about the car. Stafford was a fun track to race and I think we had a pretty decent season finishing 5th in the points. We had some bad days and some good days, but that’s racing and I don’t think any of us can be disappointed in how we did. One of our main goals was to win Rookie of the Year. We won rookie of the year at Monadnock last season and it would was pretty cool to do it back to back.”
Although he didn’t win a race this season, Monahan came close with a pair of second place finishes during the second half of the 2016 season. As to be expected, Monahan says that things started to turn around for the #03 team in the second half of the year once they had some experience under their belts.
“At first we were struggling with the car,” said Monahan. “We had a hard time for most of the year but towards the end of the year we had most things fixed up. There were still a couple things with the car that we never found but we definitely started going better towards the end of the year. Stafford is flatter and faster than Monadnock but it was about what I expected it to be. I kept my eyes open every week and tried to learn as much as I could. Now we have a whole season of experience which helps because seat time is always a key. We’ll definitely be more prepared for 2017 and know what to expect than we did this season.”
Monahan’s closest competitor for the NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year was a fellow Monadnock Super Stock driver in Tyler Leary. The two drivers were neck and neck for much of the first half of the year but Monahan slowly began to pull away from Leary over the second half of the year.
“It was cool to be racing with Tyler,” said Monahan. “We’ve had some run ins with each other no doubt but it was pretty cool to know someone at the track who we’ve raced against before and kind of know what to expect from them.”
For winning the 2016 NAPA Auto Parts Late Model Rookie of the Year Award, Monahan will take home $1,000 gift card from NAPA, which will be good for use at one of the 59 participating NAPA Auto Parts Stores partnered with Stafford. Monahan will officially be crowned as the 2016 NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year 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.