(Stafford Springs, CT)—The 2016 season was a year of absence for 22-year old Waterbury native Joey Cipriano from his home track of Stafford Speedway. Cipriano, who was a regular in the SK Modified® and SK Light divisions since the 2010 season, will make his return to the half-mile for the 2017 season behind the wheel of a Late Model.
“I’m really excited to get back to racing every Friday at Stafford no matter if it’s a modified or a late model,” explained Cipriano. “I only have one race in a fendered car so it’s going to be something new for me and something different.”
Cipriano will be behind the wheel of the Chris DuPont owned #33 Late Model campaigned on a part-time basis by Peter Thickett and P.J. Zarella during the last few season.
“We’re really looking forward to working with Joey and everybody with his team, we’re looking to go out and run competitively,” explained car owner Chris DuPont. “Cliff Burrell from AVI International is a big part of this and we can’t thank him enough for what he’s doing for us. We started talking towards the end of the year once I found out what P.J. and Peter’s plans were going to be and we weren’t’ going to be able to be full time with them. We want to run for points so we started working on a deal and Joey was right at the top of our list of drivers we wanted to put in the car.”
The #33 team is looking to get to NAPA Victory Lane and compete for the 2017 Late Model championship with Cipriano behind the wheel. Joey is familiar with NAPA Victory Lane, scoring 7 victories across 2 seasons in the SK Light division. The 2010 and 2011 seasons saw countless battles between 3 young guns, Cipriano, Matt Galko, and Tommy Barrett. Cipriano is confident his Stafford experience will translate into success in the full fender Late Model division.
“It’s still a racecar, I know it’s a smaller tire and heavier car so there will definitely be a learning curve,” said Cipriano. “I actually drove Chris’ car once before in 2012 and I’m just going to take it as it comes. I’ll watch some tape and talk to some guys to try to figure out as much as I can before the season gets started. Hopefully I can get things figured out pretty quickly and we can be running up front and challenging for wins.”
The 2017 season won’t be the first season the young driver has made a transition to a new division. Cipriano campaigned a family owned SK Modified® at Stafford for multiple seasons and came close on several occasions to a win in the ultra competitive division.
“If someone were to call me to run a few races in the SK’s, I’d be open to that,” said Cipriano. “I’d really love to find a ride for the big NAPA SK 5k in July. Other than that, the Late Model will be my number one focus. We want to run well and try to win some races and go for the championship.”
Though the season is still months away it appears the Late Model division will have a competitive field of cars in 2017. On top of a strong group of drivers returning after the 2016 season two other drivers have announced their plans to compete in the Late Model division in 2017. The 2015 champion Michael Bennett has announced he will run the entire season and 5-time Limited Late Model winner Paul Arute has also announced his move to the Late Models. Cipriano is excited to run with a strong group of competitors and is confident they can get a win in 2017.
“The goal is to run as well as we can as quickly as we can and hopefully we can win some races,” said Cipriano. “If we do our job during the year, the points will fall where they fall. The big focus will be trying to win some races, which was the big thing that Chris and I discussed. We both want to win. I think if we can run in the top-5 weekly and get a top-5 finish in the points, that would be a good year for us.”
Cipriano will have longtime local crew member Ted Legendre Jr. as a crew chief with sponsorship from The Simon Foundation Inc., AVI International Inc., Siemon Company, Resource Development Associates, Village Market and Gas in Lebanon and Goshen, IMTI, Jannetty Racing Enterprises Inc. and Litchfield County Marine and Auto.
“There’s a lot of new sponsors for me to learn for when we hopefully get on the podium,” said Cipriano.
The 2017 season at Stafford will kick off with the 46th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 28-30. Stafford will play host to the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour for the 200-lap Spring Sizzler, its five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions, and the New England Truck Series. Tickets for “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are available and on sale now. Tickets are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission, $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, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.