(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Motor Speedway’s 2015 Rookie of the Year program will award $7,000 for its five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions. New in 2015 was the addition of $1,600 for the Rookie of the Year Runner Up bonus bringing the total rookie awards to $8,600. The Runner Up bonus is provided by Magnus Racing Products and is distributed among the 5 divisions. Taking home the Rookie of the Year Runner Up honors and a $300 bonus in the SK Light Modified division this year was Mark Alkas, driver of the #64 BAM Motorsports Chevrolet.
Alkas came to Stafford this season with virtually zero racing experience to his name. Alkas had only one season of champ kart racing on dirt at Berlin prior to moving into the SK Light division for 2015. While Alkas had the tall task of learning a new car, track, and set of competitors, he ran every race during the 2015 season and he posted 3 top-10 finishes with a best finish of 9th.
“This was pretty much the first time I drove anything,” said Alkas. “I raced a champ kart style go kart on dirt at Berlin for one season, but I’ve been around racing for my whole life with my father and uncle racing at Plainville Stadium. I think the toughest thing was learning the car with the setup and how the car would react to changes. I was used to the go kart with no shocks and it was tough when you made an adjustment thinking something was going to happen and then it didn’t. Luckily I was able to become good friends with the #94 SK Modified® team of Tyler Hines, and the teams of Geoff Boisjolie and Paul French were also a big help. The cars now are so different from what my father was racing so it was tough. Geoff even took the car out for me in practice once to see if he was feeling the same things with the car that I said I was feeling. I also had to learn the other drivers and how they drive. It was a big learning experience for me but it was a lot of fun.”
With little experience to lean on as he began his rookie season, Alkas set a simple goal of starting and finishing all of the races and he took a somewhat relaxed approach in order to make that goal a reality.
“I’d show up and go out and practice and depending on how fast we were in practice, that would determine how aggressive I was in the feature,” said Alkas. “If I was turning decent times, I’d try to get up front in the race and if they weren’t, I’d try to stay in the back and not get in anyone’s way. If I wrecked the car good enough, chances are that I wouldn’t have been able to come back right away so keeping the car together was a big thing for me. I didn’t expect to go out and set the world on fire, we just wanted to stay out of trouble and earn the respect of the other drivers. I think I improved a lot from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. When I first started, I was getting lapped in practice but by the end of the year, we were all right. I think we could have done better than we did but it was all about being cautious and keeping the car together. We didn’t have any major wrecks during the year and we’ll be back next season.”
Now that Alkas has a full season of SK Light competition under his belt, he is ready to get started on his second full season if he chooses to remain behind the wheel of the #64 car.
“Originally my plan was to have someone else drive the car because my whole idea was to start a future driver program,” said Alkas. “My son is in go karts right now and eventually he is going to be driving the car. It’s still up in the air if I’m going to be driving the car next year or if I’m going to have someone else in the car. I’d really like to be able to give younger drivers a chance to race. But if I’m back in the car, I’m going to plan on racing harder and being more aggressive right from the start of the season. I think all the experience I gained this year will be a huge help for me next season and I think we can shoot for a top-5 finish in the points. I would like to thank my Dad, Rick and his company Crankshaft Incorporated, George and Tyler Hines and their crew, Geoff Boisjolie and the whole #3 SK Light team, Paul French, Kyle Trayner, and all the people at the track. Everyone really made you feel welcome and it was a great experience every Friday night that I came to the track. Also I have to thank all the contingency sponsors, New England Racing Fuel, Sunoco Brand, Dunleavy’s Truck and Trailer Repair, and Magnus for this bonus. I have a Magnus transmission in my car, so it’s really great to be able to win a bonus from them. Any extra funding you can get is a big help and it will go a long way for us.”
For being the Rookie of the Year runner up, Alkas will receive a $300 bonus from Magnus Racing Products that will be paid out in $100 increments for the first three races that he runs during the 2016 season at Stafford Motor Speedway.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.