(Stafford Springs, CT)—After a 4-year layoff from weekly racing competition, Northford native Michael Wray not only retuned to the track this season, he won a feature and in the process took home the SPAFCO Rookie of the Year honors. Wray last competed full time at Stafford in the Limited Late Model division in 2010 before making a handful of starts during the 2012 season. With the long layoff in between stints behind the wheel, the 2015 season far exceeded what Wray had expected from himself and his team.
“I would say we more than met our expectations for the season,” said Wray. “At the beginning of the season, my main goal was to go out there and just keep up with the pack. Once we got out there, we found out we were pretty competitive and the car got faster every week. We definitely never thought winning Rookie of the Year and getting a feature win would be in play for us.”
It took nearly the full length of the 2015 season, but Wray captured his first Late Model feature win on the final Friday night of the 2015 season. The victory matched Wray’s victory tally from his time in the Limited Late Model division and Wray was ecstatic to add his name to the long list of Late Model feature winners at Stafford.
“The win was great,” said Wray. “I was shocked and to come away with a win and to be able to say that we won a race is pretty cool. I won once in the Limited Late Model division and we were just hoping to run in the top-10 or the top-5 this season. It was pretty cool to add my name to the list of storied winners at Stafford. Guys like Jim Mavlouganes, Tom Fearn, and Tom Butler, they have tons of experience at Stafford and I grew up watching all those guys racing against my brother Dave.”
Although Wray only posted one other top-5 finish to go along with his victory, he and the #42 DMW Graphics team were a consistent presence in the top-10 all season long and they ended the year with 16 top-10 finishes. The #42 team got progressively better as the season wore on and Wray says that seat time was the key to both his and the team’s gradual improvement.
“Seat time was definitely a big deal for me,” said Wray. “The first time back out on the track was the first time in 3 or 4 years since I was behind the wheel. I last ran a full season in 2010 and I ran 6 or 7 races in 2012 and that was the last time I drove. I had to remember how to drive the track because Stafford is a bit of a funky track and we had Jay Stuart helping us out with the car. We made some of our own discoveries in the car throughout the year and we found some things to fit the way that I drove the car. I have to thank BigRigStretch.com, DMW Graphics, and Jay Stuart for building a great chassis and helping us out all year long along with big thanks to my brothers Dave and Dennis, my Dad, my Dad’s friend Billy, everyone on Matt Galko’s crew, and my Mom for all their help and support during the year. Especially my Dad, we wouldn’t have been here without him. He retired and instead of going and doing retired people things, he decided to build a race car.”
With a full season of Late Model competition under his belt, Wray is looking forward to returning to the track in 2016 and trying to put the #42 back into NAPA Victory Lane.
“We definitely plan on coming back next season. It would be cool if we could get a top-5 in points next season and another win would definitely be cool. We don’t have a huge budget so the first thing is we have to keep the car under us.”
For winning the 2015 SPAFCO Late Model Rookie of the Year Award, Wray will take home an $1,100 bonus from SPAFCO, which will be paid in $100 increments for the first 11 races of the 2016 season that Wray attends. Wray will officially be crowned as the 2015 SPAFCO Rookie of the Year at the 46th Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 20 at Maneeley’s in South Windsor.
Tickets to the 46th Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony are $47 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.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.