(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to Stafford Speedway on June 17 for the NASCAR 150, the vast majority of drivers will be seeing the Connecticut half-mile for the very first time. For 20-year old Winston-Salem, NC native Ronnie Bassett, Jr. and the #04 Bassett Gutters team, the NASCAR 150 represents a prime opportunity to pick up their first K&N Pro Series victory. The road to NAPA Victory Lane for Bassett will begin on Thursday, June 16 as he and the rest of the K&N East Series drivers will partake in a test and tune session followed by a fan and media meet and greet during the WEEI 105.5FM Fan Experience.
“I’m looking forward to coming to Stafford,” said Bassett. “From what I’ve seen, Stafford kind of reminds me of a smaller Loudon. I really enjoy racing at Loudon and with flat corners and some long straightaways to it, I think the race at Stafford is going to be a blast. It’s going to be pretty neat to go back to a style of track that I grew up racing on. I’ve raced Late Models at Hickory, Tri-Country, Caraway, which are a bunch of flat short tracks. The Thursday practice will be good because it’ll give everyone an equal opportunity to be able to learn the track and learn what the car will need for the race the following day.”
Bassett is also excited for the opportunity to interact with fans prior to race day, “The biggest thing in the sport is the fans because without them, we wouldn’t be racing. The fans are what makes the sport what it is and you’ve got to be able to interact with them and I’m looking forward to meeting all the fans.”
The 2016 season has gotten off to a good start for Bassett and the #04 team. Through the first five races of the 2016 season Bassett has recorded 3 top-5 and 4 top-10 finishes and currently sits third in the points standings, 24 points behind co-leaders Justin Hayley and Kyle Benjamin.
“The season has been pretty good so far,” said Bassett. “We’re sitting third in points right now and we’ve had some really good top-5 runs but have come up a little short the last few times to get a victory but we’re knocking on the door and we’ll get one soon. We’ve been working really hard in the shop to get the cars better and have been able to bring them home without tearing them up so we can make them better. Coming to a place like Stafford is a good thing for me because I’m used to racing on a different track every week and I’m able to adapt pretty quickly.”
Bassett looked to have scored his first win in the season opener at New Smyrna Speedway back in February, but due to a delay in displaying the correct flags from the flag stand, the race went one lap longer than scheduled and Bassett had to settle for a third place finish.
“It was disappointing, but we were in contention to win that race and that’s what matters,” said Bassett. “We’ve moved on and we just have to work on making our race cars a little better so we can get up front, lead some laps, and come away with a win. It’s always hardest to get that first win, once you’re over that hump and get some momentum everyone at the shop gets excited because they know they can win now and everything seems to get rolling once you get that first one.”
As well as being used to flat short tracks, another area that might give Bassett and advantage is having his brother Dillon as his teammate. With two cars and drivers to bounce information between, Bassett thinks he could have another advantage over most of the field.
“I always tell everybody that a two driver team is better than one just like 8 tires is better than 4,” said Bassett. “We can always relate to each other and help our program grow by bouncing ideas off one another to help make the cars better. You can try different setups and then come back and see what worked best for you and what worked best for my brother and kind of meet in the middle to make both cars better.”
In breaking down the race strategy for the NASCAR 150, Bassett says the race can go one of two ways. “Some of our races they let you change tires, and others you have to run the whole race on one set of tires,” said Bassett. “I haven’t seen yet what the tire rule will be for Stafford so if we can’t change tires, you’ll have to conserve your car and be there at the end. If we can change tires at halfway, then you go as hard as you can in the first half of the race and make some adjustments along with changing the tires to help make the car better for the second half of the race.”
The WEEI 105.5FM Fan Experience will be open FREE of charge to race fans on Thursday, June 16. There will be a test and tune session from 3pm-6:30pm and at the conclusion of the practice, Stafford Speedway will open its paddock area to allow race fans and media to meet the drivers as well as getting a preview of the cars and team haulers from 6:30pm-8:00pm, much like the atmosphere at the track’s season beginning and season ending NAPA Pit Parties.
Tickets for the June 17 NASCAR 150 are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $27.50 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 $30.00 for all ages and all ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. CLICK HERE to order NASCAR 150 tickets.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.