(Stafford Springs, CT)—For Rowan Pennink and the #93 Van Wickle NAPA Auto Supply team, the 44th Annual edition of the NAPA Spring Sizzler at Stafford Speedway will see the team chase the checkered flag with altered plans. A practice crash in the season opening race at Thompson Motorsports Park eliminated their primary car and left Pennink and team scrambling to get their backup car together. Without practice, Pennink was still able to qualify 18th out of 35 cars and came home with a respectable 13th place finish. While Pennink is bringing the same car to Stafford for the Sizzler, he is confident that he can have a good run.
“The car we wrecked is pretty much toast and ready for the junkyard,” said Pennink. “We won’t be able to get another new car put together in time for the Sizzler so we’ll be bringing the backup car to Stafford. We put a lot of time and effort into the car that we wrecked and we were really happy with how it was handling. We weren’t able to get any practice time with it so it wasn’t where we needed it to be for the race, but we were able to salvage what we could out of the weekend and we’ll move on to the Sizzler.”
Pennink has put together a strong career record at the NAPA Spring Sizzler. In 7 career starts, Pennink has posted 4 top-5 and 5 top-10 finishes with a career best finish of second coming back in 2011. Pennink has recorded top-5 finishes in four of the last five Sizzlers and although he will be racing his backup car, he is confident that he can once again be among the contenders for the Sizzler checkered flag.
“We’ll be running the same car at Stafford, hopefully with a little practice time we can get the car where we need it to be and have a good run,” said Pennink. “I think we definitely have the capabilities of winning the race this year. It’s the same car we’ve ran the last couple of years and all of our cars are good. It wasn’t really what we had planned for the Sizzler, but it’s what we have.”
If Pennink needed any extra motivation, he has Van Wickle Auto Supply as his primary sponsor this season, a NAPA store with three locations in New Jersey. Pennink is relishing the opportunity to win the NAPA Spring Sizzler with Van Wickle as his sponsor.
“Van Wickle Auto Supply NAPA has always helped us out in the past and they came on board with us for this season,” said Pennink. “It would be awesome to win the race, the guys at Van Wickle have been a big help to us and it would be really cool to win the NAPA Spring Sizzler for them. The Sizzler is the longest race we run all year so you have stay out of trouble at the beginning of the race while also keeping good track position. You have to have a good pit stop and need to time the pit stop so it plays out right. If we can do all those things right, hopefully we can put ourselves in position to go for the win at the end of the race.”
In addition to his Whelen Modified Tour duties, Pennink will also look to pick up where he left off in 2014 in Stafford’s weekly SK Modified® division behind the wheel of the #99 car owned by Bob Hitchcock and Kelly Iverson. After a rough start to the 2014 season, Pennink won 5 races and accumulated more points than any other driver at Stafford during the second half of the season. Pennink is looking forward to repeating that on track performance.
“I don’t see why we can’t do that again,” said Pennink. “We were really strong at the end of last season and we’re hoping to stay away from the bad luck we had at the beginning. We won 5 races in the second half of 2014 and when we didn’t win we were right up there in the top-2 or top-3. We’re hoping to start this year how we ended last year and if we can do that, I think it will be a very good year for the whole #99 team.”
The 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler gets underway Friday, April 24 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions. The practice session will be open to the public at no charge. The run for the Coors Light Pole position gets underway on Saturday, April 25 with time trials for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races for Stafford’s weekly divisions. Saturday’s racing action wraps up with feature events for the SK Light, Limited Late Model, and DARE Stock divisions as well as a feature event for the Mr. Rooter Truck Series. The Sizzler concludes on Sunday, April 27 with the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party followed by Stafford’s SK Modifieds® and Late Models joining the Whelen Modified Tour in feature action.
Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $38.50 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 $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 on the 44th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.