(Stafford Springs, CT)—For Summerland, British Columbia native Sarah Cornett-Ching, the path to Stafford Speedway for the June 17 NASCAR 150 K&N Pro Series East race has been a unique trip. The Canadian driver started racing at the age of 12, late compared to most of today’s stars, and took a break from the sport after graduating from high school. The time out of the cockpit allowed for Sarah to attend trade school and become a certified Red Seal Welder, signifying she is qualified to weld throughout Canada, and save enough money to get back into short-track racing. Now, in 2016, she is teamed up with Tony Blanchard and the #02 Dickies team with the goal to be racing on Sundays in the Sprint Cup Series.
“I started racing at 12, which is kind of old compared to some of the other drivers in the K&N Pro Series,” said Cornett-Ching. “I raced through high school and then after school we didn’t have the money to keep racing so I went to school for 3 years and became a welder. I saved up my money for the opportunity to race the ARCA race last year at Daytona and everything went really well there and we ran the full ARCA season. Now we’re running the K&N East Series this year. I’m excited for this season, I love NASCAR, the sanctioning body is professional and all the tracks we go to are so much fun. It’s definitely been a different trip for me than most of the other drivers in the series. My main goal is to get to the Sprint Cup Series and that’s what I’m working towards. It’s a few years away, but we have some great partners like Dickies working with us, they’re excited, so things are shaping up and hopefully that’s the direction that we’re headed.”
While many of the tracks on the K&N Pro Series East schedule are tracks that Cornett-Ching is seeing for the very first time, she won’t be alone in that respect for the NASCAR 150. The majority of the field will be coming to Stafford for the very first time. Drivers and teams will have the opportunity to get the car dialed in during a practice session from 3pm-6:30pm on Thursday, June 16 with the WEEI 105.5FM Fan Experience to follow the practice session. Cornett-Ching thinks that with most everyone being new to Stafford, the NASCAR 150 will prove to be an exciting race and she is looking forward to meeting the fans during the WEEI 105.5FM Fan Experience and continuing to try to be a role model for young girls.
“It’s always good to have laps on the track before you go racing, so it’ll be great to have some extra laps,” said Cornett-Ching. “We usually only get two 45-minute practice sessions during a race weekend, so that’s not a lot of time to get used to a track. We’ll also get an idea of how the track transitions from day to night, so it should be great. Aside from the racing, meeting the fans is my favorite part of the job. Meeting young fans is always great and I’ve started pre-signing my hero cards because my name is pretty long to begin with and I feel like when I actually sign my name, I can’t interact with fans so having cards pre-signed gives me an opportunity to look people in the face and talk to them rather than looking down and signing my name. I’ve actually heard from some girls through my Facebook or Twitter pages asking either how do I get involved in racing, or I am involved in racing and how do I go about doing what you’re doing. It’s been pretty cool and I message them back and try to help as much as I can but there’s no exact path to moving up the ranks. I think it’s great to be a role model and I try my best to encourage young girls to do whatever they want whether it’s be a ballerina or a race car driver.”
Cornett-Ching has amassed an impressive racing resume in a short period of time. She has two track championships to her credit in the Hornet Car and Claimer Car divisions at Penticton Speedway in British Columbia and was the 2011 ARCA OK Tire Series Rookie of the Year. After top-3 points finishes in the West Coast Sportsman Series in Canada, Cornett-Ching moved to the ARCA Racing Series in 2015, recorded 5 top-10 finishes and finished 7th in the final point standings, one position shy of tying Shawna Robinson for the best finish by a female driver in ARCA history. Thus far in 2016 the #02 car has had some good runs, but some bad luck has prevented them from getting a top-10 finish.
“This season has been a little tough from the start,” said Cornett-Ching. “We had a wreck at New Smyrna and a wreck at Bristol. We were running well at VIR in the top-10 and we got run into, which knocked the camber shims out of the front of the car. We ended up losing a couple of laps in the pits so luck really hasn’t been on our side. It’s been frustrating but myself personally as a driver I feel like I’ve improved a lot and I’m hoping our luck can change around when we come up to Stafford. It definitely hasn’t been a dream season, but you just have to keep on pushing forward and working at it. We go to every race with the goal of finishing in the top-10. This series is pretty difficult and if you look at lap times from qualifying, everyone is usually within a half second of each other. You really have to be on your game and I feel like we are always able to improve from our starting position. I think our first top-10 isn’t far away. VIR was only the second time I’ve raced on a road course and we’ve been working on our short track program and we’re hoping we can have the car dialed in when we come to Stafford.”
With her welding background, the fact that Cornett-Ching is now sponsored by Dickies has turned out to be a partnership made in heaven.
“One thing that’s really cool is while I was welding and working out in the field, I wore Dickies clothing and with them sponsoring us now, it’s been really great,” said Cornett-Ching. “I get all kinds of clothes to wear around the shop and I didn’t even know they had dress clothes, so it’s been the perfect partnership with my welding background.”
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.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.