(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway’s SK Light Modified division has seen an epic championship duel between Tony Membrino, Jr. and Joey Ferrigno. Membrino has already been an SK Light champion, winning the title in 2013 while Ferrigno has won the most races in the division the last 2 years with 5 wins each in 2014 and 2015 but he came up short in the championship race. Ferrigno also knows what it takes to win a championship as he won the DARE Stock championship in 2005.
Membrino began the 2016 season by winning four of the first five races to establish himself as a championship contender and he leads all drivers with 5 wins thus far. Ferrigno has only 1 win to his name in 2016, but in 11 races, he has been on the podium 8 times, including 4 second place finishes. Membrino had built up a point lead as large as 38 points over Ferrigno after the June 10th event, but Ferrigno has battled back to sit tied with Membrino in the standings entering this Friday night’s action. Both drivers have an average finish of 3.8 through the first 11 races and with both drivers so evenly matched, the race for the championship promises to deliver an exciting conclusion.
“The biggest hit we took was a wreck back in July,” said Membrino. “I think we had as large a lead as we had because [Ferrigno] had a wreck early in the season and then we’ve had a couple of bad races and he was able to capitalize on that and now its coming down to I have to beat him on the track and he has to beat us on the track. I think we both have the same goals of just going out and trying to win races and let the points do what they’re going to do. That’s what also makes it fun because we’re both racing to the checkered flag versus the head table at the banquet. It’s going to be an exciting race to the end of the season.”
“We like to win and take home trophies,” said Ferrigno. “I think we’re right on par with where we’ve been the last couple of seasons just with less wins. We’ve been a little luckier avoiding wrecks and I think there’s been a couple of races that we should have won that we didn’t get. Like last Friday night, I think we had the car to beat but we got caught up in something early and we had to come back through the field. I think we started around 9th so we had to come through the field twice, which just shows that the car is on point and all the hard work during the week is paying off for us. A championship would mean a lot to us, especially going up against Tony. We’re both on top of our games and I think any other season either him or I would be checking out in the points race.”
No driver can mount a championship run without a great crew behind them and both Membrino and Ferrigno are no different. They both credit the hard work that their crews put in their shops every week as the main reason for their on-track success.
“Everything we’ve accomplished this season has been dependent on the team,” said Membrino. “A lot of times we’re in the shop Friday night and early Saturday morning after racing at Stafford to get the car changed over to run Waterford. We couldn’t have done what we’ve done without the help we get at the shop. My dad is a big part, Ed Flemke, Jeff, Kevin, my uncle Marty, my brother Mark is back home from being stationed in Long Island, and the wives and girlfriends all pitch in when they can. I can’t emphasize just how much of a team effort it’s been this year. I feel extremely blessed to have this kind of support. I know I can be a jerk sometimes and it makes me wonder what I did to have such great support from all these awesome people and it’s been very humbling for me.”
“I’m always in the shop, Paul French is always there, and we have a few guys who come on Mondays and a few that come on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and there’s always something to do,” said Ferrigno. “Greg Long, Dean + Debbie Streeter, and John D’Annello are the core group at the shop along with Frank Lemieux. Frank puts a wrench on every nut and bolt on the car every week and he can actually tell me how the car was handling by what’s loose and what’s tight and what bolts he can get a quarter turn on. He’ll be nutting and bolting the car on a Tuesday night and he’ll roll out from under the car and tell me I was a little tight off. I’ll look at him like ‘What?’ and he’ll say ‘I got a half turn on the lower right hand side control arm bolt and that usually means when you’re tight.’ It’s that kind of attention to detail we have that keeps us running up front.”
And with the exceptional seasons that both drivers are having, they are both focused on winning more races rather than worrying about racing for points.
“I haven’t really looked at the points but my guys see the points and they give me the scoop,” said Membrino. “A championship would be awesome. As soon as you win one race you start thinking about how can I win next week? It’s the same thing with championships. I’ve already won one in the SK Lights and we want to win another one but I really want to get more wins. As many championships as Teddy Christopher has won in his career, I think a lot of people recognize more the fact that he’s won over 100 races at Stafford. If we’re going to win a championship this year, we don’t want to sneak into it, we want to kick down the door by winning the most races.”
“We have 7 races left so I’d like to bring home 7 more trophies,” said Ferrigno. “We go to the track each week to win and not to sound arrogant, but if you don’t think you can win then why go race? It’s kind of like skiing, as soon as you think about falling, you end up falling down.”
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.