(Stafford Springs, CT)—After closing out the 2022 Street Stock season at Stafford Speedway with 8 top-4 finishes, including 3 wins, in the final 12 races, Travis Downey and the #42 PJ Ladola and Sons Electrical Contractors team came into the 2023 season with hopes of a championship run. Those hopes were off to a rough start with finishes of 25th and 17th over his first three races of 2023, but the team has picked up their performance with two fourths and a third place finish over the last three weeks to start the climb back into championship contention. There is no better race than the extra distance Midstate Site Development Firecracker 30 for Downey to record his first win of the 2023 season.
“We’re wishing we would have had a little bit better start to the season,” said Downey. “We started the season with a wreck, then I got myself black flagged in the second race, and we wrecked again in the third race. Since then we’ve had two fourths and a third so we’re really happy with that but we really wish we didn’t have the two DNF’s to start out with. I’m looking forward to the 30 lapper this week, it should be pretty fun with the extra laps and hopefully we can get it done for a win. Big thanks goes out to the Mutch Family, Traditional Services TV, PJ Ladola and Sons, Tidy Services, the Sanger Family, and Installations Plus.”
Downey has had mixed results in his two career starts in the Midstate Site Development Firecracker 30. An early race crash left him in 22nd place during his rookie campaign of 2021 and last year’s event saw Downey head home with a 7th place finish. With Downey’s car preferring longer runs and the team starting to show the speed they ended last season with, Downey is feeling good about his chances of adding the MSD 30 to his career win total.
“The team is definitely happy with what we’re doing right now and we know that we have the speed in the car, I just had to get back in the saddle a little bit after our two wrecks,” said Downey. “The night we finished third we raced pretty hard with Ryan [Waterman] and [Aaron] Plemons for the lead and that was a lot of fun and I’m looking to have another race like that again this Friday night. I think we’ll have a top-5 car as long as everyone behaves themselves. I remember my first 30-lapper, I think I was out of the race sitting in the infield after only 2 laps. I prefer the extra laps because the car seems like it’s better on the long runs so I’m hoping for a lot of green flag racing. There’s no doubt we could get our first win of the year this Friday night. We’ve been preparing for this and we have a pretty good idea of where we want to be with the car and I think we have a good chance at winning the race.”
In order to take the checkered flag home in the Midstate Site Development Firecracker 30, Downey will have to dethrone the dynamic duo of Ryan Waterman and Travis Hydar, who between them have won all 6 Street Stock races held thus far in 2023 with Waterman claiming 4 wins and Hydar 2 wins.
“They’re both really fast,” said Downey. “We had a pretty good car to start out with this season so I can’t say I wouldn’t have been able to stick with them if we didn’t get knocked out of those two races earlier this season. Travis [Hydar] is very smooth and once he gets out front, he’s gone. Ryan [Waterman] is very experienced and he’s won a lot of races all over the place so they’re both very good drivers and you have to be on you’re A-game to race with them, but we’ll get a win, I’m not too worried.”
Downey heads into the Midstate Site Development Firecracker 30 sitting in 7th place in the points standings, 70 points behind Waterman. Starting with the MSD 30, Downey has his sights set on winning as many races as he can to bring his preseason goal of contending for a championship back into play.
“We’re looking for wins,” said Downey. “If we can get some top-5 finishes and keep on winning races, we’ll move up the standings. We were hoping for a championship this season but that kind of got spun out a little at the beginning of the year but everyone has bad luck at some point during the year and as long as we keep on finishing in the top-5 every week and winning races, it’ll come back to us.”
Stafford’s SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, and Limited Late Model divisions will join the Street Stocks in feature action this Friday night with fireworks to follow the feature action at the end of the night. Tickets for the June 30 Midstate Site Development Firecracker Street Stock 30 are available now online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets and tickets will also be available for purchase at the admission gates. Tickets are $25.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under. Reserved seating is priced at $30.00 for all ages and pit passes are $40.00 with a valid 2023 Stafford Competition License and $45.00 without a Stafford license. If you are unable to attend the event, tune into the live stream on FloRacing, the official streaming partner of Stafford Speedway.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.