(Stafford Springs, CT)—With just over a month left in the 2023 racing season at Stafford Motor Speedway, the race for championships in the track’s five weekly divisions are taking shape with contenders separating themselves from the pack. Here we take a look at each of Stafford’s weekly divisions and who has emerged as the leading contenders to take home a 2023 track championship.
SK Modified® Division
2-time defending SK Modified® champion Todd Owen has placed his #81 Cooker Construction machine in a perfect position to make some Stafford history. Since the inception of the SK Modified® division in 1982, no driver has ever managed to win three consecutive track championships. Owen has already joined Jerry Pearl, Mike Christopher, Bob Potter, Ted Christopher, Rowan Pennink, and Ronnie Williams as back-to-back champions and he sits in a prime position to become the first to win three in a row. While he hasn’t been the most dominant car this season, Owen has been by far the most consistent car, finishing all 13 races thus far in the top-10 and he leads all drivers with 8 top-5 finishes to go along with his victory in the August 4 NAPA SK 5k. Owen heads into the final 6 races of the season with a 36 point lead over Cory DiMatteo and the #11 Hummel Brothers Hot Dogs team, who won their second race of the season on August 18 and a 38 point lead over Jimmy Blewett. Blewett kicked off the 2023 season by winning the NAPA Spring Sizzler® feature event and he parlayed that season opening win into leading the points standings for the majority of the season. Several on-track issues over the last several weeks has seen Blewett fall from the lead back to third in the standings but the #85 Primary Services Group / John Blewett, Inc. crew will be looking to regain their early season advantage over the final 6 weeks.
“Our plan is to keep doing what we’ve been doing and keep on finishing races.” – Todd Owen
“Our goal is to keep winning races at all costs.” – Cory DiMatteo
“We’ll be trying to stay as consistent as possible and try to win another race. I don’t think we got any slower, just other people got much faster. We’ve had a few off weeks with a carburetor issue one week and another small issue and then we got caught up in the early incident this past week so we didn’t get a chance to see what we had. We’ve got everything worked out and I wanted to come to Stafford this season to have some fun and it’s been fun to run up front with guys like Todd [Owen] and hopefully we can accumulate some more points and get ourselves closer.” – Jimmy Blewett
Late Model Division
Just as Owen is looking to make Stafford history in the SK Modified® division, current Late Model points leader Kevin Gambacorta and the #23 Lavigne Law team are looking to etch their names into a special place in the Stafford record books. Gambacorta has won championships in the Street Stock and Limited Late Model divisions to join Ron Narducci, George Janoski, Tom Rosai, Mike Stefanik, Chuck Docherty, Doug Coby, Woody Pitkat, Michael Bennett, and Tom Fearn as drivers who have won track titles in two different divisions and he is seeking to become the first driver to win a title in three different divisions. The 2023 season has been good to Gambacorta, who is tied for the division lead with 3 wins while leading all drivers with 9 top-5 and 11 top-10 finishes in the first 12 races. The race for the 2023 championship has seen Gambacorta and the #92 King Gray Coach Lines team of Tom Fearn swap the lead in the standings between themselves with Gambacorta holding a 32 point lead over Fearn with 5 races to go. Michael Wray sits third in the standings, 62 points behind Gambacorta with Adam Gray 64 points behind in fourth and Wayne Coury, Jr. fifth, 68 points behind.
“The plan is to keep on racing like we’ve all season long. We talked about things a few weeks ago and right now we’re not even thinking or talking about the championship. Maybe for the last race of the year, depending on the situation, we’ll pay attention to it but we’re having fun winning races and finishing on the podium right now.” – Kevin Gambacorta
“We have to continue to be consistent and finish up front. We had a string there of four top-3 finishes in a row and then last week we had a bad week and we can’t afford to have any bad weeks. We’ll try to put the car on the podium every week and wherever it goes from there, it goes.” – Tom Fearn
SK Light Modified Division
The SK Light division has seen 2020 track champion Brian Sullivan in control of the standings since the beginning of the year thanks to 3 wins over the first 4 races of the season. As good as Sullivan and the #46 Monaco Ford team have been with a division leading 4 wins, 8 top-5, and 11 top-10 finishes this season, George Bessette, Jr. and the #39 Lasco Roofing and Sheet Metal team have been just as good with 3 wins, 9 top-10, and 10 top-10 finishes. A win by Bessette combined with a 21st place finish for Sullivan, his first finish outside the top-10 this season, on August 18, has tightened the championship race down to 8 points, or 4 positions on the track between Sullivan and Bessette. Tyler Chapman, who dueled with Tyler Barry for the SK Light crown last season, sits third in the standings, 48 points behind Sullivan with Alexander Pearl fourth, 62 points behind.
“The goal is to win races and whatever happens, happens. We’re not really concerned about the championship, we just want to win races and not fall out early like we did last week.” – Brian Sullivan
“If anything, we just want to keep on being consistent and stay out of trouble, that’s all you really can do. No one decides your outcome but yourself so the more patient you can be or how you approach a battle in front of you or make a pass off the turns determines how your season is going to go. From here on out we’re going to stay out of trouble and shoot for wins. That’s been our plan all season long and nothing is going to change now.” – George Bessette, Jr.
Limited Late Model Division
The Limited Late Model division has been a back and forth affair between trio of the #6 Rosati’s / Riley Generators team of 2-time champion Jeremy Lavoie, the #14 Gendon Auto Parts / Garrett’s Carpentry team of Kevin Cormier, and the #59 Utility Services New England team of Matt Clement at the top of the standings. Clement and Cormier both opened the season with strong efforts that saw Clement win twice and post 5 podium finishes in the first 6 races while Cormier 3 wins in the first 6 races. Lavoie’s consistency of finishing every race in the top-6 this season has seen him overtake both Clement and Cormier as the season hit the summer months and he heads into the final 5 races with a 16 point advantage over Cormier and an 18 point lead over Clement. Also in the mix is the defending champion #28 NAPA Tolland team of Rich Hammann, who has won the last 2 feature events to close within 36 points of Lavoie going into the final 5 races of the season.
“We’re going to prepare the car just the same as we’ve done all year and hopefully we can get some better finishes than we’ve had the last couple weeks. We’re shooting for podium finishes and if wins come for us then they come but we’re definitely looking at the big picture these last couple weeks.” – Jeremy Lavoie
“Pretty much just try to finish races and stay in the top-5 while not making any stupid mistakes like we did earlier in the year. We had a couple of penalties earlier in the seasons that put us behind and we’d probably be in the point lead without those penalties. We just have to stay close to those guys and try to make up points wherever we can and hope those guys slip up.” – Kevin Cormier
“If we win races then the championship will come. I’m an immediate gratification type of guy and I love feature trophies so those guys can duke it out for the championship while I’ll be focused on keeping them in the rearview mirror and stacking up trophies.” – Matt Clement
Street Stock Division
The Street Stock division in 2023 has been a story of two teams exerting domination over the rest of the field. Travis Hydar and the #11 Hydar Construction and Ryan Waterman and the #31 Fairway Mortgage team have won 10 of the 12 Street Stock races held this season with Waterman leading Hydar in wins by a 6 to 4 margin. Waterman also holds the point lead over Hydar by 14 point margin. The next closest car in the standings is the #67 Faith Construction team of Aaron Plemons, 132 points behind Waterman. Waterman opened the season with 4 wins in the first 5 races and he has led the standings from the start of the year to now with Hydar slowly chipping away at the margin to Waterman.
“The plan is to keep on having good points nights. I’d like to at least get two more wins to tie the record for most wins in a season, that would be pretty cool. Obviously I’d like to win the championship. It might have to be in my own family owned car and not the #31 but we’ll see what happens. Wins take care of points and that pretty much sums things up.” – Ryan Waterman
“We’re just going to keep on doing what we’ve been doing since that’s been working so far. Try to stay out of trouble and keep things going.” – Travis Hydar
The 2023 season continues this Friday night, August 25th with all five weekly divisions in feature action as well as a Kids Big Wheel Race as part of Maybury Material Handling Back to SKool Kids Night. Big wheel race registration with a $10 donation to the Catherine V. Hubbard Animal Foundation can be completed online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets. Admission tickets are $20.00 for adults with all kids 14 & under admitted free of charge. Reserved seating is priced at $25.00 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, or Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.