(Stafford Springs, CT)—After struggling for 2 seasons to crack into the top-10 in Stafford Speedway’s DARE Stock ranks, the 2017 season has seen Chris Bagnall enjoy a breakout season. The driver of the #77 Sullivan’s Premier Glass Chevrolet entered the 2017 season with 19 top-10 finishes in 29 starts but he had not yet recorded a top-5 finish. That all changed back in June when Bagnall recorded not only his first top-5, but it was a third place effort that found him celebrating on the podium. Bagnall credits a new car acquired during the winter as the impetus for his change in fortune.
“I would say the biggest thing for us was I was running an older car with a 305 engine and in the off-season we bought Ryan Fearn’s old #3 car that has a crate engine in it,” said Bagnall. “It needed a few updates but it was a much better piece that what I was running. My goal at the start of the season was to get into the top-5 and winning is the ultimate goal. Getting into the top-5 and running with guys like Johnny Walker is where we want to be and I think we’ve done a great job progressing to where we are now with having to work with a small budget. Obviously we’d like to be champion, as would everyone else, but if we can maintain in the top-5, that would be great for us. We’re meeting our goals right now, but we’re not done. We want more and that’s what we’re working towards. Maintaining some consistency and getting a couple of wins is the next step. We’re very proud of where we are right now in the top-5.”
In 11 starts this season, Bagnall has posted a total of 4 top-5 and 10 top-10 finishes and he is currently fifth in the DARE Stock points standings. Bagnall is also currently riding a streak of 8 consecutive top-8 finishes and he feels like his first DARE Stock victory lies just around the corner for the #77 car.
“I think we’re right there and we’re capable of winning,” said Bagnall. “We wanted to get into the top-5 and be consistent there and now that we’ve done that, we want to get our first win. We’re working on getting some more long term speed in the car and we’re looking for a win this year. I have some great people around me and we all discuss things and we’re all working really well together. To be able to win at Stafford where so many huge names have come out of like Bouchard, Bodine, and Greg Sacks, would be something that I could take with me to my grave as one of the best things I’ve ever done. It would be huge because as a kid I never thought I’d ever be competing at Stafford, never mind winning.”
Bagnall came to Stafford in 2015 as a DARE Stock rookie after racing champ karts and flat karts at the Nutmeg Kart Club, Poughkeepsie, Pinnacle, and Lime Rock and he has shown to be a quick study in the DARE Stock division with 29 top-10 finishes in 40 career starts to date. Now that Bagnall has started to make appearances in the top-5, he is continuing to learn lessons to apply for future races and seasons in the DARE Stock division.
“Learning the car and what it needed was the biggest thing for me at the beginning of the year and to get that top-5 finish was like a win for me,” said Bagnall. “The DARE Stocks are so competitive that being able to get into the top-5 every week is tough and to be on the podium let us know that we could run with those guys and it created a huge drive in the team to get even better. Whereas we were tuning to get in the top-10 the last 2 years, now we’re tuning on the car to get into the top-5. I really feel like our program has taken a great leap forward and we’re continuing to dig and go forward. Even though this season isn’t done yet, we’re already looking towards next year and things we can do to improve the car. There’s definitely room for improvement and next season we should be even better and hopefully be able to be contending for the championship. We’d like to pick up a few more sponsors and the only way we can do that is to run up front. I’d like to thank Brian Bagnall Construction, Advanced Auto Repair in Canaan, Sullivan’s Premier Glass for allowing me to get out of work to do what I love to do, and D&M Auto in Winsted for their support this season and thanks to my Uncle Brian Bagnall, Brett Brickett, Ken Johnston for their help at the shop at the track, and a big thanks to my girlfriend Carole Fraher. She lets me store the car in her garage and she is my tire specialist on Friday nights.”
Bagnall and the DARE Stock drivers will be back in action this Friday night at Stafford as part of the Girls Night Out / Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund Track Walk / K&N Promo Night program. Ladies can get a general admission ticket for only $10 while everyone can be part of the track walk for a $10 donation to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which will be collected by NAPA representatives. There will also be K&N gift bags to be given away to fans in attendance. Regular tickets are priced at $17.50 for adult general admission, kids 6-14 are $5.00 and kids 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is available for $20 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Motor Speedway offers plenty of free parking along with overnight parking available for self contained Recreational Vehicles.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.