(Stafford Springs, CT)—When the Exit Realty Modified Touring Series comes to Stafford Motor Speedway this Friday, June 2nd for the Inaugural MTS 125, Chlemsford, MA native Jon McKennedy is sure to be among the prerace favorites to take the checkered flag. McKennedy has two Modified Racing Series wins at Stafford, coming in Sept. 2012 and just last September. McKennedy will be returning to Stafford with the very same #29 Exit Realty Chevrolet that he piloted to victory just 7 months ago at Stafford.
“We’re coming back to Stafford with the same car that we won with in September with minor updates,” said McKennedy. “We have some good notes and that’s always a plus since the tires are a little different. We’ll have a good baseline to start off with. We’re coming to Stafford to win and I don’t see why we can’t win the race. We’ll be racing against guys we’ve raced with in the past and have won some of those races so we’ll see what happens. It’ll be interesting for sure being a new series and it’ll be a long race with a pit stop involved with a tire change allowed. It’s been a pretty good track for me the past few years and we’ve won a couple races so I’m looking forward to the race. There’s a lot of good cars and teams so it should be a good race.”
As confident as McKennedy is feeling about his chances in the MTS 125, he says that Stafford hasn’t always been a track that he looked forward to coming to and it was a stint in Art Barry’s #21 machine that helped pave the way for his Stafford victories last season and in 2012.
“Stafford wasn’t always a good track for me,” said McKennedy. “The first few years I ran there I struggled and then about 3 or 4 years ago when I drove for Art Barry, Ken Barry helped me a lot with the track as far as where to run and all that stuff. Ever since then, things have started clicking and we’ve won a few races and it’s been a good track for us. Stafford is really a track where it’s very sensitive to how you enter the corner and your line is very critical. Once we got that figured out, things started working out.”
One area that could play a huge factor in determining the winner is the adaptation of teams to the American Racer tires utilized by the Exit Realty Modified Touring Series. McKennedy will be 1 of 11 drivers who have run both MTS races at Monadnock but he doesn’t expect to have an advantage over anyone when it comes to getting to grips with the new tires for the MTS 125.
“I don’t think there’s really much of an advantage,” said McKennedy. “I think most of the guys who will be racing this Friday have raced at Monadnock either a month ago or the big race last year. Most guys are pretty good at adjusting and they’ll get used to the tire pretty quick.”
With 125 laps of ground pounding action ahead of them and only one tire they can change during the race, strategy is sure to play a big part in which cars will be contending for the win. McKennedy has his bets hedged on the winning strategy being that a driver takes on the fresh tire somewhere past halfway, but there is also the possibility of a driver not stopping at all and going the full 125 lap distance on the same set of tires.
“I’d say most everyone is going to take the tire on a pit stop,” said McKennedy. “125 laps is a long race, especially around a half-mile track. I think you might see a couple of guys try to go the whole race without taking the new tire, but I don’t think that will be a strategy to win the race. My guess is that somewhere after halfway to take on a new right rear tire and as long as there’s a caution or two to regroup the field may be the winning strategy. Any time you can stop after lap-60 I think you’ll have a good chance at contending for the win. You always have to have some adjustment built into the car because with only one new tire, it changes the balance of the car quite a bit. It’ll be something new for guys to adjust to, including us. We haven’t put a new tire on during a race yet, so it’ll be something for us to figure out.”
The Exit Realty Modified Touring Series will take to the track with qualifying beginning at 6:15pm. Stafford’s five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions will also be in action. Tickets for this event are on sale now and are priced at $30.00 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 seat tickets are $32.00 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.