By: Paul Arute
(Stafford Springs, CT)—Since its inception during the 2014 season, the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K event has become a headline event at Stafford Speedway, delivering thrilling racing from the SK Modified® division and posting over $30,000 in awards. The level of competition in the SK 5K special event has been high; in 3 years fans have seen 3 of the best Modified drivers in New England make it to NAPA Victory lane with Rowan Pennink (2014), Ryan Preece (2015), and Ted Christopher (2016). The 2017 edition of the NAPA SK 5K will be no different when the event returns Friday, July 7th. Deep fields of SK Modified® drivers have dotted the 2017 season thus far with full fields of 27 modifieds each week. One change for the 2017 season will be the scheduled race distance. Historically the race distance had been left up to the fans to decide in an online fan vote with each race ending up at the 100-lap distance. For the 2017 NAPA SK 5K, Stafford officials have decided to officially make the event a 100-lap feature.
“After talking to fans and drivers as well as looking back and seeing how great the 100 lap features have been the last few years, we decided to make the NAPA SK 5K officially a 100-lap feature,” explained Stafford GM Mark Arute. “The 100-lap race distance has provided some of the best racing I’ve ever seen the last few years and I expect this year will be much of the same.”
Drivers are equally excited to see the NAPA Auto Parts SK 5K race distance set at 100 laps, especially two of the previous winners. Rowan Pennink, winner of the inaugural NAPA SK 5K in 2014, credits his 2014 victory to a big momentum change for him and his team. Since that 2014 win, Pennink has won 2 SK Modified® championships in a row, etching his name amongst the all time greats in modified racing.
“The SK 5K is always a race that we look forward to ever since Stafford brought that race into the schedule, and especially after we won the first one,” explained Pennink, driver of the #99 Independent Wheel SK Modified®. “When we won the first NAPA SK 5K race it was over halfway through the season after we won and we ended up winning 4 more races. After having a really bad start to the season, it turned our luck around. We haven’t had the greatest start to this season but we’ve been sneaking up on it and hopefully we can have the car right where it needs to be for the SK 5K.”
Pennink is still looking for his first win of 2017 and is looking forward to the extra distance NAPA SK 5K feature on July 7th.
“We’ve run 100 laps each time so far so with or without a fan vote it seems like they all want to see 100 laps of SK racing,” continued Pennink. “It’s a great paying race and everyone definitely steps their game up for that race, so we’re looking forward to it. 100 laps is good for the drivers and the fans.”
The all-time winningest driver in Stafford Speedway history, Ted Christopher, used a win in the 2016 edition of the NAPA SK 5K to turn around his season and revitalize his SK Modified® program at Stafford. After going winless for the first time in 29 years during the 2015 season, Christopher, nicknamed “TC”, thrilled fans battling back to take the lead late to win his first SK 5K and pocket over $11,000. TC is confident his experience and momentum will benefit him in the July 7th 100-lap NAPA SK 5K feature.
“With 100 laps for the race, maybe everyone will use their heads,” explained Ted. “I think my Tour experience helps out some with the longer distance races and we have a good setup in the car for a 100 lap race. We feel pretty good, I think we’ve been just about the fastest car each week in practice and the races. I’m looking forward to the race. It’s good money and we took home a good payday last year with the Dunleavy’s bonus. We’d love to win the race again.”
The $5,000 to win and over $30,000 in posted awards for the 100-lap big money NAPA SK 5K event will be an event not to miss. Discount tickets for the NAPA SK 5k are also available at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores. For a full list of the 71 participating locations throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, please call the speedway office or visit us on the web at www.staffordmotorspeedway.com/participating-napa-auto-parts-stores. Tickets for the July 7th NAPA SK 5K are available and on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $30.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for kids ages 6-14, and kids 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $32.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Stafford Speedway offers free parking with free overnight parking for self-contained RV’s available There will also be a barbeque taking place on the midway with some great food available to race fans for only $10.
For more information on the July 7th NAPA SK 5K, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.