(Stafford Springs, CT)—With the racing off-season in full swing, drivers and teams start to feel the itch to go racing, one driver who is feeling that itch is Stafford Speedway Late Model competitor Tyler Leary. Leary has every reason to be raring to get back on the track after a sophomore season that saw him score his first two career wins at Stafford as well as posting top-10 finishes in 16 of the 17 events during the 2017 season behind the wheel of his #11 Amherst Trucking Chevrolet.
“I can’t wait, especially with capping the year off with the win at the Fall Final, you want to come back that much sooner,” said Leary. “You’re always ready for a small break, but after a few weeks of doing nothing, you start to get the itch to go racing again. We didn’t really want to see the season end but we’re looking forward to 2018. I have to give a big thank you to all our sponsors, BFR for the chassis, Donny Wood at R.A.D. Automachine for the motor, Rich Bushey Signs, Amherst Trucking, Raynor Garage Doors, SDL Home Improvement, Erasable Images Powerwashing, LashCo Tree Service, Mass Wheel Works, Valley Recycling, Szawlowski Potato Farms, Kix 100.9, JB Auto, NAPA Auto Parts, Tom’s Hot Dogs, and all the track sponsors, NAPA, Mr. Rooter, 32 Signs, and CBYD 811, for their support and a big thanks to my father and my Uncle Jim for all their hard work this season.”
In racing, much as is the case in any other sport, competitors usually make a leap in performance from year one to year two and that was definitely the case for Leary and the #11 team. Leary’s rookie season saw them record 12 top-10 finishes to finish 7th in the points standings, but the closest they came to cracking the top-5 was a sixth place finish. Fast forward a year and although the season got off to a slow start for Leary and Co. with only one top-5 finish through the first 6 races of the year, they closed out the season with 8 top-5 finishes in the final 11 races, including their first 2 feature victories.
“Everyone is there to win a championship and we all race to win but out of a 10, I’d give us a 7 or 8 for the season,” said Leary. “I think by far we exceeded our expectations, especially with how we came out during my rookie season. We made a big jump this year. We consistently ran in the top-5, we knocked off our first 2 wins and we won the Fall Final, so you can’t really ask for much more in your second season. I think the biggest difference for us was just learning the track and learning about how the car handles at Stafford. Coming into my rookie year at Stafford I knew how to drive a racecar because I had raced at Monadnock for the past 4 years before but we didn’t have the car quite where it needed to be. We definitely improved the handling this past year and I also improved as a driver. Racing with guys like Tom Fearn, Glen Reen, and all those guys, it teaches you a lot and you can learn a lot from just watching those guys. Definitely driver and crew experience was the big factor for us. I think I got a little better as a driver but more importantly it was about finding the right setup for the car. The wins were absolutely huge for us. It let us know the consistency with the car was there. Really, once we started to run consistently, the car never really fell off during the second half of the year.”
Leary’s consistency throughout the second half of the 2017 season helped propel him to a 4th place finish in the 2017 Late Model point standings. With their uptick in performance during the 2017 season it would look on paper like Leary and the #11 Amherst Trucking team will be serious contenders for the championship in 2018, but Leary doesn’t want to think about that.
“I feel pretty strongly about 2018,” said Leary. “Obviously everyone has that one goal in mind to win the championship, we wouldn’t be racing if we didn’t. Hopefully everything plays out well for us and if we can stay out of trouble and everything stays together mechanically, we should be able to have another good year. I don’t like to say that we’ll be championship contenders because I feel like I’ll jinx myself. But in all aspects, if we can run like we did towards the end of last year and with the experience we have and if we can have a couple more sponsors come on board, then we can have a good shot at running for the championship.”
Leary and the rest of the Late Model division will get their first taste of action in 2018 during the 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler on April 27-29. The NAPA Spring Sizzler gets underway Friday, April 27 with a practice session for Stafford’s weekly divisions, Mr. Rooter Trucks, and Vintage All-Star cars. The practice session will be open to the public at no charge. Action continues on Saturday, April 28 with Coors Light Pole Qualifying for the Whelen Modified Tour cars, along with heat and consolation races. Saturday will wrap up with feature events for the Limited Late Model, DARE Stock, Mr. Rooter Trucks, and Vintage All-Stars. NAPA Spring Sizzler action continues on Sunday, April 29 with the NAPA Auto Parts Pit Party from 11am-12noon followed by Stafford’s SK Modifieds®, Late Models, and SK Lights joining the Whelen Modified Tour in feature action.
Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $40.00 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 seating will be priced at $42.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax.
For more information, 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.