BY: Kyle Souza / PHOTO: Tom Morris/MyRaceNews
Ronnie Williams has become the top contender at Stafford Motor Speedway.
Williams earned his second consecutive SK Modified championship at Stafford last year, both driving for Adam Skowyra and the No. 50 team in Stafford’s premiere division. With the feat, he became just the sixth driver in Stafford’s history to win back-to-back titles in the division. He joins Jerry Pearl, Mike Christopher, Bob Potter, Ted Christopher, and Rowan Pennink in the list. No drivers have won three straight.
“It’s definitely a tough division, you have guys that have been racing since I was born, I’ve been watching them as I have been growing up,” Williams said. “Keith Rocco, Eric Berndt… then you have some new guys like Bryan Narducci, Teddy Hodgdon, Mikey Flynn coming in this year… it’s a division I always wanted to be competitive in, but I never thought I would race in it. To be back-to-back champion, it’s a cool feeling. But we’re looking for the next one now.”
A former winner in Stafford’s SK Light Modified division, Williams started his winning tenure in the premier class in the summer of 2014, and scored seven more victories before the opportunity with Skowyra was real. Since their first race together, the combination has won nine times in SK Modified competition.
“It was not really an opportunity I thought I would get,” Williams said. “We had our family car, and when you run a family car, I don’t think people really think you are looking for an opportunity. The opportunity came around Thanksgiving of 2017 and we sat down as a family and figured out what would be in the best interest of us… and it’s been success ever since. We have two SK 5K races and we’ve gone back-to-back for the championship. It’s just a good combination with a great group of guys. We are looking forward to going back to the race track and knowing every time we go there we can win the race.”
Last year’s battle went down to the final lap. Literally.
Todd Owen, who had won three of his own races entering the NAPA Fall Final, was at the front of the field for nearly the entire 40-lap distance in the season-finale. Owen would take the checkered flag — adding a fourth win — but the attention quickly turned to Williams, who would need to finish fourth or better to tie Owen, and win via a tiebreaker.
He finished fourth. No one could have imagined the championship battle would end with a tie after 20 races in Connecticut.
“It was one of the more fun and most stressful days,” Williams said. “We were having a lot of success in the middle of the year and from July on I don’t think we finished outside the top six, it was an impressive run we had. Todd was strong all year, only had that one wreck… coming down to the final laps, it was a stressful weekend and a stressful race. Nothing seemed to be going our way that race, but we were able to get that tiebreaker.”
As Williams looks to become champion for a third-straight year, his mindset continues to be about giving back to the team members who work so hard for him in the shop.
“The wins and championships are great for me, but I do it for the guys that work on the car every week. I’m at the shop on Tuesday’s with them — but they put their life and soul into it — it means more than just a championship,” Williams said. “To be able to do it for them, it was emotional. Being back-to-back at Stafford, there aren’t many people that can say that. It’s a cool feat, and something we want to keep doing. We don’t want to get off the wave.”
Williams is also planning to compete part-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and full-time on the Tri Track Open Modified Series once the 2020 season begins.
Stafford’s season is tentatively scheduled to begin with a NASCAR special on Friday, May 22, though that date is fluid due to the COVID-19 pandemic.