Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dowling, Arute, Debbis, Durand, & Robinson Score August 14 Weekly Racing Feature Wins at Stafford Motor Speedway

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway hosted Weekly Racing action on Friday, August 14 with all 5 of its divisions in feature action.  After winning the biggest SK Modified® race of the season one week ago in the NAPA SK 5k, Chase Dowling made it back to back wins by taking the checkered flag in the 40-lap SK Modified® feature.  Paul Arute was a first time 2020 winner in the Late Model feature, Derek Debbis won for the second time in the SK Light feature, Andrew Durand scored his third win in the Limited Late Model feature, and Zack Robinson scored his third points paying win and fourth overall win in the Street Stock feature.

In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature, Tyler Leary took the early lead after holding off a challenge from Troy Talman.  Andrew Molleur was third in line at the start with David Arute fourth and Michael Christopher, Jr. fifth.  Talman took the lead from Leary on lap-7 and his move kicked Leary to the high groove and he fell back to a side by side duel with Arute for fourth place as Molleur took second and Christopher took third.  Leary was able to get in line in fourth in front of Arute on lap-10.  Arute would lose fifth to Chase Dowling on lap-12 as Talman continued to lead Molleur and Christopher.  Marcello Rufrano brought the caution out with 16 laps complete with a spin in turn 2.

Talman took the lead back under green with Christopher and Molleur going side by side for second.  Dowling was fourth in line with Stephen Kopcik up to fifth.  Ronnie Williams was side by side with Arute for sixth and Todd Owen was in eighth place.  Dowling got by Christopher to move into second place behind Talman on lap-21 and Kopcik was up to fourth as Molleur slid from second back to fifth in line.

With 10 laps to go Talman was still in command but Dowling was right on his back bumper looking high and low for a way to get by and take over the lead.  Dowling made the move on lap-31 coming out of turn 4 and he took over the lead.  Christopher was still third with Kopcik, Molleur, Williams, and Keith Rocco making up the top-7.

Dowling slowly pulled away from Talman over the closing laps to take down his second consecutive win of the 2020 season.  Christopher finished third with Kopcik and Molleur rounding out the top-5.

In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Rick Lanagan took the lead at the green with Marc Curtis in second.  Trace Beyer was third in line with Dave Wray fourth and Paul Arute in fifth.  Just behind Arute was Tyler Leary, Al Saunders, Wayne Coury, Jr., Tom Fearn, and Adam Gray. 

Wray took third from Beyer on lap-9 and Arute followed him by to take fourth and drop Beyer back to fifth.  Arute took third from Wray on lap-11 and Leary was looking to follow him by.  Leary made the move on lap-12 to move into fourth and with Wray stuck in the high lane, he fell back to 9th as Al Saunders was fifth, Coury sixth, Fearn seventh, and Gray eighth as Lanagan continued to hold the lead with Curtis in second.

Arute continued his charge to the front as he took second from Curtis on lap-17 and his move opened the door for Leary to take third and Al Saunders to move into fourth.  Curtis would lose fifth to Coury on lap-20 but just as Coury made the move the caution came out for a spin in turn 2 by Greg DeMone to put Curtis back into fifth for the restart.

Arute took the lead on the restart with Leary taking second.  Lanagan slotted into third with Al Saunders in fourth and Curtis fifth when the caution came back out with 20 laps complete as Michael Bennett and Ryan Fearn spun on the frontstretch.

Arute took the lead back under green with Leary all over his back bumper in second.  Lanagan and Al Saunders were side by side for third with Curtis in fifth.  With 5 laps to go, Arute and Leary were still locked in a tight duel for the lead with Lanagan still side by side for third. 

Leary’s car dropped off the pace over the final 5 laps as he slid back to fourth at the finish while Arute took down his first win of the 2020 season.  Al Saunders finished second with Coury, Leary, and Lanagan rounding out the top-5.

In the 20-lap SK Light feature, Robert Bloxsom, III took the lead at the green with Bob Charland, George Bessette, Jr., and Joey Ferrigno lined up behind him.  The caution came out with 1 lap complete as Andrew Les spun in turn 4 and Wesley Prucker took to the infield grass to avoid Les.

Bloxsom took the on the restart with Charland right behind him in second.  Bessette was third in line followed by Tyler Chapman in fourth and Norm Sears in fifth.  Nicole Chambrello took a trip through the frontstretch infield and came to a stop to bring the caution back out with 3 laps complete.

Bloxsom took the lead back under green and one lap after the restart Tyler Chapman made a power move to shoot into second with Nick Anglace taking third.  Anglace nearly took second from Chapman but fell back to third and  the caution came back out with 5 laps complete for spins in turn 2 by Alina Bryden, Chambrello, and Anthony Forino.

Tyler Chapman took the lead from Bloxsom on the restart with Anglace pulling alongside Bloxsom for second.  A multi-car pileup into the turn 1 wall involving Peter Bennett, Bert Ouellette, Cassandra Cole, Jacob Perry, and Sami Anderson brought the caution and red flags out with 7 laps complete. 

Anglace went around Chapman on the restart to take the lead.  Derek Debbis came up to second with Tyler Chapman and Bessette side by side for third.  Debbis took the lead but just as he took the lead Wesley Prucker spun coming off turn 4 to bring the caution back out with 10 laps complete and put Debbis back to second for the restart.

Debbis powered his way into the lead on the restart with Tyer Chapman and Anglace side by side for second.  Anglace nearly spun in turn 3 on lap-12 but he gathered his car up and rejoined in a side by side battle with Jonathan Puleo for sixth place.  Anglace took sixth from Puleo on lap-15 as Debbis was leading Tyler Chapman, Steven Chapman, Alexander Pearl, and Bessette.

Debbis held the Chapman brothers off to take down his second win of the 2020 season.  Tyler Chapman beat Steven to the line for second with Pearl and Bessette rounding out the top-5.

In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, Lucas Leone took the lead at the green flag with Alexandra Fearn moving into second.  Matt Clement took third with Andrew Durand fourth and Jeremy Lavoie fifth.  Devon Jencik, who started on the pole, slid back to seventh and with 2 laps complete looked to lose an engine going into turn 3 as a plume of smoke appeared from underneath his car and he spun in turn 3 to bring the caution out.

On the restart Durand went from fourth to the lead, streaking his way through traffic.  Leone settled into second with Lavoie third, Clement fourth and Fearn slid back to fifth.  Lavoie made a move to take second from Leone on lap-6 and his move opened the door for Clement to take third and drop Leone back to fourth, just in front of Fearn as Durand continued to lead the race.

Fearn took fourth from Leone on lap-9 while Durand was staring to slowly extend his advantage over Lavoie and Clement, who were locked in a tight duel for second.  Damian Palardy spun in turn 4 to bring the yellow back out with 10 laps complete.

Durand took the lead back under green while Clement got by Lavoie to move into second.  Fearn also got by Lavoie to take third and drop Lavoie back to fourth with Leone rounding out the top-5.  Fearn made a move to the inside of Clement for second on lap-13 and she completed the pass on lap-14.  With 5 laps to go, Durand maintained a several car length lead over Fearn with Clement, Lavoie, and Leone still making up the top-5.

Durand led Fearn to the checkered flag to pick up his third win of the 2020 season.  Clement came home in third with Lavoie and Leone rounding out the top-5.

In the 20-lap Street Stock feature, Bobby Stirk, III appeared to lose his engine at the start as he laid down a trail of oil and his car was smoking heavily to bring the caution out.  George Yuska powered his way into the lead on the start with Larry Barnett coming up to second.  Barnett took the lead from Yuska on lap-4 while Chris Meyer was third.  Zack Robinson went around Nickolas Hovey on lap-5 to move into fourth and Robison’s pass opened the door for Adrien Paradis, III and Meghan Fuller to also get by Hovey and drop him back to seventh. 

Robinson took second from Meyer on lap-8 while Paradis was fourth in line and Fuller was fifth as Barnett continued to lead the race.  Robinson closed the gap to Barnett and by lap-12 he was looking to the inside of Barnett for the race lead.  Robinson took the lead from Barnett on lap-13 while Fuller was now up to third behind the two leaders.  Paradis was still fourth with Jason Lafayette now in fifth with 7 laps to go.

Fuller took second from Barnett with a pass in turn 4 on lap-14 and set her sights on narrowing the gap to Robinson for the race lead.  Fuller couldn’t get close enough to Robinson to make a bid for the lead as Robinson scored his third points paying and fourth overall win of the 2020 season.  Barnett finished third with Lafayette and Frank L’Etoile, Jr. rounding out the top-5.

For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at (860) 684-2783, or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.

###

SK MODIFIED® (40)

1) Chase Dowling, Roxbury

2) Troy Talman, Oxford, MA

3) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott

4) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown

5) Andrew Molleur, Shelton

6) Ronnie Williams, Tolland

7) Keith Rocco, Berlin

8) Todd Owen, Somers

9) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, MA

10) Tony Membrino, Jr., Wolcott

11) Michael Gervais, Jr., Wolcott

12) David Arute, Stafford Springs

13) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury

14) Matt Gallo, Kensington

15) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven

16) Tyler Hines, North Haven

17) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA

18) Jeff Malave, Manchester

19) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, MA

20) Todd Patnode, Swanzey, NH

21) Fran Siana, Enfield

22) Bryan Narducci, Colchester

23) Darin Renihan, Woodbury

24) Tom Bolles, Ellington

25) Matt Vassar, Plantsville

LATE MODEL (30)

1) Paul Arute, Northridge, MA

2) Al Saunders, Stafford

3) Wayne Coury, Jr., Fairfield

4) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, MA

5) Richard Lanagan, Broad Brook

6) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA

7) Marc Curtis, Brookfield, MA

8) Adam Gray, Granby, Ma

9) Darrell Keane, Enfield

10) Michael Wray, Northford

11) Michael Bennett, Willington

12) John Blake, North Haven

13) Duane Provost, Palmer, MA

14) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin

15) R.J. Surdell, Willington

16) Dave Wray, Durham

17) Gregory DeMone, Ludlow, MA

18) Gary Theriault, Enfield

19) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma

20) Trace Beyer, Stratton, VT

21) Cliff Saunders, Stafford

SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)

1) Derek Debbis, Oakdale

2) Tyler Chapman, Ellington

3) Steven Chapman, Ellington

4) Alexander Pearl, Salem

5) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury

6) Jonathan Puleo, Branford

7) Nick Anglace, Oxford

8) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon

9) Norm Sears, Andover

10) Bob Charland, Stafford

11) Robert Bloxsom, III, Stratford

12) Josh Carey, East Longmeadow, MA

13) Wesley Prucker, Stafford

14) Andrew Les, Palmer, MA

15) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford

16) Amanda West, Colchester

17) Alina Bryden, West Springfield, MA

18) Todd Douillard, Palmer, MA

19) Ethan Durocher, Canterbury

20) Peter Bennett, Cromwell

21) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook

22) Sami Anderson, Wolcott

23) Jacob Perry, Stonington

24) Bert Ouellette, Ellington

25) Anthony Forino, Waterbury

26) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington

27) Nathan Pytko, Douglas, MA

LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)

1) Andrew Durand, Chicopee, MA

2) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, MA

3) Matt Clement, Wethersfield

4) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks

5) Lucas Leone, Southington

6) Gary Patnode, New Hartford

7) Jay Clement, Wethersfield

8) Rich Hammann, Tolland

9) Damian Palardy, Willington

10) Devon Jencik, Canton

STREET STOCK (20)

1) Zack Robinson, Putnam

2) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, MA

3) Larry Barnett, Moosup

4) Jason Lafayette, Somers

5) Frank L’Etoile, Jr., Wethersfield

6) Adrien Paradis, III, Plainville

7) Nickolas Hovey, Chaplin

8) George Yuska, S. Glastonbury

9) Jason Finkbein, Manchester

10) Chris Meyer, North Franklin

11) Kyle Johnson, Manchester

12) Daltin Mccarthy, Oxford, MA

13) Chris Danielczuk, Goshen

14) John Orsini, Morris

15) Marvin Minkler, Stamford

16) David Macha, Sr., Columbia

17) Christopher Phelps, New Salem, MA

18) Thomas Hanley, Winsted

19) Craig Zervas, Tewksbury, MA

20) Adam Huff, Philadelphia, PA

21) Bobby Stirk, III, Naugatuck

Bonuses from Tri-Track Modified Series and R.A.D. Auto Machine Posted for Saturday, July 18th Event

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway Street Stock and SK Light Modified teams will be busy this weekend running both Friday, July 17th and Saturday, July 18th. Drivers will have a little extra incentive in Saturday’s event with bonus money provided to the top-3 from Tri-Track Series in the SK Light feature and bonus money from R.A.D. Auto Machine in the Street Stock feature. Saturday’s Bud Light Open 80 will be headlined by the Open Modifieds but the SK Light Modified division and Street Stocks will also take center stage running 30 laps and 20 laps respectively. 

“With the late start in the season and the capacity limit we had to get a little creative with the schedule,” explained Stafford Speedway President Mark Arute. “Both the SK Light division and Street Stock divisions have put on excellent shows and are full of new drivers. This gives drivers an opportunity to get more seat time. Big thank you to Wayne and Ed at Tri-Track and Don Wood at R.A.D. Auto Machine for posting the additional money.”

The Tri-Track Modified series bonus will pay across the top-3 finishers in the SK Light Modified feature for a total of $500 including $250 for 1st and $125 for 2nd and 3rd. In addition to the purse increase of approximately 35% along with Stafford’s weekly contingency bonuses from Dunleavy Truck and Trailer Repair, Maybury Material Handling, SparkVR, Olson Apartments and New England Race Fuels, posted awards for the 30 lap event total $4,825 including $875 to win. 

“We’ve been working with Stafford on scheduling throughout the 2020 season to avoid conflicts,” explained Ed Bennett of the Tri-Track Modified Series. “We like what Stafford has done with their racing program and wanted to get involved. The SK Light division is great for Modified racing in New England and we’re excited to post a bonus for this event. We look forward to continuing to work with Stafford to further grow Modified racing.”

The Street Stock division will also race for extra money provided by R.A.D. Auto Machine. $250 in bonus money will be up for grabs including $125 for 1st and $75 for 2nd and 3rd. After Stafford Speedway weekly contingency bonuses from Big Haus Racing Products and Sunoco Race Fuels the winner will take home $375.  

Limited tickets for the Saturday, July 18th event are still available online in the Stafford Speedway webstore. Due to Covid-19 restrictions the facility is limited to 25% capacity. Fans planning to attend are encouraged to purchase their tickets as soon as possible since tickets will not be available at the paddock or general admission gates. Fans who are unable to attend can watch the event live on StaffordSpeedway.tv

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Meet Stafford Speedway SK Modified® Veteran Todd Owen

(Stafford Springs, CT)—Those who regularly follow the SK Modified® division at Stafford Speedway most likely are very familiar with Todd Owen, driver of the #81 Cooker Construction Chevrolet.  Owen made his Stafford debut in 1996 and has been racing full-time at the Connecticut half-mile facility in the SK Modified® division since 2003.  Owen won SK Modified® Rookie of the Year honors in 2003 and finished in the top-10 of the points standings for 17 consecutive years dating back to his rookie season, including 3 runner-up finishes.  Owen comes into the 2020 season eager to repeat his performance of last season that saw him end up tied with Ronnie Williams for the track championship with Williams holding the tie-breaker following the final race of the season. Fresh off of a career season that saw him score 4 wins we sat down with Todd to take a look at how he began his career and how it has evolved over the years.

Childhood Influence

Owen got his first taste of racing through his father, who sponsored a car at the old Riverside Park Speedway.

“My father sponsored a modified car at Riverside Park so I was around racing as a kid but I wasn’t that close to it,” said Owen.  “I started helping out as a shop gopher when I was around 14 and when I was 16 and got my driver’s license, I bought a Strictly Stock and started racing at Riverside.”

Riverside Park Speedway

With no prior racing experience under his belt, Owen dove head first into his rookie season at Riverside. 

“I didn’t have any go kart or quarter midget experience, I guess I got a late start in racing if you look at when kids are getting started nowadays,” said Owen.  “Thanks to my father’s business, Tom Owen Transport, I was able to drive a car long before I actually got my driver’s license.  Maybe I had a little bit of an advantage there, but I still knew nothing about race cars when I first got started.  My father sent me to a 3-day school in Florida that was a lot of classroom time, learning about race cars more than it was about driving. I was like a kindergartner going to a trigonometry class.  You can have stuff thrown at you all day long but I had no idea what the guy was teaching us about.  The biggest struggle for me was learning about race cars and how to make them go fast.  Today you can buy a car and go fast but I had to learn my own ways to make the car faster with the setup.  I remember the first time I went to the racetrack we bought four left side tires because I didn’t know any better that there were left and right side tires.  I didn’t know how to change oil or anything like that, I had to learn everything about the car.  Luckily through my father’s background I had good people around me and the harder you want to work and the harder you went looking for people to help you, the more help you could get.”

Surrounded with good crew help, Owen not only won Rookie of the Year honors but he was able to win a race during his rookie season.

“My first season at Riverside I won Rookie of the Year and won a race,” said Owen.  “After I found the right people and had made some friends I was able to win late in the year.  It was awesome to win.  Riverside was some tough competition and I remember there were 40 Strictly Stocks showing up to race every week.  We raced on Saturdays and Sundays so we probably ran about 50 times a season. It really felt like we had accomplished something when we won that first race.  I think the hardest thing I learned is the fact that just because the car rolls off the track one week doesn’t mean it’s ready to go racing the next week.  We had no tools, no equipment, no nothing, so everything was a struggle.”

After several seasons in the Strictly Stock division, Owen made the move up to Late Model competition at Riverside.  Just as he did in the Strictly Stock division, Owen immediately found success in the Late Model division.

“After 2 or 3 years racing Strictly Stocks, I moved up to the Late Model division and we had success right away,” said Owen.  “I almost won my first race and we won Rookie of the Year and I think we finished around 8th in points.  We had the right people and the right motor combination.  That was a deal where the guys on my team weren’t sure I was ready to move up but I thought I was so it was a bit of a gamble but it all worked out for us.  My father passed away 4 races into that season and life changed dramatically for me after that.  I was 19 at the time and losing my father was like losing a partner so I was all on my own.  I went from having a Snap-On Toolbox to having a mortgage payment.”

Despite losing his father, Owen went on to win the Late Model championship in 1996 but he would soon be looking for a new place to race with Riverside Park shutting down following the 1999 season.  It was during this time period that Owen first met Butch Shea, who he would later become partners with in building modified chassis.

“I ran Late Models for 2 years and won the championship in 1996, and during that time I met and became friends with Butch Shea,” said Owen.  “Butch built cars for Ed and Eddy Carroll and I started working with him.  That was my first job out of high school and I was getting paid to work on racecars, so that was fun while it lasted for about 4 months until I had to find a real job with Cooker Construction and I’ve been working for them for about 27 years now.  It was sad to see Riverside go but at the same time if you’re a racer you just move on to the next race track.  Instead of focusing on what is not here anymore, try to focus on what the future holds.  It was cool that I got to run both Stafford and Riverside during Riverside’s last season and I can say I won races at both tracks in the same weekend.”

Stafford Speedway

With Riverside closing down Owen needed a new track to call home.  He dabbled in Stafford’s Late Model division, making 5 starts in 1996 with a best finish of 12th.  When Larry Litwin came calling prior to the 1999 season with an opportunity for a ProStock ride at Stafford, Owen’s decision was made for him.

“Before the 1999 season Larry Litwin from Cable Construction came to me and said he wanted to put a ProStock car together for Stafford,” said Owen.  “I had built a Late Model for Stafford and ran 5 races in 1996 but he came to me and put together a car with the best of the best equipment.  He had done some research about me and he told me he wanted to go racing and win races.  I came into the ProStock division at the same time as Doug Coby and I’m pretty proud he mentioned me on Stafford’s Bottom Shot Podcast as one of his toughest competitors.  We had some real battles in the ProStocks.”

Owen won 3 races as a ProStock rookie at Stafford in 1999 and he won 4 times and was the runner-up in the ProStock standings to Coby in 2000.  Following the 2000 season, Stafford dropped the ProStock division and Owen was once again left looking for somewhere to race.

“I remember I was pretty mad,” said Owen.  “Stafford dropping the ProStocks basically put Butch Shea out of business and I really loved the ProStock cars.  At the end of the year the question was do I build an SK or go race somewhere else?  I had just built a brand new ProStock car before the season ended so I had a brand new car that never raced, which was a double kick in the butt.  I went to race at Thompson and Monadnock in 2001 and 2002.  If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have just built an SK and gone racing with that but at the time I didn’t really like the SK’s and I thought the racing was terrible.”

Despite his misgivings about racing in the SK Modified® division, when Brad and Linda Hietala from Reliable Welding and Speed came calling in 2002 with an offer to drive a team car to Brad’s #9 car, Owen took the opportunity and the rest is history.

“Brad and Linda Hietala came to me and asked me to drive a team car to Brad in the SK Modifieds®,” said Owen.  “I had always bought parts from Brad and Linda and they had seen the drive and motivation I had to go racing and that’s how I got started in the SK Modified® division.  I came to Stafford for the first time in 2002 and tried to qualify for the last 3 races but only made the Fall Final.  There were 50 something SK cars trying to qualify every week back then so just making the race was a feat because I wasn’t in the handicap.”

While Owen had found almost immediate success in his full fender experience, he would find the open wheel world of SK Modified® racing much more difficult.  Owen won Rookie of the Year honors in 2003 but wouldn’t find victory lane until the fourth race of the 2005 season, a span of 44 races.  Owen did record runner-up finishes in the points standings in 2004 behind Ted Christopher and again in 2005 behind Lloyd Agor.

“The SK’s were a struggle for me,” said Owen.  “That was the hardest transition I’ve ever made in racing.  I had driven a modified a few times at Riverside but it was nothing like racing an SK at Stafford.  I’ll tell anyone who races that the SK Modifieds® at Stafford are the toughest division in racing because everyone has the same stuff and goes the same speed.  I had won races in every division I had ever been in my first season until I got to the SK‘s at Stafford.  It was tough but challenging.  I finished second in points my second year behind Teddy and we were a consistent car and I finished races every week.  Back then, if you just finished races, you were doing something.  I remember James Civali won a few races that season but he also crashed a few times and we finished in front of him in the standings.”

Owen’s first SK Modified® win came early in the 2005 season.  He was able to win a second race later that season to put himself in a prime position to claim the championship at the season ending Fall Final.  Owen was where he needed to be to claim the championship when his transmission broke with only 10 laps left in the season.

“That first SK Modified® win felt awesome,” said Owen.  “The one cool thing about that win was Brad [Hietala] and myself built that car brand new for me to race at Stafford, so that was the first car that I welded together and had my hands in.  At the time we were the only ones doing cars like that.  I felt like that was pretty exciting to win in something that I put together.  Brad always told me that it was extra special any time you can win in a car that you put together.  I should have won the championship in 2005 but I broke the transmission with 10 laps to go in the Fall Final.  I was one restart away from winning the championship.  It was devastating.  We had changed over to the Richmond transmission that season and a lot of guys were having issues with dog rings.  It never cost me a race that year but we broke pieces numerous times that season.  I had changed the dog rings right before that race just to be sure it was fresh and I think I shifted the car maybe 3 times during the race.”

Owen would win 2 more races in 2006 but he soon found wins hard to come by as from 2007 through 2015, Owen only managed to win once in 2012.  Owen’s performance was consistent but he wasn’t quite at the level to be a weekly contender for wins.

“After the 2005 season we were performing about the same year after year and I felt like my program was going downhill and the biggest thing was myself,” said Owen.  “I wasn’t in a good spot and for the next several seasons I worked on getting myself better.  I wasn’t having fun coming to the track and racing and I wasn’t having fun in life in general.  You have to be in the right frame of mind to be successful in racing and I was in a downward spiral.  In 2015 I made a change in my personal life and we started going back up.  If you look at stats before 2015 and wonder what was going on or was something wrong with the car, it was all me.  The last few years have been great and I’m still racing the same cars and equipment.  5 years ago I had 1 car and now we have 10 cars out there so there’s a lot more going on.  In 2014 I was pretty much done and didn’t want to continue on racing.  I pretty much didn’t want to even get out of bed at that point.  I had reached my bottom and one day I got a call from my goddaughter who left me a voicemail and told me that no matter what she loved me and that was all I needed.”

With Owen looking to get his on track performance back into winning form, he called on his old friend Butch Shea.

“Things eventually got to a point where I felt like I needed to make a change and go back to my own number 81 in 2012 and Butch started helping me out with the cars,” said Owen.  “I kind of dragged him back into the sport that he had walked away from.  He had been helping me during the season with some stuff over the phone and after coming to a race to watch me in person he told me “You’re no Kyle Busch, but you don’t suck that bad” and he was going to start helping me out with the car.  I took what he said as a compliment and we ended up making some changes to the car at the end of 2011 and at the start of 2012 and I saw some huge improvements with the car design and the 2012 season was the first season that we used the car design that we’re using now.”

After winning once in 2012, Owen didn’t win another SK Modified® feature event until the middle of the 2016 season.  Owen would win once more in 2016 before not winning again until 2019, where he scored a career high 4 wins.  With his car back on a winning track, Owen has started to branch out and not only build cars, but rent them as well. 

“I like helping young drivers and helping them out gives me a lot of gratification,” said Owen.  “I started with Cody Gneiting and he decided he didn’t want to race anymore and walked away and then David [Arute] was the next one.  We saw an ad for a car and I originally started helping him with installing the engine and seat at my shop for him to make his SK Light debut.  Once David decided he wanted to move up to the SK Modified® division, he wanted to use one of our cars so we put a car together for him and Josh Wood with Josh’s car now being the car that Tyler Leary drives.  My old Reliable car was just sitting around in my shop and Bryan [Narducci] was driving David’s Limited Late Model car at the time so we figured we’d throw something together and let Bryan take it out and see what he could do.  Now for 2020 we have Josh Carey and Derek Debbis coming in as rookies, so we’ve gone in four years from helping a couple of people to where we are now.  Looking at the future, the rental business, helping younger drivers out, and building cars is something that I really enjoy.  It’s something that I can do that I won’t make a living from it but it’ll help me with my race team.  I figured if I built some cars that would help me to race because sponsorships are a lot harder to come by then they used to be.  When I first started I didn’t know how to weld anything and now people see my welds and they think it’s great work.  Anything you want in life is worth working hard for.  I think it was 2014 or 2015 we built our first in house brand new car from scratch.  We don’t want to be in the chassis building business, we pick and choose who we want to deal with.  We’re not looking to go out and sell 100 cars.  We’re up to 10 cars now and that’s a lot to take care of.”

Between SK Modified® and Open Modified cars for himself, SK Modified® cars for Bryan Narducci, Tyler Leary, and David Arute, and SK Light cars for Norm Sears, Derek Debbis, and Josh Carey, Owen was ready to enter the 2020 season at full speed but the Covid-19 pandemic temporarily put his racing plans on the back burner.

“With so many cars now I wanted to really be prepared and going into 2020 I was the best prepared I’ve ever been for a season and then the Covid-19 pandemic happened,” said Owen.  “I don’t like to set unrealistic goals for myself so I don’t want to say if I don’t win the championship then it’s going to be a bad year.  The goal for this year is to have another good season and finish consistently in the top-5.  If we can do that the wins will come for us.  I like winning but I like finishing second and third too.”

In racing, almost every driver has sponsors and crew that have helped them get to where they are and Owen is no different.  Owen quite possibly has the longest running sponsorship out of anyone at Stafford with Steve and Debbie Barnes from Cooker Construction partnering with Owen for the past 27 years.

“I first met Steve and Debbie Barnes from Cooker Construction with my father in a coffee shop when I was 16 and just starting out racing,” said Owen.  “They wanted to give us a couple hundred dollars to buy tires and I’ve worked for them for 27 years now so it’s kind of like I’m with them and they’re with me.  I definitely wouldn’t be here today without their help and they’ve helped me race ever since my father passed away which has been 27 years now.  Steve and Debbie have been like family to me and they’ve been with me through all the ups and downs I’ve had.  Donny Wood from R.A.D. Auto Machine, he’s a great engine builder and he’s become a close friend now.  I don’t like to list crew guys because if you miss one person they get upset so everyone who is on my team and who has been on my team and obviously Butch Shea, I wouldn’t be where I am now without everyone’s help.”

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.