(Stafford Springs, CT)—Stafford Speedway’s Limited Late Model division is in the midst of one of the tightest championship races in recent memory. Jeremy Lavoie has led the standings for the majority of the 2017 season with defending track champion Duane Provost right on his heels. Through the first 11 races of the season, the largest margin between first and second in the points standings has been 8 points, or 4 positions on the track. For the past 6 races, the margin between Lavoie and Provost at the top of the standings has fluctuated between 6 and 8 points. Provost won 2 races in a row at the start of June and with temperatures becoming cooler, Provost is looking to return to his winning form.
“Jeremy [Lavoie] has been consistent, I’ve been consistent, and Al [Saunders] is not too far behind us, so consistency has been the key this season,” said Provost. “I usually go pretty strong at the beginning of the season and the end of the season when it’s a little cooler outside and mellow out in the middle, so we have to see if we can pick our performance back up towards the end of the season. We need to finish ahead of Jeremy a little more than I have been for the last 6 races. Lately it seems like one week I’ll finish one spot ahead of him and then the next week he’ll finish one spot in front of me. We didn’t have as much bad luck this summer as we normally do so if I can run like I typically perform when its cooler out, I’m hoping that the next 6 races will side in my favor.”
The fact that Provost and Lavoie have been finishing within one position of each other for the past 5 weeks begins to paint a picture of just how competitive the race for the championship has been this season. Provost is tied for the division lead with 2 wins and he has 10 top-5 finishes in 11 races thus far. But as good as Provost has been, Lavoie has been just a bit better as he has scored top-5 finishes in all 11 races, including his first career Limited Late Model feature win back in May. The lone blemish on Provost’s 2017 record is an 11th place finish back on May 12th, which was the second race of the season. With Lavoie finishing 5th in that race and picking up 12 points on Provost, that race is making the difference in the race for the championship.
“I try not to focus on the bad finish,” said Provost. “I know if we had a better finish that night we’d probably be leading the points right now. We’ve had a few races where we probably should have finished better than we did but we have to learn from those mistakes and not worry about things you can’t control.”
With 6 races left on the 2017 schedule, Provost is focused on picking up his performance and staying out of trouble like he did in the most recent feature event on August 11.
“Our goal is to pick things up a little,” said Provost. “With the rainout last weekend, we tore the whole front end apart and we went through each part and nut and bolt and replaced a few things that we felt needed replacing. This is the part of the season when parts start to give up on you so you need to pay that much more attention for the car to be dependable. For me, I’ve found that you just need to be patient and take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves out there. For instance, a couple of weeks ago, I think it was when the 4 car went up in the air, I overcautiously drove through the grass. I probably didn’t need to do that but it looked like he was going to come across my nose so I figured better to go through the grass and lose a spot or two rather than get into a wreck. Plus that was the first lap of the race and there ended up being a caution so I was able to get caught back up to the field. There’s still 6 races to go and we still have a lot of work to do. Hopefully we can stay cool and be patient enough.”
While Provost wasn’t in the championship race for much of the 2016 season, he was in position to take advantage of a situation that arose when Al Saunders got caught up in an early race wreck in the final feature event of the season. Now that he has been close to the championship lead all season long, he knows what it takes to win a championship and winning back to back championships would be feather in the cap of his racing career.
“It would be awesome to go back to back,” said Provost. “Last year I won it right at the last race and only because Al had some bad luck, but you had to be in that position to capitalize if something happened and things went your way. It would be great to win another championship and it would put a nice stamp on my ability to put a car together and go race it. I started out racing DARE Stocks 13 years ago and I didn’t know what I was doing at all. I was working harder on that DARE Stock than I do on the Limited now and we didn’t have the success that we’re enjoying right now. But I think you have to go through that and put the time in to learn things so that you don’t make the same mistake twice. I just won back to back races this year for the first time in my career so to win back to back championships would be something spectacular. I’d like to thank my sponsors Facchini Law Firm, Team Link in Ludlow, and JollyJoeK.com and it would be great to win the championship for them as well.”
The tight race for the Limited Late Model championship returns to the track this Friday night, August 25, as part of the Back 2 SK®ool Blitz program. All Kids 14 & Under will be admitted free (general admission) when wearing a team shirt or uniform to the track and there will also be a Kids Zone with prizes, games and bike raffles. Tickets are priced at $17.50 for adult general admission, kids 6-14 are $5.00 and kids 5 & under are free. Reserved seating is available for $20 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.