(Stafford Springs, CT)—After a 2-race SK Modified® debut during the 2016 season, Palmer, MA native Josh Wood made the full-time step up in 2017 to compete for NAPA Rookie of the Year honors. Wood started all 17 races during the 2017 season and he recorded 4 top-10 finishes behind the wheel of his #24 R.A.D. Automachine Chevrolet to finish 13th in the final SK Modified® standings. After a strong rookie season Wood not only won NAPA Rookie of the Year honors but was also the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Connecticut State Rookie of the Year.
“It feels pretty good to be rookie of the year,” said Wood. “This year was a big learning experience jumping from the Late Model up to SK Modified®. It seemed like halfway through the year I started to figure things out. It’s a lot different passing in a Late Model versus the SK. I think the competition was the biggest difference between the two. The SK Modified® division is so close, there’s about 10 cars that can win on any given night. You really had to be on your toes and the car had to be perfect in order to run up front with those guys.”
Wood moved to the SK Modified® division after a high level of success at Stafford. Wood captured 7 DARE Stock feature wins from 2010-2011 and 10 Limited Late Model features from 2012-2013 along with winning rookie of the year honors in 2012 and the championship in 2013. He has also recorded 6 Late Model feature wins from 2014-2017. Despite his 23 feature wins and 2013 Limited Late Model championship, Wood says he knew he was in for a steep learning curve making the full-time move into Stafford Speedway’s premier SK Modified® division.
“I had a lot of fun this season, I wasn’t expecting by any means to come to the SK Modified® division and be dominant,” said Wood. “My goal was to get used to the car and to try to run in the top-10 as much as we could. Eventually in the future I can take this experience and start running up front. I was pretty happy with how the season went for us. I think I showed that we could run up front with everyone else and not just be someone else out there riding around completing laps. I expected to have some difficulties. We got into a lot of wrecks early on but if they’re not your fault, then you can’t put too much of a damper on yourself, you just have to say it was some bad luck.”
Wood struggled through much of the first half of the season, but once he recorded his first top-10 finish on the night of August 11, Wood scored all four of his top-10 finishes in the final 7 races, including two in a row to close out the year.
“At the beginning of the season we had the misfortune of being involved in a lot of wrecks that weren’t necessarily our fault,” said Wood. “Since we didn’t have a lot of laps under our belt and we had to start in the back as a rookie, it only takes one tire hit to wreck half the field since everyone is so close together and you really have nowhere to go. Halfway through the year we were starting closer to the front so I got some laps and learned how to drive effectively in the SK Modified® division. I have to thank all my sponsors this season, R.A.D. Automachine, Falls Alignment, Chassis Pro, Cooker Construction, and everyone on the crew. Todd, Butch, my Dad, Ernie, Alex Grab for spotting for me, there’s so many guys to thank, all the guys that work week in and week out.”
For winning the 2017 NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year honors for the SK Modified® division, Wood will take home a $1,000 store credit bonus from NAPA Auto Parts. Wood will also take home a $1,000 bonus from NASCAR as the Connecticut State Rookie of the Year and he will receive his awards at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series banquet in Charlotte in December.
“That’s a pretty nice award,” said Wood. “Thanks to NAPA for putting that money up for us and I’m sure that we’ll put it to good use on the car.”
Wood will officially be crowned as the 2017 NAPA Auto Parts Rookie of the Year at the 48th Annual Stafford Motor Speedway Champions Awards Ceremony on Friday, November 17 at Maneeley’s Banquet Facility in South Windsor.
For more information, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.