By John Goralski
The see saw battle continues in the SK Light division at Stafford Motor Speedway, and Southington’s driver has one more chance to make his bid as the top driver.
On Sept. 6, Tony Membrino, Jr. regained the points lead with two races to go. On Friday, Sept. 13, the tables were turned. Chase Dowling scrambled for his seventh victory of the season in the 20-lap feature, while Membrino battled steering issues just to stay in the top five.
With one race to go, Membrino trails by four points in the standings. Dowling has shown an ability to win races, but Membrino has proven to be the most consistent.
How will it end? We’ll find out this soon.
“Our game plan doesn’t change,” said Membrino. “As soon as that green flag drops, my goal is to get to the front and win the race. A win will get us the most points, and ensure we did everything we possibly could to come home with the jackpot.”
On Friday, Membrino never really challenged the lead. With the Valenti Modified Racing Series showcasing their 80-lap event as the featured race, the SK light racers had to adjust for the extra rubber on the track. In the practice rounds, Membrino seemed to have the answer.
“The car seemed to turn on a dime and go whereever I wanted to,” he said. “The lap times weren’t blowing everyone away, but I knew I could race to the front with a car that handled like that.”
Unfortunately, cooler temperatures at race time forced a number of early cautions. Membrino fell to the middle of the pack on the restarts but managed to battle into the top five by the midway point. He managed to pick off one of the leaders on the final lap, but had to settle for fourth place on the night.
“At first, I was losing grip and couldn’t get any drive up off the corners. As the race went on, I was losing grip in the center of the corners too,” he said. “I tried searching around the track for a better line, but it wasn’t sticking anywhere. We were hanging with the leaders, we just couldn’t close in and make a move.”
Membrino has one more chance to capture the points title. He’ll test his resolve at the 41st annual CarQuest Fall Final on the final weekend in September. Practice and heat races will be held on Saturday, Sept. 28 with the feature race scheduled for a 4 p.m. start.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to contend for a track championship for the second year in a row,” said Membrino. “Whether we close out the year with a championship or not, I am super proud of what we accomplished this season.”
By John Goralski