(Stafford Springs, CT)—After three seasons in Stafford’s Street Stock division, Chaplin, CT native Nickolas Hovey will move to the SK Light division for the 2023 season. Hovey has 3 career wins at Stafford with a career best finish of third in the standings. Hovey was also the Street Stock Rookie of the Year in 2020 and will be shooting for a second Rookie of the Year title with his #16 Busy Bees Learning Center modified.
“I’m very excited,” said Hovey. “Rookie of the Year is definitely a goal for me and I’d like to be able to keep the wheels on the car all season long. Obviously I’d like to win a race and do as well as I can, but the main thing would be to keep the car together. I have to thank my parents and grandparents, Busy Bees Learning Center, Heidi’s Creations, Critical Signs, R & G Sealcoating, Iron Horse Equipment, and Chris’ Automotive for all their support in putting this deal together.”
For Hovey and the #16 team circumstances on the racetrack helped them decide to begin their foray into SK Light competition a little earlier than originally planned.
“It was up in the air what I was going to do after Street Stocks until last season,” said Hovey. “We bought a car from Bert Marvin and decided to try SK Light racing at Waterford but that was supposed to only be for a couple of races. That ended up turning into a full season and the Street Stock wasn’t going so well at Stafford, so we decided to make the move up a little early.”
Hovey heads into the 2023 season with limited experience in modified at Stafford, having run the final 2 SK Light races of last season along with a one-time start in the SK Modified® division. While his Stafford modified experience is limited, Hovey ran the full 2022 SK Light season at Waterford where he notched a victory and finished second in the points standings.
“It was a lot of fun last year running the few races that we ran and it was definitely a lot different than the Street Stock,” said Hovey. “That experience gives me more confidence than I would have had if I didn’t start any races last season. I was definitely nervous before my first race at Stafford, but it was a little easier to get the hang of it with my Waterford experience. I still have a lot left to learn and there’s a lot to learn with those cars. Our goal last year was to finish all the races and we only had 1 DNF at Waterford and finished both races we ran at Stafford so I got a lot of laps without tearing the car up.”
It took Hovey until the middle of his second full season of Street Stock competition to record his first Stafford victory, but he is hoping that his experience will help him to score his first Stafford SK Light victory a bit sooner.
“I think we’ll have a chance,” said Hovey. “I think we did pretty well with the couple races that we ran this past season. Hopefully we can gain some speed with each race and by the end of the year we can be a contender.”
With very little knowledge of his fellow SK Light drivers and their tendencies, Hovey will be looking to get his #16 car up to speed with a notebook consisting of only two races last season and knowledge that his father and crew chief Walt built up in a limited time behind the wheel of an open wheel modified car.
“Right now everything is kind of trial and error because we don’t really have a notebook to work off of,” said Hovey. “[Dad] ran a modified way back for a couple of races so he has a rough idea of what I’m feeling in the car. Any time you get to race with new drivers, it takes you time to learn little things and notice little moves. The competition will be a lot different with how they race and everyone is a lot closer, you really have to pay attention to not necessarily the guy in front of you but the guy in front of him.”
The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.
Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.
For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.