Whatâs the best way for a team owner to increase their odds of winning an SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway.Â
For SK Modified team owner Dan Avery and his Horsepower Hill Farms team, the answer to that for 2020 is adding another championship contending driver to his stable.Â
Avery will have to two drivers ready to chase the SK Modified title at Stafford in 2020. Glen Reen returns to the team for a fourth season in the division in 2020 with Chase Dowling joining him as a teammate.Â
It was reported exclusively by RaceDayCT Thursday that Dowling would return full-time to the SK Modified division at Stafford driving for Avery in partnership with longtime team owners Brigitte and Jean-Guy Poulin. Longtime SK Modified division crew chief Mike OâSullivan will oversee the Dowling operation for Avery.Â
Dowling returns to the division full-time after making four starts in an SK Modified at Stafford in 2019. He finished second in the SK Modified division standings in 2017, six points behind champion Keith Rocco. Despite missing three events in 2018, Dowling finished 10thÂ in the season standings in 2018. He has six career SK Modified victories at Stafford, including the 2017 NAPA SK5K. He also has won Rookie of the Year titles on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and in Staffordâs SK Modified and SK Light Modified divisions. He has seven career SK Light Modified wins at Stafford.Â
âI think itâs pretty exciting because weâve got some real talented players, real strong players with the Poulinâs bringing their part of the partnership into the deal,â Avery said. âObviously youâve got the history and talent of Mike OâSullivan and the talent of [Dowling]. To be involved with that group of people along with my guys, itâs going to be pretty strong, pretty stout I think. I canât see any downside to the personalities and the people and the equipment involved here. I think itâs going to be strong.âÂ
Dowling will also run full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2020 for team owner Danny Watts and run Tri-Track Open Modified Series and Stafford Open Modified events for owner Jimmy Paige. Dowlingâs attempt at chasing an SK Modified title for Avery will come at a disadvantage with two Whelen Modified Tour events scheduled for Friday nights in 2020 (May 8 at Martinsville Speedway and July 31 at Iowa Speedway).
Reen finished fifth in the SK Modified standings at Stafford in 2019 with one victory and eight top-fives in 20 events.
The Avery SK Modified stable will also once again include Woody Pitkat, though the exact plans for Pitkat with the group remain fluid depending on what happens with the 2020 season at Thompson Speedway. It was announced last week that Thompson Speedway management has proposed a six-event NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule for the 2020 season at the track, but track management is waiting to see the commitment level of participants. Avery said the team plans to run Pitkat full-time in the SK Modified division at Thompson if there is a schedule to be run. Driving for Avery in 2019, Pitkat finished second to Rocco in the SK Modified standings at Thompson.Â
âDepending on what happens there weâll act accordingly with Woody,â Avery said. âIt was our intention to run for the championship there. We came really close last year. Now, who knows whatâs going to happen. So Woody and I have talked about a few options, but nothing is set in stone.âÂ
The 64-year old Avery also plans to run from five to 10 events in the SK Modified division at Stafford. He ran seven events last year at Stafford.Â
âI felt like Iâd like to run more,â Avery said. âLast year was a little bit different because I had an extremely busy work schedule last year which I kind of made that the priority last year. The crew guys stepped up to the plate and got the cars prepared. Once youâre a racer you want to race and you always want to race more. But Iâm at a point in my life where racing a little bit less doesnât hurt my feelings.â
Like they did in 2019, the plan is for Avery and Pitkat to share the same car running between Stafford and Thompson.Â
âIt seems to work out good for the two of us because thereâs no major changes inside the cockpit,â Avery said. âWe pretty much interchange pretty well. I kind of work my schedule at Stafford around his schedule at Thompson. It seems to work out pretty well without having to have a fourth car.â
Avery said the possibility of the team adding another car for Pitkat to run at Stafford depending on the Thompson situation could be examined.Â
âWeâve talked a little bit about it, but heâs got the [Whelen Modified Tour] deal and a Late Model deal and an Open Modified ride with Stan [Mertz] and so on. Weâve talked about somewhere down the road maybe doing a steady deal at Stafford, but I donât think right now his schedule permits it. But weâd definitely entertain it and I would just act accordingly when that day comes.âÂ