STAFFORD – The opportunity Cory Casagrande has been excitedly waiting for since January arrives in just over a week.
Casagrande, a regular in the Late Model division at Stafford Motor Speedway, will make his Granite State Pro Stock Series debut June 15 in the Gate City Classic at Hudson (N.H.) Speedway.
In January, longtime local Pro Stock competitor Jeff Connors of Ellington announced that his team would run a part-time schedule with the Granite State Pro Stock Series in 2014, with Connors splitting time in the driver’s seat with Casagrande.
Connors started the season opener at Thompson Speedway on April 6 and finished third.
Hudson is the third of 10 races on the Granite State Pro Series schedule this season. The series ran its second event of the season at Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H. on May 24.
“I’m wicked excited,” said Casagrande, who finished third in Friday’s Late Model feature at Stafford. “I’ve been waiting for it since we announced it. I wish we could have run more. I wish there was more races to do around here. But Hudson seemed like the best deal for us to start with and we’ll take it from there and see what happens and decide what else we’re going to do for the rest of the year.”
At Stafford Casagrande, won the 2012 Limited Late Model division track championship and had one victory in 2013 in his Late Model rookie season, finishing fifth in the standings to clinch the Rookie of the Year title.
Casagrande has never competed in the quarter-mile, banked, Hudson layout. He spotted for reigning series champion Mike O’Sullivan in an event last year at Hudson that O’Sullivan won.
“I watched him and I’ve got some experience just from helping him out,” Casagrande said. “The racing looks good there. They didn’t tear up a lot of cars last year, which kind of played into why I wanted to try there first. I think there will be probably a 19 or 20 car field, and that’s perfect for that size track. It’s semi-banked and it looked like it was fun to drive. [Monadnock], I knew that race was going to be crazy with the Pro Stocks there. I went up and watched that and it was crazy. I figured Hudson would be a good calm place to get my first start.”
Casagrande said the team is still in the process of finalizing exactly which events they will compete in and who will drive where. He said they will most likely run both events at Star Speedway in Epping, N.H. (on June 28 and Aug. 16) with he and Connors each racing one of them.
“I think we’re just really kind of taking it race by race,” Casagrande said. “It’s pretty much, we told [crew chief Jimbo Connors], whatever races he wants to do, we’re open to it and we’ll go.”