Kevin Gambacorta Ready To Challenge For Late Model Title At Stafford Speedway

(Press Release from Stafford Motor Speedway)

Kevin Gambacorta (Stafford Speedway/Driscoll MotorSports Photography)

Since his rookie season in 2012, Ellington native Kevin Gambacorta has become a mainstay in Stafford Speedway’s Late Model division in the yearly chase for the championship. Gambacorta finished 9th in the standings as a rookie in 2012 but he has finished either 3rd or 4th in each of the past 5 seasons in the standings. Gambacorta and the #23 Rafferty Fine Grading/LifeCare Family Chiropractic team finished the 2017 season tied for 2nd with Tom Fearn coming agonizingly close to making Stafford history as the first driver to win championships in three different divisions. With a new Dodge Charger body on his #23 car, Gambacorta is ready to once again challenge for a Late Model championship.

“We just put a new Dodge Charger body on the car,” said Gambacorta. “I used to run the Charger body back in the Limited Late Model days and we won a couple championships with it so maybe the new body will bring back some of our good luck. We were really good last year but there was one night halfway through the season where we got in an early wreck which knocked the toe out of the car and after that the car was terrible. We could never figure it out all season long. We tried so many different things and the car just wouldn’t turn. It would be good for a lap or two and then it wouldn’t turn after that. After the season was over we brought the car down to Jay Stuart and he’s gone through the entire car so hopefully we’ve gotten the chassis figured out.”

Looking at the numbers and Gambacorta’s 2017 season was indeed a tale of two halves. Gambacorta recorded 6 podium finishes, including his lone win, in the first 10 races while he was only able to record one podium finish over the final 7 races. With the championship margin being so small at only 8 points, Gambacorta feels like the championship might have been in their grasp and slipped away.

“We lost the championship by only 8 points and it really bothered me that we never did get the car figured out,” said Gambacorta. “I think there were plenty of nights during the second half of the year that we gave up more than 8 points. After the start to the year we had, it was a disappointing season. We knew it wasn’t a setup issue, it was a mechanical issue somewhere. I remember the announcers would always talk about how we came on strong at the end of races and we just couldn’t do that in the second half.”

The race for the championship won’t be an easy one. 7 of the 8 Late Model feature winners from 2017 are returning in 2018, but Gambacorta can take confidence in the fact that he has another year of experience to build on and he now has a backup car thanks to Andy Marchese.

“Seeing how terrible we were the second half of last season, we still finished only 8 points out of the championship,” said Gambacorta. “If we can run this year like we ran in the first half of last season we should be pretty good. I really think we had the most consistent car last year. We have another season of experience and our equipment is on par with some of the other top teams. I’m excited to be back. We’ve redone a lot of things on the car so we have good equipment and now with Andy Marchese moving to the Limited Late Model division, he said we could use his Late Model car as a backup if we ever need it. I think we’ve showed the last couple of years we can run with the front running guys like Michael Bennett, Tom Fearn, Glen Reen, and Michael Wray. When you can race against those guys and win races and compete with those guys, you feel like you belong and you know you have the ability to beat those guys. I feel like I’m a guy that those guys have to worry about beating.”

Gambacorta has Rafferty Fine Grading and LifeCare Family Chiropractic returning as sponsors for the 2018 season along with Lavigne Law with Gary Lavigne after a chance meeting in the pits last season.

“Thanks to Rafferty Fine Grading and LifeCare Family Chiropractic for their support, and Gary Lavigne with Lavigne Law,” said Gambacorta. “At the start of last year Gary came by the car in the paddock area and asked us about our radio channel so he could listen to us during the races with his scanner. He came back towards the end of the year and told me he really enjoyed listening to us and he gave me a check to help finish out the year and all we had to do was put Lavigne Law on the car. Gary sent me another check during the winter to help us get started with the 2018 season, so a big thanks to him for his support and also I have to thank Dave Miller from Auto machine and Jay Stuart with JMD Chassis for their help.”

Gambacorta’s pursuit of the Late Model championship kicks off with the 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® on April 27-29. Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now at the Speedway Box Office. Tickets are priced at $40.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $42.00 for all ages. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available. All tickets are good for both Saturday and Sunday admission. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. Discount Spring Sizzler® tickets will be available beginning in March at participating NAPA Auto Parts stores.

For more information contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.

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Comments

  1. I was first to trash the Late Models in the late spring, early summer. 5 laps of competition then single file and spread out for 25 laps while Dodge and Buckler tried to make it sound like there was racing everywhere. But at the end of the season it was good, real good. Not a full fields but 10 plus hard nosed veterans that raced really hard with Leary breaking through to become a force. Hope they keep it up. Now if one of them could tell me why Stafford doesn’t use ACT rules when everyone else does that would be informative.

  2. weeklyRacer says:

    Act rules would make the 20 cars that were at the Fall Final obsolete. Why would they trade 15 car fields for 8 like they have at the bowl. Thompson only gets full field b/c limited schedule and running on off days of other tracks, wed/sun.

  3. Thanks Racer. So you’re saying that the really good fields they get at Thompson are mostly car committed to other tracks on a weekly basis?

  4. ACT rules and a good purse structure could do wonders for Stafford’s Late Model Division. ACT rules are used at most tracks throughout New England, New York, and Canada. As far as making their current cars obsolete, I am sure a weight break could level the playing field. Otherwise the division is going to die a slow death as car count and fan interest continues to drop. I love Late Models, but watching 12 cars run a 30 lap feature is not what most fans want to watch.

  5. I suppose Racer could be right if it was done on short notice with no planning. But announce the change in the fall for the following year and consider the weight situation in the short term.
    Little help here. What’s the hang up? Isn’t it mainly engines. ACT has a network of dealers and iron clad control over engines. Staffords are rules based and built.
    Stafford has a special Late Model show. I see the full fields Thompson attracts on occasion and don’t see why the barrier exists to letting them race at least occasionally at Stafford. Even if it’s only for a special show.

  6. Stuart Fearn says:

    RichieO – I wouldn’t say its that easy to just allow ACT cars and make a weight break for existing cars. The current LM cars weight 3000 lb min with a 56% left side max rule. ACT rule is 2800 lb min and 57% max left side. That is a big difference. ACT turn and handle in a different league being so much lighter and with improved front suspension pieces allowed.
    The ACT cars are this light because they have front suspension more like a modified and a lot less required door bars and safety bars then Stafford LM rules require. I think the ACT LM is less safe in my opinion. That’s reason alone to stay put for me.
    Stafford actually just got a nice contingency partner for the LM division with iRacing adding $125 weekly to the winner. Selfishly I’m hoping to pocket that every week! That helps a lot.
    The number of people racing at Stafford, I believe, has remained pretty consistent. When there was 30 late models attempting to qualify there was only 3 divisions. Now there are 5 divisions weekly. The throw in the karts (adults), legend cars, strictly stock tour, mini stock tour, and all the mod tours and you see how the drivers get thinned out and count per division go down.
    I own two LM cars right now. Spare everything too BTW. A rule change would make those obsolete and reduce the value significantly. Replacement ACT car of the same quality would be perhaps $40,000. EACH. So, 1 team cost $80,000 over night. Not going to happen my friend. Well… we could reuse our transmissions from Williams Race Gear so that would save a couple bucks but not much else I can assure you.

  7. I guess that’s the answer then. Thanks.

  8. I’ve got to agree with Fearn I don’t think ACT is the right answer even though it would give the racers the option to run more tracks with the same car. Maybe merging the limited late models and the late models is the answer Something the track should look at for 2019 with only 18 cars signed up for the late models and 13 for the limited late models merging the 2 divisions might come close to a full field also merge the purses and spread the money out through the field. The late model field has been steadily dropping for the last 10 years and it sucks watching 8-10 cars race the feature we used to have heat races with 10-14 cars Stafford has a spec motor for the late models already as well as the limited’s both cars run the metric chassis with tube clips allowed there really isn’t that much difference that can’t be overcome somehow maybe a weight break for 2019 and full compliance for 2020. Gotta do something or both divisions will die out.

  9. As far as Gambacorta the guy is fast every week and it’s only a matter of time till he gets the championship maybe 2018 is that time. Good luck to Kevin and his team as well as all the Late model competitors

  10. If you read the rules for the late models and limiteds looks like the only difference are the motor and rear end late models run a 3 link.maybw the shocks so if you eliminate the limited’s and give them a year to complete the changeover I don’t see a problem except the initial investment of the motor and some small parts. Think most guys would do it

  11. Maybe R.A.D. could come up with a spec motor based on the crate motor that gets comparable horsepower to the current LM spec motor so the limited guys could reuse their motor and move up

  12. The Late Models should go to ACT rules. Car count number don’t lie. Most of the Northeast uses them, the engine supplier network is strong and the series is dialed in for the future. The LLM that essentially is a bridge from Street Stocks to the LM’s to encourage development of the LM;s is a failed experiment. As opposed to the SK Lights that is the perfect example of what it should be. The LM division is a cohort of mostly committed, long term full fendered guys with little new blood the Saunders twins excepted. Last year on many nights two families comprised 40% of the LLM feature and in no division can that be considered healthy.
    But it’s Staffords rules. Fearn and the others spent money, built equipment to race under the rules Stafford committed to. To change it as Fearn made abundantly clear would be like kicking all the current LM and LLM teams in the teeth. Truth be told, even with anemic fields some of the racing was outstanding toward the end of last season especially with Leary coming on strong.
    In the end the people come for modifieds. I know I do. I hope for some good racing and few crashes until the SK Lights and SK’s make the scene then I perk up and get fired up. Overall isn’t the program at Stafford successful for the most part? Why mess with what is working.
    On a typical Friday night they have 85ish cars in the pits and that historically is a fine car count. More divisions may be right or wrong but it’s the trend and won’t change. I’d like Stafford to get together with the LLM and LM teams and develop a plan for the future. Maybe it’s been done, maybe they don’t care. For now they need to continue to run the LLM heat with all the cars present if they can only muster 10 cars. With the Saunders moving up it could be worse as the season progresses this year in the LLM. The good news, even the last car gets to show a top 10 finish on his or her resume.

  13. I still think the best plan would be to merge the LM and LLM divisions over a two year time period. Maybe come up with a spec motor for the 602-604 Crate motors to bump the horsepower and torque to be what the current LM Spec motor has this way the LLM guys don’t spend a ton of money on the motor to jump to late models. With the Hamm and AJ front and rear clips and square tube frame rails the metric platform is solid and I don’t think it would be fair or practical to switch to ACT cars like Fearn said your talking at least 40 grand to make that switch

  14. A call to arms. All you LM & LLM guys get together talk it out and come up with a solution. If you guys and the track don’t act soon your divisions will die

  15. Call to arms is right. I’m glad Justin Bren is going to be back at Stafford in the LLM and glad he has a new car. Best of luck. But building a LLM chassis that easily could cost as much as a NWMT chassis from Troyer or Rob Fuller is insanity even if it can move up to an LM.
    The bottom two divisions at Stafford are obsolete. The Streets run classic car models and the LLM are priced out for anyone but the ones with the deepest pockets. What’s so hard Stafford. Find a plentiful type of car or truck you can put a roll cage in and be safe and build that division. Clearly there is zero interest in my idea of full sized pickup trucks. Lee and Star run front wheel drive six cylinders and the racing is good. Everyone has mini stocks except Stafford. This is not good. You guys are leaning on the SK’s and SK’s Lights that have been very successful and are letting the other divisions die on the vine. Carts or Legends to SK Lights has it’s limitations.

  16. Totally agree with you Doug the answers are out there practically hitting Tom Fox in the face but the track chooses not to act. Have to wait and see how many LM& LLM cars show up come July. Then maybe they’ll act.

  17. Race dude says:

    Agree with Rob p. and Doug. For the record I’m gonna say 9 LM and 8LLM cone July.

  18. With the Saunders twins moving up you may be right on target Race Dude.

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