Matt Vassar Ready For Sophomore Season In SK Mod At Stafford

(Press Release from Stafford Motor Speedway)

Matt Vassar (11) in action in the SK Modified division last year at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Stafford Speedway/Driscoll MotorSports Photography)

After a rookie season recording one top-5 and four top-10 finishes, Plantsville, CT native Matt Vassar is ready for bigger things in 2019. 

Vassar, who had never driven a modified, spent the majority of his rookie season learning about his car and the competition as the driver of the #11 Hummel Brothers Hot Dogs Chevrolet. 

Vassar and his crew have made several upgrades to the #11 machine, which has him optimistic about becoming a front runner in 2019.

“We’ve updated our Raceworks car with a new front clip from Eddie Flemke and also changed some other small things on the car with some technology gains that Eddie has made,” said Vassar.  “We refreshed our Pettit motor and bought a second motor from him that we’re going to use in the second half of the season. Last year we didn’t really do a lot with the car because I was still pretty green in a modified.  Now that I have some experience, we can go after it hard and get the car going a lot better.  Our goal is to win a race.  We want to finish minimum top-10 in the points standings and we’d like to be a challenger for a podium finish every week.  We didn’t win Rookie of the Year last year and even though we didn’t take that trophy home, we want to show everyone that we plan on collecting a few other trophies this season.  We have great support from Hummel Brothers Hot Dogs, Raceworks, Apollo Refrigeration, R & C Auto Body, Don’s Home Improvement, Ackert Electric, BR Wraps, and we have a few more sponsors that are in the works.”

As is the case with most racing drivers, Vassar and the #11 team began to run better as the season progressed and he gained experience behind the wheel.  Vassar scored two of his four top-10 finishes in August, including his season best finish of 5th on Aug. 24.  With the experience he gained during last season combined with the new parts and pieces he will be carrying on his #11 car, Vassar is ready to break out.

“I think we should be pretty close when we start the season,” said Vassar.  “I look at where we were at the end of the season when we ran the World Series at Thompson and we were a top-5 or top-3 car but we lost the motor.  I know Thompson is a totally different track but you race with a lot of the same guys that race at Stafford.  I think with what we learned about the car at the end of the season we should be in the ballpark. Now I have a better understanding of where I want the car to be, where I can make moves in traffic, and how we can get more speed out of the car and be more competitive with the cars that were quick last season.  With the SK Modified®, any variables that you can eliminate, the better off you’ll be.  Sometimes you can go too far out of the box and that’s when you start to get in trouble and we did that a couple of times last year.”

Vassar will also be looking to have some luck on his side as it seemed like he was always in the wrong place at the wrong time during his rookie campaign.

“Last season we had some good nights and some not so good nights,” said Vassar.  “I think we got better towards the end of the season and I would say the story of our season was it was a bad luck year for us.  On nights where we had a good car we had no luck and the nights where we didn’t have a good car we didn’t catch any breaks either.  A great example of how our year went was the night of the TC 13 Shoot Out.  We were proud to be one of the 13 cars that qualified for the TC 13 Shoot Out, but we had some transmission issues that night and I had to drive both the 40-lap race and the 13-lap TC race holding the car in gear with one hand, which is pretty tough to do at Stafford.”

While Vassar’s rookie season might not look like much on paper, both he and his crew will be coming into the 2019 season with a heightened sense of confidence following their top-5 finish at the end of August and their end of the season performance.

“Getting that top-5 was huge for us,” said Vassar.  “It showed the team that we could do it and I showed myself that I could get a top-5 finish.  It gave us a good direction to go in with the car.  We went to a couple of other tracks after the Fall Final with our Stafford setup and we were pretty quick and that really helped boost everyone’s confidence that we were a capable team.”

As one of the only Raceworks chassis competing on a weekly basis at Stafford, Vassar says that fact can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.

“With chassis like Troyer, CD, or LFR, there are a lot of those cars and they have strength in numbers,” said Vassar.  “While those chassis have a lot of customers, they don’t get the attention from the chassis builder that I get from Eddie Flemke by running a Raceworks car.  Eddie also spotted for me most of last year and he helped me to get up to speed with all the experience that he has.  I think that where we are now with the new technology that Eddie has given us I think we can be right there with the front runners.”

The 2019 SK Modified® season kicks off with the 48th Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, scheduled for April 26-28.  Tickets for the “Greatest Race in the History of Spring” are on sale now by calling the Speedway Box Office 860-684-2783 or online at www.staffordspeedway.com.

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Comments

  1. Saw Hummel Brothers Hot Dogs before last season and knew of Vasser’s vast experience down south and up here and thought they could make some waves. Not only did they not make waves they were barely noticeable as far as weekly buzz was concerned. The definition of under the radar.
    Everyone loves Flemke. He’s an institution in modifieds in his own right excluding his legendary dad. But the idea that there could be some advantage to using the chassis that everyone is not using may be wishful thinking.
    Nonetheless I’ll be hoping the 11 makes great strides this year where the competition could possibly be the stiffest ever in the SK’s.

  2. I understand Mr Flemke is a modified man but saying CD LFR and Troyer have strength in numbers but that not having the watchful eye of Eddie is a major under statement because didn’t he repair LFR cars for awhile so maybe he saw something he liked and implemented it on his car?? Just saying but to also say Doug under the radar they were not even on the runway he hit just about everyone I still remember reading posts of everyone complaining. If Hummel wanted to stay involved with racing and run his own car he should have picked a better shoe and what I mean by that is someone who has been in a modified. Running a car no one is using is also a sign that maybe it’s not the best performing car out there so I know Eddie and Hummel go way back how long do you beat a dead horse before you put it down??? Good Luck this year

  3. SK Modfan says:

    I was biting my lip reading this article so since you broke the ice…. this kid should throw a crate motor in that 11 car and run the SK Lites for a few years. His best race was when he started on the pole and only fell to 5th ?? He was the antithesis of the 50 car. Average start 4th, Average finish 12th. That’s not turning around in one year. Especially with a Raceworks car. Ask Hollywood Membrino about that. Good luck 11 car. Hope you do get your top 10 in points goal. Heck, only 12 cars on average attend every race so just show up and be better than 3rd worst and goal accomplished. But being a front runner, talking about trophies and wins must be all that MSG in those hot dogs talking.

  4. Your numbers are wrong. Average start was 10 and finish was 15. His DNF’s totaled 6. Highlights were the 5th mentioned, top 10’s at the Sizzler and July 6 and a stout 11th in the SK5K 100 lapper. Started on the front row 7 times and delivered a top 10 on 3 of those occasions. Finish of the season was horrendous coming in 19.16,18 and 22.
    More then one person has said he hit everything in sight. His DNF record doesn’t support that in my view. My recollection is what the numbers say. He gave up too much ground from the front too many times and ended so far back the 11 failed to make an impression.
    There’s more to driving then just driving. It’s being a pleasure to work with. Being good with fans and sponsors and perhaps bringing sponsors and resources. It’s showing or at least convincing the car owner that you are capable of improving. Those things aren’t nothing.
    If they have a fresh motor plus a new motor plus a freshly clipped car someone is invested money in the guy. I’m not saying anyone is wrong. I am suggesting that we wait and see what happens before we draw any lasting conclusions. You never know it could be a come back kid story in the end that would be pretty cool.

  5. Doug
    I get your point with sponsors and pleasing people but we all know racing is about results and getting into a modified is not easy even for people who have raced types of cars and even people who have drove SK lites and stepped up had issues a lot more power,competition is way more. When I said many people saying he hit everything out there doesn’t mean he wrecked he just hit everything or was in the way and don’t forget he’s coming from what late models totally different animal. My family has raced modifieds al the way back to Danbury , Plainville and even West Haven and even with new motor clip whatever does not mean he’s gonna do anything I seen guys come in with the best of everything $100,000 worth of crap and crash in practice so although you wish the guy luck keep it real and he should just have said we want to improve on last year but to say win and title NO WAY SORRY…

  6. Well said modfan.

  7. Geoff Nooney says:

    Don’t underestimate Race Works or the 11 team. They are capable.

  8. Larry Vassar says:

    You key board warrior people ever race or just like the view from the cheap seats?

  9. Have any of you key board warriors ever raced or worked on a car? Is the view good from the cheap seats? From running full body cars and trucks I think he learned a lot. I guess having goals in racing and life in general does not work for you. I feel sorry for your life.

  10. There isn’t an open wheel modified driver out there that had experience their first year in a mod. It’s a different animal than any other type of racecar out there. A totally different game. As a driver coming into mods, Matt has a huge upside. You haters just sit back and watch. As a car owner John Hummel is incredible. He gives the team everything it needs to succeed. As for Ed Flemke…I don’t need to say a word. The name speaks for itself. We might not be running a LFR, Troyer, or CD car…but the 11 will surprise people this year.

  11. That makes the point I’ve always felt strongly about. It’s important to not talk back to those that are responding to you directly in a thread but to talk to those that aren’t responding. All the people monitoring the commentary but not participating of which there are many. Drivers, fans, people in management……….greater racedayct nation.
    I like to make my point but in most cases leave with a theme of my appreciation to those that race and the enjoyment I get from watching them regardless of their position in the field. I try to troll for more knowledgeable people to weigh in that may add to the information provided and make the fan base more informed.
    I took the better part of an hour to put together some stats on the 11 team. Stats that to some degree corrected the stats presented in another comment as well as making some other relevant observations. At the least it showed an interest in the 11. Not just popping off but doing some home work.
    If those comments from Matt Vassar are indeed his it’s a disappointment. In my view passing on a golden opportunity to show a little class, inform and enlighten and win friends. Being combative and utilizing pathetic tropes about keyboards and all that other defensive nonsense that uncreative and insecure drivers do is a missed opportunity. I gave you a gigantic soft ball saying there are other factors to being a successful driver that you could have built off of and you whiffed miserably.
    if you want to leave a negative impression that reinforces exactly all the negative impressions everyone has refer to key boards, cheap seats and by all means insult all fans in the process.
    If you want to turn peoples opinions around and have them in your corner show them how wrong they are by showing a little grace and intelligence. Speak past the negative commentary to those that aren’t commenting but reading. If someone said something positive show appreciation and build on it. Provide some inside information on your team and what they’re up to that wasn’t in the article. Say glowing things about everyone around you supporting you. Be positive but not arrogant.
    You could be a driver or team that doesn’t care what the fan base thinks. But typically if you weigh in here it’s likely you do.
    If you are positive and informative you may very well have people coming up to you and saying what a nice impression you made in that Stafford press release. In the best case they may offer to buy you a tire or two. If you say what was said nothing changes.

  12. Larry Vassar says:

    It wasn’t Matt I’m his father. I was defending him because he will not respond. I could put stats up about a lot of guys who raced sks prostocks etc.that hit everything but the lottery but what’s the point to make them look bad? Some are jealous he got the ride. That team works there ass off give them this year and see.

  13. Every team that fields a car works their butts off so when you say the 11 discovered hard work it’s actually pretty average.
    I don’t even think a lot of you guys read what’s written after you get to what ticks you off. After that it’s just a boat load of anger and blurt out some equally vague and uninformative nonsense that got you mad in the first place and the shoving match continues. Everyone loses.

  14. Ed Flemke says:

    I seldom comment on any of these sites , but when I do , I’m usually defending some or something that can’t or won’t for themselves …. these posts were brought to my attention and I felt compelled to make a brief comment ….
    In most cases , numbers speak for themselves , in this case the numbers aren’t a true representation of the actual performance of this team , for example , the listed starting positions on any race report , does not list the actual starting positions started in each race … we , as a team , chose to forgo up front starting positions more often than not , because we chose to learn to come from the back , instead of learning how to dodge , block , and basically be in the way if we were off our game that perticular night … therefore not showing our true positions gained those nights … my point ? Numbers are like opinions sometimes … they can be wrong , off , or can do more harm than good , so let’s do a better job of being grateful for the drivers , crews , owners , sponsors , fans , suppliers , and builders in our beloved sport … thanks for reading and putting up with my reply ! Yours truly , Ed Flemke, Jr.

  15. So the actual starting position is not necessarily what we see the car take the green in. His or her starting position is the handicapped position even if the driver elects to go to the rear. That makes zero sense to me nor does it affect the interpretation of any of the stats mentioned. Transponders feeding information electronically to Race Monitor don’t care about what handicapped position a car was assigned.
    What is really frustrating is the seeing the number of appreciative comments made about racers in this forum. . Nice things, supportive things, appreciation for the money spent, the difficulty in fielding a competitive car and sacrifice in fielding any car that competes. And yet with a couple exceptions the only time we hear from team members themselves is when they’re outraged at something that was said. You can have 5 supportive entries and two jerks making unsupported, insulting comments and invariably the team will only be moved to weigh in on what they are outraged about. Never a simple thanks for the kind words…..almost never.
    In the fall of 2017 Nooney spent a lot of time explaining in detail practical rules application regarding the SK Lights from the engines to the rear ends. Since then the guy can say basically anything in this forum with complete credibility because he’s respected for not treating fans like they’re stupid. More importantly his commentary headed off more outrageous rumors and speculation about engines specifically and made the audience better informed.
    While responses are appreciated from guys like Larry Vasser whom I had the honor of being passed by on many occasions if it is that Larry Vasser. Master of the outside pass at Riverside in the yellow 69 if I recall correctly. Or Mr. Flemke who has about as much credibility in modifieds as one can have, I haven’t read one thing from the 11 team that shows any regard whatsoever for fans ability to accurately interpret what they are seeing. In fact Mr. Flemke says we can’t even believe the statistics we read and they may be harmful.
    I’m not buying any of it but know my place as merely a fan.
    Nonetheless I wish everyone on the 11 the best in what promises to be an even more competitive year in 2019.

  16. Geoff Nooney says:

    Hello Doug. Thanks for showing appreciation for my informative comments. I just want to say I am a strong supporter of the entire Race Works family and Ed Flemke. I want to touch base on some statements made above. 1. I do not believe Matt has been given a fair shot at proving himself yet. LUCK has a big influence in racing. They had some bad luck last year as I did myself so I definitely understand that. 2. Ed Flemke does repair work on some LFR cars using LFR’s clips and as an insider at Race Works Ed does not incorporate any of “their” design in his own race cars, Ed is a master fabricator and has a head full of his own great ideas. 3. THERE IS NO MSG IN HUMMEL HOT DOGS!! Even if there was MSG must be delicious. 4. All parents are perfectly entitled to stand up for their kids. That is all. I don’t believe anyone here was enraged just standing up for what and who they believe in.

    Anyways, its almost time to put the pedal to the floor. Lets see what 2019 has to bring and leave all the talk aside.

  17. Hugh Jasle says:

    As for this kid being such a hack he’s sure getting alot of attention on here! There also hasn’t been any msg in Hummel products in 15 year’s or so. Been a long time customer of theirs because of their support for modified racing. Glad to have them back after being away for some time.

  18. Well said Geoff. After all, who in their right mind would say anything bad about the great American hot dog, fathers loving their sons or any Flemke for any reason.
    Care to share any of your plans for 2019 Geoff. You had some success at Stafford last year. The third on Modifiedz Night was outstanding. Only a tenth or two off Rufrano. Then you dropped out a while later, showed up at Waterford in the SK division no less. No listing at Stafford this year for the 79. You done with Stafford?

  19. Geoff Nooney says:

    Long story short….I had too much bad luck at Stafford and wasn’t having fun anymore,(Had 2 wrongful black flags that cost me my nights, mufflers falling off that werent mine, and phantom fluid coming from my car plus a few wrecks, the last one being a doozy, I turned leftout of 4 to avoid front stretch mayhem and didnt know Andrew was there, I got mad at the flagger because i felt they were calling back too many restarts ultimately causing the chaos. Also at that same time there was a bogus tech call on my engine at Waterford. I followed all the instructions to be allowed to race at Stafford and tore my engine out to bring it to RAD for inspection with tech officials present. I lost 2 days of work because of this as I had no help. Engine at this time was bone stock never had the heads off as well as Stafford and factory seals intact as originally purchased new. The engine tested legal 3 times on video. So anyway, I got the car back together just in time for Friday and finished 3rd that night as well (I was leading but couldnt get car to shift on final restart). I got protested for the same thing that was already proven legal, and guess what, it was legal again. It didnt stop there. Even though the engine (specifically cam duratio ) was proven legal in two different methods 4 different times now the Waterford tech official was claiming I had 2 engines (wish i had that kind of money) or that i had changed the cam lol. I never even changed my own valve springs (always done at RAD). So i decided since there was so much BS surrounding me and just bad luck at Stafford I was just gonna have fun being creative utilizing the SK and SKL rules at the Bowl. We kept getting faster and at the end of it we finished 8th at the finale with some good cars in the field. If we had a touch more power i could have got under Diego and Timmy to finish 5th but instead got passed by Zachem when I was trying to set up a crossover. So Id say it was a great experience and it was a blast to race with all those guys. As for 2019 there’s a couple things setup but not too much as of yet, but I will get my feet wet again this year for sure. I no longer have my own car as it was just to expensive for me to do it all the way I was. All in all the amount of fun I had running as SK overpowered the bad luck I had as a SKL. Lol SO MUCH FOR LONG STORY SHORT. Now you know,

  20. I seem to recall an interview with Blaise Brodeur at the Speedbowl where you said you were using the SK Light engine and I think someone bought you some tires. Your finish was just a mind blower. There were some really stout invaders in that race.
    As disappointed as I am to hear we won’t be seeing the 79 at Stafford this year I could say this.
    You should be exceptionally proud to have come so far so fast and doing it all on a strict budget.
    Fingers crossed you can team up with someone that is looking for a up and comer that can wring the most out of a racing dollar.
    At least that’s my view from the cheap seats.

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