Dream To Reality: Paul French Grabs First Career SK Light Modified Victory At Stafford

Paul French celebrates his first career victory at Stafford Speedway Friday (Photo: Lori-Lynn French)

Paul French celebrates his first career victory at Stafford Speedway Friday (Photo: Lori-Lynn French)

STAFFORD – As of late Thursday, Stafford Motor Speedway SK Light Modified division driver Paul French didn’t even think he’d be competing this week at Stafford Motor Speedway.

So the Andover driver can’t be blamed for thinking he might have been dreaming Friday evening at the track.

French and his team owner Gino Difilippo Jr. made the decision late Thursday to compete and it was a choice that paid off in the most dramatic fashion for the first year driver/owner combination.

French, of Andover, started on the pole and led every lap on the way to victory in the 20-lap SK Light Modified feature Friday at Stafford.

It was the first career victory at Stafford for French, a former SK Light Modified division champion at the Waterford Speedbowl.

“This is just unbelievable,” French said. “Stafford has always been my nemesis. I’ve always wanted to conquer it and it’s just an absolute dream come true. I hope my alarm clock ain’t going off in ten minutes to go to work because this is a sheer dream.”

Geoff Boisjolie of East Hampton, Mass. was a distant second and Tyler Hines of North Haven

“Ever since I was a little kid, coming here with the Bennett’s, Herb and Laura Bennett got me coming here when I was a kid,” the 33-year old French said. “Ever since that day I wanted to be [in victory lane] with a Modified driving it. As far away as that dream could be when I was like 10 years old, having it become a reality is just something else to me. I’ve won a lot of races, but winning here is just absolutely unreal.”

French is in his first year competing full-time at Stafford. Difilippo is a first-year car owner in the division. French drives out of the Horsepower Hill racing team stable, which also fields a car for Joey Ferrigno of East Hartford, a five-time winner in the SK Light Modified division this year at Stafford.

“At 8 o’clock last night we weren’t bring any cars here,” French said.

But a pep talk from crew member Frank Lemieux changed the plans and got the team fired up to return.

“I’ve got to thank Gino Difilippo for giving me the opportunity to drive this car,” French said. “This is unbelievable. We put forth 100 percent this week into this car and it shows. …. I’m so proud of these guys from Horsepower Hill Racing, these guys, they live it, they love it, they do it.”

French left the field behind at the initial green flag and was never challenged the rest of the way in the caution-free event. Hines got by Jeremy Sorel for third on the final lap.

French said the closing laps were filled with anxiousness.

“[I was just thinking], don’t overdrive it,” French said. “I slowed down the last three laps because I could hear Joey in my head, ‘Easy in, hard off’. The car was getting tight and I knew I had to play conservative.”

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