Campaign Overhaul: Joey Ferrigno Looking For Turnaround And Stafford Record

Joey Ferrigno readies for practice Friday at Stafford Motor Speedway in preparation for this weekend’s season opening NAPA Spring Sizzler (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

STAFFORD – Popularity among his peers in the pits and fans in the stands has earned Stafford Motor Speedway SK Light Modified division driver Joey Ferrigno the moniker of “The Mayor”. 

While the East Hartford veteran may top the popularity charts around the historic half-mile oval, the 37 year old is more concerned about getting back atop the podium. 

After two years of struggles, Ferrigno decided over the offseason to start with a clean slate for 2019. 

“Pulling out all the stops,” Ferrigno said Friday during an open practice at Stafford Speedway in preparation for this weekend’s season opening NAPA Spring Sizzler. “Built a new car, got a new motor. We’re throwing everything we’ve got at it.” 

Since making his debut in the division in 2012, Ferrigno has won at least one feature each season. He had a pair of five win seasons in 2014 and 2015. 

In 2016 Ferrigno battled Tony Membrino Jr. most of the season in the chase for the division title, with Membrino eventually scoring the crown. 

But after battling for the title, the bottom fell out the last two years for Ferrigno. Over the last two seasons he has just two victories and four top-five finishes.

After finishing second in the standings in 2016 with two wins and 12 top-five finishes, Ferrigno fell to seventh in the standings in 2017 with just one win and and a single top-five finish. He ended up ninth in the standings in 2018 with a win and three top-five finishes. 

“We just couldn’t catch a break,” Ferrigno said of 2018. “I had problem after problem with the car. Just little gremlins. After having a couple of phenomenal seasons, you can’t do it forever. So I mean, no luck caught up with us. We got tied up in some wrecks. Missed a couple of things. This year we’re starting scratch. All brand new stuff. Not that new is always better, but we’ve got to try something different.” 

The optimism of a turnaround also comes with the bonus of chasing a major measuring bar at Stafford for Ferrigno. He sits second on the track’s all-time SK Light Modified win list with 16 career victories, one behind Chris Matthews’ track record of 17 wins. 

“It’s definitely an awesome goal to go for,” Ferrigno said. “We’ve been tickling it the last couple years but I haven’t had the best of luck. When I started in this division I was just happy to be up front and be on the podium. And then after a couple of phenomenal years … there was two or three years where we couldn’t do anything wrong and it put us right at the top of the charts. We were the car to beat every week. Obviously I would like to get back on that level again.” 

Over his eight seasons in an SK Light Modified Ferrigno has seen the look of the division change in many ways. Unlike a decade ago, teenagers now dominant the roster. 

“The overall experience level of the field has gone down,” Ferrigno said. “When I started there was less cars but most people had raced before. Now you have kids that don’t even have their driver’s licenses yet. I’m not saying they don’t belong out there. Some of them are better than guys have been on the track for 20 years. But some of them go out there and either they don’t know what they’re doing enough yet and they don’t know how to react to a situation where cars are out of shape going two and three-wide, they panic and bad things happen. There’s a lot more cautions. The whole dynamic of the division has kind of changed over the years. 

And just like in real life politics, even the most popular folks in the polls have their detractors, and that holds true for “The Mayor”. Some grumble a driver with Ferrigno’s experience should have moved up and on from the SK Light Modified division. Ferrigno’s response to those naysayers is simple. 

“Buy me an SK [Modified] motor and I’ll go out and race one,” Ferrigno said. “I’m doing what my wallet will let me do.” 

At leave it to The Mayor to do some lobbying on behalf of his party. At Stafford the SK Light Modified division is the third tier NASCAR Whelen All-American Series division behind the premier SK Modifieds and second-tier Late Models. Over the past few seasons many around the pits at Stafford have suggested that the SK Light Modifieds should take on the second tier role at the track. Ferrigno agrees with that assessment. 

“I know the Late Models have been ahead of us forever,” Ferrigno said. “We’ve got more cars and they’re getting a bigger purse than us. I think we’re putting more fans in the stands than other divisions. It is what it is.” 

Ferrigno hits the track in 2019 with sponsorship from RH2Way Radio, Stevens Ductwork, Ferndale Construction, Pinto Manufacturing, M & S Products, MPR Flooring, D’Addario’s Auto Service, Gallagher Buick/GMC and Metro Garage Door.

Do you enjoy what you’re reading and seeing here at RaceDayCT? Would you like to see continued coverage of New England short track racing? Your support can help ensure that professional coverage of short track racing can continue at RaceDayCT, and you can get some great rewards for that support. Patreon allows readers to make small monthly contributions to RaceDayCT that support the ongoing coverage of short track racing. Your pledge comes with exclusive tiered reward programs for offering that support. For just a $5 a month pledge fans can have access to the weekly Unmuffled podcast. For more information click the link here.


  1. Steve Georgiades says

    Good Luck Joey-

  2. Man I get tired of the notion that a driver has to move up. You’re fine right where you are Joey. It’s nice seeing the 87 out there every year. Ask guys that were successful in the Lights like say DJ Burnham that moved up and hit a wall of mediocrity. It isn’t a career, it’s entertainment and how much it costs you to be entertained. If SK Lights allow someone to race, lose less money and have fun so much the better. Just don’t be an old hand complaining about inexperience in a division that is meant to give people seat time.
    Nice to hear the theme that the SK Lights should be the second division. This isn’t Seekonk or Oxford Plains. I don’t know about modified country but Stafford is about modifieds.
    Stafford may be pleasantly trapped on the tier issue. On the one hand it’s always been the thinking a track needs diverse divisions. Late Models are serious machines,expensive to campaign and cost way more to put on the track. On the other hand the SK’s Lights are crowd favorites and are doing well on every level deserving second tier status and money.
    The second tier shouldn’t be about which cars are more expensive. It’s should be about what puts butts in the seats.

Leave a Reply

Copyright 2018 E-Media Sports

Website Designed by Thirty Marketing