Accelerated Growth: Dan Avery Bolsters Already Stout SK Mod Stable For 2020 At Stafford, Thompson

Glen Reen (17) and Dan Avery (10) in action during an SK Modified heat race last June at Stafford Speedway Friday (Photo: Fran Lawlor/RaceDayCT)

What’s the best way for a team owner to increase their odds of winning an SK Modified championship at Stafford Motor Speedway. 

For SK Modified team owner Dan Avery and his Horsepower Hill Farms team, the answer to that for 2020 is adding another championship contending driver to his stable. 

Avery will have to two drivers ready to chase the SK Modified title at Stafford in 2020. Glen Reen returns to the team for a fourth season in the division in 2020 with Chase Dowling joining him as a teammate. 

It was reported exclusively by RaceDayCT Thursday that Dowling would return full-time to the SK Modified division at Stafford driving for Avery in partnership with longtime team owners Brigitte and Jean-Guy Poulin. Longtime SK Modified division crew chief Mike O’Sullivan will oversee the Dowling operation for Avery. 

Dowling returns to the division full-time after making four starts in an SK Modified at Stafford in 2019. He finished second in the SK Modified division standings in 2017, six points behind champion Keith Rocco. Despite missing three events in 2018, Dowling finished 10th in the season standings in 2018. He has six career SK Modified victories at Stafford, including the 2017 NAPA SK5K. He also has won Rookie of the Year titles on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and in Stafford’s SK Modified and SK Light Modified divisions. He has seven career SK Light Modified wins at Stafford. 

“I think it’s pretty exciting because we’ve got some real talented players, real strong players with the Poulin’s bringing their part of the partnership into the deal,” Avery said. “Obviously you’ve got the history and talent of Mike O’Sullivan and the talent of [Dowling]. To be involved with that group of people along with my guys, it’s going to be pretty strong, pretty stout I think. I can’t see any downside to the personalities and the people and the equipment involved here. I think it’s going to be strong.” 

Dowling will also run full-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2020 for team owner Danny Watts and run Tri-Track Open Modified Series and Stafford Open Modified events for owner Jimmy Paige. Dowling’s attempt at chasing an SK Modified title for Avery will come at a disadvantage with two Whelen Modified Tour events scheduled for Friday nights in 2020 (May 8 at Martinsville Speedway and July 31 at Iowa Speedway).

Reen finished fifth in the SK Modified standings at Stafford in 2019 with one victory and eight top-fives in 20 events.

The Avery SK Modified stable will also once again include Woody Pitkat, though the exact plans for Pitkat with the group remain fluid depending on what happens with the 2020 season at Thompson Speedway. It was announced last week that Thompson Speedway management has proposed a six-event NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule for the 2020 season at the track, but track management is waiting to see the commitment level of participants. Avery said the team plans to run Pitkat full-time in the SK Modified division at Thompson if there is a schedule to be run. Driving for Avery in 2019, Pitkat finished second to Rocco in the SK Modified standings at Thompson. 

“Depending on what happens there we’ll act accordingly with Woody,” Avery said. “It was our intention to run for the championship there. We came really close last year. Now, who knows what’s going to happen. So Woody and I have talked about a few options, but nothing is set in stone.” 

Dan Avery (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

The 64-year old Avery also plans to run from five to 10 events in the SK Modified division at Stafford. He ran seven events last year at Stafford. 

“I felt like I’d like to run more,” Avery said. “Last year was a little bit different because I had an extremely busy work schedule last year which I kind of made that the priority last year. The crew guys stepped up to the plate and got the cars prepared. Once you’re a racer you want to race and you always want to race more. But I’m at a point in my life where racing a little bit less doesn’t hurt my feelings.”

Like they did in 2019, the plan is for Avery and Pitkat to share the same car running between Stafford and Thompson. 

“It seems to work out good for the two of us because there’s no major changes inside the cockpit,” Avery said. “We pretty much interchange pretty well. I kind of work my schedule at Stafford around his schedule at Thompson. It seems to work out pretty well without having to have a fourth car.”

Avery said the possibility of the team adding another car for Pitkat to run at Stafford depending on the Thompson situation could be examined. 

“We’ve talked a little bit about it, but he’s got the [Whelen Modified Tour] deal and a Late Model deal and an Open Modified ride with Stan [Mertz] and so on. We’ve talked about somewhere down the road maybe doing a steady deal at Stafford, but I don’t think right now his schedule permits it. But we’d definitely entertain it and I would just act accordingly when that day comes.” 

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  1. 2 Friday night tour races At Martinsville and Iowa🤔🤔

  2. Enough of that riding horses down in North Carolina and hoping for a super late model opportunity to pop up. Welcome back to where you are known and appreciated with a chock full race schedule.
    2 tenths of a second. That’s what Dowlings 36 was consistently off the top tier in 2018. In Kopcik’s 31 as well in 2019. Got a little lucky winning a caution free race and was always good but just a tick off the top tier. Avery, Poulin, O’Sullivan now in his corner. Does it get any better going into a season?
    Almost 50 SK’s registered but it’s chaos in the SK team listing. So many people entering cars that are backups, plan B cars or end up a mirage. Like Hirschman every year and Penninks old 99 that got us excited last year when it popped up but never ran. No matter. As disappointing as the Thompson news is Stafford is shaping up to have a banner year if the fans show up. The cars will sure be there.Even Late Models go figure.
    The Avery stable with the addition of Dowling is about as good a news as there could be from my perspective. Not so much full time or championship contender with the NWMT conflicts but super part time. I’m not expecting top tier results. Chase will likely still be chasing two tenths of a second to perennial leaders Williams, Rocco and Owen. They bring their A game every night. But Chase can race, he’ll have his moments and just him being there most weeks is a huge boost to an already strong division.
    It’s the 82 that will be the real wild card. Watts had a good year ending up 8th in the final standings. Unfortunately it included only one top 5 and that was the very fortunate blood soaked, survivalist win at Wall. Otherwise the 82 was rarely noticed at the front. Dowling could change all that. He knows things. You get a top tier driver that has a head full of Fullerisms. Dowling could retire as a driver tomorrow and still be a top set up guy. I would bet they have more then one top 5 for sure.
    Who’s that I spy in my Ring doorbell. Well my-o-my it’s the New Smyrna World Series making it’s way to the front door.

  3. Stafford is thriving, bubbling over with modifieds of all sorts on an oval track. Thompson is sucking pond scum.

    Look no further than the OWNERSHIP. Yep, the owners can do whatever they want. And when customers, including competitors, don’t show up, BLAME THE CUSTOMERS.


    For those of you that are sarcastically challenged, there was sarcasm up there.

  4. Fast Eddie says

    Dareal, I completely agree. If the present ownership cared about what kept the previous generations of his family going, he would find a way to make the oval work. It obviously can be done; they need to look no further than Stafford Speedway. A few tracks north of Connecticut seem to have figured out way to make things work for them as well. If it were me I would be working towards keeping my parents’ and grandparents’ dream alive as long as possible as a continuing tribute to what my family created.

  5. Thanks Fast Eddie. The thing is, Thompson is a great track layout for modifieds. The half mile with the banking is a great track for mods. Sad to see this great track go this way.

  6. Avery is giving 2 talented drivers an opportunity for 2020. Both Pitkat and Dowling are very skilled drivers. Hopefully things work out for Woody at Thompson, or perhaps he’ll end up running Stafford. Either way Dan will be a busy car owner next year

  7. I really don’t think if the management of Thompson came out and said we can only run six shows this year it would have been such a big deal but when they screwed with the purse that took the deal to another level. Then they threw the sword at the feet of the competitors and said either do it our way or the highway making them decide the fate of the 2020 season that is just plain wrong. Blaming the fans and competitors for managements shortcomings again just wrong.

    Just love that high banked 5/8 for the mod squad and too bad it may just go away because of lack of the management doing their job.

    If Waterford was ever to make a come back under new ownership and management team they very possibly could drive the final nail in the coffin of Thompson.

  8. wmass01013 says

    I don’t pretend to know the financial situation of TMSP, I keep seeing from the post that the ROAD course is very profitable and making a killing for the Hoenigs, well I would think if that were true then you could kinda par that with the Oval issues and make things work for BOTH, Guess NOT!
    While I don’t think all 146 WMT races have made a good profit for the Family over the last 35 years I would tend to say 90% HAVE, I have been to most of those races and the crowd depending on weather is always good to packed and I do know it cost $$$ to bring the WMT in, yes the Hoenigs including DONALD have been very stubborn with their dates and nights, I would say Thurs. night a better option to bring in fans because people willing to take Fridays off for 3 day weekend and go on a thurs. night, Using the open sat. night sailfest weekend the last few years to bring in the K&N SERIES is very mind boggling when u could have had a WMT or OPEN MOD SHOW or anything different to make want people to go on a sat. Night, BIGTIME MISTAKE!!
    When there was talk of bringing the 300 back, Donald insisted that he wanted the pole/outside pole to be the summer races like the old days, well u know that NASCAR like it or NOT does the time trials and or group qualifying for races and WONT let u do other races as a pole position and I am sure pole sponsorship takes precedent in that, but wouldn’t a new revised THOMPSON 300 been a boost for the track if wellllllll PROMOTED?????????
    I SOOOOOOOOOOO agree that you would think the NEW GENERATION of HOENIGS would want to make the very prestigious HISTORY of TMSP ongoing, sure doesn’t seem like it!!!!!

  9. Nice to hear some genuinely positive news for modifieds.. go get em Dan..

  10. Julius Caesar says

    Beware of the ides of January deadline this week…

  11. Hillary 2020 says

    Cool drone footage of the construction at the bowl posted today. With all the trouble at least they’re investing in their weekly program.

  12. “Happy New Year to all our fans, staff, and drivers! 2020 is looking to be a great year!”
    Aside from scheduling a few events this is about the most detailed information Serluca has put out for teams to make their plans. The dark cloud is still hanging over the track. The same amateur with more Facebook posting experience then track or project management is still in charge or at least the face of the track.. No schedule for completion has been floated nor even a real promise of any racing at all. And yet that freakin track that refuses to die may be more the future of circle track racing in Connecticut as Thompson goes through it’s death spiral.
    It was a really cool video. To a person ignorant of construction it looks like site preparation that has been going on for a year continues and a massive amount of work needs to be done. Which given the tracks record probably means they’re in the home stretch.
    So what are you thinking Mini Stock, X Car and Super X Car teams? Are you working on your cars or are they just sitting there waiting?
    In a Bottom Shot podcast Paul Arute answered the question why Stafford sticks with it’s Late Model rules and doesn’t move to the more popular ACT rules. He said the tracks philosophy has always been to be predictable so that teams can count on the fact that Stafford will have a full season and that teams can count on consistent rules. You can spend the winter working on your car and buying parts with complete confidence that there will be a place to use them come spring.
    Thompson and the Speedbowl are proof of why that philosophy is so hard to execute and that we all take for granted as some of us make fun of Stafford from time to time. Stafford should make the point more often because reliability and predictability could be the single most important things a track can do.

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