Craig Lutz Files Entry For Stafford Open Modified 80 Events

(Press release from Stafford Speedway)

Craig Lutz (Photo: Shawn Courchesne/RaceDayCT)

Over the past three seasons when the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour visits Stafford Speedway, Craig Lutz has been one of the drivers to watch.  Lutz is currently riding a 9-race top-10 streak at the ½ mile, including his first career Tour win at the 2019 running of the NAPA Fall Final.  Lutz will be looking to add to his stellar Stafford totals as he has registered to compete in all four Open Modified 80 events this season. Lutz will pilot the #56 Riverhead Building Supply Chevrolet owned by Russell Goodale in each of the 80’s including the Open Mod 80 on May 15, the Twisted Tea Open 80 on June 12, the Bud Light Open 80 on July 10, and the Lincoln Tech Open 80 on August 21.

“I can’t wait to come back to Stafford,” said Lutz.  “Last year we purchased an open motor so we could be part of the open modified shows at Stafford this season.  My Dad and I were able to put this deal together with my car owner Russell Goodale and we’re coming to Stafford looking to win races.  We’re looking forward to running the four extra shows at Stafford in addition to the three Tour races.”

Lutz and the #56 team were able to make one start at the end of the 2019 season at Thompson Speedway to shake the new car and engine combination down and help prepare for the 2020 season.  

“We got everything put together and we ran the last MRS show at Thompson,” said Lutz.  “We started 25th and finished 3rd, so that was pretty good for our first time running the open motor.”

With 13 career starts under his belt at Stafford, Lutz is hoping to avoid any learning curve when he comes to Stafford for the first time in an open modified format.  Lutz is also excited about the 80 lap race format that allows teams to change 2 tires during the race, noting that he will be able to go all out for the entire 80 lap distance.

“The tire compounds are a little different to what we run on the Tour so there might be a small learning curve for us,” said Lutz.  “The races are 80 laps and we get to change 2 tires, so there doesn’t seem to be much saving of anything with the car.  I think we can afford to set the car up a little bit looser than we normally would set up our car for a Tour race at Stafford and we’ll take our 2 tires during the race and we’ll see where we end up.  We typically don’t race all out during Tour races that much and I like the longer distance races, but this is going to be pretty cool to change things up.  I’ve never ran a shorter race at Stafford so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Lutz will also be hoping to pick up anything that he can apply towards his #46 Riverhead Building Supply car for the three visits the NWMT will make to Stafford in 2020.

“Any time you’re in a car getting laps at a track where the Tour runs is always a good thing,” said Lutz.  “These races will help keep everyone on the team fluid and working together and by being repetitive each weekend you’re only going to get better and better and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish this year with running more races than we did last year.”

Lutz will have some stiff competition in the fight to be the first driver to see the checkered flag in the Open 80 races at Stafford.  Each of the first five Open 80’s at Stafford have been won by different drivers with Tommy Barrett, Jr. and Eric Goodale winning in 2018 and Keith Rocco, Ryan Preece, and Ronnie Williams winning in 2019.  Barrett, Rocco, Preece, and Williams are either current or former weekly racers at Stafford and Lutz knows the Stafford regulars will be strong again in 2020.  Lutz can always turn to his Riverhead Building Supply teammate Goodale for advice regarding how to properly attack the 80-lap Open Modified events.

“Guys like Ronnie Williams and Keith Rocco have been racing at Stafford every Friday for the last however many years and they know every crack there is in the track. Those guys are going to be tough to beat for sure,” said Lutz.  “Eric [Goodale] always runs good at Stafford but I haven’t really had a chance to sit down with him yet to discuss any strategy.  I’m sure he’s going to be one of the guys to beat so we’ll see what happens.  Hopefully we can pull off a win.”

In addition to the four Open Mod 80 shows, Lutz will be looking to continue his good Stafford fortunes in the NAPA Spring Sizzler® on April 26, the Stafford 150 on Aug. 7, and defending his NAPA Fall Final victory of one year ago on Sept. 27.

“Winning the Fall Final last year was a big morale booster for the entire team,” said Lutz.  “It seemed whenever we were in position to possibly get a win something stupid would happen and we would end up finishing second.  To finally be able to say we were winners on the Tour is something special. We’ve purchased two new LFR cars for this season and our plan is to come in full tilt and try to make a run at the championship.”

Lutz will look to add more Stafford wins to his resume when he takes to the track for the Open Mod 80 on May 15, the Twisted Tea Open 80 on June 12, the Bud Light Open 80 on July 10, and the Lincoln Tech Open 80 on August 21.  For more information, visit, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.


  1. Quite frankly, I wish him luck. He is one of the best. He is a smooth driver that is kinda old school. I loved Teddy, but trying to defend him was tiring. He was in the right at least half the time… But Mr. Lutz is the exact opposite. Kinda like my comment about the 7ny during the Summer. 2 drivers I love to watch. McKennedy and Lutz. Smooth and not aggressive enough. But maybe we will get some action from Craig. I have no idea what the 7ny is doing this year.

  2. This news is a bit long in the tooth but it’s still kind of remarkable. A major tour team actually buying a motor specifically to compete in not 2, not 3 but 4 opens at Stafford. One thing is for sure, different tires or not they know how to set up a car for Stafford. The home boys, Rocco, Owen, Williams, Galko and others may have some real new competition.

  3. What is the verdict at Thompson?

  4. Fast Eddie says

    Glad to see another WMT team run some open events! I got to talk to Craig Lutz for a minute at Stafford’s Fall Final pit party. At the time I told him I thought that there were some overdue guys that were out there, but based on performance I thought he was the most overdue. It was pretty cool to see my statement was valid for only the rest of that afternoon! The team has some great chemistry going on given their performances. I wonder if they might run any TriTrack races. Maybe Seekonk?

  5. Good to see yet another tour driver running the open shows at Stafford next season. Craig runs fairly well there in the tour car, so should be competitive in the opens. I’d be somewhat confident in saying that he might compete in some other open events too, but that depends on wether or not his motor was built track specific or not, as we all know a motor built for a half mile track doesn’t work too well at the bullrings where most of the open shows are held. Best of luck to him and his team, hope they enjoy the open shows, although as usual I’ll be rooting for Ronnie, and the 50 team.

  6. Was hoping for a press release myself JD. The 15th has come and gone.

  7. Do you have any options for gear ratio’s in the other series. That could help out. I am just a fan, do not know the ins and outs. Do not know if you could detune a motor in other ways. I would assume you all more than I do…

  8. I know the motor will like higher rpm’s. You should be able to make the suspension work for you. A little lighter spring weight, a little more rebound?

  9. It was about this time two years ago Stafford announced the tour type modified opens and much of the talk at the time was about how SK’s and NWMT spec motors were excluded. A mistake to many but Stafford stayed the course and proved correct.
    Where are all these cast iron tour type modified engines coming from? That’s rhetorical they’re obviously coming from engine builders but an awful lot have them have been built over the last couple years. A lot of Stafford SK teams building a tour type modified with a tour type modified engine. Goodale, Preece, Lutz, 7NY and more decided to acquire one or more. Even the TTOMS has gravitated toward the 18 degree engine package or so said Jim Schaefer last summer.
    How are they doing it? Can they build a competitive motor at a competitive price by starting with the GM 604 spec motor and making modifications? Seems like it’s been a bright spot that bodes well for open racing that has gone under the radar.

  10. I thought the goal was trying to lower/control the cost of racing in an attempt to attract new competitors/teams and keep the existing ones? NASCAR spec engine legal in the WMT & Tri Track, cast iron block with steel or aluminum heads legal in Tri Track, SO’s & MRS. You need 100k in 2 engines to have the ability to compete in all the series and that is lowering/controlling costs how? Unless you having a money tree growing in the back yard it’s not happening.

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