Online Homecoming: Cory Casagrande Ready For Virtual Return To Action At Stafford Speedway

Former Stafford Motor Speedway regular Cory Casagrande has had May 29 circled on his calendar as a major date for his limited racing schedule for the 2020 season. 

The Stafford native – who now runs selected Late Model and Pro Stock type events across the Northeast – was set to make his return to his home track on May 29 with the running of the Inaugural CBYD Pro Late Model Open 81. 

As the country battles through the COVID-19 global pandemic schedules for all sporting events are on hold. The Pro Late Model Open is still tentatively scheduled to run May 29 at Stafford, but time will tell if restrictions will allow for that to happen. 

Though there are no restrictions on track’s going online and that’s exactly what Stafford management announced they would be doing on Wednesday. And it means Casagrande’s return to the track this season will come a little earlier, albeit in a virtual sense. 

Stafford Motor Speedway announced they will debut their eStafford program with the running of the NAPA Auto Parts 100 Friday evening through the iRacing platform. 

Casagrande is one of a long list of current and former Stafford Speedway regulars who will be trying to make the race Friday. 

“There’s nothing else to do, plain and simple,” Casagrande said. “I’m glad I have an iRacing setup at this point. 

“I think it was only a matter of time before they had to do something. You’ve got to keep some kind of interest in the sport even when nothing is going on. Stafford does a great job with their social media and how they promote stuff. Probably the best in the country short track wise. I jumped at the opportunity. Why not? Sitting home doing nothing, why not get your name out in front of people some way or another if you can.” 

With NASCAR putting all sanctioned events on hold until early May, the sanctioning body introduced its Pro Invitational Series and ran its first event Sunday at virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway featuring drivers from its top level NASCAR Cup Series and its three national touring divisions. Denny Hamlin passed Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the final lap of the event, which was broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 with regular Fox announcers Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon calling the show. NASCAR is expected to run events weekly coinciding with each track they would have been competing that week if not for the shutdown.

“We have discussed setting up some off season sim racing over the last few years and this delay has pushed us to get it setup,” Paul Arute, chief operating officer at Stafford Speedway said in a release. “If this first event goes well, we’ll look to do another and even open the event up to race fans. iRacing has been a great partner to Stafford Speedway over the years and we are excited to see the continued growth of their platform.”

Friday’s virtual race at Stafford will be run using the track’s premier division SK Modifieds with fixed setups for all competitors. 

As of Thursday the track had announced a list of 42 expected entries but Arute said Thursday about 50 entries are expected. They are expecting to run 10-lap heat races and a consolation race to set a 30-car field for the feature event. 

For Casagrande, the 2012 Limited Late Model champion and former Late Model division regular at Stafford, the hope right now is just to make the show.

“I just went into a practice [Wednesday] and I’m just hoping there’s a past champion’s provisional because I was getting smoked,” Casagrande said. “Hopefully we make the show. … They’ll send guys home.” 

During Sunday’s broadcast of the Pro Invitational Series, viewers saw NASCAR Cup Series drivers with simulator “rigs” that reportedly cost upwards of $40,000. 

Casagrande will “strap in” for the show at Stafford in a Playseat that is more than a decade old and will control his action through a Logitech G27 Steering Wheel setup, which can be found for under $100 online in some places.

“When I was like 14 or 15 my parents bought me a Playseat and I still use to this day,” the 26-year old Casagrande said. “I’ve got a little like 25-inch monitor and a G27 Wheel, which I think a lot of the old school iRacers are still using. I think we’re all about on par, nothing crazy, nothing expensive. Nothing like Kyle Busch or Denny Hamlin.” 

The Stafford Speedway event will be broadcast live on the track’s YouTube Channel at 7 p.m. Friday with track announcers Jeff Maconi and Bonssa Tufa calling the action. For more information on the event, check the Stafford Speedway NAPA Auto Parts 100 event page on Facebook

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  1. I never thought finding toilet paper on a store shelf would provide a reason to be joyful but here we are, I did and I am.
    I’m actually looking forward to this deal big time. Practice looked pretty darned good. Drink enough beer and you’ll never know the difference. Direct the lawn mover exhaust into the rumpus room and the environment will be complete. Errrr…..come to think of it forget that last part.

  2. stafford should run the SK-lites for 25 laps!

  3. stafford should run the SK-lites for 25 laps! dont you agree?

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