Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Coming into the 2022 Street Stock season at Stafford Speedway, Bobby Stirk, III and the #9 A6A Associates team were flying under the radar.
After the first two races of the season, Stirk and team have served notice to everyone that they’ve shed the underdog label and will be serious contenders with a 2nd place finish in the season opening NAPA Spring Sizzler® followed by Stirk taking down his first career Street Stock victory.
Stirk’s hot start to the season sees him sitting at the top of the Street Stock standings and looking for more.
“It can’t get much better than that,” said Stirk. “We didn’t take a day off at all during the winter. We went through every channel that we possibly could to try to get every tenth out of the car. We were close last year but we found a few things over the winter that just weren’t right with the car. We’ve been working with Jay Stuart a lot to set the chassis up and he and my Dad are coming up with all sorts of new ideas and everything seems to be working perfectly. We fell behind the 8 ball a little bit when we first came back to Stafford because we thought maybe the 305 engine and some of the older stuff would still work and everything was just outdated. We figured out where all our flaws were and it took a little time for me to get used to the track and the car and Jay Stuart has helped push us right to the top. Big thanks to Jay Stuart and JMD Chassis, A6A Associates, PS Engines, DMW Graphics, Top Level Detailing, the whole JET Motorsports crew, my Dad, my sister, my Uncle Tom, Butch Fosdick from Rent A Racecar, Tri-State Elevator and Hoist, and Prvl Creative, we couldn’t have done this without all their support.”
The seeds of Stirk’s success were starting to get planted at the end of the 2021 season where Stirk recorded 6 top-7 finishes in the last 7 races, including what was then his career best finish of second. Stirk and his crew started to hit upon something with their car setups and have carried that over the winter and into the start of this season.
“We started experimenting with setups towards the end of last season and something that my Dad came up with absolutely clicked with me,” said Stirk. “It’s not something that Jay Stuart normally runs, but he and my Dad have been working well together and we were starting to finish races last year instead of breaking down. I have a lot of good guys in my corner with Jay Stuart on the chassis side, Buzzie has been helping us a lot with the rear ends and transmissions, and the crate motor from R.A.D. has been a massive change for us. I never imagined a first and a second, I was just hoping for a top-5 finish to start the season. I knew we were going to be a contender even if no one else counted us a contender. I’m ok with being the underdog and this is my first season where I’m a contender for race wins.”
Stirk’s second place finish during the 2021 season not only helped boost his confidence, but it also served as a huge motivating factor as coming so close to winning left that race stuck in Stirk’s mind during the entire off-season.
“That second place finish last year really helped a lot but at the same time I relived that moment in my head all winter long,” said Stirk. “I got a little loose going into turn 1 and that opened the door for Frankie [L’Etoile, Jr.] to get by me. It helped my confidence but it was also ‘what could have been’. That race stuck with me all winter long which I used as motivation for this season.”
With the 2022 season just 2 races old, Stirk has his focus solely set on winning more races and maintaining his consistency of finishing races in the top-5 rather than starting to worry about the championship at season’s end.
“The key is to just finish races and spend as much time in the shop as I can going over the car,” said Stirk. “Other than that, you can’t really control what happens on the track. You just have to keep your nose clean and keep as many friends as you can because once you start making enemies, that’s when you start losing consistency because you’re not going to be finishing races. We have 20 or so more weeks to keep going and I’m not worried about the championship, I’m just here to try to win races. In the bottom half of the season we’ll take a look and see where we are and play things by ear then but right now I just want to win more races.”
Stirk’s first career victory was not only a high for himself, but being able to share the victory with his father Bob, who raced many years at Stafford without recording a victory, was an extra special experience.
“Winning that race was something that I’ve been working towards for a long time,” said Stirk. “There was a lot of raw emotion in the car and it was definitely a huge weight lifted off all of our shoulders. My father raced at Stafford for a lot of years and it was nice to be able to finally get into victory lane with him. He won a lot of heat races and he was on the podium a bunch of times, but he never won a race so that was great to be able to share with him.”
Stirk will look to continue his hot start this Friday night, May 20th as part of the CBYD Open 81 program. The Street Stocks will be joined by Stafford’s other 4 weekly divisions with Open Modified cars highlighting the program. Tickets for the CBYD 81 are available now online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets and tickets will also be available for purchase at the admission gates. Tickets for the CBYD 81 are $30.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under. Reserved seating is priced at $35.00 for all ages and pit passes are $45.00 with a valid 2022 Stafford Competition License and $50.00 without a Stafford license.