eNASCAR iRacing Driver Ryan Doucette Looking To Make First Career Stafford Spring Sizzler Start
Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – When Stafford Speedway drops the green flag on the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, scheduled for April 29-30, Framingham, MA native Ryan Doucette will be looking to qualify for “The Greatest Race in the History of Spring” with the #55 All Phases Renovations team owned by his father, Joe.
“This will be my first attempt at the Sizzler®,” said Doucette. “We’ve ran a few of the Open 80s, a Tri-Track race and an MRS race, so this won’t be my first time at Stafford but it will be my first Sizzler®. Stafford is in my eyes absolutely the pinnacle, top-tier track that you want to go to in the Northeast. There’s no facility quite like Stafford. I have to give a big thanks to my sponsors All Phases Renovations, GFA Arms Tech, Spot on Photography, and all the crew members who come to the track and help us out. We’re a pretty small team and we’re always looking to expand whether it’s crew members or sponsors, anything we can get helps.”
Compared to many of the other drivers who will be in the NAPA Spring Sizzler® starting field, Doucette has a lack of experience at Stafford. Doucette has only 3 career starts at Stafford with a best finish of 14th in 2020. While Doucette will be taking to the track with his #55 car prior to the Sizzler®, as a member of the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Pittsburgh Knights team, he can always turn to the virtual Stafford to help get himself acclimated to the track.
“The Sizzler® will be our second race of the year after we get started with a race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway a few weeks prior, so hopefully we’ll have all the bugs worked out of the car and we can really see what we have when we come to Stafford,” said Doucette. “I’ve ran Stafford occasionally on iRacing and it’s not exactly like real life, but it’s pretty close. The physical features are pretty much spot on, it’s just small things like the groove are a little different. I’ve tried to use it in the past to get prepared for Stafford but I don’t think it benefits me all that much. It definitely helps keep your reflexes sharp and as long as you’re learning to drive something, then it’s always a benefit. It might not be the most realistic experience, but it teaches you to drive a wide variety of cars. Nothing beats going out on the track for that first practice for the open modified cars.”
With one of Doucette’s prior Stafford starts coming in a Tri-Track modified race in 2020, he feels like he has the team and the ability to earn one of the 33 starting positions for the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
“When you’re competing against all the guys who run Stafford weekly on Friday nights, there’s so much experience on the track that I’m lacking,” said Doucette. “I feel like I have the ability to make the race because we were able to qualify for the Tri-Track race a couple years ago, it will just be a matter of hitting on the right setup and being in the right spot.”
While most drivers will have their sights set on winning the race or securing a top-5 finish, Doucette has a modest goal of making the starting grid, which he says would be just like winning the race for his small team.
“Making the race through the heat races will be the biggest challenge for us,” said Doucette. “If we can make the race that would be like a win for a small team like ours. Assuming we make the race, I would be ecstatic with a top-10 finish but I’ll be pretty happy if we can just qualify for the race.”
The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race. Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.
Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®. Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.