Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – With Open Modified teams set to hit the pavement at Stafford Speedway for the fifth and final time during the 2023 season for this Friday’s Lincoln Tech 80, George Bessette, Jr. will be counted among the favorites as he seeks his first career Open Modified feature victory.
The driver of the Ted Anderson owned #1 Superior Refinishing Fury chassis car knows what it takes to get to NAPA Victory Lane with 10 career wins and a track championship in the Street Stock division to go along with his 7 wins in the SK Light Modified division.
Bessette is excited about his prospects for the Lincoln Tech 80 after posting a second place finish in the most recent GAF 80 at Stafford in July.
“We know we have a good car and we just need to stick to our notebook and do what we’ve been doing,” said Bessette. “I feel like we’re going to be pretty good. We have Stephen Kopcik helping us out with the setup and he’s been a big help. It’s been pretty heartwarming to have some of the success we’ve had in the SK Light division transfer over to the open modified car. At first we weren’t even worried about winning races, we just wanted a top-10 finish so we’ve exceeded our expectations and it’s a pretty cool feeling to run up front with those guys. I think we’ll definitely be in contention, it’s all going to come down to cautions and pit stops.”
Bessette’s confidence is high as he prepares for the Lincoln Tech 80 after leading a majority of the July 7 GAF 80 before working his way back to second behind Woody Pitkat after a mid-race pit stop.
“The last open race definitely helped my confidence,” said Bessette. “We ran up front for the majority of that race but we got a little behind with our pitstop. Woody’s [Pitkat] guys are really good on pit road and he was able to get out of the pits first and we had to work our way back up to the front. I learned a lot from Woody that night with things like how to defend your position and I’ve had a lot of time to process what happened that night and if Woody ends up in front of us again, maybe this time we’ll be able to get around him.”
Bessette has proven to be a quick study behind the wheel of an Open Modified car. Bessette had never sat in an Open Modified car until last season’s Lincoln Tech 80 that saw him notch a 7th place finish in his family owned #39 car. After a 23rd place finish in the NAPA Fall Final Tri-Track Modified Series event last season, Bessette got a call over the winter from Ted Anderson to drive the #1 car and Bessette has improved his race finishes every time out on the track, going from not qualifying for the NAPA Spring Sizzler® to his second place finish in the GAF 80.
“We’ve had some good luck and when Ted gave us a call and said he was building a new car and looking for a driver, I was just hoping that I would be good enough for the equipment that he was going to put me in,” said Bessette. “I’m very fortunate for Ted to give me the opportunity to drive his car and we’re having a great year other than the Duel race that we got taken out of at the Sizzler®. We’re enjoying ourselves and having a lot of fun and I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun again this Friday night.”
While Bessette is in search of his first open modified victory, he is also smack in the thick of the SK Light championship race. Bessette goes into this Friday night in second place in the points standings, 48 points behind Brian Sullivan. Bessette has no worries about his double duty responsibilities taking any focus away from either his SK Light or Open Modified efforts.
“The first time I did double duty I think I focused a little more on the open car but now that I’ve done it a few times, it’s not really as bad as some people might think it is,” said Bessette. “Once I get strapped into the car I’m more focused on what I have to do at that moment rather than worrying about what’s going to happen later on and I think that’s the key to being successful. I can’t complain with the year we’ve had. It’s been an up and down year and right now the only thing I’m worried about is beating Brian [Sullivan] by a couple of spots every week. I love to win and I’m going to go for the win every week but I won’t risk wrecking the car for a win if we have a second place car. The object is to win or try to finish as far ahead of Brian as we can each Friday night and have fun while doing that.”
The Lincoln Tech Open 80 is scheduled for this Friday, August 18. Stafford’s SK Modified®, Late Model, SK Light, Limited Late Model, and Street Stock divisions will join the Open Modifieds in feature action. Tickets for the Lincoln Tech 80 are available now online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets and tickets will also be available for purchase at the admission gates. Tickets for the Lincoln Tech 80 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 2023 Stafford Competition License and $50.00 without a Stafford license.