Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – For Paul Varricchio, Jr. and the #39 Tavern on the Trax Late Model team, the 2023 season at Stafford Speedway has been a career year.
Varricchio came into the 2023 season with 5 career top-5 finishes from 2011-2022 and he has almost doubled that career total with 4 top-5 finishes in the first 12 races, including two podium finishes.
“So far it’s definitely been my best season,” said Varricchio. “Having a new BFR chassis car with an East Coast Machine engine along with having a dedicated crew has made all the difference for me this season. Rob Valerio and Eric Plagemann came on board with us last season and we were learning each other and this season we’ve been putting our knowledge to good use. Our program has totally changed to where now we’re looking at the big picture instead of the little small picture.”
The success on the track has translated to confidence off of the track for Varricchio and the #39 team. Varricchio comes into the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50 having notched 4 top-6 finishes in the last 5 races, including a career best second place finish in the most recent Late Model feature on August 18. With the #39 team on a roll, Varricchio has his sights set on taking down his first career Late Model win in the biggest Late Model race of the season.
“I can’t wait for this race,” said Varricchio. “I have a feeling in my heart that we’re going to get this one. We’ve been talking about this race for the last 3 weeks and you want to win a race where your name doesn’t go away and it would be very nice to be able to hear my name talked about for winning the 50-lapper. This new car is a long run car so long runs are now a strength for us instead of trying to race from caution to caution. Last race we had a couple of early cautions and then went the last 20 laps green so we were feeling pretty good. We did all our checks on the car last week and this week we’re going to be looking for the checkered flag.”
In a somewhat ironic twist, Varricchio is seeking his first Late Model win in a race sponsored by Paradiso Insurance that would match his only career victory to date at Stafford, which was the Paradiso-Muska DARE Stock Shoot Out that he won on Sept. 27, 2003, nearly 20 years to the day of the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50.
“Confidence is very high with our group right now,” said Varricchio. “We’ve figured out all our mechanical issues on the car and if we could win this race it would be a little ironic that 20 years ago I won the Paradiso-Muska Shoot Out in the DARE Stocks and now I could win the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50 lapper almost 20 years later. That’s a real big motivator for both myself and the crew and we’ve had this race circled on the calendar for about a month or month and a half now.”
A victory for Varricchio in the Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50 would also continue a hot streak for the Rent A Racecar group that Varricchio is a part of. The August 18th event saw Chris Danielczuk pick up the first Street Stock feature victory for the Rent A Racecar group since Tom Stirk won twice in 2007 while another RAR prepared car, the #71 of Marvin Minkler, finished third behind Danielczuk.
“With how we’ve been running this year with the new car and we won last week with Chris Danielczuk in the Street Stock, things can’t get much higher than they are right now,” said Varricchio. “We went from being crap to being good, that’s the easiest way to say it. Everything seems to be clicking for us right now. It’s not just Rob and Eric helping us out, it’s been my son Cameron, Paul Bourdon, Chris Danielczuk, and Gary Spinnato has been a huge supporter of ours. It’s looking better and better for us. We’re able to put time in on the car now that we’re not working on fixing damage every week and we’ve been able to progress with the car week by week. I also have to thank my wife Heather and my daughters Adrianna, Paige, and my other son Zander for supporting me every week. It’s a big team effort with us and it would be great if we could win back to back weeks. There’s no feeling like a first win and it would be a lot more special if my Dad were here to see it since he was such a big part of my racing. Last week was great and I’d love to be able to finish off the dream with a win this Friday night.”
The Paradiso Insurance Late Model 50 takes the green flag this Friday night, September 1st with all five weekly divisions in feature action. Tickets are available now online at StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets and tickets will be available for purchase at the admission gates the night of the race. Tickets are priced at $25.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-14, free for kids 5 & under, and reserved seating is $30.00 for all ages. Pit passes are $40.00 with a valid 2023 Stafford Competition License and $45.00 without a Stafford license.