TONY MEMBRINO, JR. HOPING FIRST CAREER SK LIGHT VICTORY PROPELS HIM TO CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER STATUS AT STAFFORD
Stafford Springs---In only his second season of modified competition at Stafford Motor Speedway, Tony Membrino, Jr. picked up his very first modified feature victory last Friday night, which vaulted him into third place in the points standings heading into this Friady nigtht’s 25-lap Xtra Mart Xtra D feature event. The feature win was Membrino’s fourth podium finish of the 2012 season, and it was his fourth consecutive finish inside the top-8. Membrino’s string of good finishes has seen him go from 6th place and 40 points out of the championship lead to his current position of third, 20 points behind Dylan Kopec. It has also given Membrino and his #44 Bay Crane Northeast team a renewed focus in the chase for the 2012 championship.
“The championship was one of our game plans from the get go,” said Membrino. “That was something we wanted to go after from the start of the season and when we got 3rd at the Sizzler, that was a good start. The first Friday night show we got trashed. I know it’s a long season, but we were kind of considering the option that the championship might not be possible after that. Then we started stringing along good finishes and picking up points here and there. Up until now points weren’t on my mind, but you look at it now and we’re back in the picture. My game plan is to go out and win races. I haven’t been able to string together a couple of wins in a single season, so that’s a big goal for me and I’m going to let the points fall where they may. In this division anything can happen and it usually happens really quick. A split second can change your whole outlook on the points, so I’m just going to focus on winning races and wherever we end up, top or bottom, we’re going to go for the gold.”
In the chase for the championship, Membrino has another second year driver in Kopec and a third year driver in Zach Aszklar ahead of him in the points standings. Given the fact that Membrino is the 2010 DARE Stock track champion at Stafford, he feels that his experience in winning that championship can give him a leg up on his closest competition for the SK Light track title this season.
“I think I have a pretty good advantage when it comes to the championship,” said Membrino. “I know what I have to do and I’ve been there before. If I have a second or third place car and fighting for the win, if it starts to get a little crazy, making a move for the win might cost you, so you have to take what you can get. I try to win the race and when it comes to points racing I try to take what I can get. It’s all about picking your spots and being patient. As long as you can stay out of trouble, it will pay off.”
Another factor that will play in Membrino’s favor is the combination of experience behind the wheel of his #44 as well as his ability to give feedback on what the car is doing to Ed Flemke, who works with the team on chassis setups.
“I’m a little more confident behind the wheel this year,” said Membrino. “Last year was a matter of getting seat time and getting familiar with the cars around me and how to pass. It was a learning experience and while I was trying to get good finishes and go after wins, I didn’t have the confidence behind the wheel to put that into motion. This year, my first goal was to go out and win races and now I’m confident in my driving ability, my crew, and the car, so now it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Last week was the biggest combination of all that and we were able to put all of our ducks in a row. Another thing that helps is I’m able to give more feedback. Ed Flemke works real close with me and whether the car is good or not, he’ll let me vent after I get out of the car and he’ll take what I say and try to break it down and understand what I’m telling him. With the communication between us, it helps him understand what I’m feeling and his feedback is helping me understand what is really going on out there. I’m getting more of an understanding of what the car feels like and what it needs, and that’s a really big factor in why we’ve been able to string together good finishes lately.”
Now that Membrino has got his first victory under his belt, he will be hoping to repeat the feat this Friday night in the Xtra Mart Xtra D feature of 25 laps that will pay each of the top-5 finishers an extra $100, courtesy of Xtra Mart Convenience Stores.
“Those 20 laps last week were the longest of my life, I don’t know if I can go five more laps,” said Membrino. “But I’m looking forward to it. 20 laps is the longest race I’ve been going at Stafford since I started, so an extra five laps should be interesting. Some people have their setups dialed in for 20 laps to have their cars come in at the right time and now you have to take into consideration tires, fuel, and how the car will adjust during the race. Last Friday towards the end of the race we were getting tight so we’re going to focus this Friday how the car goes at the end of every run, whether its practice or the heat race. I have a lot of great support from Bay Crane Northeast, CWPM, Richards Corp., Embroidery Works, Scuba Steve Scuba Squad, Raceworks Chassis, T/A Engines, and great crew help from my Dad, Jeff, Joey, Uncle Marty, Ed Flemke, my brother, and Lita, so we’re excited about our chances.”
Membrino and the rest of the SK Light Modified field will be in hot pursuit of the final Xtra Mart Xtra D bonus of the 2012 season beginning with qualifying heats at 6:15 this Friday night. Tickets for the Xtra Mart SK Light Xtra D program are priced at $20.00 for adult general admission tickets, $5.00 for children ages 6-14, and children ages 5 and under are admitted free of charge when accompanied by an adult. Reserved seating is priced at $22.00 for all ages. All ticket prices include 10% CT Admission Tax. As always, Stafford Motor Speedway offers free parking with overnight parking available.
For more information, or to order tickets, contact the Stafford Motor Speedway track office at 860-684-2783 or visit us on the web at www.staffordspeedway.com.