FMS: Tim Connolly to defend at Stafford Motor speedway

STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. (May 26, 2000) Featherlite Modified Series, NASCAR Touring driver Tim Connolly is anxious to return to Stafford Motor Speedway for Friday night's $51,961 10th annual Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats. Not only...

STAFFORD SPRINGS, Conn. (May 26, 2000) Featherlite Modified Series, NASCAR Touring driver Tim Connolly is anxious to return to Stafford Motor Speedway for Friday night's $51,961 10th annual Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats.

Not only is the series' third event of the NASCAR 2000 season presented by his team's sponsor, Connolly is the defending race champion. It's a feat he hopes to duplicate and there is already a precedent this season: Rick Fuller successfully defended his title in the season opening CarQuest Spring Sizzler at Stafford.

"It's always great to come to Stafford Motor Speedway," said Connolly, driver of Bob Garbarino's Tidy Cats Dodge. "Over the years, Stafford Motor Speedway has developed a home track feel for me. Of any track, I feel the most comfortable and confident here."

Last year, Connolly captured the Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats and recorded his first return to Stafford's Carquest Victory Lane since his maiden Stafford victory at the 1997 CarQuest 300 -- Fall Final.

"It was a dream come true to win in front of the Tidy Cats people," said Connolly, who led the final 24 laps en route to victory a year ago. "The people from Ralston Purina and Tidy Cats have been wonderful to us. Winning for them on their night was simply awesome."

As for the NASCAR 2000 edition of the Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats -- the 56th series race at Stafford since 1985 and the second of four series races at Stafford in 2000 -- Connolly remains optimistic of his chances to repeat in the face of competition from the more than 50 entries.

"This race has been kind to us in the past," Connolly said. "There's no reason to believe we can't run up front and win another for our fans and Tidy Cats."

Previous event winners who are currently competing in the series include Featherlite Modified Series point leader and winner at Richmond Reggie Ruggiero (1992-93), Ed Flemke Jr. (1996) and Fuller (1994).

In addition to the 150-lap Featherlite Modified Series feature, Friday's action will feature the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series SK Modified, ProStock and Late Model divisions.

Main events will commence at 7:30 p.m. with Bud Pole Award Qualifying beginning at 6 p.m. The top 26 cars will advance to the feature with the remaining five positions available for provisional starting positions. The fastest qualifier will draw to determine the redraw of the top six, eight or 10 qualifiers.

Connolly holds the track series qualifying record at 98.458 mph (18.282 seconds). The 150-lap race record is 75.125 mph, (59 minutes, 54 seconds) set in this race in 1992 by Ruggiero.

Spectator gates open at 5 p.m. ET.

All four of the evening's main events can be heard live, worldwide on Yahoo! beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

Dale Arnold, one of Boston's most popular and versatile broadcasters, has been named grand marshal of the 10th annual Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats. Arnold serves as co-host of the popular midday program, "The A Team," on Boston's WEEI Radio. In addition, he is the full-time play-by-play voice of the National Hockey League's Boston Bruins on the New England Sports Network (NESN).

"I'm awfully excited to visit the Stafford Motor Speedway and, from what I hear, one of America's premier NASCAR short tracks," said Arnold, whose Friday visit will mark his first experience at a NASCAR event. "I understand how popular NASCAR has become and I look forward to learning firsthand what it's all about."

Tickets for the 10th annual Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats are on sale by calling the speedway box office at (860) 684-2783. Adult general admission seats are $25, while juniors ages 6-14 are just $2. Kids five and under are admitted free of charge. Reserved seats are available for $28.50.

Moreover, as part of Stafford Motor Speedway's Youth Organization Month, any junior wearing a youth organization team shirt or uniform will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

For more information on the 10th annual Connecticut Classic presented by Tidy Cats visit SMS Online at

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Hoppe leads RE/MAX drivers in doubleheader

OREGON, Wis. (May 26, 2000) Defending RE/MAX Challenge Series, NASCAR Touring champion Brian Hoppe returns to the scene of his first touring series win Friday night, when the tour moves to Madison International Speedway for the $42,850 Miller Lite 200. On Memorial Day Monday, an impressive list of visiting drivers are slated to take on the RE/MAX Challenge Series regulars as the series heads to Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna for the $53,850 Game Day 200. A 30-car field will take the green flag at 3 p.m. ET in the 200-lap event on the D-shaped half-mile oval.

"At that time that win was the biggest of my career," said Hoppe of his breakthrough win, which took place in the spring 1998 RE/MAX Challenge Series event. Since then Hoppe has totaled five more series wins -- including the most recent event on May 7 at Gateway International Raceway -- and the regional touring series title in 1999.

Twenty-eight drivers will take the green flag at 10 p.m. ET in the 200-lap event on the high-banked half-mile oval. The Miller Lite 200 will feature live pit stops and will mark the first race for the track's newly installed front stretch pit lane.

The RE/MAX Challenge Series visited the Madison International Speedway twice in 1999, and while Hoppe was a factor, current series point leader Steve Carlson took both wins. Hoppe trails Carlson by 15 points in the standings.

"We felt like we had a real good car at both events last year, but just had a couple tough breaks," said Hoppe, who holds the series one-lap qualifying record at Madison International Speedway of 17.565 seconds, an average speed of 102.477 mph, which he set in 1998. Bud Pole Qualifying is set for 8:30 p.m. ET, followed by a 20-lap qualifying race.

Hoppe has a formidable task to overcome to win at Madison. Six drivers that are currently in the top-20 of the RE/MAX Challenge Series championship point standings at one time in their careers called Madison their home track.

The RE/MAX Challenge Series has a storied history at Madison International Speedway. Over the years, the series has contested 53 feature events at the track. The late Joe Shear won the first series event at Madison on May 30, 1977. The series returns to Madison on July 11.

On Monday, the Kaukauna event will mark the RE/MAX Challenge Series return of Jason Schuler. It will be Schuler's first race back in the Midwest since signing with Reiser Enterprises last fall to compete on the NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division. Wisconsin International Raceway was the site of Schuler's first RE/MAX Challenge Series win on May 26, 1997.

Also scheduled to compete in the Game Day 200 is defending race winner and 1999 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Rookie of the Year runner-up Scott Hansen. Hansen entered just three RE/MAX Challenge Series races in 1999, but managed two wins, both coming at Wisconsin International Raceway. He has also already won twice this season in the Slim Jim All Pro Series, NASCAR Touring.

Scott Wimmer is entered in the Game Day 200, marking his return to the RE/MAX Challenge Series. The 24-year-old Wimmer -- who has won this season in the ASA ACDelco Challenge Series -- has competed in just a handful of series events in his young career, including a top-10 run in this year's opening event.

Bud Pole Qualifying for the Game Day 200 is set for noon ET on Monday, followed by a 20-lap qualifying race. Butch Miller set the series one-lap qualifying record at WIR on Aug. 4, 1987 at 19.238 seconds, an average speed of 93.565 mph.

The RE/MAX Challenge Series' recent history at Kaukauna is scintillating. In the last 4 RE/MAX Challenge events held at WIR the average margin of victory has been .88 seconds.

Dick Trickle won the first RE/MAX Challenge Series event at WIR, on June 24, 1979. Since then the series has visited WIR at least once a year for a total of 57 feature events. The series returns to WIR on Aug. 8.

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Drivers Dick Trickle , Scott Wimmer , Jason Schuler , Butch Miller , Steve Carlson