By: Kyle Souza, March 1, 2018
SEEKONK, Mass. – When the Seekonk Speedway Pro Stock season gets underway on May 6, there will be a few Rookie of the Year contenders in the field.
Estrella will drive for Everett’s Auto Parts, making it a two-car stable for the Everett’s team — with both Estrella and six-time champion Fred Astle Jr.
“Coming from a Late Model will help with my transition to the Pro Stocks,” Estrella said of the changes for him entering a new season. “I’ve run with some talented drivers and I’ve learned a lot over the years. Speed will be a big factor, with the holes filling up quicker and the reaction time needing to be faster. Competition wise, I have to start fresh and figure out the way that these drivers will be driving. Any division you’re going to be in at Seekonk, it’s going to be tough to get to Victory Lane.”
The Attleboro, Massachusetts, driver knows it will be a difficult task if he wants to capture a victory in the Pro Stock field. Consistency will be important in his first season behind the wheel, which will definitely be a learning experience.
“My expectations are to go out every week, finish the best we can, in one piece, and make the car faster,” Estrella said. “I feel like if we do that, with a little luck, we may be able to find Victory Lane.”
Joining Estrella is another former Late Model winner – Jake Johnson. The Lin’s Propane driver finds himself entering the Pro Stock division following one-year in the Late Model class, where he was able to visit Victory Lane twice en route to a second-place finish in the points standings.
“The racing is going to be different in minor ways, the cars are going around the track faster,” Johnson said. “The drivers have to be a little bit cleaner and more conservative. The Late Model is more of a sprint.”
Much like his fellow Rookie of the Year contenders, Johnson is hoping to put together some consistent finishes, complete all of the laps and learn everything he can.
“I really have no clue what the rookies are going to be facing this year,” Johnson said. “Some drivers out there have been racing a Pro Stock longer than I have even been alive. Hopefully by the end of the season we can be just as far as the other competitors.”
Right on their heels is Somerset, Massachusetts, driver Austin Blais, who is also a former Late Model winner. Blais finished 11th in the Late Model points last season, but didn’t run five of the 16 feature events. He was also able to visit the winner’s circle in 2017.
“I certainly believe that the Late Model experience will help me a lot,” Blais said. “Things happened quickly in the Late Model’s and they happen even quicker in the Pro Stocks, so that will work to my benefit. Personally I think I can take experience from each of my previous nine years of driving that will benefit me going into this year. From go-kars, to Minicups, to Street Stocks, and to the Late Models.”
Heading into the season, much like his fellow rookies, Blais is looking to complete all the laps and gain experience.
“I try to learn as much as I can each year to help me in the next, and so far I think it’s worked out pretty well for me,” Blais said. “We want to learn, earn respect and be competitive. I’d love to say I think we’ll be able to give the No. 52 (Dave Darling) a run for his money, but I don’t want to set our expectations through the roof. We want to take it week-by-week, see what happens, and hopefully it’ll pay off for me sooner rather than later.”
These three rookies, and others, will join the veterans of the Pro Stock field for the entire season. The 2018 Seekonk Speedway Pro Stock season kicks-off as part of the Opening Day festivities on Sunday, May 6, with the first of five Tomassi Law Associates Pro Stock Power Five races. The opening feature of the season will be 45 laps.