Rules Changes Set Pro Stocks Up For 2019
By Kyle Souza
The offseason for the Pro Stock division was filled with changes, as Seekonk Speedway looks to take the division towards the future by changing some key rules. Among those rules changes, bumpstops have been eliminated from competition and the ground clearance (chassis height) rule is also gone. This is the beginning of Seekonk making changes in hopes to benefit the future of racing at the third-mile in a division where costs were spiraling out of control.
But, even though the rules are changed, you shouldn’t bet against David Darling when the season gets underway. Darling has won the last two titles in dominating fashion, winning just about half of the events contested over the last two years, and doing it with ease on the track. He’s been around for many years, so he knows what the cars might drive like with no bumpstops, because the division didn’t have them when Darling won his titles nearly a decade ago.
And while Darling is at the top of his game, he’s got some challengers looking to chase him down. Former champions Rick Martin and Fred Astle Jr. are on that list as two drivers who have also been behind the wheel without bumpstops. Both know their way around the track and both have been successful before, so it would be no surprise if they can knock off a few wins and be in contention for the title come the end of the season.
Tom Scully Jr., the 2016 Pro Stock champion, is right there as well. Even though he was able to seal the title just a few years ago, Scully is no stranger to being in contention late in the year — as over the last 15 years, he’s towards the front of the standings more often than not.
Upcoming star Dylan Estrella should also be on the list of favorites. Estrella, a native of North Attleboro, Mass., picked up the victory in his first career Pro Stock start last year, and even though he had a mid and late season slump, he’s coming back with a new ride looking to redeem himself. If he can put together the consistency through the summer, Estrella could be a favorite for the title — because he does have previous experience winning titles, with two of them in the Late Model ranks before taking the step up.
Ryan Vanasse, a former Late Model champion himself, is looking to finally knock champion of the Pro Stocks off his bucket list this year. He has plenty of experience in the division, but hasn’t quite had enough to seal a title. Could this be his time?
Returning for another year, Phil’s Propane will be the proud sponsor of Kevin Casper as he looks to return to Victory Lane. Although it was on bumpstops, Casper nearly won the season-finale in the D.A.V. Fall Classic last year after passing Darling on the track — something nearly no one has done over the last two seasons.
Names like former champion Angelo Belsito, upcoming driver Austin Blais, defending Rookie of the Year Jake Johnson, veteran Mike Brightman and Kyle Casper are also among those on the registered roster sheet entering a new year.
The 2019 Pro Stock season begins on Sunday, May 5, as part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series opener at Seekonk Speedway.