Walker Looking to Reach Victory Lane in Stafford's Dare Stock Division in 2012May 11, 2012
(Stafford Springs, CT)---After an abbreviated 2011 debut season in Stafford’s DARE Stock division, Johnny Walker is looking to take a step forward this year and put his #01 into CARQUEST Victory lane. Walker managed two ninth place finishes and a fifth place finish in his first five races last year, but a crash on June 10th sidelined him until the CARQUEST Fall Final weekend, where he finished 21st. But after an offseason of new parts and pieces for the car, Walker is ready to take the next step and be a contender for race wins.
“We’ve gone through the car from bumper to bumper,” said Walker. “We have a new body, new hood, added jacking bolts to the rear, took the whole car down to the frame and recolored it. We also have a fresh R.A.D. Automachine engine and Barry Fluckiger from Fluckiger Race Chassis is going to be helping us out with the car setup, so there’s no excuses why the car can’t win this year. If we’re not winning this year, then the driver is doing something wrong.”
Walker came to the DARE Stock division after running 4-cylinder enduros at Monadnock, so the transition from the enduro car to the DARE Stock car was a bit of a mountain for Walker to climb.
“I started when I was about 18 or 19 doing 4 cylinder enduros at Monadnock, but last year was my first year in the DARE Stock,” said Walker. “I sold everything I had to get the DARE car, it’s an old Norm Sears car that was sold to somebody who sold it to Ray Grassetti who sold it to me. I was definitely getting the hang of it last year, but the car always seemed like it was loose. Going from a front wheel drive 4 cylinder car to the DARE Stock, I was having a ball and it was a lot of fun. As we continue on, we’re taking steps in the right direction. I was so pumped just getting my first top-10 last year, and then we got another top-10 and then we ended up with the top-5. One night I misread the schedule and we didn’t have enough time to put gas into the car and we ran out. There’s no excuses why the car shouldn’t be winning races this year. We found that the rear end was way out of square and that was how I was racing the car last year. We did a lot of work on the car at Chris Welch’s shop, so if we were able to finish in the top-5 last year with the car how it was, I’m not worried about not doing well this year.”
Walker enters the 2012 season with the theme of “Wicker Motorsports.” It was a trip to Loudon last summer that inspired Walker to purchase a wicker hat and adopt the theme for the 2012 season.
“I picked up a Wicker Hat one weekend at Loudon and everyone loved it - so I decided what the heck - I'm starting at a new track with new people - I'm going to rock the wicker hat and it's going to be my trademark,” said Walker. “I didn't think it would take off as much as it did. I'm starting to see them pop up in the stands, it’s a favorite at the parties in the parking lot, and now we even have them in 4 colors. That’s how I picked up the name Wicker Walker and the name of the team has become Wicker Motorsports. Funny how something that started off as a joke has kind of grown on us all. Look for the Wicker hat velcro’ed to the car this year and definitely look for it in Victory Lane.”
The mojo from the wicker hat and all the off-season hard work paid off for Walker and his small crew consisting of Aaron Hietala, son of SMS Track Safety member Gary Hietala, Jon “L.J.” Alaimo, and his biggest fan “Mama Dukes” in the season opening CARQUEST Tech-Net Spring Sizzler, where Walker recorded his very first podium finish by coming home third behind Kyle Casagrande and Cliff Saunders.
Walker and his #01 Wicker Motorsports team will hope to continue their good fortunes this Friday night, May 11 in the 15-lap DARE Stock feature as part of the XtraMart Late Model Xtra D program. Tickets for this Friday night’s XtraMart Late Model Xtra D program are available and on sale now at the SMS Box Office. Tickets are priced at $17.50 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 will be priced at $20.00 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 on the Opening Night program, 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.