Bryan Narducci enjoyed winning a national championship last year so much he did it again.
Narducci, an 18-year-old from Colchester, Connecticut, won his second straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division III national championship after splitting his 2019 season between Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park in Connecticut.
As a driver in the SK Light Modified division, Narducci was able to get more races under his belt this season at Thompson, a .625-mile asphalt high-banked oval in Thompson, Connecticut, when the track added SK Lights to its Division III program.
"It made it easier because we had more starts this year than last year so if we had a bad race we could kind of make up for it at Thompson and get the points from that so that definitely helped," Narducci said.
Narducci ended up winning the track championship at Thompson, taking the checkered flag in six out of nine races. He added an additional eight wins in 19 races at Stafford, a half-mile semi-banked asphalt oval in Stafford, Connecticut, that he considers his home track. He finished fifth in the Stafford track standings in the division.
His 14 wins gave Narducci a decisive win in the national championship race. His 478 points was 52 better than second place finisher Josh Frye of Berlin Raceway in Michigan.
"With a couple weeks to go I saw we were pretty far ahead and I knew some of the guys at other tracks were competing against ended before we do so I knew we had a pretty good shot," Narducci said. "We had 14 wins so I figured that was pretty unbeatable from our standpoint so I was just hoping we’d end up getting the call and we did for the second year in a row, so it’s definitely pretty cool.
"It was really cool last year when we got it because I really didn’t expect it and then this year we didn’t really expect to do it again but once we got the call it was pretty exciting so it just makes a good year even better."
There was a little bit of pressure for Narducci to back up his championship season from a year ago because he wanted to prove he was worthy of the title.
"There’s nothing better to do than to go out and do it again and prove that it wasn’t a fluke and we can do it for two straight years," he said.
He may be just 18, but Narducci has been driving for exactly half his life, having started driving go-karts when he was 9. Both of his grandfathers raced, as did his dad, uncles, and his mom.
Narducci’s grandfather, Jerry Pearl, was the first back-to-back SK Modified track champion at Stafford. Narducci credited his dad, mom, and grandfather with helping him get to this point in his young career.
"It definitely has been in my blood since I was born. I’ve been going to the races since I was probably 3 or 4 months old," he said. "That got me into it and now we’re here and just having a good time.
"Actually my first go-kart race I was going for the lead and I spun out, just being my first race I didn’t really know what I was doing. But ever since then it’s just been trying to win a lot of races and championships and national championships so pretty glad to have all the people around me who helped me have a successful career so far and definitely want to keep it going."
This season was just the second full year for Narducci driving SK Lights, but he’s always felt comfortable in the car from the first race. The way the car handles seems to fit his driving style, he said.
He won five out of nine races at Stafford last season as a rookie.
"The first time we showed up at the track we actually practiced and we were a little faster that the guys that had been racing there all year," he said. "We ended up having trouble in the feature and ended up wrecking. Then went back the next week and finished third, and then the next week we ended up winning."
This season may be the last Division III national championship for Narducci. His hope is to move up to Division I in 2020 if the team can get enough sponsorship. At both tracks, Late Models are the Division II, making the natural progression to go to Division I Modifieds.
He’s still young, though, so there’s plenty of time to win many more championships and titles in whatever division he’s running in the future. For now, Narducci is soaking in the success he’s seen on the track so far.
"That’s the biggest thing I’ve ever won," he said. "So between the two national championships and the Thompson track championship, those are probably my three biggest accomplishments so far."