Former Legends Standout O’Connell Nets First Pro Stock Win

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Speed51.com article  by Connor Sullivan, Northeast Editor

After two seasons of hard-knock learning in the Late Model ranks of New England, Connecticut’s Devin O’Connell was determined to make the 2018 season one where he could be competitive each and every race. That determination soon turned into consistent results throughout the first half of the season in the Granite State Pro Stock Series, and on Sunday night the consistency turned into his first career victory at New Hampshire’s Hudson International Speedway.

“Absolutely unbelievable,” O’Connell said after the race.  “We’re bringing a very small team to the race track, but we make sure our equipment is on top every single week. After all the working on it, tweaking on it, and we finally put this Hamke Chassis in victory lane in the Granite State Pro Stock Series.”

After surviving a treacherous heat race to finish second, O’Connell scored huge in the top six redraw, snagging his first pole in series competition. But that also meant that he would have to be defensive all race long if he wanted to win.

O’Connell’s biggest challenger would be fellow young gun Nick Lascuola, who made life tense for O’Connell on the late restarts after he had kept the field at arm’s length for the first 60 laps of the Gate City Classic 100.

“It was tricky.  You got to tell yourself, ‘When do you want to save? When do you want to go?’ All that, especially your first time on the pole, you’ve got to manage all that. I just try to keep it as consistent as possible.  I drove it as hard as I could without spinning the tires and using my brakes up those last 25 laps. The car was a rocketship, I’m thankful we had something leftover at the end and we ended up getting the win. Hudson Speedway is so historic, this Gate City Classic has been around for so many years, and now I get to etch my name into it. What more can you say?”

Following a string of spectacular years racing in Allison Legacy and Legends Cars, winning had become second nature to the Madison, CT native, who had even raced and lived in the Southeast for a time before moving back home in 2015. After moving up to Late Models in 2016 where he claimed ACT Rookie of the Year honors, O’Connell wanted to experience the power of a Super Late Model/Pro Stock and settled into the GSPSS.

It turned out to be a hard period of settlement, with luck eluding O’Connell at every turn, even making him consider taking another direction with his racing slate. But he was determined to not let all that struggle and knowledge go to waste in his quest for his own racing dream.

“When we were in Legends Cars, we were on top of the world,” O’Connell began.  “We won everything there was. My dad and I just traveled around.  If there was a race, we’d show up and win the thing. It was a long learning curve, especially not having as many funds as some as these other teams have. We had to learn everything ourselves, with a little help here and there. We finally got the setup dialed in and I’ve learned as a driver to race these things. We’re back on top again at last, with the same crew, the same trailer and the same truck that we’ve been using since go-karts.”

Now 20-years-old, O’Connell’s circle of support has grown only slightly over the years; but the team’s unity is one of the fiercest you’ll see in the country.

“I’ve been wanting to win a Super Late Model race since I was a kid, the first time I saw them. I’m so stoked to be here.  Without Chatham Highlander, Bilstein Shocks, Keith and Jake Matheson over at Sign Works, my girlfriend Sydney who spots for me, my dad, my mom, my brother, and everyone who supports me, I wouldn’t be here right now.”

Sunday’s win at Hudson didn’t come out of nowhere for the team. O’Connell made a statement at the end of May in the final segment of the Triple 35 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, winning the segment and claiming an overall podium spot. It was a moment that left him believing that the first real ‘W’ was within their reach.

“I really did.  After that I believed that we could get a couple of these this year, and we can be up there in the points. But we got to let that all take care of itself, we’ve got to be consistent every single race, knock off these top five finishes, and we’ll let the points and let the wins all take care of itself. If we’re in the right place at the right time to go for another win or two, awesome.  If not, we’re going to stay as high as we can and get as many points as possible to try and win this championship.”

Before he hunts for a championship, O’Connell will take his winning momentum to Seekonk Speedway (MA) Wednesday night and go for $10,000 in the third running of the U.S. Pro Stock/Super Late Model National Championship. However, he does not intend on letting the allure of ten grand blind him to long-term championship goal, with which he has only one car to compete with.

“Oh my gosh, heading into a big race like that with $10,000 on the line, that kind of money for us would be huge,” O’Connell stated.  “We could do a lot more racing, we’d be able to travel a little bit, and build up the other car we have sitting in the garage to have as a backup. We’re going to go in, but try to keep the car in one piece, that’s the number one goal because we need it for the [Granite State Pro Stock Series]. We’re going to do our best and we feel we have a chance going to Seekonk.”

Race fans can see O’Connell and all of the top Super Late Model and Pro Stock racers go head to head Wednesday night at Seekonk right here on Speed51’s pay-per view broadcast.  Click here to order your pay-per-view video ticket for $24.99.

Devin O’Connell finishes 3rd at Lee USA Speedway Seacoast 100

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Lee, NH — Devin O’Connell found himself on the podium for the second time this season with the Granite State Pro Stock Series at Lee USA Speedway during the Seacoast 100 on Friday, July 6th.

O’Connell unloaded with a fast piece, qualifying 3rd quickest during the time trails. His time trail effort placed him on the pole for the third of three qualifying heat races. Devin finished the heat race in second place, resulting in an overall qualifying position of 6th.  A redraw for position of the top 12 drivers landed O’Connell P9 for the Seacoast 100 feature race.

During the early stages of the race, Devin slipped back to 10th place, but began working forward. By lap 15, he was up to 4th. Progress continued and by lap 54, Devin drove into third and just 2 laps latter into second. O’Connell held onto 2nd for 19 laps, but then slipped back to 3rd on lap 75.

Devin’s 3rd place finish is his second podium of the 2018 season. He finished 2nd at The New-London Waterford Speedbowl on May 26th, where he also won the third segment of the three segment race format.

O’Connell will hit the track next at Hudson Speedway in Hudson, NH on Sunday July 15th with the Granite State Pro Stock Series.

Link to Post-Race Interviews

Granite State Pro Stock Series Press Release

O’Connell Earns First GSPSS Podium Finish at Waterford Speedbowl

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Waterford CT – Devin O’Connell of Madison CT, earned his first Super Late Model win at The New London-Waterford Speedbowl with the Granite State Pro Stock Series on Saturday, May 26th, in the Full Fender Throwdown.  

The format of the race was different from the normal 100-lap Granite State feature format. The race consisted of three, 35-lap segment races with the overall winner having the best average finish.  O’Connell qualified fifth for the first segment and finished sixth.  

The second segment saw the field of cars inverted resulting in a starting position of eleventh for O’Connell with an eight-place finish.  It would be the third segment that would see O’Connell shine.  He began the third 35-lap segment in third and quickly took the lead and pulled away from the field taking the win by more than a full straightaway.

O’Connell’s average effort netted him overall second place behind Joey Doiron and ahead of Cory Casagrande.

After the race Devin stated, “It feels so good to finally pick one up for the Chatham Highlander Motel, Bilstein Shocks, my family and my crew. Never mind the fact that it’s at my home track that has been my kryptonite tracks for years.”

O’Connell will be on the track next for the Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway with the Granite State Pro Stock series on June 24, 2018.

RaceDayCT Article:

Jacob Dore, Cory Casagrande, Devin O’Connell Win Granite State Segments, Joey Doiron Takes Overall Victory

O’Connell Involved in Mutli-Car Crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Short Track Showdown

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July 1, 2017 – There was much anticipation and media hype leading up to the inaugural Short Track Showdown at NHMS.  Following a successful test session back in May, Devin arrived at the track with a new marketing partner, Tick Mike’s Tick and Mosquito Hose Spray, and a tank full of optimism.   The team struggled in early practice and qualifying with a tight car.  A change just before the feature, with help from veteran driver Eddie MacDonald, proved to fix the problem.  Devin began the race in twelfth, and quickly moved up to ninth by the third lap.  Unfortunate, a blown motor from a car up ahead resulted in a multi-car crash that ended the day for the O’Connell racing team on lap four.  The qualifying heat race was broadcast LIVE on Facebook with the help of  the in-car TVU Network transmitter.

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O’Connell Earns First Top 5 in Granite State Pro Stock Series at Seekonk

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June 24, 2017 – Seekonk (MA) proved to be a fantastic night for the Devin O’Connell Racing team. The night began with a 3rd place finish in the second heat race, placing Devin P8 for the feature race. Devin ran a strong feature working up to as high as P4 with a 5th place finish, which was the highest finish of a GSPSS regular. All the action was broadcast live on Speed51 Summer Thunder TV Series and on Facebook from Devin’s cockpit thanks to TVU Networks.

Facebook Live Captures Wreck Of Race Car Driver Devin O’Connell

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Anytime, anywhere and under any circumstance, including rates of speed surpassing 185 miles per hour.

That’s the mantra of TVU Networks, which powers high-quality video transmission, towards professional race car driver Devin O’Connell and his Facebook LIVE video stream that kicked off Friday night at Claremont Speedway in New Hampshire.

“This is the most insane thing I think I’ve ever done, and I’ve done some pretty insane stuff,” said O’Connell in the car garage as he tested out the transmitter prior to the race.

O’Connell, who races in the Granite State Pro Stock Series, streamed the 100-lap race on the social platform via a TVU One transmitter situated in the race car cockpit.

Around the 41:40-minute mark in the stream, the 19-year-old ran into some trouble and sustained a minor wreck, which can be seen through the cockpit camera.

Following an inside pass of No. 72 Scott MacMichael, O’Connell sped up and appeared to have another inside pass on the No. 28 car Mark Lunblad. However, O’Connell clipped Lunblad’s side as the latter drifted into O’Connell’s lane.

O’Connell’s car came to a screeching halt as listeners heard a brief muffled conversation and an agitated O’Connell. After sitting idle for about 30 seconds and now with a busted up front hood, he restarted his car and headed off the track to have his car inspected.

“Rip the whole front end off. The steering is still fine,” he can be heard saying to his team.

A few “calm down” mentions are said, presumably at O’Connell but there wasn’t a way to see the exchange.

After three minutes of being off the track, he finally joined his fellow drivers, eventually finishing in the No. 15 spot by race’s end.

As a current sponsor of O’Connell’s for the 2017 season, TVU Networks will continue to aid him in broadcasting races on Facebook Live for the remainder of the campaign.

“We’re truly impressed with Devin’s accomplishments in the sport of racing at such a young age,” Paul Shen, Chief Executive Officer of TVU Networks said in a statement.

“We are happy to support Devin’s efforts to give racing fans the opportunity to see what racing is like from his vantage point — whether they’re tuning into his Facebook Live from the stands at the race or from their living room couch across the country.”

Said O’Connell in a statement: “I’m super excited to bring this technology into short track racing. I believe it will showcase racing in a positive way and bring new fans into the sport.”

O’Connell and TVU Networks Debut In-Car Facebook Live at Claremont Speedway (NH)

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Devin O’Connell debuted the much anticipated in-car Facebook Live with TVU Networks on Friday, June 2nd at Claremont Speedway (NH) in the Granite State Pro Stock Series. Starting the night sixth of seven in the third qualifying heat race, Devin raced his way to third, placing him 9th of 22 for the 100 lap feature race.

By lap 12 of the feature, Devin moved up to 6th, before getting hit in the left rear quarter panel. The resultant damage forced a pit stop for repairs. Devin drove back up to 9th by the mid way point of the race.  On lap 52, while making a pass for 8th, the car he was passing drove across the nose of his Chevrolet resulting in more damage and another trip to the pits for repairs. Devin returned to the race, but was forced to retire on lap 85 due to radiator damage and overheating. He finished the night 15th.

Live Stream Insiders Commentary on the TVU Network Facebook Live Video (27:00 into the video)

Screen Shot 2017-06-15 at 11.45.40 PM

Devin O’Connell Invited to Speak at Connecticut Special Education Event

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SPECIAL EDUCATION DAY AT THE STATE CAPITAL– celebrates the achievements of special education students. Opening remarks by Senator Ted Kennedy Jr., also ACT Rookie of the Year racecar driver Devin O’Connell announces “Champion Challenge” competition, plus Unified arts and sports for all to enjoy!

MADISON, CT –March 2, 2017 — On May 2nd 10am to noon ,the Connecticut Special Education PTO (SEPTO) Alliance is hosting Special Education Day at the State Capital in Hartford, CT; a celebration of the achievements and contributions of Connecticut’s special education students. “Our students who have benefited from special education make a major contribution to our economy and to our richness as a society.” says featured speaker, Senator Ted Kennedy Jr. “This day is an opportunity to recognize the many achievements of exceptional Connecticut students and highlight the importance of special education programs in our schools.”

Students from around the State will speak about their success and their struggles. Guests in attendance will be treated to a sampling of the breadth of Unified activities taking place in schools across Connecticut including; Unified arts, sports and robotics.

“This year in particular,” says SEPTO Alliance President, Kevin Daly, “We want to highlight the contribution Special Education programs bring to all aspects of a school’s curriculum.”    Research shows time and again,” continues Daly, “inclusive schools that address the needs of all students result in significant improved performance for students with or without disabilities”.

Also speaking will be ACT Rookie of the Year racecar driver Devin O’Connell. O’Connell is a 2016 graduate of Daniel Hand High School in Madison, where he received special instruction as a student with autism. “I felt different in school and sometimes it was really hard,” says O’Connell “but I’ve learned to use autism as an advantage.” O’Connell wants to inspire other special education students and will announce his “Champions Challenge”, in which special education students are asked to send in personal stories of overcoming challenges. The winners will be invited to be a” pit crew member for the day” on O’Connell’s racing team.

Special Education Day at the State Capitol will be held on May 2nd, 10am to noon, in the Old Judiciary Room on the 3rd Floor of the Connecticut State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue, in Hartford . Please let us know you are coming with an email RSVP to event coordinator Lisa Nee Lisa@allennee.com

Special Education Day at the State Capital ,is sponsored by the Connecticut Special Education PTO Alliance, which is a statewide council of Special Education PTO groups in Connecticut communities. For more information about the Connecticut SEPTO Alliance, contact Kevin Daly at kevin@septoalliance.org

O’Connell Going Hands On in Transition to Super Late Models

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March 10, 2017

After two years of tearing up the Legends Cars circuit in both the North and South, Devin O’Connell took the opportunity in 2016 to make a big step up, competing full-time on the American-Canadian Tour circuit.  Later in the year, he also made his Late Model Stock Car debut to cap off a memorable year. Now, the 19-year-old Connecticut driver is set to take another big step into one the top levels in short track racing: Super Late Models.

While a lot of young drivers nowadays seek out rides in the Super Late Model and Pro Stock ranks, O’Connell is taking the old-fashioned approach, running his own set of wheels out of his new shop on the Connecticut shore.  The former Legends Cars standout will run a New England based schedule, with family and friends coming onboard to fill out his team.

“We’re running our own team this year, it’s a little cheaper to run it by ourselves. It’s going to be me and a bunch of buds,” O’Connell told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.  “We’ve bought a really good car from Dearborn Racing up in Maine, an old Hamke car that’s absolutely mint.”

In 2016, O’Connell sat behind the wheel of the Hallstrom Motorsports No. 1 ACT Late Model, but he’s accustomed to maintaining his own cars in both Allison Legacy and Legends Cars from previous years.  While maintaining his own cars,he scored multiple champions, including track, state, national, and world titles in Legend Cars in 2015.

O’Connell is embracing the chance to be more hands on to learn about intricacies of the Super Late Model.

“We’re trying to get started, I want to learn how to set up bump-stops and all that. Learn how the suspension works with the Supers versus everything else. It’s about learning how they work, I’m happy I get to my hands dirty again.”

O’Connell has his eyes set on the rookie title in the Granite State Pro Stock Series with occasional appearances planned in PASS North, including one of the biggest short track events of them all.

“The plan is to run the Granite State Pro Stocks full-time with an occasional PASS show, the Oxford 250 and the Pro Stock Nationals at Seekonk. If we can get some sponsors I would love to hit up as many of the big shows around the country as I can,” he stated.  “I’m willing to drive anything with four wheels and a motor, we get what we need, we’ll try to expand, get outside the Northeast and see what goes down.”

O’Connell has shown promise in his first year of Late Models, most recently making the field for the Battle at the Beach last November at Myrtle Beach Speedway during his debut in a Late Model Stock Car. He also picked up Rookie of the Year honors with the American-Canadian Tour.

“We started to show our strength near the end of the year at Hallstrom Motorsports,” he commented. “They gave me such a great opportunity last year and I’m so thankful for it. This year with how the circumstances have gone we figured getting our own car was a little bit better deal. If we get some sponsorship and I can do a couple of races with Hallstrom, I’d love to go up for a couple shows, maybe do the Milk Bowl and some of the big Thunder Road races. It all depends on money.”

Currently the plan for O’Connell is to debut his new ride at the GSPSS season opener at Lee USA Speedway in New Hampshire on April 30. O’Connell has hinted that this might come sooner if the team gets its ducks in a row and they can get the car ready to race, with the team dropping the engine in the car over the past week. Whenever that first outing comes, it will not be soon enough for the eager young gun.

“I’m excited, I’ve been wanting to run a Super Late Model since I was 13. Finally being able to say I’ve raced one is neat. I’m stoked, I can’t wait.”

-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT