There’s no place like home.
That’s how 2013 Granite State Pro Stock Series champion Mike O’Sullivan felt after clinching his first career touring series championship at his home track, Thompson International Speedway (CT), during the Sunoco World Series of Racing in October.
In just his second season of touring competition with the rapidly-expanding Granite State Pro Stock Series, the two-time Thompson Pro Stock division champion was able to beat out fellow competitor Jeremy Davis at the final event of the season to win the 2013 series title. O’Sullivan refers to his first touring series championship as a blessing.
“That meant a lot to us,” O’Sullivan said about his two track championships at Thompson. “But, to be able to go to different tracks against championship drivers from all over the place and be able to race with them, and in some cases beat them, and at the end come out on top is a blessing.”
For O’Sullivan, the Granite State Pro Stock Series gave his family-owned team a chance to do something different. They enjoyed their time racing at the Thompson, Conn. oval, but the Springfield, Mass. driver and his team wanted to try their luck on the touring scene.
From day one, the goal for O’Sullivan and his team was to win a series championship. O’Sullivan recalls conversing with his brother Tommy, who also competes with the GSPSS, about the possibility of winning their first touring series championship for their father.
“My brother and I work together; we travel and talk a lot,” O’Sullivan told Speed51. “We talked about how much it would mean to us and our father; we talked how much a touring series championship would mean to him and us. Right from the beginning it was our goal.”
O’Sullivan kept that goal in his sight after a strong start to the 2013 campaign, which saw him jump to the top of the point standings. A rough stretch to start the month of August at two New Hampshire race tracks, Monadnock Speedway and Star Speedway, saw O’Sullivan surrender the top spot to Jeremy Davis. That stretch forced O’Sullivan to dig deep and refocus his sight on the 2013 GSPSS championship.
“That whole week all I thought is, ‘Well, you can sit here and tread water, or you can dig your heels in and fight for this,’” O’Sullivan said. “I really, really dedicated myself to try to get back in this and fight for it to see if we could get the lead back. We had a couple good races and then we came here to Thompson. To be able to close it out at home was a blessing.”
While he did grab his fair share of Granite State Pro Stock Series feature wins (2) in 2013, O’Sullivan believes it was his consistency and performance in the qualifying heat races that helped propel him to the championship. The Springfield, Mass. driver won a total of four qualifying heat races during the 2013 season, giving him an additional 20 bonus points in just those four events alone.
“We concentrate on that to be honest with you,” O’Sullivan said about his performance in heat races. “Five points in a heat race is a five point swing. Plus, if you get a top-two or top-three you get to the re-draw. We won four heat races. That’s twenty points. That’s huge. I pay attention to the heat race like nobody’s business.”
As O’Sullivan plans for the 2014 race season, he will once again return to the Granite State Pro Stock Series to defend his crown. Now that his team has their first touring championship, O’Sullivan would like to focus on winning more races during the upcoming season.
“Once you win the championship, you want to defend your title,” O’Sullivan said about his goals for the 2014 season. “Obviously, that would be a goal of ours. I definitely would like to win more races, as well.”
O’Sullivan will once again return to his home track during Icebreaker weekend at Thompson International Speedway on April 5 & 6 to defend his 2013 Granite State Pro Stock Series championship.