Column By: BOBBY CHALMERS / RPW – NEW BERLIN, NY – Travis Welch led the Utica-Rome Speedway Pro Stock division with three wins and took home his first career track championship in the process. He came up one lap shy from having led the most laps of any driver and never finished outside the top 10.
Welch also made a run at Super DIRT Week in Oswego last October and brought his machine home 21st. All his success helped to propel him to an award at the 2018 New York State Stock Car Association banquet and he was named last year’s DIRTcar Pro Stock Series Rookie of the Year.
Sounds like an amazing year, huh? Well, for Welch, it was great, and even though he wants to repeat, he’s keeping his goals realistic.
“2018 was a dream season for us,” Welch said. “I think we can defend our championship and we’re going to try our best to do so, but we’ll take it one week at a time. Anything can happen.”
Last season was a very successful one for the New Berlin, NY driver but knows there are challenges ahead he must face if he wants to repeat as champion.
“Utica is one of the toughest tracks to get around I feel,” he said. “It can get super slick.
We seem to get around there very well, which is what you need to do to have a chance at winning. It’s smooth and fast and you need to keep your nose clean.”
Usually, the ultimate goal for any driver is to win the championship, Welch may be eyeing that possibility based on his performance last season, but he isn’t using that as a goal this season. With his ‘one week at a time’ approach, he’s just chasing checkers.
“We just want to win some races,” he said. “I think our car count is going to be the best it’s been in a while so we want to put on the best show we can for the fans. We appreciate them being there and hopefully we can give them their money’s worth.”
An addition to the team that has made a big difference is the addition of veteran crewman Scott Carl. Based in the Albany, NY area, Carl has worked with many drivers including Robbie Speed, Jay Corbin, Dean Charbonneau and Rob Yetman. However, he and is wife, Leslie, live almost three hours away from the team but still puts in the effort to help Welch be as successful as he can be.
“We are a very small race team and when I say that, I mean it,” Welch said. “It’s been myself and pretty much my brother-in-law and my wife. Scott came to me at a swap meet and asked me if I would like a crew chief at the track and some help on the weekends. He and Les have been a lot of fun and have really helped are team.”
It’s the attention to detail that has really helped propel the Welch #67 to the next level.
“Scott’s very fussy with the things we never really spent time on,” he said. “He looks at things like shock travel and springs and works hard on our tire program. He’s diligent.”
This season, with the addition of a second car to the team’s stable, Welch is looking to venture away from the Vernon, NY track and chase around to some different speedways when his schedule allows. He’s hoping that can help to make him a better all-around driver in the end.
“We’re looking to race (his son) Zack’s Microd every other Saturday, so our plan is to run Fonda on the off weeks,” Welch said. “I would also like to try and hit some tracks that will require some drive time, but we’ll see. It’s very hard with running a business and having three young kids.”
Even though this is a small team, Welch knows it take a lot of support to be successful, and he’s very appreciative of what he has.
“I have to thank my wife, Ashley, first and foremost for always being behind me,” he said. I have to thank my crew. Davey, Scott, my Mom & Dad, my sister, Kelly, My mother-in-law and all our sponsors. Ted’s Body Shop, Llyod’s BBQ, TJ’s Lawn Service, Jensen Speed & Fabrication, A1 Installers, NAPA Auto Parts, Certified Auto Outlet, Central Auto Sales, Fastline Performance, Ashley Perfectly Posh, Stone Motorsports and DFP Photos.
2019 may be a repeat of last season for Travis Welch. He may come away with another track championship at Utica-Rome, but really, he just wants to enjoy his time behind the wheel. He wants to win, and will see where things shake out in the end.
Sounds like he’s on the right ‘track’ heading into 2019.