Story By: SCOTT RUNNING / STAFFORD MOTOR SPEEDWAY – STAFFORD SPRINGS, CT – Stafford Speedway was back on track under the lights for the first time in 2018 with the Opening Night program on Friday night, May 4th.
Keith Rocco scored his second win in a row this season and his fourth consecutive SK Modified® victory at Stafford dating back to last season, Michael Wray won the 30-lap Late Model feature, George Nocera, Jr. won the 20-lap SK Light feature, Jeremy Lavoie won the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature, and Meg Fuller, the daughter of former Whelen Modified Tour Champion Rick Fuller, scored her first career win in the 20-lap Street Stock feature.
In the 40-lap SK Modified® feature event, Joey Cipriano took the lead at the green with Chase Dowling in second. Michael Christopher, Jr. quickly took third with Tyler Hines fourth and a side by side battle for fifth between Matt Galko and Rowan Pennink. Christopher, Jr. took second from Dowling on lap-5 with a move in turns 3+4 and Hines followed suit on the next lap to take third. Galko was now on the inside of Dowling for fourth and he took the spot with Keith Rocco moving up to fifth as Dowling slid back to seventh behind Pennink.
Christopher, Jr. was hot on the trail of Cipriano for the lead and he tried a move in turn 1 on lap-11 to take the lead but had to wait until turn 3 to make the pass and take over the lead. Hines was third with Rocco up to fourth and Pennink in fifth.
Rocco took third from Hines on lap-13 while Ronnie Williams got around Pennink to move into fifth. Rocco took second from Cipriano on lap-17 and he was starting to close in on Christopher, Jr. at the front when the caution came out with 18 laps complete for a spin on the frontstretch by Dan Wesson.
Christopher, Jr. and Rocco ran side by side for a lap before Christopher got clear into the lead. Rocco was able to slot into line in second with Williams in third, Cipriano fourth, and Hines fifth. Rocco made a move to the inside of Christopher, Jr. on lap-22 to take over the lead but Christopher wasn’t going away quietly as he was glued to Rocco’s back bumper. Glen Reen spun in turn 2 to bring the caution out with 25 laps complete.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with Williams and Christopher, Jr. side by side for second. Williams took the spot with Hines in fourth and Todd Owen up to fifth. Owen took fourth on lap-27 before Wesson spun in turn 4 to bring the caution back out.
Rocco took the lead again on the restart with Christopher, Jr. able to slot into second. Williams was third with Cipriano fourth and Owen fifth. Pennink was sixth behind Owen with Eric Berndt in seventh when the caution flew for Glen Reen, who stalled in the turn 3+4 grass with 31 laps complete.
Rocco took the lead but before the field could complete a lap Cipriano spun in front of the majority of the field to bring the caution right back out.
Rocco took the lead on the restart with Christopher, Jr. able to hold off Williams for second. Williams came back on lap-33 to get by Christopher, Jr. and take over second. Owen followed Williams by Christopher, Jr. to drop him back to fourth in the order with Pennink now in fifth.
Williams made one last charge but Rocco took down his second consecutive win of the 2018 season and his fourth consecutive SK Modified® win at Stafford dating to last season. Christopher, Jr. finished third with Owen and Pennink rounding out the top-5.
In the 30-lap Late Model feature, Michael Wray took the early lead with Paul Arute slotting into second. Tyler Leary was third with Tom Fearn fourth and there was a side by side battle between Mike Quintiliano and Chase Cook for fifth with Quintiliano taking the spot on lap-2. Fearn got by Leary for third on lap-4 and that allowed Quintiliano and Glen Reen to follow him through as Leary fell from third back to sixth in line as Wray and Arute were still leading the pack.
With 10 laps complete, Wray and Arute were still the lead duo but the cars of Fearn, Quintiliano, Reen, and Leary were starting to close down the gap to the two front runners to make a 6-car train for the lead. Leary went by Reen to move into fifth on lap-13.
With 10 laps to go, Wray was still in command with Arute continuing to give chase. Fearn was third with Quintiliano, Leary, and Reen lined up behind him. Leary was applying heavy pressure to Quintiliano for fourth while Wray was able to maintain a two car length lead over Arute.
Wray led Arute to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2018 season. Fearn finished third with Quintiliano and Leary rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap SK Light feature event, George Nocera, Jr. and Mikey Flynn were locked in a side by side duel for the lead with Nocera able to get clear on lap-3. Glenn Griswold and Alexander Pearl were locked in a side by side duel for third behind the two leaders with Griswold taking the spot on lap-4. Rich Hammann followed Griswold by Pearl to move into fourth and one lap later Chris Viens took fifth from Pearl.
Viens moved into fourth on lap-8 and he was hounding Griswold for third as Nocera and Flynn were still out front. Viens continued to charge to the front as he took third from Griswold on lap-11. Viens took second from Flynn on lap-16 and he brought Bryan Narducci with him into third as Flynn fell back to fourth. Narducci got around Viens to move into second on lap-17 while Nocera was slowly stretching out his lead.
Nocera took the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2018 season with Narducci, Viens, Flynn, and Hammann rounding out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Limited Late Model feature event, Jeremy Lavoie streaked into the lead at the green flag with Gary Patnode in second. Ryan Fearn got around Patnode to take second as the field completed the first lap just before the caution came out for several cars that came together in turn 4 and came to a rest against the wall, including Matt Clement, Steven Midford, and R.J. Surdell.
Lavoie led the field to the green and he was able to fend off a challenge from Ryan Fearn for the lead. Andy Marchese was third with Patnode fourth and Alexandra Fearn fifth. Patnode made a move for third on lap-4 and that move opened the door for Alexandra Fearn and Justin Bren to also get by Marchese as he slid back to sixth in line with Lavoie continuing to hold the lead with Ryan Fearn right behind him.
At the halfway point Lavoie was still out front with Ryan Fearn still behind him in second. Alexandra Fearn was up to third with Bren and Patnode right behind her. The caution came out with 14 laps complete for spins in turn 2 by Marchese and Patnode.
Lavoie took the lead on the restart with Alexandra Fearn moving into second. Ryan Fearn was third with Bren in fourth and Patnode fifth. Lavoie quickly pulled away by several car lengths over Alexandra Fearn Lavoie led Alexandra and Ryan Fearn to the checkered flag to pick up his first win of the 2018 season. Bren and Surdell rounded out the top-5.
In the 20-lap Street Stock feature event, Meghan Fuller and Richard Ciriello ran the first lap side by side before Fuller got clear to the lead on lap-2. The caution flew with 1 lap complete for a spin in turn 3 by Greg DeMone. Travis Hydar was sent to the rear of the field for making contact with DeMone.
Fuller took the lead back under green with Ciriello in second. Jason Lafayette was able to squeeze himself into third just in front of Brandon Michael with Nicole Chambrello in fifth. Chambrello got around both Michael and Lafayette to move into third on lap-4 with Michael fourth and Vince Gambacorta fifth as Lafayette got hung on the outside line and slid back to ninth.
Chambrello made a move around Ciriello for second on lap-5 and that opened the door for Michael, Gambacorta, and George Bessette, Jr. to all get by as Ciriello fell back to sixth in line with Chris Bagnall right behind him in seventh place. Chambrello began to close down the gap to Fuller at the front of the field and by lap-13 Chambrello was right on the back bumper of Fuller in a fight for the lead.
With 2 laps to go, Fuller was still leading Chambrello by a car length with Bessette closing in on the lead duo from third place. Michael was fourth with Hydar back up to fifth after his early race penalty. Fuller held Chambrello off to the checkered flag to pick up her first career win at Stafford. Bessette finished third with Michael and Hydar rounding out the top-5.
SK MODIFIED® (40)
1) Keith Rocco, Berlin
2) Ronnie Williams, Tolland
3) Michael Christopher, Jr., Wolcott
4) Todd Owen, Somers
5) Rowan Pennink, Huntingdon Valley, Pa
6) Eric Berndt, Cromwell
7) Michael Gervais, Jr., Southbury
8) Matt Galko, Meriden
9) Chase Dowling, Roxbury
10) D.J. Burnham, East Hartford
11) Tom Bolles, Ellington
12) Joey Cipriano, Iii, Waterbury
13) Stephen Kopcik, Newtown
14) Josh Wood, Palmer, Ma
15) Troy Talman, Oxford, Ma
16) Tony Membrino, Jr., Berlin
17) Matt Vassar, Plantsville
18) Doug Meservey, Jr., Chatham, Ma
19) Dan Wesson, Monson, Ma
20) Tyler Hines, North Haven
21) David Arute, Stafford Springs
22) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
23) Cory DiMatteo, Farmington
24) John Catania, Agawam Ma
LATE MODEL (30)
1) Michael Wray, Northford
2) Paul Arute, Tolland
3) Tom Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
4) Mike Quintiliano, Shelton
5) Tyler Leary, Hatfield, Ma
6) Glen Reen, Wilbraham, Ma
7) Darrell Keane, Enfield
8) Al Saunders, Stafford
9) Cliff Saunders, Stafford
10) Paul Varricchio, Jr., Berlin
11) Chase Cook, Oakdale
SK LIGHT MODIFIED (20)
1) George Nocera, Jr., Plainville
2) Bryan Narducci, Colchester
3) Chris Viens, Putnam
4) Mikey Flynn, Hampden, Ma
5) Rich Hammann, Tolland
6) Marcello Rufrano, North Haven
7) Andrew Molleur, Shelton
8) Bob Charland, Stafford
9) Brett Gonyaw, Vernon
10) Wesley Prucker, Stafford
11) Glenn Griswold, Vernon
12) Teddy Hodgdon, Danbury
13) Alexander Pearl, Salem
14) Cassandra Cole, Westbrook
15) Todd Douillard, Palmer, Ma
16) Mark Bakaj, Lebanon
17) Geoff Nooney, Southwick, Ma
18) Norm Sears, Andover
19) Chris Matthews, Stafford
20) Rit Dulac, Plantsville
21) Pete Lopuch, West Redding
22) Joey Ferrigno, East Hartford
LIMITED LATE MODEL (20)
1) Jeremy Lavoie, Windsor Locks
2) Alexandra Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
3) Ryan Fearn, East Longmeadow, Ma
4) Justin Bren, Palmer, Ma
5) R.J. Surdell, Willington
6) Gary Patnode, Barkhamsted
7) Andy Marchese, Tolland
8) Steven Midford, Ellington
9) Steve Martel, Barkhamsted
10) Matt Clement, Wethersfield
STREET STOCK (20)
1) Meghan Fuller, Auburn, Ma
2) Nicole Chambrello, Kensington
3) George Bessette, Jr., Danbury
4) Brandon Michael, Granville, Ma
5) Travis Hydar, Woodbury
6) Richard Ciriello, Reading, Ma
7) Jason Lafayette, Somers
8) Chris Bagnall, Winsted
9) Rob Sears, Stafford Springs
10) Chuck Harrison, Woodstock Valley
11) William DesJardins, Plainville
12) Vince Gambacorta, Ellington
13) Greg DeMone, Ludlow, Ma
14) Dan Soucie, Ashford
15) Tess Beyer, Stratton, Vt